Out of Ideas? Not anymore thanks to my zany brain!

•August 29, 2014 • 18 Comments
If we don't come up with a great blog topic, our stats are going to plummet. Our reputation will be ruined. Life as we know it will cease to exist. THINK, dag blammit!

If we don’t come up with a great blog topic, our stats are going to plummet. Our reputation will be ruined. Life as we know it will cease to exist. THINK, dag blammit!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel as if I need to post something, but either:

1. nothing snappy comes to mind.

2. something snappy comes to mind, but I already wrote an awesomelishish post about it and double-dipping just isn’t how I roll.

3. something snappy comes to mind but it’s come to a whole lot of other minds, too.

So I get stuck.

Getting stuck is no fun for anyone.

Getting stuck is no fun for anyone.

Well, I found a website with 81 different ideas for blog topics. Click here if you want to see the site, but I’m going to share the inspirational ideas that came to me after scanning the list.

I gave their topics some thought and here’s what I came up with. I’ll be selective–81 is a lot of topics to mess around with.

1. Health & Fitness for Busy People. Stop sitting down to read blogs and go do something physical not involving a vigorous walk to get fast food.

Super-size that order, please. We have to walk all the way back.

Super-size that order, please. We have to walk all the way back.

2. Language Learning Blogs. Start with your native language and make sure you’ve mastered that one. It’s harder than you think.

Triple oops.

I feel a power outage coming on.

3. How to Travel on a Budget. Sounds uncomfortable. Traveling on a plane or a cruise ship sounds much nicer.

4. Ghost Hunting. Only if the ghosts are released after they are captured. You wouldn’t want to scare them, would you?

5. The Vegan Diet. No. Don’t. Readers will cancel their subscriptions to your blog. Why? They already know giving up meat and dairy is better for them, but they don’t want to be reminded.

6. How to Become Famous. I wouldn’t try this unless you’re already famous and, if you are, you’re probably not spending your precious fame-time writing a blog.

Ha! That's funny. I've got to remember to put that on my blog. NOT!

Ha! That’s funny. I’ve got to remember to put that on my blog. NOT!

7. Becoming a Wine or Beer Connoisseur. I bet this would be a popular blog topic. I’m assuming it involves drinking lots of wine or beer, a favorite past-time among a majority of people who aren’t Amish,  babies, and convicted felons in solitary confinement. None of these types are likely to be blogging anyway. (Although its interesting to think that these three groups have at least one thing in common, isn’t it?)

8. Building a Boat and Crossing the Pacific Ocean in it. Good luck with that. Take plenty of pictures with a water-proof camera for the rescue team. It helps in identifying your remains (if there are any and if anyone finds what’s left of you).

She's hale and hardy. I built her myself and I call her "Half-Baked Alaska" 'cause that's where I'm headed.

She’s hale and hardy. I built her myself and I call her “Half-Baked Alaska” ’cause that’s where I’m headed.

9. How to be a Real and True Friend. This assumes you need instruction on discerning real people from imaginary friends. If you do, you need more help than a blog.

10. How to Train for a Triathlon. The possibilities are almost endless. There’s the Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Triathlon, the Bowling/Billiards/Darts Triathlon, the Sleeping/Snacking/Napping Triathlon, the TV/Blogging/Reading Triathlon, the Laundry/Dishes/Dusting Triathlon, the Walking/Resting/Walking Back Triathlon…Each have different rules and training schedules.

What are you looking at? We're training for a triathlon. 12 more minutes to go, then we have to walk back.

What are you looking at? We’re training for a triathlon. 12 more minutes to go, then we have to walk back.

All of these were ideas on the website I referred to above. If you want more ideas than the ten I listed, just go to that site. Maybe something on there will inspire you like it did me.

Happy blogging, my friends!

Everyone’s a Psychologist Today

•August 22, 2014 • 29 Comments
Please don't bother me now. I'm in the middle of an important psychological experiment.

Please don’t bother me now. I’m in the middle of an important psychological experiment.

Remember when you were a kid and you called someone a moron, idiot or imbecile?

Maybe you don’t have to harken back as far to your childhood. Whatever.

That's a sack of horse hockey if ever I heard it, you moron...

That’s a sack of horse hockey if ever I heard it, you moron…Stay tuned for more of my interview with Mother Theresa.

Maybe kids called you those names (or you still get called those names). Whatever.

The point is that we (and by “we” I mean “I”) thought they were just mean names to call kids that made you (and by “you” I mean “me”) angry.

Only the people in the white lab coats with prescription pads in their pockets knew that these were diagnostic categories for the mentally or intellectually deficient.

Yup.

The terms aren’t used anymore by mental health professionals, at least not in their work.

Here’s the deal-ee-o. In the early 1900s the terms were developed by psychologist Henry H. Goddard.

Score On Standard IQ Test Insulting But Clinically Appropriate Term For You
0 to 25 Idiot
26 to 50 Moron
51-70 Imbecile

Today, it’s a different world. We know more about psychology–probably because we all had to take a class on it in school.Not that many people knew this “back in the good old days,” when we called each other names for the heck of it, right?

And we (by “we” I may or may not mean “I”) think we’re experts on our own psychoses and the mental imbalances of everyone around us.

How many times do we hear the following terms bandied about in everyday conversation?

*OCD

*ADHD

*Paranoid

*Depression

*Psychotic

*Delusional

*Repressed

*Obsessive/Compulsive

*Sociopath

*Co-dependent Enabler

*PTSD

*Bipolar

*Energy Vampire (well, maybe not this one so much)

But you get the picture.

Who made us the expert on us?

I blame self-help books and Psychology Today, the magazine for unprofessionals in the field of psychology. We read these publications and we (again, may or may not be referring to me) think we know more than we do.

If I read this article, maybe I can become an FBI profiler or at least a better judge of character.

If I read this article, maybe I can become an FBI profiler or at least a better judge of character.

For example, many (and by “many,” I mean “way too many”) people have told me I’m obsessive/compulsive. To the legions who believe that, I have two questions:

1. When did being neat, tidy, organized, on time, clean, having to have straight lines straight, needing to keep the Britta water filter filled to the top all the time, and making sure I have at least three extra of everything in my cupboards “just in case” become a disease?

2. What is the difference between obsessive and compulsive?

If I really was obsessive compulsive, I would already know the difference, wouldn’t I? Ha! Gottcha!

Everyone has quirks in their personality.

Quirks don’t equate to full blown diagnosable, medicatable psychological disturbances.

They’re quirks for goodness sake.

Quirks are “peculiar behavioral habits.” Eccentricities. Traits that make you, well, you.

Your quirks may also drive other people (with their own quirks) bonkers.

If you rearrange those pillows again in descending order according to cushiness, I'm going to scream. Actually I am screaming. Stop it!

If you rearrange those pillows again in descending order according to cushiness, I’m going to scream. Actually I am screaming. Stop it! Why can’t you be normal like me?

Sure, some people have real mental distress and need help. A lot of those people went undiagnosed and didn’t get the help they needed before the mental health revolution.

That’s sad. But that doesn’t mean I’m depressed. I’m quirky like that–I’m super sensitive and empathetic. Don’t medicate me, appreciate me!

Oh, and, by the way, “obsessions” are reoccurring and intrusive thoughts while “compulsions” are reoccurring and intrusive actions. And just so you know, I had to look that up.

Makes perfect sense...to me.

Makes perfect sense…to me.

 

What quirks do you have that others elevate to the status of a mental illness?

 

Well, my name does mean “lost.”

•August 15, 2014 • 28 Comments
I knew at least one of my readers was looking for me!

I knew at least one of my readers was looking for me!

Have you been wondering where I’ve been?

Are you worried that I got lost somewhere?

Golly gee willickers! I kinda wondered what happened to me, myself.

What the heck have I been doing while I’ve been the antiblogger blogger?

Well, here are my alibis  excuses  random falderals  extremely important activities of late:

Quilting

I’m an artist. I can’t sit around and look dizzy-blonde gorgeous all day. I have to do something productive besides talking to walking Scrappy and watching TV. So I’ve been making some things to adorn my home. Take a look.

I finally made a bed-sized quilt for me! (And Phil, of course...)

I finally made a bed-sized quilt for me! (And Phil, of course…)

I'm not in Pennsylvania, nor am I Dutch. I just love working with wool and doing things by hand.

I’m not in Pennsylvania, nor am I Dutch. I just love working with wool and doing things by hand. Yup. All this is hand applique.

My guest room needed something happy in it. I call this quilt "Funshine."

My guest room needed something happy in it. I call this quilt “Funshine.”

Camping

I’m not the out-doorsy type, but Phil convinced me to try tent camping at a nice campsite in the Adirondacks. He usually goes wilderness camping and that sounded too extreme for me. My squatting-to-pee days are behind me for more reasons than I will enumerate for your benefit. We drove to the site in a freaking downpour. Couldn’t even see the hood of the car because of the sheets of rain coming down! But it cleared up and the site was sandy and pitched just enough so that we didn’t have to set up the tent in a small pond.

Our site. No close neighbors except for a persistent and cute chipmunk.

Our site. No close neighbors except for a persistent and cute chipmunk.

Path leading to the pond that was supposed to be there (as opposed to the one created by the rain).

Path leading to the pond that was supposed to be there (as opposed to the one created by the rain).

View from our tiny "beach." The pond was high due to the wet summer we've had.

View from our tiny “beach.” The pond was high due to the wet summer we’ve had.

The days were in the high 60s-low 70s and the nights go down to the mid-50s. I never slept on such a cold pillow in my life. And my bladder being what it is, the midnight trip to the latrine was frosty. But, oh, the stars! I forgot how many stars you can see when you’re in the pitch black of a mountain night. I’m ready to go again!

Totally Happy Campers!

Totally Happy Campers!

Getting Ready to be Illegally Hitched

When I got divorced, I signed a document that barred me from getting married until I was 67. I know. What the fur ball, right? But, at the time, I was feeling deeply wounded. Being alone for the rest of my life sounded both realistic and kind of restful. I had no clue Phil would orbit back into my life and come in for a landing.

But he did. And his landing gear is stuck this time.

We’re engaged. I have a ring. We have our wedding date set for my 67th birthday.

Waiting for a formal, legal shindig, however, seemed kind of silly. We and all of our family and friends (who weren’t dead or disabled) would have to strap on our orthopedic shoes, make sure our Depends undergarments didn’t bunch up when we shuffled on the dance floor, and would have to do Geritol shots just to make it through the evening.

No. We want to party (and have pictures) while we’re still looking good on this side of 60 and have some shimmy left in our tushes.

On September 14 we’re getting illegally, or informally, hitched. What does this mean? We’re having a party with 30 of our family and friends, saying our own short vows. No one officially sanctioned to make us husband and wife will be within a 50 mile radius. Then it’s just a catered dinner and a DJ. Sure, I’ve planned the whole thing: the venue, my dress, decorations, flowers, menu, music… But it’s not a wedding. We’ll do that before a Justice of the Peace when I’m 67. I wonder if my dress will still fit me…

Spit-Polishing my New Novel

I know. I know.

I’ve been talking about this “new novel” for a long time.

Well, it takes a long time to write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite a novel.

The whole thing should come together in late September (we’re not going on a honeymoon).

I’m hoping that your anticipation is building.

I’m also hoping I become better at marketing, like, overnight so that this book gets the attention I know it deserves.

How’s this for a teaser?

Meri had a dream. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.

Born of a tenacious need to prove her hostile mother wrong and to please her rarely present, but beloved, father, Meri decided to become a famous fashion designer in Paris. 

Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even talented immigrants from Finland. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri persevered–vowing she would never return to Finland and never give up on her dream. Turning back, her father had told her, was a sign of weakness. 

Join Meri as she forges ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braces for Hitler’s invasion, she cares for her half-Jewish child as a single parent throughout the occupation, and she finds her way to America in hopes of keeping her dream alive. 

This story is based on real people and events. Names, specific places and some details have been changed to fictionalized the tale.

Given all of this, I’m kind of too pooped to blog every day  other day  week.

I really need to get a few things off my plate before I can start blogging again like I used to. Maybe I should start with getting ME off my plate...

I really need to get a few things off my plate before I can start blogging again like I used to. Maybe I should start with getting ME off my plate…

So, what have you been up to lately?

 

 

 

World-Wide Violence and Veggie Burgers: Is There a Connection?

•July 25, 2014 • 33 Comments
Take it back. No you take it back. No you take it back. What is it that we're supposed to be taking back, anyway?

Take it back. No you take it back. No you take it back. What is it that we’re supposed to be taking back, anyway?

It’s (by “it’s,” I mean hatred and violence) everywhere.

And it’s (same definition) not just today; it’s (you know the drill) been doing on since human learned to walk upright and use our free arms to pick up things to use as weapons against each other.

Yeah, this'll hurt...

Yeah, this’ll hurt…

Let’s face it, we have mean streaks coursing through us. Sure, some of have teeny weeny trickles and others have raging rivers; most have mean streaks falling somewhere between the two extremes.

Get enough people together–and it doesn’t take many–with the wider mean streaks who believe with all their hearts that they’re right and the people who are “wrong” need some fixing, and you’ve got trouble with a capital T.

I’ll give you a little example.

My headdress makes me look bigger than I am. I'm really just a very small example.

My headdress makes me look bigger than I am. I’m really just a very small example.

I attended a wedding. If people can’t all get along at a small wedding, what hope do we have for the world? (This is a rhetorical question, although the answer is zerofinity.)

My niece got married. The venue was her back yard–a small, lovely setting. The guests numbered no more than 30 or so family and friends.

Basically it was a relaxed summer afternoon party.

Everything was going great until the grill was fired up. Until then, the guests imbibed in beer and wine–some more than others.

I think this guy is an efficiency expert.

I think this guy was an efficiency expert.

One family friend of my niece’s father stationed himself at the grill.

I thought, “How nice. He’s helping out so family won’t have to do the grilling of the obligatory flesh.” (This is how vegans think–we’re kind and refer to former live beings now used for food as “flesh.”)

The first thing on the grill were homemade veggie burgers. My sister, Tina, is a master at making veggie burgers for her sisters and others who are either vegan or vegetarian. She’s a doll.

Tina: “Just put these on the grill to warm them up. They’re already cooked.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “What’re they?” (Assume he’s slurring some of his words.)

Tina: “Veggie Burgers.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “What? Sissy Burgers?” (Laughing hysterically at his lame wit)

Whose the sissy?

Whose the sissy?

Tina: “Hey! I made them myself and they’re delicious. Just make sure they don’t touch any meat.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “Yessir!” (Muttering. He works with her husband, who was standing there, and didn’t want to push it.)

Things took a turn for the worse when I got there, wanting a warmed up veggie burger.

Me: “I’ll take one of those, please.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “You want a Sissy burger? Whatsa matter with you? Can’t handle a real burger?”

Me: “No. I just want a veggie burger. Please.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “Oh, yeah. I remember. You’re one of those wimpy vege-whatchamacallits. Don’t you know not eatin’ meat’ll kill you?”

Here’s where I made a fatal error. I tried to correct him. I tried to use logic. On a drunken man who loves to argue.

Me: “Actually, vegetarians are generally much healthier than people who eat meat and dairy every day.”

Shnockered Grill Dude: “Not you. You’re sick all the time. If you ate meat, maybe you wouldn’t be so sick.”

Total below-the-belt punch and I felt it. Here’s where I made another fatal error. Can you make two fatal errors in one encounter? Apparently I can.

My first fatal error: not enough eye shadow. My second fatal error: too much blush.

My first fatal error: not enough eye shadow. My second fatal error: too much blush.

Me: (after stalling a bit from shock) “I’m not sick all the time. Look at me. Do I look sick to you?” (I looked and felt great that day.) But I was clearly defensive. I could have been offensive and had a snarky comeback like, “When did you have the time to go to medical school?” But that’s just not me.

Shnockered Grill Dude: (Changing the subject because I had him beat on that point) “Cows like to be eaten.” He took a big swig of beer.

Me: I just stared up at him. He’s 6’4” and a construction worker. A feisty comeback could have been, “Wow, I feel privileged to be in the presence of a Bovine Whisperer.” No. not me.

Tell me what I'm thinking. I dare you. I double-dog dare you.

Tell me what I’m thinking. I dare you. I double-dog dare you. Okay. Hint. I’m NOT thinking about  the joy of slaughtering.

Shnockered Grill Dude: “I grew up on a farm and I just know that you raise cows…well, steers, for slaughter. It’s just the way of things. Plus everybody needs protein, and people who don’t eat meat don’t get enough protein. I saw a football player and golfer who went veg and they just lost their edge. It was pitiful. No energy.” If I could’ve remembered runner Carl Lewis, football’s Joe Namath, tennis players Martina Navratilova or Billie Jean King, or Iron Man World Champ Dave Scott–all famous vegetarian athletes, I might have offered them up to counter his no-name athletes who supposedly spun into oblivion without their prime rib. But I didn’t.

I know the science behind plant-based protein and the fact that most Americans get too much, not too little, protein. But I just couldn’t stay in this insane conversation. I wanted to eat Tina’s delicious veggie burger and get the heck away from this insipid, loopy, grill oaf.

Me: “Can I please have a veggie burger. I’ll take my chances.”

After many attempts to divert the conversation and even after a sincere hug to try to end the battle, he still needled me–a hyena enjoying the easy kill.

I'm so freaking right, you never had a chance, Dr. Dizzy Blonde Buddhist Wimp.

I’m so freaking right, you never had a chance, Dr. Dizzy Blonde Buddhist Wimp.

The most interesting thing about the encounter is that, a few days after, I spoke with my sister and her husband about what happened and how I felt (he’s their friend).

They said “Your problem was that you showed weakness and he took advantage of that…plus he was drunk. It’s just him being him.”

So it’s my fault I wanted a veggie burger and got attacked?

Do I look like someone ready to rumble...I mean fight? Heck no! I'm about the love, Baby, not about war.

Do I look like someone ready to rumble…I mean fight? Heck no! I’m about the love, Baby, not about war.

Is it any wonder that all around the world people who don’t even know each other want to kill each other? A man I know went all verbal storm-trooper on my Buddhist butt over a harmless veggie burger.

Has anyone else out there had altercations over ridiculous things like this?

The “B” Word

•July 22, 2014 • 22 Comments
No! Not that "B" word! This is a G-rated blog.

No! Not that “B” word! This is a G-rated blog.

Bureaucracies.

Unless you live in the woods and the only thing modern around you is your band spankin’ new three-hole outhouse, you and bureaucracies are on a first-name basis whether you like it or not.

The separate stalls fer privacy ain't a bad touch, huh?

The separate stalls fer privacy ain’t a bad touch, huh?

And probably you don’t like them. Most people get redder than a baboon’s behind at the mere mention of the “B” word, yet bureaucracies are tangled up in nearly every aspect of our lives.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a dignified picture of a baboon butt? I don't suggest you try.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a dignified picture of a baboon butt? I don’t suggest you try.

No wonder so many people act like apes gone nuts, only worse because they’re armed (with weapons, I mean).

The interesting thing about bureaucracies is that, pound-for-pound, they’re the most efficient way of organizing large groups of people to get stuff done…when they work as they should.

The problem with bureaucracies (and this is kind of a big problem) is that they hardly ever work as they should. That’s why most of us have nothing but PTSD when we think about dealing with any government agency, credit card company, bank, hospital, retailer, university, or you name it.

But the overdraft was just for $2.00. Oh, golly. Can't you please forgive me just this once? You don't have the authority? Who does? Please don't tell me his last name is Oz...

But the overdraft was just for $2.00. Oh, golly. Can’t you please forgive me just this once? You don’t have the authority? Who does? Please don’t tell me his last name is Oz…

Maybe if you understand some of the predictable problems with bureaucracies, at least you can play a little game when you run into them, thereby making the experience somewhat more fun.

No? Well, it’s worth a try. It’s better than wondering how people with supposed brain waves can screw things up so royally and get paid for it. You’ve got better things to wonder about, like how global warming is different from global climate change and how either will affect your barbecue plans.

Common Problems in All Bureaucracies

The Peter Principle. People will be promoted in an organization to their level of incompetence and stay there. This is a phenomenon observed by a man named Laurence Peter, so it doesn’t only apply to managers named Peter. In bureaucracies, people who do a good job are rewarded by being promoted. Well, usually people get promoted one too many times to a job they’re not suited for, so they’re not getting promoted again. But they’ve been good employees, so no one want to demote them. So there they stay, being stupid-heads in charge of your area.

Duh, huh. My name's not Peter. I just got promoted from the mail room. Now I'm in charge of Human Resources. Duh, huh. What's a human resource?

Duh, huh. My name’s not Peter. I just got promoted from the mail room. Now I’m in charge of Human Resources. Duh, huh. What’s a human resource?

Parkinson’s Law. I’m not talking about jittery people working at high stress jobs, although there are plenty of those. This idea was posited by Cyril Northcote Parkinson. It’s basically the idea that work expands to fill the time made available for it’s completion. Deadlines. That’s what I’m talking about. Set a deadline for two weeks and everyone needs two weeks to get it done. Move the deadline out another week. Whew! Everyone needed that extra week. Push it up a week. Poof! Somehow the work got completed. It’s like that mysterious foamy insulation stuff you see on HGTV home renovation shows. Magic.

It's alive!

It’s alive!

Putt’s Law. Archibald Putt came up with this law, which describes two types of people in bureaucracies: those who understand what they don’t manage and those who don’t understand what they do manage. Why in the world would any organization would want incompetent people managing competent people? Simple! Power, Baby. People at the top want to stay at the top, so they don’t want any power-grabbing from their middle managers. The Big Cheeses spend a lot of time figuring out how to keep the people who know their shizzle in their place. It’s brilliant, really. Put people who don’t know anything in charge of people who know everything. But because they are managers, the people who don’t know anything think they know everything and the poor grunts at the bottom of the totem pole think they must not know anything because they never get promoted. Neither group is going to threaten the status of the Big Cheese. Forget going to business school, get a degree in psychology…or better yet–sociology (my discipline)!

Paradoxical Red Tape. You know the drill. If you don’t have the proper form filled out perfectly with the proper signatures in all the proper places, you might as well go home and cut your toe nails, wait for them to grow, and cut them some more. Bureaucracies are designed for the routine cases, not for special cases. If you fill out the paperwork properly, chances are things will go your way. But if you have any special circumstances, the whole “B” machine comes to a mind-numbing, grinding halt. You’ll find yourself wrapped up in more red tape than a holiday package decorated by a OCD crafter from the Midwest.

Could someone put a finger on the bow for me?

Could someone put a finger on the bow for me?

Next time (which is probably right…about…now) you’ll have a run-in with a bureaucracy, just know that:

1. You are not alone. Just shy of 7,000,000,000 people are with you. (The world’s population minus a few million to account for people on desert islands, remote regions we haven’t wreaked yet, and the voluntarily permanent campers).

Not technically large enough to form a bureaucracy, but there was definitely a pecking order...

Not technically large enough to form a bureaucracy, but there was definitely a pecking order…

2. You tend to forget the many times each day that bureaucracies are humming along smoothly and making your day run well. We tend to notice them only when we have trouble with them–kind of like our neighbors.

3. With the good comes the not-so-good. Your mail gets delivered to you most days just fine. You go to the post office one day just to buy some stamps and have to wait in a line and wonder if some new iPhone just came out and the US Postal Service is now the only place people can get it. It happens (as in shizzle happens).

I knew I should have gone to the bathroom before I came here...

I knew I should have gone to the bathroom before I came here…

4. Given your new-found knowledge of all these pee P laws and principles, if you run into frustrations with your bureaucracy du jour, test yourself to see if you can figure out which problems they are.

I’ll make sociologists out of you yet!
I may be a retired college professor of sociology, but I’m not dead yet!

Interested in culture and how the society we live in influences the people in that society? Well, then...sociology is the discipline for you!

Interested in culture and how the society we live in influences the people in that society? Well, then…sociology is the discipline for you!

Just for giggles, do you have any stories about run-ins with bureaucracies you’d like to share?

 
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