Monthly Archives: August 2014

Blue Paper

Once upon a time there was blue toilet paper…and toilet paper with pretty flowers…and scented toilet paper. In other words, there once was a country where choices were as plentiful as the stars. Well, maybe not, but you get the general idea.

I’m not one of these old fogeys who thinks everything was better “in the old days,” but I am an observer of history. I like technology and “new and improved,” but some of the items that have vanished into the mists of time have done so for disturbing reasons: what I call the “one size fits all” mentality. It can also be referred to as the “if everyone can’t do it/have it, then no one can” philosophy.

The only problem with this type of limiting mentality is that it’s the preferred philosophy of dictators and totalitarian regimes. We often see it in science fiction shows where the so-called “utopia” is a bland landscape of blacks and greys and anyone found wearing a smidgeon of color is banished as a mental aberrant.

In science fiction, the hero usually upsets the equilibrium, rescues the damsel in distress, and frees the oppressed people.

But in reality, who will free us from the food and product PC police who have determined that only unscented white toilet paper can be sold, that junk food must be banned for everyone, that education can be stamped out with a cookie cutter, or that commercial competition is a bad thing. If a town wants to start up their own cable company, why can’t they? If a restaurant desires to serve fat, greasy, fried foods, why not? Those who want to eat there can, those who don’t can find somewhere else to eat.

I guess the worst example of this fading lifestyle is laundry soap. I know all the reasons why companies are turning liquid laundry soap and fabric softener into something that smells like it came out of a week old refrigerator, but please; I like the smell of fragranced clothes. Yes, I have allergies and I often find myself sneezing down that particular aisle of the store. However, I do not like my clothes reeking when they come out of the washing machine. Is it too much to ask that fragrances be returned to the soap? Put a warning label on them if you like, but give us a choice.

As American companies turn more and more to PC products to please an invisible, unspecific, and undetermined clientele, I will find foreign products that haven’t yet succumbed. Viva la freedom of choice!

 

 

 

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The Height of Stupidity

It seems the farther we get from what is truly important, the more we glamorize the trivial. A glaring example is the tendency of the average citizen to jump on the bandwagon of “fads” involving worthy causes.

For example, the well meaning, but totally clueless folks who think dumping ice water on themselves will do anything to help cure, fund, or solve ALS. Do they charge sightseeing fees to help fund ALS research? Are they paying a fee for the ice water and donating the money to ALS research? Have they contracted with water companies to donate a certain amount of money to ALS research for every gallon of water squandered?

All I see are gullible people who are in the public eye, calling attention to themselves as if their actions demonstrate a genuine concern for ALS patients or their families.

The same foolishness abounds with other cancer research. I’m a woman, but the idea that an entire stadium of people wearing pink somehow magically sends money to breast cancer research is ludicrous. Was there a site to buy the shirts, which then donated the money to cancer research? Did the football franchise donate part of the ticket sales to cancer research? Did the fans made a donation as they entered the stadium (over and above their ticket) so the money could be collected at sent to research or families of the cancer patients?

As the caregiver of a patient with CLL, I am highly offended by these so-called “concerned” people who do absolutely nothing to raise money for research or the families suffering from cancer. “Oh, but it calls attention to the cancer and its research!” I’ve heard someone gush. Exactly how? When did pouring ice water explain what ALS is or how you contract it or how to prevent it? When did wearing pink lower the costs of preventative exams or help families pay for gas, food, lodging, etc. while traveling to and fro from cancer treatments or appointments? When did playing “secret” girls’ only games with suggestive overtones help cancer families pay bills or send their kids to college?

If you really, truly want to help with cancer awareness or cancer research, then participate in the American Cancer Society’s Run/Walk for Hope. Most communities sponsor one or two a year. Oh, wait. That’s right, the folks doing the stupid activities really can’t be bothered with an all night walk around a track. That would “cost” too much effort, time, and commitment. Funny, how the cancer patients and their caregivers don’t find it too difficult to participate.

Or how about hosting a fundraiser and establishing a scholarship for children of cancer patients; not just those who have lost the fight, but the ones who are struggling with cancer, who gave up jobs and income to fight this battle, who are struggling to pay huge medical bills. Oh, wait. That takes a lot of work, time, commitment…and being more concerned with others than with calling attention to one’s self.

Cancer is very personal and a terrible road to walk. If you’re going to walk it with us, get serious, not frivolous.

Taking Things For Granted

One of the things I learned while living overseas is how many little things we take for granted….and how vital they are to our current way of life.

Take electricity, for instance. Immediately we think of lights and power to cook. But have a constantly available source of electricity goes far beyond mere lights and cooking. Ever try to entertain small children when they’ve been deprived of access to their video games and Internet and the house is too dark to read a book? Imagine being in 100-degree heat with no fans inside a closed room. The proverbial furnace has nothing on an apartment complex deprived of air flow. Even simple things like brushing teeth or flushing toilets can be complicated by no electricity, especially in areas where the water is pumped into homes from cisterns or wells. Suddenly, lack of water adds to the electricity issues.

Of course, living in America we seldom face lack of electricity or water, yet it does happen during inclement weather as lines and pipes burst.

Another thing we take for granted is vision. Today I broke my glasses. No problem, I just put on my contacts and away I went. However, the reason I switched back to glasses from contacts is wearing the lenses for even a couple of hours badly irritates my eyes. Suddenly, routine tasks are complicated with an inability to see. Driving is impossible and I wonder how I’m going to teach my classes until I can get to an optometrist and get new glasses.

Oh, I almost forgot: a regular teaching day is from 7:20 until 4:05., and the optometrist is 45 minutes away. Good luck catching one before the office closes!

All the little things keep adding up until a small problem becomes a big problem. Yet, in spite of it all, we have it much better than folks did a hundred years ago, or even 50.

I still remember reading stories of rural women in the 40s and 50s in the hill country of Texas who lived without modern conveniences like indoor plumbing or electricity.

So maybe I won’t be able to clean the cobwebs this week or do any ironing and writing a blog means ramping up the font size four times more than usual, but I am blessed to live in a world where being nearsighted isn’t a curse and I’m not considered useless just because I have “weak” eyes.

I am thankful for the thousand and one little things that make our lives easier and convenient.

Catty wompus, conniptions, and whopperjawed

You gotta love Texans….if we can’t think of a word we just make one up one the spot. Doesn’t matter what word we use as a placeholder or invent, most of the folks ’round here instinctively get our drift.

The other day I was in a store chatting with the clerk and she used a term I hadn’t run across before: whopperjawed (also whomperjawed). Such a lovely word! I immediately had to add it to my expanding vocabulary, along with catty whompus, doofachy and conniption.

The other interesting thing about these made up words is the inconsistent spelling. After all, most of them are based on phonetics and the dialects will dictate the spelling. For example: catty whompus, cattywampus, caddy wampus, cattie wompus.

I also love the variety of words for gizmos and gadget–you know, those things that we either can’t recall the real word for, or just plain don’t know whatchamacallit: thingamabob, thingamadoodle, doofachy, thingermajig.

Some words work equally well for people or things, such as doofachy. When used with a person, you can substitute for first and last names: doofachy zizbattery; although only when referring the person in the third person.

Conniptions and hissy fits are apt and descriptive and sound more colourful than simply saying, “he got mad.” And a board that is slaunchways seems more off kilter than merely stating, “it’s crooked.”

Language is personable and evolving; and while some terms should be dropped in to abysmal darkness of the Marianna Trench, these slightly old-fashioned and interesting terms ought to be around for a long time since they transcend geographic and political boundaries, as well as language boundaries. Anyone can use them and you still pick up the meaning from context.

So what’s your favorite nonsensical word?

 

 

Surrender–humanity’s real issue with Christianity

Over the years I’ve heard lots of reasons given why people reject Christianity; some have basis in legitimate issues, but most are flimsy, tissue paper excuses that come apart under close scrutiny.

It’s always amazed me that the very people who poke fun at Christianity have a tendency to believe equally incredible philosophies; perhaps because it is easier than admitting the real reason people wrestle with Christianity.

Surrender. At the heart of the gospel is man’s need to surrender everything he is to accept the gift of salvation. People struggle with the concept of surrender; we see it as weak, as conceding defeat, giving in or giving up. Surrender reveals the fallacy of our belief that we are the captains of our souls, the masters of our fate. (Invictus, by William Ernest Henley).

Yet there is nothing weak in admitting we need help in the midst of impossible circumstances. No matter how accomplished a swimmer, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, one is still powerless to save oneself. Nothing we have is worthy of bringing us to God’s notice, and that is an uncomfortable truth to admit in a culture that prides itself on self-determination, independence, and the ability to overcome.

Surrender is also the great leveler. Our innate desire is to be better than others, to separate people into groups or categories of differing levels of ability or worth. Surrender makes kings equal with beggars and that chafes our souls as nothing else can. We cannot tolerate the idea that everything we have accomplished is worth no more or less than the filthy rags of a Skid Row bum.

Too long conditioned by our culture to see surrender as a negative quality, we miss the blessings of surrender. A couple of years ago, my husband and I were struggling with health issues, which took a financial toll on our family. We were getting by, but there was nothing left over to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Some dear friends decided to gift us an anniversary trip to Alaska, complete with cruise, plane tickets, and hotel accommodations. It was an overwhelming gift. The only thing we were required to do: surrender in the face of such love and friendship.

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