5 Downsides of Facebook

1 July, 2015
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I’m bothered a little when articles and blog posts feature the “[number] Things About…” title, even though I’ve been guilty of doing it myself a few times (like today). I once read that it caters to the American appetite for short little bytes; people can get their information without investing in actually reading a larger body of text. It suggests that we’re shallow and impatient as a culture. Hmm. Qui savait?

Regardless, here’s my list for today. Sound familiar? I should reiterate that I do love Facebook. Without it, I don’t think I could have reconnected with great people I’d lost track of over the years — some of whom are reading this right now. Still, there are times when I wish there was a “thumbs down” icon. Or, you know, this.

5 Downsides of Facebook

  1. People who constantly complain about Facebook and resent its intrusion into their lives, yet log on and post and comment every single day.
  2. The constant barrage of misquotes. Nono and positively no.
  3. Along the same lines as #2 — sharing just plain wrong information. (Can I Google that for you?)
  4. Honestly, I don’t know how else to say this. I hate the guns-‘n-God, ‘Merica posts. I see so many of them. Like, dozens in a day. Same with the Vaguebooking and the airing of laundry that should have gone in the Maytag. My block list is fruitful and multiplying.
  5. I hate the abuse of supposed anonymity in comments, although some of them are funny. Heh.

Do you have anything to add? Truth is, I’m grateful for all my Facebook friends and acquaintances. I imagine I’ve been on their “if I see one more post about Common Core or testing from her…” list, so I know I’m capable of being annoying. Glad they put up with me (or maybe I’m on their block list and I just don’t know it). I like social media very much, but mostly for the “social” part, she said, in her extroverty extrovertiness. Chat me up! Let’s have a convo!

Sans sucre

29 June, 2015
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At least for the next seven days

At least for the next seven days

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but insulin problems have plagued the Fink women for decades. Hypoglycemia, hyperinsulinism, glucose intolerance and Type II diabetes are familiar terms, and a couple are sad bedfellows. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t affected, truly. To wit:

  • During my growing-up years, Mother always made a huge Sunday dinner after church, replete with standard Midwestern favorites. After consuming mass quantities of mashed potatoes, noodles, biscuits, sugary desserts, and all manner of processed carbohydrates, everyone would repair to the living room couch or to the bedroom to take a nap — except me. Oh, I wanted to, believe me, and sometimes I couldn’t resist drowsing, as all that starch made me very sleepy, but I knew if I did, I’d pay. As soon as I lay down, my heart would begin racing like a Porsche. Once, I took my pulse while lying in my bed, looking at the second hand on my clock, and I was at 170 BPM — at rest. That and the accompanying acid reflux — when I felt that all the food I’d just eaten was backed up into my esophagus — made napping impossible.
  • As many of you know, I’m a chocolate fiend. Milk chocolate, to be precise. Seriously, I think I could live on it. One of my favorite chocolate items is Hershey’s Syrup. I could drink it right out the can. (Ask me how I know this.) Trouble is, it’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup, which turns my digestive system into a nuclear holocaust. We’re talking nausea and distress and bedrest and headaches and weakness and general searing misery. So it’s a “red light” food; I simply cannot ingest it, unless I want to pay that price every single time. Same goes for Hershey chocolate bars; and as they’re among my favorite candy bars, I’ve willingly and knowingly suffered on more than one occasion.
  • Any food that involves heavy cooking oil has the same effect. So let’s see: that takes care of cake, donuts, anything deep-fried…pretty much anything fun.
  • Bananas with the slightest green hue in the peel will keelhaul me for an entire day.
  • I haven’t drunk orange juice or eaten an orange in…I can’t remember how long. Oranges make me sleepy, woozy, sweaty and sick.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Celiac disease, you say? Nope. Been tested. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)? Negative — tested for that as well. I’m thumbs-up for hyperinsulinemia, though, which has its own set of interesting gastrointestinal side effects.

So why am I sharing all this ooky stuff with you today? It’s because for one week, I’m going off sugar (including starches, which are also sugars). I need to clear my head. After that one week, I’ll let you know how things went, and what the plan is after that. Time to stop slapping myself around and do something nice for me. I’ve done it before with good results, so I know it works. Have you ever done a sugar detox? I hate the word “detox,” as it’s been overused, but to me, sugar — at least in some quantity and to some degree — is poison to my system.

Off to the experiment (Mavis is doing it with me, so that helps) — I’ll keep you posted, after the initial withdrawal subsides. :-D

Selective amnesia

27 June, 2015
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Hey, remember that one time, back in 1920…?

Of course we don’t. But it’s all there, plain as day, in writing. Call it selective amnesia, willlfull blindness, cherry-picking “sins.” I don’t value my powers of persuasion so highly as to think that I might change any minds here, but today I shall endeavor to remind some folks of the painfully obvious. As it is not my intent to turn this blog post into a documented research paper (though if only I had the time, I would have loved to), the following statements are fully vetted.

In comparatively recent history, people have used scripture to:

  1. defend slavery. “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God. It is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation. It has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” –Jefferson Davis, president, the Confederate States of America
  2. deny women the right to vote. (The “psychological” reasoning used at the time is so consummately daft, you really should check it out, just for the laughs.)
  3. condemn interracial marriage.

As you know, numbers 1 and 2 resulted in Constitutional amendments, in effect reversing what some hailed as unimpeachable Biblical law. Now think about the people you know (maybe you are included on the list) who have ranted about the blasphemous nature of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality, and ask them this: Would you also subscribe as vehemently to the concepts of disallowing women and blacks to vote, and of owning another person?

Yes, it’s a melodramatic and overused line of reasoning. The truth is that these issues caused a flap in their time, but were soon ingrained in the American system to the degree that eventually, everyone saw them as business as usual — Christians and non-Christians alike. So there; you’re guilty, too, no matter who you are or whom you worship.

Again with the cherry-picking. It’s the Bible, luv. You’re either all in, or you recognize that maybe, just maybe, there are differences in cultural specifics, translation problems over the centuries, and other sinewy details that can actually prevent people from gleaning the spirit of the Word of God because they’re too focused on the letter of it. But back to the three points.

Over the years, I bet I’ve heard a hundred thousand sermons from various pulpits. As a child and young teenager, I was basically told that the Bible is the inerrant, absolute word of God. You either take every letter as gospel, or take none and be damned. If you try to change even one word, or twist its meaning, you will be thrown into the lake of fire. Even as a 13-year-old, I saw the holes in that credo. (Although I won’t go into it this morning, believe me, there are many.)

So if you’re diametrically opposed to homosexuals having the same rights as straight people in marriage as a civil state of being (sorry, Franklin, but God didn’t “create” marriage; He may “define” it for many Christians around the world, but marriage itself predates the Bible), why not, in addition to threatening to move to Canada (haha), threaten also to move to Mauritania, or to Saudi Arabia, where at least your views on women in society are more succinctly aligned? Heck, wanna put a snarky face on this issue? Let the LGBT citizens find out how difficult marriage is, and how easy it is to fail at it, and how in a divorce, there is absolutely no winning, but rather just different levels of losing? At least then, your sniping about them will make you look less like a jackass when it’s revealed that your self-righteous secret closet holds more than a few bones.

OK, I’m snarking now. I apologize. This landmark decision is too big to minimize with sarcastic remarks and tee-heeism. But know this from my shriveled, blackened heart: Those who interpret the love of God to be all-encompassing to those who love and serve Him are no more condemned to hell than those who spend far too much time and energy trying to remove that enormous tree trunk from another’s eye.

It’s the law. Move along, just as people did in 1865 and 1920. You’ll be fine, just as you are when that interracial couple shows up at your Sunday school class’s progressive dinner and you have a great time with them, or when you vote for Carly Fiorina, or slap your knee in total agreement with something Ben Carson said.

Odyssey 2015

24 June, 2015
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We don't yet know what it means to miss it, but we're looking forward to finding out.

We don’t yet know what it means to miss it, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

We didn’t think there’d be one, but huzzah! We decided to finagle some things (translation: postpone a couple of house projects till fall and winter) and jump in after all because life is short, and who knows, when the Thriller and I are 106 and 98, respectively, maybe we won’t be able to travel as easily. So we restarted an engine we shut off back in 2013. Neither of us has ever been to New Orleans, so that will be Odyssey 2015! We’re way more excited than we were then (for reasons unexplained…*shrug*), so we’re up for any suggestions on what to see and do.

The plan is to take a week or 9 days or so, and visit Daddy and Kathy near Tupelo, then swing down to Biloxi for some obligatory casino fun for a couple of days. Then it’s off to Nawlins to see the sights and enjoy the food and music and shopping. And shopping.

We will of course eat a beignet or three at Café du Monde, and see Jackson Square and shop at the former Jax Brewery. We’ll also walk some ghostie places, so the Thriller can see in person what he’s loved on television (I’d also like to see some places where Interview with the Vampire was filmed). While New Orleans/Dixieland jazz is not my favorite, I still want to hear some Preservation Hall-type stuff, as well as hop a club or two to listen to more mainstream jazz/blues.

Harrah’s *should* comp a room, or at least offer the Thriller an insane deal, so we’ll likely just stay there, as opposed to searching for a cool B&B in the French Quarter. We can walk around and see those.

So, any suggestions for fun? My daughter-in-law Helen is a NOLA vet, having gone to Tulane and visited there many times since, so she’ll be a definite go-to person for us, but we’re open to any and all ideas.

Happy Wednesday — we’re off to spend the day with the Js, who are at this moment still vegging with my iPad and tablet. Time to get the show up and running. Ciao (or should I say, au revoir)! :-D

¡Fiesta!

23 June, 2015
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Yes, I’m going to show you pictures of dishes today. I know: exciting! Don’t be salty.

The mirco-mini-odyssey was a blast — a blast of heat, initially, as we discovered upon arriving at the Homer Laughlin China Company that our shopping would be done outside, on a sunny-but-sweltering 85-degree day with absolutely no breeze. We weren’t dressed for the occasion by a long shot. But hey, we got a great 2-hour workout in the process, so thumbs up.

Undoubtedly, the best part was netting around 40 pieces of Fiesta dinnerware — by our calculation, a little over $500 retail — for $95 and change. Success. Of course, these were “seconds,” and each one has what we consider to be extremely minor flaws (a slight color interruption, a small indentation or tiny bump in the surface…all things that make them “art” to me), so the prices were excellent from the get-go. For instance, I found a huge pasta bowl for $11 that retails for $64. Those are the kinds of discounts we dealt with all morning. Sure made it a lot more fun to shop, even for the Thriller, who functioned as QC manager for the expedition.

The fun was tempered by effort, however. If you’re going to do this, arrive prepared to work. As the pictures show, presentation is not the priority here. HLC knows you want this stuff, so they’re going to make you earn those outrageous deals. Fortunately for us, we unknowingly chose the best day for this venture, as their big “Tent Sale” had just concluded the day before, and in an effort to schlep back inside as few pieces as possible, they gave us tent sale prices, plus another 25% off. Score!

Why all this fuss about dishes, you say? I suppose for me it’s mostly about artistic tradition, and the good old American way. Laughlin has provided jobs for professional potters for decades; I respect that. The Laughlin story is interesting, too. With few exceptions, this is a hand-hewn product, made in the USA. West Virginia can be proud. We’re definitely going back another day, preferably right after their next tent sale in October.

OK, the photos. Click on the first one, and you can arrow through the rest. ¡Olé!

Built in 1905, and noisy as all get-out because of the steel grate surface, the Newell Bridge from Ohio into West Virginia cost 75 cents -- a dollar if you're going both ways.

Built in 1905, and noisy as all get-out because of the steel grate surface, the Newell Bridge from East Liverpool, Ohio into West Virginia costs 75 cents to cross, or a buck for a round trip.

The clay-filled Ohio River, viewed from the Laughlin back lot.

The clay-filled Ohio River, viewed from the Laughlin back lot.

This was our shopping space. Two long "aisles" of goodies -- about a million pieces to choose from, all stacked in bins on pallets.

This was our shopping space. Two long “aisles” of goodies — about a million pieces to choose from, all stacked in bins on pallets.

We brought a couple of towels to wipe down the china, as the pieces are pretty dusty. Here's the Thriller, doing a quality check while getting a sunburn.

We brought a couple of towels to wipe down the china, as the pieces are pretty dusty. Here’s the Thriller, doing a quality check while getting a sunburn.

No shopping carts; just milk  crates.

The “presentation” aspect.

Shopping carts? We got your shopping carts right here.

Shopping carts? We got your shopping carts right here.

The factory store is located just opposite of where we shopped outside. We took our stuff into the air-conditioned retreat to pay. Upgrade on the presentation, for sure. Prices are not discounted in the pretty part.

The factory store is located just opposite of where we shopped outside. We took our stuff into the air-conditioned retreat to pay. Upgrade on the presentation, for sure. Prices are not discounted in the pretty part.

Place settings were available in every current color (many shades have been discontinued, making them extremely valuable).

Place settings were available in every current color (many shades have been discontinued, making them extremely valuable — I was tres disappointed there were no “Chocolate” pieces available at the factory).

Beautiful colors, seriously. Interesting note: Fiestaware is vitrified china, which means that, unlike many ceramic dishes, if it chips, the chipped surface will be the color of the pottery, and not white.

Beautiful colors, seriously. Interesting note: Fiestaware is vitrified china, which means that unlike many ceramic dishes, if it chips, the chipped surface will be the color of the pottery, and not white.

This is what we brought home. I'm really happy with all of it, and on many of the pieces, it's near-impossible to tell where the flaws are.

This is what we brought home. I’m really happy with all of it, and on many of the pieces, it’s near-impossible to tell where the flaws are.