As I continue to work on things away from this blog (which is a collection of Free-Time/Casual Online Writing, Remarks, And Notes By ME Whelan) and continue to figure out what goes and what stays of my existing online-writing, the de-emphasizing of one or another continues as well....

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Does Criticizing Always Involve Envy? - A Question Someone Asked Online

This is nothing more than my own thoughts, but here's the reply I gave.  I just figured it might make a good post (since I wrote it under a HubPages account that I may be phasing out....)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Big Three-O Is Younger Than A Lot Of People Realize

January 3, 2015
My youngest child just turned The Big Three O. My other two grown kids reached The Big Three O earlier. Since my joke, as each of my own birthdays comes around, has been for year that I'm once again turning thirty-seven; I suppose, maybe, I should add a few years to the age I claim to be each year.
Nah... There was a time when I thought I really shouldn't set my age to where my kids would soon be older than I. That was before I was old enough and smart enough to realize that there is no math in make-believe; and sometimes there's no real harm in a little make-believe either.

There may come a time in my own life when I start to worry about possibly be seen as "in my second childhood". I'm a long way off from that, though. Heck, I'm only thirty-seven. I just may turn twenty-five on my next birthday.

Oh, the perspective and wisdom that comes from being "thirty-seven" (or "twenty-five") and have all three of one's children having reached The Big Three O. (It turns out, that The Big Three O really is a lot younger than so many people realize when they, themselves, are in their thirties.

So Many "I Told You So's". So Little Time.

This post will be kind of cryptic, I suppose; and that's mainly because there are a lot of things I can't/won't put on the Internet. Nevertheless, "I Told You So's" can have a way of building up when enough of them, in fact, do build up; and when there's enough of a build-up it can be very frustrating not to express at least SOME of them.

Ordinarily, I'm not an obnoxious person (or at least I try not to be). If the matter is a silly one (like a little debate about something like which actor played what in some movie) I don't even have the urge to say "I dol you so". On things that aren't quite as insignificant/silly as that but aren't all that serious either, even then I'm not one to need to enjoy even thinking "I told you so".

I'm a secure person. I have no problem with being wrong and conversely, no particular problem with being right (and by "problem" I mean having the need to say "I told you so", or even spending more than a fraction of a second thinking it. I suppose with the more day-to-day/less significant matters (even, sometimes, when they cause inconvenience or some problem if the wrong person caused it), I don't care much. I don't get joy in someone else's being wrong, and I like to try to be the proverbial "bigger person". There's something to be said for aiming to be the bigger person. (Actually, I prefer to think of it as taking the high road. I don't need to be "bigger" than other people in my own head. As I said, I'm secure. ) Also, however, I'm very careful about making sure that if I say "I think x" that I've spent plenty of time and effort going outside my own head and making sure that what I think, or how I do something, isn't in conflict with what, say, well established experts say. It's not that there's ever been a time when I haven't questioned a thing or two that experts say. Usually, though, such times have been fairly small issues and/or things that I've questioned because something I've seen for myself doesn't match something that is the latest conventional wisdom. Even with that, however, I've always pretty much been "a mainstream-expert believer".

In any case, the world is full of people who think things without being good and sure they've backed them up. It's all full of people who listen to lies, pull things out of their imaginations and/or out of the blue.
There are some things that I take far more seriously than others, particularly things that have affected me and/or my family (particularly any/all of) my three now grown children.

And, while I won't say more about any of this, or which matters I have in mind; while I still may, in some instances, try to be the bigger person, I have no intention of not, at least, mentioning that I have a huge, huge, number of "I told you so's" for any number of people.

For now (and maybe forever), all I'll say is "so many 'I Told You So's' and so little time. I'm not entirely sure there aren't at least a few more "I told you so's" that have to be established, but until every last one of them is I'm not through waiting to know/see that they have been.

As I said, I know there's a big "element of cryptic" to this post. I'm writing it for me, rather than anyone else.

Are Mothers The Most Misunderstood Group Of People Out There?

May 20, 2015
Someone on HubPages asked this question (somewhat differently), and I realized that it would may make a good Hub (who knows what makes a "good Hub" these days, but that's a subject for another time/place.
Anyway, since I've had real trouble coming up with ideas for both Hubs and Bubbles, I thought I'd write my quickie reply to that question as a Bubble. Later (when I'm in the mood to write what I think might make at least a reasonable, or sort of reasonable, Hub; I'll write that.

Between changes on HubPages, changes with Bubblews, and "an exhaustion thing" I've been living with for awhile now; I've just kind of stacked up a bunch of writing without knowing where, or if, to post it.
So anyway, while I know the world is full of groups of people who may be misunderstood, stereotyped, or otherwise presumed to "all be alike", here's my immediate response to that question; and I think it is only by being the mother of grown kids now that has made me realize how "bad" the matter of being misunderstood/misrepresented can actually be ( and at times, and in some cases/instances. I'd assume the problem is worse than it is in others)

I think, maybe, mothers, but I think it gets worse as children grow up and as life, in general, keeps going on. The most obvious reason may be that, like any other group, not all mothers think, or are, alike. Mothers may do a good job of making who/what they are understood by their younger kids (at least); but the world (and that includes the US) is full of so much BS about mothers that it's disgusting. So, when that, all kinds of "peripheral ignorance", and misogyny get mixed in with any bad information and/or axes-to-grind that people have with, toward, or about mothers (their own, or someone else's, or else every, mother), you've got a real mass-ignorance going on out there. What doesn't help is that there are things that the best mothers won't/can't say or do if they are to BE what they know they have to be, no matter what (and no matter who thinks what about them).

It's not that I think that mothers are the only misunderstood group. I imagine plenty of fathers are misunderstood as well. (For that matter, the world is full of children, grown or still kids, who are misunderstood by parents or others as well.) The fact that the world is full of groups of people who are misunderstood isn't the point here. The real point is, I think, that the problem of mothers' being misunderstood may be so widespread and hidden; it may well be at the root of so much of the undermining of very skilled, capable, loving, sensible, mothers that continues to go on.

A Note About Remembering Birthdays

May 5, 2014
When I noticed today's date it got me thinking about how there are people in life that we were close to when we were young and that we grow apart from, sometimes only because young people grow into their own lives and in their own direction; and sometimes for a combination of reasons or circumstances. We know their birthday like we know our own, and no matter how many years have gone by since we've last talked to them, we think of them each year when their birthday is here.

I don't know... We think something like, "Hey, it's so-and-so's birthday today. I wonder how s/he is." If we were particularly close to them for enough time it can, in some ways (and yet not other ways) seem kind of strange not to even consider calling the person. Then again, with moving on and/or going in different directions being what they are, it would also be strange to think about trying to contact that person as well.

And yet, each year on that person's birthday we do tend to notice that date. It's just kind of strange; that's all.

When Someone Tells You Something About Himself Or His Own Life, Just Say "Oh"

December 13, 2014

I don't know how many people remember the anti-drug slogan, "Just Say No"; but I'd like to start a new one: "Just Say 'Oh'".

There is this thing that so many people have a tendency to do; and that's when someone makes a statement about himself or his own life, someone else automatically second-guesses, offers what he thinks is "a better idea" or some solution that the person hasn't already rejected or tried (only to discover what a useless or impossible "solution" it was).

I don't know about anyone else, but when I make a statement about me or my life here's what I want the other person to say:

Option 1: "Oh".

Option 2: "I'm happy for you."

Option 3: "I'm sorry to hear that".

Option 4: Can I help in some way?

Somehow, the world seems overloaded with people who think that one person's statement (not intended to be "up for negotiation" or "further elaboration" by the person who didn't make the statement) isn't really an "end-of-story" kind of statement but some kind of fluid and tentative set of words put out by the speaker or writer to be up for debate, correction, second-guessing, fixing up, or other input that would suggest that the statement-maker has made some "rough draft statement" that needs the input of someone else.

I'm not talking about opinions. I'm talking about making simple statements about oneself and/or one's own life. What makes one person ever think that his additional (and sometimes conflicting or "clarifying" or "wiser" - and most often misguided or clueless) input on what someone else says about himself or his own life is ever anything but a) useless and/or b) arrogant?

I'll tell you what makes someone think that (and we see it everywhere in out there in society, whether in the form of policy, trends, marketing or personal conversation); and what that is is either a) whoever is guilty of it has his own agenda, which generally means there's something (or kind of another) that guilty party has to gain; or b) that guilty party simply thinks he knows better than the person who has made a statement (not a guess) about himself or his own life.

I think there should be a "Just Say 'Oh'" symbol that may or may not come with a universally understood sound (like a buzzer or ring). Then, wherever we see or hear this kind of behavior individuals who see/hear it could do something like post the emoticon or sound the buzzer.

Eventually, may those of us who don't make statements about ourselves or our lives that are "rough drafts" or waiting for approval or correction may eventually train the rest of the world to "Just Say 'Oh'" when just saying "oh" is all that is reasonably called for.

By the way, what I've just said above is a statement. It's not up for clarification, debate, or elaboration. There's no need to comment here (unless, of course, you want to add "Oh" or "Got It").

Sometimes People Really Can/Should Blame Others For Their Problems

The following post was going to be a comment on someone else's post. It ran too long, so under the link are my points about blaming others.

While it's true that nobody else is responsible for one's behavior, or even for the way one behaves when someone else "does them wrong"; it is not true that there is no such thing as being able to blame some others for some problems in some lives. As an example I'd use a perfectly mentally capable/sharp, but very elderly, individual who has to deal with younger people who are clueless and who think they know better than the older person. (OR, who don't understand the older person because they haven't lived with what he lives with).

After awhile, if the older person never gets a break from such clueless people, there's going to be a time when he reaches a saturation point and just writes them off, ignored them, gets nasty, etc. What doesn't help is the over-confidence of someone like younger family members who not only think they know better than the older person, or else who don't understand the older person knows better than his choices may APPEAR to indicate; is that with the unfounded and inappropriate "all-knowing-ness" of the someone like a younger family member often also comes an arrogance (and even mild aggressiveness) of youth (or middle age).

Point is, it's possible to drive someone to less than the best or the friendliest behavior after enough time goes by.

There are a bunch of rules that most people learn to live by (or try to live by) when they're young; and if they have the luxury of never, ever, having someone else screw up something in their life (or otherwise create problems for them, like that younger but clueless family member who makes life miserable and lonely for the very elderly, but sharp (or mostly sharp) older one; then all the rules apply, and the naive or uninitiated get to live under the false impression that they always do (as long as someone knows them and follows them). What's arrogant, too, is that far too many people think they're only ones who know and care about following all those "rules to live by".

Of course, someone like that very elderly person in the example knows that the people in question don't mean any harm; so what happens is they don't want to say anything to hurt the other person's feelings. OR, what else can happen is that if that younger person (caretaker, grown child, whoever) has it in his/her head that he knows better than the very elderly person; nothing the older person says will be taken seriously anyway.

This is a common and simple example of how some behavior actually can be/should be blamed on someone else; but life is full of all kinds of other examples of one kind or another.
AND, the thing is, when someone else makes a mess in a person's life whoever makes that mess isn't going to be all that ready to recognize it and own up to it.

A Long, Long, Post About A Long, Long, Walk

January 24, 2015
Yesterday the weather people said the temperature was around 31. I'm not sure if it was quite that where I am, but the sun was out so there there was a lot of melted ice/snow on the streets, walks, etc. There wasn't much wind, and since it was said that today would be colder; I figured I should take advantage of the chance to get out, get some sun, and besides getting general exercise, to exercise a long-term (but almost good as new now) leg injury. I sit so much now that there's ice and other "weather", it's really giving me the creeps.

Since it was supposed to snow late Friday/early Saturday, I figured I should get to the store in case I didn't get out until Sunday or after. I've been told the store is a mile and a half from where I live. I'm not sure it's quite that. I could check, but who cares. It's at least a mile.

Because I live in borderline-Bumpkin-ville, there's either no sidewalks or else bad sidewalks. Yesterday it didn't help that there was some snow, some ice, some puddles, and whatever else there was for a person who wants to be careful about how she moves an "iffy" leg (and a person who would really rather not get her shoes wet on such a cold day). So, on the nice sunny afternoon I quickly walked on the little street where the speed limit is 25, where nobody drives that slowly, and where there aren't sidewalks. Then I turned up the more "main-ish" street that has the iffy sidewalk, and quickly walked on the side that has no sidewalk at all. It's so much better, now that sunset isn't until a little after five p.m. With the cold weather it's been tricky to wait long enough to have the warmest part of the day, and yet not go out so late that I'm returning once it's dark (and super cold because the sun is gone).

So yesterday I was happy to get to the store while it was still light out, get a cup of coffee to bring for the walk back, and head back before it got dark. True, I'd really planned to leave at 3:00 p.m and hadn't left until, I think, 3:20; but I figured it wouldn't take me two hours to make the round trip. I wasn't going to hang around at the store.

My own street had lots of puddles to step around. So did that 25 mph side street without sidewalks. It was slow going until I got to the "main-ish" street, but then I was speedy. The sun was still "there" when I was at the store, but it had gone down. The sky had some stringy pink clouds, though; so it was at least that light. Of course, when all that's left is essentially a white sky and maybe a few pink clouds, we all know the sun and daylight drop out of sight like a stone, and quickly. It was light, but it was dusk-ish enough that I didn't want to walk down the non-sidewalk side of the street (particularly with evening/dinner-time traffic at its height). I always have a flashlight, but - really - one needs to be facing the traffic on that street. That meant, of course, making my way down that puddle/snowbank/ice/other-muck sidewalk; which also meant dealing with huge stretches of ice and/or puddles that needed to be negotiated at street corners and some driveways.

The whole navigation "deal" was slow, which meant that it wasn't long before it was out-and-out dark. I tried walking in the street and using my flashlight to let people sort of see me, but I also needed that to see the ground and avoid any ice. The last thing I want to do is injure that leg I've been working on for so long (five years) (and the other one that wasn't as badly injured but is now just about good as new after two years). So, the walk back was miserable and slow, not to mention feeling kind of death-defying for one reason or another. I started to feel/hear something rattling in my coffee and realized it was starting to freeze. LOL (Sure, I can "LOL" now.)

I never look forward to getting from that "main-ish" street to my own street (a quiet, traffic-free, street) because that means the "25 mph" street, and in the dark that street always feels like one is likely to be killed. Because I know the street, however, I know how to navigate it as safely as possible, being careful to always know where I can jump off to the side if a car comes to close. There a curve where the two "problem" streets meet, and usually I wait out most cars that come bombing around that curve. I'm always ready to go on the lawn or driveway of the people who live there (I know them).

Last evening, however, it turned out that all the day's water had frozen or was starting to freeze. That meant that whole, giant, areas of ice had formed/re-formed. Those areas were so huge there was no way I could quickly jump on someone's lawn. (Oopsie. I hadn't planned on this "horror".)

So, as the evening traffic kept bombing around that corner, there I stood on a patch of some kind of pine needles and dried grass, waiting for the traffic to thin out long enough for me to navigate some of the giant areas of ice, just to get past that corner. My coffee continued to rattle. My toes were cold (because I hadn't worn my boots, mainly because I didn't want a new heel height or sole thickness for the leg to have to adjust to - but also because sometimes a person just doesn't feel like a simple walk on a sunny day ought to feel like a big deal). If there's one thing I kind of like about myself (usually) (and believe me, there's a whole lot about myself I don't like), it's that I've managed to keep the "good sense" of, say, a fourteen-year-old girl who refuses to wear hats or button her coat in Winter, and who avoids boots at most costs. Oh, the other related thing I kind of like about myself is that I'm not above going out without drying my hair after a shower. (Never in my life have I ever gotten a cold from doing that, by the way. And, for some twisted reason it does make me feel young and like a stupid kid, which may or may not be stupid of me.)

Anyway, eventually there was a break in the traffic, and I eventually made my way to my own street, which had its own issues. By then all those giant puddles of earlier had made huge stretches of my own street one, big, dark, "skating rink". That was "fine". (Not really, of course, I just said that.) I had my flashlight. Eventually, I got to my own driveway which, in itself, kind of "wins the prize" as far as lumpy, re-formed, ice goes (particularly with this most recent stretch of melting and re-freezing). It was 6:30.
In any case, rattling coffee in hand, I got myself and my frozen toes up the stairs and into the house (where I immediately zapped the coffee in the microwave). The toes were pretty uncomfortable as they gradually warmed up, but I realized that, maybe, for the first time since the leg injuries neither of those injuries were "screaming" at me because of the cold. I don't know when that particular bit of progress happened, but up until relatively recently the "big" injury would scream at me when I walked past the dairy counter at the grocery store.

And so, as my toes got back to normal, I settled in with what was left of my medium coffee, watched the Thursday night sitcoms, fell asleep before the 10:00 p.m. drama ever came on and slept right through until morning. (Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say that I "passed out", I suppose. Let's just say that I got a really good night's sleep after all that sun and fresh air. Yes - let's just say that.)

Next time I'll make sure I leave ten minutes earlier (although, of course, as each week passes the sun will be setting that much later). The main thing is that I discovered that "The Leg" (as I've come to think of it) wasn't the least bit bothered by the cold - and that, to me, made the whole "horror" well worth it. (I sure wish there were a way for me to add an eye-rolling emoticon about here.)

Trying to Keep Some of the Christmas-Related Posts Together (Sort Of and For Now)

The title of this brief says it all.  My Christmas-related posts from Bubblews are hardly worth my worrying much about (or anyone's reading, for that matter).  In any case, I'm trying to keep them together for now.  I'll move or delete them (or "whatever") as I start to go through the ones I have here and figure out what I'm doing with any of them.

A Scary Incident (And Lesson) With A Christmas, Window-Candle, Bulb

December 21, 2014
Not everyone uses the electric, plastic (always UL approved) Christmas, window-candles/candleabra (that use the little bulbs that are often also used in year-round nightllights; but after years and years (decades) of using those window candles (AND night-lights), I had a freak thing happen that kind of shocked me (not the "electrical-shock" kind of shock, I should point out).

Every year I'm careful to remove bulbs from the window candles. Every year I'm careful to store the bulbs where they aren't the least bit likely to be broken. Then I store them in something like a Christmas tin (armour for them) and store that where it isn't likely to be shaken or otherwise mistaken for something that doesn't require some caution in handling/storing.

I do re-use last year's bulbs (provided they aren't burned out, of course). Then I keep a couple of packages of new bulbs to make sure there are plenty of replacements.

This year when I took out last year's bulbs I didn't see any signs of the black "burn-out" on any of them. So, when I put the bulb in one candle and then plugged it "just to check" , the bulb didn't only just pop (the way bulbs sometimes do when they burn out). This one actually kind of exploded, leaving a good-sized hole in the bulb and some pieces of glass on the table nearest to/under the outlet.

My first thought was that I was glad I had my glasses on (even though none of the glass pieces hit my face or arms (three-quarter-length sleeves, so quite a stretch of arm didn't have the protection of even indoor clothing).
Having since picked up the glass and gotten that particular window candle squared away, I can't say for certain how far those pieces of glass flew. I just took a ruler to get a rough idea, and it's safe to say it was more than one foot and less than two (unless some really tiny piece flew somewhere that I don't know about). It looked to me, without looking further than the the little "puddle" of glasses pieces that the three of four pieces I was able to pick up were most likely "it".
While I don't imagine that such lightweight/flimsy glass would likely be driven through the skin on one's hand or arms or face; and while the flying glass pieces didn't even come in my direction; it certainly more than occurred to me that the same glass in one's eye or eyes would have been a whole other thing.

With all the care that I use in storing those bulbs and in looking for signs of burn-out, the one thing I'm thinking is that every year when I'm putting those candles in the window there's usually a tip or "undramatic" fall with one of the single-bulb ones. It's never, I said, dramatic. There's usually something like a part of the curtains to break any out-and-out drops to the floor. When it happens I check to see if the bulb still lights, and it always does.

The only thing I can really think of that would have made a previously used bulb to not only blow out but send glass flying is that maybe there was some weakening of the glass with one of those tips.

I decided that from now on, any time I want to check or install one of those bulbs (whether in a window candle or a night-light or anything else), I'll be covering it until I know that the same kind of thing won't happen. I know, after a lifetime of dealing with those bulbs, that the chances of the same kind of thing happening again really aren't all that great.

At the same time, I does occur to me that not all companies produce things of equal quality. Things make specifically for Christmas are often cheaper than things made for year-round. And, of course, a lot of things are just made "cheap" these days.

Even deciding to only buy products made by companies with reputations for decent quality, however, still doesn't factor in that we don't know which packages of bulbs wasn't knocked around in the store.
When I first tried to think up something I'd use to cover the bulbs on that "first-use" (at least of the year), I was in kind of "aftermath shock", so the first thing that came to my mind as a "shield" was a coffee can. A coffee can seemed not only like overkill, but too big anyway. My original thought was to use something that would be certain not to allow flying glass pieces to cut through it. The next things I considered were a) a soup can, and then b) any number of disposable drinking cups.

Once I got past that immediate mode of wanting to look for something that would be "super armour" against flying glass, I more calmly realized that the lightweight paper cups sold as "bathroom cups" were probably good enough to act as shields in the unlikely event that any more bulbs would do anything more dramatic than harmlessly puff-pop their way through the usual burn-out.

The little paper cup seemed like nice a compromise between risking that other bulbs in the batch made have, for some reason, had the same issue; and overkill. It allowed me to see the light of each bulb as I tested each. (I don't know... it occurred me to glass that was thin and cheap enough might become compromised when exposed to sunlight more often, or too long. It also occurred to me that the windows are over the baseboards that heat the room/house.)

This may seem (or be) really stupid of me; but in a lifetime of changing bulbs (whether for Christmas or just in the run-of-the-mill lamps and lights in the house), it has never occurred to me to at least make sure I turn my head, put on some glasses, or otherwise be aware that one or another kind of bulb may do some freak thing and send glass flying.

Most of the time, bulbs either just burn-out on their own (and way from us), or else burn-out when we do something like switch on a light. There's been more than the occasional time when I've been replacing a dead bulb with a new one, only to have the new one burn out as I installed it. No flying glass has been involved. In the case of some lamps there's often a lampshade between the bulb and my eyes anyway.
The lesson here, though, isn't just to think about maybe being a little wiser about something as small and simple as those little, common and among-the-lowest-of-wattage bulbs; and maybe doing something as simple as popping a little Dixie cup over the them when first installing them (and now, of course, the thought occurs to me that there could be the remote chance that paper could involve having more burn than would otherwise have burned if the small bulb does blow out.

As is often the case, there's the thing about having some rough idea about odds while also preferring not to have glass bits in one's eyes when it didn't have to happen. Then, too, odds are sometimes what we judge based only on our own history, rather than, say, on something like "odds of a Christmas bulb exploding in general". Someone less careful and particular about taking care of things like Christmas bulbs might not find anything at all "freakish" about my particular incident.

Neither might people who manufacture or otherwise work with something like those bulbs on a much larger scale than I do (no matter how many years' or windows' worth of experience I have with them).

Midnight Means It Is Christmas Eve, Which Also Means Step Away From the Computer

December 23, 2013
Now that it's twenty minutes away from midnight where I am, I'm getting ready to step away from the computer and finish up with the final preparations for Christmas. The night before Christmas is, for me, spent at home with whomever happens to be here, or show up. Besides a little get-together there are always some last-minute preparations for whichever grown son happens to plan to stay over Christmas night. It's kind of on the late side for me, but I suppose that before I "step away from the computer" I should find the files that have Christmas music. We'll be needed those later as Christmas Eve day turns into Christmas Eve evening.

In any case, the real reason I'm posting this is that I wanted to leave a personal Christmas wish for anyone who happens onto this post and/or my profile. I don't personally know any Bubblers, but I don't think the messages of holiday cheer and, more importantly, peace to all, needs to be limited to only those folks we personally know.

So, to those who celebrate Christmas....

May this Christmas bring all that you hope it will bring to you and yours.

Photo: ME Whelan

Just A Reminder About Christmas Tree Lights

December 4, 2013
Last year someone I ran into online made a post about wanting to string something like 800 lights on her Christmas tree. She wasn't unique in her wish to create a tree that would be dazzlingly filled with a whole lot of lights.

This individual asked about the safety of using one outlet for all the light strings she had in mind. Because today's Christmas lights don't get too hot she was under the impression that an extreme number of strings of them would not pose any fire hazard. In fact, her only concern was whether it would be safe to plug them all into one outlet.

Always check the boxes in which the lights were packaged at the same of purchase, because manufacturers show how many strings of that type of lights can be safely connected together. Don't take for granted that because these lights all look similar that they are identical, and keep in mind that when the box indicates how many strings of lights can be safely connected that means that x number of strings shouldn't be strung together, only to be plugged into the same outlet.

Between the relative coolness of these lights and the fact that many Christmas trees are artificial, fire hazards can seem like less of a concern than they were in the days of the "old kind" of lights, or than they are with real trees. The risk of fire may be lower, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Inspect your lights for signs of damage, and don't use damaged sets. Be careful what ornament materials are in close proximity to the lights on the tree. Needless to say, don't let real trees dry out as a result of lack of water.

Photo: ME Whelan

Christmas Tree Lights - My Convertible Christmas Tree

December 1, 2013
At this time of year a lot of people debate the all-important matter of whether Christmas trees are "better" with white or colored lights.

I'm quite the Christmas tree perfectionist, and I prefer the look of all white lights on the classic Christmas themes that I do with my trees. Some family members prefer white lights too, but some don't. Being someone who tends to see most sides of a lot of arguments, I can see why some people prefer colored lights.

So, in order to make everyone happy I've devised my convertible tree lights arrangement, making sure I'm careful not to string too many lights together or over-burden any of the outlets.

First there are the colored lights. Then I add as many white lights as the tree and outlets can accommodate. That lets me have the white lights on most of the time, particularly when nobody else is in the house; but a mix of both types of lights on Christmas day, itself.

In fact, it allows me to have a number of different "lighting looks" over the course of the holiday season. They include:

All the white lights on and no colored lights on.

My thing about Christmas trees is this: It's Christmas. Nobody should be unhappy with the family Christmas tree, especially if there's only one tree in the house. My other thing about Christmas trees is, however, my "rule" that the person who puts up the tree and decorates it, and the person who spends the most time looking at it, ought to have the tree look the way she likes it to look! And, I have yet another "thing" about Christmas tree lights, and that it is the colored LED lights now in use tend to give me a little bit of a headache. In fact, the red ones make me a little nauseous. (I'm not a big fan of people using "medical excuses" to avoid stuff they don't like; but, honestly, I'm reluctant to update my iPhone to the new operating system because some types of lights really are kind of piercing to some people - and I'm one of them.)

In any case, I've always been kind of proud of the fact that my trees are aimed at making everyone happy. And, since Christmas ornaments don't fall far from the tree, my grown daughter now does her own Christmas tree "convertible style".

Image: ME Whelan

Monday, June 1, 2015

A "Heavy-Duty" Cane That Now Comes In Several Colors - How Exciting??

August 6, 2014
(Note: Before going on here, let me say that I have no affiliation whatsoever with any company that makes canes. In other words, I'm not trying to sell this particular cane with this post.)
I kind of hate to publicly bring up the subject of canes (of the "walking variety" not of the "candy variety" that we associate with Christmas, or even of the "sugar variety" that we learned about in grade school and pretty much stopped caring about once we did - at least if we lived where sugar cane is grown somewhere far away, and all we need to do is watch how much sugar we do or don't eat or add to the stuff we eat and drink).

In any case, I kind of hate to bring up the subject of canes because a serious leg injury that I did a few years ago happened when I was old enough to be self-conscious about the fact that canes tend to be associated with being "old". I wasn't really of the age that I could comfortably and happily settle into The Cane Community, but I did, I thought, run the risk of having some people make the mistake of seeing my use of a cane as "prematurely entering The Cane Community", rather than as an injury that could happen to anyone at any age.

It didn't help that a few people seemed to assume that "that was it" for my "regular" walking days. It didn't help that I apparently live in a world where the idea of someone in her fifties ever truly getting over a serious and complicated injury is an idea and concept that a lot more rare than should be the case. Maybe it's more that I live in a world that has had ingrained in the minds of so many people that not writing off as hopeless someone or something is not being smart enough, or realistic enough. That, however, is a subject for another day.

The other thing with bringing up the matter of a cane online is that I don't want to start creating an image in the mind of people who don't know me that I hobble around on a cane when, in reality, I'm back to the point where I can walk as much as 5 or 6 miles fairly effortlessly (and I do, under the right weather, shoe, heat/humidity, and/or latest leg-recovery stage). I know that regardless of why it is someone may need a cane, it's nothing to feel self-conscious about; but a) I admit to resenting the fact that too many people think the fifties are old and "unlikely to heal" (apparently); and b) when, after using "the good leg" far more than was ideal and therefore doing another fairly serious (but nowhere near as serious as the first one) injury, someone actually brought up the idea that I may want to think about "assisted living" (!!!!)). It all goes to that very real thing that if you're thirty and have an injury people apparently assume it may heal. If you're in your fifties too many assume you're on the road to inevitable decline (and earlier than most other fifties people would be to boot.

Anyway, when I had the one leg with the one whopper-injury, it was challenging; but I had the second leg to count on as far as stability and standing went. When the second one happened just as the first one was making substantial progress it meant that I had to rely on the not-ready "first leg" more, maybe, than was ideal. It's all fine. They're both on the road to recovery, one closer than the other because one was over four years ago and the other a little more than a year and a half ago. There was a time there, though, when taking a shower was kind of scary. I don't have a walk-in shower. It's the usual bathtub-with-shower thing. I don't really recall when product, "HurryCane" came out, or at least started showing up on television commercials; but I guess I saw it after my "high-stability-concern" stage with regard to taking showers. When that commercial came out, though, I thought of how great it would have been to have one of those canes (a folding cane with kind of a stand on the bottom of it) when I really could have used one.
The other day I saw that the cane now comes in different colors, rather than just black; and I had to kind of laugh to myself to think how excited I got to see that the company has decided to brighten up the matter of "heavy-duty cane use" (or need) with color. Thankfully (and I hope for a long time - knock on wood), I don't need such a "heavy-duty" cane

I suspect that a lot of people wouldn't quite see the "hilarity" (more accurately, mild humor) in finding themselves "all excited" to see that something like the HurryCane now comes in assorted colors. (I suppose the makers of that cane are aiming to meet the fashion and mood needs of the knee-replacement/hip-replacement generation (formerly known as "Baby Boomers"). All I know is that I never would have thought I'd find something like this at all even interesting, at least not this soon in my sort-of-still-youngish-kind-of life. (YES, you forty-five year-olds, what you'll discover in the next fifteen or twenty years will be that "around sixty" isn't as old as think it is now.)

In my own case, I suppose, maybe, it's a matter of "with age comes wisdom", or else maybe "with injury comes the need for colors other than black or gray or "metallic"

In all seriousness, I think, maybe, the real key is in recognizing that age, injuries, and canes don't always automatically either go together, not always go together, or amount to never getting back to "pretty much good as new" (at least for now, and again, knock on wood).

Not All Negative Self-Talk Is The Same

April 4, 2014 Every time I run into an article or post about "negative self-talk", I always find myself asking if I should, maybe, ease up with some of negative self-talk that I do. Reading or hearing someone say how bad it is that so many of are pretty mean to ourselves is enough to at least make me wonder if I change my ways (at least a little).

After all, I'm REALLY mean to myself when I do something "stupid", for example. All these articles that are out there about "negative self-talk" remind readers not to be any harsher on themselves than they are on other people. In fact, most people who engage in negative self-talk would never even think about saying the same kinds of things, and in the same kind of tone, to anyone else.

By the way, I keep wanting to put quotes around "negative self-talk" because there's just something kind of corny or cringe-worthy or "too-pop-psychology" about that phrase. I don't know... Using that particular phrase just makes me feel like I'm adopting a kind of thinking that isn't my own. Well, to put that another way: It makes me feel like I'm borrowing the thinking of mental-health professionals who don't always, really, think for themselves (or else adequately sort out some things for themselves), but who then have a way of getting a bunch of non-professionals not-thinking-for-themselves either. I don't know... You know? Clearly, I'm straying from my main point. Well, actually, I'm not really. I'm just taking a peculiar route as far as getting to it goes....

Back to the "negative-self-talk" thing (and while I'll stop putting quotation marks around the term, please keep in mind that they're there in mind, every time I use that phrase. :) ).........

Now, I don't think there's ever been anyone in my life who has been as "mean" to me as I may seem to be when I do something "stupid". I mean... I'm a big one for doing something like knocking over a cup of tea and saying to myself (in a disgusted tone, of course), "You idiot!" In fact, I don't just call myself names after I've done something. Sometimes I start calling myself names as a way of making sure I don't the same kind of thing again. For example: "OK, you idiot. Do not put that cup of tea anywhere near that laptop cable! You don't need to clean up that mess yet one more time - and, by the way, move the cell phone and tablet so that there's no way any spilled tea will get anywhere even close to them again."

Then, too (for example), right after I do something like the whole self-talk scenario described about, I may do some other "stupid" thing, like miss the trash container when I've chosen to "play basketball" instead of taking the safer approach.

(The basketball approach to trash is just more fun in some small way. I'm careful about what types of trash I'll do that with, so it's never the "end-of-the-world" if something ends up on the floor. I just requires walking over and picking it up (more exercise for me, if you think about - so how "stupid", really, is either making a little bit of fun out of throwing something in the trash while "risking", maybe, getting a little "unnecessary" exercise if I miss??? Oh, and believe me, I really don't miss very often; and that, useless little "skill", in itself, makes me feel in some tiny, tiny, way like a slilghtly big cheese - for just a fraction of a moment. Then, however, I inevitably tell myself what a moron, a jerk, and an idiot I am for thinking it's even the tiniest bit of a big deal to have such a great "record" when it comes to not missing on the game of "Trash Basketball". (And, by the way, while my "record" is good it's actually not ALL THAT great. :) )

So, yes, I actually can be a small-minded, immature, "loser-jerk-moron" at times. The thing is, however, when I call myself those things (and, yes, I call myself those kinds of things pretty frequently), I don't really mean them - and I know that too. That's the thing about negative self-talk (at least about the kind that I do): I don't mean it. I't's part sense-of-humor, part (yes) "mild disgust" with myself sometimes, and part just allowing myself to really "just be me" and not need to do things like edit out, or control, the urge to say "that was stupid" - because sometimes whatever it was WAS, in fact, stupid in some way; but sometimes, too, just the act of expressing something other than "pure niceness" just feels good.

(Well, it's said that profanity sometimes serves that kind of purpose for people too. I'm not defending profanity, but the fact is there are times when it helps someone let off some "anger steam", and but there are also times when the person using it may just be trying to add "an edge" to his attempt to show the humor in some things.)

The thing (at least for me) is that I'm an understanding person, a person who understands things like accidents and mistakes and oversights, and a person who always tries not to let someone else feel bad about his own mistakes and mess-ups. Most mistakes/mess-ups aren't the result of someone's being "stupid", so I understand other people's mistakes/mess-ups and just wouldn't call them "stupid". On the other hand, there are people who truly are "stupid" about some things. The thing with other people's "truly being stupid" in some way is that I'm reasonable enough (and smart enough) to know it's not their fault. So, no matter what the mistake/mess-up of someone else may be; not only isn't there ever justification to be anything other than understanding toward others who have meant no harm or damage, but it would be (shall I say) stupid as well.

I know we're all different, and some people are pretty free with unreasonable, even cruel, words that blame others for what is not their doing, that demean those one thinks deserves to be demeaned, or that fluff up the ego of the person who needs to feel superior (and one can't feel superior when one understands, of course). I'm not one of those people, though. I've never been mean. I've always tried to be understanding. For me, it's most often a matter of either "someone didn't mean it", "someone didn't know any better", and/or "the same kind of thing could have happened to anybody". So, with the mistakes/mess-ups of others falling under those categories when, exactly, would calling someone else a "jerk" be appropriate?

No, I don't want to hurt or insult or embarrass the person who has made an understandable mistake. And, I really am not the kind who would allow myself to feel superior just because, for example, I may have better judgment in one area or another than someone else has. Who is "smart" in what areas has never been my personal "measure of a man". Who is "smarter" in some ways than others is so often little more than "luck-of-the-draw" in one way or another. So, my "measure of a man/woman" has always been whether someone respects others and treats them with, if nothing else, respect; but ideally, with kindness.

So, with this "personal measure" of a person and "code", I have pretty much spent my whole life being understanding and/or "overlooking". I'm far from being a person who is "willing to be walked on" or who "lets things slide"; but even with that there are times when understanding and/or overlooking is really all that a person can do (particularly in personal, rather than less-than-personal, relationships).

The fact is, not only do I not go around "letting off steam" on anyone who has made some mistake that has affected me, but in my attempt to try not to let other people feel too bad about any mess-ups they do that involve me; I kind of do a lot of pretending to understand some things more than I really do. Between "the road to hell being paved with good (or at least not-nasty) intentions, and the other road to hell being paved with other-than-good intentions; I've had quite a few stints in one hell or another over the years without being able to be free enough to let off "anger steam" on the person/people to whom it should have/would have been directed if I'd be willing to hurt (and I mean REALLY hurt them). When this is how a person chooses to deal with the mess-ups/mistakes of others it means a person can kind of feel as if head is going to explode a good part of the time.

When it comes to negative self-talk, I'm pretty bad about it. I "yell" at myself not just for things are "mess-ups" or "mistakes", but for things I shouldn't (and don't really) blame myself over (getting a cold, getting an injury, "allowing myself" to be victimized in some way, the list goes on and on). The thing is, however, that it doesn't matter what I "yell at myself for" or what names I call myself; because a) I'm a grown-up and really can take being called names by myself, and b) I know that I don't mean any of it anyway. I pretty much use the small stuff that I do, or that happens to me, as a way of letting off a little "anger steam" or "frustration steam" mostly because it's actually kind of fun (in a weird way) to feel at least that free-enough to express myself. Because, after all, it isn't always just about what we think, understand and/or can overlook; but about how we feel about something as well.

I think when it comes to negative self-talk (and I know I could be wrong), what can make one big difference is whether we actually believe what we're saying in those few seconds of "yelling at ourself", or whether we're so secure we know the difference between "just feeling a little freer to express" and, say, truly believing that we are "an idiot" or "a jerk".

One might ask if when I call myself a name, for doing something like knocking over a cup of tea, I'm "really taking out on myself some kind of pent up anger toward other people and/or life"; and, honestly, I really don't think so. To me, it just feels more like using some of those more minor mistakes/mishaps in life as a way of venting a little "steam", but also having that chance to just express a little disgust toward the one responsible for whatever happened - without having to worry about what "she'll" think, whether "she'll" think I really mean it, etc. etc. Besides, calling, say, something like a knocked-over teacup "stupid" or a "jerk" is a whole, other, kind of thing that suggests blaming things like teacups for their own accidents.

On the other hand, another option might be to resort to profanity, but - I don't know - sometimes profanity (besides really being kind of meaningless, at least when it's being used in response to a mishap or mistake, but also much of the time in general) is kind of like throwing out into the air a bad word, or a little bit of "letting off steam", without the more personal and satisfying element of just ("for once in your life" - although it's not "once", of course) being able to call someone who has screwed up in some way "idiot", "jerk", "stupid", or whatever one wants to call someone; when the matter is small enough that it doesn't matter a whole lot anyway, and when that "someone" isn't going to be angry or hurt as a result.

When it comes down to it, I've always been very careful about things like blaming myself or getting angry with myself over the more important/more emotional issues of life. Also, I'm really not one to take anger out on the wrong person; whether that "wrong person" is someone else of myself.

So, I don't know.... I probably have my share of some types of self-esteem "issues". (I've never really been able to sort out some of those, in view of the fact that I'm a kind of strange mix of different types of confidence and, I suppose, self-esteem. Either way, though, I'm fairly certain that my own negative self-talk isn't just harmless to me, but may even be kind of healthy.

Image: ME Whelan

Who Is Happier - Singles or People Who Are Part Of A Couple?

February 14, 2014
After reading a post by Bubbler  I was inspired to think a little more about the whole thing of whether single people or people in couples are happier.

One thing is that for every couple made up of two people who are absolutely happy and in love, there a whole lot more who are not. Or else, there's always the ones who feel bad for single people while the single person is thinking, "Thank God I didn't find myself married to someone like she/he is married to!!" (lol)

I have no doubt that there are some couples who are truly happy (both of the individuals in them - not just one happy one and one the other THINKS is happy, sometimes only because the unhappy person has't yet left), but a whole lot of people settle for a "B-minus", "C-minus", "D-minus", or even out-and-out "E" relationship because they don't believe there's such a thing as an "A" or "A-plus" relationship.

One problem can be that a "B-minus" relationship can seem quite happy, and maybe that has to be good enough for a lot of people. The trouble is, however, that it may not take much to knock a "B-minus" relationship down to a "C-minus"; and from there it's sometimes only a matter of luck if that "C-minus" stays at least that good, or further declines.

People so often (rightfully) are aware that things most often are not perfect in any relationship, but it's easy to blur the fact that "you have to work in any relationship" with "if things really were the way they should be in the relationship you wouldn't have to always work quite that hard at it".

As for singles and how happy they are being single, I suppose it's both simpler and more complicated in a lot of ways. Some singles plain, old, don't want to be in a relationship for one reason or another. Some are selective, and only want to be in a relationship if it can be an "A-plus" one (even if day-to-day stuff requires some compromise and work). Singles are individuals, just as couples are individual-couples made up of individuals. Some singles can't, and won't, ever be happy unless they're in a relationship; so whether they settle for a "C-minus" one or a "D-minus" one can depend on how important having an "A-plus" (or at least "A-minus") one is, or isn't for them.

So, when it comes to who is happier (singles or couples), I just think it depends on so many things other than just who is single and who is part of a couple.

Really, what every person needs to do is ask himself/herself whether he/she is truly happy with his single-/couple- status, but also be brutally honest with himself/herself over that. Too often, perhaps, too many people (whether single or in a couple) choose to lie to themselves because while lying to oneself doesn't do much for one's true happiness, it's sometimes easier than facing whatever truth there is to face.

Photo: ME Whelan

To Each His Own, I Know But - (About Food Pictures)

January 28, 2014 First, I can't emphasize enough that I respect that everyone has different preferences and approaches to things, so I'm truly not suggesting that I think some things shouldn't be on a site like this; because I know that pretty much most of what I've ever posted here shouldn't really be on a site like this either. Or, whether it's something someone else posts or something I post, sometimes it's not so much that it doesn't belong on a site as it is that x number of people aren't going to be interested. So, it's all fine.

So, having tried to establish that I don't think my preferences are any better than anyone else's (but I don't think anyone else's are any better than mine either, by the way), I just have to say express myself, for once on for all, on this matter......

What's with the food pictures?????? I hate food pictures. Part of it IS that I just don't happen to like pictures of food - not on television commercials, not in magazines, nowhere. I know that some people like food pictures. I just don't (or if I do it may be the rare picture of something like a particularly pretty fruit). Another part of my "thing" about food pictures is that I've been on the Internet for quite awhile, and a whole lot of people like food pictures, post food pictures, think food pictures and food writing is a great thing.

Now, I can't really say that I hate food, because I have my few foods that I like. It's just that a) I don't really see food as an "interest" (that's the thing about everybody's having different interests, of course), and b) even if if I may like a food I just don't want to see pictures of it.

I know a lot of people like food. They like recipes. They aren't even just interested in the recipes they might get from "high-profile" sites like Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart. I can't imagine it, but I know that some people actually trust the recipes of strangers on the Internet. That's fine. I'm not knocking the recipes or anyone who feels comfortable trusting the recipes of strangers. And, even though I, personally hate food pictures; I know that the person looking at a recipe wants a picture. So I can give a pass on food pictures in recipes.

The one I really don't get (and again, I'm not saying they shouldn't be on here - just saying I don't "get them" and don't particularly care for them, myself) is the picture of, say, somebody's plate of Spaghettios - and then the few lines about how that person had Spaghettios for lunch, linkes Spathettios, forgot about Spaghettios, or fondly remembers Spathettios.

Well - I mean - I just honestly don't "get" posting a picture of your lunch on the Internet. I know, though, that there are reasons people post stuff on this site other than worrying about who thinks it's a great post, whether something makes sense or is interesting, etc. etc. In other words, I know that a whole lot of people on here don't care what they post; and if someone wants to post a picture of Spaghettios it's his business. Honestly - I'm not thrilled with whatever I've come up with to post on here. I have no doubt that zillions of people hate to see it coming. (lol lol). Well, I hate to see it, myself. That's a separate issue, though.

Particularly after spending x number of years on a lot of other Internet sites, I just had to once-and-for-all say that a) I don't really get posting a picture of your sandwich online, and b) I hate to have them show up.

When my children were young one of them had a little play kitchen, and we stocked it with all kinds of toy food, including fake cupcakes and pretty much fake everything else. Now THAT food was both interesting and fun. :) Also when my children were young, their father, they, and I would sit around and make miniature fake-food about whatever paper, clay, tissues, or other items we could find to create adorable, miniature, fake-food. Now THAT food was interesting and fun. I'm sorry, though.... "Here's a picture of my toast," just isn't my idea of what I want to see (or post) on the Internet (and, yes, I thought I'd give that kind of thing a try - and it just isn't my cup-of-tea).

Oh, wait.... I wonder if I should take a picture of my cup of tea and post it on the Internet. It may not be particularly fascinating, but it's something to post.... Nah... I'll capture the far-more-fascinating cup of coffee that I'm planning for later in the day.

February 16, 2014
It's really not that I'm either all that obsessed with, or else all that interested in, the weather; and it's certainly not that I think weather is all that fascinating to most other people. (at least the kind that isn't anything more "dramatic" than, say, plain, old, Winter weather that can wear thin by the middle of February). It's just that by the middle of February (and with some Winters, more than others), it seems like some types of weather can kind of start to take up a higher percentage of a person's "background thoughts".

That is to say that even when one generally gets on the with the business of life, there's this other kind of "background"/"backdrop" stuff in life that have at least some effect on a person. Sometimes, and with some weather, that's nothing more than, say, kind of a dampening of mood. With other weather (as in the case of unrelenting, unrelenting, non-stop, horrible - although, I have to say, not really ALL that disastrous in the grand scheme of weather - cold and snow; it can go beyond just mood and start to actually affect day-to-day living. Things get postponed. Things get cancelled. Ice and/or temporarily melting ice makes its way to, perhaps, car-door looks or to some edge or corner of a house-door or house-window; and before you know it you're climbing out your basement windows, or else climbing into your car through the trunk. (Oh, OK, I'm exaggerating here, but you get the idea.)

Weather has its way of passing from one region to the next, so yesterday (and regardless of whether it was snow or flooding that was the issue for someone), people in one place or another seemed to start announcing that the sun was finally out. Now, one might think that I would quite automatically borrowed the coping technique of the famous, "Annie", and simply told myself, "The sun will come out tomorrow." After all, Annie is hardly the ever person or character (real, make-believe, or otherwise) who knew that sometimes one must just think about the fact that there's at least a good chance the sun will come out tomorrow (maybe it's even a certainty - or at least as anything in life can ever really be certain).

And Annie certainly isn't the only one to get to "tomorrow", only to discover that the sun actually didn't come out, or if it did it didn't shine as brightly as it ordinarily does (which case Annie and/or "whoever-else" simply tells himself/herself, once again, "The sun will come out tomorrow."

The thing is, whether we're thinking in terms of actual weather, or instead of metaphorical weather only; where we are and a lot of other factors can determine how bad things are and whether or not the sun shines brightly, just a little, or not at all.

Telling ourselves, "The sun will come out tomorrow," is, I suppose, better than telling ourselves that it's never going to shine brightly again; because most times and in most seasons (some more than others) the sun does come out. It can sometimes be a matter of whether it actually comes out tomorrow or, instead, not until next week.

For today, this minute, and this particular post, I'm not concerning myself with metaphorical weather, however. I'm referring to the plain, old, regular, weather. And, for today, that sun not only finally started to shine, but did so brightly enough to plain, old, make me feel a lot better than I've been feeling with all the gray, cold, snow, and ice.

That's thing: Telling ourselves that the sun will come out tomorrow can help us feel a little better when all we see is a big, gray, sky; but making sure to notice (and I mean REALLY notice) those times when the sun shines brightly and skies are almost a blinding blue is probably an even more important and helpful thing for us to do.

In any case, and at least for today, the sun made a nice appearance and certainly did its job brightening up a whole of things. So - excellent!!! :)

Image: ME Whelan

Of Problems, Perspective, Compassion and Empathy

February 23, 2014

After reading the post about (essentially) perspective on our problems in life, I realized my comment would run long; so I thought I'd write my own post.

It's not that I necessarily disagree with the post at the above link, but I think there's also another side to the matter of imagining walking in another's shoes (or walking in our shoes when they hurt).

There's never a time in my life when I don't have a solid perspective of which of my troubles/problems generally fit in the "scheme of what's important in life" (and if anyone knew what has gone on in my life he'd easily see that it's not like my major and almost bizarre assortment of problems/troubles/worries are minor matters, by any means). BUT, so often there's absolutely nothing we can for others who have far worse, or far more, problems/sadness (etc.), no matter how much we care and wish we could do something to help or make someone feel a little better.

All that aside (and one way or another), though; sometimes our own shoes just hurt really, really, badly - no matter how much worse someone else's shoes (or even lack of shoes) hurts them. So, I don't know.... Sometimes it's not an either/or thing or a "better-perspective" thing.

Sometimes, when some shoes hurt badly enough all the awareness and perspective and empathy in the world aren't enough to make them hurt less. The longer we walk in them, and the more they hurt, we're bound to get tired and say something here or there. Even then, however, it doesn't mean we don't know how many others "have things so much worse". It just means we either need to say something in case someone else may help, in case it helps someone else understand why we "limp" as badly as we do, and/or that we've just had a positive, upbeat, and generally cheerful (and pretty much phony) demeanor for so long; we're just too tired to always keep that up after awhile.

It doesn't mean that when our own shoes are hurting so badly that we're limping or otherwise struggling along the road, we can't/don't also hurt for those who walk in other and worse shoes. I think most people can look around, see all those other people in all kinds of other "shoes", and maybe even limp their way to somehow try to help (if it's at all possible). In fact, speaking for myself, I can tell you that in spite of all the limping (or whatever else) I've had to do in my life; there's never a time when I'm not grateful that I have shoes, that I have feet, that those feet are not so beaten up that they can no longer feel pain and that, instead, they have become numbed by shoes that are so much more painful than my own are.

And, while it's true that we all have times when our shoes hurt here or there, or in one way or another; some shoes do hurt some feet more and/or longer and/or in a number of different ways; even when those ways wouldn't (for lack of a more appropriate choice of words) "win the prize for among the absolute worse shoes in life or in the world".

Sometimes, however, one of the most amazing things about human nature is that there will always be people who walk in shoes that hurt, walk in shoes that have absolutely destroyed their feet, walk in shoes that have numbed their feet, or in no shoes at all; and yet who hurt for others. And, there are people who walk in shoes that make them limp in varying degrees, that hurt a little here or there, or that haven't hurt their feet much at all; but who hurt for all of those in far worse shoes.

While there will always be people who are self-centered or immature or otherwise flawed in character, and who can't/don't/won't have empathy for others or proper perspective with regard to their own shoes; I don't really think that's most people. I think most of the time it's just that when shoes don't hurt so badly, or aren't in such bad shape, that they fall off or fall apart; the only one who can really know how it feels to walk in a "limper's" shoes is the limper, himself; and nobody can see things like how many things are hurting and making someone limp; how long he walked and found ways to avoid limping, or how much pain is associated with that limping.

All anyone can see is that he's got shoes, they're still on his feet, and even if he's limping he's still walking. Things aren't always all that simple.

Photo: ME Whelan

Of Coffee, Sleep, and Messed Up Schedules

February 2, 2014
It's 4:51 a.m. Saturday morning, and ever since this most recent "stint" of exceptionally cold temperatures was going on, I've just any version of a schedule that I had completely messed up. Yesterday was nice out - almost Spring-like. Today is supposed to be even warmer, so great. Those two days don't count. It's the several days leading up to them that got my schedule really messed up.

Well, I had a whole thing going since last weekend that I was planning to "hunker in", but then I had guests and then I went out. I don't know... I've had no real system; and as nice as yesterday was, I didn't have any system either because it was Saturday.

So, as I seem to have been doing over the last few days in particular, and since it's the weekend and therefore it doesn't matter much anyway, I stayed up all night doing "whatever" on the computer, mainly because I could.

Now I realize I need to try to get a few hours' sleep (and I DO mean "few hours", which is probably the real reason I seem to not to be coming up with anything awfully productive) I realize that I won't be able to sleep unless I have a nice, big, cup of coffee. Not everyone uses coffee as a sleeping aid (needless to say), but I do.

What I'd really like to do is stall myself off two hours and call it "morning coffee". Instead, I think I'll make a quick cup so I can sleep and call it my "bedtime coffee". I'll deal with morning in a few hours..... In any case, Monday isn't far away. I'll get a little more back to a normal schedule then.

Photo: ME Whelan

Of Sunsets, Strangers, and Connectedness

November 16, 2013
As I start to write this post I realize that I've already written at least two posts involving the local shopping mall....

Hey, I've never said I have an exciting life, and I've never said I'm all that thrilled with my fairly limited - shall I say - "horizons".

In defense of my own image, for whatever that's worth; I've written online for years now; and I've written about all kinds of things in life other than shopping malls and supermarkets. It's just that on Bubblews that whole "write-your-world" thing has me a little baffled about what I should be writing. I mean, what "world" exactly does Bubblews mean? My personal little world in which some things go on that I either wouldn't post online or else don't think is worth sharing? The whole, big, world that I share with others but that I do consider, at least to some extent, "mine as well theirs"? My "inner world"? Believe me, if I hope to keep my relationships reasonably healthy and whatever friends I happen to have friends I'd better keep a lot of "inner-world" stuff to myself.

In any case, so often if I really try to "write MY world", rather than write what I feel like writing regardless of whose world it is I'm writing about; I always come down to the same reality: "My" world, at least the part of it that I'll post online, is pretty much a matter of a handful of close people in my life, including my grown kids. I'm not going to write much about them because I don't have any business doing that.

Also included are some long-lost cousins and a few friends that I don't get to spend time with, or even talk to, very often. Come to think, maybe they aren't as much in my "world" as I automatically tend to think they are, regardless of the fact that I really do care about these people.

As for the rest of my world: People I'd call business acquaintances. They're REALLY people one would be wise to refrain from writing about.

There are, I suppose, "the people in my neighborhood". You know - the ones mentioned in the Sesame Street song that has the lines, "Who are the people in your neighborhood? They're the people that you meet when you're walking down the street....". Well, in my sleepy, semi-rural, suburban, neighborhood I don't actually meet too many people when I'm walking down the street. Once in awhile the mail truck may be coming up the street, at which time the mail-carrier may or may not wave; and that's kind of it.

No, the "people that I meet" are mostly people at the shopping mall where the main attraction is the grocery store that pretty much everyone in my town frequents he's in need of "only the most basic groceries". It's a nice, big, modern store; but it specializes in "More for Your Dollar"; and that pretty much means "more volume for your dollar" - not "more variety".

Other than that, my world kind of mostly consists of things like computers, smart phones, and whatever other electronic gadgets there are that will create the impression that I'm "connected" to, and a part of, the larger world; when, in reality, I pretty much live the existence of a mushroom, or at least a prisoner in a minimum-security facility. Or, to paint the picture in a slightly different way, let's just say that I'm so much a part of a "technology-focused" world that I don't even go to that supermarket I mentioned without a bag full of gadgets that will keep my feet firmly rooted on the ground, or rather my arms at least within reach of that larger world - not to mention that handful of close people.

In other words, if I take those close people out of the mix my "world" can pretty much be reduced to a bunch of electronic stuff that involves "connectedness" and the Internet and buying groceries, which I could buy online if I really wanted to and were willing to buy things like lettuce and grapes without looking at them first.

So, having explained all that and highly unlikely to stop writing any Bubbles about the local shopping mall, I'll finally get to my latest - and admittedly, somewhat pathetic - grocery-store story:

Last evening as I emerged from the less-than-fascinating world of the supermarket, I was struck by the most amazing sunset I've seen in a long time. Sunsets are always nice, of course. Some are nicer than others. Every so often, though, there's a sunset that is absolutely breathtaking. This was one of those.

The vast expanse of sky looked like it was on fire, although the "fire", although there was so much pink it was clear it was a very different thing from fire. I reached into my handy Bag O Gadgets, took out my phone, ignored the e.mail notifications on it, and began trying to get a good picture of the amazing sky. The good thing about supermarket parking lots is that there are no trees blocking the expanse of sky. The bad thing about them is that there are tall parking-lot lights, as well as all kinds of over-head wires/cables. As a result, what would be a great "expanse-of-sky" picture is mucked up by the stuff I just mentioned. This means that any photographers, cell-phone photographers, or non-photographers who really only want to capture a sunset for all of time must face the reality that a good picture will require cropping. Cropping, of course, kind of defeats the purpose when it comes to "expanse of sky".

Anyway, as I left the store a couple of other customers joined me in remarking on the sunset. As I began taking my sky pictures as woman was walking from her nearby parked car toward me. As she got closer she called, "You should have seen it about five minutes ago!" As she reached the spot where I was standing the woman stood for a few minutes, admiring the sunset with me. We were both in awe.

The woman shared with me that she "gets the sunrises" because she's a school-bus driver and therefore out at the time of the morning. I mentioned that I get sunrises coming into my dining-room window as the two of us kept looking up at the sky-full of hot pink, mauve, and red. It was only a matter of a couple of/few minutes, but somewhere in the mix of our admiring and our brief chat I said, "You wonder why - when we've seen so many of them - we still....". The woman interrupted me and said, "It's because they're all so beautiful." On the one hand, her words to sum it all up completely. On the other hand, I was still left kind of momentarily wondering what it is about something as relatively common as a sky full of color other than blue or gray, or a sky-scape of colors that are caused by something as routine as a rising and setting "ball of fire" and a particular mix of clouds at any given time, that can make us feel like we're seeing magic. And, why, when we know we're not seeing magic at all, does feeling like we're seeing bring that sense of joy anyway?

Most of us ponder this stuff every once in awhile, of course; and I suppose, as the lady with whom I exchanged those few words said, it's just because sunsets and sunrises are beautiful. In other words, maybe sometimes we don't need to analyze such things beyond that. It took me only a few seconds to decide not to "further analyze" it and just enjoy the beauty of the sunset. Once I decided to stop myself from analyzing I started to think about how nice was to stop for a few minutes, stand with a stranger at the curb in the oh-so-mundane shopping center, and share that moment of awe that was a perfect reminder not only of all the ways in which we human beings are the same, but some of the small ways in which we remain connected.

I wasn't able to capture that expanse of color forever because the parking lots lights and wires really did muck up the whole picture, and the colors didn't really come out right in the photos anyway. As is so often the case, moments of such splendor can be difficult to capture. As is pretty much always the case, magic is impossible to capture.

As for the few words and few observations I shared with that woman... Well, they would hardly seem worth writing about, actually. Still, it was a moment that served as a great reminder of a type of connectedness that even the smartest of phones, or "fiery-est" of tablets can never offer.

Three Photos: M.E. Whelan

Of Seatbelts, Statistics, and Plain Old Luck - or Whatever

January 7, 2014
Like so many people I once thought "it can't happen to me". It was in the early 70's when my two friends and I were in an accident. We were all small (around 100 lbs plus or minus a few), and there were no seat-belt laws. My friend in the backseat wasn't wearing hers. As a front-seat passenger I wasn't wearing mine. The driver, mostly concerned with maintaining an image of not wanting to appear ignorant and "dark woods" always wore her seat-belt and shoulder strap. We were hit head on by a speeding, out-of-control, car. My friend (the driver) was killed when she was thrust forward while he "main body" remained fastened to the seat. The injury that killed her was in her neck/spine area and the result of that forward thrust.

My friend in the backseat was thrown on the floor, injured, but without life-threatening injuries. My head and face hit the windshield, and I got LOTS of glass cuts, a moderate concussion, and a bunch of other injuries; but none of it was life-threatening. So, I don't know... I have my own two-out-of-three statistics that still leave me relatively uncertain about exactly how much faith to put in seat-belts.

That aside, I'd previously been in two other "good sized" accidents, one when I was one of three young children in a car with three adult family members. The windows were open (no air conditioning and it was Summer), and the car tipped up so that I could see the blacktop headed for the window before it bounced back on its wheels (and after kind of going in a half-circle in that tipped state) I was thrown on the floor, and my aunt fell on me,, her own baby, and my five-year-old brother. There was talk that my aunt did something intentionally to make sure she fell on us. I don't know. Of course, it could have gone the other way, and we all could been dumped out when the car tipped so dramatically. As I said, I just don't really know what to think. There's a part of me that, of course, goes along with the thinking involved with "what seems to be the best idea based on what we know (or think at the time, anyway".

Then, though, I always have that thing that if something is going to happen it's going to happen. :/

Gloves For Every Phone When You Live Where The Weather Is Way Too Cold

January 24, 2014
After - for some reason - answering my iPhone with the tip of my nose or chin (and occasionally, even the edge of a lip), I've finally smartened up (I guess one has to "smarten up" if he's to be able to operate his smart phone in a way that isn't - well - stupid...), and got myself a couple of pairs of gloves that can be used with smart phones with or without touch screens, as well as other devices with touch screens.

I suppose I haven't really thought of it before because a) before this Winter I was using a four-year-old Blackberry (no touch screen), or else touch-screen devices other than an iPhone. SO, since Winters in Massachusetts aren't usually quite so unrelentingly and bitterly cold, it hadn't been a big deal to remove my gloves in order to use the phone or, say, a GPS device or Kindle.

THIS year our Winter is a-whole-nother thing! We're just seeing a whole lot more days and nights were the temperature, without adding the wind-chill factor, is close to zero. So, adding wind makes it colder. Also, we're just seeing a whole lot of days and nights that are just plain awfully cold (dangerously cold). While it's true that removing gloves long enough to answer a phone call isn't going to lead to frost bite (unless one doesn't put the gloves back on for, say, twenty minutes on a lot of these days), it's just kind unbearable much of the time this year.

Besides, as someone who is a little (no a lot) compulsive about keeping my screens smudge-free, I really don't want to be answering my phone with "make-up face", especially when make-face doesn't happen until I first make it Winter-moisturizer face because, after all, it's been so unrelentingly, bloody, cold my face will most certainly become brittle and fall off if I don't use moisturizer....

So anyway, I don't know why it took me so long to address the whole matter of using phones (and other touch screens) without having to freeze off my hands; but I finally decided to address it. (Maybe I did some foot-dragging because I can't really say I like the little gray-dot finger-tips on the touch-screen gloves. Whatever....

I got myself some "gray-dot" gloves for touch screens, particularly the phone; and some perfectly fine (well, perfectly cheap, actually) gloves that don't cover the finger-tips at all - for use with the teensy,tiny, keypad on the Blackberry.

None of this Earth-shatteringly news-worthy, of course. I was just trying to think up something kind of harmless to post.

Note: The only thing is, however, that the gray-dot kind of gloves look pretty much like their owner has been clearing off a muddy/slushy car window with her hands, rather than an ice-scraper.

Photo: ME Whelan

Thoughts On Getting On "The Progress Bus" Or Else Being Run Over By It

July 27, 2014
After just reading a post about lay-offs in a changing world ("Get On The Bus Or Get Run Over By It"), I decided to post my reply to that post in the form of my own post.

I'm not arguing with the point made in the original post, by any means. It's just that the few thoughts I had to offer (on top of the very valid points made already) would run too long for the comment box.
There's no doubt that there are times when one has to "get on the bus or be run over by it". On the other hand, sometimes getting on the bus isn't always the best idea.

The trouble is... Sometimes if you get on the bus you have to deal with a lot of junk/people you'd rather not deal with on a regular basis. Sometimes all the stops a bus makes means you take longer getting there and/or may have to still walk a few blocks once you get off the bus. By virtue of their pre-planned routes that aim to accommodate as many people as possible, there are times when the bus is perfect for a very few riders or else is essentially very imperfect for a majority of other riders.

When all is said and done, there is always one route and one driver (and hopefully that one driver isn't the an idiot who takes turn too fast and/or who operates under the influence of one substance or another - but that's a subject for another time).

The point is that any time someone else is driving, and particularly if that someone else is following a pre-planned route that's designed to accommodate "the masses" or the lowest common denominator or (in the case of some buses) mainly one group of people who tend to all be going to the same place); the bus-rider is always following someone else's program and/or just waiting to get to where he really wants to be.

There are times when it's better not to just ride the next bus that comes along. Sometimes it's better to wait for a different bus. At other times, it's actually better still to stay off some buses entirely and find another way to get where one wants to be. The good sense and reason in that line of thought isn't just for those rare times when one might be thankful not to have been riding on a bus that crashed or even broke down and left passengers stranded. The other good sense and reason in carefully staying off (and away from, of course) buses is that any time one makes his own way to where he wants to be; while it may require more concentration, more dealing with traffic, or more time or effort; there will most often be those times when buses, at best, bring people only closer to where they want to be and/or right to where they want to be (once they've put up with all the stuff and people they had to put up with on the way from there to here).

The thing about buses and getting run over is that sometimes those who are run over by buses are those who didn't know how to stay far enough away from them in order not to be run over.

Getting away from the bus metaphor, and getting to a real cse of a bus and a person who chose not ride one; my grandfather was a spry and thin man who had grown up in the days of horses-and-buggies that were still around even as cars became more and more commonplace. He was just past eighty years old when he was hit by a bus and killed in the small city that had been his home since childhood. He walked anywhere he needed or wanted to walk, and did. Not only did he do his socializing in "the real world" (and not on any buses or "Internets"), but he walked phenomenal distances for anyone, not just for an elderly man.

He was apparently fit enough that when, in the late 1950's, his broken hip required whatever kind of pin(s) they used in those days; his walking days resumed (although with the use of a cane) once he recovered from the hip surgery.

When he was hit by the bus that was, I guess, pulling away from a stop it was said that the bus driver didn't see him. I don't know the details, but obviously it's unlikely that a bus driver would hit a man with the bus if he did see him. Maybe the bus driver was more careless than he should have been. Maybe my grandfather did step out from behind, say, a parked car. He was a small man. Maybe he had lost some mental sharpness at that point (although I saw no signs of that when he'd be talking to any of us).

Maybe it would have been better for him if he'd gotten on the "get-a-car bus" once horses-and-buggies were pretty much a thing of the past. The thing is, though, sometimes there are worse things than being hit by a bus in an ever-advancing society; because - when all is said and done - there is always one price or fare or another involved with being so afraid of being hit by "The Bus", or a bus) that one disregards the cost and/or compromise most often involved with going along for the ride.