Non-fiction


I overheard someone describing me as brave. I was so confused and wanted to interject, “I’m not brave at all. I’m afraid of everything.”

Because, I’m afraid of everything. Mostly what I’m afraid of us is failure. I expect to succeed. I don’t know why I expect that since I’ve failed at so many things. But I not only expect to succeed, I expect to do so right from the start. No learning curve here, just whiz through life getting it all right.

And then there is reality. It is nothing at all like that. I learn easily so it isn’t all horrible, but I still have to learn every damn new thing I try.

Today, in preparation for my Sistercation, I was trying to figure out how to get a picture posted to Facebook from my tablet. I have many cute pictures saved to my laptop and I decided to put a bunch of them up on Dropbox. So I had to get a picture on Dropbox to appear in my newsfeed.

I still don’t know how to change the folder Facebook wants to use for finding a picture. The pictures I want aren’t in my Gallery, the only place Facebook will look. Dropbox wants me to share a picture by sharing it with other people who use Dropbox – share the file.

It took me over fifteen minutes to learn I had to export the picture from Dropbox to Facebook and by lunch time I forgot it and had to figure it all out again. I think I might have it now. I hope so.

If I have this much trouble figuring out something so simple, you can imagine the rest of my life. It’s chaos. One of my biggest stumbling blocks with yoga was the whole set of rules. I came home the first day of my third try in near tears. I didn’t even know how to breathe correctly and I looked like a complete idiot. Mind you, this was in front of people who watch me do CrossFit, another place where I mostly look like a complete idiot.

But I was embarrassed, ashamed, fearful of looking stupid. This was, according to my father, worse than any other sin. One should always be perfectly in control and correct. Mostly be correct. 100% 100% of the time.

So, I’m nervous or anxious or really, simply afraid each and every time I try something new and different. I’m bizarrely terrified of driving somewhere I’ve never been before. I’m nearly paralyzed with fear most of the time I step outside the house. There are unknowns out there and I may not be able to master them.

But I can’t just sit here and do nothing. So I tamp down the fear, ignore the voices telling me how much I can’t do, and go ahead and try.

I have never died – yet. And so, I keep trying. Fear may be a liar, but it is a persistent one. A loud one. An insistent teller of stories of doom, destruction, failure, and embarrassment. I thought by this time in my life I would have mastered fear. I haven’t. But I have gotten a bit better at ignoring it. I just go through life scared, conquering all manner of things. None of them perfectly. But at least it gets me out of the house.

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First published in Really Good Quotes today:

I just want to be left alone. I don’t really think that is too much to ask. I have gone to as many different places to tell people not to call me as I need. I don’t use my phone number for stuff just to avoid being subject to “courtesy calls” or “informational calls” or any call from people I don’t know.

I do that for my landline which is free for calls. I’m even more worried about giving out my cell phone number because I only pay for a certain number of minutes and I have to pay for any minutes my phone works, whether I’m making the call out, or someone is calling me.

Rep. Lee Terry, U.S. Representative, Nebraska’s 2nd District, is my newest least favorite person. This twit has decided that I may need more information in order to vote. While it is probably true, I do not need any biased information coming out of a candidate’s PR office. However, Terry has sponsored a bill called the “Mobile Informational Call Act.”

Lifehacker.com reported on this bill which is to modify the Communications Act passed in 1934. What Terry thinks I, along with any other miserable citizen of the US needs, is phone calls to our cell phones initiated by robodialing. Then when we answer, it will hand us off to a real person who can talk real fast and lie to me about their candidate of choice. Or it might just leave a recorded message so you don’t even get the satisfaction of yelling at anybody.

This is not simply for political campaigns, although they are one of the groups who desperately need to anger the citizenry. It is also for political action campaigns who want to never see another red cent.

You will be able to opt out of specific campaign or group lists. Yet, “political organizations that get your number through petitions, calling lists, or affiliated organizations will be able to call your mobile phone whenever they choose.”

We can whine now, but there isn’t much yet to do. The National Political Do Not Contact Registry has a petition one can sign to make opposition known.

The bill will have to pass both houses and be signed by the President before it becomes law. I can’t imagine what Congress is thinking. However, I would think that each politician who voted FOR such a law should have to post their private cell phone number so we could all reach out and converse with them when the mood struck us.

There is no mention about who would be liable if they called while you were driving and distracted you from your primary responsibility of moving a several thousand pound vehicle through traffic.

I think if any politician were dumb enough to have his/her campaign folks call me and I was out in public, I would be sure to put them on speaker phone so perhaps we could generate a small “town hall” type gathering and yell at the cretins as a group.

I absolutely despise that something I pay for to use at my convenience turns into a marketing tool. If I have as many dolts calling my cell phone as call my land line and I go over my minutes as they spew their recorded messages over and over into my phone for me to erase without listening to them, I’m going to make sure I never vote for whomever does this.

Am I alone in this? Should people get to make special rules so they, and they alone, can bother all of us for their own personal concerns?

Republican Rep, Terry’s contact information for his Washington, D.C. office is: ph. (202) 225-4155 or fax:(202) 226-5424 – maybe we should all fax him over and over and over, telling him how we don’t want this. Or we could do it at his Omaha, Nebraska office – ph: (402) 397-9944 or fax:(402) 397-8787. Phone numbers were obtained from his webpage. I hope they are accurate. He does have a Facebook page, as well, found at Lee Terry.

If I want to think of myself as a writer, one would think I would realize I need to write. I do think of myself as a writer. Therefore, I should write. Something.

But I often look at a blank piece of paper, metaphorically speaking, and shudder. Of course, I am plastering my writing all over the Internet, so I obviously must use a computer at some point. The point at which I personally begin using the computer is the very beginning.

My history blog

When I first started writing Little Bits of History, I wrote it all out on pieces of paper and did my first edit as I typed it into a word document. I’m not sure if this was truly helpful or not, but I do know it took more time. I don’t remember exactly when I began typing it into the word document without ever committing it to paper. I can look back at my years of writing, and I don’t see a particular point where the writing seriously deteriorated. Therefore, I can only surmise it wasn’t all that helpful.

The second option is, of course, that with practice, I got better and didn’t need the pen and paper and was secure enough to just sit down with my word document on one half of the monitor and the various resources opened on the other half of the monitor.

Whatever the situation was, it is lost to me now. I may have been running out of my special paper and so opted to just type. That doesn’t seem a bit like me as I usually have a stock of any routine supply and am very rarely in danger of running out of anything. If truth be known, I’m often over stocked.

I do know that I now read, assimilate, go back and forth between my sources, and then begin to type. I write out what I hope are interesting little tidbits about our collective past history. I hope I can not only educate, but entertain as well.

If I want to truly educate and entertain, I have to offer something new and different to my audience, such as it is. On my computer are two complete volumes of Little Bits of History. Volume one is posted to my blog and volume three is posted at Examiner.com. Volume two is what I’m currently working with.

I did learn with the first volume, that it would work best if I at least got topics lined up and did some preliminary research on them for every single date. However, I only wrote three out of seven essays so they could be posted to RGQ.

Instead of filling in the other four, I just ignored the whole thing and began working on volume three. I did write the entire 366 essays for that volume, which came in really handy when I was posting daily at Examiner.

I began volume four and lost interest in the entire project. I just didn’t care anymore. I still liked learning the stories we rarely, if ever, hear about. I did write about some major events, too. But I liked to write about the quirky things that happened on a date, something entirely unexpected, something we never knew – or at least, I never knew. But without a way to actually make reasonable payment, it seemed like I was simply spinning my wheels.

I stopped writing. I totally stopped writing history essays and I wrote very little else, too. I even read less. I just got in a snit and decided to shun words, it would seem. However, my family will attest that I never did so much shunning as to actually stop speaking, too.

As I headed toward the new year, I began to think of the unfinished volume two. I needed something fresh for my blog. I know I am giving away my writing for free. I suppose I could begin placing some ads on the site and make a minimal amount of money for my writing. However, I believe that would be more distracting than it is worth. I don’t get that many hits and I would rather not chase people away. I don’t know how much control over ads the author holds and I despise pop-ups and pop-unders to the point of rather giving things away than annoying readers with these abominations.

No matter what my rate of pay isn’t, I still need fresh content. So I have to write again. I’m not nearly as disciplined as I used to be. I’m also writing more on the fly than I used to. I would have essays done, print them out, be able to proofread long after they were written (which allowed me to make sure I wasn’t omitting needed detail), and have them a little more polished before posting.

But, on the bright side, I’m writing again. At least I’m back at the keyboard. And even more astounding, I’m reading again, too. My love of language apparently waited patiently for me to return and use my words again.

 

I really am not channeling Dave Barry. I’m just not making this up.

An article from Financial Times leads with this paragraph:

A US consumer advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, accusing the fast-food chain of using deceptive advertising practices to lure children to the company’s restaurants.

Who are these children able to get themselves to a McDonald’s and who have the money to purchase themselves a meal (with or without a toy included)? Are we talking about 16-year-olds? If it is anyone younger than that, what in the name of all that’s holy are we doing?

Parents: it is up to you to determine what is good, bad, or indifferent for your children. If there is something advertised and you don’t want your children to have it, there is this word that is available in the English language. You may need some practice saying it, but here it goes.

Repeat after me.

No.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do, say no.

Oh, I hear you.

You: But my little snowflake will not like it if I say no.

Me: Tough. You are the parent and it is up to you to teach your children that they can’t have everything they want. Some things are simply not to be.

You: But they might not like me.

Me: So? They will get over it. They will learn to like you later.

And we could go on forever with You telling Me why you haven’t got the balls to tell your kids no and Me telling You to grow a pair. It is your job as the driver and as the person with the wallet to make these choices.

My children will attest to the fact that they didn’t get everything they wanted. They did get to hear, way too many times, “We all have wants and needs that are unfulfilled.” They didn’t particularly care to hear it, but if they whined after the NO was given, that’s what they got next.

And my children didn’t think it was fair. And they told me about other people who had better parents and what they got to do or have or be. And I was not swayed. It was my job to teach them the meaning of various words and one of my favorite was the small but utile word – NO.

When did parents give up all their power?

One of the other things I said quite often to my sons was, “I waited 22 years to be the boss. It’s my turn now. You want to be the boss? Have kids of your own.” They now both have kids of their own. I sure hope they are not wasting this chance to be the boss. I sincerely hope they have the intestinal fortitude to teach their children one of the most important words in the language. No.

As in, this should not be a lawsuit you spineless wimps. If you don’t want your kids eating McDonald’s garbage, don’t take them there.

 

 

Another Chicago area school is dropping class rankings and eliminating class valedictorian and salutatorian. Instead they are giving out Latin lauds all over the place.

The new system would cite students with a 4.6 grade point average as Summa Cum Laude, or highest honor. A Magna Cum Laude — with great honor — designation would go to students with grade point averaged between 4.4 and 4.59.

Students with 4.2 to 4.39 grade point averages would receive Cum Laude — with honor — citation.

Now, what sort of grade inflation gives someone a 4.6 GPA or higher? How do you get almost an extra whole point on a 0-4 scale?

I have no idea how many students are in the Indian Prarie District 204 system, but if this designation had been in place for this school, 9 students would have been Summa, 29 more would have been Magna, and another 60 would have been honorable. So 98 students had GPAs over 4.2 on a scale of 0-4. Amazing.

AP honors extra hard A+++ for all

By banishing the slot of valedictorian, the school board deemed the new system was “… a heck of a lot more just than what we have.” I have no idea how not honoring the person who did the best scholastically would be more just.

When my kids were in school, there was a policy that if there was any behavior issues, you could not get a scholastic ribbon. Craig’s third grade teacher, Ms Ineffective Screamer, did not particularly care for boys. Craig got straight As for the entire year and never once got an academic ribbon because he talked to much. Said that on each quarter of his report card. “Talks too much in class.” Apparently he talked so much he wasn’t learning a thing.

If something is a scholastic award, it should be based on scholastic achievement. Period. If you get the highest GPA for your entire class, you are valedictorian. Even if the GPA is artificially inflated, it is inflated for all classmates as well.

This seems like a great way to once again increase self esteem by not allowing any winners so no one’s feelings get hurt. Handing out trophies to all participants for the 5-year-old soccer team has taken on new lows. If you are 18 years old and can’t stand to lose, you haven’t learned much in school. And you are going to be very disappointed in life.

Can you just see these kids in fifteen years? They will all be vying for the same job and only one person will get the job. And everyone else will not have a clue about what to do next. I mean, there was a winner and they get the whole job and the whole paycheck and all the other applicants get nothing. And their self esteem is crushed.

Really, there are winners and losers for everything. Except school. Then we are all winners and everyone is brilliant and talented and there are no losers because we are all trying our best.

Time online reported on a study done by Pew Research Center. People under the age of 30 believe the institution of marriage is decaying. They don’t see it as particularly beneficial or necessary.

 

Weddings

 

About 40% of those asked said it is becoming obsolete. While nearly 70% of those asked thought single motherhood was bad for children, they apparently didn’t see a contradiction here or believe cohabitating is as good as being married.

As the divorce rate climbs, that may be true. Getting married is in no way indicative of staying married. As more women become better educated, they don’t need to stay in bad marriages. They are capable of earning enough money to support themselves when things go bad.

But it is the poorer women who never get married. I’m going to assume they were considered to be poor before having children to support as well as trying to support themselves.

Our definitions of a family seem to be in flux as well. At one time, a family was married parents and their offspring. Today, married or unmarried makes little difference. Even the make up of the married couple makes little difference to whether or not the unit is called a family. What makes a difference is if there are children involved. Single parents and gay parents when grouped with their children suddenly turn into families.

While this study on marriage is interesting, it didn’t answer the question I was looking for. Does all our manipulation of the whole marriage idea matter? If any two adults can marry, does it become a less special bond? If gays are not just given the legal equality they so rightly deserve, but get to enter into a marriage rather than a civil union, does it change the way straight couples feel about signing up?

Most people under 30 still look forward to eventually marrying, and if statistics mean anything, eventually divorcing. So we aren’t going to see the institution fall by the wayside in the next twenty years.

But as our definitions of what a marriage is changes, does it make a difference to those seeking to enter into the contract? Any two adults? Can we all agree this is good? What happens to bisexuals? Do they get two spouses in order to fulfill all their needs. (This has actually already been brought to the attention of the world at large when a bisexual in California wanted to have both a husband and a wife.) Is marriage only two adults? Does polygamy under religious doctrine matter?

How long has it been that marriage has only been considered to be a union between one man and one woman? When did we sign off that whole polygamy thing? It was before 1776, and I suppose I could go and look it up, but I’m not interested enough, just curious. Do we want to go back to the idea of multiple partners?

What happens in divorce cases in these group marriages? How is property disposal/disposition going to shake out? Interesting legal questions.

But for young people, it seems marriage isn’t the Holy Grail it once was. Many are postponing entering the institution as they pursue higher education and their own careers. It seems the people who are accorded the opportunity to marry throughout the country don’t seem particularly inclined to do so.

Isn’t it a bit ironic? As more gays are given the right to marry, fewer straights are finding it at all necessary.

I’ve never been beautiful. Once upon a time, I was young, but that’s about as much as I can claim. I don’t think I look like I’ve been hit in the face with a bag of nickels (thank you Flip Wilson, I’ve always loved that description) but I’m in no way beautiful.

So maybe this is sour grapes, but I’ve thought beauty pageants were pretty useless for as much of my life as I can actually remember. Pretty is really nice, but it isn’t everything.

My daughter-in-law is beautiful and her daughter, looking like her mother, is also beautiful. (My daughter in love is also beautiful and her daughter is a doll.) But, beautiful isn’t enough. It is just exterior and not really good enough to get by. You need more than just a pretty face to get anything really worthwhile.

I don’t think it is anything worthwhile to be deemed as pretty. Listen to beauty pageant contestants speak and the illusion is broken. There is a meme on the interwebs concerning the South Carolina contestant who was simply beyond “not smart” and all the way to ensconced in “dumber than cat shit.”

I think these types of contests are simply ridiculous. They simply don’t have much worth.

They are creepy when they are about children. JonBenet Ramsey was simply pitiful. Such a short life and spent chasing someone else’s dream. Sexualization of children seems ludicrously wrong. Who can look at these small girls all dolled up with grown up dresses, makeup, and hairdos and not get slightly creeped out?

They are supposed to be these small innocent children and they are all tarted up to look rather similar to call girls.

But this is old hat, so I must be going to whine about something else. Boys are now entering beauty pageants. The video included with the mothers talking about their “children’s” dreams and aspirations is rather disingenuous. These women started their boys on the beauty circuit as early as two weeks old. They only know this. They didn’t choose it, you did.

 

Here is a cute kid, but really

 

One mother goes so far as to say she is making her boys be the girls she wanted and didn’t get. Her sons participating in beauty pageants is a way for her to have her daughters. Lady, it isn’t. It is a way for you to really screw up your sons. When they hear you say you don’t want boys, you want girls – they are not helped at all.

I had sons. I would have liked daughters, but I had sons. They turned out to be wonderful. I love my sons and I learned all about lacrosse and hockey and even how to keep score in baseball, which is a bit more than just writing 1, 2, or 3.

I was thrilled when I finally got a granddaughter and it took me quite some time before I bought her anything other than pink or purple stuff. I didn’t like her more than her brothers, but it sure was and it still is fun to have a couple baby girls in the family.

It is creepy enough to force girls into this life style, but even us plain girls and probably even some ugly girls will get into their mother’s makeup and try to play the part of Ms Glamorous. But boys? Wearing makeup and learning to walk down the catwalk? This sounds like a good thing?

Perhaps if they started themselves when they got past the age of reason, it wouldn’t bother me so much. But to have these mothers placing their boys (twice as many boys as just five years ago, up from 5% to 10% of today’s participants) out there is just not at all what seems right to me.

I don’t think it is right for girls, either. I believe we should strive to be known for something more important than cheekbones and nice hair. Perhaps I’m old fashioned and gender differences are changing as we speak.

But with all the bullying going on, why would you choose to put your son outside the bounds of what is considered normal just so you can have a vicarious thrill? And why do you care if your son is beautiful? Wouldn’t it be better if he were smart?

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