Saturday, August 19, 2017

Perhaps it's best to ignore them

Charlottesville was horrible... truly horrible.  And there were more white supremacist rallies planned for this weekend, across the country.  Fortunately, most of them were cancelled.  Sadly, Boston has decided to allow the scheduled rally to go forward.. as well as the counterprotest rally.

People!  These Nazi/KKK/white supremacists events are rallies.  And the likelihood of them drawing people to their cause - people who aren't already on their side, are slim.  That likelihood gets slimmer if no one knows about the rally, and it stays just a rally.

The Charlottesville got a lot of media attention, including social media attention.  I'm sure David Duke was absolutely delighted to see his tweets plastered all over the national news.

Like you, I am outraged ... absolutely outraged ... at what these groups are doing.  I find it absolutely inconceivable that someone could align themselves with these groups.  But I have to acknowledge that --  if the Charlottesville counterprotesters had stayed home... I don't think we'd be seeing Duke's hateful words on our television screens.

No, I'm absolutely NOT blaming this on the counterprotesters... not at all.  But...
I think it's time to change strategies.

Remember when you were a child, and your sibling was annoying you... not with what they were doing, but with what they were saying?  And your mother would say "Just ignore them."  I'm not talking about the pushing and shoving and other potentially harmful action... I'm talking about things like repeating everything you said, or disputing everything you said, or saying things they knew would make you mad.  Free speech sorts of things.

And... if you could force yourself to quit responding...  pretty soon your sibling would get bored and move on.

Yes, it was a childish game... but these white supremacists are acting in a childish manner.

Perhaps... just maybe... if we ignored them... if we didn't show up at their rallies, we didn't counterprotest, we didn't put it on the news... maybe they'd get bored.

I'm not suggesting we turn a blind eye to their actions, I'm not suggesting we turn our backs on them, and I am not suggesting we let them do anything other than talk.

But while they're only talking, and until/unless they do more than talking.. perhaps it's best to ignore them.

Yes, I know it will be difficult.. but we can all take a lesson from Tina Fey and eat cake.
And drink tea.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Thing About Birthday Cakes

I came across something interesting this afternoon, and thought it worth sharing.

Remember how - when you were little, and you had a birthday, somebody would make/buy a birthday cake?  And there would be candles on top of the birthday cake -- one for each year, of course.

And those candles would be lit... and then you'd try to blow all the candles out in one breath.

And you'd succeed, of course .. even if you had to cheat just a little... and everyone would clap.  Then the cake would be cut into pieces, and the pieces would be passed around, and everybody would eat birthday cake.

And then everyone would get deathly ill.

Oh wait --- that's NOT how your birthdays went?  Gee, that's not how my birthdays went, either.

Well, maybe we were just lucky.

I mean, really... think about it.  We no longer cover our noses and mouths with our hands when we sneeze or cough, because it's been determined that it's more sanitary to sneeze/cough into our own elbow, or arm.  So why on earth would we put food in front of someone and say to them.. "Ok, now, I want you to blow on this food, as hard as you can...for several seconds.  And if the candles aren't all blown out, then either you can sneak a little breath and blow some more, or else... I know!!  We'll ALL blow on this food.  And THEN.. we'll all eat it.

Well now you can quit worry about this unhealthy practice, because there's a guy who filed a patent for a "Sanitary birthday cake cover and candle system".  It's a thing that goes over the cake.. and the cover has these indentations for the candles.. so you can put the candles in the indentations without them ever touching the cake, and then you can blow out the candles and remove the cover  and Voila!  you've got a germ-free cake.

Wow.  What a concept.
Yet, try as I might, I can't seem to find a place to purchase a sanitary birthday cake cover and candle system.  And it's not just because this is a new idea.. the patent was filed in 2008.  There have even been six more patent applications by different people for slight variations on the original patent.. the most recent being just six months ago.

And yet somehow, this idea hasn't caught on.

Hmmm.. I detect a note of skepticism in your eye.. a bit of a raised eyebrow at this silly discussion. Don't be quite so quick to dismiss the concern. In 2013, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council declared that children should no longer be allowed to blow out candles on a birthday cake, and suggested that if parents wish to give their child the traditional experience, they should provide a separate cupcake with a candle.

Well...  after some pondering, I've decided that I'm willing to take my chances on birthday cake germs.  For all we know, frosting is some magical antibacterial that no one knows about... because - think about it... Have you ever heard of a bunch of people  - children or adults - getting sick after eating birthday cake?  Of course not.

So I'm going to continue eating birthday cake - whether or not it's had candles, and whether or not those candles have been lit, and then blown out.  And of course with my cake, I'll have some tea.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer is here!

Haven't blogged a lot, lately.  I discovered that too many ideas for my blog posts, and too many of my actual posts, were political.  That's not what I want this blog to be... so I took a break.

BUT!  Summer is here... a time for new beginnings .. a time to start over.

How do I know summer is here?  Well, I suppose I could check with the local group of druids  (except that they died off, years ago)..  or I could take a peek at Stonehenge  (no.. wouldn't have to go to England for that, there are two dozen stonehenges in the US).. or I could check any one of a large number of sources, which would indicate that summer began last week.  But I prefer a more naturalistic approach.

Last week, I came home, pulled into my usual spot alongside the driveway, and shut off the engine. Suddenly, a bunny hopped out from the shrubs and ran in front of my car, and into the woods.  A bunny!  Some years we see bunnies, some years we do not.. but this was the first bunny of the year. I'd post a picture except -- come on, bunnies are fast!  So you'll have to take my word for it... but you know what a bunny looks like.

The very next morning, as I stood at the bathroom sink brushing my teeth, I looked out the window and saw a small deer eating grass.  A deer!  I raced downstairs to get to my phone and a door without a screen.. and snapped some photos... including a picture of the deer eating the lower branches of my cherry tree.  Sigh.  Yes, I had seen the damage to the branches and leaves.. and now I knew the cause for certain.  The deer spent quite some time browsing the backyard greenery.  And I spent quite some time watching the deer.

Watching the deer made me a bit late.. but a block from the house I had to let a wild turkey and about half a dozen turkey chicks cross the road!  I would have taken the time to snap a picture, but I was running late.  As I drove by... I realized that the turkey and chicks were crossing the road -- not just to get to the other side, but to join another wild turkey, with perhaps a dozen chicks!  Truly, there was a yard full of little baby turkey chicks!  Sadly, I did not get a picture.  I realize you might not know what turkey chicks look like.. they're similar to chicken chicks.. but different.  So I've hunted high and low  (well, not really, I just typed a few search terms)  to find the following pic .. which is pretty close to what I saw.. if you double this.

So -- If signs from Mother Nature come in 3s... there you have it.  Three animal sightings in less than 24 hours.
What did I tell you?  Summer is here!

And so am I.  Happy to be back in my blog
Just in case you wondered... I always drink tea, whether I'm blogging or not.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Patriot(s) and apostrophes

I live in Massachusetts... which means that today - the third Monday in April - is Patriot's Day.

Or - wait...  is it Patriots Day, Patriot's Day, or Patriots' Day?

Those of you who know me, know that a misplaced apostrophe is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I was recently on a website where one of the tabs was labeled Birthday's...  and if I could, I would have hacked into their website and removed the offensive and inappropriate apostrophe.  So as this quasi-holiday approached, I found myself wondering what the correct name was.  Yes, I've lived in Massachusetts for many years, but I rarely write the name of the day.. and when you say the day out loud, it doesn't really matter where the apostrophe is.  But now that the question had occurred to me, I really wanted needed to know if there was an apostrophe, and if so, where it belonged.

So of course I took to my friends Google and Wikipedia.  I found some really interesting information, and discovered the cause of my confusion.

As I already knew, Patriots' Day celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord... which were the first battles of the revolutionary war. There's a re-enactment of the battle every year (actually two.. one in Lexington, and one in Concord), and it includes the ride of Paul Revere.  And I also knew that the holiday is technically on April 19th.. but like so many other holidays, it was shifted to a Monday  (another one of my peeves, although a minor one). And of course I know that the Boston Marathon is run on Patriots' Day.  And I knew that the Boston Marathon had been run on that day, for over a hundred years.

But that still left the question of the apostrophe.

Here's the answer ---

Patriot Day is the anniversary of 9/11/2001

Patriots Day is the name of the movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

Patriot's Day is the name of the Maine holiday celebrating the Lexington Concord battles, and is also the name of the holiday in Tennessee.

Patriots' Day is the name of the holiday celebrating the battles, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

The Florida state legislature has recognized Patriots' Day (April 19) as "one of great historical significance" and encourages people to 'commemorate' the day, although it's not an official holiday.

And not to leave out my Canadian friends (even the coffee-drinking ones!), Canada celebrates National Patriots' Day on the Monday preceding May 25.

What does all of this mean?  Well among other things, it means that this is one situation where I'm going to give you a pass, whether you leave off the S, use the S but no apostrophe, or use the apostrophe in one of two different places.

Yes, this is a great day of celebration.... because it's not often that I give people a pass on apostrophes.
And -- like any celebration -- it deserves a good cup of tea.  So I'm off to enjoy my typhoo tea, and I hope you enjoy this day as well.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quit apologizing

There's a lot in the news lately about the 'right' way to say you're sorry, including a recent article in the New York Times.  The reports talk about making the apology without disclaimers or conditions, and keeping in mind that the purpose of the apology is to make the other person feel better.. except that you have to be careful you don't mention that you want them to forgive you....

But there's a problem with these reports.

You see, the reports use apologizing and saying you're sorry, interchangeably.  But apologizing is quite different from saying you're sorry.  Really, it is.  I looked it up. To apologize is to admit failings or fault... it's an admission of wrongdoing.  'I'm sorry'  expresses regret... but it's regret about the situation.. not a personal admission of fault.

And while maybe it's always okay to say "I'm sorry", there are many instances when "I apologize" is wrong.

A few months ago, I found myself saying --

Quit Apologizing.  You're Just Making Me Angry.

Yes, I truly did use those words.  No, I wasn't shouting... but I was being quite firm.  (which is why I've capitalized each word.)

To be honest, even I was surprised to hear myself say "Quit apologizing, you're just making me angry". But that gives you an idea of how angry I was.

Let me give you some background, and I think perhaps you'll understand.

I was on the phone with Bank of America.  (and already, I see many of you nodding your heads in understanding.)  I was following up on a phone call I'd made two days earlier.  The purpose of that earlier phone call had been to find out why Bank of America had not produced the paperwork they were supposed to have sent, two months earlier.  Well, actually, two and a half months earlier, but who's counting.  And that earlier phone call concluded with the promise that the paperwork would be faxed to me right away.

Except that, two days later, it wasn't. So I was on the phone again.

Now, I understand that B of A has some 'image' issues.  And I can see that they might instruct their employees in the customer service department to be ultra-nice and ultra-cheerful and ultra-friendly. And apparently customer service translated all those ultras into a directive to apologize to the customer.  And I understand that customer service person #2 .. and even customer service person #1... was not responsible for B of A's failure to do what they should have done, two months earlier.  And #2 was not responsible for the fact that the remedy that #1 had promised... hadn't happened.  It's even quite possible that #1 was not responsible for the fact that the promised remedy hadn't happened. But it was absolutely clear that neither person #1 nor person #2 was admitting that they'd done anything wrong.

In all fairness to me, I didn't snap at customer service person #1.. and I didn't snap at customer service person #2 the first three times she said I apologize.  But apparently, for this camel, the fourth time is the final straw. As you might imagine, customer service person #2 intially was a little taken aback at my outburst. But habits are habits, so a few moments later, once again she said "I apologize".

Sigh.  So I let that one go.  And the next time she said it, I let that one go, as well.  The phone conversation was nearly over, and it was apparent that I wasn't going to change customer service person #2.  And, for what it's worth, the action that should have occurred more than two months before the phone call, did indeed finally happen.

Apologies are okay.  Saying you're sorry is okay.  But use the one you mean, and mean the one you use.

The recent New York Times article said, "An apology actually affects the bodily funtions of the person receiving it - blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier."


Frankly, I'm better off having a cup of tea.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't take it personally....

Sally Yates has been fired.  It shouldn't have been a surprise to her, and I don't think it was.  She was a short-timer... someone from the Obama administration who was merely a placeholder, while Trump's appointee is confirmed (or not). Even had she kept her mouth shut, and even if Sessions is not confirmed, no person in their right mind would expect her to retain her position once someone new is confirmed. This is nothing new or unusual.  It is common for a new President to clean house. Ms. Yates took the opportunity to go out with some fanfare, rather than quietly step down.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, there's nothing new about an attorney general refusing to support certain action.  The ban on gay marriage is an instance that immediately comes to mind, but it's far from the only example. As an attorney, I'm not required to follow my client's instructions if I feel they are unethical... and that rule goes all the way up to the top.

But there's a problem with how the firing was done. Let's ignore the timing, let's ignore the jokes about 'You're Fired', let's ignore some of the angry and inaccurate comments that people are making about Ms. Yates.

Instead, let's look at the official White House Statement:

Had I been consulted, I would have suggested something like.. "The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has been relieved of her duties.  Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia has been named to serve as acting Attorney General to serve in her place."  That statement would have been accurate, and professional.. and would have given Trump critics very little to criticize.  When Ms. Yates announced her position on the immigration Executive Order, she had to have known that she would be removed; it would be foolish for anyone to expect anything different.

But instead of something clean and professional, we have this childish, tantrum-sounding, name-calling statement.

Betrayed?  Gee, Trump administration... don't you think that's just a teeny tiny bit overreaching?
Weak on borders and illegal immigration?  Yeah, right...  as if that's why you removed her.. and where's your foundation for that statement?  Sounds like slander, to me.
Wrongfully held up confirmation?  For strictly political reasons?  Oh come on, quit being a baby. Where were you for the past 8 years?  Or for that matter, where have you been on numerous occasions when there's been a change in the President, and Congress hasn't been onboard?
And, I'm sorry, Mr. Boente, but somehow your kowtowing statement doesn't make me feel protected.. it looks to me like the main thing being protected is your job.

And then it hit me.  THIS is the problem...Trump, the experienced businessman, is taking all of this PERSONALLY.

I can disagree with my mother  (sorry mom!) and argue with my siblings, and when I'm in court I take a position contrary to that taken by the other side's attorney.. but at the end of the day, I love mom, I love my siblings, and I share pleasantries.. and even lunch.. with opposing counsel when court is over.
We're getting knee-jerk reactions (and tweets, of course) from President Trump.. because we're hurting his feelings.

President Trump --   debate, and discussion and opposing views... this is all a part of how this country is run. We are not your employees. We are allowed to disagree with you. And if you would quit taking things personally... if you would quit reacting because somebody hurt your feelings... who knows -- maybe you could be a decent President.
No, I didn't vote for you. But there have been many elected officials over the years who did not get my vote.  I can move on. And you need to, as well.

And hey.... have a cup of tea.. it might make you feel better.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bottle caps, Wisdom, and Incorrect Facts

I imagine everyone has seen the television commercials for Snapple beverages, proclaiming "made from the best stuff on earth".  I like Snapple, I find their beverages very refreshing. But I have to admit that part of what attracts me to Snapple is their bottle caps.  Yes, they do make a cute little 'pop' when you open them for the first time. And after that, they close very tight. (Yes, I'm sitting at my computer.  Yes, I'm prone to spills.) And frankly, they're easier to open than the eco-conscious thin plastic caps on water bottles.

But what I really like is the "Real Fact" that appears inside each bottle cap. I often save the caps, and on more than one occasion, a Snapple Fact has led to a blog post. Sitting on my desk right now are caps informing me that the planet Saturn would float if placed in water, at one time brandy was used inside thermometers, and penguins have an extra organ above their eyes that converts saltwater to freshwater.
Today, my bottle cap said "Three out of every six Americans....."  And that was as far as I got.

Three out of every six?  Isn't that the same as one-half?  or seven out of fourteen?  

What on earth would make you say three out of every six?  Previously, when I'd written a blog post on an idea that was triggered by a bottle cap, I had never come across anything contrary to what was on the cap.  And while 'three out of every six' isn't wrong, per se, it's not quite right.

So I googled Snapple, and worked my way over to the Wikipedia site.Where I discovered that there's actually a list of Incorrect Facts  (not to be confused with alternative facts... oh wait..maybe they ARE the same.... but that's another post for another day).  The Wiki section labeled Incorrect Facts goes on to say Several of the facts on Snapple caps have been found to be outdated, incorrect or exaggerated.

Hmmm.  Outdated?  Well I don't really have a problem with that... the world is changing so fast, and I certainly don't expect the Snapple people to keep track of which bottles have which factoid so they can do a recall if something changes.  The Wiki post lists twenty-five things that Snapple didn't get quite right. Some of these, you really can't blame Snapple for.  For instance, fact #975 says that the letter J is the only letter missing from the periodic table of elements.  In 2012, the only element with a Q in its name was renamed to something without a Q.  So now, both J and Q are missing.  So outdated, I understand.  

But exaggerated facts cause me a bit of concern, and incorrect facts cause a lot of concern. After all, I've been relying on these bottle caps, I've been assuming that they're correct.  Now, of course, I have never spouted cap facts willy nilly, without doing additional research, but still.....

On the other hand, when I've done additional research, I've never had an issue with any of the facts on the Snapple bottle caps.  And even this time... it wasn't that I was challenging the information on my cap as being wrong... it was that I didn't know why the cap said 'three out of six', when the standard way to express this would have been 'one-half'.

By the way, in case you're curious, the rest of the factoid on the bottle cap was " within fifty miles of where they were born".  So I decided to check this out.. to see if this was one of the accurate, outdated, exaggerated, or incorrect facts. According to a New York Times article dated December 15, 2015,  the majority of Americans live within 18 miles of their mother.  Hmmmm, that's not quite the same as the place they were born... and the article says 18 miles, not 50 miles.. but all in all, I'm going to let this one go.  Except I still don't understand the '3 out of every 6'.

I guess all of this goes to show you that you can't really rely on anything, can you?  It's up to you to check the accuracy, and consider any discrepancies.  And while some 'facts' may be subject to interpretation, others are not.  So if I said that there are so many facts on Snapple caps that you never see the same one twice, that's probably an exaggeration.  And if I said there are only 257 different facts, that's outdated information. But if I said that in January, 2017, there are 4,159 different 'Real Facts' on the Snapple bottle caps, that is absolutely wrong.  It's not an alternate fact, it's an incorrect fact -- which isn't a fact at all.

In case you wondered, the Snapple flavor that I like best, is the diet lemon tea... but you probably already guessed that.  And now, I'll go make a cup of typhoo tea, as all this tea talk has me thirsty.