Category Archives: Petty Annoyances

Heart of Darkness: Not the Conrad Novel

Before I begin this latest blog rant, I want to reply to a question I received about my recommendations, which I write about at the end of each post.

I do provide links to news stories, products, movies, TV shows, etc that I recommend.  I do this so you can find them easily.  I have never, ever been paid to do this, nor do I receive any compensation for it. In fact, it hadn’t even entered my mind until someone emailed me to ask.

So, no, if you click on those links they won’t do anything but take you to a site related to whatever it is I am recommending. And if a link is broken, please feel free to tell me so I can delete it and/or put up a new one.

Right.  I think it’s obvious to my Facebook friends that I am in a fairly bad mood these days.  It’s because I am so tired of waiting for people to grow up or shut up.

Ever since Trump announced his candidacy, and continuing to this very day, a certain percentage of people have decided that all their little resentments that have built up through the years can now be fully expressed everywhere, and often.  Even if they didn’t vote for Trump and think that he’s an ignorant narcissist.

Some of the same prejudiced remarks Trumpites and Trump himself and incidentally most Republicans and some Democrats and definitely 3rd party people express are now leaking out amongst people who claim to be free of that kind of hate.

“People should lose their benefits because they voted Trump in”.   This assumes that most people who voted for Trump are poor.  As I pointed out in a previous blog post, the average salary of the average Trump supporter is $72,000.   These are not poor people, not by a long shot.

“The Republicans now will make poor people work instead of getting benefits.”  This is just plain stupid.  There has been a work requirement for people under 55 who are not out of work due to a disability for a long time.

Of course, I suppose they could be talking about single mothers with children, the oft-used target of mean and ignorant people everywhere.  I thought that way of thinking went out with the “welfare queen” crap that died out years ago.

People who I never would have thought would harbor such erroneous and hateful thinking have been surprising me at a fairly constant rate since I have gotten into checking Facebook again.  Some of them I just unfriended.  Others I just accused of being mean-spirited.

Finally, I just posted a status that called them all dickheads.

Look, how many of these people ever had to rely on social programs?  How many of them are white and male?  Why, especially now that we have an incompetent president-elect who has surrounded himself by barely-humans whose main delight in life is dismantling every entitlement program there is, are the attacks on the poor and people of color increasing?

Almost as bad are the “progressives” who feel the need to apologize to indigenous and other people while at the same time attempting to hijack the same peoples’ movements because they think they “know better”.

Or they think they need absolution for their guilt, which is a hell of a lot easier than looking inward at their own shit and being aware of how their privilege plays out in American society – which they do nothing about.

These are the same people who run “non-violent protest training” (can you see me rolling my eyes?), or who finance their “activism” so they can make claims, such as one white male environmentalist did, that they are the leadership of the battle over the pipeline at Standing Rock.  Oh, PLEASE.

Even on “Giving Tuesday”, when I posted a plea on Facebook for people to do just ONE kind act for someone who really needed it, I got 2 “likes” and a comment from a friend (who is also on disability) who told me to “not hold my breath” waiting for people to respond.

No one – not one person – related a kindness they had performed.  Uh, except for me, because I took my EBT card and bought *gasp* holiday candy to give out to others on the bus – because in this area, everyone who rides the bus is poor.  Wasn’t much but it was what I could do.

I state that not to brag, but to point out that NO ONE ELSE reported making any attempt to do something nice for someone else.

Thank you, you know who you are, for doing something nice for me.  Which I am still enjoying to this day.

Instead, there were the usual snarky remarks about poor people (but none about Black Lives Matter, because I unfriended everyone who would post “Blue Lives Matter, Too!” and other clueless remarks long ago), even wishes that we all would lose our benefits, and other equally repugnant thoughts.

There were – and still are – dire warnings about how this new administration is going to screw everyone over.  They’re right, the warnings are mostly accurate.  And I have no problem with people pouring out into the streets to protest Trump and his policies.  I think that’s a good thing.

But let’s not make a cottage industry about it, ok?  Why in hell does anyone need “training” for a demonstration (which probably at some point includes passing the hat)?  I was 14 when I was a marshall at a demonstration, which meant I (and many others) walked along the sides of the demonstration and told people to stop agitating.  IT’S EASY.  NO TRAINING REQUIRED.

I even saw a post from someone who insisted she needed training to make a banner!  What??? Get a sheet, get poster paint, write your slogan.  Again, something I did often as a teenager, no training required.

Does anyone doubt that people charge for trainings or t shirts or banners or whatever?  Or at the very least decide they need entertainment at a demonstration, of all places?  That’s rather self-centered and besides the point, don’t you think?

The exception in the past would probably be the first Earth Day, but that wasn’t promoted as a demonstration.

My point is this: try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, really do it.  Really think about what his/her life is like day-to-day, life that I continually try to illustrate for y’all so you can truly understand what it’s like to be poor and ill.

I am trying to grab you by the shirt collar and pull you up to force you to look, to see, to notice. Not so you can feel guilty and/or ask for forgiveness, but so you can DO SOMETHING.  It can be a small something, or a large something, I don’t care.  It just has to mean something to someone else, to make a dent in the horror of existence that is poverty/illness/bigotry.

You can empower others instead of trying to lead, especially if the struggle is not yours.  Even if you justify your attitude by saying something pithy like, “Clean water is everyone’s struggle”, you need to look inside yourself and ask yourself why you think indigenous people are incapable of leading their own struggle.  Hint: it’s a form of racism, sorry to break it to you.

Because if you cannot look inward, if you cannot examine your motives/attitudes, you are more of a hindrance than a help.  You are not only getting in your own way, in terms of personal growth, you’re getting in other peoples’ ways without even being aware of it.

My main work as a therapist was to promote awareness of self.  It’s really not even hard or painful, it’s just change.   It takes practice, every day.  But it becomes a part of you, like driving a car or other “automatic” behavior.

Then you can pass that skill on to others, by example or even by pushing a bit.  In that way, there eventually comes a cultural/political shift – you know, like the one that enabled President Obama to be elected twice.

But make no mistake, it wasn’t enough of a cultural/political shift so we could celebrate the demise of racism.  Oh no, the latest election should have taught you that, if you weren’t already aware that we don’t live in a “post-racial” world.

It was movement in the right direction.  Just treating people as if they are human, recognizing suffering and trying to relieve it when you can, and at the very least not causing further harm.

You know, acting like a caring, intelligent adult.  Easy.

Today’s weird news isn’t really weird, but I like Grumpy Cat, so…from the website SeattlePi, Grumpy Cat’s Top 10 Pet Peeves:

http://www.seattlepi.com/entertainment/article/Grumpy-Cat-counts-down-to-the-new-year-with-top-10632403.php

Today’s recommendation is for something you probably already watch: the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.  I like her because she does her research, explains things in historical context, and often knows things no one else does (or at least she knows them first).

Be good.  Be kind.   “Life is real only then, when I am.” – Gurdjieff  (ask)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Entitlement: No, Not Social Security

Today I am going to address something I see a lot of – entitled behavior on the part of “senior citizens” (basically, anyone 55 or older).  I feel I have every right to comment on this, as I am in that age group.

Every time I interact with most people my age or older, the same refrain runs through my mind:

“I swear I am never going to become like these people.”

And if I ever do start exhibiting these odious behaviors, I want my loved ones to take me to a neuropsychologist to find out why, because it would be a drastic personality change.

I can count on one hand how many older people I deal with who are nice, down-to-earth (not snobby), funny, and kind.   I have friends my age, and they’re great!  But they are not typical of folks our age.

The rest of the seniors I encounter are, quite frankly, jerks.  Many assume everyone else their age is like them, too – so they are rather free in their assertions and hateful talk.  Rather than asking, “What do you think?” they make pronouncements about society that “everyone agrees with.”

Uh-uh, hold on a minute Grandma and Grandpa – not everyone is like you.  I fervently hope most people are not like you.  Keep your voice down and try asking others what they think, instead of being a pompous ass about any given subject (which you may or may not know anything about).

And stop forcing everyone to be quiet while you do things such as require prayer in tax-funded service agencies.  You’re wrong to do this, and you’ve had plenty of time to familiarize yourself with our Constitution to know why this isn’t right.

The attitude that drives “senior entitlement” is this:

“I am elderly, so what I want, and what I think, supersede what everyone else wants and thinks.  I earned it!  And if you don’t do what I want, or you argue with me, you’re being disrespectful.”

Sorry, but I subscribe to the belief that no one gets automatic respect just due to their age.  All it means when someone lives to a ripe old age is…they don’t have major health problems.

That’s not a virtue, that’s just (mostly) luck, perhaps coupled with eating right and taking care of oneself.

It does not follow that older people are any wiser than anyone else.  This is often one reason given why we all should automatically listen to and respect them.

No, quite often if a person is a foolish, selfish jerk when young, they will be a foolish, selfish jerk when they are older – unless there is a major life event that changed them in some way.

But even that isn’t unique to aging, as young people can also have major events that change them for the better.

What prompted this post was either the increasing loudness of seniors voicing their dissatisfaction with the world at large, or my increasing sensitivity to it.  I’m not sure which it is, but I am fed up listening to it.

To those who might argue that these folks are upset because society treats them badly, I must disagree.  I think it’s the other way around.

It’s because their bad attitudes seem so prevalent (because they are so loud) that this affects how the rest of the world treats them – and how it treats everyone else of a certain age, too.

It’s as if people expect us all to be jerks, by default.

I can’t blame them, really.  If every 100 seniors you meet are cranky, bigoted, manipulative, rude, self-centered ninnies, then you might be inclined to assume the 101st one will be like that, too.

Plus, look at Bernie Sanders – loved and respected by many young people.  They aren’t disrespectful to him.  It’s because he is progressive, and has an attitude of acceptance of all people.  If the issue of “disrespect” that older people complain about was due to prejudice against older people in general, Sanders would not have gotten as far as he has.

The “prejudice” lies in older people reinforcing stereotypes of “angry, bitter old people”.

Some examples of things entitled seniors do that make me cringe or make me angry are:

A.  The insistence on (unconstitutional) organized prayer before lunch at senior centers. No, I don’t mean the spontaneous praying over food that many Christians do, I mean a situation where the paid staff person grabs a mic and asks, “Who wants to lead us in The Pledge and prayer?”  This is quite off-putting to people who are not Christians, or to Christians who support the separation of church and state.

Since the senior centers here (and in most places) are funded by the Dept of Aging, which is a state (or commonwealth) entity of the US Administration on Aging, they receive tax dollars and, as such, cannot sponsor or favor one religion over another.

It’s not “a bunch of old dears wanting to express their love for their country and their God”, as so many right-wingers try to spin it.

No, it’s a bunch of old Christians who don’t see a thing wrong with taking over a federally funded organization and making “outsiders” (non-Christians) feel unwelcome.

Because, let me tell you, if you read about attempts to get these senior centers to come into compliance with the Constitution, you’ll see that the Christian seniors scream, yell, and play the age card.  Some really pull out all the stops and play the “age plus veteran” card.

Then, you’re not only hating old people, you’re also un-American and attacking those who fought in wars.

Give me a break.

B.  The racist, nationalistic, jingoistic, xenophobic (except regarding certain European countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Greece, and Italy), and homophobic views expressed by seniors in the centers, on the bus, or basically anywhere two or more of them congregate.  They are loud about it and they don’t care, because they’re intimidating to younger folks, and they know this.

C.  The stereotypical complaining about “how spoiled young people are”, how the “good old days” were so much better, how no one (except them, of course) has values or morals anymore, how “you can’t say Merry Christmas!” (oddly, I hear that one all year ’round), and how “young people are rude/do drugs/dress ‘funny’/don’t respect elders/(insert other complaint here) because they took prayer out of the schools”.

The basis of this is, they don’t understand the world now, and they don’t want to make any attempt to understand it.  It’s easier to just hang out with other grumpy, uninformed seniors so they don’t have to challenge themselves in any way.

D.  The frequent bashing of other religions, particularly Islam.  (I don’t hear it about pagans but now that I wear a pentacle I suppose I might start hearing it more.)  The frequent bashing of women, and the sexist jokes and comments about women in the public eye (Hillary, and others).

Confront someone about this and you’re “being politically correct”, “being too sensitive”, not understanding “how these people really are”.

E.  The hostility towards technology, and towards the younger people who have jobs in that sector (I take personal umbrage at this, as all my 3 adult kids have technology jobs and college degrees).  The weird attitude that these college-educated younger folks somehow diminish whatever work the senior did when young.  The assertion that younger people are “lazy” because they can use cell phones and computers.  The wrongheaded notion that younger people have fewer social skills because of technology.

I had one woman tell me that younger people can’t spell now because of cell phones and computers, and that conversing via text is somehow an insult to her (just because she doesn’t see the value in text messaging).

The world is changing.  Either get with the program or lay off hating people just because you do not understand it or do not want to participate in it.  Here’s an idea: ask a younger person to help you learn technological stuff.  Most will be flattered you asked.

The attitude about younger people comes off as hateful and bitter.  Here is a good example of a “baby boomer” complaining about millennials that illustrates this pretty well.  It’s called “How Millennials are Ruining the Workforce” (Sandy Hingston, News + Opinion Section of the Philadelphia Magazine online, 1/8/2016).

Oh!  A Pennsylvanian!  How appropriate!

The comments/rebuttals by millennials, progressive baby boomers, and a few by gen x-ers are worth a read as well.  Pity the comments are closed.

Just as we can see the phenomenon of certain groups of people who put whatever pops into their heads online for all to see, it’s evident that older folks do this live and in person.

Heck, at least you can turn off the computer.  With these people, you don’t have any option to stop it (not any legal ones, anyway).

I could blame this on living in a conservative area (central Pennsylvania), except that Sanders won most of the counties around here.  So, that doesn’t explain the phenomenon.

I could write a blog post on how older folks are marginalized by the rest of society, patronized or treated like children, and/or discriminated against in employment.  These are real problems.

They are problems that need to be addressed.  But does it ever occur to the majority of seniors that this is where their energy would be better spent, rather than used to rant and rave about people they perceive as being inferior to them?

Yes, we do have organizations such as the Grey Panthers, but they are not in most places.  I did contact them, actually, long ago…and received no reply.  Good job, folks.

Many senior organizations – the mainstream ones – meant to assist older people do not address the basic problems.  They, too, are often patronizing towards older people, and that will drive the most openminded senior away – because who wants to be treated like that by an agency that is supposed to help you?

The entitled senior loves organizations like those, though, because (for one thing) they have lower expectations for senior behavior.  They expect them to behave like spoiled children, and from what I have seen, this is exactly the behavior they get.  No one challenges it, and seniors who are not like that leave the organization.

I don’t know what the answer to this entitlement problem is.  I do know that I am getting really sick and tired of it.

This week’s weirdness comes from Snopes, and it’s a story about an ancient city being unearthed in someone’s backyard (“Elaborate Roman Villa Found in Man’s Backyard”, Brooke Binkowski, Snopes website, 4/18/16).  The villa was built between 175 AD and 220 AD.  Very cool.

Recommendations?  I have been watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC, and reading websites mostly covering the presidential election, so I don’t have anything to recommend this week.

Be good. Be kind. Don’t be one of “those people”.

 

More Bitching, Celtic Witching…and Ellen DeGeneres

In that order.  Skip down to the next page if you only want to read the “witching” and “Ellen” parts.

I was recently in Memphis, visiting my son and daughter-in-law, and the subject of social media and Facebook came up in conversation.  Despite the fact that both of them are tech-savvy (his job is doing computer administration stuff), they do not “do Facebook”.

The reason is simple: what you put online never, ever goes away.  They are private people and they don’t like the thought of their personal lives being on the internet for all to see.

Even programs where the developers state you can “erase” things – “Snapchat” comes to mind, for example – it’s never really erased.  It can be buried in your device, perhaps, but if someone really wants it they can get it.

No program makes it impossible, too, for someone to just copy what you write and post, meaning it can be out there in cyberspace, in perpetuity.

Ok, so I understand and respect their position.  Which is why my Facebook page has NO pictures of either of them, or their dogs, nor will it have, ever.

We also discussed the more vacuous things that are found on Facebook – pictures of peoples’ meals, of everything they bought that day, of every party they attended and of everyone they ever knew.

Then there are the one or two-line homilies about the nature of life and so on.  Most of those are banal.

My posts often come under fire for “being negative”, as discussed in the last blog post.  So I decided that, on my way back from Memphis, I would only post trivial and positive things.

The first post was when I was in the Memphis airport at 5 AM, waiting for my flight to board.  I commented on how nice the airport is, with its redesign and blues music on the loudspeaker.

Then I posted from Pittsburgh, stating I was waiting for the final leg of my flight to board, drinking a latte and playing “Words with Friends” with a friend (who was also on Facebook).

Finally, I posted when I got home, stating my cats were upset (I should have included a cute picture, my bad) but that the flight – in a 6-seater, one-prop plane – was terrific.

Ugh.  Who in hell cares??

To me, it was all inconsequential stuff that happens in my life, and in everyone else’s life, too.

I rarely even think about stuff like that, or if I do it’s only for a minute or so.

My head is filled with “what can I do to make the world better?” and “how can this experience/thing I saw illustrate the point that people need to be kind” and “how do I frame this struggle with illness/disability so that it can educate others?”

I don’t care – and I suspect you probably don’t, either – what flavor my latte is, aside from what to order at the coffeehouse counter.  Unless I work for the coffeehouse, what possible reason could I have to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook?

The Memphis airport plays blues music.  Big deal.  Unless it plays music recorded by one of my friends, and I can use Facebook to promote that, why post about it?

Who cares who I play “Words with Friends” with?  Or that I had a nice flight?  Why should I waste my time, and yours, writing about things like that?

Yet this seems to be what the majority of people on Facebook do, every day all day.

Not everyone has to post earth-shattering news/opinions and so on, that’s not my point.  But it’s like there is no filter on what they post, or even priorities.

A picture of someone’s lunch has the same weight for them as their snippet about their deity or their philosophy of life.

There’s something really disturbing about that.  Disturbingly shallow.

Aside #1: I do have friends who post pics of meals for other reasons, such as they created something for their elderly mother – and I like posts like that.  Because they carry meaning about life, and relationships.  Same goes for posts about their new cars, and new houses, and other good things that come their way – I like to know my friends are doing well.

But I cannot post meaningless trivia about my life – it seems so self-indulgent, and it assumes people want to know every dumb little thing I do all day.  And, hey, unless someone is a stalker, I cannot imagine why they would want to know all that.

I suppose I could just give up posting on Facebook entirely, and I actually have considered that. Still might.  I find it rude when people write me to advise me to “stop being negative”, or go so far as to post those banners or whatever-you-call-them with sayings about how messed-up negative people are…on my timeline, really?

I could just “unfriend” those people.  I haven’t decided what I want to do yet.  But, again, this feels exclusionary to me.  After all the “cliques” I’ve been tossed out of, from high school onwards, all the jobs I have lost due to my opinions, now I’m being pushed out of Facebook for not conforming?

Really?  Not even by the actual Facebook admins, but by people I know socially?

Ok, rant over.

It’s Not Your Fault: “Karma” and the Fair World Myth

I put “karma” in quotes, because I mean the “what goes around comes around” platitude and variations of that.

What most people think of when they are blithely commenting that something is the result of karma, is this notion that if you do good, you get good things in return.

And if you do bad, you somehow get punished for it down the road.

It’s the idea that the world is run on a checks and balances system, and sometimes people use the physical orderliness of the universe (again, physics) to argue that it applies to human affairs as well.

No, it doesn’t.

Human behavior, while dictated in many ways (environment, genetics) by the physical world, is not controlled in any way by an orderly system.

Because humans are not orderly – we are messy, inconsistent beings who do wildly unpredictable things on occasion and often do things for which there are no consequences.

It’s this whole “the universe revolves around me and my desires” attitude, coupled with a “God-as-vending-machine” belief thrown in to explain why some people are wealthy and some are not.

Aside #1: “God-as-vending-machine” is the Prosperity Gospel idea of praying for monetary things while giving a donation to some religious scam artist organization.  In goes the prayer and money, and out pops a blessing!

Added to that is the “the world HAS to be fair, or it makes no sense to me” notion that many people hold because they cannot imagine the alternative – that the world is NOT fair, and often things happen which are unfair and make no sense, like childhood cancer, for example.

What prompted this blog post were a few things:

  1.  Something I hear/read sometimes, not only about me but about others who try to point out crappy things – with the intent that someone will take action and help.  It’s this: “But you’re so nayyyyy-gah-tive!”
  2.   Then there’s the rage-inducing comment about someone’s good fortune, whether it is big or small: “karma.”
  3.   And, finally, the equally rage-inducing comment about someone’s bad behavior: “what goes around, comes around.”

I say “rage-inducing” because, well, it makes me angry to hear/read things like that.  Only smug people say things like that, and I have a very low tolerance for smug.

And while some might argue that people say these kinds of things without thinking, I’m here to tell those people that it is coming off as smug to many of us who are suffering.

So tell those “unthinking people” to think before they say things like that, ok?  Help them become more self-aware.

These types of comments are sometimes followed by a comment about how one is rewarded in the afterlife for a life of suffering, so it’s all good.

Let’s just not address the afterlife thing, because no one knows if there is an afterlife.   We could get stuck on that discussion forever.  Even people who agree there is an afterlife, cannot agree on what it’s like.

But…telling someone who is suffering that it’s ok because after they die it will all cease is very cruel, no matter what religion/belief system says it.   It’s cruel because it implies that nothing needs to be done to end their suffering and pain.

Aside #2: And in the case of Mother Teresa, that kind of thinking was indeed used to do nothing about peoples’ pain and suffering. See “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice” by Christopher Hitchens, and “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict” written by Aroup Chatterjee (this man is a native of Calcutta, where Mother Teresa did the majority of her evil “work”).  That second book might be hard to find, as it appears the publisher no longer has a website.

I want to address this whole idea that everything everyone does has some kind of cosmic relevance that all gets spewed back out in a system of punishments and rewards.

Aside #3: Please don’t write and tell me I have completely misinterpreted the Buddhist notion of karma, as I am not addressing that.  I know nothing about Buddhism.  I am merely commenting on the pop-culture version of karma, with all its implications.

Now I know some of you are thinking, “Wow she gets upset over the throwaway ‘karma’ comment!”  Yeah, I know.

But the whole point of my blog (and, indeed, it seems the whole point of my life) is to raise awareness of the consequences – intended and otherwise – of people’s words, good and bad.

Words do have impact.  Words reflect thoughts, and they can also change others’ thinking.

Words lead to action, or encourage inaction, and that has material consequences on the world.

However.

Words and actions do not end up being recorded in some kind of ethereal book somewhere, with some deity or deities sitting around deciding what actions and words prompt a reward or punishment for the speaker/doer.

If this were the case, then why is there suffering for children and animals and other innocents? What did they do to deserve the horrors they face?

There are 3 responses to this from people who assert that “everything happens for a reason” (another platitude I really hate):

  1.  We don’t know why, as God/whatever deity you worship works in ways we do not understand.  We just have to trust that he/she knows best.
  2.  They did something in a past life to merit suffering in this one.  Or, they chose to suffer in this life, between this life and their last one.
  3.   Newton’s Third Law: “For every action force there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction force.” (“Identifying Action and Reaction Force Pairs”, The Physics Classroom website, no date or author given)

This last one is the easiest to dispute, as it confuses causality with intention.

In other words, things that happen do have a cause – for example, hurricanes are caused by atmospheric and oceanic conditions.

But hurricanes do not possess intention: no hurricane set itself in motion to punish certain groups of people who are ultimately devastated by them.

People who state “everything happens for a reason” are stating that everything that happens is a direct result of intention, and I’m sure you can think of many reasons why this isn’t true.

Hurricanes being the one that came to my mind.  Now, if you really do believe that hurricanes are “sent” to punish people, you would then have to go on to explain what those people – in some cases, millions of people – did to get something horrible like that imposed on them by some deity, or by the hurricane itself.

If you can answer that with certainty, we really have no dialogue because you are then arguing from a position of faith, and that’s not something people can have rational discourse about.

Or, to use an even more mundane example, let’s take the case of a car accident where someone’s loved one has passed.

Sometimes people try to comfort the relatives by saying, “Everything happens for a reason.”

And, while it is tempting to retort, “Of course it happened for a reason – the reason was someone got behind the wheel drunk, hit their car, and they died, you idiot!” that’s not what the would-be comforter meant at all.

No, what was meant was, “This accident happened because, in the grand scheme of things, my deity decided it had to happen.  I don’t know how it fits, but just be comforted that it does, somehow.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find this at all comforting.  In fact, if I thought my deity did something so cruel in order to carry out some sort of overall plan, I’d be really pissed off about that.

Some deity decided he/she needed to kill my loved one because it fulfilled some kind of overall plan, and didn’t even have the decency to explain it?

No, that just doesn’t seem to fit at all, actually.

The first two reasons behind the idea that “everything happens for a reason” are things that can’t really be addressed properly, because it’s all faith-based in some form or another.

An Extra Post Just for Blog/Website Writers

The irony of this post is that the people I am complaining about will most likely never read it.

I’m annoyed with you, Mr or Ms “I-Wanna-Be-a-Famous ________”  (writer/artist/musician/social commentator).

I’m annoyed with you because you are so self-involved, so motivated by your dreams of fame and fortune, and so lacking in any boundaries that you routinely “like” something on my blog (usually it’s the “About” page, which of course is the shortest and easiest page to access) for the sole purpose of getting me to then read your blog and perhaps comment or follow you.

You don’t read a damn thing on this blog.  I know this because you don’t comment, or I go to your site and see page after page of people thanking you for “liking” their blog post.

Your comments to those, if you bother to write any, are always generic, such as “Thanks! Keep up the good work!”

If you bother to write anything else, it’s always because the commenter actually took the bait, read a blog post (or several) of yours, and made relevant comments.  Your response to those is always self-centered, never mentioning the other person’s blog at all.

Because you aren’t trying to generate a relationship between yourself and your readers.  You’re not trying to change the world with your philosophical leanings on things (I get a lot of “likes” from bloggers who want to be the next Dalai Lama or something).  You’re not even trying to start an exchange of ideas on a particular social problem.

No.  You just want a lot of followers.  Or you want to sell something on your site.  Or maybe both.

Now, look – I don’t “require” that anyone who reads this blog has to comment, or rate it, or “like” it.  I am thrilled to death when I find out anyone has read my blog – really read it, I mean. That’s a huge bonus for me, especially when people I don’t know read it.

So, if you’re reading posts on this blog, thank you!  I hope you enjoy them and you do not need to give me any feedback whatsoever.  This post is definitely not written with you in mind.

No, this post is aimed at people who are shallow and manipulative, and who use the “like” button as a way to lure others to their blog with the misassumption that the blog writer has actually deigned to read someone else’s blog.

Because all they care about is their “stats” – how many read their blog, how many follow them, and so on.

If you have only “liked” a page of mine on this blog you probably don’t know this, but…

…I hate it when people attempt to manipulate me.  And, as a therapist, I catch on to it pretty quickly.

I also have a very low tolerance for self-important blowhards who think that every single thought that pops into their head is worthy of a blog post.

You might think this is hypocritical, coming from someone who writes, in the words of a former friend, a “vanity blog”.

But I don’t actually write every single thing that pops into my head.  I consider long and hard before picking a topic to comment on.  And, nearly always, that topic fits into the area of “what it’s like to be poor in the US”, “how people ought to be kinder to one another”, or “don’t be a jerk when you’re interacting with people who are different from you”.

I write because I want my family and friends to understand what I think.  Some of this is for future family members to read once I have passed on.  Because I wish – so very much – that my deceased family members had written commentary on who they were, what life was like for them, and what life was like in the country in which they lived (US, Ireland, England).

My sisters, my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, my friends who have passed…I wish every day that they had recorded their thoughts and feelings for the rest of us to read, even if it was just a diary.

It’s not a crazy leap of logic to think that some future generation of my family might want to read what I thought and felt.

So, Mr and Ms Self-Important Blogger/Website owner (that almost sounds like the opening for a Bud ad in the “Real Men of Genius” series, doesn’t it?)…

Um anyway, got sidetracked (loved those ads!).

Ok so look, I know you’ll do what you want anyway – if you even read this far – but I just wanted to vent and tell you that at least one person knows what a complete dick you are for using the “like” button in this manner.

To the rest of you, I hope you enjoy the Bud ad!  And again, thanks for reading my blog!

 

“You Kids Get Off My Lawn!”

The above title is often used on the internet to denote cranky old folks.  It evokes a picture of an elderly person on his or her porch, shaking a cane and yelling at kids who are crossing his or her lawn.  It is the “old people are crabby” trope.

I am here to tell you, it’s not completely inaccurate.

I didn’t post last week because I was back and forth to a local social service agency, going through orientation and doing paperwork, so I can volunteer there.

The purpose of the volunteer program is to provide assistance to older people so that they can remain in their homes and not have to go to an institution of some kind to live.

I think it’s a great idea – the longer someone can stay independent, the better.  I am not a fan of institutionalizing anyone, for any reason, actually.  Not the elderly, not people with mental illness, not children with developmental problems, not anyone with any kind of special need.

Years ago, when I was taking special education classes at the University of Memphis, my professor talked a lot about how just being in an institution affects someone, whether or not the institution itself is a good one.

Think about it this way: If you had to live day in and day out being told what to do and when to do it, it would take a toll on your feelings of independence and autonomy, don’t you think?

We as a society talk a lot about how prison affects people, but don’t talk quite so much about how institutions as a whole affect people who have committed no crimes at all.  Yet many of the same conditions exist in institutions as in prisons (told when to eat, when to sleep, when you can go out, whether or not to take meds, and so on).

So, anyway, this program is in place to try to prevent people from being institutionalized.  I support that whole-heartedly.

The experiences at orientation and training last week are what prompted this week’s blog post.

Here comes the rant.

Everyone in this volunteer program (all 5 other volunteers) is older than I am. And, almost everyone who uses the services in this agency is older than I am, by at least 10 years.

Services start at age 60, but I have yet to see anyone younger than 70 participating.

But really, they are some of the crabbiest people I have met lately.

When there were breaks in the training, the main topics of conversation amongst the other volunteers were:

~ How schools today are wrecking our youth because they don’t have dress codes or prayer

~ How persecuted Christians are in this country because they can’t say “Merry Christmas” in Walmart and/or are prevented from exercising their religion wherever they see fit

~ How many Christian churches are different in how they worship, but “we all worship one god so we’re all saved anyway”

Do you see a pattern here?

These were also the frequent topics amongst different groups of people who were there to get lunch.  That, and passing around cartoons on smartphones that were less than respectful of President Obama, and that’s putting it kindly.

Added to that mix – what I guess was supposed to be flirting but came off more like sexist comments and raunchy remarks.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am not easily offended by sexual content.  But it struck me as bizarre that people who were in such a snit about the “lack of morality in today’s world” would then turn around and make a crack to someone about his private parts.

The response to that was a rape joke.

Let’s be clear about this: the people who talked this way do not have dementia or Alzheimer’s. They’re just jerks.  It’s been my experience that age doesn’t necessarily mean “nice” – young jerks turn into old jerks, it seems.

My mind was boggled.  Sitting there, waiting for lunch (which they so graciously provided for free), and listening to all that.

This, in a publicly-funded non-profit, where the volunteer coordinator asks before every lunch, “Who wants to lead the prayer?”

How persecuted are you when your own social service agency, which should know better, promotes Christian prayer before eating?

This is what drives me ’round the bend about fundamentalist Christians: They don’t appear to understand that they are not, in any way shape or form, persecuted in the US.

What they think of as “persecution”, others see as “letting others believe as they will”, “not forcing Christianity on the public at large”, or “realizing that we all – whatever we do or do not believe – fund public organizations and therefore do not have the right to favor one religion over another”.

Quite frankly, I am sick to death of listening to them complain about this.

But I kept quiet.  You know why?  Because I have an agenda, and I plan on sticking to it.

Part of that agenda is getting volunteer experience, part of it is also getting out and about and using my skills as a counselor again, and part of it is seeing how much I can physically handle in terms of work.

The bonus to all that is being able to help others.  And I wonder how many “others” mentally roll their eyes at a lot of this dialogue that goes on.

You see, the people that complain the loudest are assuming that everyone is like them: straight, white, conservative, Christian.

I’m fairly sure that, statistically, at least some of the people at the agency are none of those things, or at least not most of those things.

Fruit Flies, Keurig’s Demise, and Very Tired Eyes!

Ok, not my rhymingliest best, I admit.  And I even had to look words up that rhyme with “flies”, on www.Rhymezone.com.   Because….really super-tired.

Aside #1: That reminds me, I am updating my “Weird and Wonderful” section later today, where I list websites that I like.  Check it out sometime!

Blair County – heck, maybe even more parts of Pennsyvlania, I don’t know – is experiencing a fruit fly invasion.  I know this because yesterday Nancy and I went to several different stores, looking for Terro Fruit-Fly Traps in order to supplement our “vinegar-in-a-shallow-glass-with-plastic-wrap-over-the-top-that-you-punch-holes-in” homemade traps.

Aside #2: This really does work.  You take a shot glass or something similar, fill it with apple cider vinegar, cover the top with plastic wrap, and use a toothpick to punch holes in the plastic so they can get in but not out.  (Nancy, ever brilliant, is using an empty grated cheese shaker because the tops already have fruit-fly-sized holes)  

Some people also put a drop of soap in there but I haven’t found this makes a difference.  Set the traps near sinks or other places you see fruit flies, and soon you will have glasses of dead fruit flies. Also works as a diet aid – yuck, don’t drink it EWWWW – as the sight of these traps effectively kills the appetite for some people.

So, anyway, Nancy and I went first to Walmart – sold out.  Hmm.  Then to Lowe’s – sold out.  And then to Home Depot – sold out.

“At least it’s not just us,” Nancy pointed out.  See, that’s the difference between us – she sees that stuff being sold out as vindication for our housecleaning skills.  I see it as “dammit, they’re sold out!!”  She’s a much more mellow person.

In the Home Depot parking lot, I called Walgreen’s, and asked if they had fruit fly traps.  After being put on hold for a few minutes listening to Sinead O’Connor, the woman came back and stated that they had 2 left.

The price?  $1 more than everywhere else we just looked.  Typical Walgreen’s.  Their prices are not competitve for most things anymore.

So, we raced over to Walgreen’s and bought the last 2.

Then we went back to Hollidaysburg to the feed store (which the guy at Home Depot suggested).  This place is across the rr tracks from where we live, and it didn’t even occur to us to look for this product there (which would have saved time and gas).

But they had 4.  And we bought those, too.

So, with 3 for her and 3 for me, we went to our separate apartments and got to work.   And I have to admit, the Terro traps are worth the $6-$7 each just for the fact that they look like little apples, and are opaque so you don’t have to look at the awful, disgusting creatures as they climb down to their doom.

Aside #3: Well, they hang around the rim of the apples until they figure out where the lure is, and watching that is gross, but once they fall in you can’t see them unless you choose to look in the handy little window on the side (I guess so you can be assured it’s working).  

I saw a great term on the internet the other day that describes the feeling I get when I see the congregation of fruit flies anywhere…”squicked out”.  I saw that made-up phrase on a site about “trypophobia” (not an official phobia, actually)…I don’t have it, I was just curious…if you saw the lotus plant pics photoshopped onto peoples’ skin…it’s that kind of teeth-clenching, skin-crawlng,”oh-my-goodness-get-those-seeds-out-of-those-holes-RIGHT-NOW” reaction that the person described as feeling “squicked out.”

Aside #4: Don’t Google the pics, unless you are absolutely sure you’re not going to react badly to them.  Many people find the pics disturbing, which is why I have not provided a link.

For me, it’s just the skin-crawling, I-want-to-squish-every-fruit-fly-on-there kind of reaction.  Not fear, just “MUST DESTROY”!  Pretty violent for a vegetarian, I must admit.  In fact, had my high school biology teacher used fruit flies instead of frogs for her evil “hurt/kill life forms” assignments, I might have actually not failed that class (I used to skip it and go down to the “feeshing hole”, an area behind Falls Church High School where the “freaks” went to smoke weed).

Pfft, even my parents backed me up on the refusal to pith frogs, due to being a vegetarian.  But back in 1971, no one cared.  So I got an F.

But killing fruit flies? I wouldn’t have had a problem with that – though no doubt some of my “friends” back then would have tormented me for killing fruit flies as some kind of moral equivalency to killing cows.  Because they did that to me on a regular basis, to make fun of me.

But I digress.

In my battle against the grossness that are fruit flies, I had to buy those disposable medical masks you can get at the Dollar Tree because they kept trying to fly in my face – a “squickable moment” if there ever was one!   Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

Aside #5: And to think, this is the same kind of reaction as “frisson”, what idiots pay people to induce in them via the internet.  Of course, attractive young women induce a nicer frisson than do fruit flies, which is why my “Fruit Fly Frisson-Fest!” idea is doomed to fail.

The monster population is smaller today, but still giving me the willies.  I have been through this apartment with a fine-toothed comb (not hard, as it’s only 800 sq ft) and I still cannot find where they are coming from.  I even closed the windows in the back room, where the kitties like to sit and watch/listen to birdies, just in case the enemy was getting in through the screen somehow.

So now the kitties are unhappy, too.

I called the Penn State bug people, and they told me to look outside.  For compost heaps, for uncovered garbage, and other potential breeding places.

I know Nancy and I don’t have anything like that.  What am I supposed to do if I find a neighbor who is contributing to the problem?

“Excuse me, you don’t know me but…uh…I notice your garbage seems to be breeding fruit flies.  Do you think you could do something about that?  Because our house is infested and we think maybe your property is the source.”

I don’t know, that just seems kind of rude and intrusive.  Plus, the most likely offender lives 2 doors down, is armed, and every summer can be heard screaming at our other neighbor in a dispute over whether or not he has the right to play Lynnard Skynnard, outside, full-blast, at midnight.  I notice he has a lot of stacks of…stuff…in his yard.  He owns some kind of business that requires a lot of equipment and wood and barrels on his property, and who knows if it breeds anything?

Nope, I think we’ll just have to continue to battle them here, and try to defend our house against more invaders.   I really hope they’re gone soon, because I am sick of wearing this mask and eating at break-neck speed, one-handed, while using the other hand as a fan to ward off any stray bugs.  EWWW!!!