Where do you get most of your news from? Do you consider your primary news source (or sources) to be objective purveyors of truths and facts?
I admit to being a news junkie – or more accurately, an information nerd. I rely on a variety of media for news. I always watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and usually Lawrence O’Donnell right afterwards. Being on Central Time, these shows are on at 8 and 9 pm, respectively, not too late to then catch the local news at 10, followed by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. These news sources are somewhat subjective, but there is good analysis and an attempt to present more than one side of an issue.
When I’m working in the kitchen or on laundry, or when I’m alone in my car, I tune in to NPR on the radio. National Public Radio is the most objective news source, in my opinion. I hear various opinions on there, and I also like the stories people tell.
I also subscribe to a regional newspaper. The Daily Herald that I get covers the northwest suburbs. I like this newspaper because they have a mix of national and local news, as well as human interest stories. And I always turn to the editorial page and read the letters to the editor and the columns. It’s interesting to know what people feel compelled to write to the newspaper about.
However, I am alarmed at the plethora of sensationalist “news” outlets, online, on TV and the radio. Some of these media outlets perpetuate conspiracy theories that are completely outlandish and untrue. Yet, millions of Americans tune in to these media outlets and are indoctrinated into believing the mainstream press is “left-wing” and “fake news.” I am concerned with the millions of Americans who live in a seemingly alternate world when it comes to current events. I visualize it as a chasm, such as a fault after an earthquake. How does one talk to a person who thinks, for example, that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election and that Biden is illegitimate? It may seem ridiculous, but a lot of people do believe this, and what will this ultimately lead to in a country with a proliferation of semi-automatic weapons? We’ve already gotten a preview with the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. As long as there are Republicans and Donald Trump fanning the flames of these false narratives (even though they know better), and states “recounting” the ballots from the 2020 election, there will be plenty of people who think it is real.
It’s also sad, because many people have become so jaded about the news and about journalism in general. I have noticed that some of the commenters about this question on Fandango’s page express their complete disaffection with the news. I have great respect for journalists and am an advocate of a free press which is necessary for democracy to succeed. But with social media and the easy access to online “information” there are a lot of lies being perpetuated. And therefore many intelligent people just tune out completely. An apathetic or misled public is a very dangerous trend!
What inanimate object do you wish you could eliminate from existence? plastic bags – actually a lot of things made of plastic… However, I’m not sure I can call plastic bags “inanimate” – they fly through the air, roll down streets, get caught in trees…and end up suffocating unsuspecting marine animals when they drift into lakes and oceans. One of our most serious pollution problems is the proliferation of discarded plastics. Most end up in landfills, either in this country or abroad, such as in Indonesia, where the plastic trash problem is becoming severe.
Although we think we are doing our part in diligently recycling all the #1, 2, 4, and 5 plastics (which is what most municipal recycling programs allow), the fact is that only about 15% of all that supposedly recyclable plastic actually gets recycled! Actually, grocery plastic bags and any other plastic bag labeled #4 can be collected and taken back to the supermarket – most supermarkets have deposit bins for plastic bags just inside the front entrance to the store. Although I will continue to recycle (because I don’t know which items are really being recycled), I now believe that “reduce” and “reuse” are the better ways to go until cost-efficient recycling becomes widespread.
Some cities and states have banned plastic bags and I think many European countries have also. Next time you shop, take your own reusable bags – if the cashier says they can’t take them because of Covid, you can offer to pack the bags yourself. If you buy produce, don’t put it in the plastic bags provided; either put it into your cart loose, or bring mesh bags from home to put it in. We have to change our wasteful habits if we want future generations to be able to continue living on this planet!
I recommend watching the PBS program Frontline‘s documentaryPlastic Wars. If this link doesn’t work, try finding it on YouTube.
What tells you the most about a person? A person’s actions determine one’s values and character. People who are generous and kind show this in their concern for others and always offering to help. There are many people who claim they are kind or caring, yet they never actually demonstrate this trait. There are also lots of hypocrites, people who say one thing and do another, or expect others to follow certain rules, but when a situation affects them, to hell with the rules! (I’m thinking of many politicians, particularly many in the GOP.) Often our leaders don’t realize that what they do influences society at large. I think that since the 1980s, and particularly during the last four years, the values and civility of our society have greatly eroded. People have become greedy and rude, and are no longer afraid to show blatantly racist attitudes and behavior, and there seems to be a direct correlation of this lack of civility with the growing inequality in our society.
What is something you thought would be easy until you tried it? Ziplining. My one experience with it was rather frightening and I will never be persuaded to do it again!
What ridiculous and untrue, yet slightly plausible, theories can you come up with for the cause of common ailments like headaches or cavities? Chocolate: this tempting and delicious substance is actually evil in disguise! It is so easy to get addicted to this “food of the gods” and yet, it insidiously poisons your body systems, causing headaches, toothaches due to cavities, and even the common cold! Even if you are diligent with your dental hygiene, including daily flossing, and balancing sweets with healthy foods like broccoli, it is too late – once the chocolate is in your body, you can never get rid of its devilish effects unless you go through a thorough cleansing regimen and commit to abstaining from chocolate forever! If you do these things, you will be much healthier!
(Ah, the heck with it! I’ll take the headaches and cavities rather than give up chocolate! After all, we only live once!!)
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
What are you grateful for since they ‘cured’ Covid? (yeah, I realize it’s not cured. But at least the vaccine is available and restrictions have eased up in many places. If that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen I suppose).
Being able to walk around outside without a mask! It is great to breathe the air directly instead of through the filter of a mask! People can now see each other’s smiles again, and it is much easier to understand what people are saying when they don’t have to wear a mask.
Also, it is great to be able to hug again!!
*Note: As I wrote my responses, I tended to get very serious and possibly self-righteous, so please forgive me. I don’t mean to lecture anybody, but I think we as a society or as a species need to consider more carefully the things we do and take for granted.
Would you rather be a super nice person and be depressed all your life, or be happy and a total *sshole? (Credit goes to Cyranny for this question, aired on one of her “Cyranny’s Quickies” posts.) I would like to rebel as some respondents have, and try to recombine these choices. But, having a loved one who suffers from depression and because I’m reading a book about the subject in order to understand it better (the cover of that book appears below), I do not see “depression” and “being nice” as a dichotomy. Yup, here I go, taking this questions perhaps WAY too seriously! But that’s what happens when I’m involved in something that is really a very complex question. So please forgive me for overthinking this seemingly binary choice!
I definitely would not want to be an a-hole in any condition and I doubt it would make me happy. Although I suppose there are plenty of happy people who are oblivious to the fact that they are cruel jerks – or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t be me, though. I have too strong a moral compass and always feel guilty when I treat someone badly.
That said, it is perfectly logical to be both nice and depressed. For one thing, very few people are depressed “all the time.” Depression comes and goes. When someone is in a deep depression, they often isolate themselves, cut themselves off from friends and family. People close to them see the warning signs and then may try to intervene.
When someone suffering from depression is NOT depressed, however, he or she seems like a completely different person! When they are not depressed, people who suffer from this mental illness are often quite nice people. Why, you may ask? It may seem like a contradiction, but actually it isn’t. Because there is such a contrast between the depressed and normal states, these people tend to appreciate life and other people more when they are feeling ‘normal’. They feel things acutely and tend to be very sensitive. They are often empathetic (that is, when they are not depressed). They know what it is like to suffer greatly, and know that during their normal state, they should enjoy life and accomplish as much as they can, because they also know that the darkness and isolation – the abyss – will return. The best time for them to seek help with their mental illness is when they are feeling good, because during depression, they can hardly get out of bed, much less do something constructive. When they are depressed and thus miss an event they looked forward to attending, they feel really bad about that, and know that most people at the event probably didn’t expect them to attend, but would have been pleasantly surprised if they had showed up. They live with a lot of guilt, but they usually take that out on themselves, not on other people. (It’s true that the suicide rates are much higher among depressives than non-depressives.) They do invariably hurt people, but usually unintentionally, so you can’t say they are fundamentally a-holes.
So if I had to choose, I would rather be nice and depressed. First of all, the depression doesn’t last forever, and nowadays there is plenty of help for depression, in the form of medications and therapy. New drugs are constantly being put on the market that improve on earlier ones, because medical understanding of depression constantly improves. If one medication doesn’t work, there are others, and different combinations, to try.
Believe me, I don’t desire to be depressed! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody! But as you have posed an either/or choice, this is my reasoning for choosing depression and being nice.
Have you ever made someone cry? Of course – even though I’m nice and not an a-hole, I am not perfect! I’m sure I’ve made my son cry, but I can’t remember the last time that was.
Are you a dreamer or a go-getter? I’m a dreamer and unfortunately, not a go-getter. It would be better to act on my dreams, and to some extent I have, but I am not one of those assertive, in-your-face types.
If you were in a band, what instrument would you play? Probably the piano, because it’s the only instrument I have ever learned to play. But instruments don’t have to be external – I consider my voice an instrument, and so I would be the singer. I sing much better than I play the piano anyway.
Do you feel gratitude is necessary? Yes, or rather I feel it SHOULD be necessary. Everyone should feel gratitude about the good things in life, or the people who have touched them. It is necessary for ME, anyway, to feel gratitude. I try to stop and count my blessings or appreciate my life in some way every day.
I greatly appreciate the following song and am grateful that John Lennon gave us his talents until his tragic death in 1980.
I haven’t been on my blog for a few days – I’ve been busy! Which is why I’m late this week for Melanie’s Share Your World. Better late than never, though!
So here are the questions and my responses:
What was the last TV show you binge-watched? If you don’t watch TV (congratulations by the way) what’s the last thing you binged ON? We don’t “binge watch” the way some people do. If we watch more than three shows in a row, it’s probably things we recorded and want to delete from our DVR (to make space for MORE shows!). So I guess I will have to say MSNBC on a weekday! When there is “big news,” we have been known to watch several MSNBC shows in a row. Sometimes we are only half paying attention and then realize we’ve watched every show from Nicole Wallace to Lawrence O’Donnell! (For those unfamiliar with these programs, Nicole Wallace comes on at 3 pm CT and Lawrence O’Donnell ends at 10 pm! We are trying to cut back on this, though – confine ourselves usually just to Rachel Maddow and then watch something else.
That said, our biggest “binge” with recorded programs is either Call the Midwife on PBS or Anne With an E on Netflix. And I have to say, when we finished all of those, we felt lost…what will we get hooked on next??
What’s your most prized possession and why? This is a tough one. But it would have to be something connecting my hobbies with travel, so I will say my photo albums/photo files and my camera. (I know this isn’t all one thing, but they are interconnected.) Some time before digital photography, someone said that the cheapest and most important thing you can bring home with you is your photos. What better way to make memories of an amazing trip?! For as long as I can remember, I have loved making photo albums. I took after my mother in this regard – she always made albums of her trips and of each year, at least after her grandchildren were born. I have done the same thing, but got woefully behind and so some “photo albums” are just pocket pages in a binder with the photos stuck in the pockets.
Some of my albums, however, I am very proud of – pre-digital book of my trip to Cuba in 2001 and 2 volumes of my month-long stay in Costa Rica come to mind. To do these books, I spent countless hours at scrapbooking workshops or carved out a little space for myself at home picking out the best background papers, stickers and other embellishments for each page. I spent hundreds of dollars on books and supplies. (The time and money were worth it!) The best albums I made were with the company Creative Memories – their photo books are high quality and relatively easy to add extra and mix types of pages.
I haven’t done many photo books digitally – only 3 so far, and I’m working on a 4th. I only got started about a year and a half ago with Shutterfly on my trip to Israel. That book came out pretty well, but there were a few mistakes – it was a learning experience, and as a result, my 2-volume trip to Egypt came out much better. I’m now working on France.
Since I generally don’t get around to starting and finishing these books until well after the trip is over, I have to rely on my memory, aided by the photos in my files, to put them together coherently. Besides the photos, I usually go to web sites about places I went to where either I didn’t take notes, couldn’t hear the guide very well, didn’t remember what the guide said, or didn’t even remember exactly what the subject of the photographs was! But that is OK, even advantageous, because a lot is lost whenever you go on a guided tour, and refreshing my mind about a particular site we saw using information from the Internet is a great way to fix it in my mind and immortalize it in the photo book! I learn even more about and appreciate those places than I had before!
And finally, my camera is part of all this. I often snap photos with my cellphone camera, which is light and easy, but I do endure the hassle of carrying around my Sony camera and lenses, because the quality of the photos taken with that are in general much better – plus I can take photos of details close-up that are too far away for a cellphone to capture a good image of. It was especially helpful on safari in Tanzania – which is why I bought a camera with a good telephoto lens initially.
If you had the time and inclination, what would you volunteer for? Habitat for Humanity or projects in poor countries – such as teaching literacy or modern hygiene to people in a village, building a school, or something else they need. I have a friend whose travel itinerary was most often with Earth Watch – she would participate in projects in different countries, as well as take time for sightseeing. I wish I had done that. One of my cousins was in the Peace Corps, another great program where you are really immersed in a culture and people.
Also, I would love to participate in an archaeological dig. In southern Illinois, there is an ancient site called Cahokia, where people belonging to the Mississippi culture built mounds and henges as part of their communities. Cahokia accepts volunteers of all ages. I saw an elderly man there whose task was to sift through dirt for pot shards, etc.
Do you think that humans will ever be able to live together in harmony? Being an optimist and an idealist, I still have that hope. I think it can happen if all the countries of the world join in a effort to solve a global problem that affects us all – dealing with climate change. This is an urgent issue that needs addressing, but its components are so vast and diverse that people in different areas are affected in different ways, all of which could be part of the global project. There is a lot of politics involved on every level and in every country, social and economic disparities and needs, scientific knowledge, business considerations, and understanding why saving a particular species, say, benefits us all. All creatures need to be respected and considered, and included in the plan to solve the overall plight of our planet.
Gratitute section: Share something uplifting with everyone. It can be some writing or an image or photo you like!
Yesterday was Earth Day, so I’d like to share a few inspirational quotes – “food for thought.”
Do you think that there is any chance that the U.S. Congress will ever take decisive, bipartisan action to pass and enact nationwide common sense gun laws to try and stem the tide of mass shootings, or is the best that the American Congress will ever do is to send thoughts and prayers to the families of loved ones killed in mass shooting incidents?
Sadly, my answer is no, but with a caveat. Right now, the U.S. Congress is so gridlocked, using the filibuster as a way to block any legislation put forth by the Democratic president and Congress. With this filibuster, 60 votes are needed for most bills to be passed, because it takes 60 Senators to end debate on a bill. Since the Republicans don’t seem to have ideas to debate about, they just declare that the debate is “open” indefinitely on bills they don’t approve. (Have you seen the Senate floor during debates on bills lately? The chamber is nearly empty.) Since Senate Republicans seem to be in lock-step with their leader, Mitch McConnell, votes on bills are strictly partisan. The House of Representatives does not have a filibuster, so although most votes are made along party lines, legislation moves faster through the House.
What’s more, Senators, with their 6-year terms and an equal number (2) from each state, no matter its population, are beholden to not only their constituents, but their lobbyists. The House also has lobbyists, but terms in the House are only 2 years, so Representatives spend much of their time campaigning when they are not in session. Furthermore, Representatives are a lot closer to their constituents and more likely to listen to them. Representatives are always holding town halls, while Senators are not. So the Senate is the “upper” house of Congress – read “elite.”
The National Rifle Association is a huge lobbyist that has had tremendous influence on Senators. The NRA is so powerful that a low rating from them can cause Congress members to be defeated in the next election. In turn, the NRA is beholden to gun manufacturers. Over the years, the top brass at the NRA has become increasingly intransigent, so that common sense gun legislation, such as background checks or banning military-style weapons, has come to be seen by politicians as “leftist.” Some of the membership of the NRA is swayed by the propaganda, but polls have shown repeatedly that 90% of NRA members are in favor of background checks. This should not be a partisan issue!
Personally, I think the Second Amendment should be thrown out altogether, because its history is closely tied to the institution of slavery, to appease slaveholders of the South who hired slave hunters to track down runaway slaves. Its wording is also unclear and out of date. In the 1700s, conditions in the United States were very different than they are today. There were no automatic rifles; there were no high-capacity magazines; and 18th century-style militias were very different than self-styled militias today. In consequence, this amendment has been interpreted differently throughout U.S.. history, depending on which way political winds were blowing. Strict “constitutionalists” on the Supreme Court (and don’t get me started on that!) tend to have a very narrow interpretation of what the amendment means, as if you can transpose those exact words and they will have “the same” meaning today. They claim the “right to bear arms” applies to anyone aged 18 or older, with no questions asked, no matter what that individual’s criminal record and mental state has been. Somehow the right to own a gun is more sacred than a person’s right to be free from fear of being killed by a maniac with a gun at any number of normal places one frequents – supermarkets, schools, churches, movie theatres, nightclubs, etc.
Automatic, military-style weapons were banned in recent times – during the Clinton administration – but the ban was for 10 years, and when George W. Bush was president, the ban was allowed to lapse. And even during the ban, it was still possible to obtain such weapons at gun shows, as the Columbine shooters did in 1999.
Meanwhile, people die from gun violence every day – killings that rarely are reported, because they are localized, such as the inner city of Chicago where gang members rule and many people own handguns (cheap and easy to conceal). There are groups of parents and other concerned citizens who are trying to put an end to this senseless killing. Kids in their apartments doing homework, killed by a stray bullet that go through a window; high school seniors celebrating their upcoming graduation in a park, one of them gunned down because the shooter thought she was someone else. People are shot for wearing brand-name shoes or jackets, because the person in possession of the gun wants to steal those items. Little children can get hold of their parents’ guns that are not safely stored and accidently shoot their brother or sister. These things happen a lot – way too often.
But somehow, making people wait to purchase a gun for a few days while their background is checked is a violation of their civil rights. Yet people who go to a supermarket to buy groceries or get a Covid vaccine don’t have the right to go about their business safely. The situation is so twisted in this country that people’s right to live is literally trumped by another person’s right to not only own a gun, but to carry it around in plain sight for everyone to see. This is why death by gun violence in the U.S. is hundreds of times higher than in other countries.
However, IF Senate rules can be reformed, so that the filibuster can’t be used if there isn’t active debate about a piece of legislation going on in the chamber, then a simple majority can make a big difference in passing urgent legislation, like gun safety reform or voting rights. The Democrats WON the election! Yet the president and 51 votes in the Senate aren’t enough due to these ridiculous rules.
As for the House of Representatives, although currently having a Democratic majority – barely – the people are not going to be democratically represented as long as there is gerrymandering. This is a problem on the state level too. For example, the Wisconsin Legislature and Senate are dominated by Republicans even though the Democrats got more votes due to the way district maps are drawn! The state’s Supreme Court is filled with right-wing justices who put the kibosh on any Covid restrictions the Democratic governor tries to mandate; and they do the same to any challenges to election irregularities and undemocratic voting regulations.
Unless there are MAJOR CHANGES to our election system, gun safety will remain a distant dream, even though a large majority of the American people approve of common sense regulations. I am not deluded that the 2nd amendment will ever be repealed, but it can be interpreted according to modern society’s needs and technology. But this only if citizens vote no matter what barriers are put in their way and remain engaged in the political process – and that includes being in the streets protesting whenever necessary. Public pressure can work.
Meanwhile, people all over the United States of America lay wreaths at mass shooting scenes and offer their thoughts and fervent prayers.
When it comes to navigation in unfamiliar territory, do you shun technology, relying on traditional maps and written directions, or do you leave the atlas behind letting GPS and Google Maps guide the way?
We always have a road atlas on hand when we go on road trips to get an overall idea of the route, mileage, etc. When I plan trips (I do the planning, Dale does the driving!), I use a road map so I can map out where to go and how to get there. That way, we can wend our way through a state and see a number of things without having to backtrack. I use the Internet as well as guide books to plan where to go.
However, we use the car’s GPS system (in my car; in his car, we use Google maps on his phone) when we are on the road to make sure we don’t get lost.
This is good because Dale and I have had arguments in the past when we used paper maps – I would tell him to turn right but for whatever reason he turned left because he didn’t believe me. I WAS LOOKING AT THE DARN MAP!! And I was a good navigator too. But when walking, I tend to get mixed up using the GPS on my phone and am better off with a small paper map of the area. I’m thinking of the times we tried to find restaurants in Sao Paulo which were close to where we were staying but somehow the GPS disoriented us and we ended up going somewhere else we happened to find when we were lost getting to the place we were looking for. In Tel Aviv, we stood on a street corner with the phone GPS in hand, arguing about which way we were supposed to go to get back to our hotel after exploring a shopping mall.
I don’t have that problem with road maps or most of the time with the GPS in my car. However, we have gotten lost when the GPS didn’t know the way! Once we were going from Highland Park to Highwood, two north suburbs in the Chicago metro area very close to each other, but the GPS led us way out of the way and after driving for about 20 miles, I said, “I don’t think this is right.” My sister had said the restaurant where we were meeting was five minutes from the place we were coming from. It wasn’t a brand new street address, either, so I don’t know what “Jeanie” (which is what we named the GPS voice on my car) was thinking. The only other problem with GPS systems is that we may enter an address, the official address of the place, but we end up on a busy street with a wall next to us, and we know the place we are going is behind that wall, but where is the entrance?? The entrance is not always the same as the address.
Therefore, I recommend having a paper map if possible as well as the GPS. Locally, the GPS usually gets us where we need to go, even if sometimes Dale takes what he thinks is a shorter way (and turns out usually to be wrong). And imagine if something happens to the phone or the car and technology isn’t available? This can happen in remote areas when there is spotty Wifi service, and then the GPS may not work at all.
My favorite GPS system is Waze.
It’s a free app for your phone and works best when there are two people in the car – one to drive and the other to look at Waze. People can input problems they encounter on a road – police in vicinity, car on side of the road, traffic jams, etc. It also identifies red light cameras so you can follow the speed limit when you are near one! I recommend it for anyone who does a lot of city driving. You can earn points and eventually choose your own Waze avatar!
It’s much less nerve-wracking to have a GPS in the car one is driving than depending on a map and nowadays we can usually count on any rental car we get having one. The GPS in our rental in France was great, once we figured out how to use it – it was very counterintuitive and each time we got it right, we couldn’t remember what we did the next time we got into the car! That GPS voice was British and announced everything in meters and kilometers, of course, but I loved her – we dubbed her “Eleanor.”
M is for Monday and also for Melanie, who has a new set of questions for Share Your World!
Is it necessary to trust someone you like? (friends, acquaintances or co-workers with whom you have no familial ties) I don’t know if I could like someone really untrustworthy. On the other hand, there are people who are likeable and friendly, but they can’t keep a secret. Everyone has flaws, and some people just can’t keep their mouths shut! If I had a friend or acquaintance like that, I wouldn’t confide in them about anything important. Especially at and about work – office gossip can cause serious trouble! At work, there were a lot of people that I liked – that is, I had no problem with them and they were fun to talk to in the lunch room or whatever – but not enough to really be friends with, to share confidences with.
Do you hold grudges? What do you do when someone really irritates you?
I don’t like to hold grudges but in fact I do, and it’s so stupid because I will probably never see any of those people again. The two people I have the strongest grudge against stabbed me in the back, and for no good reason. Other people I knew had similar complaints about these particular two individuals – they were not popular, but they were people I depended on for good reviews going forward in my career. I should stop being resentful toward them; after all, most other people didn’t like them anyway! The only other person I have a “grudge” against is a girl in high school who didn’t give me the recognition I thought she should have. This is silly really. No one remembers or cares anymore, but it hurt me that after the work I did for her, she didn’t even acknowledge it.
I don’t like to get really angry or irritated, because I tend to lose my temper and say or do something I later regret. After this happening several times when I was younger, I learned to wait before acting, so that I could calm down. I tend to back off nowadays when an argument gets really heated. Let’s keep the peace!! It’s hard though, when someone I am around a lot irritates me. I try to put that into perspective: I really care about this person, so I shouldn’t blow up at him or her. I wonder how people who live in the same household are getting along during this pandemic, having to be around family members they love, but are not used to spending most of their time with. There are things, though, that I can’t tolerate – rudeness or lack of consideration for others are the things that really get me angry.
What’s the most sensible thing you’ve heard someone say? I hate this kind of question because I have a poor memory and can’t think of that most sensible thing! But I guess it’s what my husband always says, “Don’t let the little things get to you.” (I cleaned this up, using the word ‘things’ instead of the word he actually uses! 😉 )
Cliché, maybe, but it’s good advice.
Is crying a sign of weakness or strength in adults? I don’t think crying is a sign of weakness in anyone. I never have, and have never judged men, for example, for crying. Because they’ve been taught that’s not what manly men do, many men are ashamed to cry. But I think crying shows someone’s sensitivity – whether it be at the end of a movie with a poignant ending, when the person feels regret, or cries tears of happiness, or just feels homesickness. I like sensitive people. I am one, so I understand others who are sensitive.
People used to laugh at John Boehner (former Speaker of the House) because he would cry sometimes. I was no fan of Boehner, but I thought those judgmental people were mean. If you want to criticize someone, find a better reason than that!
GRATITUDE SECTION(Always Optional)
What small things were you grateful for this week? We were told last week that we will be getting our Covid vaccinations in February – first dose on Feb. 5, the second in late February. I am grateful for that!
Do you think a person’s name influences the person they become?
“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” so Shakespeare wrote in his most famous play Romeo and Juliet.
Depends on the name. Some people have really strange names that their parents have tortured them with. When I lived in Brazil, there was a comedy duo that had a contest for the most interesting or bizarre name which viewers were invited to participate in. And my husband told me one of his students was named “Lufthansa” – her mother went into labor on a flight home from Germany!
Even unusual names probably have a minimal effect on a person, except as conversation starters! My son’s name is long and rather unique, and he has told me it’s often an opener for conversation – a good thing, since he doesn’t always do well in starting conversations.
But some names do affect a person because their parents were trying to be cute or funny – but not so funny for the kid! I heard of a man who went by his initials W.B. followed by his surname. No one questioned it until he went into the army, where they insisted he reveal his full name! In embarrassment, he said his initials stood for “Welcome Baby” because his parents had finally had a child after a prolonged period of not being able to produce one! The army, after hearing this story, allowed him to use his initials thereafter! (Note: This may be an “urban legend” but it’s an interesting anecdote of how a name can affect a person’s life.)
Why do we dream? It is our brain’s way of relaxing. Everything gets jumbled…the brain doesn’t have to think to put it together in an organized way. Bits of past experience make their appearance in dreams. Sometimes dreams are really creative – when I took a writing course once, every night I had incredible, fantastic dreams that I remembered. At least one I turned into a short story, somewhat surreal, but that’s what dreams are like. Nowadays I almost always dream either about teaching or traveling or both, and usually I make some major mistake. I think my anxiety about being good at teaching is coming out in my dreams, even though I have been retired for five and a half years!
Does hardship make a person stronger? (example: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger) I think it does to a certain extent. Certainly learning to deal with adversity does make a person more capable of handling various situations or knowing how to act in an emergency. It may make them more confident if they have been successful in enduring the hardships. People who have never suffered adversity or never learned to overcome it go through life, I think, feeling insecure and afraid to accept risks or challenges. They tend to resist change. People who are poor are more likely to be generous with what they do have than rich people, because the poor know how to live in society with very little money. Rich people are constantly worried about losing their money, and would have no idea how to survive without much income.
On the other hand, hardship can cause insecurity, anxiety and conditions such as PTSD, especially if the person has not learned how to deal with such challenges on his or her own. A child who has been abused, for example, must learn to overcome the trauma it caused in order to face the problems life throws at them. Some never really learn to cope. People who have been in war zones come home oftentimes with PTSD and may show a dramatic change in their behavior, including anxiety, paranoia, intolerance of loud noises, etc.
So it depends, perhaps, on what sort of hardship the person endures and probably when that occurs, as well as inherent personality traits a person has to be able to cope with life’s challenges.
Why do we judge ourselves by our intentions, but judge others by their actions? Self-preservation? Lack of empathy? We tend to think our intentions are good, but since we can’t read other people’s minds, we judge them based on what their outward motivations seem to be.
For example, the attack on the Capitol a week ago: on the news media, the people who were incited by Trump to storm the Capitol are called “terrorists” yet they don’t think of themselves as terrorists. At least some of them believed they had good intentions: Trump had convinced them that the election was stolen by the Democrats, that it was rigged. So they saw themselves as a self-styled militia bent on righting a wrong. I know that for many of them who are hard-core white supremacists, the chance to be a militia and wreak havoc through violence was the aim. But there were many others who thought of it as a kind of “revolution” – they were doing what had to be done to get our country back on the right path.
I use the attack on Congress as an example of intentions vs. actions and I am not condoning what they did in any way. From their actions, to outsiders they appeared to be just a brainwashed horde, even ready to hang Pence and kill Pelosi. But they THEMSELVES didn’t see it that way – at least many of them didn’t. They were brainwashed, yes; they were gullible, yes; still, Trump bears the ultimate responsibility for unleashing their worst instincts. They themselves thought they were being the ultimate patriots, that cheating had gone too far and they had to take matters into their own hands. They may have compared themselves to the insurrectionists of the French Revolution, or some other modern-day revolution in which the citizenry felt it necessary to do more than merely protest. There have been many arrests, but there were a lot of people there that didn’t do any damage or even get into the building.. They were, like sheep, following their leaders (both Trump and the leaders of the insurrection) instead of questioning whether it was the right thing to do.
GRATITUDE SECTION(Always Optional)
Feel free to share some gratitude in the form of images, photos or writing. Thanks!
I am grateful that some people still write letters. Isn’t it nice to receive a note or a holiday card from a friend instead of just bills and junk mail? The cousins on my dad’s side of the family started a custom many years ago, called “Round Robin.” They each write a letter with news and opinions about their lives, and mail it, along with the latest ones received from their sisters, to the next person, who then takes out her last letter and writes a new one. When my siblings and I found out about it, we wanted to join too, so we have been engaging in this Round Robin custom along with our cousins. I always look forward to receiving the latest batch – and yesterday I received it!
I haven’t participated in Fandango’s Provocative Question lately, but I’m back! And #104 is a good one for me, because I am a former teacher and education has always been an interest of mine:
Today’s provocative question is about formal education. We all have our opinions on how best to educate and prepare our children to succeed in today’s highly complex world. So this begs the question:
What do you think is the one subject (or thing) that should be taught in school that isn’t?
Oh, there are many answers to this question! Students today don’t learn about half the things they should nowadays, and especially in the U.S. Therefore, I cannot just name one, but three, but grade level may determine the priority given to each.
Life skills: this includes how to maintain a bank account, how to treat others in a civil society, how to live on your own, conservation, the responsibilities you have as an adult, parenting, managing a household or a budget, etc. This encompasses a wide range of topics, which are always changing (for example, in the past I might have said “how to balance a checkbook” but young people don’t use checkbooks anymore). This should be taught in middle school and high school. In middle school it could be more about decision-making, civility, and diversity. The curriculum should be somewhat fluid, because different communities might have particular needs and students have different needs. High school students maybe even should have some input about what is taught.
Historyshould be a required subject every year of high school, and also middle school. One high school year is not enough to learn all of U.S. history, which is always being added to. And standards for teaching history include many things that we weren’t taught when I was in high school, such as Native American history, and minorities’ contributions to our society. (When I was in school, it was mostly about leaders, dates, etc. We had Black History but it was a separate subject and not mandatory.) At least two years should be dedicated to U.S. history, possibly three, and at least one year should be world history.
Starting in elementary school, from kindergarten on, all students should learn a foreign language. This is a very rare thing in American schools and most Americans are not only monolingual but woefully ignorant about the rest of the world. Even high schools don’t always require it. All research shows that the best time to learn another language is before the age of 12. My local school district in Des Plaines used to have Spanish classes as part of the curriculum in elementary school but only once a week and this program was discontinued along with the dual language program when budget cuts had to be made. It should be as important a class as math or English. One of this country’s major shortcomings is ignorance of other peoples and cultures. We are a large country and a world power but so is China and all their students learn foreign languages starting in elementary school. In fact, BECAUSE we are a world power, we should be more knowledgeable about the world . If other nations can teach these things, why can’t we?
One good way to start elementary school students to learn another language is to implement a dual language program. Many school districts have bilingual programs, but that is not quite the same. Each school would select a foreign language that is predominant in their community and hire teachers fluent in both languages. Then the regular curriculum – math, reading, science, social studies, etc. could be taught in both languages from the beginning! Instead of trying to figure out how to find the time to teach foreign language, just integrate the foreign language into the regular curriculum. This would have the benefit of teaching children academic as well as social language. There are some good examples of dual language programs in the U.S. (which in some cases have replaced regular bilingual programs) and Canada has had them for a long time. But it isn’t a priority here, so therefore, unless you live in an enlightened district, it won’t be done. I have taught in a couple of dual language programs and it is definitely the best way to teach children a second language.
You may wonder, how on earth is it possible to add all these extra things to the curriculum? I don’t know about life skills, but these other subjects (language, national history and world history) are part of the regular curriculum in most countries and judging from recent studies, the major industrialized countries are all doing a better job at educating their kids than American schools. I remember learning that in a typical British school, kids may have up to 11 regular subjects each year! (If you are in Britain and reading this, perhaps you can verify if this is still the case.) In the U.S., we have for too long emphasized the teaching of subjects that are part of standardized testing, so social studies and foreign language became less important or even ignored. Learning about other countries – history, geography, politics – and their languages is so important in the world we live in today, and I think we do a great disservice to our students by not giving these subjects the emphasis they deserve.
Oh, and by the way, ALL students should have, as part of their regular school supplies, an iPad, tablet or laptop computer. Yes, all this costs a lot of money, so why not budget more for education and less to build weapons?
Pick three words to describe this past year. (please keep them PG. Thanks). frustrating, appalling, anger-inducing
What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw? The best books I’ve read this year are not new: I don’t normally read Stephen King, but I loved the novel 11/22/63 which I read for a book group. Other than that, I have read a lot of novels written in the 1990s set in ancient Egypt. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and right now I’m kind of obsessed with ancient Egypt. All the books written by Pauline Gedge are excellent. I also read some political books, including Mary Trump’s book about her uncle: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Once I’d read that I could predict how Trump would react to losing reelection – he wouldn’t and doesn’t accept it! But the best political/social non-fiction book I read this year was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I highly recommend it.
One of the best movies I saw was on Netflix, Social Dilemma – it’s fairly new, and I encourage everyone to see it. You’ll never look at Facebook the same way again! I don’t see too many movies, unfortunately. I saw some old ones that either I never saw before or wanted to see again such as Out of Africa (somewhat of a disappointment) and Dr. Zhivago (because I just finished the novel The Secrets We Kept about smuggling the manuscript of the novel by Boris Pasternak out of the Soviet Union). I enjoyed seeing Dr. Zhivago again, although the copy we got from the library had a lot of scratches. A lot of what I watch are news shows and videos we watch on our community broadcasting channels. Also PBS series such as Nova and Masterpiece.
Because there was lots of time for looking inward, what is one big personal lesson you learned this past year? Perseverance – the pandemic has lasted longer than perhaps it should have due to mismanagement and lack of leadership. What galls me is how people just drag it on longer by refusing to wear masks (see answer to the next question). I have persevered by accepting what is. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anyone else; I don’t like not being able to go out with my friends; I especially don’t like not being able to travel – but it’s what we have to do to stay healthy! I’ve read a lot of books and worked on my artwork, and have tried to take a walk every day that has weather I can tolerate.
Another lesson is gratitude: being grateful for the blessings I have, appreciative of people who put their lives on the line to save others, and not taking anything for granted. I see happiness in small things: reading a good book, watching flowers bloom, and baby chicks grow. Nature continues on as usual.
Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds? I would love to say strengthened, and I think on an individual level, that may be true: developing or solidifying relationships, appreciating the different jobs people do that may put their lives in danger during a pandemic, and working together to solve problems. But societally, our country is even more divided. I am somewhat surprised at this. I am surprised that in spite of the federal government’s terrible handling of the pandemic, over 70 million people in this country voted to reelect Trump! Fortunately they did not prevail, but I am appalled at how people have protested the dumbest things, such as wearing masks as an infringement on their freedom. Sorry, but their freedom ends where the next person’s begins so they need to take some responsibility for their behavior and not infect other people when they leave their home! And the denial of science – there are still people who are sick with Covid, go to the hospital and when told the diagnosis, deny it and say it’s a hoax! Why don’t some people believe doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to save others? It’s all become politicized and it didn’t have to be. Trump and his Republican lackeys politicized it, instead of helping to unify the people of this country in combatting it.
It’s really shaken my confidence in the citizenry of this nation as supporting democracy and our values, such as stewardship, responsibility, and compassion. It’s also made me fear we can no longer have a dialogue – there are alternate messages of what is truth. How can one dialogue with a person that doesn’t share the same reality?
What is a New Year’s Wish You’d Like To Share With the World?
May 2021 give us 2020 hindsight and may the new year bring us the light at the end of the tunnel!