Monday, March 28, 2016

Being Politically Correct is an Oximoron

 I typically try to stay away from political themes for my blog, but it's getting more and more difficult to speak about ANYTHING without  meandering into some sort of political spillover.

I can assure you that you won't find me proselytizing a particular candidate or ideology.  Frankly...I am pretty open to whatever or whoever you endorse, support, stand for, stand behind, believe in, dream of or get in bed with.
click here to link to video

The other morning, I was watching a news program (I am being generous by using the descriptor "news") and there was a discussion about how difficult it is to interact with people during an election year and articulate your opinions without offending or killing those around you.

 It was the segway, prior to the start of the discussion that really hooked me. The intro stated, that they would provide an expert that  could help us stay "politically correct" while discussing politics. Well...this intrigued me.  The idea that one can possibly discuss anything of a political nature while not saying something that would show political, social, or religious  biases, while simultaneously  NOT offending people with alternate opinions ....well that is a daunting task.

Given the current free-for-all, in-your-face, rhetoric during the process of narrowing down the single person that is to be in charge of our country,  I wasn't shocked that the panel said they had noticed an absence of not only "political correctness', but the total absence of civility. 

NOTE: Given, the word "Civil" was used to name one of the bloodiest, nastiest wars ever fought, maybe people are confused as to what "civil" behavior is supposed to look like. 
If you really want to "keep the peace" avoid these topics.
 Anyway....On the outside chance you missed this important and informative program, I am here to impart the vast knowledge I gleaned from it.    You might not think that  by watching a 10 minute segment of TV qualifies me to be an intermediary teacher but I assure you that I paid extra close attention.

 (NOTE: I put down my iPhone and actually looked at the TV screen...I can assure you I gave it my all.) 

Are we now ready to reap the benefits from all this wisdom that I have acquired?   The segment was called "How to Discuss Politics with Friends and Family without Getting Into a Fight,  featuring an etiquette expert, Thomas Farley. Mr. Farley goes by the pseudonym, Mr. Manners.

RULE #1....Stay Sober

Yeah,  Mr. Manners seems to think there is no room in the  mix for drinking and discussing politics. According to Thomas, he says to avoid alcohol because it reduces your inhibitions and turns a civil conversation into a slugfest (his words, not mine) .

NOTE: Well, isn't Thomas off to an auspicious start! I would guess he lost a lot of the viewers as they were busy grabbing the remote to change channels in response to the horror of the  "no alcohol" rule.  Still others might of been finishing up their second breakfast beer and were uncertain where the remote was. We can only assume that the small number remaining after that, were busy thanking their lucky stars that Thomas was limiting just alcohol and not drugs. 

 RULE #2 Try some background noise.

I have to admit that this one was lost on me.  He suggested if you are in a social situation, play classical music in the background as it provides a soothing effect and fills in awkward silences.  He suggested Beethoven.

NOTE: At this point I question the expertise of Thomas and we are only at #2. In my crowd there are no periods of silence...awkward or otherwise.  Talking over each other is an art-form. But, if one is inclined to follow that tip, go for Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  If it's good enough for Kathy Bates to play in the background while she crushed  James Caan's ankles with a sledgehammer in the movie Misery, it is probably appropriate for use in a political discourse. 

RULE #3  Captivate, but don't capture, your audience

His premise is that if you are sparring with one individual over the pros and cons of your candidate, it  can become a ping pong match and those around you might not enjoy watching the game. You are theoretically holding the audience captive. According to Thomas, you should save an in-depth discussion with a particular individual for a time that isn't in a social setting.

NOTE: I guess the theory here is, if you are going to get into a discussion that is so hostile  that it may lead to a physical confrontation, make sure there aren't witnesses. You should remove yourself from the herd.  I might not of understood his point exactly as intended, I think my advice of eliminating witnesses remains as sound advice, though .

RULE #4  Be mindful of your tone

 Here the thought is if you are talking to someone and their voice gets louder or angrier you should use a measured even tone to keep the conversation from getting heated.

NOTE: So when you tell this person to "shut the F*** up", use a nice even intonation. Say it softer and more measured. That should  really do a lot to lessen the tension. 

RULE #5 Be a respectful listener

This one was tricky.  He said to not interrupt, don't roll your eyes, and be sure to make eye contact. Also, if the other person interrupts,  you should say "Please have the courtesy to hear me out."

NOTE: What??? NO EYE ROLLING???? That is one of my protected rights under the the 1st Amendment. Eye rolling is a freedom of expression wedged in there somewhere behind my freedom to speak and above my freedom to use my middle finger to express myself. 

RULE #6  Fact Check, but don't push.

 I actually am copy and pasting this one because it is just too precious to summarize.

If your opponent starts spewing facts that sound incorrect, ask for the source: "I haven't encountered that statistic before. Where did you discover it?" If she can't produce a citation, agree to move on and revisit that particular point later. "Maybe you could look into that further and email me your source so I can consider it more fully?"

NOTE: I think it is very telling that Mr. Manners is using the word "opponent".
I am, also,  thinking Thomas is losing any last remnant of his  credibility here.  I want to have a front row seat when he asks someone to "produce a citation" to prove they know what they are talking about. Mr. Manners may know his etiquette but he seems a little naive on his "street smarts". The phrase "Prove it!" never goes over well. 

7. Remember that there are no miracles

According to Thomas, no matter how eloquent you are, no matter how well researched you are, it isn't likely you are going to sway anyone into thinking your way. He went on to say, if you keep your cool, you have achieved true success. (barf)

NOTE:  That did it...By number 7, I have lost all faith in Thomas.  True success is when you get the other guy flustered, confused, or speechless. When you have come up with some verbal jab that leaves them unable to respond, you have succeeded. 

8. Keep the final sentiments positive
Thomas tells us under NO circumstances should we try to get the last words in.  He especially warns against saying "Let's agree to disagree." or "Let's change the subject" He does, however advise us, to thank the person for sharing their opinions with us.

NOTE: Since I already established that  Mr. Manners  and I don't see things eye to eye, (guess that would be rolling eye to rolling eye), I am sure you aren't shocked that I TOTALLY disagree.  OF COURSE, we want to get the last word in.  "Let's agree to disagree".... I can't understand how he doesn't see that as the very essence of tact. Really, it's one of the most polite ways of saying,   "I'm right and your an idiot"! maybe I don't have a 100 percent handle on this..which is even more reason for me never to get into a political debate.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

To Thine Own Selfie Be True

I was listening to a program a couple of weeks ago that featured a speaker that was talking about how narcissistic our world has become. In support of her theory, she cited some statistics about the rise in selfie related injuries and deaths.

Huh?  People are dying and it is somehow related to taking pictures of oneself?

Yes,  would seem that death by selfie is a thing.  Prior to that program, I wasn't aware of this growing problem.  I knew there was death by texting as most states have outlawed texting and driving for obvious reasons. BUT...the fact that people are dying of selfie inflicted wounds, had me curious.  Now for those of you that are a tad squeamish about death in general, you at least have to entertain some curiosity how people have managed to start a whole new genre of dying.

It turns out that in September of last year, Mashable had an article stating that more people were killed in 2015 related to selfies than deaths that were related to shark attacks.  The score was actually 12 for selfies and 8 for the sharks.

Not that I am trying to be insensitive but basically, with all the possible ways someone can die, selfie death probably doesn't elicit quite the same reaction as other types of death.  I, for one, hope not to leave my relatives with the burden of having to tell people that the cause of my death was directly  connected to a status update on Facebook. arm myself with the knowledge of HOW NOT TO DIE while using my iPhone, I have done a little research.

Click here to see the Wikipedia list of all related selfie deaths.
Just on the outside chance, Mashable had it wrong, I looked to Snopes to make sure this wasn't some type of hoax.  NOPE, not a hoax, per se, but they did point out a couple of key points.  The Snopes organization said they could verify the 8 shark attacks but they had a bit of a problem blaming all the reported injuries and deaths related to selfies because it's not like the smart phones actually killed anyone.  Not one iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Droid Turbo  could be held directly responsible for shoving someone off a cliff or in front of a train. It was the people using the smart phones that had a lapse in judgment. The lapse was evidently the time it took to put themselves in a really dangerous situation and the time to snap the camera button on their cell phone.

In the Snopes article, they concurred with the World Health Organization  (WHO) that explained that if someone falls and hits their head on the floor and dies, you wouldn't say the floor killed that person.  WHO maintains that the cause of death in the cases of selfie taking was being hit by a vehicle, or falling off a cliff or shooting one's self in the face,  or pulling the plug out of a grenade or whatever their momentary flash of brilliance had them doing at the time of their demise....but with the added bonus  of snapping off one last picture.  Yes, one last piece of digital documentation, to share the with their followers on what not to do with a cell phone. 

So, I ask you, my dear blog reading friends, What is the take-away here?

It's not Smartphones that kill people, it's people with Smartphones that kill people."

Moving on...another interesting point in this problem of deaths related to selfies, is that for a change, America isn't the leader.  In both India and Russia this is a much greater problem.

In India, they have counted 27 world wide  deaths last year linked to selfie taking instead of the other sources that claim 12 but...whatever the number is... the Indian government stated that half of those happened in India.   In response to that, they have created "no selfie zones".  

Like wise, Russian interior ministry has distributed an illustrated booklet to warn people of dangerous scenarios involved in taking such pictures as part of its Safe Selfie campaign. They are distributing mass nuggets of wisdom such as not taking a selfie with a gun or posing on peaks of mountains, or on main roads or with dangerous animals.  One should just say "nyet" to putting themselves in unsafe selfie conditions.

Russian brochure pointing out ways to be stupid.
An aide to the interior minister,Yelena Alexeyeva,  said: 'Unfortunately we have noted recently that the number of accidents caused by lovers of self-photography is constantly increasing. 

NOTE: She went on to say, that no amount of "likes" is worth taking a chance with your life.  I think maybe she shouldn't of added that part if she really want to sell this idea to young people. is a final thought... even those of us that LOVE our phones, should set them down sporadically  and actually look around.  Just maybe, there are things worth seeing  Perhaps, we should worry a little less about "sharing" our moments and a little more about appreciating our moments.  

Crabby Pants just can't resist taking a selfie in front of the Van Gogh self portrait gallery.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is That Crazy or Is That Stupid

I have a theory...that within every group of people you happen to find yourself among, there is at least one crazy person. Maybe more.  My "crazy theory" isn't based on exact calculations but more from a lifetime of experience with not only being able to hone in on the craziest person in any given group but often making friends with them.   (To my immediate family:  You are nodding your heads up and down aren't you... Yeah, I thought so.)

Anyway, I was talking to one of my non-crazy friends this week about my theory and she made a good point that it is often difficult to figure out if someone is crazy or if they are just stupid.

This is especially true, I suspect, when we are lumping people together  with descriptors  so loosely defined such as crazy, stupid, idiot, jerk, etc.  Zeroing in on the appropriate identifier  for each individual that you happen to see acting like a fool becomes a tad difficult.  Sure, most of us recognize that the person in question is "not quite right" but not entirely sure  if we can put a particular name to it. The word "crazy" is pretty much an all encompassing kind of word.

First of all...I think we can all agree that some people's type of "crazy" is fun to be around.  They are spontaneous, witty, funny sorts that have very few inhibitions.  They definitely march to their own drummer but you want to get into the parade with them.  Then there is "bad" crazy where the person seems incapable of either speaking or behaving in what most would deem an appropriate way.

This is where things get fuzzy.  Yes, we now are in the gray area that is between being crazy and being stupid. Well, I guess it could also refer to people that are BOTH crazy and stupid.  This group incorporates  the "bitch" zone and the "dumbass" sector. (Isn't it odd that the words "bitch" and "dumbass" typically are  gender specific?)  This is, also, the area that should alert you to the fact: you might want to  keep your distance.

While sometimes, I am insightful enough to realize I shouldn't try to befriend certain people, I have made serious mistakes in the past.  You might remember the person, that I met at a nail salon.  I proceeded to chat with her and unwittingly made plans to meet her for lunch. She appeared to be super friendly but after a few shared lunches, she began stalking me.  When I use the word stalking, I mean that literally.  She showed up everywhere I went, joined all the social clubs I belong to, and starting trying to become friends with my group of friends.

You long time readers might remember her in a post I did a long time ago. (OR...because it was more than 5 years ago, you might, in fact, not remember). Any way she was the one that said her 16 year old was in a relationship with his boss at the Home Depot. The kid worked part-time after school and now had a girlfriend at work. The problem was that this nut of a mother, would drive her unlicensed teen to the married, 24 year old girlfriend's house because he maintained this was true love.  Mom told us over coffee one morning that she thought it was fantastic that her son was so charismatic ( well actually, I believe she used the word "hot" but you get the drift) that he could hook up with a 24 year old.  This puts her in the "distancing yourself" category.

I for one, think in this day in age of technology there should be an machine that would allow us to put a speck of genetic material into it and have it calculate a type of DNA profile that  shows the capacity any given individual to meet at least a minimum standard of being a functional human.  (I am thinking along the lines of saliva, but any genetic material would work).  Then when could get a clear reading on someone's capacity for being...well,  if not sane, at least smart enough to be out in public.

What even started this line of thought, you might be asking?   Last week it just seemed that there was a lot of "crazy" in the wind. In fact, after several weeks of listening and observing random behaviors, I fear  evolution has reached it's peak and is now on the downward spiral.  It's just a matter of time (albeit millions of years) that we evolve back to just grunting and picking fleas off of each other.  I suspect we will still have the ability to text each other but probably unable to verbalize "words".  With that thought in mind, our opposable thumbs will have evolved to be the perfect size for smartphone keyboards.  Good news for all of us fat-fingered types that struggle with our phones.   Also, I predict our middle fingers will also evolve to become larger so they are more visible sticking out of a car window.  This would have to be true if our evolved texting thumbs are busy at every stop light.  

Back to present day craziness though....A couple of days ago, I stopped at the Walmart to pick up a couple of things for supper (that isn't the crazy part yet).  I was standing in a line behind a young mother of a grade schooler, two toddlers,  and she seemed to be on the doorstep of giving birth to a 4th little one right there in the Walmart. (still not the crazy part).
The cashier was ringing up an assortment of groceries consisting of things such as  soda, sugary snacks, chips and such and commented by saying "I see you aren't buying any vegetables today."   That, my friends is a direct quote.

Do I have to tell to you that the young pregnant mom about imploded? Well...let me tell you if looks could kill, there would be one less person working at Walmart.  The mom shot back a "What did you say?" Now you would think a rational person would pull a mia culpa kind of move and say, something to rectify the big "faux pas" (French for the verbal shit she just let fly out of her mouth) but nnnooooo.. she repeated. ... "I see you didn't buy any vegetables today."  This time enunciating a little more clearly and a little louder, which I can only assume she thought pregnant mom was deaf or at least unable to hear above the chatter of 3 children.

Which has me wondering about that type of person... are they stupid or crazy?  OR both?

Another friend of mine, who happens to work in a hospital that is a Trauma 1 level facility was saying that a surgical team was called into the hospital in the middle of the night because someone was coming in from 40 miles away with a cold leg.  (Note: a leg that lost it's circulation thereby going a really bad thing if you desire to have 2 legs).   So my friend and the rest of the surgical team go in and get an operating room ready. And they wait...and wait....AND WAIT. 

About an hour and a half later,  cold-legged guy comes in but they can't do the surgery.  Guess why??? Oh come on..guess!  It's because he and his wife were worried that he might not get to eat once he got to the hospital and stopped for a late night burger and fries at the Whataburger.  Not that he wasn't told on the phone that he couldn't eat prior to general anesthetic but I guess when you need a Whataburger, common sense flies out the window.

As usual,....I am being long winded, so I won't tell you about some of the other assorted "crazy" I saw  or heard of last week. I am sure you saw or heard some of it, as well.  Be sure to send my some of your crazier sightings.  Surely, it's not just me. Although, I do think my thumbs and middle finger are evolving as I sign off.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Leaving My Peas and Q's at Whole Foods

While I am preoccupied with the current campaign brouhaha and it has a small part of me wanting to create a post making fun at all the sexual references. Seriously,  when in my lifetime will a campaign have this many prepubescent references to hand size **wink, wink*.  However, I am trying to remain strong and faithful and try to keep  my blog a "non-political zone".  That becomes increasingly difficult when the candidates keep offering up so much joke fodder and my inner 13 year old boy keeps being misdirected into an arena of bathroom humor. 

SOOO for today, let's talk about the more mundane side of life....specifically grocery shopping.

As with all things that evolve over a lifetime, my enthusiasm (or lack thereof) towards a routine task like shopping for food has settled somewhere above a being hit by a bus but below getting my teeth cleaned.

This wasn't always the case.  Many of my long time readers might remember that my life has been split four ways between living in a big city with my mother, living with my grandparents in the rural South, and later living in a small town with my dad....then most of my adult life has been spent in suburbia with a little city urban in the early years.  What does this have to do with the price of beans you say? (Nothing wrong with a little grocery colloquialism....I'll try to to constrain myself) brings to mind how my attitude toward something as menial as buying food has gone from "YAY  to  "meh" to "OMG, please, NO...must I?"

There is a certain level of nostalgia connected to the days of living in urban Phoenix  as a kid and riding the bus to a city market to buy food. Granted I was really young so I might not grasp the fact that my mother might not have thought this to be as pleasurable experience as I did. 

Later I went to live with grandparents on a farm. Farms are a wondrous things with their beautiful vegetable gardens, and all the "meat on legs" living there.

Honestly, if it wasn't for all the chores associated with those things, I would of thought it was a perfect way to live.   However for the non-farm  produced food,  we cleaned up, put on "our good clothes" and went into town every Saturday morning.  The Piggly Wiggly supplied the can goods,  bulk flour, lard and such that were the key ingredients of the 1960s " good health be damned" diet.

Even in my teen years, living in a small town, I could walk to the market and carry a paper bag of groceries home as needed and none of that seemed to be the worst thing in my life.   It wasn't until I became a grownup that I realized that the act of purchasing food would dwindle down to the equivalent of torture.

I am sure that some of you are currently distancing yourself from having to think about where your dinner ingredients came from because you have managed to allocate this chore to someone else. No matter how you have escaped this chore, surely you recognize that the food on your table had to have been purchased by someone.  Your poor victim...or personal shopper if your prefer... had the duty to roll a cart around some type of market (or if you live in the South "pushing the buggy") to make important choices between what will kill you and what won't.

NOTE: In our household, I do most of the shopping but once in awhile hubby humors me (after I beg, plead, grovel, etc) and participates.  Turns out he doesn't enjoy grocery shopping either unless it's one of the stores that offer up lots of samples.Then it's game on over at the Sam's Club or Costco.

  As I was saying, ....No longer does the shopper have the luxury of just picking up things to keep starvation at bay.  Now you have to make hard choices about what you are willing to eat versus what you are wanting to eat.  AND if that isn't enough, you have to pick out which venue is the least objectionable.

For today's purposes, I am going to confine myself to one type of store for the sake of brevity.  Technically, my version of brevity is everyone else's version of being long-winded...but still I am making an effort by just talking about health food stores for today.  So sit down, open a refreshing bottle of kabucha (swill) and let's talk about why people would subject themselves to this type of shopping experience.

Here in suburbia these super healthy super market chains are popping up everywhere...and they are super busy. So, I climbed on board the "eating clean" train and decided to give these specialty stores a try.  It not entirely lost of me that our food supply has been tampered with a bit (and by bit I mean there's no real food in our food) and perhaps buying products that tout the words,  range-free, gluten free, fat free,  non-GMO,  or organic  might, in fact, be a good thing.   Yes, we can all sleep better at night knowing that the chickens were able to roam at will and the happy cows were probably bathed in Perrier while listening to zen like Muzak before becoming our chicken nuggets and hamburgers. Nary a P in sight. No pesticides, preservatives, or poison to be had.

So...I started buying some products from the health food market to see if there are significant differences that would entice me to fully embrace stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.  As you might imagine, this experiment wasn't without some glitches.   I had at least 3 problems maneuvering the health food stores from the get-go.

1.  I am not a chemist or a botanist
2.  I am not a rich chemist or botanist.
3.  It is appallingly apparent to every other shopper there that I belong down the road at the Walmart.

Within the first five minutes of being in a health food store comes the realization that healthy foods without all the  unhealthy additives cost way more than the ones that contain preservatives, artificial colors, gluten,  hormones and such. So if you want healthy food be prepared for the shake down.

Also, there is a "look" about the shoppers there.  It appears they all have come from the gym.  Not my gym, mind you.  The gym where all the women wear matching Lycra capri leggings with matching tops as opposed to sweat pants and T-shirts that have stains. ( be fair, the stains are why the Tshirt was relegated to becoming gym wear.)

OK after you realize you don't look like the other shoppers, then you are probably going to realize you aren't smart enough to be in there anyway. The labeling not only tells you what's in the product but often tells you what isn't in the product.

For example: I am pretty sure that too much salt (sodium chloride) isn't a good thing but how many  nitrates (yep..still talking a type of salt)  am I able to consume before it kills me?  Is sodium citrate ( yah, did you happen to notice the sodium part of that) a good thing or a bad thing?  Is sugar alcohol safe and do I care if it's safe if it takes away the calories that potentially make my thighs fat? Clearly these were questions I should of asked in chemistry class instead of setting my hair on fire.

Even owning up to my extreme lack of chemistry recall,  my insufficient botany knowledge leaves me ill prepared for the pretty cases of produce.

I eat lettuce....that would be ordinary types of lettuce like iceberg or Romain.  I don't know or care enough to know the difference between radicchio and endive.  I am fine with buying a bag that is labeled Spring Mix.  I have no idea what a "spring mix" is exactly but it's green and makes a nice salad.

On one of my maiden voyages into "clean" shopping, I made the rookie mistake of  looking around for a cheap bag of mixed greens. We have already established that if  you are at all concerned about the price of things, this isn't where you need to shop.  Now that I have matured and have become more self-aware, it becomes clear that I am willing to risk listeria by buying a bag of lettuce over at Sam's Club that cost around $3.00 but would fill a bucket. Conversely, the lovely greens at the HFM (let's just start using that acronym to save time ...HFM instead of health food market) cost more pound  per pound than my car does.

Call me crazy (and I know you do)  but given the choice between living healthy or dying broke, I think I might have to make different types of  choices.  One of those choices,  involve me peeling my own oranges.

Half way through the store, I also am questioning myself as to what exactly is HEALTHY???  If you walk down the snack aisle there are still chips, cheese puffs and cookies.  They tell you on the package that they are gluten free (which concerns me ZERO), sugar free, and fat free.

OK...Let's just put it out there...if something is going to be called a cookie, it would have to have something tasty in there to make it taste sweet and yummy.  If it's a real sugar like honey, isn't it still sugary calories?  On some labels I see that artificial sweeteners are listed.  Even as health-food stupid as I am, artificial sweeteners are a bad thing.  I once, mentioned this to an employee at Whole Foods and she actually scolded me. She told me that they wouldn't sell anything containing artificial sweeteners. Far be it from me to drag her over to the cookie aisle to point out the fact she is wrong.... but judging from her vehement denial, I didn't want to incite a riot over at the  Whole Foods.   I am, however,  considering bringing in a Diet Coke to sip during my next visit just to taunt her but we all know that artificial sweeteners are really bad.

Perhaps, next time, I will tell you what bothers me over at the Walmart. Brevity might not be an option.