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Archive for November, 2010

So, if you decide you want to fly out of this country, you have to submit to either an “aggressive” full body pat-down…or else, have your whole body scanned by an imagine machine.

You have a choice of which, but you must submit to one or the other or you’re not going anywhere.  Most of my friends who fly have told me they go with the scanner because it’s easier and faster than the pat-down.  If I still flew (I don’t) I’m not so sure that’s what I would want.  I’ve read that these machines are so sensitive that the viewer (a stranger,) can determine whether or not a man has been circumcised!  I just don’t want to get that “up close and personal” with the airport personnel!

Sure, the pat-down involves being touched in private areas, but at least I can stare the “patter” in the eyes while this is going on.  She won’t be able to make snide comments to her cronies in some back room while she’s doing it.  I just feel it enables the passenger to maintain a little more dignity – not much, but a little.

But, here’s what I find ridiculous about this whole thing.  Here’s a quote I found by the Associated Press in the paper the other day:  “Some passengers and flight crews are fearful the imaging machines emit an unhealthy dose of radiation.  The government insists they’re safe, but agreed on Friday to let uniformed pilots skip the screening.”

Two things struck me about this.  One is that it sounds like the government wouldn’t want the pilots to get an unhealthy dose of radiation (if they’re wrong,) but couldn’t care less about the passengers.  I know they’re assuming that the pilots fly much more frequently than the general public, but what about the rest of the flight crew?  It’s okay to gamble with their exposure?  And what about frequent fliers – people who travel on business almost every day?  What makes the government single out pilots as the only exceptions?  And if it’s so safe, why make an exception at all?

The other thing about this that sent up red flags for me is the phrase, “let uniformed pilots skip the screening.”  Is it just me, or does that sound like a “how-to” instruction for the terrorists?  Want to get something on the plane?  Wear a pilot’s uniform!  I mean, seriously?  You think they won’t try it?  It’s ridiculous.

Either require everyone, and I mean everyone, to go through some kind of screening or else no one.  Otherwise you’re leaving a hole in the security system that makes all this other stuff a moot point.

At least that’s how I see it.

 

 

 

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Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, you know that the Christmas season has kicked in big time.  Already I’ve been hearing carols on the radio and seeing the sentimental commercials on TV showing families gathering for heartwarming holiday celebrations.  It has to get to you, right?  Well, for some of us, it gets to us, but not exactly in a good way.  It gets to us more in a way that shows us what we’ve lost or for some, have never had.  But, not to  worry!  I’m not going to boo-hoo all over you just because I’ve lost my family, miss one of my best friends and have had the worst five months of my entire  life.   Nope, I was intending to crawl into a little hole and become a “holiday hermit” for the month of December.  I was going to unplug the phone and avoid being around anyone who was particularly happy. That way I wouldn’t suffer in comparison.

But I’ve rethought my plans.  After all, it’s difficult surviving if you never leave the house to go to the grocery store!  Anyway I read once that if you’re feeling unhappy, you should put a smile on your face anyway and “pretend” to be happy.  According to the study, if you do that, eventually you will, indeed, start to feel happy.  I know, I know, it sounds pretty lame to me, too.  But these people did STUDIES, I tell you!  Anyway, it’s worth a try.  I’m not saying I’ll be walking around with a stupid fake smile on my face, but I’m going to really try to pretend that I have some Christmas spirit.

For instance, I wasn’t going to do any decorating in my home this year at all – not inside or outside.  Just not in the mood.  Too depressed.  But one of my dearest friends and I have a ritual of having our own little Christmas party and she ordered told me that I had to do at least one thing to establish a Christmas ambiance.  Okay.  I thought about it and it wasn’t hard to decide what to do, due to the fact that I’m an absolute sucker for blinky lights.  I put up my bedroom and living room Christmas trees.  Both of these trees have special “chasing lights” that you can program to blink in different patterns.  I love turning off all the lights and watching them. It creates a neat atmosphere.  So, I put aside my Scrooge-ness and put them both up Thanksgiving day.

And, of course, while unpacking the tree, I ran into my Peanuts nativity scene which I’ve had for almost a thousand years, and decided it had to be put out, too.  Surely you can see why.

I think that will be it for me this year, but I’m going to continue this experiment.  If people out in public wish me “Merry Christmas!” I’ll resist the urge to say what I’m feeling (“Uh-huh  Whatever.”) and instead smile and say, “Thank you.”  If someone asks me if I have big plans with my family, I won’t smirk and say, “As if!”  Instead I’ll smile and say “Oh yes, very big plans.” (Even if those plans are to never see each other again.) Yes indeedy, you’re gonna be so proud of me!  I’m going to fake it until I make it…or die trying.

So, are you starting to feel the Christmas spirit yet?  I know I am!  Smile.  Smile.  Smile.

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The formal holiday of Thanksgiving may be over, but, in reality, we all should be giving thanks every single day for all we are given.  And the holiday did serve to remind me that, what with all my trials lately, I hadn’t done a “Five Good Things” post in quite a long time.  So I want to remedy that right now.  Here goes:

1) Eyesight – Even with my double vision heartache, not a morning goes by that I don’t thank God that I can still see.  I thought I knew how precious sight was before, but now I’m hyper-aware!  I think of people who were born blind who will never see a sunrise or sunset, and my heart breaks for them.  I think of people who, through accident or disease, lose their sight later in life and thus know exactly what they’re missing, and I can’t begin to imagine how they cope.  So, every single day I give thanks because I know what a gift it is.

2) Beef – I don’t know what I’d do without it.  In my mind it’s the best meat out there.  You use it in tacos, spaghetti, chili, meatloaf, and as steaks and pot roast. It’s what gives me strength and energy and hardly a day goes by that I don’t have it in some form.  I know vegetarians are probably sickened by this declaration of love, but, quite frankly, I don’t care.  So many meals I love are beef based.  So in that ad where Sam Elliott says, “Beef, it’s what’s for supper,” he’s most likely talking about my house!

3) Thank yous – It seems like such a small thing, but in today’s increasingly rude world, a “thank you” can make a world of difference.  Whether a stranger thanks me for holding a door or a friend for going out of my way for them, that small gesture makes it all worthwhile.  It’s nice to have your actions appreciated.

4) Heating pads – Okay, I could be playing the “old person” card again, but I LOVE my heating pad.  There’s just something so comforting about it.  On those evenings when I’m feeling a bit achy or my lower back is throbbing a bit, I can almost hear the seductive song of my heating pad singing “Star, plug me in and turn me on Darlin’ and I will bestow upon you soothing, healing, heat.”  And it does, every time.  Cuddling up to the heating pad can make me nod right off, reminding me as it does of when I was a small child and my mother used to rub my back and whisper how much she loved me.  If you’ve never had a heating pad, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  It’s a very good thing.

5) Unexpected surprises – Last Sunday morning I stepped quietly out into the darkness to check for the morning paper.  I looked up and was surprised to see three deer on the median of the street right in front of my house.  They looked up briefly and I held very still and then they resumed munching on grass or nuts or whatever it was they were having.  They were so very beautiful.  As I stood there, a movement caught my eye and I saw an animal’s head peek out at me from behind a tree on my side of the road.  At first I couldn’t make out what it was.  When it determined that I wasn’t coming after it, it resumed its vigil of staring at the deer.  Finally, the deer moved on and the creature slowly revealed itself.  It was Danger Cat!   I’ve written about him  HERE. I don’t know what he thought he was going to do to those deer, but he stealthily began to slink after them.  I had to laugh.  He’s always had big ideas of himself.  But anyway, it was a nice way to start the day.

So, those are mine, can you think of five?  Anyway, have a great day and remember how grateful I am for you.  Thank you for reading this blog.

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The idea for this post came from something I heard on the news that made my jaw drop.  But, after doing some research, I found out that it is absolutely true.  It seems that a man named Colin Hart is selling piggy banks made of actual piglets on his website!

Now I happen to be one of those people who like offbeat, weird things, but this grossed out even me!  I’m glad they don’t actually kill the piglets, but still… I think if I had one of those in my house, I’d always look at it and feel guilty. I mean, I’m a bacon lover!  I don’t need to be looking at that little face!  Buy hey!  At $4,000 apiece, how many is this guy going to sell?   I don’t think the pigs need to worry too much.

But here’s something for that friend who’s a fan of the French Revolution – a Marie Antoinette action figure!  It sells for only $10.16 at Amazon.com.  You press a button and her head comes off!  How cool is that?  She has a removable dress and wig.  If you remove the wig before pressing the button, her head will go even further.  Under the fancy dress she is wearing the peasant’s dress that she wore to the actual beheading.  So this is actually an educational gift.  Uh-huh.

Here’s another enchanting idea – the “Cat-A-Pult Kitty Flinger.”  This would be perfect for those boring afternoons in the office and if I were still working, I would totally have to get myself one of these.  You load the cats into the catapult gun and pull the trigger.  It propels the kitties up to 15 feet away!  Imagine a kitty landing in someone’s cubicle out of the blue!  Big fun, I’d say!  It sells for $11.48 at Amazon.

As usual, I’ve saved my favorite for last.  That would be the “Avenging Unicorn Play Set,” selling for $11.95 at Amazon.  The name practically says it all.  I’m sure unicorns are as sick as I am of all the clouds, princesses, castles, gooey, sweet, magical garbage they’re always being associated with.  And how satisfying is it that one of his victims is a mime?  But, my favorite part is the bit on the box that says, “4 Magical Horns – 3 Figures to Impale!”   Who wouldn’t love this?  And it comes with a Unicorn Code that ends with “and a unicorn never does drugs.”  Anyway, it might come in handy in lieu of a Voodoo Doll, if you know what I mean.  Imagine how happy I’d be someone would be to find this under the Christmas tree!

So, I’m sure I’ve got your brains percolating by now, realizing all of the people you could make happy this Christmas by not buying the same-old, same-old gift.  So I’ll just bring this to a close by saying, “Happy Shopping!”

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I can honestly say that Alice in Wonderland had nothing on me.  This past Thursday I entered a land of unreality and am, even now, wondering what will become of me.  I am referring, of course, to my visit with the oculoplastic surgeon, the man I had hoped would wave his magic scalpel and cure my four-month-long double vision.

The doctor, let’s call him Dr. Lynx, was very nice, yet stopped short of coddling.  He did a series of tests and measurements and concluded that the muscles of both of my eyes were affected.  He reiterated that Grave’s Disease was an autoimmune disease caused by an overactive thyroid in which antibodies turn on you and start attacking vital organs.  If some attack the  muscles behind the eyes, they become inflamed, swell and often become rigid, triggering Grave’s Ophthalmopathy or Grave’s Eye Disease.  He said that about 50% of people who get one also get the other, which is a higher percentage than I had heard.

The important point he made was that controlling the Grave’s Disease does not affect or arrest the Grave’s Eye Disease, which simply has to run its course. This can take six to eighteen months…or longer.  So, even though my Grave’s Disease is under control now, the autoantibodies behind my eyes are apparently having a huge wild party which is in full swing.  (I hate them so much!)

He said that the good news is that he can do surgery on both eyes and correct the double vision.

He said the bad news is that it’s not going to happen anywhere near as fast as I was hoping.  He can’t perform the surgery while the disease is in its “active phase” which it still could be.  He took base readings of my eyes and eye muscles and will repeat those readings in six weeks, then six weeks later, then six weeks later.  He needs three readings which are identical before he can operate.  That’s the only way he’ll know that the disease has stabilized.  If next time the readings are worse, we start over.  Under the best of circumstances, if my math is correct, we’re talking about eighteen weeks or four and a half months! That’s longer than I’ve already lived with this and I’m about half mad already!

As he explained this to me, I sat there, stunned.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I said, “I was hoping that I could be normal again by Christmas.”  He looked sympathetic, but shook his head and said, “Nope.”  Then the time was up and as he left, I could see the medical assistant waiting for me in the hall, while I wiped my eyes and tried not to completely break down.  A part of me resented her and all the others who go about their daily lives seeing things normally.  They’re all so carefree.  Meanwhile, I can’t even drive without having half of my glasses patched!.  I’m finding I have to struggle a little more to get things in focus and seeing the TV doubled and my friends doubled and the world doubled is so exhausting.  And this is how I’m going to have to live for the foreseeable future.  I went in there with so much hope that my ordeal would be finally over.  I came out feeling the bottom had dropped out of my world.

You know, if my life was a movie, I’d be walking down the street and someone would throw a book or lamp or something out of a window, and it would hit me on the head.  I’d stagger and then proclaim, “Hallelujah!  My double vision is gone!”  But, with my present luck, it would also give me amnesia and then I wouldn’t be able to find my way home.

So anyway, that’s it, the whole miserable story.  If you’re looking for me this holiday season, check out the nearest rabbit hole.  Look down and you’ll see me falling…and falling…and falling…

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The Illusion of Safety

I’m writing this a little bit after the fact, but it’s one of those news stories I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

In my city about a week ago at night, a man’s old van broke down on the side of the road, booming out backfires.  He got out quickly, fearing it would catch fire.

At that moment two police officers zoomed up, mistaking the van’s backfires for gunshots and immediately opened fire on the van.  The man who owned the van was standing there with his hands straight up, yelling that he wasn’t shooting at them, but they couldn’t hear him.  Besides the damage to the man’s van, the windows of the patrol car were also shot out by the officers as they were getting out.

Thank God the man was not injured.  The two officers have been put on administrative leave, pending an investigation.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?  In my mind…everything.

The idea that we have two officers who either thought they were some kind of action heroes or else so jumpy that they decided to shoot first and ask questions later, makes me feel very uncomfortable.  Apparently they took no time to assess the situation, namely, that the man was standing with his hands up, no gun in sight,  and that despite the loud noises from the van, no bullets were hitting their unit.  By reacting as if they were in the Valentine’s Day Massacre, they could have endangered any number of innocent bystanders with their flying bullets, not to mention hitting the guy standing there.  It’s embarrassing, and not a little scary.

I come from a police family, so I’m well aware of how a policeman puts his life on the line every time he answers a call.  And there are times he has to make snap judgments.  But, shooting out their own windows?  To me that suggests an zealousness to discharge their weapons that verges on dangerous!

The F.B.I. has a training exercise for recruits called Hogan’s Alley, in which the agents have to walk simulated darkened streets and react to things that suddenly pop up or appear in front of them.  At the end of it they find out how many innocent people they shot and whether or not the bad guy got them.  The goal is to hone their analytical skills under pressure.  Maybe we need something like that for our newer policemen.

And in this case I really feel for the victim.  I mean, is the city going to pay to repair all of the bullet holes in his van ?  They should.  The poor guy was really shook up, as well he should be, standing in the line of fire like that when his only crime was having a van that was experiencing a fart-attack.

So anyway, am I supposed to sleep easy now, knowing excitable cops like these are patrolling our streets?  I’m thinking…not so much.

 

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Yeah, yeah, I know, you don’t want to think about it.  But, like it or not Christmas is only about five weeks away.  Desperate retailers are already moving up “Black Friday” and leaking some of their bargains early.  There is an advantage to getting in on this early in that you’ll probably save some money.  And then, if you plan to order on-line, you need to allow time for shipping.  I’ve already ordered a few presents, and ‘m trying to think of “just the right thing” for a couple more.

And, it’s at this time of year I always remember those gifts, you know the ones, where you unwrap them and say, “Oh.  Thank you?”  There’s just something about getting a gift that shows you that the giver has no idea who you are, that hurts.  So it really does pay to give each other lists.  For example, there are certain things that are never right for me…ever.  So I thought I’d throw out five of them here, in case Santa is trying to decide what to give me.

1) “Cute” sweatshirts. You know the ones, with kitties or puppies.  And that goes double for holiday sweatshirts as well.  I love sweatshirts, big ones, but I don’t want anything on the front except words. I know a lot of people really love these, but, quite frankly, I would die if I had to wear this.  Seriously.

2. Bath creams or lotions that smell like fruits or vegetables. Don’t laugh!  I’ve seen (and received) lotions that smelled like peaches, strawberries, kiwis, apricots, and cucumbers.  The last thing I want to do when I step out of the bathtub is to slather my body in something that makes me smell like a cucumber!  Or an apricot (which I don’t even eat!)  Heck, if I’m going to smell like food, then get me some that smells like a good medium rare steak or bacon!   I once tried to use up some peach lotion that was given to me, but it tended to trigger my gag reflex.  Enough said.  Flowers are good.

3) Candles. I know what you’re saying, “Who doesn’t love candles?”  Well, I love them…when there’s a power outage.  Unfortunately, for some reason, for me candles have always represented the “I-couldn’t-think-of-anything-else” gift.  I’ve even bought them for that reason, I’m ashamed to say.  But, unless they are very unique, they’re boring.  I’d rather have a slinky.  Oh wait, I already do.

4) Something for my walls. People have given me wall decorations in the past and it tends to make me very uncomfortable.  If you read this blog at all, you know that my house is a very personal refuge for me that reflects my tastes and personality.  I love decorating it myself.  Someone giving me pictures of cute kitties (see #1) or, God forbid, something like this are really playing with fire.  Hear me, Santa?  No more reindeer antlers!

5) Ugg Boots. These boots represent a phenomenon I’ll never understand.  I know they’re hot and you’ll see them on many models but, for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  Wearing these boots, your feet are making a statement that is simply not me.  They’re saying “Hi!  I’m Nanook of the North!”  If my footwear wants to say anything, I want it to be “Yes, I may be frivolous, but I’m cute, no?”  To me, they’ll always be “Ugg – ly.”

Okay, well that should give Santa a place to start.  Do any of you have certain things that are definitely on your “NO” Lists?  Hit “comment” and share them with me.  I’d love to hear them!  (And please, no preachy comments about “it’s the thought that counts.”  I’d like to hear you say that when you’ve just unwrapped a re-gifted fruitcake or The Clapper!)

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