Monnica Manuel

Captain Picard’s Replicator Cartridges …I know, I’m a nerd. But I think about these things

So, I was thinking… When Jean-Luc Picard walks up to the replicator and says, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” his tea doesn’t materialize out of thin air.

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Mothers! Warning: Not for Underaged Readers

We’ve been hearing about girls’ body image issues caused by airbrushed photos for a couple of decades now, but in the past ten years our problem has become horribly much worse. Today, our girls are taught, not by us, but by the boys that they go to school with, who have been taught by the media, that it’s not good enough to look pretty, but you also have to be willing to take your clothes off and give a good blow job. Shocked? Yeah, me too, but get over it because that’s mellow compared to what our kids are facing every day.

I have two daughters in high school, and have had to work overtime to make sure that they know that it’s ok that many of the boys at their school aren’t interested in them because of what they won’t do. I have reassured them that there are young men out there who value the intelligence and character, and even the beauty of a young woman, apart from what lewd acts she’ll perform. But I feel like I am fighting a losing battle as the media is working overtime (and so much more effectively) to teach an entire generation of males that women are meant to be exploited and discarded, that they are a disposable commodity, available for their pleasure.

Check out this lovely tweet from this morning:

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photo-4Media giants like Time Warner, Comcast and others make billions of dollars from the sale of pornography in America every year. We haven’t had cable in our home for about four years now, but we watch Hulu and Netflix through our Xbox360. Last night I was infuriated when we turned on our child’s Xbox and found a free download of the Maxim app offered on the front page. Our kids weren’t home, so I decided to download it to see if there would be age restrictions or credit card required, anything to deter young kids from viewing/using this app. This is what we saw after 4 little clicks…

Talk about “Teach Your Son to Exploit Women in Four Easy Steps”!

Not only has an entire generation been taught to view girls and women differently, an entire culture has been…I don’t even know what word to use here… ruined? Read these statistics from Wikipedia, about the sky-rocketing child pornography business(?) since the internet became widely used in the early nineties, and then tell me what word you would use…

Main article: Child pornography

“The Internet has radically changed how child pornography is reproduced and disseminated, and, according to the United States Department of Justice, resulted in a massive increase in the “availability, accessibility, and volume of child pornography.”[7] The production of child pornography has become very profitable, bringing in several billion dollars a year, and is no longer limited to pedophiles.[8] Philip Jenkins notes that there is “overwhelming evidence that [child pornography] is all but impossible to obtain through nonelectronic means.”[9]

The NCMEC estimated in 2003 that 20% of all pornography traded over the Internet was child pornography, and that since 1997 the number of child pornography images available on the Internet had increased by 1500%.[10] Regarding internet proliferation, the US DOJ states that “At any one time there are estimated to be more than one million pornographic images of children on the Internet, with 200 new images posted daily.” They also note that a single offender arrested in the U.K. possessed 450,000 child pornography images, and that a single child pornography site received a million hits in a month. Further, that much of the trade in child pornography takes place at hidden levels of the Internet, and that it has been estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 pedophiles involved in organized pornography rings around the world, and that one third of these operate from the United States. Digital cameras and Internet distribution facilitated by the use of credit cards and the ease of transferring images across national borders has made it easier than ever before for users of child pornography to obtain the photographs and videos.[10][11]

In 2007, the British-based Internet Watch Foundation reported that child pornography on the Internet is becoming more brutal and graphic, and the number of images depicting violent abuse has risen fourfold since 2003. The CEO stated “The worrying issue is the severity and the gravity of the images is increasing. We’re talking about prepubescent children being raped.” About 80 percent of the children in the abusive images are female, and 91 percent appear to be children under the age of 12. Prosecution is difficult because multiple international servers are used, sometimes to transmit the images in fragments to evade the law.[12]

I am at a loss… not only are children viewing pornography (according to 90% of children ages 8-16 have seen pornography), which makes them think that this kind of exploitation is somehow normal, but now they are increasingly being abused and recorded for entertainment!? What are you doing to protect the youth in your life? Here is a link to some tools: And here are some more statistics listed on Get educated and get busy protecting your kids! It’s nothing like it used to be and it’s way worse than we know. We can’t afford to be ignorant or negligent. 

  • 95% of parents don’t know common chat room acronyms teenagers use such as when a parent is watching. The acronyms are POS (parent over shoulder), P911 (parent alert), and A/S/L (age/sex/location).
  • An estimated 725,000 children have been “aggressively” asked for sex, defined as an offer to meet in person.
  • The FBI reports a 2000 percent increase in the number of child pornography images on the internet since 1996.
  • According to the FBI, Chat rooms offer the advantage of immediate communication around the world and provide the pedophile/predator with an anonymous means of recruiting children into sexually illicit relationships.
  • Only 1/3 of households with Internet access are protecting their children with filtering or blocking software.
  • Approximately 70% of all sex offenders released from prison will offend again.
  • 1 in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation – Translation – A predator asked a young person to meet, called a young person on the phone, or sent the young person correspondence, money, or gifts.
  • 77% of the victims for online predators were age 14 or older.
  • Approximately 116,000 child pornography requests are made daily on the Internet.
  • 1 in 5 youth ages 10 to 17 received a sexual solicitation or were approached online.

Today’s Teenage Lesson in Communication

imagesWe’re parents of three very active teenagers and logistics can get crazy around our house. Throw in the transition to adulthood and independence that our oldest (who will be 18 in less that a month) is making and you’ve got a recipe for some potentially strained or even loud conversations. As I’m writing this, my three teenagers are “cooperating” in the other room as they do the after dinner chores, communicating loudly, over the vacuum cleaner and clanking dishes.

Earlier today we had one of those lessons in communication that are meant to prepare the youngling for the impending departure from the nest, but as I thought back over the conversation I realized that there are many adults I’ve met that don’t utilize this lesson very well (including me at times).

The catalyst for this conversation was a misunderstanding caused by poor communication that lead to a logistical snafu (btw… the n in that acronym stands for “normal” and I’m not sure that there’s anything normal about our life, so I use the term loosely). Last night our daughter talked about a couple of places that she wanted to go today and how excited she was about them. She did this in our presence, and therefore assumed that she had made the adequate arrangements for her transportation to and from. So when she appeared today and stood at the door, winter gear and backpack donned, and said, “are you ready to take me to such and such,” she was sorely disappointed at the response she got.

Today’s interaction didn’t start out as a planned teaching event (where’s that sarcasm font when I need it?). As we discussed strategies for better success next time, such as communicating clearly and defining expectations, followed up by useful questions like, “What time would work for you, mom?” or “Would you be willing to do…, dad?” or “If I had these two options, which would you guys prefer?” it became clear that this was one of those critically important life skills that would be needed soon and often.

In business or on the job, at school or in the family, these young adults are going to need to quickly make the transition from being looked after by mom and dad, to taking up their own slack and being responsible for their own choices. As parents we try to simulate these scenarios for them so that they’ll learn, but it becomes a whole new ball game when they are actually beginning to make their own job, school, relationship and sports decisions independently. This is a great chance for them to learn the practicality of responsibility through managing the logistics of their own decisions.

I am constantly reminding myself to look for the teaching opportunities and that teaching through application requires room for mistakes (Lord help me!). Parenting is tough (duh), but what a cool journey to walk with these adolescent creatures :) They teach me more than I teach them, but don’t tell them that.

What lessons have you had to learn/teach lately?

Book Review: Spark by John J. Ratey, MD


Who knew that exercise could give you so much? We know we should do it. We know that it makes us look and feel better. What I didn’t realize before reading this book, is just what exercise was doing to my brain! I feel like after reading this book, I get so much more out of going to the gym or going for a walk, than I ever did before.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D.

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul, and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.” ~Plato

I found this book to be both fascinating and motivating, as it systematically explained the science behind what happens in our brains as we exercise. The stories and examples are compelling and the practical applications are surprising. Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for everything from depression, to menopause, to ADHD, to stress and anxiety.

“Toxic levels of stress erode the connections between the billions of nerve cells in the brain, chronic depression shrinks certain areas of the brain. Conversely, exercise unleashes a cascade of neural chemicals and growth factors that can reverse this process, physically bolstering the brain’s infrastructure. In fact, the brain responds like muscles do, growing with use, withering with inactivity.”

This is great news! I was always told growing up that, “the brain cells you’ve got are the only one that you’ll ever have, so don’t kill them with drugs and alcohol!” Now, I’m not making a case for drugs and alcohol, but isn’t it great to know that as we age, we can stimulate neurogenesis? We can actually grow new brain cells and create new neural pathways, sending thoughts on a detour around damaged areas that could otherwise cause dementia.

As we are called upon to use our brains at a highly functional level during a test, or in a presentation or an interview (or helping the kids with their homework- sheesh! was math always this hard?), studies show that our brains will perform markedly better after we’ve gotten our heart rate up for 20 to 30 minutes.

I highly recommend reading this book to anyone that values quality of life!

“Ironically, the human capacity to dream and plan and create the very society that shields us from our biological imperative to move, is rooted in the very same areas of the brain that govern movement.” 

Star Trek TNG

“You’re going to have to make some hard choices about your future, and you can’t make them if you’re going to ignore the truth.”  ~Dr. Beverly Crusher Season Six, Episode Six

Our defense is …

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. ~Abraham Lincoln

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We are not only blessed with the ability to do something about this, we are the beneficiaries of the freedom that comes from doing what we are responsible to do.

  • Read Half the Sky
  • Register for the 2013 STOP TRAFFIC RACE: (walk, run and even from afar, we’ve gone global!  Sign-up to participate virtually!)
  • End Demand.  Take our pledge:
  • Donate.  $5, $10 or $1,000.  Whatever you feel compelled to give, the funds we receive go to raising awareness,  safe housing and recovery programs for trafficking victims.

3 Keys to Surviving a Public Interview

705350_10200256885604127_662807216_oJob interviews can be tough. Enduring a three-hour interview with a large audience of strangers, friends, family and neighbors, a camera in your face, along side 13 other candidates is tougher. I knew that this experience would be challenging and educational, but it exceeded my expectations, and I’m so glad I did it.  Here are three things that helped me survive this wonderful experience.

1. There is no substitute for preparation. Not to discredit talent or the instinctive ability to think on your feet, but there really is nothing like adequate preparation to calm you in the face of a difficult audience. I took the time to think through and write down my thoughts, and weed out the less relevant aspects that might be a distraction, and I asked for feedback.  I made those notes and reviewed them several times. There’s no magic here, just thoughtful consideration and work. Before your next interview, stop and think about the steps that you will take to prepare yourself, and then put in the work.

2. Put on the blinders! My husband, Brad is a genius (do not tell him I said that). He told me before we headed over to City Hall that I needed to forget about what anyone else would say or do. “You’re prepared, and you know what you want to say. Just do your thing and forget about everyone else.” It seems simple, but this advice (and the application of it) was priceless; I clung to it through the entire three hours. It kept me focused and composed, able to trust my prepared message. While it would have been easy to hear something that another applicant said and try to adapt my answers, I trusted myself and the preparation (He also prayed for me beforehand, asking God for overwhelming peace, and I swear it was a tangible feeling.  Even through the public pressure, I felt calm throughout the evening).

3. Remember to breathe. Despite the calm, each time it got close to my turn to approach the microphone and answer a question, my heart rate started to climb and my breathing got a little short. I knew that this would make me sound really nervous as I spoke and I didn’t want that, so I intentionally slowed my breathing, focusing on getting all the air out and then taking in a deep breath. My heart slowed back down and I was able to speak fairly evenly. It is amazing how being aware of your breathing can help you in high pressure, performance situations.  Just breathe!

So, while I didn’t get the job (and if I’m being generous, I’d say that there was about a 2% chance that I would), I accomplished my purpose of participating in an important process in our municipality and was able to present myself as capable and willing to help. It was an enriching exercise that I got to share with several gifted people, allowing me the benefit of learning from their experiences and insights.

Public interviews are not for the faint of heart, but if you apply these three keys, you’ll be much more likely to accomplish your goals.


magBecause of my recent decision to apply for our city’s interim mayoral position, I received a couple of phone calls from local newspapers asking for “interviews”.  I quote the word interview because they were more of a request for a soundbite than an interview.  To be fair, this seems to be a big story in the Utah political scene and getting 14 applicants on the phone to capture quote-worthy content has to be tough.  But I’d like to add some context to those brief phone conversations and address a potential flaw in this process that doesn’t seem to be getting any attention.

Monnica Manuel, 34, owner of a consulting firm, said she would take a nuanced approach if she were chosen as mayor. “I want to make sure first that I really understand the complexity of the issues,”  she said.  A political first-timer, Manuel insists she’s prepared. I’ve managed large groups of people and large personalities.  As far as communicating and negotiating go, those are some of my skills,” she said.

Monnica Manuel, 34, owner of a consulting firm. Manuel ranks the health and prosperity of families and businesses as a top priority and says her background as a mother and a entrepreneur is a plus. “I think the most important thing for Taylorsville is economic development,” she said.

I didn’t use the word “nuanced,” but to clarify, I do believe that given its interim role, the individual selected should not try to wield mayoral power in the coming 11 months, but rather to understand why our city stands where it does today and lead through each challenge we face with transparency and an open mind.  Good, bad or indifferent, whoever assumes that role needs to seek first to understand and then lead with a unified approach. The question that I was asked was, “what would be your priorities as mayor?”  I told the interviewers that while there are things that are important to me, like safety, infrastructure and economic development, the leadership style that has best served me during my experience has been to ask good questions and listen well.  I want to make sure first that I really understand the complexity of the issues before I start trying to change things.

No matter what happens Wednesday night, a new leader will be added to the City’s leadership team.  A new Mayor will be appointed from the field of residents that have applied which includes a Council Member.  If a Council Member is appointed,  their seat will be filled using the same process.  That means that the remaining 4 Council Members (representing 4 of the 5 Districts) will decide who will represent the constituents from that fifth District (District#3), and only applicants from that District (only 20% of the City’s population) would be eligible to join the newly formed leadership team.  Not a single vote from the constituents of District#3 would weigh into the decision behind who would represent their District for the next three years. 

If my understanding of this process/statute is incorrect, I do wish to have clarity, however if my understanding is correct, it seems to be a flaw that could create many more issues for Taylorsville.

The Rumors are True

Why, with three teenagers at home, a business and a non-profit organization to run, would I do such a thing?

It’s Saturday afternoon, we just got home from our son’s basketball game and as I sat writing my “vision for the city” between loads of laundry, it struck me as a funny combination. But in a way, I feel it represents the pragmatic and the theoretical, working in tandem like they should. Our city finds itself 11 months away from the next election with an empty Mayoral seat due to Mayor Wall’s recent resignation, and yes, I decided to throw my name in the mix.

I believe in transparency, in business, in government and in my life (which is a fine concept until you have to apply it and then it’s not always so easy).  So now that my submission is official I felt that the same information that the five-member council will use to select the person that fills the interim role should be made available to the residents of the City, prior to Wednesday night’s interview and Council vote.

Wednesday’s public “job interview” will be a little crazy and entirely educational.  I look forward to hearing what the other applicants and the City Council members have to say.

At the request of the City Council, here is the information I provided as part of my application to become the City of Taylorsville’s interim Mayor.

200-word Statement of Qualification

During my 16-year-career as an employee and entrepreneur, I’ve worked with businesses large and small.  I’ve successfully competed for business in the Southern California market, working with Xerox Corporation and since managed brand relationships with the likes of Franklin Covey,, Rich Dad/Poor Dad and Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.  My business acumen has been developed through leading diverse, collaborative groups to solve complicated problems.  From budgetary issues to large-scale, social-media marketing campaigns, I am passionate about the processes that make economies thrive, and I love what I do.

I believe that my years as a communications and negotiations professional, along with my experience managing many different teams of people make me uniquely qualified to lead as an executive for our city.

My husband and I have volunteered and led large volunteer groups in our local communities throughout our entire marriage, serving through community outreach, including the facilitation of four, 13-week sessions of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

In 2008 I founded a local non-profit organization, fighting human trafficking and currently serve as the organization’s Vice Chair.  I am excited to apply my gifts in the public sector.

Vision for the Future of Taylorsville

I look forward to working with members of the Council, the administrative staff and all city employees to provide the highest quality of services possible.

Together we can maintain and grow:

A quality infrastructure (streets, gas, water & sewer) for current needs and future growth.

A beautiful community with streetscapes that we can be proud of in the years ahead.

A thriving economy, conducive to the health and prosperity of families and businesses.

A system of safety infrastructure that will protect citizens and first responders.

I believe that we can work together to:

Build on the city’s tradition of stewardship in handling municipal services and business-friendly management by progressive-thinking leaders.

Add to Taylorsville’s quality of life, safety and amenities, which provide a solid foundation for successful businesses.

Carry on Taylorsville’s commitment to working in partnership with successful and growing businesses to provide modern facilities, maintain competitive costs, and support strong logistics infrastructure.

As a community we have many challenges ahead of us, and with the community’s support, guidance and input, we can meet these head on. I am committed to working with the numerous advisory boards and committees that include citizens who have volunteered their time and energy in serving their community. As we all work together as a community, we can continue to be proud to call Taylorsville our home.

Together we will work to enhance what we have been given from those who have preceded us in the governing of Taylorsville, and to leave a legacy for those who will come after us.

Resume MonnicaManuel


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