Friday, June 16, 2017

New-to-You Wheels

"Paint" Job
Today is Family (Secrets) Friday at my blog.

I am so proud of my restraint.

A few days ago, my husband told me he was considering buying a used car from one of his coworkers.  He described the car: make, year, how many miles it has been driven, a there's a scratch on the bumper, four wheel drive, 24 mpg city...and I kept biting my tongue...

...biting my tongue, not asking my husband the question that was burning a hole in the roof of my mouth.

"Sounds good, honey!"

We picked it up around 10pm in the parking lot where his job is. Even though it's nearly summer solstice, and there was still a sliver of daylight along the horizon, the visibility was poor when I first laid eyes on this new addition to Fleet Athena.

I didn't find out what color the car was until we arrived  home, and I could see it under  the lights from our garage.

The End.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Got guilt like a jellyfish...

                          (...oh, I got guilt like a jellyfish...I got guilt like a jellyfish in my soul...)
Today is Mystical Monday at my blog.

Is this cool picture of jellyfish à propos of anything at all? Yes. I hate feeling guilty, and I hate jellyfish, or I used to hate jellyfish.

I stopped hating jellyfish when I visited the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia recently. En masse, in all different sizes, behind a glass so they couldn't sting me, their translucence set aglow with special lighting, they were displayed in such a way that I appreciated jellyfish--enjoyed them!--for the first time in my life.

And today, I had a Mystical Monday revelation. (*1) Today, some things I already knew, on one level, about how the brain works became personally relevant:  How one can confront, judo style, recurring guilty memories, harnessing and redirecting their energy, instead of having them sap one's own.

Guilt is a good thing: It's a signal that something is wrong, that one needs to do something, or needs to stop doing something, to make the uncomfortable sensation go away. It's an instinct that keeps people in line so the tribe can thrive.

But what about guilt over ancient wrong-doing? Unless you need to confess to a homicide that  will bring closure in a decades old cold case, guilt isn't going to do any good at all at this point, is it?  And it keeps you from doing any good at all, because it deludes you into thinking you're no good at all.

I'm talking to religious people as well as people who don't believe in God here. What do you do with guilt like that? When you've already done everything you know you should do to make amends, but still, the torment?

We live in a beautiful world shot through with ugliness and cruelty. We've all contributed to the pain: Guilt is a reminder of that.  Well. Instead of being immobilized by guilt you can't do anything about, one could say,  "Aha!" when that kind of  guilt comes a-prickin. "Here is a reminder of all the pain not caused by me that I can do something about." Make that response to ancient guilt a habit, and you'll rewire your brain.

Again, I'm thinking about people who believe in God,  or who used to believe in God, or never believed in God. What harm could there be in asking: "What specific pain might that pain be, and what can I do to help, O God who is or isn't there?"

Someone asked C.S. Lewis  (theologian and author of The Chronicles of Narnia) about the problem of unanswered prayer. He replied that after years of discussing the matter with many devout people, he concluded that  that, while many prayers do seem to go unheeded, the most consistently and dramatically answered prayers are the ones that go along this line:
how can I be of assistance?

If I were an atheist, I'd be inclined to give that a try. Couldn't hurt, and might do a world of good, for two people anyway: the person you helped, and you.

(I've got peace like a river, peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul.)

(*1)  I plagued myself with "mothering mistakes I've made" memories this weekend. Sometimes, my mind with a pathological hunger for all things negative, goes routing around the ancient past looking for tasty morsels. Other times, when I'm enjoying a good movie, for instance, and something in the plot reminds me of something I did wrong fifteen years ago -- and, wow! it's all aboard the bad mommy express.

I'm all for promoting twinges of guilt assailing a mom whose kids are still in her care: Put FaceBook and the dang cell phone down for awhile, mama! and play with those babies, teach them, love them!

But my kids are grown now, and when my train of thought goes choo-choo-choo-chew-chew-chewing  though the cortical nooks and crannies where my least favorite memories are stored ..especially the memory of that one time?...I berate myself into inertia. "It's too late to undo the damage, the warping effects of which you will observe in their lives until the day you die, or until they die, whichever comes first!"

So this morning, after a weekend of this nonsense, I reluctantly and unworthily dragged myself to a volunteer commitment I had made.  A little while into my day, I  had occasion to overhear a man giving a lecture about Chopin.  "As we listen to this dramatic piece composed by  twenty-year-old Frédéric, we have a sense of the emotional turmoil he was undergoing at the time."

And it hit me: I know my son has gone through some disappointments recently, but I haven't talked to him about how he's doing.  "Stop this fruitless wallowing!"I told myself. "He's too old for his mom to be able to make much of anything at all better in his life, but he could probably use a listening ear. Text him, and don't you dare try to wrest from some him some Proverbs 31 "rising up to call you blessed" declaration to make you feel better. It's about him, not you."

"Do you have a few minutes today?"
"What? Did the cat die?" (**2)
"Nothing's wrong. Will 4 work?"

Later that afternoon, my son talked to me. He talked a lot. I listened...well...mostly listened. I didn't ask for a hug afterward, but I got one.

RESOLVED: Redirect the energy of every "I'm a bad mother" accusation into praying a line from Psalm 24 for my daughter, or a line from Psalm 20 for my son.  (Psalm number is incremented with each birthday.)  Ancient guilt doesn't doesn't do them...or anyone...a bit of good. On the days when I'm feeling as spiritual as a Styrofoam take-out box, let the ancient wise word speak,  for me, blessings on my children.

For my son, and for your sons: "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion."

For my daughter, and for your daughters: "This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob...Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(**1)  I haven't always been that terrific of a wife either, but my husband is still alive, and he's so preternaturally appreciative and patient with me, that when I do the tiniest out-of-the-ordinary kindness for him, his loving reaction banishes my guilt over the not-so-kind things I've done in the past.

How much more powerful to banish guilt should be the awareness of God's mercy, and the Power!  (Power!) Wonder-working Power of the Precious Blood of the Lamb!  So often, though, crippling guilt coincides with doubts that there is anything good in the Universe at all.

(**2) The feline abides, and she's wanting her bedtime kibble.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wet Soil Weeding. Protest Warning

It is Wisdom Wednesday at my Blog.

There's been a lot of rain this week. My rose bush needs me to prune it, but  instead of doing that, I'm taking the opportunity while the soil is so soggy, to pull weeds everywhere and grass where it shouldn't be growing.

A little Latter Day Saints kid in the neighborhood came up to me while I was weeding late Saturday afternoon and told me he needed to do a good deed of service to report to his Sunday school class the next morning, and might he help me weed?  There are benefits to being one of the few Gentiles in my Mormon neighborhood.

While we working together, he told me that wet soil holds on to stubborn roots less tightly .  I have a good rain hat, so today, I thought of him, and  weeded while it was raining.  It was a thoroughly pleasant experience.

I went inside when it started thundering. though. Best not to be outside when lightning might hit.

So that's my wisdom for this Wednesday.

....And oh, this, too.  If you consider yourself part of "the Antifa"  an equal-rights-and-justice-for all-anti-Fascist" and  have engaged in, or plan to engage in, or are encouraging others to engage in,  disruptive and even violent protests against  speakers who don't share your point of view, you are are a hypocrite, or at best a  fool influenced by herd mentality. (*1)

Here is some wisdom for how to deal with that kind of confrontation: back away from the whole scene. If you really believe in standing up for people's rights, you don't belong in a movement that is trying to interfere with other folks' right to assemble peacefully and exercise their right to speak freely.

(*1) Update June 12. That was kind of harsh, my calling people "fools." But I try not to correct anything but grammatical errors when I do edits long past the publishing date. It seems more honest that way, so I'll let the "fools" stand. I can get just as angry with social justice warriors as I can with White Supremacists. Woe is me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rattlesnakes and Patriots

Today is "Day Off Thursday" at my blog.

This morning, I shared a post from one of my animal-loving Facebook friends.  It featured a picture of a Timber Rattlesnake, the news that there had been many sightings of the same in the forests of Indiana, and the admonition that in case of an encounter---given that these snakes  are on the endangered species list--- it is best to "back away slowly."

It was interesting to read the reactions in the comments on the original post.  The snake-o-philes tended to emphasize the endangered status of the snakes and wanted to see to it that their place in the wild was respected. On the other hand, one snake-o-phobe went so far as to say, "A dead snake is a better snake."

I'll tell you what, you won't ever, ever find me doing harm to a rattle snake. It's not that I'm a big fan; in fact, so profound is my loathing for rattlesnakes, that I am convinced that, should I strike one on the head, the foul thing would, Hydra-like, grow two more great, fanged heads to bite  me with. My big take-away from the Facebook article  was the advice to "back away slowly" if I encounter a rattlesnake. Good to know: my inclination would have been, up til now, to run away in a  zig-zag pattern as fast as I could.

I've known some snake-lovers, though, and I can bear witness to the sincerity and depth of their passion for these creatures.  One glorious spring day,  I was on a hike in Idaho's high desert with some friends, one of whom called out:

"COOL! A rattlesnake!"

"BOY HOWDY! Where?" asked another member of the party.

"Over here. And if you get close enough, you can see...three...four...five more!"

I can't be 100 percent sure of the rest of the conversation. From the distant spot to  where I had removed myself (rapidly, and in a zig-zag pattern, as I recall), I think I may have overheard this:

"Ah, that chubby one over there is *so* cuuuuuuuuuuuute!"

"Isn't he *just*! If he were in a pet-store instead of out in the wild, I'd bring him home as a pet!"

"Oooh, better leave now before you get tempted!"

When they finally caught up with me, we were all able to finish the walk together in peace, and I attribute this largely to the fact that I kept my feelings about rattlesnakes to myself.

There doesn't appear to be much middle ground as far as supporting/not supporting Trump goes.   He is a God-Emperor to some, and to others he is a snake to be driven out of office,  as the snakes were said to have been driven out of Ireland by St. Patrick (pbuh.) And the response of Trump-o-philes is to defend him against those attacks as if he were an endangered species.

The subject of immigration seems to be the most divisive.  Trump-o-philes will point to horror stories about the infrastructure of one locale or another being  insufficient to handle the influx of new-comers requiring services there. And the Trump-o-phobes will point to the many, many stories of families  being torn apart by recent draconian deportation measures.  I'd like to see more conversations where the full range of situations arising from  immigration are  discussed with an aim to finding realistic, humane solutions.   Don't give up on finding common ground with your friends until after the first, oh...six or seven  times.....that you find yourself ending up in an angry landslide of vituperation. 

Right up until the April Syrian airstrike, you could find, in some quarters, cautious optimism about Trump's campaign promises of a foreign policy less about regime change and more about diplomacy.  Since that attack, that segment of the electorate is now divided into factions,  those who recommend that we "just wait and see because brilliant Trump is playing 5-dimensional foreign policy chess"  versus those who counter with "new boss, same as the old boss."

It's good that people are having those conversations, even heated conversations.  There are  tragedies all over the place, and no one has the capacity to care about everything, but at least there are some people who are paying attention to and demanding answers about    the devastation being wrought in Yemen for example -- or in other corners of Over-There-Istan.

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssSSSSSSSssssssss chigga chigga chigga chigga sssssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSsSSSSSSSSSSSssssssssssssssssSSSSSS Crotalus viridus. Prairie Rattlesnake- Idaho.
Now that there's been an exodus from the  Alt-Right by those who are disillusioned with Trump's foreign policy reversals, a significant part of the remnant are folks who never cared about a more peaceful  foreign policy to begin with. As long as they don't end up on our shores, they'd be happy to see immigrants drown in the boats in which they are escaping the hell-holes Western foreign policy has made of their original homes.
crotalus horridus   Timber Rattlesnake. Indiana
What to do about  the fight between this violent Alt-Right remnant and their equally violent Antifa counterparts?    If the battle spills over out of Berkley, it may be getting closer to where you live.   Reason has gone out the window, and high emotions (and in some cases, good old-fashioned blood-lust) are taking over.

Whether you support Trump, or whether you don't, I advise backing away slowly.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

PEMDAS Peace at All Costs

image credit:
Today is Mathematical Monday at my blog. Even if the math is easy for you  (and especially if it's not) please don't stop reading

I've been trying to bend over backwards to make peace between relatives and friends at odds with one another over You Know Whom aka "45"... I don't like questions that don't have generally-agreed-upon answers, and that's one of the reasons I enjoy math.

Let's watch as, finding myself in the midst of mathematical mayhem, I try to make Everyone Feel OK About Themselves, No Matter How Wrong They Are:

Facebook Puzzle asks:
 4 - 4 x 7 - 3

...and gets 369 replies....and mine had floated to the Tippity Top of the "Top Comments List."

Irene Athena: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, for her mnemonic lacks reference to multiplication and division having the same rank, done in order from left to right; similarly, addition and subtraction sharing the next and lowest rank.

4 - 28 + 3 = -21

Pathogens Evading MDs, AntiSeptics!!!

Like · Reply · 3 · 23 hrs

Proud Angel:  I like it.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 22 hrs

Somebody Else:  27 bodmas
Like · Reply · 1 · 21 hrs

Proud AngelIrene was correct with her answer of -21.

Some Other Somebody Else27.
Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs

Proud Angel:  It really is -21. 
Not sure how you can subtract 28 from any combination of 4 and 3 and come up with a positive number.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs

Irene Athena: I'm standing by -21. Thank you, Proud Angel, for Watching my Six while I was engaged in debate in other corners of Facebook. Speaking of Six, it is the sum of 27 and -21, thus the average of these answers is "3" which appears to be the answer winning the popular vote .

"3" is the answer when the problem is done left to right, without any regard to the order of operations. So if the Order of Operations is merely a social construct, rather than an axiom, doing arithmetic from left-to-right might be a convention acceptable in some circles. Who am I to judge?

I arrived at -21 by following the PEMDAS convention. There are no Parentheses or Exponents, or Divisions, so Multiplication is the first operation to execute; thus, 28 replaces 4 X 7, leaving 4 - 28 + 3.

Addition and Subtraction come next. These two operations are given the same priority, even though Addition precedes Subtraction in the PEMDAS mnemonic (I offered a more robust mnemonic; perhaps this group can come up with a better one.) Additions and subtractions are done in order from left to right.

Thus 4 - 28 is replaced by -24, and finally, -24 + 3 is simplified to -21.

The thought process employed by the "27" contingent is mysterious, but that may be because they're motivated spiritually by a desire to harmonize (by calculating the average value) the adherents to the rigid constraints of PEMDAS rule ("-21" folks like yours truly) with  those whose approach to arithmetic is more carefree, take-it-as-it-comes, the left-to-righters, who, at the end of their journey, arrive at the mystical number "3."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Making the Case for Makeup

Today is Wisdom Wednesday at my blog.

I had such a good time at work tonight  I give part of the credit to a tube of mascara and a  bit of subtly colored face-paint.

What came first, the happy, confident mood or the makeup? -- did the incentive to primp before work and  the extra measure of confidence and competence spring from the same source?

No. I believe there was something magical about the makeup itself that made the good mood better. The stress caused by multiple competing demands turned to skillful juggling when I remembered:  "You've got this. You're arches are full and symmetrical, thanks to Wet n Wild's Ultimate Brow Kit.

Makeup matters to people--especially teenage girls. Five extra minutes of  grooming  will get you the kind of respect a man gets when he wears a tie. It's shallow, sexist, and true: Clothes make the man, and makeup makes the woman. (*1)

I can't wake to go to work tomorrow. On my walk home tonight I was singing what  Fred Rogers sang at the end of each day with his television neighbors:  "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll start the day tomorrow with a smile(*2). for. you!...Til then, I hope your day is happy. Til then I hope your day is snappy!"

(1)Clothes make the man, man buns do not. Go full-on Mandarin and wear a  silk  tang-zhuwang, or else lose the top-knot.

(2) Smile to be enhanced by Wet and Wild's Megaslick's Balm Stain in Rico Mauve