Monthly Archives: September 2014

Health and Beauty 101

Ok…so…this entry is about time management (lack of), vanity (lots of), and healthcare (too little of). Meaning that I do not have a set topic today, mostly due to those three aforementioned things. I got up yesterday with the intent to do a bit of necessary online shopping, then write my blog for the week. I wasn’t too concerned that I had no topic in mind, as that is often the case, and I figured something would pop up and present itself as a blog-worthy entry.

A note here: I can’t just get in my car and run to the store because I don’t have a car, so I often shop on the internet, especially when there are heavy items I need.

Anyway, as I was ordering on Amazon, I thought about the weather and that soon the leaves would be turning wonderful colors, especially “up the mountain”.

Big ol’ digression here: In central PA, “up the mountain” basically refers to anyplace that is located on a higher elevation than where you are at any given moment – there is no particular mountain that everyone is referring to. In fact, I once casually asked a native Altoonian what the range of mountains was that surrounds this area, and, sadly, she didn’t know. To her, it was all “up the mountain.”

Of course, the mountains are the Allegheny Mountains, and they are beautiful!

PS: Don’t ask anyone what a “Nittany” is (a lot of things here are named “Nittany” this and that, i.e. the Nittany Lions at Penn State), because if you do you will get a lot of blank stares. That actually IS a mountain in Centre County – Mount Nittany – which is kind of a misnomer because “nittany” supposedly is an Algonquin word meaning “single mountain”. Occasionally someone will respond with a story about an “Indian maiden” (rolls eyes) who did something or other and formed a mountain (much like the story about Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California), but…oh don’t get me started on that, please!

Ok, so I was ordering on Amazon and thinking about how beautiful the leaves would soon be, and angrily cursing myself for not taking my digital camera out of the “house from hell” in Altoona from which I fled 4 years ago. Because now I have to buy something else to take pictures. And I really do want to take some pics and post them here, not only of the leaves but also of the Halloween Parade Hollidaysburg has every year (you can imagine I love that!), and probably a selfie.

So I searched Amazon for a digital camera I could afford, going back and forth between that site and camera review sites, and then I realized…after passing a mirror…ugh I have to do something with how I look. Most people who know me know I HATE having my picture taken, as I am not very photogenic and am usually squinting or scowling when the picture is snapped. I think the last time I had my pic taken was maybe 10 years ago? Not counting the DMV (yuck).

But some people I know are asking for a picture, since they have not seen me in many years (some, not since high school), so I grudgingly have decided to provide one.

In order to do that (in my mind, anyway), I have got to pull myself somewhat together or it won’t even get to the picture-taking stage (“Vanity, thy name is woman”). That means a haircut/style (which I was meaning to have done anyway), and my version of a makeover.

Those who know me, know that I don’t even own makeup, let alone wear it. But a few things have happened in the past year that have changed my looks slightly (doubt anyone would notice, really) and I would feel more comfortable if I did something about it. I will be addressing it with my doctor on Friday (my looks changing, not makeup – unless he wears it on his days off or something and can give me fashion tips), because it is symptomatic of scleroderma, which I really hope I don’t have.

(Don’t go looking up pics on Google images, they will scare you and they are not indicative of what I mean except in the broadest sense – those pics are always extreme and really not helpful if one is looking for subtle changes in looks)

To continue…I started looking up makeup on Amazon. Then the wheels in my head got to turning, and I thought, “Wait a minute, I need to see which of these companies test on animals so I don’t spend my money with them”.

So I turned to Google, and a couple of sites: one is called Leaping Bunny, and they have super-strict guidelines about which companies they “certify” (not sure how that works, do they send inspectors in or…?), and another is a beauty blog called My Beauty Bunny (ok so sue me, I like names with “bunny” in them), which is a site devoted to showcasing good beauty products that are cruelty-free. They both have lists of companies that don’t test on animals.

URL alert: Leaping Bunny http://www.leapingbunny.org/ and My Beauty Bunny http://www.mybeautybunny.com/

One place I did not go is the website run by that well-known group of “animal rights activists” (I know one of you is disappointed but really, do some critical thinking please), because they are hysterical, often wrong, and guilty of some pretty horrendous things regarding animals themselves. I think they trapped themself in an ideological box that they cannnot gracefully get out of, so they continue doing some pretty awful things to avoid being called hypocritical by other groups (though that is exactly what other people are calling them, oh the irony).

So anyway, this was a huge task, finding: the right company, the right product, the right color of product, and the right price (i.e., very inexpensive), in that order. Before I knew it, the one task I started with at 9 am was not accomplished until 6 pm! I am not kidding, it took me that long to pick out 3 items of makeup! And I’m not even done because foundation, eyebrow color, and a kabuki brush are just the beginning of what I need.

If I had the money, I would just catch a ride to Macy’s and have them do a makeover, but their stuff is expensive and right now I don’t have any Macy’s gift cards (I use gift cards a lot, as they really help with the budget). I do, however, have a JC Penney gift card, and that is what I am going to use to get my hair cut (next month, in case I need actual money to supplement the bill). So that’s the first set of tasks before I can take a selfie (yuck, what a stupid name).

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The Empowerment of Cyberchondriacs by Health Forums

This is one of my latest pet peeves: pulling up a health forum to look for information about a condition, local groups or clinics, or tips on lifestyle changes that can improve someone’s health (a good example of this would be losing weight to help control blood pressure) – only to find page after page of angry, hysterical, write-in-all-caps posts that don’t do anything but get the OP (original poster) a lot of attention and sympathy.

In looking at the other posts an OP has written – and there are usually a whole lot of them, each one posted on several different places on the forum – it becomes evident that most likely there is nothing at all wrong with them.

Welcome to the world of cyberchondriacs!

Cyberchondriacs are folks who spend hours on the internet looking up symptoms and
convincing themselves they have one or more diseases. Once they have decided on an illness, they haunt the various online forums to: whine about how ill they feel, bitch about the (many)
doctors they have seen who insist there is nothing wrong with them, yell (in caps) about family and friends who have been mean to them by not listening to them or ‘being there’ for them when they are in the throes of (pick a disease), or ask for health advice.

I should qualify that – ask for ‘alternative health advice’, because “the medical profession wants people to stay sick” and the only people who listen to the cyberchondriacs (and gladly take their money) are the many hucksters selling cures online.

It’s often easy to spot the cyberchondriacs if you peruse the post titles (“Help! Someone please help me!” – I promise you that is a direct quote), but oftentimes they will hijack a perfectly good thread in order to get the attention they so desperately seek. There is one forum I have found that is so rife with garbage like that, that if I were a member of the foundation that runs the forum I would be really embarrassed.

It’s not a surprise to me that hypochondriacs (or as it is now politically correct to say, “those with illness anxiety disorder”) have flooded the internet with wild abandon. After all, they have a built-in audience of possibly millions of people who can meet their need for attention, 24 hours a day. The reason I don’t think “illness anxiety disorder” is a correct name for this is that it leaves out the manipulative aspect of this behavior.

Hospital employees are all too familiar with “frequent flyers”, particularly those who routinely check themselves into psych wards, and I haven’t met anyone who works in this field who hasn’t faced the wrath of a hypochondriac when challenged. And by “challenged”, I mean everything from gently suggesting their doctor might be right to outright getting them discharged when it is clear they have no intention of complying with the rules (such as taking their meds). And by “wrath”, I mean everything from writing grievances to contacting CEOs to demand the healthcare worker be fired.

These people WILL get their attention OR ELSE! How much easier, though, to just log in and get your needs met whenever you feel like it?

It doesn’t matter if the illness is physical or mental, check any forum and you will usually find at least one small group of cyberchondriacs. They tend to bond quickly with others of their ilk, and routinely defend each other and make attempts to run people off who tell them to stick to the issues and/or go to the doctor.

They wear their ‘illness’ like a badge – that is, if they even are ill, which I suspect many are not – and complain frequently and loudly that no one understands them but the people on the forum.

Who does that, actually WANT to have a chronic illness? That’s a rhetorical question, of course.

It has been suggested that we really ought to feel sorry for people like that, but I disagree. They usually have personality disorders and are often out for blood – Goddess help you if you are their target! I don’t feel sorry for people who knowingly inject themselves into someone else’s life (or a forum), mess it all up, and then leave a trail of damage behind them.

They know what they’re doing, or they wouldn’t be so good at it.

And to do that on a forum where the majority of people are already suffering and do not need that kind of stress (because it can aggravate the condition) is….is…..well, it’s just evil and there is no excuse for it.

You guys who know me are thinking, “Oh, I bet she shot her mouth off about something and got a group of people upset!” and you would be right. I had the audacity to write something in a journal (not in the open forum, mind you, because I do not impose my uhem strong opinions on others) on the forum I mentioned previously that has a glut of cyberchondriacs.

I had been watching as member after member was attacked and run off because they wouldn’t play the sympathy game. All I did was appeal to people to stop being cliquish and stop insulting others, and for the most part I got a good reaction to it. I won’t post it here because it is very long.

But I also had 2 people respond with such vitriol it was almost shocking – and I deleted both their posts. I added a note asking again that people keep their nasty comments to themselves or publish those on their own journal. I reiterated that I wrote this on my own journal and not in the forum so that if people found it upsetting – for whatever reason – they didn’t have to read it.

Why was it necessary for me to write that upsetting people by name-calling and passive-aggressive behavior aggravates the very condition people are there to get support for? That is, of course, also rhetorical, because it’s obvious these folks couldn’t care less about what effect their behavior has on others.

The experience didn’t run me off – y’all know me better than that – nor did it cause a major flare-up, tears, or yelling. Hey, that’s why I write rants like this, to get it off my chest in a healthy way. I did, however, set the privacy settings for that particular entry to “friends only”, because I just can’t be arsed checking my journal every day in order to delete stuff.

So…what’s the most annoying/oddest/head-scratchiing forum you’ve read lately?

This is the 2nd weird news item of the day, because I wrote 2 posts today, and it comes from the Pennlive website  http://www.pennlive.com/

It’s a story about 2 Huntingdon County women (that’s not too far from Hollidaysburg) who got into a fight and started attacking each other with deer heads! Of course, the deer heads were mounted and not attached to deer bodies (wouldn’t that have been something if they had been though!), and both were arrested. One sustained a slight injury from an antler heh.

This kind of thing is why I will always refer to Central PA as “Mayberry on acid.”
Here’s the link:
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/08/women_attacked_each_other_with.html

2nd movie recommendation of the week: If you like psychological thrillers that do NOT contain the usual gore and hackneyed plots, check out a film called “Knife Edge” (2009) starring Hugh Bonneville and Natalie Pressman. It’s a good story with some twists, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s available on Amazon and Hulu.

Introduction and Some Boundaries

My very first blog post! It took a lot of time and a lot of dithering to get to this point, because I am by nature a somewhat private person, and the thought of something I’ve written being
available to anyone with a computer had me stalled for awhile – until I realized that I have
already written things online (comments on forums and other people’s blogs, Facebook,
chatrooms) so it really isn’t a big deal.

I am careful, however, to not mention other people unless they want me to, as I am very aware that being mentioned online without permission can be upsetting to some. Also, I value my family’s privacy and it is solely up to them to put things out there on the internet if they so choose. So this blog will be limited to my opinions and thoughts, and your comments about what you think.

Regarding comments, I doubt there will be a huge influx of people flocking to read my blog, but even if I don’t know you, you are of course welcome to comment. I consider it my right to delete said comment if I find it is offensive, contains personal attacks (not just towards me, but
towards anyone who comments here), or is about “job opportunities” (“You can make a million dollars just like I did, click on this!”). That goes for “psychic sites” (“Sister Mathilda brought my husband back to me!”), any kind of product endorsement, or a brief comment with a plug that is intended only to plug your own blog/website (“Great blog! Go to lovemyblog.com”).

Additionally, if you want to include a personal anecdote in your comment, that’s all well and good, but try to keep it at a reasonable length and also keep in mind that, though I may address things like mental and physical health issues, I am not here to do therapy and I am certainly not qualified to give medical advice.

I will update the blog each week, barring something unforeseen, and will also include a “weird news” item at the end of each entry – just because I find anything Fortean to be entertaining – and maybe a book or movie recommendation. I have recently “cut the cord” and have turned to Hulu for my main source of video entertainment, and it’s also given me more time to read.

So, now that all that is out of the way, here is your weirdness for this week:

Someone is/was selling a “haunted mirror” on Ebay for $7,500.00 or best offer.¬† Sorry I do not have the link, as I think the auction has ended or he took it off the site. The seller claims the mirror is a portal to the spirit world, and he has blurry pictures to prove it!

He was/is selling “haunted bricks”, but what those are, I am not really sure – bricks to throw and break out windows of haunted houses? Bricks that mysteriously build a barbecue in your backyard while you’re sleeping? Apparently these bricks are shown behind the haunted mirror, aka “a wall”. Does he give refunds if the brick de-materializes and travels back to take its former place in the wall?

I have a ‘different’ belief system but even I have to draw the line somewhere – this is way too much ‘woo’ for me!

Movie recommendation (almost 20 years too late):
“Dance Me Outside”, a Canadian film about, and featuring, First Nation people in a film that is often funny, sometimes tragic, and thankfully lacking obnoxious racist stereotyping. I saw it, of course, on Hulu. You can probably find it on DVD somewhere. Trust me, you’ll love it.

Be aware, be awake, be mindful, and be kind!