Category Archives: Observations

Autocorrect For Life

Have you ever made a simple cooking mistake that rendered your masterpiece totally inedible? I did this yesterday.

I’d decided to make a mixed-grain bread using bread flour, whole wheat, and rye, adding caraway, chia and hemp seeds for texture and interest.

Except I grabbed fennel seeds instead of caraway, which is almost as bad as mixing up salt and sugar. YUCK.

Which got me thinking… wouldn’t it be great to have Universal Autocorrect every time we were about to do something dumb? Like a booming voice from above yelling “Stop!” when we’re walking down the aisle towards the wrong person. (TMI? Am I the only one who’s done this??) Or a quick rewind after we inadvertently send “reply all” bitching about a colleague. How about a time freeze before we sign the contract for a house that will prove to be a money pit?

Unlike my iPhone autocorrect, which turns typos into gibberish, our Life Autocorrect would be unfailingly wise and judicious, knowing what we meant to do, not what we actually did, and fixing it pronto.

Sigh. Back to the drawing board, a.k.a bread board. And like love, the results were lovelier — and tastier — the second time around.

Future History

If the 1920’s were the Roaring Twenties, what will this decade be called — The Whimpering Twenties? The Weeping Twenties? So far, so bad, but perhaps we will all rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of 2020. One can only hope.

Here in the US, COVID deaths have now reached (surpassed?) an unimaginable 200,000, making it anyone’s guess how we’ll wrap up the year. (“Worse”, I could posit.) My parents — and maybe also yours — used to say, “There are two sides to every story.” In the current political climate that sentiment seems downright nostalgic, as we currently have a country with two distinct stories, each side primarily getting information from news outlets that support and calcify its entrenched beliefs.

Whimpering feels like the appropriate response. Or, you can do what I do: cover your ears saying “La, la, la” whenever the Great Pumpkin holds a news conference. That voice alone is like nails on a chalkboard, nevermind the inanities being spouted.

But this is not meant to be a political blog, so on to a new — and more uplifting — topic. I recently read about a Brooklyn tailoring firm known for working with customers of all shapes, sizes and gender identity that also offers a free bespoke suit to wrongfully incarcerated citizens who have been exonerated through actions of the Innocence Project.

A new suit won’t make up for years of misery and injustice, of course. But it helps restore a person’s sense of dignity and normalcy. And isn’t that something worth celebrating amidst all this lousy news?

Image by Harmony Lawrence from Pixabay

Jibes, Barbs and Slurs

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words ….

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” -Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” -William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this
wasn’t it.”
– Groucho Marx

Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

My Big, Dysfunctional Family

Our little neighborhood in Oregon is a magnet for drama.  To paraphrase the wonderful Alexander McCall Smith, “When people don’t have enough to do, they turn on their neighbors.”*

This community depends on its owners to run things, which might be ok if we weren’t a bunch of amateurs — some well-meaning; some self-serving. Many are retired executives who haven’t quite grasped that nobody here actually works for them. This leads to micromanagement, incompetence, and finger-pointing. Our motto should be “Once burned, twice shy” because we put a big bullseye on our backs the moment we volunteer.  After doing your bit, who needs more aggravation unless you’re a certified martyr or control freak?

The problem is that we’re all part of an extended “family” living in close proximity but connected only by the circumstance of choosing to live in the same neighborhood and, otherwise, having little in common.

Were this a Regency play, the cast of characters might read as follows:

Sir Bluffalot: “Whenever I’m wrong, bullying has always worked for me.”

Mr. Bragalot: (Bluffalot’s illegitimate brother) The self-styled expert on everything, no matter how trivial.

Our Lady of Perpetual Discord: Creates conflict so she can swoop in to solve it, ignoring pesky facts that might contradict her cast-iron assumptions.

Saint Gossipus: Want everyone to know your dire financial situation? Tell Saint G.

Aunt Sweety: A beautiful soul who sees the good in everyone.

Cousin It’sTheirFault: She takes no responsibility for her part in events since it’s much easier to blame others.

Uncle High Dudgeon: No issue is too small to overreact.

Miss Representation: Loyal subject of Saint Gossipus, the truth is a pliable commodity.

The Twins, Pitiful Pearl and Timid Timmy: “Please, someone else, solve my problems for me.”

Lord Blinker: Storms into battle for the woman he loves, armed only with outrage.

Sister Sycophant: “I can’t be bothered to find out anything, so I’ll just mix up a big batch of Kool-Aid and pass out the straws.”

The Moral of the Story: Hire professional management. If that’s impossible, avoid all meetings, curl up with a good book, sleuth out some trustworthy friends, and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

Cheers!

action alcohol art beverage

Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on Pexels.com

*”If you don’t have things to keep you busy, you end up starting fights with your neighbours.” — The Second-Worst Restaurant in France

 

Happy Random Day

Not only is today a lot like yesterday — and probably tomorrow — but I don’t seem to be able to focus on one particular topic. A few things are buzzing around my brain. First up:

Can You Get COVID-19 Twice?

As with everything else, nobody has a clear opinion. Or they change faster than a politician’s election strategy.

Reported in today’s Washington Post:

Doctors emphasize there is no evidence of widespread vulnerability to reinfection and that it is difficult to know what to make of these cases in the absence of detailed lab work, or medical studies documenting reinfections. Some people could be suffering from a reemergence of the same illness from virus that had been lurking somewhere in their body, or they could have been hit with a different virus with similar symptoms. Their positive COVID-19 tests could have been false positives — a not-insignificant possibility given accuracy issues with some tests — or picked up dead remnants of virus, as authorities believe happened in hundreds of people who tested positive after recovering in South Korea.

Suspect Sanitizer

The FDA has warned that some hand sanitizer brands labeled as containing ethyl alcohol actually contain a much more dangerous ingredient.

The agency reported that there has been an increase in hand sanitizers that have tested positive for methanol, or wood alcohol. If methanol is absorbed through the skin, it can cause blindness and hospitalizations; even death if ingested.  For the complete list, go to FDA hand sanitizer updates.

Men and #MeToo

It’s not just women who’ve been harassed by men in power.  This fascinating article looks at how some men have suffered too. And no, they weren’t the abusers.

Life In 3-D

How about a random mantra? Decode the problem. Decide the next steps. Deliver change.

IMG_1949

(Random beach photo from a recent walk)

 

 

Good News Monday: Boredom Buster

Guess who else is bored with COVID-19? Penguins!

It seems they’d been extra fidgety over at the Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, England until a donor came up with an ingenious solution: a bubble maker.

No mere entertainment, the CPC (chief penguin caretaker) explained that the bubbles also keep the penguins’ predatory reflexes sharp.

One wonders… could there be a tie-in between champagne and aggression in humans? Is this why some wedding celebrations turn into drunken brawls?

Anyway, the article and video are seriously cute.

cold nature cute ice

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

COVID-19 Spending and Saving

Perhaps the only upside to what I call the “pandammit” is that I’m not shopping like a drunken socialite, to quote my friend S. Which doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shopping altogether; it’s more that I’m buying different things.

Big-ticket items flew out the window as life got simpler and our activities remain close to home. Meanwhile, entire categories (hello, hand sanitizer) became essentials. What a topsy-turvy world! (Google reports that the expression “may be an adaptation of the medieval verb ‘tirve’, meaning ‘to turn or to topple over’. It has also been suggested that ‘turvy’ is an allusion to ‘turf’ and that ‘topsy-turvy’ means ‘with one’s head on the turf’.”) 

Spending more

  • Amazon – miscellaneous household items, esp. hard to get stuff
  • Whole Foods delivery in the early months
  • Fresh fruits and veggies from farmers’ market and small specialty grocers
  • Cooking gadgets
  • Wine and booze – do you even have to ask why?
  • TV streaming services
  • Zoom membership
  • Books
  • Vitamins, supplements, acetaminophen PM
  • Face masks — whoever predicted one would need a wardrobe of these?!
  • Cute socks
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fresh flowers to maintain sanity and illusion of elegant normalcy

Saving more

  • Makeup, especially lipstick – kind of pointless when wearing a mask, no?
  • Hair salon – spreading out appointments and doing trimming/touch-ups myself until desperate
  • Pedicures – My toes are not worth dying for
  • Restaurants
  • New clothes – to go where, exactly?
  • Travel
  • Cultural events/theatre/opera tix
  • Massages and facials (see pedicure)

Yep, things are definitely tirving these days.

photo of inverted woman on wooden chair

Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Good News Monday: Bad and Good Women Get What They Deserve

First up, breaking news: Amy Cooper, the white woman in Central Park who called the police on a Black bird watcher, will be charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Ms. Cooper will be arraigned in October.  If convicted — which seems likely since the incident was captured on video and went viral — she could be given a conditional discharge or sentenced to community service or counseling rather than jail time. (Counseling seems like an excellent idea, regardless of any other punishment.)

On Memorial Day, Ms. Cooper who’d been walking with her dog, encountered Christian Cooper (no relation), a Harvard graduate and bird watching enthusiast, in the Ramble, a semi-wild part of the park where dogs must be leashed.

Mr. Cooper said that he asked Ms. Cooper to leash her dog, and when she refused, he attempted to lure the dog with treats, hoping to compel her to restrain her pet. (Pet owners don’t like strangers to offer treats and usually leash their dogs to avoid this.) The encounter then got ugly when Ms. Cooper decided to call 911 and tell them that an African-American man was threatening her life.

That’s the Bad Women part of this report. Now, let’s celebrate more illustrious women.

On a more positive note, this year marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the long-overdue right to vote. In honor, The National Trust for Historic Preservation is currently crowdsourcing locations where women made history.

Savingplaces.org directs visitors to a number of distinctive destinations, including the house where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872, the First Ladies’ Museum, Frederick Douglass’ D.C. home, which Helen Douglass and the National League of Colored Women worked to save, the first secondary school for women, the home where the initial Girl Scouts meeting was held, and many others. They’re hoping to receive hundreds of suggestions.

[pixabay.com]

Coping with Covid-19: It’s About Time

Many of us joked at the beginning of this pandemic that introverts would be better equipped to handle long periods of isolation. We’re all still inside reading, while our extrovert friends and family — plus all those manic folks we’re seeing on the news — are out cavorting as if the emergency is now over.  If only.

I’ve been thinking that another factor influencing how crazy-making this is, is whether you generally prefer having structured or unstructured time.

Most people have a strong inclination towards one or the other.  Put another way, do you tend to feel happier during the workweek, when you have a series of tasks that need to be done, colleagues with whom you interact, a feeling of achievement when you complete a project? Are schedules and routines useful rather than burdensome?

Or are you more of a “free spirit” who doesn’t like to follow a regimen? Are you happiest at the weekend with no particular agenda and the option to use your time as your own?

Being retired, I notice less of a difference than I did in my career life, but I clearly still fall into the “structured” category. For example, I’ve always liked to make lists and plan appointments ahead of time. Sundays and major holidays can be frustrating because certain things are closed and I can’t get stuff done.  (Are structured people more prone to impatience, too, I wonder? Don’t answer that!)

Of course, Covid has tossed many options out the window. But knowing which type you are can help you deal with stress and uncertainty by adding more or less structure to your day.  If you’re an “S”, try keeping a calendar of even the most banal activities so you can feel some sense of accomplishment as you tick them off your list. If you’re a “U” who hates following rules, enjoy the relative freedom of working from home and taking breaks when you feel like it.

I’ve read that S’s often instinctively pair up with U’s, which may be nature’s way of helping us find balance in a relationship: The “structured” person can do most of the planning and organizing, while their “unstructured” partner comes up with spur-of-the-moment fun stuff.

Is scheduled spontaneity the best of both worlds? Or merely another oxymoron in our current reopening-but-not reality?

man break dancing on street

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com