Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BuckyBalls, the odds are in your favor

I have heard lately of ridiculous overreaching by government entities whose purpose seems to be to take some people down just because they need a justification for their department's existence.  In the depths of a recession, I can somewhat understand that part of self preservation that wants to preserve your job at all costs.

But my question is whether the Consumer Products and Safety Commission is really in jeopardy or are they really just on some sort of magnetic witch-hunt?  

I ask this because the CPSC has decided to go after BuckyBalls trying to shut down their entire operation because out of 2.2 million units sold since 2009, 20 cases have been reported of children ingesting them.  This happens despite the fact that BuckyBalls are marketed as a stress relief office "toy" for ages 14 and over and warning against swallowing them is plastered in 5 different places.  You can't miss it.

But apparently, because a handful of people don't pay attention to clearly posted warning labels it's not their fault for having completely ignored the warning labels, or didn't keep an eye on their children who then proceed to locate the BuckyBalls and think they would make a tasty treat.  

Since we can no longer be held accountable despite the warnings, everything that may cause accidental death should be removed as well, right?

Forget the 20 out of 2.2 million statistic.  Let's get rid of the top 5 causes of childhood accidental death.

5) Poisons-- Let's get rid of every single toxic substance in our homes.  Let's get rid of all the cleaners, all the car related chemicals in the garage.  Everything.  We'll save 45,000 children per year.  Somehow I don't think our chemical companies will be terribly impressed by this move, but we'll probably all be healthier.

4) Falls--Forget high rises and all multi-level houses.  We need to level all of them and make them single level, just in case.  No allowing them to ride bikes or scooters or skateboards or climb trees.  We'll save 47,000 children per year.  Wow.

3) Burns--Eliminate all matches and lighters.  No more barbecues or fireplaces. No more gas water-heaters. We'll microwave everything but only to safe and tepid temperatures.  That way no one will ever get burned again.  We'll save 96,000 per year.

2) Drowning--We'll require mandatory swim lessons for every child and no more personal backyard pools will be allowed without a hired lifeguard.  We'll save 175,000 children annually.

1) Cars--Let's go back to horses and buggies.  Or, actually those are dangerous too. Let's just walk everywhere.  There are an estimated 260,000 childhood deaths because of car accidents every year and  10 million injuries, all preventable by just not using vehicles anymore.

I'm sorry, but we have to be able as a society to allow people to be stupid, make mistakes, and pay a price.  It's the cost of being human and it shouldn't be any other way. 

Government has no business wrapping us in bubble wrap.

So I'm participating in supporting BuckyBalls.  They are fighting the CPSC, and we can help!  

Join me in Saving Their Balls!

If you buy a set, you can even get a 40% discount by entering the promo code : suckitgroupon

Join me in supporting free enterprise and fun office toy magnets!

Monday, July 30, 2012

*Shrug* You Win Some, You Lose Some

For the second time (or is it third now?) I ended up having fate intervene and prevent me from finishing the Ultimate Blog Challenge in 31 days.

Some sort of flu-like inflammation managed to hit me last week around this time. By the time that night rolled around I was barely able to walk and unable to sleep even with painkillers.

By morning, I was running a low grade fever and unable to move.

I still have no idea that nasty bug that made its way through my system.  All I know is that it flattened me for a few days and taught me what it's like to be unable to walk more than a very painful, hobbling few feet to the bathroom.

It took me a few days of bed rest, sleeping, and generally being miserable to start feeling human again.

While I still have lingering soreness in my low back and hip, and no fever, I am much improved.  I can for the most part move around and feel more like I overexerted a little than anything else.

However, unable to complete the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Oh, well!

However, it has shown me the blessedness of having family close by to help me get around, bring me things when I can't move, and generally take care of me when I'm ailing.

As always the blog challenge has introduced me to new blogs and new folks to follow and learn from.
In the end, I think that's what matters most anyway.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I owe it to my readers

While I did have another blog not terribly long ago, this particular blog is quite new and had few readers.  Little did I know that I was making enough of an impact to actually win an award already.  Such things are always a wonderful surprise.  Thanks to the lovely and darling Danielle Cloakey at CloakeyNotes I am the proud recipient of a Fabulous Blog Ribbon.

But, with great awards come great responsibility, so I give you the litany of answers to burning questions that I know are on your mind.  Gosh, I don't know how I'm supposed to narrow my most fabulous moments down to five?!!


1.  Receiving my Master of Arts in English Literature last September.  Despite the down economy and various crazy things that have popped up in my life, I can honestly say I am most delighted to say I have an M.A.  And that I finally finished my thesis.  It may still be packed in a box, but by golly it is a delight to see my work in print even if it grows furry dust sitting on a university library shelf.

2. Meeting my closest friends.  I could go through and enumerate the circumstances for each, but that would turn this blog into a novel or at the very least a novella.  Let's just say, my friends are freakishly fabulous.  My love for them abounds.  If they knew, really knew, how much I loved them it might creep them out.  So I'll just give a hug or, if they prefer, a head nod and 'Ssuuup?' or perhaps a fistbump. 

3. Going to Hawaii--Yeah, I wasn't ever wealthy by any means, but my local church group held a plethora of bake sales and garage sales and sent our tiny youth group to Hawaii on a shoestring budget. It was awesome!!  The sights were mindblowing, the food was wonderful, and I had the best pineapple of my natural life while sailing on a catamaran.  Also got one of the worst sunburns of my life, but who really cared?? It was so worth it. I even got visit a beach that was wiped out several years later and doesn't exist anymore.  There's nothing quite as shocking as looking at the lava-melted sign of the burger stand where you got a bite to eat being featured on a National Geographic special.

4. Seeing the Phantom of the Opera in Toronto--The theater was amazing and definitely better production values than the touring stage production.  Everything was decorated permanently for the long run of the play, and I was there with my friend that became my first love.  It was as if awesome was on steroids.  The passion and emotion of the play, and the passion and emotion of feeling truly, madly, deeply, loved.

5. Being there when my brother was born.  I was only 7 1/2 years old, but I got to be in the room when my brother entered the world.  I have loved him to pieces ever since.  


1.  Movies--I love old movies and new movies.  I just stay away from pure romantic movies. If there's a time traveling mailbox or its an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, I'm out.

2. Food-- Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, and a glass of Merlot.  (Totally worth the Lactaid.)  And of course, sipping Mimosas on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.  That is the symphonic convergence of ambiance and beverage.

3.  Being Creative--Being one of those people who is easily bored, I often look for more creative and different ways to do things.  I love art and I love writing so anything that broadens my mind and my art is fantastic.

4. Music--I love listening to it and singing.  I have such a prohibitively long list of favorites, I could almost create my own version of Pandora just from my personal music library.

5. Books--Old books are heavenly, and new books are grand.  I love reading as much as I love writing.


1.  Inconsiderate drivers--A growing population of people who don't realize they are driving a killing machine and drive recklessly, talk on their cell phones while driving and making turns one-handed, texting, and otherwise not taking into account the other people around them.  We've made vehicles so comfortable that they forget that it is heavy machinery.

2.  People who talk on their cell phones in the public restroom--Not only is it a little gross if you are using a phone while answering nature's call, but if you decided to make the restroom a hangout to spend an hour doing your makeup and gabbing, I feel like I'm having to interrupt your conversation to do my business which is just icky.  And generally if I run into said person I get an eye roll as if they own the restroom.  I hate that.

3. Texting the whole time you are out with friends. If I go out with friends I want to be with friends.  Why go out with one person if the whole time you really obviously want to be out with someone else? You spend much more time textually conversing with someone else rather than actually conversing with the flesh-and-blood human in front of you, so either go out with them or invite them along with us.  Don't leave me sitting and playing Angry Birds.  We can all do that at home alone.

4. Anything related to the Kardashians or Jersey Shore. It irks me that they get paid to be idiots and that we as a culture have decided that it's fun to watch people being idiots in real life.  

5. Getting slimy stuff on my hands.  There is a commercial for Kohler faucets that gives me the willies because of all the junk on peoples hands.  Really.  Anything too gooey or sticky and I'm putting on gloves.  

Five Nominations for Fabulous Blog Award

These are the five that I checked out today. My apologies if you already got the award, but here they are:

1. Christin Smith--Mum's Blog http://www.mumsblog.org/

2. Sandi Tuttle--http://www.averagewomansj.com/

3. Dianne Jones, Knitting Galore--http://dianne-jones.blogspot.com/

4. Ronda Devereaux--http://www.choicelifestrategies.com/blog

5. Mary Martens--http://coachingmary.wordpress.com/2012/07/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Body,

I found a really heartfelt post, thanks to the Ultimate Blog Challenge that I have been doing.  I love the idea that we share each other's blogs, but also the sense of camaraderie among my fellow writers.  It's lovely to reach out and draw closer to other bloggers.

 While I realize the deadline for inclusion in the little online contest on the SheLoves website has past, I find it valuable to have a little conversation with myself.

Dear Body,

First, I'd like to apologize for not recognizing your many years of service to this company.  You have survived dance classes, 10 sprained ankles that we have on record, 2 serious knee injuries, a dent on the forehead, overheating, illness, asthma, flu, road rash, sprained wrists, sprained fingers including from shot putting, a stabbed thumb from an Xacto blade, a burned toe from chicken and wine sauce, ineffectual application of sunscreen in Hawaii, and a host of minor and not so minor incidents that I can't even recall.
We've been through a lot together you and I.

We've been thin and thick with lots more time in the thick.  We've been in pretty darn good shape and yet when we were thinner and yet I insisted we were chunky.  My sincerest apologies for my many unjust judgments.

When loved ones have passed away, you have continued your daily faithful pumping of blood, functioning of brain, and breathing in and out.  Each one of these feats is nothing short of commendable, and yet you have gotten the short shrift for not being enough.

I have berated you for not being thin enough or pretty enough to attract a mate.  When I was young and short I was convinced I wouldn't be tall enough and that I would stay flat-chested.  I would like to apologize for not having faith that all these things work out.

I want to thank you for functioning fingers and hands and wrists.

And especially thanks for being such a good house for my other friends known as my mind and my soul.

If you will stick with me, I promise to continue to fuel you better, rest more often, and give you a place to rest from our nemesis, pain.

I would also like to thank you for amazing hair, pretty eyes, and all of the things you don't hear nearly enough complements about.

We are a team.  And I promise to keep in mind that we aren't fighting against each other, we need to be a team fight against  pain and stress and the outside pressures that drag us down.  I promise not to blame you for the fact that I am still single.  This is not our fault, for we are both endeavoring to be the best we can be.

Thanks, Body.  You are awesome.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Discovering something new

Being an artist and a writer, I'm always exploring, improving, and otherwise looking for ways to express myself in new ways.

Thanks to a rampant round of insomnia, I managed to discover an artist named Natasha Westcoat.

Starting while she was still a teenager back in 2004, she started selling her work online and since then has sold an astounding 1000 pieces.

Her work has been so successful that not only is it all over the place, but now located as patterns on linens in major department stores.  For a relatively short career, she did what many aspiring artists like myself dream about: making it big.

While making it big would be exciting, big for me these days would be eeking a living.

However, her story inspired me in another way, in that it has turned me on to a growing art movement.  Whereas I had always thought that art had to be huge (after all, my instructors were always encouraging bigger and bigger) it seems that more people are catching on to a trend of shrinking.

What I am referring to is Artist Trading Cards.  The idea is to create original works of art but tiny that can be exchanged for other tiny works.  Clubs have formed around the world, and you can even do exchanges of work online to get exposure.

But apparently, people like to purchase these little gems as well.

As an artist, I consider this a tremendous opportunity to try something new at a low risk.  One of the most annoying aspects about trying new techniques is that feeling of investing time in it only to see it not come out the way you want and only finding this out at the end of a very long investment.  Or accidentally making your work a catastrophe by one screw-up.

The marvelous thing about this, is that I can complete an entire work in a matter of an hour.  If I want to try a more time-consuming technique it won't take me a week, but maybe a few hours.  If it doesn't work, it's not the end of the world.

Even better, I'm upcycling by using discarded paper samples from a prior job as a graphic designer.

All of this serves as proof, that often annoying circumstances like insomnia can actually turn into something productive and amazing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 mistakes that are driving readers bonkers

I admittedly make my fair share of grammatical errors.  It comes with the territory when you are fighting dyslexia that sometimes things get a little bungled.  However, being an English major I do have my limits to allowable errors. I am only one person and I have no personal editor at my disposal.  In particular, if I am reading a large and fairly well-endorsed blog or published article, I have certain expectations that lines will not be crossed.  The occasional error is okay, but frequent errors will turn me off.  And blatant misuse may soon drive me out of my mind.

1. Literally

I am pleased to report that AAA has finally stopped running the most irritating commercial ever.  They ran this commercial for a long time, and I made a personal promise to myself that no matter what the savings, I will refuse to patronize any company that would run an ad whose first testimonial included a woman looking wide-eyed into the camera and saying "I literally fell out of my chair it was such a big savings."

Literally has lost all meaning and is now used for emphasis, where as before literally means not figuratively.  So, this actually happened.  In the case of this woman, if she literally fell out of the chair, I want to see the bruises, the hospital bill, etc.

Using literally in this fashion is going to literally make you look like a fool.

Literally is not, repeat, NOT to be used for emphasis.  It is used to separate figurative from literal.  To separate fantasy from reality.

2.  I could care less.

Aww, well shucks.  Then you do care!  That's so sweet. Here I thought you were trying to break up with me. Wait? What is this you are trying to say?

Oh.  You're saying, you don't care.  In fact, you are at the bottom of your barrel of caring.

So really, what you meant to say was, "I couldn't care less."  In other words, I REALLY do not care.  So much so that it is impossible to care any less than I already do.  And I obviously do not care.

In other words, stick that little phrase, "than I already do", on the end.  See if it still makes sense.  If it doesn't, then change it.

Let's go over that again.  Ready? I couldn't care less.

3.  Quotation marks.
The collective population at some point decided that "quotation marks" should be used for "emphasis" on "signage" and eventually on "blogs."

However, a large portion of us know that if you use them this way, you are actually indicating that you are being facetious.

And if you are making this error, you probably don't know the definition of facetious which is:

Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.

So, if you mark on your menu that you are serving succulent "chicken", it indicates that it is merely some other substance that may taste like chicken which you would prefer to call chicken but certainly is not chicken.
My point?  Don't randomly use quotation marks for emphasis.  Underline.  Circle.   Underline and circle.  Place in all caps.  I don't care. Just stop.
If you want to see fine examples of misuse, feel free to visit this blog later:


4.  Penultimate.

When this word is used it so often misused that you may not even realize you are misusing it.

The pen of penultimate doesn't mean super, ultra, or beyond.  Penultimate actually means next to the top.  Poor penultimate is actually the silver medal.  It's not quite ultimate.  If you reach the penultimate stage of the race, it is next to the last.

Sorry to burst your bubble.  This may be your Pluto, and if so I'm truly sorry.  But you really have been using this wrong.

5.  Addicting
Back in olden times, say twenty years ago, no one said this.  Now, it is gaining acceptance and I hear people use this all the time.

Yet really, I'm pretty sure the word you are looking for is addictive.

Addictive is an adjective.  It is best suited for descriptions, to describe things.

That television program is addictive.

The "ing" on the end indicates a verb.  By some accounts a transitive verb, meaning that you need something more on the end. This is why many of us feel it is wrong usage and it doesn't sound right to our ears.  We need something that is missing. Example:

This chocolate cake is such a powerful narcotic, it is addicting me to it.

I'm sure part of our problem is the way we continually try to streamline and shorten.  Saying addicting instead of addictive, while helping you sound urban and cool, in written form makes it seem as though you don't know the difference between a verb and an adjective.

Best to be safe, and not make your readers want to throw tomatoes at your blog.

In fact, that is a great motto.  Don't make your readers want to throw tomatoes at your blog.  It's just common sense.

And if you avoid these errors, I'll keep my own produce in the fridge.  I promise.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Not exactly fashionable

As I have gotten older, one thing has become very clear to me: I couldn't care less.

Especially when it comes to being comfortable.

While others have been wearing stylish sandals, I wear Birkenstocks.

When other women my age who are obsessing about heels, my knees and back have long since said that heels can only be worn for short periods of time, and definitely not all day long.

Throw me at the mercy of "What Not to Wear", but I don't really care.  It's not that I don't want a mate, it's that I would like to be able to still walk by the time I meet the right person.

It should be no shock then that when looking for a solution for the pain in my hands I was willing to try whatever it took to give me comfort, baby my hands, and restore their ability to function semi-normally while also preventing my arthritis symptoms from going out of control.  So, I purchased arthritis gloves.

Admittedly, I feel a little like a reject from a Madonna video wearing them, and it slows my typing speed, but I still feel some relief from them.  While it also feels a little odd to wear them in summer, they aren't producing sweaty hands, just stimulating the muscles just enough to make my hands happier doing everyday tasks like laundry and embroidery.

At this point, my choices in life seem to be to either look a little dorky sometimes and preserve my body's functionality, or wear fashionable items and ignore my pain.  

Love me.  Love my big sneakers and arthritis gloves.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everything is amazing, and nobody's happy

Sometimes I feel a bit like Oprah overloaded us.  She gave us gratitude journals, and had spiritual advisers as guests, and sometimes I wanted to say, "Enough, already."

I think some of that may stem from her desire to help others finally get to a point where we appreciate what we have.  And while she seemed like a rich sultan of daytime by comparison to the rest of us, I'm not sure we always appreciate how amazing things really are.

Earlier today, I had been on Facebook, and had been posting when all of a sudden my internet connection failed.  And I tried to connect and still kept failing.  So I bopped to the room next door, got my brother to check it out, and sure enough it was just the router needing a reboot. But for a brief moment, I didn't need to fire up the Delorean to 88mph in order to go back in time.  I remember having my break between classes and band, and slogging to the portable annex building in the middle of a rainstorm in Big Sandy, Texas.  I walk into the computer lab which has about a dozen PCs, a half dozen Macs, and a white board at the front of the room.  If you wanted to check email, you would glance at that front board, for if there was an up arrow, all was good.  If the arrow was down, there was no internet.  While our fledgling IT department working with new technology out in the sticks of East Texas, the internet was just that much of a fickle friend.

Yet now, look at me.  I can sit down and launch a browser.  I can get the news of the day, talk in real time with friends literally across the world in far away places like Spain and South Africa.

On a daily basis I have at least one device that can take pictures, a phone, something I can record lists on and play goofy games on.  I can carry videos in my pocket.

It is amazing.  Simply amazing.  Rather than being annoyed when our amazing devices and amazing things don't perform as quickly as we'd like, or things don',t go as smoothly as we're accustomed, if we could just take a minute to realize how utterly amazing everything is.

This is why I love this segment from Conan O'Brien featuring Louis C.K.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to be forced to go back to an era of donkeys and pans clanging in order to appreciate what we've got right here and now. I want to realize and appreciate just how amazing everything is, and be happy with it without having to lose it all.

If you can bear with the 8 minutes, I think it is one of the best and most relevant comedy routines of all time. Enjoy.

"Everything is amazing and nobody is happy" by Meowbay

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The benefits of sharing

Since pain and pain management have been at the forefront of my mind lately thanks to arthritis symptoms, I have been sharing my pain with others.

One of the great benefits of having friends to share your joys and struggles with, is when you discover books that you can consult to help you better care for yourself.

When one of my closest friends called me last night, he and I shared our mutual joint pain woes and I discovered that this book "Conquering Carpal lTunnel Syndrome" by Sharon Butler had a really good plan to help a number of repetitive motion injuries.

As a writer and artist, my hands are of huge importance.  Lest I figure out a profession that doesn't involve hands at all (and unless it's professional soccer or hackeysack, I have no idea what that could be) I need to figure out ways to better care for my hands than what I've been doing.

We also shared goals of getting involved in more stretching and strength-building for our bodies, and an interest in Tai Chi.

I am always amazed with how friends and family can help you in your goals for health and healing.  What a joy it is to be there for each other!

Monday, July 9, 2012

I am Sara of Borg.

One of my favorite sci-fi enemies of all time is the Borg.  Not only were they a menace, threatening to exterminate individuality and gobble up everything in one biomechanical mass, the makeup just looked cool and made for one of the best storylines of the entire Star Trek TNG.

While I loved to despise them, there was one aspect that I totally admired: their ability to adapt.

Invariably our heroes would be going up against them with formidable weapons but within a few moments would adapt and the weapons would be useless.

This is quality I admire most.  They were horrible, evil villains, but they could adapt easily.

When we are faced with obstacles and incredible odds, it's our ability to adapt that can help us through.

Oh, that I may be, in that sense, more of a borg.

That and becoming completely irresistable. ;)

Sidelined by pain

“Pain is not a sign of weakness, but bearing it alone is a choice to grow weak.” ~Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha

Sometimes I think we live in the most preposterous society.  Our fierce determination and independence leaves us with the misconception that we must do everything on our own.  

I often believe we go through pain and suffering because we need to learn to rely on others even when it's not something we want.  To be that vulnerable is weakness, we think.  

But pain is a part of being human.  To share it lifts our burden, and to allow others to help us draws us closer together.  But yet we still resist.

I haven't been able to post for a good few days here mainly because I had been sidelined by pain.  Even now as I'm typing, I'm feeling that growing feeling of swelling irritation in my joints that tells me that I cannot do this for long without risking another day of barely being able to hold a glass let alone grip anything.  It is a humbling thing to not be able to simply open a bottle of a favorite beverage, or to rip open a package without assistance.

When you are fairly young, and have to rely on others this way, I believe it grounds you in what is true, and who is most faithful in our lives.

So while I don't wish pain on anyone, I believe it is an inevitability as intrinsic to humanity as joy and love.  Perhaps if we spend less time holding it to our chest, we might be able to let some of it go and come out better for it in the long run.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Things that help me LML

Okay, so I might not ever jump like this.  With general joint pain and other body inflammation issues, it stands to reason that this is nearly impossible.

However, there are days when my insides like to do this, and today is one of those days.

My cousin started her own campaign to LML (Love My Life) as opposed to the FML people often post on Twitter and Facebook often expressing petty displeasure at some problem most would describe as a "First World Problem."  And by First World, we mean problems that only occur as petty inconveniences as opposed to third world problems like sheer survival not delays in our Amazon.com box delivery.

Today, I would indeed like to celebrate a few things that help me LML just a little more.

1) I sold my first two used items on Amazon.  I frankly wish all sales website were put together that easily.  I would definitely sell EVERYTHING I would like to sell through Amazon.  It's just that good.  I was able to publish the shipping label and purchase postage all from my computer and at a slight discount.

2) I received pain relieving cream.  It's called Penetrex and helps about 18 different issues.  It is supposed to take a few days to really kick in, but I'm already feeling some benefit and I don't need to feel like a social pariah because the stuff doesn't stink or make me smell like either a giant Wint-O-Green Lifesaver or a Menthol Cough Drop.

3) I also received a trackpad that I purchased.  After noticing that I didn't feel as much hand pain working on my laptop as I did with my mouse, I realized much of that was due to the trackpad.  So now I have a wireless Logitec Touch Pad and it's awesome.

So yeah.  Life was just made a little sweeter.  And it definitely is an LML day.

Declaration of Independence

I know it's awesome to go to fireworks shows.  To consume hot dogs and potato salad.  To take in a good movie. It's the American pursuit of happiness.

Many things can get in our way, and we aren't guaranteed happiness but the right to pursue it.

I try to remind myself what a different world this would be were it not for the power of these words.  I am reminded of what an interesting document it is, and how much more there is than the first few lines we often memorize. It is very important in an election year to remind ourselves of the entire story and remember that these men shaped who we are, and if we listen, will continue to shape this country if we let them.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Three foods for my battle

Pain and health problems run in my family. 

So it really shouldn't have surprised me, after spending my childhood and teen years battling injuries, that I should begin to live a life of pain as I got older.

Now I have begun to experience symptoms that lead to a strong likelihood that I have some form of arthritis. Whether it's a standard arthritis like osteoarthritis, or an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis, I don't know.  But suddenly I have found myself able to work on my computer and my artwork less.  Once you start looking for ways to compensate, including exchanging a mouse for a trackpad, trying not to do so much with your hands and taking lots of breaks, taking supplements, etc., you look for any and every way to improve your situation.

The pain and inflammation became a hindrance. So, rather than automatically just try to get stronger and stronger pain killers, it became evident that I should do my body a huge favor and look for some tasty foods.  Now I have three items that were already on my list of cravings, so these are my win-win, go to items that I found with a little search on ye olde Internet.

1) Tart Cherries

I drool just looking at the picture.  Here's the way I look at it.  If these things don't work, what is the harm? I've eaten one of my favorite things on a regular basis.  I've probably replaced something much junkier with this healthful snack.  This can lead to weightloss which will definitely help with pain. 

2) Walnuts

Apparently these are chock full of Omega-3s and all sorts of good stuff.  One can't really totally pig out, but a 1/2 cup a day is darn awesome.  Now I'm thinking, what can be done with cherries AND walnuts together.  

3) Finally, last but not least one of my favorite beverages (and yes it's listed as a food on a website I was reading): Green Tea.

I already have an affinity for Tazo's Zen Green Tea, as well as Trader Joe's Jasmine Green Tea and Celestial Seasonings Dragonfruit Melon Green Tea.  This gives me just one more excuse!

Now if only these items were a cure.  Regardless, just the endorphins created from the joy of eating such tasty items should be a boost to my health.

Do you have pain? If so, maybe you too will be helped by the above items.  There's no harm in trying, right?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Zen of Doris Day

When I launched my new blog, little did I know it would inspire more blogging from my cousin at The Bright Side.  I based the title on the famous and catchy Doris Day song "Que Sera, Sera".

While I completely understand Melissa's objections, let me come at it from a different angle.  From one view you could say that her mother was telling her that her destiny is predetermined.  There isn't anything that you can do, life will just happen to you.

However, I believe what actually guides her mother to respond this way has more to do with the kind of questions she's posing.  Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?

While some might tell their child yes they'll be beautiful (at the very least in our own eyes) we cannot guarantee riches.  Rather than give a qualifying response that fits far less well to a catchy melody, she merely says "Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see."

I am not a Buddhist, but the way I see it, the situation is much closer to this great quote from the Dalai Lama:

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” 

You see, this is where she was going wrong.  And once she grows up, she falls in love, and what does she ask her sweetheart? "Will there be rainbows, day after day?"  So rather than say, "Are you mental? Have you looked at our parents and the lives of those around us? This whole commitment thing is for better and worse and richer and poorer.  We'll probably have plenty of worse and poorer, but we'll make it through." 

Instead he also says, "Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be."

In this post on Zenhabits. net, blogger Lori Deschene writes: 

We pin our happiness to people, circumstances, and things and hold onto them for dear life. We stress about the possibility of losing them when something seems amiss. Then we melt into grief when something changes—a lay off, a break up, a transfer.
We attach to feelings as if they define us, and ironically, not just positive ones. If you’ve wallowed in regret or disappointment for years, it can seem safe and even comforting to suffer. In trying to hold on to what’s familiar, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present.  A moment can’t possibly radiate fully when you’re suffocating it in fear. When you stop trying to grasp, own, and control the world around you, you give it the freedom to fulfill you without the power to destroy you. That’s why letting go is so important: letting go is letting happiness in.  (Emphasis mine.)

In essence, her mother and her sweetheart are encouraging her to let go of transient dreams of beauty and wealth, and the pie-in-the-sky ideals of those newly in love.  To hang on to these things and worry about them is trying to control the world in a way that will bring about unhappiness.

So really, to say "Que Sera, Sera," in my opinion, is that moment of letting go.  To learn to experience, and grow, and learn from life, and alter your goals accordingly.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beyond "The Hunger Games" Hype

For months I've had friends aplenty reading the entire Hunger Games trilogy, so when my friends were touting the amazement from the rooftops, I had to retain my air of detached skepticism.  It's what I do.

I admittedly had read about a chapter and a half of "Hunger Games" before I felt like I was being bored to tears and wanted to skip ahead.  While I did get assurances of it getting better, I had my doubts so I abandoned ship.

So now "The Hunger Games" has been out long enough to make it to the sweet spot of risk.  When you are low on cash about the last thing I wanted to do was risk my dollars on some B-grade sci-fi flick at full price. Now that it had made it to my local discount theater it reached that low-risk sweet spot.

The first third of the movie suffered from NYPD Blue Syndrome.  That is what I term the documentary, shaky-cam style of shooting that seems like it's done so unnecessarily like it was the first season of NYPD Blue.  Shaky-cam style must be used sparingly lest your audience feel like they need motion sickness pills with their popcorn.  And frankly darting from caked on makeup to someone's elbow really doesn't add to the drama.

As well, our thrusting into post-apocalyptic was a little disorienting.  I had heard who Effie was from people who had already read the novels and seen the movie, but had I not listened to anyone say anything about this movie, I would have no idea who the wild, pink-haired, hostess was.  I still don't really recall her true introduction, except possibly in passing from Haymitch, and even then I'm not sure her name was actually mentioned.  When the movie was over I had to read the credits to figure it out.

As with most films, this one started to pick up when Stanley Tucci's character, Caesar. As an actor, I contend that addition of him somehow will pick up any sort of middling film. From then on, he ushered in a better sense of continuity, as though maybe in adapting the film they didn't quite know how to get us to where we needed to be in order for the main action to take place.

From then on, it was quite good with the only real distraction being the inability to film a decent fight scene.  Some critics have argued that the director was concerned about showing too much detail in teens killing each other.  While this is a valid concern, a decent fight scene doesn't necessarily have to show up-close gore to be effective.  Instead, fight scenes often were tedious because the audience member often didn't know which end was up.  Did the hero/heroine get the upper hand or did the enemy?  I believe it had more to do with directors not really knowing how to film a fight scene so as not to show too much detail and yet give the audience visual clues as to what is going on.  This was evident in the first three Bourne films.  The first Bourne film had amazing fight scenes, whereas the director of the subsequent two obviously didn't have that same eye.

All-in-all, it was a decent film. However, not nearly the landmark, GREAT movie that I had heard people raving about for months.  In my opinion, many walked into the film with a story that they gushingly fell in love with ahead of time, often spending sleepless nights to finish.  Since they obviously did a decent job of translating book to screenplay, the rose-colored glasses that came with the novel, remained on through the entire film.

However, those of us who wanted the pure film experience I believe will find it amusing, entertaining, but certainly not of the caliber of say "The Avengers."