Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blemished Wishes

On the way back from the restroom at a local business, I noticed a new sign: Best Wishes

This sign never makes sense to me.  Nobody ever offers mediocre wishes, or damaged wishes. I wouldn’t know where to look for used wishes or remaindered wishes, or seconds. 

I expect any business I patronize to want the best for me, if for no other reason than their desire that I come back and buy more stuff from them.

On the other hand I sometimes have bossy wishes or greedy wishes when I think about companies I patronize.

Last weekend I took the Greyhound bus to New York City to see a play.  I had planned to make a day of it.  I booked what I thought was an express bus for 9:15 in the morning. The play didn’t start until 2 PM.  It’s usually a 2 hour bus ride, so that would give me plenty of time for people watching and eating lunch at a restaurant. 

My husband and I arrived half an hour early to make sure we could get seats next to each other. Upon arrival, we learned that our tickets were not for the express bus, but rather for the stop-and-go bus that takes 25 minutes longer.  

When the 9 AM express bus arrived at the station, they let 4 people who had arrived before us board because there were empty seats.

No bus came at 9:15.  

When the 9:30 express bus arrived, they decided that none of us could have the empty seats because we had the wrong kind of tickets.

When the 10 AM stop-and-go bus arrived, they decided that none of us waiting for the 9:15 bus could ride it because there were people who had tickets for the 10 AM bus.

Finally at 10:45 our bus arrived.  It had stopped and picked up passengers earlier and it did not have enough seats for all of us.  Since my husband and I were now at the front of the line, we did get to ride on it.  It actually took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to NYC.  So, our 2 hour ride took over 4 hours to get us to NYC, and I have no idea when or if the passengers left behind arrived.  Perhaps they were allowed on the 11 AM bus, if it had empty seats.

When an airline messes up like this they apologize. They buy seats from passengers on oversold flights.  They give everyone free miles on their account.  At no time did Greyhound apologize.  They acted like we passengers were being unreasonable to want to go to our ticket destinations.  I sent them an email explaining that I wish they’d improve.  They didn’t bother to respond.

I have blemished wishes for them.  I know that’s not going to accomplish anything.  But then best wishes don’t accomplish anything either. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Evolution of a Story

A friend sent me what he said was an old spiritual teaching story. 

The premise fascinated me, but the tale had no plot.  In the beginning, the protag had a problem. This was a worthy problem – definitely worth writing about. The protag went to a spiritual teacher who gave him an answer. The answer caused another problem. Again, the protag went to the teacher, who gave him another answer. End of story.

So, of course, I rewrote the story. In my version, the protag makes mistakes, matures and solves her own problem – in fact, she solves two problems at once.

I felt that thrill of discovery and accomplishment when I wrote it. Jubilantly, I took it to my local writers group.

Of course, they trashed it.  But in a nice way.  They told me where it stuck in their craws.

I rewrote it – now sure that I had something commercial in my hopper.  I sent it to agents. I sent it to the few publishers who look at over-the-transom manuscripts.  Most ignored me.  The ones who responded gave me that “not suitable for our list at this time” letter, which means nothing. I could get that response if I sent a blank piece of paper. 

I’m a professional. I don’t think I’ve lost my talent. In fact, I feel like my story-telling ability has improved over time.  This story is a keeper.

When I do find an editor, I may have to do more rewriting. But the core of the story will remain intact.  I've been a writer long enough to know that the story in my head may need to take a different shape before it effectively communicates with other people's heads.

Off it goes in another envelope to another possible buyer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Zumba - Not

While rowing on the rowing machine, I got into a conversation with another geezer-chick. She likes Zumba.  She assured me that the teacher on Saturday mornings taught modifications and variations on every step.  At least 3 levels of difficulty.  I spoke with the teacher, and he confirmed – this class is safe for people who can’t do deep bends or fast wiggles.

So, I decided to try it.  The first thing I noticed was that my enticer wasn’t there.  The second thing I noticed was that the teacher wasn’t there.  We were having a substitute.  Having been a substitute teacher in public schools, I decided to stay and give her a chance.

She put on the music and started to wiggle. And Jiggle. And Twerk. And practically jet across the room hips gyrating in time to music as fast as a sewing machine. Twerking while balancing on one foot.  She seemed to have an invisible lover on a palate who moved around the room with her. She kept lifting one leg and straddling him.  Yes, she was fully clothed – but with an invisible lover, I guess that doesn’t matter.

She kept this up for an hour.  No modifications. No variations. Just follow her doing her impossible hip waggles. The 20-somethings in the class followed her easily.  We had a room full of invisible lovers on invisible palates ready for them. Lift that leg, point that toe, extend that thigh. Now bring it down. Twerking the whole time.

The best I could do was wiggle and try to move my hips.

The instructor never said a word.  On the way out, a gym employee wanted the class to fill out a satisfaction survey.  The 20-somethings eagerly took the forms or just shouted, “Give her all Excellents.”  I guess the invisible lovers pleased them.

I didn’t take one.  Why bother? I’m never going to Zumba again.

Friday, March 6, 2015

We're up to 50%

My family is not large.  My mother has one sister. I have one sister. My mother’s brother had two girls.

That’s it for the over 50 female population.

My mother’s mother had breast cancer.  She died from it.  That was in the era before self-exams. She caught it too late.

My mother’s sister had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and lived another 30 years.

My mother never had breast cancer. She’s 92.

I had breast cancer, and like my aunt, had a mastectomy.

My sister has not had breast cancer.  But her doctor talked her into getting a BRCA test.  This makes no sense because nobody under 50 in our family has had breast cancer. Nobody has had ovarian cancer. No men have had breast cancer.  We don’t fit the profile – but some lab made a small fortune for that test.  Of course it came back negative.

I just received a phone call from my cousin, my uncle’s daughter.  She just got diagnosed with breast cancer.  DCIS.  She had two lumpectomies.  And her doctor tried to talk her into a BRCA test.
When I got breast cancer, our family looked like we had higher than average, but still random breast cancer.  With the addition of my cousin, our cancer rate is now statistically meaningful.  It looks like half of my grandmother’s post-menopausal female descendants have had breast cancer.  My cousin and I have warned the next generations: If you’re old enough to have them, you’re old enough to check them! Every month.  Without fail.

I have two girls. My sister has two girls. My brother has one girl. My aunt’s son has two girls. My older daughter has two girls. My younger daughter has one girl.

It feels odd to say this, but cancer in my family can be a simple matter of search and destroy; then get on with your life.

Cancer is a big scary word.  But checking breasts every month makes as much sense as looking both ways before crossing the street.  Do it, and survive.  Even if you don’t have cancer in your family.

Yes, I’m on my soap box!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Two Very Different Companies

My husband dropped and broke his cell phone.  He went to Verizon to get another one.  They convinced him to get a different brand than his old phone.  He took it and called me.  The thing echoed my voice back at me.  And it picked up all the background sounds. He told the salesrep.  The salesrep told him that for $35, he could give it back and get the same model as his old one. $35? $35!  My husband asked to talk to the supervisor.  The supervisor repeated – my husband had to pay $35 to return the bad phone.  Again, my husband asked to talk to a supervisor.  The current supervisor told him to call 611.  At 611, the representative said, “They did what?”  Then she said that if my husband will pay the $35 she would refund it.  So, my husband gave back the phone, paid the $35, and we’re waiting for both the refund and the arrival of his new phone.  If it wasn’t so expensive to get out of our contract, he’d have dumped them on the spot. 

Meanwhile Drag N Drop Illustrator crashed my computer during installation last July.  Nothing I did could make it work.  I contacted the company. They refunded my money instantly.   A few days ago, they emailed me.  They have been fixing bugs in the program and they’d like me to try it again.   They did not ask for more money.  I downloaded it and installed it.  This time the software works.  This is how companies should behave.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

At My Father's 95th Birthday Bash

To put it simply, I cannot remember a time when my father and I got along.  He always complained that I “was born a rebel.”

He on the other hand stated, “Anyone can have a family. I have a career.”

He divorced my mother.  

I moved out as soon as I could – when I was 17 and had a minimum wage job and a motorbike.

At his bash, one of his long-time admirers got up and said there were three things my father loved.  “His wife, his chocolate and his cats.”  (This refers to wife #3. The cats are hers. He was anti-pet until he married her.)

He got up to correct this speaker: “That’s not right.  I have one love: Science.”  His current wife just sat there and smiled.

Nevertheless, men who had known my father since before I was born got up and talked about how they had enjoyed his intellect over the years.  At 95, my father is still capable of having concise conversations about the latest scientific developments.

For the most part, I didn’t recognize the man they talked about.  Neither did my brother.  And I think the man who sat at my sister’s table said it best. “I didn’t know he had children.”  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We Have to Make Our Own Diet Guidelines

I used to think doctors knew about the latest medical research and that they could be relied upon for advice about health.

For starts, they give diet advice.

Here’s an article no doctor I know of has read:

It’s a study of vitamin K2 in the diet.  Vitamin K2 is found in meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, and in a fermented tofu product available in Japan.

Everybody eats calcium.  The calcium can form our teeth and bones and make us strong. The calcium can deposit in our arteries and make us weak.

According to this study in the Netherlands, our intake of vitamin K2 helps determine which will happen in our bodies.  If we get adequate K2 in our diets, we’ll have stronger bones and teeth. If we don’t, we are prone to calcification of the arteries.

“The results of this study suggest a protective effect of dietary menaquinone intake against CHD in older men and women. As indicated by the inverse association with all-cause mortality, high intake of menaquinone does not increase the risk for other major diseases, such as cancer.”

It looks like it is safe to ignore any doctor who says to avoid meat, cheese and eggs.  These are the foods that are protective.

The seniors who ate meat, cheese, and eggs in this study did not otherwise have a healthy lifestyle. 

Note: phylloquinone is found in green veggies.  Menaquinone is found in meat, cheese, and eggs.

“In contrast to phylloquinone, intake of menaquinone (mainly MK-4 from eggs and meat, and MK-8 and MK-9 from cheese) (19) is not related to a healthy lifestyle or diet, which makes it unlikely that the observed reduction in coronary risk is due to confounding.” 

In addition, high cholesterol is protective for women – as shown in these studies (which no doctor I’ve met has read):

It looks like we're going to have to educate our doctors so they can help their other customers.

I refuse to call doctors' customers patients.  I have become highly impatient.