Wednesday, June 16, 2010

blogging retrospective

The blogging world has its own reality which I have gradually been learning over time. There seem to be sub-cultures that have their own unique followings. Some people just like to post pictures of their family and have cute fluffy posts about muffins and kittens. I'm not sure they are what my blogger circle would really be interested in. I've seen some of my favorite blogs grow stagnate yet others continue in their proliferation, often reinventing themselves like our friend Michael R. from "The Psyche of Mikey". I know sometimes it is difficult to be spontaneous or to come up with new ideas to write about as I myself seem to be going through a bit of an uninspired phase, probably because my brain has been a bit fried at work lately or I'm just busy living life. Sometimes I just need to veg out. Okay, I confess I've been distracted by facebook lately, even as I say "I hate it". It is the lazy man's blog, short and sweet and oh so superficial, doesn't take much effort and always receiving immediate gratification. But I digress here because recently Michael has given my blog an award for substantive writing. I guess I do make that effort to be genuine and less motivated by what other people think so it allows me the ability to be real, no excuses, no apologies. So to Michael thank-you.
I've been asked to sum up my philosophy about blogging, my motivation and experience using only five words, so here goes:


Although I wish I could honor the true spirit of the award by passing it on to ten others I'm not sure there are ten other blogs that I follow regularly enough to know their writings and to do them justice. Some of my favorite bloggers have not been that active lately, for various reasons. I guess sometimes life may take precedence at times or for reasons unknown. I guess maybe that is a sign I need to be more active about following other people's blogs and maybe finding some new ones, but that takes time. ( My apologies for flaking out on passing things on. )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've begun to collectively realize that as human beings we all possess a certain level of prejudice which we may not even realize at times even exists. Of course there are the obvious ones about race and skin color, but let's not forget religion, both of which wars have been fought over.

Sometimes we inadvertently " out" ourselves with out realizing when we make generalizations regarding certain groups of people. The economically challenged are often part of a disenfranchised group with no voice or power in our society. I'm talking about poor people. They get no respect as Rodney Dangerfield would say. Most of us just treat them like they are invisible.

Developmentally disabled people used to be locked away in asylums, treated like defectives, until Geraldo Rivera published Willowbrook and exposed the way the severely mentally retarded and physically disabled individuals were being treated.

I've heard comments directed at fat people that they should just stop eating or somehow they are just "weak".

I've heard people stereotype Asians and the way they make jokes about their driving abilities.

I've heard people refer to individuals with mental health issues being "crazy". I believe this has more to do with ignorance and fear.

I'm commenting about this right now because I just spent the last five days with my family and close friends and realized how sensitive I have grown about the way people refer to other groups of individuals in such negative ways and I don't even think they are aware sometimes of how they sound. Let me further say that I rail against political correctness so there is a certain level of dissonance I experience regarding the whole thing but have concluded that people's ignorance can sometimes lead them down the wrong path of generalizing.

Are you really aware of what your own prejudices might be?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Fashionista Speaks

Do you ever wonder how some women's sense of fashion can be a disaster yet other's seem to make it look effortless and always seem to look good. Well, news flash, looking well put together does take effort. I realized awhile ago that if I wanted to look halfway presentable I would need to focus a bit more on some basic rules which I formulated after witnessing some mistakes made by my contemporaries. For the working women dressing the part regarding your employment or career should be taken somewhat seriously, not necessarily fastidiously, but at least take a rational look at what your job description requires and the work setting.
  • Unless you work in a bar or nightclub you shouldn't look like a cocktail waitress who lost their way trying to find their office. That means wearing see through shirts, and short mini-skirts are not really appropriate for a professional setting. No one wants to see your bra straps either or your bra showing through your blouse. If you are aging into your forties or fifties you are going to look like a desperate women seeking attention.(Oh yeah, and wearing a bra is mandatory for the girls).
  • When the warm weather is here,it is not permission to look like you are going to the beach instead of your office. I love wearing flip flops for casual outings or around the house but I think this should be avoided in an office setting unless they are dressy type sandals. If you are going to show your toes, splash a bit of paint on them. Let's face it, not many of us have perfect looking feet, so no one wants to be treated to the sight of gnarly toes and bunions.
  • I realize younger women very rarely wear nylons anymore and I don't really have a problem with that especially on a very hot day. Just look at what you are wearing, and if it involves wearing a suit, wearing nylons might perhaps give a more finished look, especially if attending a meeting outside the office. ( By the way, wearing knee highs under a long skirt is a major fashion faux paux.)
  • I have a major issue with showing too much cleavage. Some men would probably insist there is no such thing as too much cleavage. In the office I think you may have difficulty being taken seriously or thought of as some type of bimbo if you are displaying the girls as a way of looking sexy. If there is a man you are interested in save it for after work because office romance is way too complicated and could derail you chances for professional advancement.
  • We're not in the sixties anymore so shaving your legs and armpits should be a no brainer. I have a visceral reaction when I see hairy body parts on my women peers. Forget about "hippie chic" it's more like "hippie eek!". It also doesn't hurt to do a little plucking and shaping of the eyebrows, and applying some facial makeup to hide some of the blotches and irregular areas.
  • We have a dress down day in our office now on Friday's. This has turned into dress down every day and no one seems to care about whether there is a dress code anymore. I think it is fine to wear jeans to the office as long as you are not looking like you are going out to pull weeds out of your garden or clean the garage. There are so many fashion programs on the television now that show the fashion challenged how to mix and match their clothes. It is possible to look quite nice in a pair of well fitting stylish jeans, sans muffin tops, with a cute jersey or top.
  • When I go out to the stores on the weekends to do my errands I take a look in the mirror at myself just to check before I leave my house. I am not going to wear something that is soiled or covered in lint. Actually, I think athletic clothing can be quite acceptable however, women with big rear ends wearing tight stretch pants is a horror show. I have actually flown on planes in a cute (matching) jogging or athletic suit. I have discovered that comfort is important but do not want to look like I am on my way to the gym.
  • It's important to dress your age. I think it is totally pathetic to see a women in her forties or fifties trying to squeeze into junior size or style clothing. Even if someone has a nice figure trying to look like a teenager or a "twenty something", just looks desperate. I won't say that older women should dress "frumpy", I just think age appropriate clothing is much more attractive.
  • So now you know that I'll be taking notes and watching, just kidding. I am not as superficial as this might sound but there is no excuse for looking like you just rolled out of bed and look like a rumpled mess or a hippie prostitute looking for a date at a cocktail lounge.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Buccolic Landscape

Spring tends to introduce itself in stages up here in Northern New York. We've had a few very nice seasonable days however it does not mean that we are done with old man winter. There are remote areas where the dense trees do not allow for the sunlight to sneak its way in to the shadows of the dark forest and stubborn patches of snow remain resolute to the last vestiges of winter.

The stark trees still naked of spring buds. The tree bark evident of the deep color charcoal. The deer still display their winter colored coats with no sign yet of a lighter hue of golden brown. The robins are persistent in their daily cheer leading of coaxing spring. The soft muck in the driveway threatening to suck up one's impractical high heel shoe. The nearby brook running rough from the thaw of winter, hearing its clamorous cachophony.

The raw wind still capable of leaving a cold bite to the face. Collars turned up especially in the early morning. The damp feeling of rain that could easily turn to snow if the temperature allows to dip below freezing. Not yet time or practical to switch to lighter gear but soon the shedding of layers will hopefully be opportune.

Maple sugar season. The maple trees donating their sap for the cause of gathering syrup by the farmer entrepreneur. Cold nights and warm days needed to encourage the giving of amber. Dented buckets with lids perched precariously from the tap waiting to be emptied. Long nights of boiling in the sugar shack. Boilers heated by natural wood.

Time to take a promenade through the neighborhood and survey the early signs of spring!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Value of Friendship

Growing apart from a friendship can be inordinately painful. Don't ever take a close friend for granted because if you do you or the other person may end feeling disappointed or experience hurt feelings. During my life time I have felt very fortunate to have maintained a few very close relationships with people whom I have known since early childhood. It isn't the quantity of friends, it is really all about the quality of the friendship. The commonality of experiences growing up with a best friend can cement that closeness over time even when people take different paths in life.

A very old dear friend of mine that I have known since infancy who knows nearly everything personal about me and has seen and heard it all may no longer value our friendship as much as I have. Naturally people grow apart especially when geography becomes a factor. Attempts to keep in touch over the years sometimes have occurred during holidays or birthdays but now that seems to be happening less often too. Telephone chats seem to resort back to talking about things we did and said when we were kids and often sharing a memory of a humorous incident. E- mails often an attempt to stay connected yet long palpable lapses involving lost connectedness.

We both had our share of challenges growing up in dysfunctional families and part of the reason we were able to get through some of it is because we had each other to turn to during some of the difficult times, not feeling so alone. We used to be able to finish each other's sentences now we have difficulty knowing what the other person is saying or what they really mean.
Misunderstanding and perhaps hurt feelings have fallen into an abyss of lack of communication.

Perhaps I have made a fatal misassumption about realistic expectations on what friendship should mean. Once or twice a year I am able to return home to visit family and I truly make an effort to connect with close friends. I know they have busy lives and for them it might mean trying to fit in some time but I do so appreciate it when they make that effort. I guess maybe I miss some of them more than they miss me because I was the one who moved away. So naturally my feelings end up being hurt when it appears they seem to lack any sense of enthusiasm or excitement towards planning to get together socially. I really don't know how to interpret this other than to take it a bit personal since the last two times I have made it home for a visit my efforts to get together were thwarted.

Maybe I need to be less sentimental about friendship and just accept that growing apart is no one's fault and despite years of growing up together sometimes you try to hang on and it just becomes increasingly difficult to maintain for one person or one reason or another.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nationalism ?

There were times in the not too distant past that I was reticent about disclosing my country of origin while travelling. I think it may have been shortly after the 911 terrorist attack that Americans did not always feel safe or welcome in some foreign lands. I warned my family as we travelled to "act like you are Canadian". I realized it is probably rather difficult to hide the fact that you are an American because apparently we are easy to spot, sometimes not for the right reasons either.

While watching the Olympics on television over the past week or so I began to reach the conclusion that besides it being about sports and athletic achievement it appeared to reflect a nationalistic appetite which was sometimes bloated and gluttonous. ( I've heard that said about us Americans.) I think athletes have a right to rejoice and celebrate when they have won their event but as a country should we really take collective credit for their achievements. This sense of nationalism has grown exaggerated, misplaced and tiresome.

The amount of money dedicated to supporting the various teams, coaches, equipment and travel is obscene. Why is it so very important for Russia to prove they are a great country by winning a medal in figure skating or for South Korea or China to prove they are superior by winning or going fast around an ice track or bobsled down a dangerous course? That does not necessarily prove they are a great country ( especially when it comes to their record on human rights).Don't misunderstand the point of my message. I am not suggesting we abolish the Olympics. I just think it needs to be put in the correct context. The competition should be about who is the best athlete not necessarily the best country. However, I think it is rather embarrassing trying to justify the amount of money spent on all of this when you consider the economic climate around the world and the existence of poverty, war, terrorism and the recovery from the disaster in Haiti.

I found myself glued to the TV set on Sunday afternoon watching the USA vs Canada hockey game. It was an exciting hockey game and Canada seemed to need to prove they are superior to the US in hockey and the bragging rights associated with it. It was just a hockey game folks. I think some of us are a little bit mixed up about expressing our nationalism through the athletic activities associated with the Olympics.

I am not a flag waving anthem singing resident of the United States and thankfully, I no longer feel I have to hide the fact I am an American while travelling.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

food for the mind

I feel compelled to read everyday as a way to nourish my mind. The power of imagination can be monumental. It reminds me of time travel, a journey to some where else based on the author's telling of his or her story. I sometimes covet those who have the talent of the written word and can construct a different reality where there was none before. The essence of creativity.

I feel like I have been to many places in the world, and yes sometimes other worlds too. The descriptions of people, places and situations can feel uncannily real. Whether it is just to escape for a few moments in time or perhaps a bit of distraction, it doesn't really matter.

I do not recall exactly when my appetite for books began to grow however I do recall joining a summer reading program at the town library that whetted my appetite when I was probably around age nine. We won little stickers every time we finished a book. During warm summer days when the tide was out at the beach I would find a shady tree and read my books and time would seem to melt into oblivion.... I think I went through quite a few books that summer and the librarian seemed incredulous about the level I was reading on.

I have read my way through varied gendres yet still to this day I still enjoy science fiction and the early writings of Poe, Burroughs, and Lovecraft. I believe the imagination and creativity it takes to create these types of stories is amazing. Of course I cannot take the time here to list all my favorite authors and books because it is quite an eclectic collection which I continue to add to.

I remember my mother once telling me "you will always have a friend by reading books". I think she may have been trying to tell me I would never be bored or lonely if I allowed my love of reading to sustain me. There have been times in my life when that fact was probably true. I've often joked with family and friends, you could drop me off on a deserted island with a box of books and it would take me awhile before I would begin to miss anyone.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I believe our minds can sometimes play a cruel trick on some of us. Memories can represent a slippery slope of inaccuracy. There are many fond memories I have of my years past but sometimes I wonder if over time they have morphed into my own version of reality rather than what really took place.

Face Book has been an opportunity to re-connect with old friends and share memories of the good times growing up and commonality of experiences. But was it or is it really the good ol' days or just what my mind permits me to remember? Granted, I do have some painful memories of an awkward childhood, most of us do to some degree, I guess. But remembering the fun times is definitely where I'd rather be.

We lose touch with our pals from a long time ago and there are often muddled reasons why, but people do drift at certain stages of their lives mostly because of different pursuits and life choices. We are not the same people we once were. (Thank goodness for that, REALLY!)

So what was I like as a child? Definitely not a younger version of who I am now as an adult. I enjoyed a very active imagination which most likely involved a certain degree of escapism from family dysfunction. That is sometimes a painful subject but what I know is that over coming adversity can often become triumph. I do not think many of us had a perfect family life growing up and those who had something near that did not necessarily become a predictor of stability or achievement either.

I was fortunate to grow up in a safe neighborhood where every one watched out for one another and children could play freely without worry. If we got hurt it was usually because we did something crazy or stupid. I remember spending alot of time playing outside with the other children and it involved alot of physical activity that constitutes "play". Do kids even know these days what play really is?

Emotions play a major role in what we choose to remember. Unresolved issues, sometimes referred to as baggage can weigh us down but awareness of what we each struggle with and our tendencies can be a useful tool towards self understanding and self acceptance.

I've read this over now and it sounds like a term paper for some Psych 101 course on Personality and Development. That was not my intent. I've just been thinking alot lately about past memories and sometimes find myself drifting into troubled waters. Could it just be my own existential journey of defining who I am or what I have turned out to be? For now though, I think I'll just enjoy reuniting with some old friends on FB and regale each other with funny things we did and trouble we got into, and maybe just leave it at that for now if at all humanly possible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Life's embarrassing moments recently caught up with me. I admit there is a monumental fickle side of me which actually is not readily apparent. It involves my serial rotation of hair stylists over the past twenty years. I've lost count how many different ones there have been and my reasons for moving on and trying someone else were oddly superficial and capricious. Perhaps I just grew bored and wanted to try someone new. There was never any conflict or misunderstanding just my eventual disappearance and vanishing act. No explanation whatsoever, the girl has moved on.

A disparate ideal that hair stylists seem to possess is the notion that their patrons will stay loyal to them. In my case I acknowledge a lack of fidelity, unabashed whim, wanting to see what the next cosmetician has to offer. Most of the hair dressers I have had were very nice and had pleasant personalities. Their only sin perhaps is allowing complacency to occur, familiarity leading to a less exciting okayness and loss of edgy excitement involving my tresses.

So today I sneak out of work (official time off arranged), however it is so delicious to just walk out the door early to pamper oneself a tiny bit. I arrive at the hair salon and my stylist is just finishing up with her previous customer. There are always things to discuss and safe topics far from politics and religion to weigh in on including celebrity gossip and post holiday settling down of winter. I believe that a successful hair dresser probably has well developed social skills and allows their customer to ramble on and set the tone of the conversation. Nothing too involved, after all it is a beauty parlor. She gives me a nice hair cut which I acknowledge appreciably and leave a generous tip. Off I go and a stop at the local grocery store before I head for home to cook dinner.

Who do I encounter in the grocery isle but my former hair dresser. She looks at me and smiles and behaves exceedingly polite and gracious at our unplanned rendezvous. We chat about the holidays, make small talk and rather quickly run out of nice things to say. I am absolutely mortified because it is quite evident by my well coiffed appearance I just left the hair salon. I stammer embarrassingly and we part. I appreciated her diplomacy but would have liked to apologize but then my explanation would have been altogether awkward. What can I say, "I just wasn't feeling it anymore".

Coincidences like that are karma's way of keeping us on our toes, but let's not split hairs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


There are different levels of awareness people possess, how they perceive others, and also how others perceive them. Some things are a matter of perception. We cannot continually go around always worrying about offending others or we'd be a neurotic mess. It also requires growing thick skin, or perhaps learning to be tolerant of others.

The longer I exist on this planet the more amazed (and confused) I grow regarding the complexity of human behavior and emotions. We all have a lot to learn about ourselves and others. Be open, do not judge, ask yourself did someone intend to be inconsiderate and hurtful or are they just unaware. It is often hard to give someone feedback without hurting their feelings. How sensitive we all can be.

We all have our issues, and they are different for each one of us. Awareness of what your issues are requires self knowledge; what kinds of things push your buttons. My list is long and I will not go into the details however most recently I seem to allow myself to be bothered most by "know it alls". I actually believe people might not even know when they are behaving that way and no one is likely to tell them, so how are they to know?