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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If Everyone Criticizes You, You Must Be Doing Something Right.

I admit it.  I bought the 1/23/12 issue of Newsweek, with the cover story "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" primarily to drop, casually, at the BBQ grill tonight.

And then I read Sullivan's article. From now on, I'm not going to bother debating Obama's critics, left, right or center of the political spectrum. I'm simply going to toss Sullivan's article at the next know-it-all and ask them to read the article.

Read Sullivan's factual description of Obama's accomplishments and not be impressed. That's the challenge.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

It's been awhile since I have written here. For the absence I apologize.  We have done some traveling. And the good thing about traveling is the wealth of new exposures and experiences. For example, last night I went down to the barbecue area.  As one older woman put it when she joined the group of mostly men burning meat over gas logs, "I was afraid this was a 'guy only' area."  She and I and another woman had invaded the male "communal fire" camp to grill, watch the grilling, or socialize.

She, older woman, with a drink in hand was a watcher. I had two steaks to grill. and I had forgotten to bring a tray so I had no hands free to bring along a drink. So I guess I was just a griller.  Plus, I thought I could last without a drink for as long as it takes to grill two steaks.

At the grill, I met folks from all over the U.S.  and Canada. The State of Washington, Lake Tahoe, and Vancouver were represented at the grill, to name just a few.  And as often happens, along with talk of grilling techniques and choice of foods to be grilled, talk turned to politics.

The third woman brave enough to invade the male-only grill, we'll call her "Lake Tahoe" or LT for short, held forth on her views of the economy, the current presidential administration, and also explained in detail her understanding of the American system of government.

Ms. LT claimed credit for adding ten million dollars annually to the nation's economy with her construction business.  Counting suppliers, employees, and lots of trickle-down folks affected by her company.  Then she proceeded to talk about the current president in derisive tones as the cause of all that is wrong in the U.S., as well as the rest of the world. LT added that the economy was in the toilet because the President had grabbed all of the power from the people and the states. I had to think: quite an amazing accomplishment for one man in less than a single term. More about her explanation of American government later.

LT ended her discussion with her fix for the economy: buying a bumper sticker she had seen at the car wash back home and affixing it to her pick-up truck.  The slogan, with an Obama insignia, "Does this ass make my truck look fat?"

After LT made this proclamation she gathered her steaks and headed back to her condo. The other woman at the grill gave me an embarrassed look.  I raised my eyebrows back at her in shared disbelief.

The most amazing part of LT's tirade was her discussion of the U.S. form of government. LT explained, in loud tones in case any of us should miss the civics lesson, that our Founders had been smart enough to establish a republic with the states having  checks and balance of the federal government to keep the feds from taking control of the nation.

Apparently when LT was in grade school she had been out sick during civics classes.  She must have missed the part of the class where they covered our three-part federal system: judicial, executive and legislative which is the "checks and balances" to which she referred. And I guess she completely missed the discussion of how the loose federation created by the Articles of Confederation was replaced by a Constitution that created a federal system.  I guess she also missed the Civil War that was fought over the meaning of that system. and that the union prevailed over individual states.

I suppose you don't need to know all that much about civics to run a construction company. And everyone is entitled to their opinion.  That also is part of our Constitution. And I don't mean to call anyone stupid.  So maybe the title of this blog should read "Uninformed Is as Uninformed Does."  But not as catchy. Next time I might have to bring a drink along for the socializing and discussion segment of the grilling.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Resolution Results--Week 3

This is the third week of January.  And how am I doing?  Not all that great.

I am still late about half the time.  I have not gotten rid of any more clutter, beyond the half closet I cleaned out a week ago.  And today I see the scale is saying I have gained back the pound and a half, plus another half pound, I lost the first week.

On the positive side I am still trying to keep up with the resolutions.  I am more conscious of my time.  So I am not as late as before the resolutions. 

There has not been time—and I have not had the energy or inclination to do anything more about clutter.  I’m blaming the dreary January weather and cold.  We did escape the predicted ice and snow last night.  But this morning, the neighborhood cat was so desperate she was licking ice from the frozen birdbath.  How are you (oops, I mean me) supposed to stick to resolutions about clutter and weight loss when I see desperate cats, rather than birds at the birdbath?

The cold dreary weather is enough to make one (That is me.  I suppose it is a bad sign I want to use the second or third person when it comes to these resolutions.) want to sit by the fire and eat bon bons.  But no, I have not been eating bons bons.  

However, in my effort to get rid of the extra cookies from last week, I agreed to bring a dessert to dinner at a friend’s house this week.  But there were not quite enough leftover cookies.  So I had to bake some more.  This time, I baked a more healthful variety: oatmeal, peanut butter, raisin. And I took almost all of them along to the dinner, along with the meringues.  And I ended up coming home with more than a half dozen of my own cookies.  And they were very good.  Crunchy and peanut-buttery.  Just the perfect snack with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.  So I guess it is no surprise the scale was not my friend this morning.

Who needs this aggravation?  To hell with the resolutions.  Maybe I will try them again in July when I am not so depressed from all the gloom outside.  And besides, the rest of the cookies should definitely be gone by then.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Resolutions Results Reviewed—Week 2

So…three fairly simple personal resolutions.
1)     De-clutter the house.
2)     Be on time.
3)     Lose the five pounds recently gained.

I don’t recall if they were in some order but, obviously they should have been in the order of priority.  Because the three keep getting in the way of each other. 

Let’s talk about de-cluttering, as that is my best-kept resolution.   I have gotten one-half of a hall closet cleaned out.  I donated four coats and multiple pairs of boots.  Then I stuffed the scarves, gloves and mittens into a decorative box, unsorted, and put them back into the closet. That’s a project for another day.   Oh, and the extra purses, I donated a few of them.  Then I put the rest in another box and hid the box upstairs behind the guest bed.  Another project.  I have yet to tackle the tops shelves of the closet. 

Does that count as de-cluttering?  I say “yes.”  Getting rid of anything requires an emotional letting go for me.  ‘Plus, the closet looks much better, as long as you don’t look up at the shelves.  Also, for the most part, I have kept up with endless array of current clutter that comes through the front or back door by way of the post office, UPS, or otherwise.  You might think this is not a big achievement, but I’m giving myself one star on de-cluttering.

However, de-cluttering tends to interfere with the second resolution, being on time.  And maybe even the third resolution.  When I am knee-deep in old boots and it is time to head to the gym I found it hard to shift gears and get to class on time.  Plus, I was late meeting a friend.  The friend meeting might technically be counted as on time:  I was in my car and on the parking lot on time.  But by the time I circled around three times and found a place to park I was several minutes late.  The friend was willing to give me a pass.  But that means I’m using the “parking excuse,” something I said I wouldn’t do.  So no, I did not keep this resolution.  No gold star.

And that missing a little of the exercise class may have contributed to the poor results on the last resolution.  No, I have not lost any more weight since last week.  That result may or may not have anything to do with the batch of homemade meringue cookies with lemon curd I made.  To take over to a friend recovering from surgery.  Does that sound as transparent to you as it does to me?  Yes I guess it does.

Maybe I need another plan, less resolutions, or a different priority.  I know I need to get rid of the rest of the cookies without eating any more.  But it is only week 2.  And as Scarlett, said, “Tomorrow is another day.”  So we will see if I can get three stars next week.  Hope you have some gold stars on all of you on your resolutions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Huge Backsplash: Have They No Shame?

The latest scandal is a group of Marines urinating on bodies of dead Afghanis.
The US military and State department establishments are expressing outrage.  As well as scrounging for excuses: "After all, some of these young men are only 18 years old”; or “They have been on multiple tours,” or “They are battle scarred."  Nonetheless, our top echelon is saying "heads will roll" over this.  The real-life investigative version of the fabled TV program, NCIS, I am assuming with the real-life counterpart of Leroy Jethro Gibbs leading the investigation, to, well... investigate.

It doesn't take a genius or a TV hero to investigate this matter.  Or to see that the problem with all this shock and outrage is the same as it was during the worse excesses of the Iraq war.  

We created the environment for this type of behavior.  The military takes and trains young men for combat, though women are a growing percentage of the military they are not yet supposed to be in combat.  The frontal lobes of eighteen year olds, particularly males, are not fully developed.  Yet we give them dangerous weapons, point them in the direction of the "enemy" however ill-defined, and then put them in a totally foreign, life-threatening environment.   Then, when they kill the supposed or actual enemy, and survive being killed themselves, we act surprised when they behave like the adolescents they essentially are.

I’m not trying to excuse the disrespectful and poor behavior of soldiers who abuse corpses.  Nor is the fact that these soldiers behaved in a manner no worse than warriors probably have behaved from ancient times an excuse.

Their behavior is an outrage.  And there is no excuse.

But there are some other outrages occurring in this scenario.  Such as, arming with automatic weapons young men who are not yet mature.  And sending them to the other side of the world to fight battles with enemies who often are indistinguishable from peaceful civilians.  And bringing them home in body bags or on stretchers where they are patched together to try to live a vastly diminished life from what they might have known as a whole human being.  That is, if they had been allowed to develop a fully formed brain before it was rattled by bombs or damaged by the traumatic stress of battle.

It was an outrage during the Vietnam War.  It was an outrage during the Iraq war.  And it continues to be an outrage during this continuing struggle in Afghanistan.

Let’s save a little of our outrage for the living victims of this war, whether they are in Afghanistan or the US.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  So are most of his top leaders.  Surely the US has extracted enough to satisfy its bloodlust after 9-1-1.

Let's stop sending our young people into foreign lands to kill.  Let’s make it possible for more of them to join the Peace Corps, learn a useful trade, or otherwise finish their education as their brains finish developing.  Maybe then they and we can learn to build bridges between cultures, schools for the children and a better world for our next generation.          

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Resolution Results--Week 1

I have yet to do anything about the blog resolutions.  But I am happy to report I have started to work on the personal resolutions. 

You may have noticed, my personal resolutions included the word “try” for getting rid of clutter and being on time.  That is because losing the five pounds should be easier than either of the other two.  I have yet to do anything about getting rid of clutter.  Just putting the house back to sort of normal after the holidays and after out-of-town company was all I had the time or energy for.  So maybe next week I will try to do a little clutter control.

As for being on time, I’d give myself about a 50% score.  If you were waiting for me somewhere and feel I should get a lower score feel free to chime in.  But at least twice I was on time when I might not otherwise have been.  Nevertheless, it is still a struggle to get anywhere on time.  Why is that? 

On one goal though I can count some success.  It’s so great to be back to water aerobics.  The class I attend has a great instructor and the nicest group of participants.  Instead of feeling like exercise, being in the water just makes me happy.  Except for the first few minutes of adjusting to the cold water.  Which makes me work harder to warm up.  So it is all good.

Contrary to advice I have read about weighing yourself every day, I weigh at most once a week.  After going to my exercise class three days and walking in the park most days. I lost one and a half pounds this first week I ate dessert only once, a little strawberry ice cream.  Other than that I didn’t diet.  But the first pound or two is the easiest, isn’t it?

The best part of getting back to water exercise, and even swimming a few laps, is that I feel stronger and more flexible.  And I have less aches and pains in my lower extremities.  But my shoulder/ arm and neck issues do not seem to be any better with exercise.  At least they are no worse.  I may have to make another doctor appointment to see where the radiating pain in my arm is coming from.  Maybe I need to expand that resolution list. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Good Blog Resolutions--Part 2

Here are my blog-related goals:

1)     Label my blog entries by category so my readers can find the subjects in which they are interested.

2)     Try to make my blog entries a little shorter.  I know, my thoughts are too cluttered, like my closets so it is hard to keep them neat and tidy.

3)     Add more photos to my blog.  This one should be fun. And we need to keep fun in our lives and in our blogs.

4)     Use some of the techniques I’ve read about to publicize my blog and use keywords so my potential readers can search for topics of interest.

5)     Discuss the occasional serious topic in the hope it might help someone think about an important issue.  Perhaps we can even make a difference on some topic of more importance than our own cluttered world, our own over-large waistlines, or own over-filled schedules.  As we clear some of the excess out of these areas of our life we may make room for other issues of importance to the rest of the world.

I hope my resolutions and any that you make for this new year help you and others. Happy New Year. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good Resolutions 2012--Part 1

I thought about recycling an old set of resolutions.  After all, who actually accomplishes everything on their “to do” resolutions list?  And who would know?  But I have previously published my resolutions lists, on the rare occasions that I made one.  So I figured I would start fresh.

And this year I actually have some resolutions.

The first three resolutions are personal.

1)     I am going to try to be closer to on time this year. You probably noticed this resolution list is about four days late already.  I usually try to squeeze in two or three more things before I leave the house to head out to an appointment.  As a result I usually am late.  I then blame traffic, or getting lost or whatever.  I need to leave earlier and plan on traffic, getting lost, etc.  In fact, I need to plan to get wherever I am going a few minutes early.  Maybe then I will be on time.  My strategy is to set my iPhone alarm several minutes before I need to leave and use that ring as a cut off to take the final steps: get my hat, coat, gloves, and keys, go the bathroom, whatever… and get out the door.

2)     I am going to lose the five pounds I gained while I had a staph infection and was avoiding swimming and water aerobics.  Unfortunately, the avoidance of my favorite exercises overlapped the holiday season and I engaged in lots of eating, especially sweets.  
     So my strategy is to get extra exercise and avoid desserts until I am back to my pre-Thanksgiving weight.  I recently read the article about how you have to be nearly super-human to lose weight and keep it off once your body adapts to a weight gain. weight&st=cse

    The good news is if the weight gain has been short term, only a few months, it may not take up permanent residence on your hips and in your brain.  I think the two months these five pounds has been with me may be short enough that my body won’t notice the loss when I kick it in gear and get rid of it.  At least I hope so.

3)     I am going to try to get control of the clutter in my surroundings.  That should allow me to make our home more user-friendly. Sounds like a description of a new software package, doesn’t it? But I am talking about more bricks and mortar, or clutter piles.  Closets that are filled with useless things, rooms that have accumulated piles of unfinished projects, and plastic tubs packed with stuff no longer needed or wanted.  Out this stuff needs to go.

All three of the foregoing resolutions are of the type most of us make on a regular basis.  That is, unless you never gain excess weight, are neat and tidy and immediately get rid of all clutter, and always arrive at the time you say you will.  Is there anyone out there like that?  If so, will you share your secrets?

My next post will be about my goals for this blog. Looking forward to writing fro you, my readers, and I hope hearing back from you.