Posted in Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Observations, Political and Social Issues

Today I Wondered

Why has she started waking me twice before even leaving the room?

Doesn’t he know if I *want* to wave at him, I *will* wave at him, and he doesn’t have to go to those lengths to make sure I see him waving?

Are Bramley apples always this strong a green? Are sugarsnap peas the same as mangetout? This packet says it has both, so I guess not.

Why do people not look round occasionally to make sure they’re not in the way? Somebody gets in your way at least once per aisle, and it’s always those two.

I can’t get used to these crazy lightbulbs… what should I use instead of the old 60 watt bayonet? Don’t they have anything other than halogen? Oh, LED… but what’s this LED filament thing?

Where did the rest of the lightbulb go? And what’s this wire…..??? Wait, I better not touch it till I get this lamp unplugged. These awful things are supposed to be safer than the old ones?? No, I don’t think they made that claim; just that they’re better for the planet.

Is that really all it cost him to buy us food? Seemed like it was more, but maybe not.

It’s funny how this 5-way power strip suddenly started working after he took over the house for the day. I didn’t tell him it was apparently dead.

Why do online newspapers want us to subscribe for free articles? It’s not a request any more; it’s a demand.

Do all WordPress bloggers use WordPress Reader? Do they have other ways of reading blogs they follow?

What’s the difference between facts and truth? Facts are like nuts and bolts, perhaps… miss out a few or hammer them into the wrong places, and the whole structure falls apart.

I wonder if they’re plotting something? Everybody else seems suspicious as well, though hopeful.

Why won’t the BBC caption their YouTube videos?

I like the fellow, but he doesn’t half go on, does he? I’m not sure I could watch all his videos from beginning to end, especially with captions in their current parlous state.

Do people get in trouble for re-uploading videos that YouTube apparently deleted? I grew up being told censorship is bad, and I still believe it.

Why are politicians rarely clear? On Gogglebox they were watching Theresa May’s Mansion House speech, and one viewer said it all goes straight over her head. I’m in a fog of confusion myself… people contradict themselves in the same speech, or someone else pops up and confidently contradicts them, only to be contradicted in turn, so you end up not being sure what they really aim to do.

Oh, I’m sad tonight… but I don’t wonder why.

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Posted in Political and Social Issues, Writing

O False!

False‘ is a recent word prompt, causing me to stare at a blank page for several minutes. It’s not that I’m without ideas; more that it strikes me as false to offer a word prompt that isn’t a noun.

‘Falseness’ is an easier to way to begin and makes a better blog title. “Falseness bedevils the modern world”, I could intone, or “Falseness is a fool’s flight from reality”… unfortunately, it’s not going to be that simple. Must I approach the topic differently because the subject is not ‘falseness’ but ‘false’? Does my grumbling even make sense? Doubtless it doesn’t matter, as I can approach it any way I want to and use whatever title I see fit. Nevertheless, it threw my mind into a non-productive spin.

Whatever… ‘false’.

The word usually means ‘untruthful’ or ‘fake’, possibly even ‘non-existent’. For instance, a false promise doesn’t imply you’ll get the opposite of what you were offered — it’s more likely that there’ll be no change at all. Sometimes the person making the promise really meant what they said but it fell through for some unforeseen reason — does that still make it ‘false’, or does it become something else such as ‘unfulfilled’? I don’t think it would be a false promise, as ‘false’ is a very negative, deliberate word.

False fruit
False friend
False teeth

Wait now… false teeth aren’t a negative thing. False teeth aren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, pretending to be something they’re not. Instead, they very sensibly and usefully take the place of real teeth that didn’t want to stick around. False teeth are a good thing, which is a rare quality for anything that’s false.

More viscerally, false or shallow pockets (especially those ‘decorating’ an otherwise useful winter coat) are the most pointless, infuriating invention ever and should be stamped out of existence — by referendum if need be.

False grass… not good. False assumptions… somebody got confused and miscalculated. False bottom (in a suitcase) — a positive thing for the world, I suppose, unless you’re up to no good.

You could have a false bible — you open it and it turns out to be a box you can hide your false pearls in. That’s a good thing to have too. In general, if the false thing works for you and is protective of you, you will think it good — but whoever you were trying to dupe or deny will be less impressed.

Sometimes something creates a false impression, which can never be good, as it’s better if we all know where we stand. Even if you realize the case has been overstated, there are others who somehow don’t, and the disaffected will take full advantage of that confusion by claiming false outrage.

A truly false promise is obviously a bad thing because you thought you would get something that didn’t materialize. On the other hand, a false threat isn’t a good thing either, because you were being manipulated against your own interests.

These are very black and white subjects, but falseness can be a lot more subtle. Just about everything we think we know or see is false, in the sense that ‘truth is relative’. People can experience the same thing in completely different ways… it tastes good, it tastes awful, or something in-between. The picture is beautiful, ugly, nothing special or even quite nice. That person is wonderful, a walking disaster zone, or merely human. What you believe would seem false to another, but in your world there’s no question — Marmite is brilliant for you, always, though to someone else it’s anathema.

Is that fair, though? If you say, ‘Marmite is wonderful’ and for you that’s true while your best friend thinks it’s false, does that mean it IS actually false? Or is it like Schrõdinger’s cat where it’s both lovely and vile, and you won’t know which till you’ve opened the jar? It’s false to point to that theory, however, as there’s no sense of uncertainty — everybody who’s tried it has a clear opinion.

Perhaps this is a false premise to work on, as Marmite is in fact neutral. It’s not trying to be one thing or another… it’s just gloop to put on your toast. Statements such as ‘wonderful’ or ‘awful’ are all yours; your own truth and nothing to do with Marmite. It would doubtless post your opinion back to you with the words “I don’t own it.”

Now you’ve reached the end, I have to inform you… you’ve just been reading a false blog post. It’s not lying or trying to mislead you, but in some sense it resembles the false bible. You were perfectly well aware it wasn’t real, but when you opened it, hoping to find something valuable, it proved empty of any pearls of wisdom.

Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Writing

Keeping Perspective

I never posted my last blog post…. that’s two or three I wrote that never got online! Well, I hope this one is luckier.

A day or two ago, this writing prompt from WordPress arrived in my inbox:

I Can’t Stay Mad at You
“Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget?”

Topical. 🙂

Several weeks ago I searched for ‘forgiveness’ and discovered it’s defined in a way that doesn’t match my understanding of it.

It seems if you forgive someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will continue to have anything to do with that person. It merely means you won’t be acting on ‘it’, whatever it was.

It makes a certain sense if you see forgiveness as a form of self-regulation. If someone damaged something of yours, you might choose not to chase them for reparation. In such a situation, perhaps other things would be of more value to you — community goodwill, for instance, or family ties.

Whether you continue to deal with that person is another issue entirely, and has nothing to do with forgiveness. Well, that’s the impression I formed after reading around.

I always saw forgiveness as continuing to see and speak to the person without changing towards them. If you cut him or her out of your life, that doesn’t seem like true forgiveness. How can you forgive someone without letting them feel it?

I don’t know what to think now. I don’t know enough to know the truth of it, and maybe none of us do.

I enjoyed the following:

Forgive (The Word Detective)

Still on topic, and looking back at the blog prompt… do I bear grudges?

Most of us do, I imagine. First I wrote, “we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t,” then realized cats, dogs, horses and birds in trees most likely bear grudges. Yes, birds sitting on rooftops do; also those flying over your washing. That line of thought was tying me in knots, so the best way of releasing myself was to cut the entire phrase loose…

Yes, I bear grudges over plenty of stuff that has happened to me over the years, and though I don’t act on these things, think, or even talk about most of them, I can still get grumpy when I remember any. Like the time the janitor rapped my knuckles with his keys when a few children were taking refuge in the hallway for some warmth. That really hurt… and I wasn’t shouting, swearing or doing anything wrong… I just didn’t want to be out in the icy playground. How old was I? Six? Seven? How long can we bear a grudge? Oh, as long as we live!

‘Grudge’ is an odd word, but less of a mystery than ‘forgive’. It’s to feel bitter about a wrong done to you. I guess it doesn’t even have to be a wrong that a human, cat or dog has committed, but something more abstract such as… life circumstances, perhaps. You can bear a grudge against the world. The phrase ‘done me wrong’ is interesting, though — very sure of itself.

Perhaps when someone wrongs you, it’s not always something intended to hurt you in any way or to any degree — just a fallout of how things actually are. In that case, what is it we grudge or forgive?

I was interested in the suggestion that ‘forgiving’ means not taking offence at all. Most of us will feel hurt by something, and need a way to move on from that, but what if we can bring ourselves to realize “it’s just how it is” and that no one was being actively malignant?

Can we realize in a comfortable fashion that something is not worth taking offence over? Or does it always take a bit of ‘processing’ to reach that point? Sometimes you have to work out the dynamics of the situation. If they are not clear, then nor are your feelings.

At any rate, there’s often a bit of a battle in our minds when feeling wronged or hurt. The way old grudges fade is when you see them as a curiosity, a bit of social history — something that happened to someone else a long, long time ago. We can’t possibly remember all the ins and outs after all this time, and sometimes we wrong ourselves as well as others if we judge an isolated experience without having all of the facts. Then again, when you find something similar happening all over again, and the same negative feelings surfacing (the ones you’ve long lambasted yourself for giving way to), you suddenly remember why you reacted the way you did all those years ago and appreciate afresh the rollercoaster of emotions you were dealing with back then. You are also faced with the unsettling realization that you’re not really a wiser, mellower being! You haven’t even shown more understanding of your younger self, and (it turns out) you still have those fierce internal battles to deal with. They were only dormant because no one was stirring the magma.

So, forgiveness… what does it mean? I always thought I knew, but life is messy. You can’t say “I forgive” and literally never think of it again, unless you really understand everything and know there’s nothing to forgive.

One way or another, it works best when you are still actively engaging with the other person. It’s a live, warm connection. Your experience of the person continues to update (and isn’t frozen at some point in the past). That’s a healthy situation. Less healthy is thinking you know someone based on something they did years ago, while more recent information is lacking.

These are general thoughts only, and wouldn’t fit all cases. At times we are wise to ‘cut all ties’, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly and without considering one’s own part in it. We are a community for a reason — there has to be communication. Forgiveness should be about allowing that communication to continue.

Have just noticed I’ve blogged on this topic before, and my perspective does not seem to have changed. (The Point of a Grudge). Having gone through some kind of recent upheaval, I’m glad I can say that. 🙂 A tried and tested viewpoint! I prefer my older post to the newer one, especially as I forgot about Mme Ramotswe’s take on forgiveness.

Posted in Political and Social Issues

I Feel Fine

I read online that most people feel awkward about saying “I feel a bit down today” because they don’t want people to think they might have poor mental health.

Reminds me of Mum talking to an old African woman. The woman asked her in Swahili how she was, and Mum started to say “oh, not good! This went wrong, and that went wrong…” and the woman interrupted her and said “no no no, you’re not supposed to say that! You’re supposed to say you feel good today.”

She tells it as an amusing story that showed her ignorance of how she was meant to behave, but I feel like I’m living that life every day.

At the moment (having recovered from my irritation with iMovie) I’m fighting off the effects of plaintive music (Over and Over by Fleetwood Mac). Apart from that, I feel good! How about you?

Posted in Current Affairs, Music, Political and Social Issues

Singing Today

David Cameron is in, backed up by Nick Clegg.

Singing today — very mellow. 🙂

Yellow is the colour of my true love’s hair
In the morning when we rise,
In the morning when we rise,
That’s the time, that’s the time
I love the best.

Blue’s the colour of the sky
In the morning when we rise,
In the morning when we rise,
That’s the time, that’s the time
I love the best.

(First two verses from Donovan’s ‘Colours’. Playing now on my CD player. 🙂 If you’ve never heard of Donovan, it says on the CD sleeve: “Donovan Leitch was Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan, yet transcended the impossible comparison to become our very own hippie troubadour.” Seems to be a bit controversial, but who cares? So long as you like one, the other, or both. Here’s a video clip to Colours… just look at those eyelashes).

Singing it all over the house — the cats are giving me funny looks.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Health Issues, Lost in Thought, Notepad Conversations, Political and Social Issues

Introversus Extro

Nonsensical title — excuse me. 🙂

I was researching online for a novel I was thinking of writing (it’s not got very far!) and I came across this article from Psychology Today:

Field Guide to the Loner: The Real Insiders

It’s essentially another ‘introverts versus extroverts’ article. I got it slightly confused with the Wikipedia article on loners which claims (rather bleakly) that loners of all types are so much in the minority that they are considered social deviants (it doesn’t say that in Psychology Today), but I had the following written conversation with Mum (TV was up loud!):

Me: “Was reading an article that says three-quarters of people are sociable and look upon ‘loners’ as ‘deviants’ — but often they opt to avoid society because they are over-stimulated by it, and don’t get the same things from it (or from life in general) as the extroverts. Some can socialise for a bit (like Christmas parties with family) then they need to retreat and recuperate.”

Mum: “People who write articles invent their own statistics. How can they say three-quarters etc?”

Me: “No idea. Usually based on a study! It’s always possible most of the people they collared were extroverts to start with, as they were the ones running around and not hiding under sofas.”

Mum: “No — psychologists meet patients or loopy students.”

The next day I was still thinking about it, and when we were walking to town, I began: “If, as that article says, extroverts enjoy social nuances…” and Mum interrupted me (which probably explains why I grew up speaking really quickly, in a rush to have my say): “NO, they don’t! They just like the sound of their own voices.”

“Well, I was going to say that extroverts say they like people and are interested in them — but if they are only interested in ‘social nuances’ and not ideas… people’s ideas… then they can’t be all that interested in people.”

“Exactly,” said Mum.

I don’t know why I don’t write a sort of Winnie the Pooh book…. with me as Winnie and Mum as Christopher Robin!

Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues

Keeping Friends (and knowing when to let go)

After falling out (not for the first time) with a friend who lives far away in a place I’ve never seen, I was pondering the mysteries of friendship. Some people are easier to get along with than others, and it helps when they’re not busy and stressed… but I often wonder if I’m communicating the right things in the right way to the right people, and if my expectations are reasonable or the reverse.

I suppose communication styles and friendships are as individual as people are, and all you can really do is communicate in a way that feels right to you, and hope to connect with someone who has a similar outlook.

I decided to search Google for ‘maintaining friendships’, and the following were the most common tips and cautions:

(1) Be a good listener — prove you have heard by responding thoughtfully and in detail.

(2) There should be some give and take — we don’t want a situation where one friend makes all the plans, starts all the conversations and does all the listening.

(3) Communicate frequently (short but regular emails etc).

(4) Be supportive of your friend’s stance unless he/she is really about to land in trouble; avoid judging and moralizing.

(5) Be honest and genuine — preferably in a pleasant and tactful way!

I never understood people who request ‘brutal honesty’ about their cooking, artwork or whatever… I like honesty, but never brutal. Perhaps such a request is just a polite way of making people feel they don’t need to worry about commenting less than positively… but actually, we do need to do that tactfully.

Being ‘genuine’ includes feeling relaxed and ‘yourself’ in someone else’s company… if you feel you’re constantly on your guard and having to maintain a persona, then that’s not a good friendship to be in.

(6) If someone has a tendency to be hurtful, explosive and unpredictable (to your damage), or leaves most of the effort to you, it is most likely time to move on. But consider whether you’ve given the other person enough of a chance, and whether he/she might be going through a bad time just now — perhaps a bad time that you haven’t been told about. Not everyone communicates the same way, and it can be particularly tricky by email. Some people communicate naturally and well by email, but others don’t see it as a valid way to talk.

(7) Humour is good, and can save a situation from spiralling out of control.

Actually it was me who added Tip 7! Humour as a resource doesn’t seem to surface much in the other lists I’ve read, except (a) as a defensive barrier — it can be frustrating if you feel you’re not seeing the real person, or that you’re not being taken seriously… or (b) as something potentially destructive (sarcasm, thoughtless teasing etc).

This is already on the list, but is important enough to explore: real friends feel ‘at home’ with each other. The other day I found myself emailing a friend I always felt comfortable with… not the one I fell out with, but one I’ve not seen for years as we don’t live in the same country any more. I took it into my head to describe the room I was sitting in, just as it was… saggy curtains, CDs sitting around, an old and out-of-date TV that isn’t used much, computers still on the desk that aren’t even operating. The wallpaper came from a time when I was younger and more enthusiastic; those feelings are all locked up in it. It was something to giggle over or relate to… better than trying to come across as perfect and organized when we both knew that wasn’t me.

There were some singular pieces of advice here and there on the internet. I particularly liked one about how people on the edge of the crowd are likely to be the most loyal, down-to-earth and constant friends. They will have more time for you than someone who is very popular and busy. I’ve generally found that to be true.

Arguments, also, are not to be feared (unless someone is constantly browbeating you). I never sought out arguments, but at the same time never felt that a friend was here to stay until we’d rowed about something and survived it! If the friends we’re with tend to see a row as a reason for them to give their side of it but not hear yours, and especially if they see an argument as an automatic end to the relationship… well, we can find better friends; ones who don’t keep us walking on eggshells.

Do any of you have ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s you would add to that list? How do you keep your friends, even if they live far away, and in what circumstances do you decide to move on?

Posted in Health Issues, Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Rants

The Best Responses that Aren’t

Was thinking about my last post (The Peruvian Bug that Wasn’t) and it led me to think about how sites like Yahoo Answers have someone ask a question, and the best answer gets voted up to the top of the column, often by the other readers. And there’s nothing more depressing than people voting as ‘the best answer’ a response that appears sensible but is completely mistaken.

Then they close the question so people can’t come along later and challenge it.

I’ve seen that before; the response that sounds something like “dearie, aren’t you just panicking about nothing? These are the facts,” is usually the one that gets voted up, whether or not it’s correct. Perhaps it’s the confident, ‘no-nonsense’ sound of it that encourages people to think they’re listening to someone who knows what he/she is talking about.

Isn’t that how we choose leaders? The one who makes decisions, just like that, and sounds like he knows what he’s doing. Pats everyone on the head and says things will get better.

Mum used to be a nurse. I said to her “how long do germs take to incubate?” and she said “depends on the germ.”

“Oh, I like that answer!” I said. “That’s a good answer!”

“Thanks for the vote,” she said.

Posted in Gender Issues, Political and Social Issues

Something Else I Meant to Blog About

A couple of recent memes asked who my real-life heroine was, and I was stuck for an answer… aside from obvious responses such as ‘family’. But today I have to say I have a new heroine, a celebrity heroine, without placing her on a pedestal or knowing anything else about her… and it’s Cameron Diaz!

In the interview about remaining childless, she says what I’ve always thought… and I was amused by the (presumably tongue-in-cheek) comment (following the article) that there are so many scoundrels around that there’s a need to refill the gene pool with intelligent people. At least, I hope it was tongue-in-cheek!

I don’t know about workplace attitudes (mentioned in the full article in the Daily Mail but not in the summary), but I have sometimes felt it’s hard to make (or remain) friends with married couples when you’re a single woman… couples of your own age, that is. Perhaps that will change when we get older.

Posted in Current Affairs, Political and Social Issues

Things I Meant to Blog About

There’s so much I keep meaning to blog about, but time moves on and things fall behind. These are three things I’ve had in mind recently:

Micro shoplifting

We’ve had recent brushes with a particular variety of shop lifter. Not the type who will take an entire packet of something and walk out with it, but who will take something out of the box and leave it to someone else (us!) to buy.

My mother bought 5 or 6 small bottles of a refreshing juice from the local supermarket. At home she found the top of one of them was loose, and the level was lower than in the other bottles. Someone had taken a swig of it and put it back on the shelf.

I told her about buying a couple of pads of lined A4 paper from Woolworth. Got them home and found someone had torn a sheet out of one of them.

Then Mum bought me some hayfever relief tablets in Boots… you would think that would be pretty safe, but a tablet had been pinched out of one of the foil strips.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve not come across this before; it’s like a new form of shoplifting that targets other customers more than the shops themselves. I said to Mum that maybe the people who do it will have it done to them one day, and will find out what a kick in the teeth it is… though I would prefer if they understood this already without having to experience OR do it!

Trans fats must go

I know I don’t think a great deal of some ‘nanny state’ laws and attitudes, but I would back a Scottish ban on trans fats from food. To me it’s like smoking… there’s far more harm than good in it, and it doesn’t make sense to me that it’s offered as a choice.

More lovin’ needed

Town is quite busy with holidaymakers now, but our favourite coffee shop in town has lost trade. Our initial suspicion is that the students who usually go there (and sit around with their laptops) have gone home, but I’ve been realizing that a lot of the locals are on holiday (not just students), whereas the holidaymakers don’t know the smaller coffee shops and probably just head straight for Starbucks and Costa’s. It’s got so that there’s a blackboard outside the smaller coffee shop saying “Looky here, we need loving ALL the time!” You go in, and there’s nobody else there.

My suggestion is: look out for the smaller shops, even in an unknown town… they need your trade and are probably quieter and friendlier than the chain stores. They aren’t all tables and chairs; the smaller shop we’re talking about is predominated by padded chairs and sofas, whereas the Costa’s here only has one sofa in the corner, and Starbucks has a couple of cushy areas (generally with someone else in them already) and that’s it. I love Costa’s coffee, but to me there’s no contest about which shop I would rather be in. The little one that all the crowds are walking past and not loving.