That’s Entertainment

When my son was little, there were several shows he wanted to watch that I wouldn’t allow: Clarissa Explains It All, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Everybody Loves Raymond, to name three.

Clarissa was banned because she was a smart-assed (pardon me) tweenager who knew everything about everything while her parents were clueless morons. Um, I’m pretty sure that a natural part of the maturing process from toddler through teen into adult is believing that your parents don’t know anything. From where I was sitting, my son was going to come to this conclusion and might possibly develop the attitude that often accompanies this belief on his own with no help from Clarissa, the Disney Channel or anybody else. My days as the Slayer-of-Monsters-Keeper-of-Fruit-Rollups-Knowledge Goddess were numbered from the time his cord was cut. I was not about to let some sitcom writer with a stunted sense of humor cut those days even further. Forget it! Clarissa got the boot!

Courage and Raymond were punted for a different reason; but, it was the same reason for both shows. Those people were MEAN! Eustace was a horrible human being and, clearly, NOBODY loved Raymond. I have always believed that your home ought to be a safe place – a place where you can feel free to be who you are without fear of judgement, denigration or, as seen in these shows, outright bullying. I don’t know about you; but, I don’t hang out with mean people if I don’t have to and I don’t care who they are. Mean neighbors? Across the fence, thanks. Mean co-workers? See you at the water cooler….in passing. Mean relatives? Across the room at a family reunion is close enough. I figure I have like 20 energy points to use every day. Mean people suck up my energy points and what do I get out of it? Nothing.

Which brings me back to TV, movies and other forms of entertainment. Those mean people suck up my energy, too. Life is too full of REAL issues, REAL negativity and REAL challenges for me to spend all my energy points dealing with pretend ones. I noticed this weekend that I was spending far too many of my energy points on Facebook.

The amount of bigotry and ignorance that I see spreading there unabated gives me a rash. Seriously. People forward the dumbest things without bothering to check validity – like the one I saw this week purporting that Christian children were being forced to practice Muslim prayer. Those children were practicing a tornado drill! Um Fact Checker, Party of None? sigh.

Once upon a time, the greatest fear of nearly every kid I knew was “looking stupid.” Now is seems that the greatest fear is bad lighting – everyone wants the cameras rolling whether they look like an idiot or not. Fact checking is for sissies and fortune favors the BOLD, even if the bold are addlepated.

Social media used to be a form of entertainment for me. Now, too often it reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s remarks in the January 21, 1980, Newsweek article “A Cult of Ignorance” –

The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

It’s not.

This current culture of rampant, willful ignorance! Holocaust Centers? Land mass between New Orleans and Mobile? Slave ship immigrants? I just can’t handle it anymore! It puts my energy points in the negative every day (plus that nasty rash); so, to all these forms of “entertainment,” I quote the immortal Ice Cube:

“Bye, Felicia.”

 

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Somebody Poisoned the Waterhole

A waterhole, an oasis is someplace I go to get relief from daily stresses and from reality, in general. Social media outlets used to be that place for me. I could see photos of friends’ vacations, their children, their pets and their dinner. I could read encouraging stories, find funny memes and see cat videos – you know I love cat video compilations. Social media was a place where I could go to take a break from the world.

It’s not now. That waterhole has been poisoned.

Now it’s a place full of self-righteousness, vitriol and ignorance. I find myself unfollowing more and more people I know – many of whom I even agree with – because I cannot stand the constant negativity. I am angry at the fake news stories being shared without thought or consequence. Those fake stories negatively impact the real stories in the same way that false rape claims reduce the believably of real ones.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t had a first choice candidate win a presidential election since the first time I voted in 1985. I think I’m bad juju (and available for hire to jinx your opponents, for any future candidates out there). Here’s the other thing: I’m an adult. I don’t whine about my candidate losing, not even when I think that the system has been perverted, which has been claimed this year in both the democratic primary and in the general election. I don’t gloat about my secondary candidate winning. And, frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it.

I am a woman and, unlike some of my friends, I have lost jobs and I have been paid less than less qualified male counterparts. I have been sexually assaulted and not reported it because I knew that I wouldn’t be believed anyway. I know that sexual discrimination is alive and well. Still, I didn’t put on a vagina costume (which is, in my opinion, both in poor taste and counterproductive) and take part in a march that accomplished exactly nothing. Planned Parenthood will still be defunded based on lies. Rapists will still walk because their victims weren’t saints. Women will still make, on average, no more than 94 cents for every dollar a man makes. I know all of these things; but, I cannot spend every waking second of every day dwelling on it. I will cease to be able to function, if I do.

And that’s what I see happening around me. As a country, we have drawn lines in the concrete, not in the sand, and we can’t communicate anymore. I remember once having a conversation with my son’s father. He wanted to have a balanced conversation about my religious beliefs, but I distinctly remember morphing into Little Miss Dogma. The entire conversation cratered into a disagreement when it didn’t have to. No real information was exchanged and neither of us was enriched by it. Rather, we were further alienated.

Again, that’s what I see happening around me. So many on both sides are plugging their own ears while shouting their beliefs and demanding to be heard that no one is being edified. Instead, there’s a great deal of really terrible noise. Noise that is dividing us and we’re letting it. Only we can take our fingers out of our ears, stop shouting and choose to listen with an open mind. Only we can chose not to be divided and that is a choice we must make. That is our imperative for, in the words of a much wiser person than I, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

We still have a union; but, we cannot continue to stand this way. We have to stop being Republicans and Democrats, and get back to being Americans.

 

T.Hanks

I want to talk about something a little different today – I’m going to go a little fangirl on you. Yesterday I finished watching Band of Brothers. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg were the executive producers of this miniseries. These two men were also executive producers of The Pacific. They worked together in Saving Private Ryan and clearly believed that The Greatest Generation had more stories to tell; so, they told a few more of them. Some time ago I shared with you something of my own experience at Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery there in Walking Boys Home. That experience was so utterly profound that I feel an obligation to watch all military films based on real people and real events.

I hate it. But that’s beside the point.

People lament that we don’t have any “great” movie stars anymore. We have a surfeit of these idiot, reality show personalities but a dearth of real talent with real character. We have Real Housewives (who, incidentally, probably don’t know how to clean a toilet) and a host of others famous for being famous. People who make money being scandalous, tasteless and exhibitionist – the click-bait millionaires. We don’t have any Jimmy Stewarts, John Waynes, or Gary Coopers. I can think of some exceptions to that, though – Gary Sinise, Angelina Jolie, and Tom Hanks specifically.

In 2016 year, President Obama awarded Hanks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This actor whom I first remember seeing as a cross-dressing guy living in a women’s apartment building drooling over Donna Dixon won the Medal of Freedom. His early career was spent playing silly and sometimes buffoonish parts; but, that all changed when he went to Philadelphia. He played AIDS-stricken, homosexual Andrew Beckett at a time when taking the role of a gay man was a dangerous career move in any film; but, to take that role in a drama discussing a serious subject like discrimination based on sexual orientation was potentially career suicide. It turned out to be his first Oscar-winning role. It was followed by other serious roles that were heroic in some way: Forrest Gump, Jim Lovell, Captain Miller, Paul Edgecomb, Chuck Noland, Captain Richard Phillips and Captain Chesley Sullenberger. Well, and Woody. Behind the camera, he helped tell heroic stories by producing From Earth to the Moon, West Point, Band of Brothers, We Stand Alone Together, John Adams, The Pacific, and so many more. He was instrumental in raising money to build the World War II memorial. In fact, without his efforts, there might not be a memorial.

And there should be.

The US was officially involved in WWII for four years and lost over 400,000 soldiers and citizens. They should be remembered and I’m thankful that someone like Hanks who has the voice and the platform to promote their memory, is willing to do it.

 

 

A Joint Vacation

Joining forces and funds with someone you like is a great way to enjoy a vacation. Unless they’re paying for the whole thing and it’s an amazing, private jet kind of vacation, I don’t suggest joining someone you don’t like. That’s a quick way to jail….not that I know personally, you understand. But I hear things.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my aunt let me tag along with her when she was headed to New Orleans for a few days. We had such a great time! We stopped in Starkville, MS, to watch a Mississippi State Football game. game-girlsWe also visited with family in Jackson, before heading further south to the Crescent City to catch up with our friends and to catch up on our beignets. I’m so glad she asked me to go along! It was my last vacation and one that I could not have afforded to take on my own. We enjoyed a lovely joint vacation.

Since then, friends have invited me to come visit them in Orlando, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle; but, I have not had the money to go. I look with envy on photos that friends post from beach and European vacations. Those kinds of trips are just not in my budget.

Or, I didn’t think they were.

According to The State of Obesity: “Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the United States. Currently, estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year.”  Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says, “By one estimate, the U.S. spent $190 billion on obesity-related health care expenses in 2005-double previous estimates.” And the CDC reports: “The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. In 2008 dollars, these costs were estimated to be $147 billion.The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese individual)”

Any way you slice that, obesity related issues are costing our country and our economy a WHOLE bunch of money. Those numbers are all really too big for me to get a good fix on in my mind. I can, however, fix in my mind the amount that my obesity related injury has cost me (so far): $2217.21 to my doctor and another $3444.26 or so in lost gross wages since the injury first surfaced in July. That’s $5661.47. SO FAR! I think that we can agree that I could have taken a mighty fine vacation on that.

Instead, my ankle demanded that I go to my orthopedist’s office – a totally different kind of joint vacation. Granted, he has three locations; so, I’ve gotten some variety there. Still, it’s not like I’m going from the Louvre to the Musée d’Orsay to Versailles, now is it? I think we can agree that Paris would be a lot more fun.

This year, as you go on vacation, share your photos, please. I abandoned my own health and allowed myself to become unhealthy again; so, until I regain my health, I’ll be jealously viewing those photos from my home.

Dang it.

 

Extra-Medium and Proud of It

Many years ago, I worked with a man named Ray who was one of those quiet people who is also quietly hilarious – you just had to pay attention. Anyway, Ray was just an average sized guy. When we ordered new uniform shirts or whatever, Ray’s response to the size he needed was always, “extra-medium.” All the other sizes got special treatment; so, why shouldn’t medium?

Oddly enough, I think about Ray often when I’m out ordering coffee. It seems that “medium” has become something of a personna non grata these days, or, I suppose a verbo non grata (verbo non grato? Ms Rogers would be appalled at how little Latin I remember.) Anyway, don’t nobody call nothing medium anymore.coffee-sizes

It’s like the concept of medium indicates some kind of indecision, some kind of commitment failure on the part of the person ordering. In fact, this morning, I was out for coffee and the barista asked me twice if I really wanted a medium. If I had ordered a small, she might have thought that I was watching my girlish (guffaw) figure. If I had ordered a large, she might have thought that I really loved coffee. But, I did neither. I ordered a medium. What’s she supposed to do with that?! How is she supposed to know what kind of person I am if I order stuff that middle of the road?!

But, you know what? I am often a middle-of-the-road kind of person. I really do believe in live and let live, for the most part – you know, as long as no one person is harming another. And that attitude gets me more sidelong glances than I think it should.

For instance, I was recently involved in a political discussion (something I generally try to avoid) in which, I pointed out the utter ridiculousness of a comment made by a supporter of a particular candidate – a supporter, mind you, not the candidate themselves. The comment was taking President Obama to task for being at a party during the 9/11 attacks and for staying at the party even after he heard about them. Ummmmm. Clearly, the comment was made in ignorance. There’s just no way to defend that.

However, someone did. He responded like I had attacked his candidate and like if he were to agree with me that the comment was ignorant, he would be being disloyal to his candidate. He seemed to think that he had to support every facet of his candidate and his candidate’s other supporters or he was against them.

And I believe that is dangerous – regardless of which candidate you support.

If we believe in anyone or anything to the point that we are afraid to question it, I believe that is dangerous – even when it comes to religious beliefs. If you can’t question a belief of any kind, then how can you truly defend it? And if you can’t defend it, then do you really understand your “belief” enough to say that you actively believe it or is your “belief’ more of a habit or an heirloom?

To truly know that we believe something, I think that we have to be able to acknowledge its weaknesses or, if it’s a religion and cannot have weaknesses, then its tenets that may be perceived to be weaknesses. For example, I grew up Presbyterian and was once debating the Calvinist theology with a Buddhist friend. She was shocked when my speech was peppered with, “I can see how you would disagree with me; but, I believe because….” I understood my belief system and chose to believe it, not by default, but by active choice.

Still, there were (and are) those who would see my stance as being very middle-of-the-road and uncommitted – very extra-medium, if you will.

Well, in that case, extra-medium fits me just fine.

To the Fullest

You know? Some of us are just a little different from the norm – half a bubble off plumb, you might say. But whatever we are, I really believe we should strive to be the best version of that. Take this kid for instance – he plays the accordion. The accordion. Oom pah pah and all that. Can you imagine the jokes and teasing this young man has had to put up with?! And yet, he’s taken his half bubble off plumb and done this with it. So should we all!

Observations From the Waiting Room

I did no cardio yesterday. Yesterday was just an endurance test in existing.

I left work at midnight Thursday morning and left town at 0200 to drive to Memphis to meet my father and sister at the hospital where my father was to undergo excision of a malignant melanoma. We did the day surgery admissions song and dance from about 0715 to around 1000 when they finally took him back to surgery. My sister Chele and I were both starving so we hit the cafeteria before moving to the waiting room where a caught a few Zzzzzs. The surgery went fine and he was sprung at around 1730. Stopping for dinner and gasoline put me home at somewhere around 2240 – one tired human. Sleep, however, eluded me until after 0100.  I was awake again at 0330. Oh, for pity’s sake!

Fit cardio in there? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Didn’t happen and, frankly, it’s probably not going to happen today, either.

hospital waiting roomI tell you all of that to set the stage for these observations:

  1. (This one might tick some of you off) Obese doctors and nurses carry about the same amount of authority with me as a nun does as a sex education teacher.
  2. Hospital vending machines should offer healthier choices.
  3. Hospital CAFETERIAS should offer healthier choices!
  4. Waiting room chairs are not designed to sleep in.
  5. As a society we need to regain respect for each other in shared areas, i.e. no loud conversations (either in person or on phones), nail clipping or, um, organ adjustments in public spaces.
  6. For the little amount of quality content available, we have too many ways to see it with televisions every. where.
  7. It’s okay to not have background music or television noise all the time.
  8. Fatigue makes you REALLY hungry for any calorie dense thing in the world.
  9. Apples do really perk you up when you’re tired.
  10. If you drink a cup of caffeinated coffee after 11 months of abstinence from caffeinated beverages, it will keep you awake to finish your drive home. And then some.
  11. And, finally, this math equation:

(1)sister + (1)live trap + (1)feral kitty colony = (1)adorable kitten for me to socialize, foster and rehome.

Dad’s surgery went well. We’ll get the node biopsies back in about 10 days. Positive thoughts and prayers on his behalf are appreciated. As I’ve told you many times, I adore that man. We all do.

And, hey! Anybody want a kitten?