Monday, March 31, 2014

Are You OK??

Recently, I came across a poster from the Red Cross with a publication date of 1978.  Nope, this notice wasn't caught in the back of a drawer, and it hadn't slipped behind a bookcase...  the notice was posted on the wall right alongside a poster with the current federal regulations on employees' rights to unionize.  Being a curious sort, I started reading the poster -- the poster was entitled "When Breathing Stops" and it began with what to do in the event you come across someone who appeared to be unconscious.

According to this poster, upon seeing a person who is apparently unconscious, the first step is to tap them on the shoulder and shout 'ARE YOU OK?'

I know this is a very serious topic, but as I read this instruction and envisioned this scenario, I burst out laughing. Fortunately I was not drinking tea at the time, as I would most certainly have spit it out.  I mean - really?  You tap them on the shoulder and shout 'ARE YOU OK?'  (sorry to shout, but - you know...)

I began by sharing this with co-workers, most of whom found it as amusing as I did, and we chuckled at the age of the poster .. until we got to the last co-worker.  Turns out he's trained in CPR, and that this is still what you are supposed to do.  You tap the person on the shoulder to get their attention... and you determine what their situation is by asking if they're ok, to see if they respond and how they respond.


Well it's still funny, but at least now it does make a bit of sense.
And then I started thinking about it a bit more.

And you know what?  Not only does it make sense, but it makes a lot of sense, and not just if you suspect someone might be in need of CPR.

Someone seems sad, or distracted, or even asleep at their desk?  You could ignore them.... you could jump in and assume you know how to 'fix' them.  But you could also tap them on the shoulder and ask them if they're ok.  How about someone you haven't heard from in a long time?  You could mutter something about them finding you if they want to talk.. or you could tap them on the shoulder and ask if they're ok.

Hmmm.  That advice might be 35 years old, but I think it has withstood the test of time. If anything, it's more valid than it ever was.  I don't think the shouting is usually necessary, but I think it would be a good thing if there was a bit more shoulder-tapping, and a bit more asking the question Are you Ok.

I was going to take that poster down, but I think I'll leave it.

Don't mind me... I'm just sitting here sipping my tea.  And yes, I'm ok.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The power of photographs

Although I have a Facebook account, I don't spend a lot of time there... and while I comment on other people's posts,  I post almost nothing of my own.   I  have a small number of 'friends'... mostly family, with a few close friends thrown in.  I have the account largely because it's the easiest way for me to access photos posted by family.  I haven't even bothered with a personal profile picture of my own. I find the anonymous blue silhouette somewhat amusing, and it never has a bad hair day! But I've come to realize that that this is an inconsiderate attitude. My most recent 'friends' are family members  I've recently re-connected with, including several cousins who I have not  seen in decades.. yes, truly decades. Through their postings and their profile picture changes, I'm 'meeting' their children and their spouses - who I've never seen, and I'm reliving memories when they post old photos. 

And I've realized that I have forgotten the power of photographs.  

Inexcusable, really.  

You see, while the media reports on teens who take and post photos that are less than flattering and warns that this will affect their job prospects in the future, and Ellen DeGeneres and President Obama contribute to the culture of the selfie... my family has always understood the power of photographs.

Long before Facebook, and long before selfies, as my siblings and I finished high school and moved away, my family adopted the policy of "It doesn't exist until you send a photo." And this was in the days when you used film and had it developed, and actually had to mail it! So...someone bought a car and called to announce the news....  "That's nice, and congratulations.... But it doesn't exist until you send a photo."   A new apartment, a house, a cat...  even a child, all required corroboration by a photograph.  Yes, it  became a family joke, but it was a constant reminder of the importance of pictures.  Those pictures helped us remain connected, notwithstanding the many miles that separated us.  My sister twisted this notion a little bit, and took it to an extreme when she had her kids.   She lived in another country and face-to-face visits were infrequent.  But from the time her kids were quite young, she kept current pictures of the rest of the family close at hand... And when she would speak of a family member, or if a family member was on the phone, she would display the appropriate picture to her children. The outcome of this was that when we did see her kids, no matter how long it had been since the last visit, no matter how young they were ...  they recognized us!  And how nice it must have been for them when put in a strange situation surrounded by lots of people, to see faces that were familiar.

I think it's fair to say that young people are generally ignoring the warnings of the media that you need to think twice, or even thrice, about the record you're creating when you take a picture and put it online. Perhaps the media is taking the wrong approach; perhaps they should be emphasizing how precious and longlasting the memories can be that are being created.  

I'm certainly not going to change the behavior and attitudes of those who post pictures today that they will regret tomorrow... but I can certainly change my behavior and attitude and remember the power of photographs.  I can't promise there won't be any bad hair days...  but I can certainly promise to share my photographs.   No, not with the world... there's still something to be said for privacy.  But I will be sharing my photos -- and the old memories they carry, as well as the new memories they create, with family and friends.

And now, for some tea, as I consider  which photos to share first.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The meaning of Stop

I came across an interesting little story the other day.  A story of a man who didn't understand the meaning of Stop.  And I'm pretty sure this isn't what you're thinking.  This was not a case of a date gone bad... and it wasn't a case of an overeater, or an overdrinker, or an over-- anything.  This was a case of a man who didn't know when to Stop.

Raymond Garcia.... hmmm.. I can't seem to find any information on what he does, but he lives in Roswell, New Mexico.  Yes, I know, that's bringing a bit of a smirk to your face, but this isn't a story about aliens (either the earthly, or non-earthly type)... and I don't think it's a story about a government cover-up  (although how would I know?).  It's a story about a man and a stop sign.

Yep, that's right, an ordinary, red octagonal sign on a post, with the word "Stop" in white letters.

As near as I can tell, the Stop sign was just standing there, at the corner of Main and West Deming, minding its own business.  At least -- that's the sign's story.  But in all fairness, it was a little before 2:30 in the morning, so there wasn't any traffic, and there weren't any witnesses.  For all I know, the sign did something truly outrageous or offensive, and Mr. Garcia decided that enough was enough. Perhaps he would have been ok with Yield, or even Caution, but Stop was just more than Ray could take.  In any event, Raymond Garcia started beating up on the sign.  There are rumors that the sign was badly dented, and had scratches in its paint.

The reports don't indicate whether or not the sign fought back, but when police showed up and tried to separate the two, Raymond Garcia starting fighting with the police.. and ultimately he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault against a police office, and resisting arrest.  But I find it highly suspicious that he was not charged with failure to stop.  Which makes me wonder if  - perhaps the sign was partly to blame?  At any rate, I hope Mr. Garcia has learned his lesson... and that now when he sees a Stop sign, he stops.

Yes, this is a silly post, but I found the news article amusing, and wanted to share it with you. Today is March 14, also known as 3/14 or 3.14, also known as Pi day, or pie day.  Seemed like a good day for a silly post.
And of course pie goes well with tea, and I hear the kettle boiling, so I'm off to make another cup of tea.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another ketchup controversy

I like ketchup.  I don't use a lot ... and I'm certainly not one of those that leaves a big glob of it on my plate... but I do like ketchup.  Ah, wait.  Let me amend that.  I should say that I like tomato ketchup.

What's that, you say?  What other kinds of ketchup are there?  Well.. let me tell you, there are more kinds of ketchup out there than you can shake a stick at....  although I'm not sure why you'd want to shake a stick at ketchup.

Ketchup  (even if you spell it catsup) just means 'table sauce'.  There are a number of different stories as to when ketchup first appeared, and what the earliest ketchup was made of, but it's quite clear that the table sauce was around by the early 1800's.  Not only that, but the tomato variety didn't come into being into around 1900.  So what types of ketchup existed in that first 100 years?  Well let's see... the traditional varieties were mushroom, oyster, and walnut... and even today, mushroom ketchup is quite popular in Great Britain.  I've never tasted it, but my understanding is that it tastes like a cross between worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, with an underlying hint of mushroom.   Hmm, might be good on a roast beef sandwich I suppose, but not so good on fries. Oh yeah.. and don't forget banana ketchup.... although maybe you should forget banana ketchup.  And early varieties of ketchup included ingredients such as anchovies, and beer.

Believe it or not, this simple condiment has been the subject of a number of controversies.  My guess is that most of you recall the controversy in the early '80s, when schools were trying to count ketchup as a vegetable in the makeup of school lunches.  Interestingly enough, the proposed  -- and strongly opposed -- regulation never said that ketchup was a vegetable, it said that pickle relish could count as a vegetable.  But for some reason, opponents of the regulation thought it was more effective to refer to ketchup, rather than pickle relish.  And perhaps they were right, because the proposed regulation was withdrawn before it ever went into effect.

But long before the school vegetable issue, there was a controversy over the use of a specific preservative in ketchup.  Something called sodium benzoate was banned, and could no longer be used. In response, ketchup makers started using vinegar, and then of course they had to add sugar, and then they added other stuff... but at least you can rest easy that your ketchup doesn't have any sodium benzoate.  This changed the flavor, of course, but since all of that happened in the early 1900's, I'm pretty sure no one today remembers the taste of the original tomato ketchup.  

And then there was the introduction of EZ Squirt... which was colored ketchup.  The blue and pink and purple ketchups were merely regular ketchup with food coloring added... so it didn't change the flavor, but I guess it was supposed to make the ketchup more popular.  I don't know whose idea this was, but it was a bad one, and after a few years, the colored ketchup disappeared.

Today, ketchup -- or more specifically Heinz -- is in the news with yet another controversy. Notwithstanding the fact that a lot of ketchup - including Heinz ketchup - comes in oblong plastic containers, as well as containers that sit upside down so that the ketchup pours easily, Heinz is suing another ketchup company because they've put their ketchup in a clear glass bottle.  According to Heinz, this could lead to confusion, because people associate the clear glass bottle of ketchup with the Heinz trademark.

Really, Heinz?  Especially in this day of nutrition and health awareness, people are reading labels more carefully then ever.  Even those who aren't reading the nutritional information are still typically able to read the brand name on the front of the label.  Just what are you putting in your ketchup that has you thinking I'm going to confuse "Heinz Tomato Ketchup" with "Melinda's Habanero Ketchup"?  The whole foolish notion almost makes me want to give up tomato ketchup and shift to banana ketchup.


Instead, I'll have a cup of tea, and hope that the ketchup people come to their senses.