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.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dressing for a Birthday Party

My family can’t do anything without disagreeing.
It’s true. When you have two Jews in the room, you have at least three opinions.
The latest concerns how to dress for my father’s 95th birthday party.

We are a family of individualists, of all persuasions.  Any topic can raise debate.  The first suggestion was ties.  So, of course a family member asked – “should both genders wear them?” And then one man said he doesn’t own any. And then someone else suggested tying them in the middle instead of around the neck, so they’d be more comfortable.  And someone suggested Hawaiian shirts instead, if the point is to be comfortable.

At the moment, we seem to have a decree from my father that dress style will be “slightly dressier than normal.”

Since my father is celebrating his birthday on one of his unbirthdays, it is a two-day event. The 1st day, the normal dress day) is Feb 14. The debate began about how to dress for that.  This one had far fewer suggestions.  It will be a red version of Saint Patty’s day in school.  Everybody should wear something red.  I hope people who forget don’t get pinched.

I always wore a ring with a peridot stone (that’s a green stone, for those of you who aren’t rock hounds.)  That way if somebody pinched me, I got pinch-backs.  I didn’t want pinch-backs – I didn’t want to get pinched and I didn’t want to wear green. This was a compromise.

So, for Valentine’s day, I’ll wear my Wonder Woman shirt.  I don’t think anybody will want to disagree with that. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Really Matters

What am I going to do today?
I could list the necessary stuff, fixing people’s computers, the trivia: laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, checking my email, checking out a few links, and the important stuff: yoga, meditation, drawing, writing, talking with my husband.

Yesterday, I watched the videos on
The folks at Emotional Mojo made a video about end-of-life thoughts, and then they had people get into a casket and watch it.  This page has the video they watched, and a video showing the reactions of their test audience, both inside the casket and out.

What surprised me was how my thoughts of what I consider a good day to be have changed throughout my life.

When I was nine, a good day involved learning something new, playing with my hula hoop, and reading a good book.

In my 20's a good day included political organizing, trying to change the world, side-by-side with my husband, and taking care of my children.

In my 30's and 40's, a good day involved getting my work done, and enjoying my family.

In my 50's and 60's a good day involved learning something new, getting my work done, and enjoying my husband.

I used to fantasize what it would be like to be a grandparent. I imagined a close family, with my children as friends and my grand children helping me explore the changing world.

But when I watched these videos, I thought about the fact that my children don’t live near me, and they don’t much like me anyway. My grandchildren see me as an occasional visitor who cooks with them, or watches them at sports.  Frankly, these days feel like they are lacking something, compared to my fantasies.

The video got me thinking about what really matters to me.  What really matters are my husband, my friends and my stories.  I want to see the world – both in person and online.  If my children and grandchildren don’t share my interests, family is bigger than genetics.  

In my teens and 20's when I was rebelling against my parents, I used to think about my two families: my family of birth and my family of choice.  I didn’t get along well with my family of birth.  And today, with the next two generations in place, that is still true.  But I have always found and enjoyed family of choice. As I have aged, my mother and brother have joined my family of choice. 

There are no limits to my family of choice.  We just have to share common interests, and affections.  I put myself into situations where I can find these people, both in town and on the web.

A woman in my yoga class saw my name on my mat, and asked me, “I know this is an odd question, but do you write children’s stories?”  Surprised, I said, “Yes.”  She said, “You are one of my son’s favorite writers.”   Wow!  My family of choice is finding me.

And that is what I can look forward to, as I continue to age.    

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Making a Difference

When I was in my 20's young men in my community were killed in Vietnam.

Last month, a young man in my community was killed on his own doorstep, by someone who wanted his wallet.

I don’t see any difference among these situations. Whether I knew the deceased, or not. Whether the war was declared by a government, or not. People imagined they were solving their problems with guns.  Somebody insulted their country, their religion, their tax structure, or just had the money they needed to buy drugs.

The impacts of war and crime are the same.

Families and communities receive word that the people they love are dead.

We need to be there to help each other.

And, yes, I have an arbitrary definition of help.  In many cases, we are helpless. And often the best we can do is admit we are helpless and then keep on doing what we can.

Which is the segue into the other half of this topic.  

I started thinking about how I would feel if I thought I were soon to be dead. How would I want to spend my last few minutes, or seconds? What would I want to say to my assailant, if I had the chance to talk?

At that point, is there any sense or value in being afraid or angry?

Is that how I want to spend any of my life? Let alone my last moments?

The anger and fear response is so easy – so ingrained. 

When I look at my life now and I see that anger and fear have been my responses to many minor events. To dinner table arguments, to silly web discussions, even to news stories about people I’ve never met. 

I remember as a teen being proud of myself for standing up for what was right, for being angry.  But all that anger accomplished nothing.

Thus, my next question becomes: how can I behave and think kindly in general?

And my first thought was if my children read this, they’ll be angry with me for all the times I didn’t live up to this ideal in the past. And my gut reaction to this thought is fear of what they will say.

I have to start somewhere.