Google +1

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unlikable Words

Are there words in the English language that you really dislike?

Maybe its the way the words sound, or maybe it's what they represent. Here are my top 10 words that fall into that category:
  • surveil
  • slather
  • crotch 
  • hack (as is 'life hack', something that makes doing a task easier)
  • panties
  • phlegm
  • mansplain 
  • pus/pustule
  • man cave
  • f***

Some of these words bother me because of what they represent (phlegm, pus), while the very sound of others is annoying (surveil, hack, crotch, slather, panties, f***). 'Mansplain' is just a stupid word. And what about 'man cave'?

Interestingly, the word several Web sites list as the most objectionable is 'moist.' That word, which I seldom use and then only in reference to a cake, doesn't bother me at all. But apparently it does bother many people. 

There is a variety of explanations about why people hate certain words, something known as 'word aversion.'  Apparently certain words actually create negative physiological responses in the body. Certainly some words are disgusting because of the things they represent. That doesn't explain, however, why I despise the word 'panties' or 'slather.'

I guess it doesn't really matter why people have an aversion to certain words. Advertisers, however, might want to reconsider using the word 'moist' to describe their cakes or other baked goods  But what other word could Duncan Hines print on its box of cake mix to convey the moistness of its product? My daughter, whose native language is not English, would sometimes refer to something as being moist rather than damp. The concepts are similar, but we can't refer to a cake as being 'damp.'

Are there certain words in English that make you cringe?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Take a Stand Against Fake Christians

It is time for American Christians to take a stand against the hijacking of their religion by the American president, various members of Congress and the religious extremists who use their religion to attack others.

Americans are quick to criticize moderate Muslims and Muslim leaders for not condemning extremists who have hijacked Islam and turned it into an excuse to murder innocent people of all faiths who don't adhere to their warped views of Islam. Yet only a handful of Christian religious leaders has raised objections to the actions and words of Christian extremists. 

We are in serious trouble when conservative Christians rally behind a president who
  • says he doesn't want to allow more immigrants from "shithole countries" such as Haiti and unnamed African countries.
  • says he wants more immigrants from countries such as Norway. Another leader of a country wanted only people with white, Aryan skin in his country, too. His name was Adolf Hitler.
  • delays aid to the citizens of Puerto Rico (who are American citizens), presumably because they have brown, not white, skin. 
  • verbally assaults the parents of a Muslim American soldier who died fighting for his country
  • made flip comments to the widow of a black American soldier killed in action in an African country
  • claimed that "there are good people on both sides" in the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Charlotte, NC
  • tried to ban transsexual people from serving in the US military, a move that was overturned by a federal judge
  • signs legislation to strip health insurance from millions of Americans
  • works to deport young people who were brought to the US illegally when they were children, and who are attending college or working
Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, told his followers that "all Christians should get behind" Trump. Other evangelical 'leaders' either continued to support of the orange buffoon or, at best, remained silent about the 'shithole' comment.

Jesus Christ walks with the poor, the homeless, the lepers, with prostitutes. Today's so-called Christians are anything but following the teachings of Christ as they support a president and a party that seek to cut funding for the poor and homeless, as they speak against immigrants and attack those who are 'different' than they are.

I was raised in a Christian family, and although I do not attend nor do I belong to any church, I do try to live my life according to Christian principles. I try to treat everyone equally. I have friends in various countries (including several who live in African countries). I have friends who are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, pagan, agnostic and atheist. I don't care what religion, if any, my friends follow. I judge them on, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said "the content of their heart." Are they good people? Do they treat others as they wish to be treated? Do they do what they can to help others? Are they kind to animals?

American Christianity has been hijacked by the fundamentalist, right-ring branch of the religion. This group does not represent mainstream Christianity, and it most definitely does not represent me. I have a good friend who is gay. I was one of the witnesses at his wedding to his longtime partner, and I was one of two people who signed his marriage certificate. Do they not deserve the same treatment, and the same rights, as do heterosexual couples? 

These pseudo-Christians pick and choose which Bible verses they want to follow. Consider the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because it was against her religion. This, despite the fact that she has been married three times and had at least one extramarital affair. But gay marriage is a threat to the sanctity of marriage, right? So much for "do unto others." Many of the letters of the so-called alt right claim to be good Christians as they protest against Jews and blacks and anybody who isn't white.

Consider former Alabama judge Roy Moore, who was reported by several women to have  sexually molested them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Yet his "Christian" base voted for him "because he's a good man" and "he's a good Christian." No, he is not a good man and he is definitely not a good Christian. And anyone who supports this racist, homophobic, misogynistic president is not a good Christian either. Perhaps these people need to refresh their knowledge of the Christian bible and what it means to be a "good Christian."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Starting A New Day ... Quietly

This is the way to start a new day.

I'm sitting at my desk, reading the Sunday paper, drinking a cup of hot tea, and surrounded by my three dogs. Benny is to my left, Bailey is between my desk and a small table, and Layla is on the far side of my reading chair.

The only sound I hear is the soft breathing of my dogs as they sleep peacefully, bellies full and bladders empty. It's still dark outside, although the sky is beginning to lighten. In the distance I see the twinkling lights of Albuquerque on the horizon. The waning, almost-full moon's light is largely blocked by a layer of clouds.

There is absolutely no sound outside. There is no traffic (one of the reasons I bought this house) and no airplanes or helicopters overhead. The neighborhood is asleep early on this Sunday morning. All is quiet. With windows tightly closed against the cold, I can't hear any of the howling coyotes that sometimes frequent my neighborhood. I enjoy listening to their howls as I lie in bed. Sometimes the howling is so loud it sounds as if they are right outside my windows. 

The only thing that would make this morning even better would be warmer weather so I could sit outside while drinking tea and reading the newspaper. But for now, I will treasure the quiet and warmth of this morning.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Just Say No to Surveys

What's with all the customer feedback surveys these days?

Every time I order something online, I receive an e-mail requesting my feedback. I ordered a black ink cartridge for my printer, and received a request for feedback about the cartridge. What is there to say about an ink cartridge? I really liked it? It was the best black ink cartridge ever?

Recently I signed up with DirecTV and since then I have received no fewer than three phone calls, two letters and one e-mail asking me to complete a 15-minute survey. 

I ordered a winter parka to replace one that had worn out. Although I did not provide the requested feedback, I could have commented on the apparent quality of the item, or whether the size is what I expected. This type of survey can be useful to potential buyers, and I do look at online reviews of products I am considering buying. Ink cartridges? I think not. But generally I do not provide feedback or complete customer surveys.

Even cash register receipts often come with a request printed below the amount paid to go online and complete a survey about that day's "shopping experience."

I also got a survey from the electric company that serves the area where I live, asking for feedback about its budget billing program. Really? Why doesn't the company ask what customers think about its 20 percent rate increase for the next two years, on the heels on this year's 9 percent increase? That is something I would gladly comment on.

I even had a car salesman tell me at the end of the transaction that he "had to" get all fives on the survey, and he would get 'dinged' if he didn't. That told me everything I needed to know about the validity of the survey. 

The medical group that employs my doctor even sends out surveys to ask about my experience during my recent appointment. Enough already! If I have a complaint about a service or a product, I will not hesitate to let the organization know. But I'm not going to complete a multi-page survey after every visit.

Whenever I have given negative feedback to a company, if I get any response at all, it's nothing more than a "sorry for the inconvenience" canned response. This makes me wonder whether the companies are simply looking for ringing endorsements to use in their advertising, rather than showing a genuine interest in customer opinions of their products. And of course, there's always the data mining aspect, in which business seek to gather as much information as possible about their customers. I refuse to indicate my age, income or marital status. That's none of the company's business.

My first thought when I get these surveys is "What's in it for me?" Some surveys offer a chance to win a gift card or some other prize, which I have yet to win. I will do surveys from companies with which I travel because it seems from past experience with these companies that my feedback is, in fact, given due consideration. But I'm not going to spend 10 to 15 minutes completing a survey about some product I bought (such as an ink cartridge or other such insignificant item).

Perhaps if my constructive feedback or complaint actually resulted in a thoughtful response, I would be more inclined to respond to survey requests. Until then, I will continue to be part of the growing number of consumers that deletes or tosses the endless parade of surveys and feedback forms.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Focus on the Positive

There is so much negativity and unhappiness in the news these days.

It can be difficult not be become saddened, angered or simply overwhelmed by the never ending stories of political shenanigans, corruption, lies, accounts of people suffering, horrendous weather, and stories of abuse of animals.

So my daughter and I are trying something new this year: Every evening we text each other with some bit of good news, something good or happy or funny that happened to us that day. 

Today is the first day we have done this. She reported that she was happy that she got to sleep late without interruption. I said that I was happy that despite a hard fall on ice in my back yard this morning, I suffered nothing more serious than a bruised elbow and sore muscles. My elbow is now purple, but the fall could have caused so much more damage. And even my camera, which I dropped when I felt, landed on the artificial turf and was not damaged.

I hope this little exercise will encourage us to focus more on the good things that happen in our lives and less on the negative and on things we cannot control. Perhaps it will foster a greater sense of gratitude and help protect us from feelings of negativity and hopelessness. Maybe it will become a positive habit and make navigating through this stressful world just a little bit less stressful.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trying to Stay Sane in 2018

It's a new year, but it's filled with the same crap as last year.

The US president is now engaged in a "mine is bigger than yours" competition with the equally deranged president of North Korea. The stakes? A nuclear war in which there will be  no winners. 

Like so many others, I simply cannot take it any more. It isn't just his lack of compassion or his lack of knowledge. It isn't just his dismissive attitude toward the hurricane-ravaged territory of Puerto Rico (I'm sure those rolls of paper towels he tossed into a crowd were a great help in cleaning up the island). It isn't his continuing insults and name-calling, or his continued authoritarian view of American democracy. It isn't just his unbridled greed or his lining his pockets with millions of taxpayer dollars during his weekly trips to his golf resorts. It isn't just his attacks on wilderness and wildlife. It isn't just his nonstop lies or his demand to always be the biggest or best at everything. According to him, the crowd at his inauguration was the biggest every (it paled in comparison to the crowd at Obama's inaugurations). According to him, his popularity is at an all-time high (in reality, it's at an all-time low). It's all of these things, and more. 

So, to try and maintain my sanity, I am making a few changes in 2018. I now listen to classical music on the radio. There is a smooth jazz station in town, but its incessant, amateur-ish commercials have driven me away. 

I am making a concerted effort to avoid getting angry or upset about little things. I have cut back on watching the news, and I mute the sound whenever the orange buffoon is talking. As always, I exercise every day. I turn my phone and iPad off early in the evening and I avoid using my computer in the evening. I limit my time on Facebook. I spend a lot of time reading on my Kindle and watching informative documentaries on NetFlix. Currently I'm watching the Ken Burns series about the Roosevelts. I look forward to several exciting trips this year, and to enjoying the photographs that will result.

None of these things, of course, will eliminate the very real threat to our country by this deranged, greedy bully. But just maybe they will help me get through the rest of his tenure as bully-in-chief.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Riddance to 2017

in 2017This is the last day of 2017, a  year I will gladly watch disappear into the sunset.

This hasn't been a good year for me. I have had three eye surgeries, which caused me to miss two overseas trips. My 4-year-old air conditioning unit was struck by lightning and destroyed. It will be replaced at a cost of nearly $6,000. Hail damaged my tar and gravel roof, causing a leak in the kitchen pantry. The damage was small and easily repaired under warranty by my roofing company. But the damaged drywall in the ceiling still needs replacing.

On the positive side, I traveled to some new -- and some not so new -- places this year. I spent three wonderful weeks in Kenya at four different camps with three friends from the United Kingdom. I got to meet the 17-year-old Turkana student whose high school education I am sponsoring in Kenya. I encountered Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, whom I had met last year, while at the wonderful elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Iain has been studying, and working tirelessly to protect, Africa's dwindling elephant population for close to 50 years. 

My dogs remained relatively health, and I rediscovered the joy of reading (which I never really lost) thanks to my Kindle, which allows me to have some 120 books at my fingertips even when I travel.

Gun violence remains unabated, with new mass shootings reported on a regular basis. According to, 83 Americans are killed by guns every day. And yet Congress, deeply in the pockets of the NRA, consistently refuses to take any action to curb the slaughter. Congress even forbids the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a study of gun violence. All members of Congress are willing to do is offer their useless 'thoughts and prayers.'

Politically, 2017 has been a disaster for the environment, for wildlife, and for anybody who isn't rich and white. The ongoing shenanigans of the US president continue to be an embarrassment, and the failure of the Congress to address his blatant conflicts of interest and lining of his own pockets by his constant trips to his resorts is outrageous.

I am somewhat encouraged, however, by the rising tide of resistance to this dictator-in-waiting. I am hopeful that 2018 will be a rejection at the polls of any elected official, regardless of party, who continues to put allegiance to party over the good of the country and its citizens. 

Whatever your personal resolutions for 2018, let us each and collectively resolve to work for the betterment of our country, our planet, our wildlife and our people in need.

Happy New Year, everyone.