Monthly Archives: August 2011

See Ya 45…Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

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Today is my last day being 45. Tomorrow I turn 46, certainly not a milestone by anyone’s standards, but nonetheless pushing closer and closer to that very big milestone–50. I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see this year go…it’s been a real mixed bag. The arguable success of my nonprofit board service versus the shocking and sad death of a wonderful friend is a good example of the good and the bad, all jumbled up. 

Unlike most people, I don’t make my New Year’s Resolutions on New Year’s Eve or Day–I make them on my birthday, which is my New Year. This year, I thought about resolving one thing for each year I’ve lived but, let’s face it, I’ve lived way too long for that now…too hard to keep up with and follow through on that many different ones. So, I think I’ll stick with 10 realistic goals…and here they are…

  • Set aside at least one hour every day to read a book–no excuses. 
  • Learn all the basic jewelry making techniques…crimping, wrapping, etc. 
  • Take up the treadmill again, 3 times a week. That “But now I walk my dog.” excuse is so not cutting it…
  • Read one Robert Frost poem a day from the complete works volume gathering dust on my bookshelf. 
  • Teach my son his basic math skills…and actually learn them myself this time. Oops! Did I say that out loud?
  • Finish my final master’s degree…only 3 classes to go! 
  • Listen to more music.
  • Learn Robert’s Rules of Order once and for all. I’ve had the book for years but I mean really–who cracks it open unless they have to? 
  • Spend less time on Facebook…Damned addictive, that site is! 
  • Worry 50% less, Smile 50% more…Yes, I have found that it is true…when you frown a lot, your face eventually does stick that way! 

Well now, those ought to keep me suitably busy for the next 365 days…Happy Birthday to Me! 

A Little Bit Country Rocks And Rolls!

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I grew up in Tennessee–specifically in Chattanooga. Yes, as in Choo-Choo. My memories are of a childhood surrounded by history that I was not particularly interested in at the time, “lightning bugs” (known to you as fireflies) in the summertime, those little square cheeseburgers (Krystals) that, sorry, no store outside their birthplace really knows how to make, and breathtaking Fall colors each and every year that brought a welcome relief from the unbelievably oppressive humidity of Spring and Summer. Think wearing all your clothes, plus those 70’s and 80’s torture devices known as pantyhose into a sauna, full steam on, and living alternately in that, and a walk in freezer, do not pass go. Not that I’m complaining about air conditioning!

Sweet Iced Tea…Note: When speaking around Southerners, it’s pronounced “SWEETtea” <–one word. Same with beer, aka, “COLDbeer”…:-)  

There’s something interesting I’ve learned about us Southerners over the couple of decades I’ve lived elsewhere in the country though–as a group, we don’t travel much. Driving two hours to get somewhere, to a Southerner, is a major trip. So, it’s really not surprising that even though I grew up in Chattanooga, and lived there until I was around 25, I really hadn’t spent much time in the Nashville area, which is a short 2 hour drive away. Recently, I visited “home” though, and had the pleasure of staying in the Nashville area at a more mature time in my life…when I actually am very interested in the history of a region, when I appreciate what’s going on around me, and when anyone who tried to put a pair of pantyhose on me in this weather, would have to kill me first. 

Always mindful of the true flavor in an area…the off the beaten path, not overly touristy stuff, I’ve compiled a few photos of some things to see and experience  in the Nashville area that you might be interested in if you’re ever hereabouts…Ya’ll…:-) 

My first stop was the Nashville Zoo, which is one of the nicer ones I’ve been to across the country. The best part is their design…they have a lovely tree canopy on most all of the trail, which really comes in handy in the summer heat! For hours and other visitor information, click here: Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

You can’t come here without visiting some sort of Civil War preserved house, cemetery, battlefield, etc. It’s history, and although I know there are some folks who would avoid that sort of thing in order to be politically correct, that’s doing yourself a disservice. To study the reality of history is to protect ourselves from repeating past mistakes. I’ve been to a few of these over my lifetime, but the one I visited on this trip was one of the finest. It was the Carnton Plantation, just a little south of Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee. Everywhere you turn here you can find some sort of house or plantation to tour. But this one, I think, is unique. The house on the property is closed to tours only, which we took. The tour guide was amazing and told us lots of interesting stories about the house, the people, and the Battle of Franklin. This house was turned into a hospital to treat the casualties of the Battle of Franklin, and the bloodstains are literally still on the floors of the house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before….it was moving and impactful. Click here for more information on this must see: Carnton Plantation 

Also, I picked up this related work of historical fiction in the gift shop–a New York Times Bestseller that I am thoroughly enjoying, particularly after touring the house and grounds, and hearing all about the very real characters…Click the picture below to visit the book’s official website…

The last thing that I definitely wanted to see was downtown Nashville…where it all happened and still happens! If you aren’t good at driving in a city while lookey looing, don’t want to hoof it some fairly long distances, or would like to pop into one of the ultra cool bars with live music flowing out onto the street, even during the day on a weekday, then I highly recommend the Gray Line Music City Trolley Hop. The trolley bus is air conditioned, and the tour takes you all around to the important sites–the Tennessee State Capitol, Music Row, etc. And the drivers, much like the tour guide at the plantation, are amazing! During the 90 minute jaunt, they entertain with lots of fascinating trivia, and let you stop a couple of times to snap pictures. One eye opening bit of trivia I learned from our driver is that Music City is not known as such for the reasons you think–Country Music and its Stars. Nope, Nashville got its nickname when the Queen came to listen to musical performers at Fisk University, who were basically singing to fund the continuance of their school’s existence. The Queen first called Nashville Music City–and it stuck. If you take the trolley, you won’t regret it…And, it’ll orient you to where everything is so that you can go back to your favorite spots later! 

Here are just a few of the interesting and quirky things I saw in Nashville yesterday…

Me with Gary Rossington’s jacket at the Hard Rock Cafe…that’s where you get your trolley tickets, by the way…:-) 

This cool sculpture was too interesting to not get a picture of…remember Minnie Pearl from Hee-Haw? This is an artist’s rendering of her infamous hat located at the Visitor’s Center! 

The broken roller coaster on the Cumberland River (Downtown Nashville’s Waterfront) 

Nashville’s Parthenon…one of the most visited sites in the city. It’s an exact replica of the original. Here are some interesting facts about the Parthenon from Nashville.gov…

Facts about the Nashville Parthenon

  • The bronze doors weight 7.5 tons each. They measure 24′ high, 7′ wide and 1′ thick. There are two sets (4 doors total) of these enormous doors in the Parthenon. This makes them the largest set of matching bronze doors in the world. The Parthenon doors in antiquity were only slightly lighter and were wooden with a bronze overlay.
  • Like its predecessor in Greece, the Parthenon in Nashville faces east. In antiquity this would allow light to come into the building as the sun came up and the doors were opened.
  • Until 1988 visitors entered Nashville’s Parthenon through the doors at the west end of the building. Visitors now must enter the east end of the building at the sidewalk level.The east façade was considered the “front” of the building by the ancient Greeks

And finally, very close to Music Row is this beautiful, controversial, bronze statue. Beautiful, controversial, bronze, and nude–very nude. Hence the controversy, particularly in Nashville which is very much part of the Bible Belt. I loved it…truly a work of art!

For example, here’s the Baptist Press’s take on things: http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=16858 And, here’s some information on the history of the statue: Musica
For critics, I think a picture is worth a thousand words…and, well, one word….ART, not to be confused with pornography….

Well, that’s it for now…I’ll leave you with this…pretty much sums it up and says it all!

The Happy Hobbyist…

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You know, there are a lot of articles online explaining why we should all pursue a hobby–no matter who we are…child, single adult, mom or dad, or senior citizen. According to all these folks who tout the virtues of having a hobby (or a few of them) we can all benefit! There is a consensus among all these folks that hobbies…

  • Relax and energize us at the same time…
  • Keep our minds active in a way that is healthy for the human brain…
  • Provide potential career opportunities, either by actually turning our hobby into a career, or meeting others interested in the same hobby who can help further our careers…
  • Relieve chronic stress…
  • Relieve boredom…

and…

  • Increase overall happiness! 

I also think that hobbies can…

  • Help us get to know ourselves a little better, and learn to openly express who we really are. 🙂 

To that end, I’ve taken up a new hobby recently (besides blogging). I’ve decided to learn to make my own jewelry! I want to learn to do some of the more complicated artisan type techniques, so I plan to take this class I found online at www.craftsy.com:

Jewelry Workshop: Bead, Wrap, Chain, and Etch

This will obviously be a hobby that I can develop over a lifetime, adding skills as I go along. However, that hasn’t stopped me from making things by simply coming up with a design and stringing a few beads…;-) 

In fact, I’ve managed to crank out a few kinda great, very wearable necklaces, and one bracelet…


This one was my very first, in which I learned to always string the beads up to the clasp for a more finished look…Live and learn when it comes to hobbies, I guess! 

Hopefully, one of these days if I keep at it, I’ll be able to tackle a complicated project like this one featured on the Michael’s website…

Who knows…this could even turn into a second career! I know I’d pay some $$$ for the finished turquoise and coral necklace above…

In the meantime, here’s to hobbies! Hobbies of all sorts, for all sorts of people with all sorts of interests.

If you’d like to find a new hobby for yourself, here’s a great quiz that can help you find one that suits your personality perfectly: Hobby-Personality Quiz 

And, an article on how to make it one that you’ll actually stick with: How to Find a Hobby You’ll Stick With.

 

 

Flaming…If You Own A Computer And Have Taken It Out Of The Box, It’s Bound To Happen…

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There are a lot of wonderful things about the Internet. Those of us who are old enough to remember the Internet-less world can appreciate just how much having the world wide web at our fingertips can enrich our lives….

For example, if you’re like me, you have no sense of direction. Internet direction programs have saved me more times than I can count…

And…I never have to worry about what to make for dinner anymore. I can go to any one of the available recipe databases, punch in the ingredients I have on hand, and it’ll tell me what to whip up that night to feed the family…


The Internet has also been great for our social interaction too…before, we just lost touch with people we knew, especially when we moved away. Now, with email, instant chat, Skype, and Facebook, we can easily keep in touch.

In fact, it almost seems that there is nothing bad at all about the Age of Technology…aside from the fantasy based possibility that computers will eventually become self aware and take over the world…:::shudder::: 


So, it’s all harmless, right? Well, not exactly…
It never fails…if you’re even a little active online and either commenting interactively in open forums, or producing your own original content and putting it out there for the world to see, inevitably, somebody somewhere will take issue with what you say, no matter how benign or non-controversial it was when it came out of your head and was typed onto your keyboard. In fact, there probably isn’t anyone walking around out there who owns a computer who hasn’t been flamed at least once.

FLAMING: Flaming, also known as bashing, is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. ~ http://www.wikipedia.org

It’s human nature to want to discuss our thoughts and feelings about what’s in the news, etc. with other people. And, an open forum with a news story that we’re interested in is definitely a huge temptation to jump in there and make our views heard. Or read, I guess. For me, this is often where the trouble begins. I can be outspoken, but I do always try to state my opinions in a way that shouldn’t incite any sort of legitimate anger from my fellow posters. But, as it turns out, a lot of them don’t need a reason to make trouble. In fact, more than likely, that’s why they are commenting themselves–just for the sake of making trouble and getting some sort of attention in doing so. I’ve had this happen to me when I’ve commented in political and parenting forums, certainly, where the subject matter is inherently polarizing or controversial. But, flaming happens everywhere–you can’t escape it. I’ve had the same thing happen to me on soap opera, makeup and hair, and other types of forums as well. Flamers become angered by your opinions for whatever reason, and this makes them so frustrated that they counter by attacking you personally…the way you wear your hair, your intellect as they see it, the fact that you’re even online when you should be doing other things according to them, etc. Anything they can grab onto in order to try to shut you up because they don’t like what you’re saying, or simply to bring attention to themselves because that’s why they are interacting in the first place. Not to interact and exchange ideas and discuss, but to get someone to notice them. That’s a sad reality, but nonetheless, the truth is that there are a lot of pathetic trolls out there…

A lot of my friends, and Friends (as in Facebook connections) try to avoid the flaming phenomenon by never interacting at all. Or never posting or commenting anything that might be even the least bit controversial. Or both. This is one strategy, I guess, but I tend to believe that if you have no intention of interacting, saying what you think and seeing what others think, then you might as well not be online at all. Or at least not on any social sites or forums open to comments. For example, I have a friend who is extremely active on Twitter. He has amassed far more Followers than most Twitter users, and he has done so by adhering to his own self imposed Twitter rule of never posting any articles or comments which are at all controversial. However, even he has been flamed! And the reason for that is that everything anyone says or does is fodder for flaming to those who choose to make an issue out of it–no matter what it is. Nothing is safe from the flames! 

So, I have decided to just keep on keepin’ on, as they said in the 70’s (my favorite era these days). If I feel like commenting in a forum, I do, knowing full well that some idiot may randomly choose to attack me personally from out there in left field if they don’t like what I have to say. It just comes with the territory. It never feels good and I never enjoy it, but it’s just a fact of life. Like car wrecks. You do what you can to avoid them, be safe, be courteous to other drivers, but know that you may be unlucky that day if you choose to get out there on the road, living your life and going places. And if you’re a blogger, you have to know that you’re a forum commenter on steroids–literally everything you write leaves you, and the life you lead, vulnerable to somebody (or some troll) who might have something to say about it. And in some cases, some crazy might even be so incensed by your thoughts and your perspectives, or the way you live your life that they’ll…ahem…write a whole blog themselves about it just to call you out

I don’t live life timidly. I won’t. That’s no way to live. So, within reason, I plan to keep interacting in open forums, keep writing blogs when I feel like writing, and in general, putting my thoughts out there into the mix with everybody else’s. After all, that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet, right? 😉 

I have come up with a few strategies for living happily in a flaming world though…

  • Above all, don’t take it too personally. When someone flames you, you have to remember that they are bringing all the garbage of their lives to the party, and are trying to dump it all on you. Sometimes, even when they pick something out about you to insult, it’s not about you at all. Maybe you look like their ex wife or something…
  • Don’t ignore them, don’t let them walk all over you, but don’t let them trick you into a never ending, useless back and forth either. Sometimes, that is what they’re really looking for. Some folks are truly that lame. They can’t get people to talk to them any other way. So, I’ve found it’s best to acknowledge that you’ve seen their comment(s), but that you won’t be falling for it. And then DON’T fall for it. 
  • Understand that flaming comes with the territory. If you want to interact with people online, expect a certain amount of conflict. With online communication, people feel much more free to say things that they definitely wouldn’t say if they were sitting in the same room with you. 
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt. Online communication also doesn’t have the richness that face to face communication has. In other words, those visual cues, along with tone of voice that sometimes convey true meaning in a conversation are totally absent in online, typewritten forums. Sometimes a communication misunderstanding will snowball in an environment like this. Maybe they simply misunderstood your words, or the way you chose to put your words together. 
  • Don’t let it ruin your day or take over your life. Trust me, I know that if this happens to you, your instinct is to keep checking back to see what else they’ve said, what others might have jumped in to rail on you too, etc. Don’t give in to that natural tendency. Say what you need to say, then walk away. Resist the urge to keep going back to the scene of the “crime”…:-)

How do you deal with flaming? Please post your tips and comments below…