Don’t Help Me, Please!

1 03 2017

We get our news and entertainment via media that is enabled to “learn what we like” and bring us a “better” experience . . .

Uh, no.

How the hell can an algorithm know what I like and would find interesting when I can’t define that? 

Until I was in my early thirties, I’d never gotten dirt under my fingernails. One day, someone introduced me to the incredible – and up to that very second unfathomable – magic of gardening.  It has been one of the great joys of my life for thirty years, now, but no algorithm would have brought me to it.

Professional sports were completely off my radar until I watched a baseball game just to impress a guy. Now, I can’t wait for Opening Day! Turns out that I LOVE watching the Washington Nationals even more than that guy (who’s been married to me for almost thirty-two years). Google, you’re smart, but you would not have predicted that for me.

For the first thirty-eight years of my life, I never gave a thought to mental health or learning disability issues . . . and then my two-year-old was diagnosed with mental retardation and autism. Trust me, NO program could have predicted that.

Just this week, I was sure I was about to be bored by an NPR Here and Now interview with Giles Milton, author of the new book Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat.  I’m not a history buff, but I was in the car and this was what was available on my (non-streaming) radio, so I listened.  It was mesmerizing. I’m grateful to have had that non-personally-curated media experience.

We should be very wary of “advances” in technology that aim to read our minds and just tell us more of what we already know.  Look at all the things we could miss out on if we withhold our attention from anything that isn’t already on our minds. Sure, some of what I hear, see, and read is just noise, but there are so many times when I find myself totally enthralled by some story or subject or concept that I’d have never even considered mildly interesting. . . it is well worth occasionally kissing a frog – sometimes, you find a prince.

Prince, enjoying his pond garden.

This is Prince, enjoying his pond garden in my back yard.

 





Would You Like to Play a Game?

22 02 2017

How about Global Thermonuclear War?

If we ever interact with others, there are those times when we all think we’re playing the same game, only to find that nobody’s read the rule book.  In fact, we can discover, after a few bruises and fumbles, that we aren’t even on the same field! 

I like rules. 

Rules are what makes life more predictable, manageable, and allows for productive interactions. 

I like a fair game. 

I will play hard, but I am not a cheater.  If you want to play, let’s play fair.  We shouldn’t be taking each other’s gloves and bats and we shouldn’t be bribing the umps. 

It’s sad when we find ourselves at odds with folks who would, under different circumstances, make fine teammates, but I no longer feel any need to bend the rules just to please someone who is not willing to learn the game properly.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m old enough to know better than to play a game I can’t win.

Tic-Tac-Toe . . . A strange game. The only winning move is not to play . . . how about a nice game of Chess?





German Bitches Get Things Done

15 02 2017

I am one of those women, the ones who get the call when something needs to be done and no one else wants to/will do it. It should go without saying, but to be clear, I am talking about things that require a lot of work and offer no pay – volunteer jobs.

Full disclosure: my maiden name is Krauss (and let me tell you, I get a lot of heckling from my  dear Jewish husband about those two final consonants!)  My Teutonic streak gets me into trouble, but it also gets me out of it, because of that hard-headed need to prevail.

I live my life in dogged pursuit of doing jobs well.  I am ever encouraged by seeing others who are in my camp, so last night, it was a real affirmation to watch the Westminster Kennel Club award Best in Show to Rumor Has It, a stunningly strong and composed – and female – German shepherd dog. 

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German Bitches Get Things Done.





A Little Housekeeping Detail

8 02 2017

Dear Family,

Well, it appears that someone has left out all their toys. Now others of us are upset and in pain because we’ve stepped on a Lego or tripped over Barbie’s Dreamhouse or suffered some other indignity or injury because of their behavior. 

Now, it really does not matter who made this mess; it only matters (because it is to everyone’s advantage) that the mess gets cleaned up. That means, let’s stop pointing fingers at each other, whining about who did what first, complaining that it’s not YOUR stuff on the floor. Let’s just pull together to make our house comfortable again.

While there are times when we might feel – rightfully – that we are doing “more than our fair share,” soon enough, the pendulum will swing back and we’ll be the ones getting the help. For every time I have bussed someone else’s table, turned off a light that I did not turn on first, or gone out to replace the milk I did not drink; there have been a hundred times when someone else has covered for me.  That’s what families do for each other. We pick up the slack for individual members out of respect for the family.

Oh, this is more than just taking turns doing the work. This is NOT a zero-sum game. When we do more for each other – a little more than what we might think is “our fair share” – we create more good for all of us.

More for you and more for me.  See.  Not zero-sum, but win-win.

So, Dear America, my Family, my Beloved,

Let’s all just dig into this mess without regard to who made it and then we’ll be able to see clearly what a beautiful place we call home.  Show some pride of ownership. Show some respect for ourselves. Show some compassion for each other.

Love,

Your American Sister

 





Ineligible Blogger Downfield

1 02 2017

In my house, we love lists, we love sports, and we love being silly, so, here are some things you might not know about this Sunday’s big game:

The Top Ten Alternative Facts about the Super Bowl

10.   Bill Belichick was the brains behind Slytherin.

9.     Record for the longest National Anthem ever:  The Grateful Dead.

8.     In spite of the pronouncements of dozens of  MVPs, not a single one has actually gone to Disney World.

7.     In deference to someone’s sensitivity about size, this year, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be replaced by the Puppy Bowl cheerleaders.

6.     If the Pats win, Art Spander, fake news reporter,  will be declared MVP. Patriots will deny that they had anything to do with him “accidentally” picking up Kyle Shanahan’s playbook-filled backpack.

5.    As of January 20, 2017, Gronk is now both a proper noun and a verb.

4.    Angry because he was not chosen to officiate this year’s game, Ed Hochuli will sneak up on Roger Goodell and knock him out with a folding chair. HOCHULI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3.   First wardrobe malfunction in the game’s history was when Joe Namath got a run in his panty hose.

2.   Tom Brady’s ball boy is responsible for more deflated balls than steroids.

1.    The Patriots did NOT steal the Eagles’ plays and signals. They were just that awesome. They used their superior intellect to know every time the Eagles were going to blitz –  whether the Eagles were going to run or pass – they were just that awe-inspiring. (No, I am NOT over it and no, it doesn’t get better.)

Just to remind you, this IS Super Bowl LI . . . pronounced, we are sure, “LIE.”

BONUS TRIVIA QUESTION:

Name the Super Bowl winning team that had no felons on the roster.

Trick question! Never happened!





Hold the Adrenaline, Please

25 01 2017

I am not a thrill-seeker. I do not like surprises. I enjoy routine, predictable days. I guess that’s why I love and crave facts.

Facts are safe foundations to build on.

Facts do not bend to the whining or threats of opinion.

Facts are reliable.

For those of you who feel a similar affection for solid ground, you might want to make your own little list like this one I made.  It will come in handy when I need to feel the cool calm strength of personal bedrock.

Top Ten Paula Facts for January 2017

10.          I was born in January.

9.            I would like to eat ice cream every day.

8.            I love my mother.

7.            I over-tip.

6.            I own (at least) ten identical black turtlenecks.

5.            I have a drawer in the fridge just for treats for my three pet guinea pigs.

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4.            I am saddened by news stories about people being unkind to each other.

3.            I am lifted by the goodness I see in my friends and family.

2.            I am challenged by my own fears and prejudices.

1.            I am grateful for the chance, every day, to do better.

And those are facts, just the facts, Ma’am.





In Too Deep

18 01 2017

These sure are trying times for us Americans.  It seems that not only have we failed to resolve issues that are centuries old, we’ve created a few new doozies that appear to have no antidote.

Living in today’s world feels pretty heavy. It’s probably our fault (spoken in our minds while looking into the mirror and feeling pretty damn incompetent and impotent). We better get down to business and fix all these things pronto. Sure, because no other generation has even thought about them . . .

or we could just get a grip on our self-loathing self-righteous selves.

Years ago, a very wise counselor said to me, “If you believe that you are responsible for all this bad stuff, you sure have a mighty big opinion of your importance, don’t you? After all, if you can create this much chaos, you must think you have the power to fix it and that’s pretty pompous of you.” I was furious and then I was relieved. He was right.

Seriously, guilt needs to give it a rest. 

Certainly, there are grave concerns, macro and micro, and all of us must do our part to make things better for everyone. Even I am not so firmly attached to my rose-colored glasses to deny that it ain’t all fun and games, here; however, we need not, should not, can not live every moment deep in the weeds of some thorny enormous problem that legions of brilliant minds over millennia have failed to solve.

We don’t always have to leap from the high dive.  There is merit in doing a few lazy laps. There is also great benefit in playing in puddles. Enjoying the shallows does not mean you are shallow. It means you are human.

Don’t be afraid or feel ashamed to let your hair down a little bit.  Intellectual pratfalls are funny – admit it and enjoy it – so are silly puns and fart jokes (good ones, anyway).  Life is serious, but living should be fun.  Have some!

Laughter clears the sooty build-up off our souls. We need to stop floundering around in the dark, so let’s all lighten up!

Photo of my dad, Paul Krauss, from 1964, who worked extremely hard to provide for his family, but who also knew the value of silly.

My dad, Paul Krauss, who worked extremely hard to provide for his family, but who also knew the value of silly.