All I Know

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Category: Freestylin’

Rants

Sometimes I just wonder what’s really going on?

I’ve been hearing a lot about the opioid court cases lately what with the decision in Oklahoma imposing a fine of 500 million-plus dollars against just a couple of the drug companies, as well as speculation that a major manufacturer is considering settling claims amounting in the billions by declaring bankruptcy.

This is going to go on for a long time…court cases, appeals, opinions, and yes, there will be ruined lives at the top of that food chain, but they will never quite mirror the ruined lives at the bottom.

I want to say here and now I have some experience with Oxycontin. I was not mindlessly prescribed the drug, nor was I ever addicted. I was prescribed the drug by a caring doctor back in 2000 before the drug dam broke and flooded the country. I had excruciating pain following surgery. Other medications did not even dull that pain, so my doctor prescribed one pill a day of Oxycontin.

I was skeptical. I doubted that one pill of any drug could possibly help, but desperate for any relief at all, I took AS DIRECTED.

Let me make this clear, taken as directed, under the care of an ethical doctor, opioids are a miracle drug. My pain never returned. After about three weeks as I slowly recovered from all the other effects of the surgery, I voluntarily quit the oxy before I had even taken the entire prescription.

There is great tragedy in the uncontrolled sale and prescribing of this drug, yet I can’t help but think of the people with chronic pain who are now unable to receive a drug that was, for me, an important aid to my recovery.

Five hundred million dollars doesn’t sound like enough money to penalize a company who coldly, knowingly shipped thousands, even millions of pills to tiny communities of only hundreds of residents. As the facts of this case come out, the numbers add up and up: the numbers of pills, the numbers of the addicted, the numbers of dead, the numbers of families affected. The number of dollars assigned to punish the guilty just don’t seem like enough.

Dollars alone will never offset the pain and loss.

Just sayin’…

I regularly read a magazine which is not targeted to me as a demographic. It has excellent, in-depth reporting on some subjects, and it amuses me to see how the “other half” lives.

Well, sometimes it amuses me. Today, it just annoyed me, so I’m sharing.

The magazine had two small “shorts,” one about a guy who collects sneakers (yes, sneakers) and another about a company making dog food from human-grade food, meaning food for dogs that probably appeals to the owners more than to the dogs. Have you seen what a dog will eat?

Actually, the company would be offended by what I just wrote because they market their product as “food for dogs, not dog food.” Whatever that means.

I love dogs. I’ve owned dogs much of my life (though not currently), and they are great companions. Dogs can be comforters, they are not judgemental, they can lift you up when you are having a bad day, they love you no matter what you do or say to them, and they never tell your secrets.

However, I just have to draw the line at spending more per week on a dog’s food than I do on my own. Seriously.

Now, let’s talk about the guy who collects sneakers. He used to collect vintage cars, but for whatever reason, that just wasn’t fun anymore. He spotted an article about an upcoming sale of sneakers at Sotheby’s. They had 100 pairs to be auctioned off, and something about that just woke this guy up, so he contacted Sotheby’s and arranged to purchase 99 pairs prior to that aucton. He snapped up the lot for a mere $850,000.

You can do the math.

He couldn’t buy the 100th pair of sneakers because the owner wanted it to be auctioned off, which was a good call on the owner’s part…final price for that one pair: $437,500.

I’m not even going to apologize for thinking it is obscene to pay those kinds of prices for shoes. It doesn’t matter who designed them, who made them, whose name is on them, or what they look like. You can argue that they are works of art, but seriously people …they’re shoes. I know I sound like a whiney, ordinary upper-lower-class, lower-middle-class person who works for a living, but here’s the thing—I pay my bills and if I’m lucky, have a little left over each month for a nice meal out, a movie, a decent car. I can’t understand the appeal of $400,000 sneakers.

It makes the world just seem a little wobbly on its axis.

I’m just sayin’.

Large Arch

Moore was inspired by Stonehenge and the shoulders of a man, but sometimes the Arch appears to be marching across the plaza.

In the early 1970’s the Henry Moore sculpture Large Arch was installed in front of the Bartholomew Co. Public Library.

At the time, I fancied myself a poet. I sat on the steps of the library one day and just watched the public as they came to see and experience the new addition to the Columbus art scene.

This past Sunday I went down to visit the Arch and sit in the sun and as I did so, I remembered the poem. When I got home, I dug it out and read it and decided it wasn’t too bad…thought I’d share it and some photos I took.

 

the Arch 

Massive at all angles.

Sun warm stronglydown on me and on

the Arch as we(he and I—theArchandi)

watch the People(little ant beings)

comeandhurriedlygo

pausing to lOOK at him

But taking most of them no time to see

because time it takes to see and any

time taken they resent. Somemostly

Sl o wl y t o touch the surprising warm green of him

children t o u c h him—reaching o u t

Sl   o   wl y t o touch the surprising

warm green of him

and those who t o u c h him seehim.

But so many neverdoneversee

By nevertouching neverknow

Just Some Words

Words

Not feeling especially inspired this week, but I feel I owe myself to keep writing, so I gathered together some quotes and thoughts on words.

I love words, their meanings, their twisted logic. If you think about language and just how far we have come from the prehistoric grunts of our ancestors, you should be amazed at the number of words and meanings we have developed to attempt to communicate.

And yet so often we fail. Maybe we forget that words are just words without meaning and context to go with them. I started thinking about this the other day when I was watching a news clip about a project that brought criminal offenders and victims face to face.

Victims of crimes are often full of hate and the need for revenge, while criminals are often remorseless and defiant. Yet in many cases, with the proper preparation, bringing the two together to talk out the issues of why a crime occurred and/or how the crime has affected both parties, a sort of calm acceptance can take place.

It is the combination of words, physical presence and eye contact that equals communication. Let’s try to remember that.

Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the fun side of words. Hope you enjoy the following “facts” about words and language. If you do and let me know, maybe I’ll find some more fun facts!

Fun with Words

It took the editors of the first “Oxford English Dictionary” five years to reach the word “ant.”

Umchina, a Korean term meaning “mom’s friend’s son,” is used to describe a person who’s better at everything than you are.

Editor Bennett Cerf challenged Dr. Seuss to write a book using no more than 50 different words. The result? “Green Eggs and Ham.”

The Scots have a word for that panicky hesitation you get when you can’t remember someone’s name: tartle.

Tsundoku is the act of acquiring books or other reading materials and not reading them.

The term “lawn mullet” means having a neatly manicured front yard and an unmowed mess in the back.

Many years ago, “jay” was slang for “foolish person.” So when a pedestrian ignored street signs, he was a “jaywalker.”

In 1974, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis published a paper titled “The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’.” It contained a total of zero words.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.

Javier Santana writes:

In Spanish, French and Italian, “decisions” are something you “take” like a train that leads you somewhere new, whereas in English you “make” them like little pieces of your own creation. But in German you “meet” them, like friends.

Aren’t languages beautiful?

Yes, they are.

Potpourri

What were you wearing?

I actually posted earlier in the week but felt I owed my readers more, so here goes.

The Question

At this time of the year, the school where I work mounts a display or show called “What She Wore.” It never fails to stop me in my tracks as I walk through our Commons. Pinned to the wall are various outfits, jeans and t-shirts, pretty dresses, shorts with sweatshirts, bathing suits. Beside each outfit is a written account of the outfit in the actual words of the subject who wore that outfit, because, for some strange reason, that’s a question that is always asked of a rape victim: “What were you wearing?”

I will admit, I’ve seen some pretty inappropriate outfits, but I don’t recall any that would indicate a woman (or a man) should be attacked and damaged in the many ways that rape can destroy a victim. Experts tell us that the act of rape is often more about control than about sex. If that’s the case why do we care so much about what a victim was wearing?

It may be that the question is more relevant in the case of what we call date rape, but I have a difficult time imagining that any woman (or man) dresses to invite abuse. And I also believe that most rapists don’t even see their victims as people…only as vulnerable “others” to be overpowered.

Investigation

I’ve been struggling to learn who and why visitors to my website are…well, visiting my site. I write because I want to write, but I have to admit, it means a lot and is encouraging to know that people read because they want to read — what I write.

Recently I installed a new “helper” to help me see more about my visitors. Don’t worry, it doesn’t track you individually, I still don’t know your names or anything about you other than generally where you come from and the pages you view.

Here’s where you come from — China. Apparently, the majority of my visitors are from (in this order): China, the US, and Alaska. Yes, I know Alaska is the US, but it shows up differently on the map I’m shown, so I list it.

I hope I know who my Alaskan visitor is (here’s to you, Nina) and I’m comfortable with the US visitors probably being friends and family, but I’m a little confused about the China visitors.

There’s a little more information in the report I get, and that is that my security software has rebuffed some 900 malicious login attempts and 24 spam comments.

I’m thinking those are all coming from China. I read the news. I just can’t figure out why I’m such a target.

Or if those login attempts and spams are NOT coming from China, the country, how do I have so many fans in China?

It’s a mystery.

And Finally:

Just read a lengthy article on the study of reading comprehension that found students learned better from printed text than electronic.

To quote the article: “Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performances tended to suffer.”

Another observation: “It would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading simply because they prefer it.”

Now, I’m not going to go into all the details here, but I thought it was interesting that while you can read online text faster, you comprehend actual printed material much better. (Thanks to Barbara H. who posted it for me to find.)

If you want to read the entire article, it is on the businessinsider.com website and is written by Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer. You can find it at printed text vs. digital

So, what I want to say here is…if you have trouble understanding what I’m writing, you might want to print this out and read it slowly.

Just sayin’.

 

Just Wondering…

Random thoughts today…

I love to read Wired Magazine, but because I like to read it cover to cover and because I want to really digest some of the articles, I run a little behind on my reading. I currently have about 10 months of Wired Magazine on my “to read” stack.

I just finished an article in the March 2018 issue about Amazon’s attempts to train their Alexa to “chat” with people.

I have so many thoughts on that article and that goal, but first I also need to describe a Facebook video that appeared on my feed immediately after reading that article.

A little quirky habit of mine that allows me to sneak on to Facebook from time to time at work is that I watch most Facebook videos with no sound which can be pretty funny at times. So keep in mind, I watched this video with no narrative.

This video that I watched was a split screen video. On the left side of the screen, someone was demonstrating how to solve the math problem: 35 x 12. She began by breaking the problem down into components such as 30 + 5 x 10 + 2 and went on to illustrate how that worked by drawing boxes and diagrams and arrows and creating at least 5 other problems.

In the meantime, on the right side of the screen (see what they did there…the “right” side?), someone quickly did the math the “old” way then made a pot of coffee.

While Other Side person was still drawing boxes and explaining how to turn this math problem into many problems, Right Side person (probably someone about my age) solved the problem, went to the coffee maker, measured out water and coffee, hit the brew button, waited on the machine, poured a cup and was happily having their morning fix while Other Side person finally wrapped up all the little problems created from the original problems and happily produced the same answer Right Side person had calculated several minutes before the coffee was ready.

I do understand the new way of doing the math that has developed over the years is to help students learn to break down a problem into all its components to be able to explain that problem to a computer thus “train” the computer by programming it to solve the problem in logical steps.

I understand that.

But wait…keep that video in mind and turn with me to my rant about teaching machines to “chat” with us.

Amazon has determined that we want our machines to do more for us than turn on the lights and play music and select books for us. Amazon has decided that we want to be able to carry on a conversation with the machine, just a casual chat like we would have with a friend.

The article talks about dumping all kinds of information into Alexa’s machine mind, giving her(?) access to even more information and training her to access that information randomly to keep a conversation going for at least 20 minutes.
And they are almost there. In the admittedly one-year-old article I read, Amazon held a competition in which three groups won a total of over a million dollars in prizes to reward their ability to create a program that could allow a machine to talk to a human for nearly 20 minutes.

Stay with me for just one more leg of this rant.

Consider this…in a world where Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone has made a dramatic comeback on TV, in a world where a simple math problem can take a page of paper and 10 minutes to solve, in a world where machines can casually chat with us for 20 minutes…in that world, are we training computers to think like people, or are computers teaching us to think like machines?

Just wondering.

Sidebar

No genealogy today. Just rambles, or as I like to say, freestylin’.  Instead of thinking about those long-ago ancestors, this is a week of remembering actual people in my life. Yesterday was Mom’s birthday and last week my favorite aunt’s. They’re both gone now, and I miss them.

We tend to downplay our own lives. Whenever I mention keeping a journal listeners complain that their lives just aren’t worth writing about. I found my teenage diary this week while cleaning out some boxes, and sat down to read what my young self had experienced.

Nothing.

On what must have been about 80% of the days, I wrote: “Nothing happened today.” As I thought back over those years, I remembered the days I didn’t write about.

I didn’t write about learning to drive in the Murphy’s old 1948 Oldsmobile, a tank of a car. With my older cousin directing me and my younger cousins in the back seat we roamed country roads and I learned the rules of the road and yes, several times learned what NOT to do.

I didn’t write about one night when my teenage boyfriend thought it would be cool to drive through the high water on Boatman Road. I was pretty sure it was a bad idea (actually, I was terrified).

We probably hadn’t driven more than 10 feet into the flood when the car stalled. The silence after the car died in which I could hear the water lapping on the door beside me still haunts my dreams. Thankfully, the engine re-started at the turn of the key and Steve wisely and carefully backed out of the water.

I didn’t write about the summer night I stood on a hill and saw a huge field completely covered with what must have been millions of lightning bugs. I still remember thinking to myself, “I will remember this always.”

I did mention that my baby sister was rushed to the hospital, but I didn’t write about how scared and responsible I felt as I oversaw the household and my siblings for nearly a week while Mom was gone with her.

Church family and friends brought food and one night I sat a cherry pie on top of our oil heating stove. It cooked. No one would touch the dark brown mess that resulted, but being the responsible temporary adult, I felt I had to eat it. It’s what Mom would have done.

I didn’t write any of that stuff.

I wrote that Becky liked Kenny and Susan like Sam and I liked Steve, and I wrote that “Nothing happened today.”

But it did. Life happened.

That’s what I should have written.

 

 

Angry

My happy place today, the Bartholomew Co. Library.

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been around for a couple of weeks. I’ve been a little angry, for no reason that really matters or can be explained here, but I thought writing while angry might not be a good thing.

Today, though, I decided that NOT writing while angry was definitely a bad thing.

So here I am.

Have you ever noticed how when you are angry (or depressed or sad or anything but happy and oblivious) how little things just make it worse? Today I want to write about some of the little things.

Like cereal…I like breakfast food with fruit and/or other additives such as nuts and granola clusters. The cereal I poured out today was advertised as containing cranberries and almonds. I believe cranberries make everything better…I eat them in salads and for snacks. They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Anyway, buying this cereal was a no-brainer. So, this morning I pour out my breakfast, and I find a total of two cranberries in my bowl.

Yep, made me a little angry.

And drivers. They make me angry. Why would a pickup truck pulling a rather long trailer pull out in front of me this morning when there was NO ONE behind me?

That made me angrier than if he had just pulled out because there was a decent space for him in a line of traffic.

Politicians almost always make me angry. Just hearing the names of some politicians or seeing their faces can make me angry. You can put any names here you want because I’m not saying who…just that some of them make me very angry.

People who hurt kids or animals or anyone or thing that is weaker make me very angry. Very angry.

Getting old makes me angry. This is supposed to be the prime of our lives because we’re smarter, not exactly richer, but more together financially, calmer, more respected. For the most part, I’m in a good place with my age, yet sometimes it’s hard to forget that being older means we may not get to enjoy all this “better” we worked for all our lives. That makes me angry.

This anger I’m feeling now isn’t about any of those things that I’ve talked about though. I can’t even tell you what it’s about, where it came from or why no one really noticed. Like a headache, I can’t point to the spot that’s causing the pain, it’s just there. Not all the time, but there.

And I realize talking about anger isn’t the way to cure it, so here are some of the things that make me happy:

Today I went to a little Amish (or Mennonite) deli in my old neighborhood and loaded up on meats and cheeses and home baked bread for a visit to my brother. That stuff may not be healthy for us, but it made me happy, and I think my brother will like it, too!

Tonight the Northern Lights may be visible as far south as central Indiana and I plan to go out and look for them which will remind me of the time my mom woke all of us kids up (on a school night, no less) so we could view the rare sight of Northern Lights in the southern Indiana sky. That memory alone makes me happy, but if I see the Lights…that will be icing on the cake.

And I’m writing this as I sit in my local library. It’s a neat building, the people who work here greet me by name and I’m surrounded by books and people who love books. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies where I can park myself with my laptop and just write. That makes me happy.

And one more thing that makes me happy, on the way home from the market I passed a farm where they have alpacas. I love alpacas, they always make me smile. They have such cute faces and every one is unique. Yes, I know they spit, but when you’re that cute, and people just annoy you…well, you know…I can relate!

Freestylin’

Declaration of Independence

I haven’t written for a while, and I have no excuse. Life happens. Since I don’t have anything prepared for this post, I’ll probably ramble…or, as I call it: freestyle.

The weather report for the next few days contains more cold and snow, but it’s March, so there is that. At this point, any nasty weather only sticks around for a couple of days. We even had sunshine a couple of days. I know it’s a sort of joke, but sitting in a restaurant a couple of days ago, the sun streaming in the window was reflecting off a laminated menu, and I heard a lady actually ask, “Where’s that bright light coming from?” I’m pretty sure she was serious!

This has also been one of the windiest winters that I can remember. The wind is something you can’t see, but it can wear you down mentally and emotionally…the roar of it surrounding your home as it tries to get in through windows and doors; the sound of twigs falling from trees all around, the quick gusts that try to slam every door you open and rip your coat, your scarf or hat from your body. The wind wears you down because you are always walking against it or being blown forward by it. And now it’s nearly March, traditionally the windiest month of the year. Oh, joy.

One of the things I have been doing this winter is reading a lot of history to help me understand what my ancestors were going through in the early days of our country. I’m currently going back and forth between two books, one about a major earthquake and one about the land speculators who were more or less responsible for the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.

I will not talk politics here. I don’t discuss politics with anyone because it is one of the least productive and most troublesome subjects that can ever come up between two or more people. I can’t convince anyone to think as I do and while I am always willing to listen to reason and “adjust” my opinions, I won’t do that based on one heated conversation, so what’s the point?

But I do have to say that my generation or the one before us or the one before that did not invent greed, deceit, prejudice or shifty, cunning trickery. I’m not saying any earlier politicians or other bad actors were worse than those I see operating now, but they were certainly as diligent and dedicated to the pursuit of profit and power as anyone you can name in the news today.

I’ve been very interested in the “why” of my ancestors moving westward. Not only that, but I’m interested in why they stopped where they did…and stayed. Once they arrived in Indiana in 1809 or so, for the most part, they never left. Of course, over the next couple of hundred years, some branched out into other directions. I have distant relatives to the south and west and even, probably, back east and north, but in the main, those who moved here stayed here.

That question is how I came to be reading a book called Forced Founders, subtitled Indians Debtors, Slaves & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia by Woody Holton.

I’ll probably go into more detail later, but primarily, what we think of as the great American fight for our freedom, was as much about land ownership and profits as it was about the higher ideals of liberty and justice for all.

I’m not saying this is bad. One of the arguments of the Declaration of Independence was that we moved here and at great cost increased the value of this land…but that Great Britain was profiting more from that sacrifice than the people of America were.

All this research led me to search out and read the actual Declaration of Independence (it’s on the internet) with particular attention to why those early citizens of this new country thought they should separate from Great Britain and why they felt so strongly that they were prepared to die to accomplish it. I have to say, the list of grievances made against the overbearing King of Great Britain are striking in their relevance to current events.

I encourage you to look it up. It’s a fascinating read and that’s all I have to say about that!

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