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February 1, 2015
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Rated: 13+ | Book | Cultural | #1437803
My blog. I'm opionated and I just want to sound off.
  This is a way of making myself write something coherent and grammatically correct almost every day. I'm opinionated and need an outlet. I'm also prone to flights of fancy. Thanks for stopping by.
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January 31, 2015 at 11:25pm
January 31, 2015 at 11:25pm
Souper Bowl
         No, that's not a spelling error. Super Bowl Sunday is the annual Souper Bowl Day as well. Area Food Banks need canned food and volunteers. Donations of cans of food, or cases of canned food, or money to buy food from bulk stores are collected every Souper Bowl Day.

         We like to think of America as the land of plenty. Yet, there are still plenty of people who don't get enough to eat each day. Those who don't qualify for welfare or food stamps still need to eat. That includes the temporarily unemployed, the elderly, the homeless or people who are under employed but have special needs. They fall above the poverty line but don't have enough money for medicine, utilities, and food.

         Many people have too much pride to ask for help. They don't want to admit they can't make ends meet, or that the retirement funds have run out. It takes other people to ask for them. Teachers and school workers become aware that children aren't eating enough. Employers, church workers, neighbors have to urge people to go for help. The Food Bank is an excellent source for people to pick things they know how to cook.

         So if you're out and about this weekend, at the store, your club, or your church, be sure to make a donation to the Food Bank. Or you can mail a check to them. Support your own community so that no one goes hungry.
January 30, 2015 at 10:51pm
January 30, 2015 at 10:51pm
Retirement Party
         A guy at work retired early. Today was his last day. Nine of us from the office took him and his wife to a nice restaurant Wednesday night and gave him a gift that we purchased ourselves. We made some jokes at his expense, nothing too tasteless with his wife there. He's been treated all week to parties, lunches, and small gifts.He's very knowledgeable, and he will be missed. One area he's supervised for years gave him their own party yesterday, and one lower supervisor broke down sobbing. When he hugged people today, he asked them not to cry.

         Today I presided over an official party, paid by the company for another 25 people or so that he supervised in another area. The food was great, the cake was pretty, and the employees were all positive. It's amazing that the usual whiners and complainers were off, He pointed out that the people in that room were the ones who always showed up for work, rain or shine, ice or flood. Many of them are a great deal older than he, but still work. After eating the first round, one of the other directors asked if anyone would like to say anything nice about him. I was surprised how many stood up to talk about his honesty, his respect for them, his openness and acceptance. One of the rough and tough guys from the trash dock told how much he had learned from him and that he would really miss him.

         Then when they seemed done, I asked them if we were going to hear a speech from the retiree. They started calling on him, so he obliged. He sat on an empty table and said, to vaguely summarize, that in a week or two, all the hours he had put in wouldn't matter. Being on call 24/7 wouldn't count; his knowledge, skills, or memory would make no difference. The people he had worked with and made relationships with was all that counted.

         I took lots of good photos, and sent leftovers back with them. I even got a lot of hugs and sweet remarks myself from these employees.It was a warm and positive experience.I walked away feeling like something good for morale had just happened, even though it was a sad occasion. I had a new respect for that group of tender-hearted employees,

         He turned in his keys and his phone early afternoon, and said good-bye to each one in my office (one of many buildings). He asked if I had my hug yet, and I said no. I had been avoiding it; I know I'm emotional. So I got one then, and told him I was trying not to cry. So he said he better go. He can't handle tears; he's afraid he'll do it, too. I've always hated saying good-bye to people.

         Someday I will retire, unless I become disabled suddenly and just disappear from the work scene.I hope that I will missed at least a portion of how he'll be missed. Will people respect me and feel like I was always fair with them? Will even one person be sentimental?
January 29, 2015 at 11:28pm
January 29, 2015 at 11:28pm
Talking About Healthy Eating
         Some topics we avoid: politics, religion, politically incorrect items, etc. We don't pass judgment on anything, and we avoid disputes. But mention dieting or healthier eating, and suddenly you are surrounded by experts. Everyone preaches the virtues of fresh fruits and vegetables, but how to serve them or in what quantity vary in opinion.

         Some folks just count calories. Some people just don't eat anything when someone's looking. Others throw your food away when you're not looking because the expiration date was yesterday. You bought it on sale this morning, because of the expiration date. Other people know the fiber quantity or portion control. Of course, they can always judge someone else's food better than their own. Still others know about the artificial ingredients or the gluten or peanut byproducts.

         You're guaranteed an animated conversation almost anywhere you go if you bring up food, healthy eating, or dieting. I've gotten a room of strangers engaged in talking up a restaurant and it's add-ons to otherwise healthy food. Everyone eats, so everyone can relate.

         Need an ice breaker? Just ask someone what you can do for a fast healthy snack. Never ask what they do; they'll think you're making implications.Gripe about breaking your diet, and you'll get a lot of sympathizers. Yep, universal topic.
January 28, 2015 at 11:31pm
January 28, 2015 at 11:31pm
Winter Skin
         My hands look so old. It wasn't so long ago that they looked better than this. Maybe it's the dryness of the cold weather. I'm keeping them covered in lotion. They feel soft, but look terrible. It's the texture that looks old. If it's winter dryness, it will disappear when spring comes. But I fear this look is here to stay. I had a good run, and went longer than many my age, but it's caught up with me,

         Whether we like it or not, we all age inside and out. I remember at 26, noticing with my friends the newly formed crow's feet at our eyes. We were horrified. If we had only known what was coming. The bags come under the eyes, the purple veins decorate our eyelids, the frown lines set in, visible at a distance. Then there are sun spots, especially on the "driver's side".

         You hear about age spots when you're young, but you never hear anyone mention an age "bump" or calcium deposits under your skin or lesions. It can be very depressing noticing the changes in your mirror, not from year to year, but from month to month.

         It seems like people can maintain their looks, despite weight changes, hair changes, etc., up to the early 40's, but after 45, they change more rapidly. If you go 2 or 3 years without seeing someone, when you meet again, you are shocked by their altered appearance. Of course, you've stayed the same. I don't know how many times, I've missed someone for a while, then they move back or change jobs, and then thought, "Wow, she (or he) has really aged."

         Maybe it bothers me so much, because inside I still feel the same. I haven't changed. Why should my outsides be so different? My skin should still be strong, flexible (have elasticity), and be full of life, like me.

         I'll try to think of the fine lines as experience and wisdom and rich memories. Maybe that will help me accept what I see.
January 27, 2015 at 9:56pm
January 27, 2015 at 9:56pm
Taking Care of Your Health
         When something goes wrong with us, we suddenly realize it's a full-time job taking care of our health. Once a person becomes diabetic, or has cancer, or has heart trouble or other dysfunction, it takes almost all of your time, energy, and mental alertness to manage your health. But most people have to keep working full-time or almost full time to qualify for insurance benefits. Very few people can afford to stay home and do their medicines on time, see the doctors and do tests as scheduled, get the right amount of sleep, and exercise as instructed.

         I have a brother with mesothelioma, who is still young and has to work to buy insurance. The price to buy directly is too high even when he's working. It's out of the question if he has to live off savings. There are regular blood tests, doctor visits, x-rays, and so forth, which means time off from work. FMLA protects your job, but only for 12 weeks out of six months, then you can renew for the following six months. But they only hold your job, not your benefits which you buy or your income. He's still at the point where he's doing surgeries, so he's still taking large chunks of time off. He can no longer work overtime, like he just did last year, because he gets too tired.

         I have known others who had to miss time for chemo, or go three times a week for dialysis, or just once a month for a blood test. That's very inconvenient for an employer who has an employee out on a regular basis for tests and check-ups. It's rough on the employee keeping it all straight and getting places on time, paying the bills, making appointments, and managing all other personal responsibilities.

         When we are young and healthy, we don't plan for these contingencies. We don't want disability insurance. We want to spend our money, live a good life, and own nice things. But life is unpredictable. The people telling us to be debt free, not to buy on credit, and to save, save, save are boring.

         But another side to that is we don't want to quit work. If we're not old enough to retire, we want to feel useful as long as possible. An illness cuts into our lives, we don't want to feel useless, like we're just hanging around to die. It's inconvenient for employers, and business doesn't like it. But most people will develop some problem eventually, and their lives will be all messed up temporarily or permanently, and they can't quit working. We just need to be understanding and patient. We could be in their shoes and need that understanding ourselves.
January 26, 2015 at 9:20pm
January 26, 2015 at 9:20pm
Television Overload
         I spend way too much time watching television. I love the show "Grimm". Who knew that I would ever be enthralled by humans who turn into creatures, or would watch bloody scenes, etc. But I have gotten caught up in it, and like the characters. I don't stay home to watch it, but if I am home, I will drop everything for it.

         I used to be that way about "M.A.S.H." and "Soap". With "Soap", I hated missing it, but I would go out for other things, and think about it while I was with friends. So I guess I've always had a tendency to really like one TV show above others. For years as a young adult, I didn't own a TV and was proud of it. But when I moved into a situation where I did have TV access, I discovered "M.A.S.H." reruns and fell in love with that just before the original went off the air.

         The difference is now I watch TV more than ever. Monday through Saturday, if I'm home, I watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. I don't always stay awake for all of the shows. My evening nap to the "think" music prepares me for a sedentary evening, mixed with some stretching. The middle of the week I'm usually out, and I don't mind missing these repetitive shows at all. But I have to watch decades old reruns of The Virginian. Don't try to talk to me when it's on.

         Tonight was a bad TV night, so I cleaned and read. I will watch PBS Great Performances occasionally. I like The Middle, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, and Last Man Standing. But they don't stop me from going shopping or going to the theater. I frequently tolerate other shows out of laziness. And that's too much TV, even if I get up and do calisthenics while watching.

         I don't watch award shows, sports, or infomercials. I do watch a lot of old movies, including black and white. Still I think I know too much pop culture for someone my age. I need to get away from the set more.
January 25, 2015 at 11:33pm
January 25, 2015 at 11:33pm
Company Newsletter
         I do the company newsletter for my division. It's not artsy or even good writing. I do not have the final say. I put something out there, then people who have no background in writing or photography or editing slash it to bits and tell me to redo it with an almost impossible deadline. I say almost because I usually manage within five minutes to make it (while complaining under my breath).

         I've tried to get some directives before I start, and that's only worked once or twice. It still gets slashed up. I know how they think now, so I know what details to work out before they see it, like spacing between pictures, or font, etc. I get it fixed and past one manager and then it goes to her boss. He wants to take out 5 pictures and make three rows into two. Well, it can't be done and maintain the integrity of the photos. They have to be cropped or new ones added in.

         I learned early on, it's not about the employees. It is supposed to look like it's about the employees, but we really do it to satisfy the home office and the big customer who contracts our services. As long as they are pleased with it, it doesn't matter if the employees ever see the newsletter. So we are politically correct within our environment. We put them on display when we are showing off our accomplishments.

         I don't mind to some degree. I've learned to use Publisher. My photography skills have improved. It's kind of creative. I'm discouraged that it's not the educational and encouraging tool it could be if we focused on the employee. There's no room for puzzles or contributions by the employees. It's just a device to please our puppet masters.
January 24, 2015 at 11:36pm
January 24, 2015 at 11:36pm
Good Posture
         I'm slumping too much in my later years. That slouch is causing neck aches, headaches, and a shoulder joint to start slipping. I spend my work days at a desk. I spend time in front of a computer at home where I hunch up my shoulders or lean on one elbow. I do make an effort to go walking everyday, just not long enough (goal one hour) and to move from time to time away from the desk, I still don't get enough activity.

         So the last two days I've been trying to remember to hold my shoulders down, to sit up straight, to stand straight instead of folding like an accordion, and to be sure my problem shoulder is held back. The result: I am so achy in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I neck cracks and pops every time I move.Who knew good posture could hurt so much?

         I've tried avoiding the wrong ways to adjust the shoulders that the therapist showed me. I've avoided the things that cause pains that shoot down through my arm. I've practiced the proper breathing techniques. That's right, I wasn't even breathing properly. Hopefully, all this soreness and fatigue will wear off sooner rather than later.

         Once the arm bone is properly positioned in the shoulder socket again, and the muscle tension eases up, I should feel better in general. I probably won't look older than I really am either. We really should listen to our teachers and nurses when we are young and exercise good posture when we are young. But we need refresher courses, too, through the years. I found it helpful to have a good therapist explain and demonstrate with a good skeleton model and plastic muscles and tendons. It made sense, and I could accept what he was telling me without thinking he was making my situation worse.

         I will get up every 30 minutes and walk around. I will walk more. I will keep doing my stretches. I've given the office manager permission to remind me to stand up straight. I will breathe deeply. I've learned such bad habits; but I will change them.
January 23, 2015 at 11:37pm
January 23, 2015 at 11:37pm
Appreciation
         Today I thanked our boss for buying us lunch yesterday. He was in a meeting all day long, and I didn't see him then. He bought lunch (the company did) for everyone in the office, including the meeting people.He thanked me for thanking him. Apparently, he wants to be appreciated. I know he's not obligated to treat us, and it would help his budget not to do so. But I got the impression he doesn't get the thanks he thinks he deserves.

         I'm helping our employees, who are not so computer literate, do a university survey of all employees. While they strongly agree it's a great place to work, they feel like their job is important, they can do their best each day, and they have the tools they need, many never hear a "thank you", or you did a great job. We tell them all the time as a group that we appreciate them, but as individuals they aren't getting the reinforcement they need, from us, from other departments, from customers. Many don't feel respected as unique individuals or that their opinions matter.

         I cautioned them that this was for the university, not the contractor that pays us. There could be a difference in responses. I think my company does a good job making them feel that what they do is vital and that we couldn't operate without them. They know what is expected of them, or they feel they do. They have the tools and equipment and the training. But we fall short telling each one that you did something good this week.

         Of course, there are individual problems. If someone doesn't get along with the supervisor, he feels like he's not respected or that no one cares. The truth is they just have personality conflicts, but others might care very much. I feel like telling them, when they say my opinion doesn't count, "Hey, you're taking the time on the clock to give your opinions on this survey. It sounds to me like they count." But I guess perception is everything. And some people are just negative.

         Still it wouldn't hurt for all of us to thank people more often. Thank the janitor, or the clerk at the fast food place, thank the boss. Maybe we should tell the post office worker she has good customer service skills, or tell the grocery clerk how much we appreciate the gentle way he handles our fruit. You never know when a kind word, an encouraging word might make a difference in someone's life. We all want to be appreciated, and believe that what we do makes a difference.
January 22, 2015 at 11:00pm
January 22, 2015 at 11:00pm
Poor Relatives
         We had some poor relations when I was young. We kids didn't know they were poor. They were cool. Their homes were exotic wonderlands, and we loved to go there. They were country folk. They didn't know they were poor either. I guess my dad knew they weren't that well off because he always took them things. I just thought it was because he loved them, which he did very much.

         They were aunts and cousins of his. In many ways they were rich. They were land rich when land wasn't worth so much. They had soil to grow their own vegetables, so they never went hungry. They could hunt and fish, which even the women enjoyed. So putting meat on the table could be fun as well as work. At various times, they had pigs or cows or chickens or turkeys.

         The houses were exotic to us because they cooked on wood stoves, and heated the other rooms with pot-bellied stoves. You'd gather around the wood burning in the stove to watch a football game on TV. Deer skins and antlers hung on the walls upstairs and down. There were homemade quilts and crafts everywhere. There were big front porches with rocking chairs and plants. At one house a big swing with arms hung on a wood frame out in the yard. A whole bunch of kids and sometimes a grown-up could fit in at the same time.

         One of those relatives had a hay loft. That really impressed us, but they moved to another place too soon for us to get well acquainted with it. All of these houses were filled with smiling people who could tell lots of tales. Story-telling seemed to be an art. And those folks were good cooks and always shared what they had. They always made kids feel welcome and important.Sunday visiting was a respected ritual.

         They were simple folk. One family ended up okay in the next generation, leaving their land to the kids of my dad's generation. One family ended up leaving the only grandchild very well off, and they had even less when they were alive. One childless couple sold the land while they were still alive and moved to town. They loved the change to city life, but had few years left to enjoy it.

         But even while they were poor, they were rich in the basic necessities of life, in friendships, in respect from others, in love. When I was about 12, maybe, one great uncle showed me a picture from his wallet. It was from the early 1900's. The girl had on a skirt below her knees, white stockings, and long ringlets in her hair. He was beaming when he told me he had carried that in his pocket since she was 18 years old. He was still proud of her. Yes, he was a very rich man.

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