Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's ANTI-resolutions 

Most people make New Year's resolutions, which means that they resolve to do things that they don't do now but "should" be doing, or to stop doing "bad" things, or to do things better, or to improve things about themselves that aren't "good enough" (as if just making this decision on a specific day would substitute for making a consistent effort and showing some willpower). In MY case, though, since I coped with a lifetime of abuse at home and from my peer group by becoming "perfect," and thus beyond the reach of true criticism, I've never had anything to resolve; I don't have any vices or bad habits, everything I "should" be doing I've been doing all along, I'm the very soul of duty, responsibility, organization, and "doing the right thing," and I've always been fanatical about the #1 resolution, weight, so what CAN I resolve?

In honor of a dear friend who died tragically a few years ago, I've started making ANTI-resolutions; I've been resolving, in other words, to do the opposite of self-improve, which is to..... well, there's no word or phrase for it that doesn't sound negative, is there? Let's just say that I want to try to reduce my "excess perfection." Not perfectionISM (which is an attitude that leads to people thinking you're a pain in the behind, not "perfect"), but just to be less of a "perfect person," less of a "saint" (a word that gets applied to me all the time).

My friend motivated me to do this when, not long before she died, I was being "saintly" in my attempts to help a badly depressed person whose behavior was getting more and more unpleasant, and she said something amazing to me; "You don't have to do this. She's not worth it. You can walk away. You SHOULD walk away."

Say what?!! Falter in my mission to help those who are neediest? I was brought up to believe that being a worthwhile person means that you keep working at something until you've succeeded, that you dedicate yourself to a course of action and see it through no matter what.... and I still believe that in general, but my friend was right in that it WAS OK for me to walk away from that woman, and in general that it IS OK for me to walk away when the returns will be minuscule, or negative, in response to my efforts. I don't HAVE to be a saint every moment with everything, I don't HAVE to complete everything perfectly; I can walk away from some things, those that are a poor use of my time and effort, and still be someone who's worthy of respect and admiration, still be seen as being pretty terrific... heck, I could probably still be seen as being "perfect."

I vowed upon my friend's death that I would follow the path she showed me, and I have. I've expanded upon it, and applied it to things other than when someone I'm making alot of effort to help is behaving badly; I've been giving myself permission to NOT handle every task as if someone is going to be coming along after me looking for flaws in what I did... because, now that I no longer live with my mother, no one IS. There are many things that will look wonderful to the rest of the world if I "only" give 95% to them, as opposed to 100% (or 110%), and my ANTI-resolution again this year is to try to find more of those things and choose, CHOOSE, to not make the usually massive effort necessary to do that last, unnoticed, unappreciated, and therefore worthless 5%.

I don't have any specific ideas in mind about how to implement this in 2005, because I'm confident that karma will steer some opportunities my way, as it has the other years I've done this. I'll be working against the very fabric of my personality to expand the areas I apply this to, more this year than in the previous years because I've already done so much of it, but if it were easy I wouldn't need to ANTI-resolve to do it, right?

There may be some things that YOU validly believe that you need to improve in the coming year, but take a moment and ponder on whether there are also some things that you're making too much effort on, to the detriment of other areas in your life that could use that time and energy, and maybe you'll come up with some anti-resolutions of your own.

Have a safe and sane New Year's Eve!! :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

What do you sleep in? 

There's been a silent revolution in sleepwear in this country; we don't sleep in the same things our grandparents, and even parents, wore. If you're old enough, you'll recall when every man slept in pajamas, flannel in cold weather and smooth cotton in warm weather, and usually with stripes all year round; do you know ANY man under 50 who sleeps in pj's today? Every man I know who's weighed in on the subject sleeps in his underwear or in the nude, year-round, with the occasional foray into a t-shirt and/or sweatpants or "lounge pants" when it's chilly. Women used to sleep in long nightgowns, generally of light-colored cotton or nylon (my mother's favorite), with sleeve lengths that varied with the seasons; many women these days do the underwear or nude thing too, and some sleep in big t-shirts or, weirdly enough, the wide variety of cutsie pj's that have been marketed for women in recent years.

On a tangential note; remember how your elder relatives never got out of bed without putting on a robe and slippers, even in the warmest weather? A man's robe would be sober flannel or terrycloth, and a woman's would be quilted or chenille, pastel or floral; the man's slippers would be leather, and the woman's would be fluffy. When's the last time YOU wore a robe or slippers, other than when it was very chilly? Do you even OWN any? My husband doesn't. I DO, but the robe has only ever been used a couple of times when I had to jump out of the shower for some emergency, and the slippers are only used when I have to go outside for something in a hurry and the weather mitigates against bare feet.

Because comfort is key for me, I sleep in sweatpants and oversized t-shirts, as I have for many years; I remember when, several months before my wedding, my mother announced that I had to start buying nightgowns, because I "had to" wear them once I was married. I pointed out that, since no laws had been passed requiring this, and there was no Nightgown Police, I did NOT "have to." She insisted that my husband would "expect" me to wear nightgowns, and I replied that if he thought I'd EVER change or inconvenience myself to suit his whims, he had a BIG surprise in store for him. She continued to harangue me on the subject until I finally brought it up in front of him, and he laughed in her face and denied having any expectations, or even preferences, as to what I wore to sleep in; that finally shut her up.

True to my word, I've worn the t-shirt and sweatpants combo every night of my marriage... although I DID have a fancy white lingerie set for the wedding night (complete with musical panties that played "Here Comes the Bride")-a little tradition goes a long way.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What's the meaning of life? 

This seems to be a question whose asking is virtually a requirement of being a human being; it's apparently natural and normal for us to wonder why we're here, what our purpose is, and where we're going to end up. Here's what I came up with on this subject today:

Everything in the omniverse (the collection of all the universes) is made up of energy, and it's all the SAME energy; the theoretical physicists are saying the same thing now, and they call it "superstring theory." They haven't explicitly included the energy of thought in their definition of "everything" as of yet, but *I* do; so, everything is at the finest level made of the same energy as our thoughts.

My concept of animism, which appears in the spiritual beliefs of many so-called "primitive" peoples, is that there's some element of thought in ALL things; quantum physicists have certainly conducted many experiments which seem to show that subatomic particles can "think" (at least enough to act differently based on whether or not they're being watched), although they haven't come right out and claimed that... YET. Thus, being made of the energy of thought grants to everything the ability to "think" to some (usually minuscule) degree, which might mean an awareness so faint as to be virtually nonexistent, in the case of something like a rock, rather than thinking as WE do it-it's all a matter of degree, like comparing a dewdrop to the ocean.

Through the process of evolution, creatures have come into being which have an increasing ability to think, to use that energy of which we're all made; I think that perhaps the reason evolution exists is that it's a property of the energy of thought/everything that it "wants" to come together in steadily more powerful forms... with "want" in quotes because I see this as a blind force of nature, NOT the actions of a being of any kind (although I keep open the possibility that there MIGHT be a guiding intelligence involved, as I can't prove otherwise). This would make the existence of humans a natural outcome of the existence of the omniverse... and the existence of other sentient beings would be as well, but that's a whole other essay.

So, I'd say the reason we exist is same the reason that if you plant an acorn in fertile soil and give it water and sunlight, an oak tree will exist; it's the inevitable outcome of the component parts. In the same way that an oak tree can contribute many things that "justify" its existence, such as shade, homes for birds and animals, and food for squirrels, WE can contribute many things too, the primary one of which is the creation of more energy of thought, which then becomes a part of karma, the fabric of the omniverse... the omniverse "created" us, and now we're creating IT, making it ever more complex and beautiful.

And when we've created as much complexity and beauty as can ever exist, when we've seen all the truths and understood them, what then? What's our ultimate purpose/goal/destination? We'll see that when we die, and our souls (which are made of the same energy as thought and everything else) merge directly with the energies of karma; I'd like to know now, if it's possible to and still be alive, but if not then I'm content to wait, and to struggle in the meantime with other truths.

Even if we can't see the "ultimate truth," we can still theorize that the meaning of life, our purpose, the reason we exist and are able to ponder the deep truths, is... to turn the raw materials of the omniverse, the cosmic version of paints and canvas, into a masterpiece, and become one with it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Relationship rights 

Too often, we act, and even THINK, as if we had no rights once we've gotten into any sort of relationship with a person, and/or with members of our family; even the strongest-willed people can turn into doormats when their loved ones, or even LIKED ones, feel like pushing them around. If this sounds like you, one of your New Year's resolutions should be to decide what your "emotional rights" are within all your relationships, and to promise yourself to start demanding them. Here's a list of mine, in no particular order, which was written a few years ago (and yes, I DO insist upon them):

1) I have the right to expect the same effort, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, acceptance, fairness, compassion, consideration, support, assistance, sensitivity, caring, loyalty and good treatment from others that I give to them.

2) If someone accepts my friendship, and the benefits that gives them, I have the right to be treated AS a friend by them at ALL times, not just when they need help or a shoulder to cry on. This means that I have the right to expect them to talk to me when they have no crises brewing, ask about MY life and feelings, and honor my right as their friend to be who I am and say whatever's on my mind when I talk to them.

3) If someone hurts me, I will NOT allow them to victimize me a second time by making me swallow my feelings about that hurt.

If someone hurts me, I have the right to:

A) Be angry (furious, outraged, upset, etc).

B) Be angry to whatever degree is natural for me.

C) Express that anger in accurate terms.

D) Express what I think of the behavior that hurt me, and the person who did it, in accurate terms.

E) Be angry for however long I think is appropriate.

F) Remain the injured party even AFTER I have expressed my anger.

G) Expect sincere apologies and attempts to "make up for it," no matter how angry I am or how I've expressed that anger.

If anyone tries to prevent me from doing any of those things, I have the right to be angry about THAT.

4) I have the right to say NO and make it stick, regardless of who is asking, whether they phrase it as a request or a "command," no matter what sort of persuasion or manipulation they use, or how sure they are that I "should" do what they want.

5) I have the right to make the decisions for, and thus have full and exclusive control over, my life, body, home and property, and to NOT be influenced by the opinions and preferences of others if that's how I want to handle things.

6) I have the right to whatever degree of privacy makes me comfortable.

7) I have the right to make statements, both of facts and opinions, and stand by them, no matter who disagrees or how many times they argue.

8) I have the right to reap the rewards of my efforts, and to refuse to give up those rewards, or any portion thereof, to those who made NO effort themselves.

9) I have the right to cut from my life, at any time and without regret, anyone who mistreats me, especially anyone who receives help and affection from me and repays me with mistreatment.

10) I have the right to NOT always be a tower of strength and everyone's savior, and to NOT be denied help when I'm freaking out because I'm seen as the sort of person who gives help rather than needing it.

If you're thinking, "But I could NEVER ask people to give me those sorts of rights," let me assure you; yes, you CAN. People will only treat you as well as you ask them to; make 2005 the year you start asking for the sort of treatment you deserve.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Would you rather love or be loved? 

I seem to be at odds with much of the human race on this one; nearly everyone would apparently trample over someone who loves them to get to someone they're in love with... it happens all the time, in fact, when folks cheat on loving partners with new people they've fallen in love with, and even leave the innocent ones to go off with the moral midgets who helped them cheat. A case can be made that in many of these instances the new person loves them too, but as often as not the person who gets involved in an affair is just after sex, or a thrill, or some attention, and is NOT in love with the other person... but that person can become obsessed with the affair partner, and focus all their attention on trying to reel them in, while deceiving the official partner. WHY? Even if you've convinced yourself that you no longer love the person you're with, if they're still a good person, and still devoted to you, WHY would you pursue someone else, or even WANT to, no matter how you feel about them, especially if they don't love you back? Why leave an established loving situation for a wildly uncertain one?

And what about when someone single is loved by a perfectly wonderful person, but doesn't love THEM, and so won't give it a chance, because they're waiting to get infatuated with someone... as if that would give them a better chance at happiness, especially if that person didn't return the feelings? Wouldn't it be better to try things out with an objectively terrific person who already loves you than to stumble blindly into potential disaster with someone you're lusting over and can't objectively analyze, and so who might be utterly worthless?

And how about the situations when a relationship breaks up because one partner falls out of love with the other, and makes that perfectly clear, but the unloved partner tries desperately to get the unloving one back, even if they've got a new honey, because they "love" him/her? I've got love in quotes there because it looks more like psychosis than love... why would you want someone who doesn't love you anymore, whether you're foolish enough to still love them or not? Why not use that energy to get someone who WILL love you? Why the fanaticism towards someone who doesn't care about you just because you love them?

And finally, there's the case of those folks who believe themselves to be in love with all sorts of unlikely people that they either don't really know or have never even met, from singers and actors to the cute guy/gal in the next office; it's not uncommon to hear one of these people admit that they'd jump right into a relationship with that person if it were offered, and even leave their current partner in a heartbeat to be with them. They imagine that just the mere presence of the "love object" would be so wonderful that it would automatically surpass what they have with their partner, and the love they get from that person... but WOULD it?

Being in love is a nice feeling, yes... but so is BEING loved, and, more importantly, the latter gives you a better chance of a happy and contented life, as long as you're mature enough to play YOUR part, and return good treatment for good treatment. Despite that, I don't think I've encountered anyone else who'd pick the person who loves them over the person they love... which would YOU choose?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A pretty good Christmas 

I was a little put off when I woke up, went to the computer, and discovered that my husband was updating the software; there's nothing more excruciating than doing that first eager lunge at the computer for the day only to be foiled, is there? Other than that, though, and a stubbornly plugged toilet, and a chunk of decorations that never did get put out (grrrrrrrrrrrr), the day went surprisingly well.

My husband and I aren't normally romantic types, but he presented me with an elaborate "To My Beautiful Wife" card, the envelope of which he'd painstakingly decorated. You won't understand the meaning of this, but he also got me a pink Sharpie pen; just trust me that someone who knew me really well would think of me if they saw that pen, which is why he got it for me. AND, when I wasn't looking, he did something VERY clever with the giant spider doll that was still sitting out from Halloween (because he'd put a Santa hat on it to make it a Christmas decoration, not because we didn't pack up the Halloween stuff, just FYI); he'd gotten a bottle of eggnog and some bendy straws and managed to set it up to look like "Santa spider" is drinking the eggnog, LOL!! This sort of thing is why, despite his MANY flaws and failings, I keep him around.

I gave him COAL, both in candy form and rubber "ball" form, and we sang a special Christmas song I wrote for him last year; like me, he already has every material thing he wants, so this made him happy.

We discovered that getting a much more expensive roast means that you have a much tastier Christmas dinner, in fact our best ever, and we watched a hilarious movie together (the remake of "The In-Laws") as we ate it.

I got emails from a couple of friends I hadn't heard from in a long while, beat a game I've been playing on Yahoo


and it actually SAYS you beat it if you manage to do so, which is pretty cool, especially since my husband has NOT been able to beat it, hehehe, and I found and downloaded a song I've been dying to have for ages.

No family, no other people at all, no real gifts, no seasonal music or movies, a small simple meal... not what most people would want, certainly, but it worked really well for US. :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas cheer from me to you :-) 

I wish the best to you and yours, today and every day; my gift to you is to post a little humor rather than a lengthy essay. MERRY CHRISTMAS!! :-)

************ MEMO FROM SANTA ************

I regret to inform you that, effective immediately, I will no longer serve the States of Georgia, Florida, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas on Christmas Eve; due to the overwhelming current population of the Earth, my contract was renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local 209 (and, as part of the new and better contract, I get longer breaks for milk and cookies, too).

However, I'm certain that your children will be in good hands with your local replacement, who happens to be my third cousin, Bubba Claus. His side of the family is from the South Pole. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls; however, there are a few differences between us. Differences such as:

1. There is no danger of the Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus. He has a gun rack on his sleigh, and a bumper sticker that reads: "These toys insured by Smith and Wesson."

2. Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave an RC Cola and pork rinds (or a moon pie) on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn't smoke a pipe. He dips a little snuff though, so please have an empty spit can handy.

3. Bubba Claus' sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared, flyin' coon dogs instead of reindeer (I made the mistake of loaning him one of my reindeer one time, and Blitzen's head now overlooks Bubba's fireplace).

4. You won't hear, "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen..." when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead, you'll hear, "On Earnhardt, Andretti, on Elliott and Petty."

5. "Ho, Ho, Ho!" will be replaced by "Yee Haw!" And you also are likely to hear Bubba's elves respond, "I her'd dat!"

6. As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus' sleigh does have a Yosemite Sam safety triangle on the back with the words "Back Off."

7. The usual Christmas movie classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful Life" will not be shown in your negotiated viewing area. Instead, you'll see "Boss Hogg Saves Christmas" and "Smokey and the Bandit IV" featuring Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus and dozens of state patrol cars crashing into each other.

And finally:

8. Bubba Claus doesn't wear a belt. If I were you, I'd make sure you, the wife, and the kids turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

Sincerely Yours,
S. Claus

************ Wrapping Presents (With a Cat) ************

1. Clear large space on table for wrapping present.

2. Go to closet and collect bag in which present is contained, and close door.

3. Open door and remove cat from closet.

4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.

5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.

6. Go to drawer and collect transparent tape, ribbons, scissors, labels, etc.

7. Lay out present and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be formed.

8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit, and collect string.

9. Remove present from bag.

10. Remove cat from bag.

11. Open box to check present, remove cat from box, replace present.

12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.

13. Cut the paper to size, trying to keep the cutting line straight.

14. Throw away first sheet because cat tried to chase the scissors and tore the paper.

15. Cut second sheet of paper to size by putting cat in the bag the present came out of.

16. Place present on cut-to-size paper.

17. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present, wonder why edges now don't reach, and find cat between present and paper. Remove cat and retry.

18. Place object on paper, to hold in place, while cutting transparent tape.

19. Spend next 20 minutes carefully trying to remove transparent tape from cat with pair of nail scissors.

20. Seal paper down with transparent tape, making corners as neat as possible.

21. Look for roll of ribbon; chase cat down hall and retrieve ribbon.

22. Try to wrap present with ribbon in a two-directional turn.

23. Re-roll up ribbon and remove paper that is now torn, due to cat's enthusiasm in chasing ribbon end.

24. Repeat steps 12-22 until down to last sheet of paper.

25. Decide to skip steps 12-16 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that you know is right size for sheet of paper.

26. Put present in box, and tie down with string.

27. Remove string, open box and remove cat.

28. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for lockable room.

29. Once inside room, lock door and start to re-lay out packing materials.

30. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close door and re-lock.

31. Lay out last sheet of paper. (Admittedly this is difficult in the small area of the toilet, but try your best!)

32. Seal box, wrap with paper and start repairs by very carefully sealing down tears with transparent tape. Now tie up with ribbon and decorate with bows to hide worst affected areas.

33. Label, then sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulating yourself on making good of a bad job.

34. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make drink and feed cat.

35. Spend next 15 minutes looking for cat, before coming to obvious conclusion.

36. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.

37. Retrieve all discarded sheets of wrapping paper, feed cat and retire to lockable room for last attempt, making certain you are alone and the door is locked.

38. At time of handing over present, smile sweetly at receiver's face, as they try and hide their contempt at being handed such a badly wrapped present.

39. Swear to yourself that next year, you will get the store to wrap the darn thing for you!!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Have we lost our ability to judge age? 

There's a vaguely scary show on The Learning Channel now called "10 Years Younger," the premise of which is to use non-surgical means to help people who look older than their ages look the age they actually are. The grimmest aspect of this show is when they put the victim in a soundproof box out on the street and poll people as to how old she looks; not only is it cruel to pass this information along to the victim, but the age-guessers have shown amazing consistency at making guesses that are so far off that you're left wondering if they got PAID to add years to their actual guesses.

I've been dead-on in guessing the correct ages for these women, despite the fact that they all have things like sun damage that give the appearance of them being SLIGHTLY older than they are; it's not rocket science to look for lines and crepiness and sag and use that info to calculate age, or at least I didn't think it was. Even if people are fooled by premature undereye bags or whatever, that should only add a few years to their estimates, but I've sat and watched people guess these women to be as much as THIRTY-FIVE years older than they actually are!! Are they out of their MINDS? I saw one idiot look at a woman (who was 28) without a line on her face or a single gray hair and declare her to appear to be in her SIXTIES... based on WHAT, wouldn't you like to know? The age-guessers will say something like "Her glasses make her look sort of older," and then guess her age to be 20 years more than it is... even though glasses shouldn't add ANYTHING to our estimate of age (as they're NOT part of the face), much less 20 years.

I'll be blunt; they're showing these women with no makeup, and with their hair hanging limp or pulled back, and what they look like is HOMELY, not "old"... yes, their skin issues might add a little valid "aging" to them, but if *I* can guess their exact ages, there's no reason for all of these other people not to be able to, much less to be DECADES off, so the only thing they can be responding to, albeit stupidly, is unattractiveness, which they're misinterpreting as some of the women being DOUBLE their actual age. When did we become so dissociated from how a normal human being should look that if we see anything imperfect on a woman's face we see her as being her mother's age? Have we lost touch as a culture with what actual signs of aging ARE?

If a person has no lines on their face and no gray hair, it doesn't matter how bad their skin is, or if they wear glasses or not, or how their hair is styled, or how much they weigh, any reasonable estimate for their age should be under 30, and if their cheeks are still round and soft-looking you should guess under 25. As the faces start to lose the plumpness under the skin and start to get lines, you can safely guess 30's and then 40's. For the 50's, there should be major lines and some gray hair (unless it's dyed, of course), and if someone doesn't have true wrinkles and a full head of gray hair, you should under no circumstances be guessing 60's. It seems silly to have to be saying any of this, but the consistency with which people see a little bit of a belly and a pallid complexion and guess at least a decade wrong, and often more, has been driving me so nuts that I felt obligated to speak up.

What's the cause of the warped perceptions of these people? The only thing I can think of is; actresses. Folks, we need to stop seeing actresses as having ANY connection to reality; they're genetic freaks, with size 2 bodies that are rare because they're not well suited for pregnancy and childbirth, breast implants, and endless surgical procedures on their faces to banish any hint of aging... it is NOT normal to see women in their 50's and 60's, or even in their 30's and 40's, with perfectly smooth, tight faces, and we need to totally ignore these special cases when we contemplate what a given age looks like. We need to stop passing hideous judgment on every woman who isn't bone-thin and beautiful, who hasn't paid $500 to have her hair done, who wasn't dressed by a stylist, who isn't being made up, lit and photographed by pros being paid to make her look fabulous.

There's no harm in giving women facial peels and showing them how to put themselves together a little bit better, but to make them pay for this by publicly humiliating them by showing the most mean-spirited and moronic guesses about their age on national television is HORRIBLE. TLC usually has good programs, but I give this one, and all those people who've jumped in front of a camera to crush women's egos by wildly mis-guessing their ages, 2 thumbs WAY down.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Some people give Christianity a bad name 

If you've been reading here for a while, you know that I respect, and see wisdom in, ALL religions, and that I believe the vast majority of people of all religions to be basically good... but that a handful of badly-behaved people can tarnish the reputation of all followers of a faith.

I have many Christian friends, both in real life and online, and we've found it simple to show respect for each other, and for each other's beliefs, because it IS simple to do these things; furthermore, we're all the kind of people who'll step in if we see someone being bashed for what they believe, and I've been amazed to see how often Christians get attacked just for being Christian... they get attacked far more than people with odd metaphysical beliefs like mine ever do. Because prejudice is so far from my mode of thought, I've never understood where the urge to launch flamewars against people just because they mentioned being Christian comes from; sure, I can see why it happens if someone shows up and uses their Christianity to start judging and criticizing people, and I can see how those who act that way can make others a little edgy about Christians hanging around, but there just isn't enough of this going on to account for the rabid anti-Christian sentiment I've seen, so... what gives?

As best as I can determine (as people aren't usually willing to describe honestly why they act hatefully towards others), it's a backlash against that tiny % of Christians who treat non-Christians with condescension and thinly-veiled contempt... contrary to how JESUS is described as having treated people, which makes me wonder how those folks can call themselves Christians, but that's a whole other rant. You know the type I mean; people who think that if you don't believe EXACTLY what they do, you're so far inferior to them that you're essentially sub-human, and thus that they owe you no shred of courtesy or respect, even if you're supposed to be their friend. As you might imagine, this whole concept is on my mind because I was on the receiving end of this today:

A man I've known online, and corresponded with, for about 4 years sent me an email that directed me to a site dedicated to demonstrating that the founding fathers were Christian (which most of them certainly were), and how therefore every aspect of our country and government "should be" run according to Christian values. I replied to this email by saying that I appreciated him thinking of me but that, as a non-Christian, I don't support the idea of religion being part of our governmental structure, or being paid for with my tax dollars, and that I didn't want to receive anything further with religious content. His response... and my jaw is clenching just thinking about it... was that:

1) It was too bad that I was "ignorant" about American history... as if my not reaching the conclusions he did meant that I was IGNORANT rather than just approaching the analysis from a different perspective... as if only an ignorant person could disagree with a Christian interpretation of the facts on that website.

2) He'd KNOWN already that I wasn't a Christian... then what possible excuse did he have for sending me the URL to a hard-core Christian website?

3) He thought it was "alright" that I wasn't Christian... could he be any more condescending?

4) Well, he though it was alright as long as I didn't try to force any of MY ideas about things on HIM... right after he'd forced HIS ideas on ME, can you believe the hypocrisy?!!!!!!!

As you might imagine, this sort of commentary brings to my mind a 2-word response, and the 2nd word is "YOU." I restrained myself, however, and instead replied that it was NOT acceptable to suggest that someone who disagreed with him was "ignorant," or to send Christian emails to a non-Christian, or to push his ideas at someone while denying them the right to respond in kind... and that, as his actions showed me he was NOT my friend, it was time for us to stop writing to each other. {sigh}

I'm sure that no one reading this would behave the way this man did, but if you're Christian, and into forwarding religious-themed emails, ask yourself; are you SURE that everyone you forward to is Christian, and welcomes what you send them? If not, you could be unknowingly adding to the resentment that some people, who've been treated with contempt by someone like the man I've referred to, feel against Christians... and that's NOT your intention, right? Before you send out a flood of Christmas emails, take a moment to sort out who you should and should not be sending religious ones to; if you REALLY want to strike a blow against anti-Christian backlash, send an email to all your Christian friends and ask them if THEY might be sending religious emails to non-Christians, and if so, if they shouldn't re-think who they forward stuff to. Or... send them my URL, so they can read this for themselves; they'll get the picture, and you'll get some good karma for your elimination of sources of negative energy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The drive to succeed 

Can you imagine what it would take for a man to start out with nothing, father a child at 14, and then end up 25 years later, via his own efforts, worth over half a BILLION dollars? One of the contestants on "The Real Gilligan's Island" is the man I just described, and, although he isn't a physically studly man, and didn't give any overt evidence of being particularly intelligent or forceful, my first thought was that if he could achieve what they said he had, he'd be unbeatable in this competition, too... and I was RIGHT. He was thinking things out to the last detail from the moment he got to the island, scheming and planning, and facing each challenge with the sort of determination you'd expect him to have to possess... and, even though the others SHOULD have seen the danger he presented and gotten rid of him early on, he manipulated every vote, got into the final 3, and then pressed forward to win the final competition by a mile.

To keep things exciting, they didn't show much of his strategy sessions with his wife, or of the meetings he had with the others to gather info and exert control, but he MUST have an extraordinary grasp of human nature and psychology, and his powers of persuasion must also be pretty amazing, given how he kept getting people to do things his way; if they had footage of everything he did and said on that island, I'd love to see it, to see an obvious master in action... don't YOU wonder how certain people manage to triumph in EVERY situation they're in, and wouldn't you like to learn their secrets? Wouldn't that be WAY more interesting than seeing people eat live maggots?

What would make a man worth over $500 million go and starve on an island to win a prize he wouldn't be allowed to keep, and couldn't care about if he DID keep it? The challenge. The desire to take on something new and conquer. I think this is a better indicator of who might make the big, BIG $ than the desire for $ itself, or than any other desire, including the desire to win; the pure, primal desire to achieve, overcome, and outperform everyone else... the win, the prize, the rewards, are secondary. This is why so many self-made men barely seem to use or enjoy the $ they have, because they're so busy scaling new mountains, business-wise. Why climb a mountain? Because it's there. Why leave your mansion to live in a hut and participate in a TV competition? Because it's THERE. I can't begin to understand that mindset, but I admire it enormously, because it gets things done, and inspires others to get things done... and there's something appealing about success that comes from something other than being genetically gifted with beauty or athletic prowess.

Will we be seeing other wealthy men getting involved in these reality show competitions just to show they can win at ANYTHING? Count on it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


On 11-9, I posted about the nightmare we'd gotten into with renting DVD's via the online Blockbuster setup; the DVD's had just stopped coming, because their system showed they'd never gotten any of them back from us... and we were still PAYING for the service. On 11-19, I posted that 2 of the DVD's showed up in my husband's car, and we sent them in; we got a couple more DVD's, and then nothing again... because, as we've since found out, the Blockbuster system had wiped out our list of DVD's, and it took several weeks for my husband (whose account it is, grrrrr) to notice it. They credited us with 2 free weeks, which doesn't make up for what we lost out on but is better than nothing, we re-did the list, and today we got DVD's in the mail... THREE DVD's. No, we never found the 3rd "missing" one in our home, which means that either the post office took TWO MONTHS to send a returned DVD a distance that usually takes them 2 DAYS, or Blockbuster had the frigging thing all along and never credited us with it, leaving us without getting replacement DVD's for it for, I'll say it again because it ticks me off so much, TWO MONTHS... I know that the post office is a disaster, but given the other issues with Blockbuster online, I'm betting this is THEIR screwup. I'm trying to focus on the fact that we DON'T have any DVD's showing in their system as outstanding anymore, and so can cancel the service without having to pay full retail for a missing movie (if and when I can get it through my husband's thick head that we need to cut our losses while we can), but it's tough.

On 11-30, I posted about trying organic steak, and finding it gamey-tasting; it turns out that Whole Foods has another variety of beef that they call "natural," which also doesn't have the hormones and antibiotics, but wasn't fed organically... and these steaks were VERY good. I'm willing to try organic one more time, just to be sure, but if it's just not the flavor I eat beef to get, we'll go with "natural"; they only cost a little more than regular steaks, so I'd recommend trying them if you have a Whole Foods near you (and while you're there, try the Paisanitos plantain chips-YUM!!).

On 12-8, I posted about the importance of letting go, and how I did just that with a protracted feud I'd had with an eBay seller from whom I'd won a very unusual clothing item (that I ended up not having while she kept our $), and how, as a karmic result of that letting go, I'd won THREE similar items for stunningly low prices; the update is that, not only have I gotten them all and been very happy with them, but that I won a FOURTH one... an item that has been selling for $75-$80, which I got for $10 with a Buy It Now. I got it in the mail today, along with the equally miraculous 3 DVD's, and it's in mint condition; I don't know which of the 2 was more surreal.

Never a dull moment, lol.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why do women love a man in uniform? 

Because a uniform is seen as an indication that a man:

1) Has enough physical prowess to have gone through training of some sort; military types have to get through boot camp, cops have the police academy, and firemen have a rigorous training program (sometimes with the exception of volunteer firefighters, but they're extra-heroic, which makes up for it)... and this bodes well both for sex and his potential to sire strong, healthy offspring.

2) Has at least some degree of courage, and very likely a great deal of courage; his willingness to risk death to serve his country, protect us from criminals, or fight fires means that he's likely to be an excellent protector of his loved ones.

3) Could quite possibly be a hero, if not now then at some point in the future; this makes him exciting and glamorous, and gives him high status that will impress a woman's friends and family.

4) Has gainful employment with good benefits; this makes him good husband and father material.

5) Can make a commitment to something, to a group of people as well as to an ideal; no explanation should be necessary for this one.

As a bonus, a uniform provides an important element of attraction that is direct rather than implied:

6) It looks sharp; most men's clothing, whether business, casual or formal, is baggy and either shapeless or blocky, and makes even the nicest male body look like a lump... but the trim fit of a uniform makes any halfway decent male body look tall and toned.

Most women haven't thought this stuff out, of course, but they're always unconsciously aware of what it means to see a uniform on a man... so much so that they even get worked up over the ugly "uniforms" that UPS guys wear, even though all THEY actually indicate is that those men have no job skills and so are stuck driving around all day delivering packages. The purpose of uniforms isn't to attract women, of course, but considering the sorts of services that men in uniform provide, it's certainly a well-deserved side effect.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Do some of us marry ourselves? 

I don't have any interest in actors for the most part, so the picture in the November issue of Vogue of Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld is the first time I've ever seen her; my first reaction was, why would someone rich and famous enough to have his pick of the world's most beautiful women marry one who's barely any better looking than average? I then took a look at HIM, and my reaction was to wonder if it was a trick photo... because they look exactly alike. Same jawline, same chin, same cheekbones, even the same hairline; same skin, hair and eye color, both with similar biggish noses. They look more alike than most brothers and sisters do... and this is the woman he picked over all the beautiful supermodels and such that he could have easily chosen instead.

Can that be a coincidence?

While some folks are certainly attracted to the wildly different, some to the extreme that they won't even date people of their same race, it does seem that some of us are drawn to those who look like they could be members of our biological family. It's not uncommon, for example, for a woman to prefer men who remind her of her father, sometimes even including agewise; there's generally an overt idolization of "daddy" in these cases, and a search for a substitute father figure. In some people, there's more of a tendency to feel "right" with those who have a familiar "look" to them, which still makes sense when you think about it, as they probably feel most "right" around their family; they may not even be aware of it until someone points it out to them, though, so for them it's more of a subconscious thing. The real eye-popper, and the trickiest to explain, is of course cases like Seinfeld's, when people choose mates who are their virtual clones; this is easiest to see with gay couples, and my husband and I have noted every time we eat at a restaurant in the primarily gay part of our city that members of a couple often bear a striking resemblance to each other, right down to things like having the same goofy patch of hair in the middle of their identical bald spots, or having hair with the exact same style and pattern of streaks... they even tend to dress similarly, although this could have started after they got together, of course. I have a friend who married a man that everyone assumes is her brother (they're a perfect physical match right down to the gaps in their front teeth), and I've noticed less-dramatic resemblances any # of times... it's even been commented on more than once that my husband and I have a similar "look" due to our coloring and build.

But, WHY does this happen? Why do people make that sort of choice? Even those who truly love themselves wouldn't necessarily extend that to wanting to see what's essentially their own faces on their partners, and it's not like all of these folks are so beautiful that they think that the most beautiful possible partner is one who looks just like them, so... maybe it's something as simple as the idea that whoever resembles us the most on the outside might resemble us the most on the inside, or that if we look alike it must be fate for us to be together?

I've read that couples who have the same DEGREE of looks, in other words who are both the same on a scale of 1 to 10, are the happiest together; wouldn't it be interesting if people who looked alike were happier together too?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The "experts" on makeover shows need makeovers 

I just finished watching TLC's show "What Not to Wear," and, although it was entertaining, as it usually is, the most striking thing about it was how badly the people giving the advice need makeovers themselves.

The guy who does the hair went from having a semi-cute tousled short cut that was ok aside from always looking dirty and greasy (which is a serious problem, but theoretically easy to fix) to a buzz cut that looks DREADFUL; what does it say about his judgment about hair that he went from the "needs shampoo" look to the "must have gotten a haircut when he was drunk" look? Furthermore, his first thought with any woman with long hair is that it MUST be radically shorter, even on women who really need the hair to balance a big face or heavy features, or, and I'll be blunt, to give them something attractive for a man to look at (most men LOVE long hair)... and all this when the female host has long hair and the makeup girl has super-long hair, which gives something of a mixed message.

The makeup girl's sole qualification seems to be that she's exceptionally beautiful; she wears her hair the same way she probably did in junior high, her clothes are the sort of excessive stuff that gets thrown out when the makeover subjects own them, her makeup is too heavy (VERY bad sign), and she does mediocre work at best: she gives everyone too much blush and lip gloss (and in this case consistency is NOT admirable), the eyeshadow colors she glops on seem odd and random, and the eye makeup in general is such that the victims can't duplicate it... or are too smart to want to.

The male host is fairly cute (and he has a hairy chest, which gets him bonus points), but nearly every shirt he has has the sort of blinding pattern that gets people nominated for a makeover; there's no harm in a man owning a wild shirt or 2 for... whatever occasions there might be that they might be appropriate for, but wearing that sort of thing ALL the time is NOT indicative of having a style, or a clue about style-sorry Clinton.

The scariest one is the female host, who manages, despite having a small bust and being bone-thin, to have fat rolls around her bra straps, and I mean on EVERY show where she isn't wearing enough layers to hide it; how is someone who can't even pick the right size bra supposed to have any credibility when telling other people how to pick things that fit them? She never wears any shoes without sky-high spike heels, which doesn't show the sort of awareness of the many kinds of cute shoes that are available that one expects from a person who's giving advice to others about footwear. Some of the colors she wears make me wonder if she looks in the mirror at all after she gets dressed; she once wore a sweater that was a green so intense that only the darkest complected African-Americans should ever attempt it, and it was so distracting in its awfulness that it was hard to keep track of what was going on the whole time she had it on. She's also had wide stripes in her hair that just screamed "fashion victim," a long list of outfits that somehow managed to be too tight on her tiny body, and a total lack of understanding that some fabrics are too thin to have a clingy shirt made of and not wear a camisole underneath.

Still, everyone on the show knows more about what looks good than the people that get brought in for the makeovers, which I guess is all that counts; I'd really like to see an episode where the hosts get made over, though... and not just to see footage of Clinton changing shirts, either. ;-)

PS It's now Saturday night, and I'm watching another episode of this show; it turned out to be an old one... the one in which the female host is wearing the one garment of hers that I had a clear specific memory of-that green sweater. Coincidence? Nope.

Friday, December 17, 2004

An oddity of old scifi 

Have you ever seen artwork from the covers of early scifi novels? As often as not, there would be a hideous alien, often resembling a man-sized or bigger reptile or insect, posed with a beautiful human woman in such a way that it was understood that what it was hoping to do to the woman was something sexual... although it was hard to imagine exactly what, given the anatomical differences. It was always accepted as part of the story lines of those novels that, along with their plans to destroy Earth, or wipe us out and move in, or enslave us, or eat us, they'd want to fool around with Earth women... despite the fact that, anatomical incompatibilities aside, we look so different from them that we'd have to appear as freakish and repulsive to them as they did to us.

What was the point of the whole aliens-molesting-women idea? Did the threat of the aliens seem more intense if they were going to rape human women? The whole planet being destroyed was an abstract idea, after all, but a woman being ravaged was easy and upsetting to envision. Was it a reflection of our racial fears, with the aliens standing in for the sort of big black man that foolish whites believed was eager to attack white women? Most of this sort of artwork, and the stories being illustrated, predate the civil rights movement, when most white people didn't even know any black people, and so had all sorts of unreasonable fears about them. Was it a reflection of the cultural angst about sex, at a time where the traditional values were starting to slip? Or of the cultural angst about what effects science would have on human relationships, at a time when science was still in its infancy? Was there an element of resentment against women, who were just starting to think about having rights and lives separate from men, leading to an unconscious desire to see them forced into their traditional role as sexual receptacles? I HOPE it wasn't because anyone thought it was sexy to see women in sexual situations with non-human species... although I guess you never know. More than likely, there were bits of all of these things (except that last one, let's assume) behind those odd, scary images; the world was changing fast in the middle of the last century, and that's always anxiety-producing to people, especially the young ones who were the right age to have bought those books.

If there ARE other intelligent species out there, and it's the height of arrogance to imagine otherwise, I think the LAST thing we'll have to worry about is them wanting to do whatever sorts of mating procedures they have with human women; heck, if they're advanced enough to come here across the vast gulf of intervening space, they'll be advanced enough to figure out that we're crawling with bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that might be deadly to them; they wouldn't want to touch us, wouldn't want us to BREATHE on them, probably wouldn't come near us without the alien equivalent of hazmat gear. Heck, if they were REALLY advanced, they'd be so horrified at the violence and ugliness shown by all too many members of our species that they'd declare our solar system the galactic equivalent of a toxic waste dump and avoid us like the plague. Our primary fear needs to remain about the depredations of the most deadly species imaginable; homo sapiens.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

One of my mother's most psycho moments 

A very odd memory popped into my head today; I was about 14, at the mall with my mother, aunt and uncle, and we'd found a really nice bathing suit for me on sale (the only way I ever got anything). My aunt and uncle had gone on ahead to the food court while my mother and I waited to have the purchase rung up, and when we got out of the store they were already out of sight. As we headed down the length of the mall, my mother announced that I was going to have to stop wearing my other bathing suits and just wear the new one. Since I was an old hand at dealing with her, I knew that this was a trap, and that if I agreed, she'd either get hysterical about how ungrateful I was for my OTHER bathing suits, or wait until I'd followed the new "agreement" for a week or so and THEN jump on me; furthermore, I had no intention of the new suit meaning that I could have only one to wear from then on, as that was NOT an improvement... so I flatly refused. In response, she announced that she was taking the suit back, ducked her head and shoulders down like a football player about to run down the field, and went charging back towards the store. I trudged along after her.

She stopped partway there, seemed to think better of it, and started walking back towards where my aunt and uncle were waiting for us. A minute later, she fired her next volley (giving no indication that she was changing her demand, as usual); to show my appreciation for the suit, I should wear it "most of the time." Instantly grasping that this would mean tacitly agreeing to have her monitor what I was wearing to the pool, one of the few things she wasn't already controlling in my life, and adding stress and aggravation to my life because *I* would have to keep track of what I was wearing, and that of course I would never be able to get her to define what she meant by "most of the time," making it easy for her to attack me on that subject at any time no matter how often I wore the suit, I again refused... and again, she ducked her head down and went charging back in the direction of the store.

She was closer to the store this time when she stopped and began heading back towards the food court, and hadn't gotten far when she announced the next scheme; I should wear each suit equally, and prove that I was doing so by keeping a written record of what I wore on what day... that one didn't take any thought to know to refuse, with the same results as my previous refusals.

We were quite close to the store by the time she reversed direction again, and this time her idea was that SHE would assign what suit I should wear on each day... and, as it had finally penetrated into her demented mind that her melodramatic fake "runs for the store" weren't having the effect on me that she'd intended, she added a much bigger threat than just the return of the suit; that if I refused, I wouldn't be allowed to go to the pool anymore. I looked her right in the face and told her that I'd rather not go to the pool than go along with something like that. In a pitiful effort to use peer pressure against me, she asked what I'd say when my "little friends" called and asked why I wasn't going to the pool anymore, and I responded that I'd tell them that it was because my mother had gone insane; this wasn't just a reference to the craziness of her sudden obsession with what I wore to the pool, or of the plans she was trying to get me to agree to, either... anyone seeing her crazed face during this chunk of minutes would have thought she was out of her mind. Her reaction to this was to do a wild swing, with a fully extended arm, at my shoulder, with the bag, as if it contained something solid rather than 2 ounces of cloth, and to do a final head-down sprint all the way to the door of the store.

Once I caught up with her, she demanded to know if I was going to agree to do what she'd said (not specifying WHICH of the things she'd said that she was referring to, not that it mattered); I weighed the possible loss of the suit against the likelihood that they'd refuse to take it back if she tried to return it, since technically they couldn't take ANY return on a swimsuit even if it had just been purchased, and, more importantly, against the understanding that if they DID take the suit back, she had no story she could tell my aunt and uncle that would convince them that she'd been anything but a monster for buying me something and then instantly returning it, and that she KNEW this, and calculated that there was very little chance that she actually could and would return the suit. Beyond that, I simply wasn't willing to put my own head into the noose by giving her something new to over-involve herself in my life with and use to harass me over, and, even beyond THAT, I knew that to show any hint of weakness, to act in any way that indicated that she could intimidate me, or that I even cared what she did, would lead to her reacting like a shark that smelled blood in the water... so I again refused to agree to do anything. She claimed that we'd stand there until I agreed; I replied with a reminder that we had relatives waiting for us who had to have long since started wondering what was taking us so long. She fixed me with her most belligerent, threatening look, which could probably have melted chrome off a bumper, but I'd realized early in my life that looks did me no harm, and had thus long been unfazed by them, so I met her gaze with one of utter contempt.

As if a switch had been flipped, she gave up; she pivoted around and started quicktime-marching towards the food courts, barking at me over her shoulder to hurry up. She didn't say another word during the walk across the mall, and when we got there she loudly overrode the squawkings of my aunt and uncle about the endless delay with some vague lie about having to wait at the store, told me to hurry up and figure out what I was going to eat, and then launched into some other line of conversation with the adults-I can't remember what anymore, but I know they went numbly along with it like everyone in the family always did except ME, even though they were all grownups and I was a kid.

Can you imagine if this incident had happened in a climate of fear like we have today? She'd have had security, the cops, a SWAT team, and a bunch of big guys from the nearest mental hospital all converging on her long before she got back to the door of the store. Still, she must have realized later on how easily her behavior could have led to disaster if even one person had been freaked out enough to call security, or if the relatives had come looking for us and seen her, because she never put on a public display like that again; she never quite figured out where the line was beyond which her behavior would be seen as weird, though, but that's a whole other essay.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The ideal gift for a husband or boyfriend 

One of the oddest legends surrounding Christmas is that bad children are supposed to get a lump of coal in their stocking; I know it was meant to be a bummer to not get toys or sweets, but why COAL? No one seems to know, and a search failed to turn anything up, but it doesn't matter, because we all grasp the connection between coal at Christmas and naughtiness... and so when a friend of mine found a prettily-packaged lump of coal to give to her husband in his stocking a decade or so ago, we all howled with laughter. When I got together with MY husband, I started looking for coal for HIM, and, when I finally found some (in the form of hard licorice candy in a little coal scuttle), everyone hailed it as the perfect gift, including him... heck, even his mother, who worshipped him, thought it was funny. Since then, he's gotten several kinds of candy coal, bags of coal gum, pieces of real coal in various kinds of tins and novelty packages, a candle, rubber balls, and a resin thingie that look like coal, and Christmas ornaments of Marvin the Martian and Donald Duck extracting coal from their stockings... he even has a stocking of his own that says "One lump or two?" on it. He takes great pleasure and pride in this collection, and of course in the bad behavior that earns it for him every year, and we all get an annual laugh at his expense.

Ladies, if you check the Christmas candy section of your local drugstore or general store, there's a good chance you'll find the little red cloth bags with black bits of gum that are supposed to represent coal, and possibly candy varieties as well; if not, your local candy store will have various licorice or dark chocolate things that can be put in a bag with a label that says "COAL" on it... whatever you choose, buy it in secret, hide it well, and then have the camera ready to capture the moment when your man, and whoever else is there to open gifts with you, sees what he's received.

Men, if you want your woman to think you're a god, get a coal-related thing for yourself and slip it into your stocking, and then act surprised when you take it out; she'll probably be so impressed that she'll give you a "bonus gift." ;-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A bad lesson we teach our kids 

It's important for kids to learn early on that everything they want costs $, and that the way to get $ is to EARN it; to this end, most kids do some chores around the house to get an allowance (often an allowance far in excess of what their efforts deserve, or what they should have at all at their age, but that's a whole other essay), and many kids still babysit, deliver papers, mow lawns and walk dogs to earn $... this is all as it should be.

The bad part is when we teach kids to guilt-trip and manipulate to get $ rather than working for it; it starts with the traditional lemonade stand, where the child learns that by stealing the ingredients for lemonade from their parents, and accosting whichever neighbors don't see them in time to avoid them, they can get people to hand over 10X the value of the paper cup of beverage that's being offered because no one wants to have the kid tell their parents that Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so didn't buy any... what career exactly does any of that translate into valid business lessons for, other than maybe drug dealing? Think about it; watering down (cutting) the active ingredients and then hard-selling the finished product on the street at a price far in excess of cost... what else fits that description?

The more advanced version of this is when adults, who SHOULD know better, instruct kids to go door to door to try to make their hapless neighbors buy everything from candy bars to magazines to coupon booklets to, yes, cookies, to fund their activities or win them prizes; sometimes, the parents come along with the kids, and stand there where the neighbors can see them watching, so that the pressure on the neighbor to cough up enough $ to not incur their disdain can be added to the unwillingness of most human beings to brush off a little kid that's looking up at them with such eagerness and hope... and what does THIS teach kids that's of value in the business world, or even about how to be good people? Teaching them that there are ways to arm-twist others into coughing up $ for something they don't want or need will only look good on their resumes if they're going to apply for jobs with the Mafia collecting protection $... all the kids need are baseball bats to break the kneecaps of any who refuse, and they'll be perfect little wiseguys.

One of my parents' rare flashes of wisdom was their absolute refusal to EVER allow me to go around trying to extort $ out of the neighbors. The only exception they ever made was when our next door neighbor, who was supposed to be my mother's friend, sent her whiny daughter, who was in my class, over to our house to sell an overpriced candy bar towards winning prizes that *I* wasn't being allowed to compete for; the moment the girl had gone, my mother snatched one of the order forms that I'd brought home from school out of the garbage where she'd thrown them and had me march right over to their house and sell one to her friend, who was bright enough to never pull that one again.

I DID get some entertainment from this whole thing in high school, though, because by then I was at a private school where there was a class ski trip each year that I was of course not allowed to go on, a token % of which was supposed to be funded by selling coupon booklets. Every year, the class president, an otherwise very intelligent girl, would try to publicly badger me into participating in the fundraising for THEIR trip, and it always went something like this:

Her: Everyone is required to sell at least one, so everyone has to take at least one home.
Me: Not me.
Her: Yes, you too.
Me: You know I'm not allowed to sell things to people.
Her: Well, this year you have to.
Me: Oh? And how are you planning to make my parents change their policy about this? Or, are you suggesting that I sneak around and disobey my parents?
Her: {mindful of teachers in the room} Well, fine, then get THEM to buy one.
Me: {laughing} They wouldn't spend one penny to send ME on this trip, do you think they're going to hand over $ for YOU to go?
Her: Yes, this is a good value.
Me: No, it's a waste of $, and under no circumstances will they buy anything I bring home; I'm not allowed to even ask them.
Her: Well then, YOU buy one.
Me: {laughing louder} You think I'm going to give up my birthday and Christmas $ to pay for a trip I'm not even going on? Are YOU going to pay for something for ME in return?
Her: Oh, whatever, have it your way.

I kid you not, that selfish twit really did ask me, in all seriousness, to give up my own $ to pay for their trip, and really did in general believe that I was obligated to produce $ for them, and that the family and neighbors of every other student were also obligated... I cringe to contemplate what sort of greedy, self-centered person she turned out to be.

Back to the point: Parents, please, do your offspring and your neighbors a favor; teach your kids that they have to WORK to EARN $, or do without the stuff they want. If there's something you'd like them to have that's beyond their earning power, YOU pay for it-that's your job... as is teaching them that in real life there are no legal, moral shortcuts to getting things.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The benefits of being understood 

There MUST be some, right? Teenagers howl that no one understands them. Women moan that no man understands them. The first thing the married man says to the hot chick he's hoping to cheat on his wife with is that his wife doesn't understand him. Some people get all worked up if anyone in their life doesn't understand every single thing about them every moment of every day. If you ask one of these people why it MATTERS whether or not they're being understood, you'll get a blank stare in response, followed by outrage that you dared to question their powerful feelings on this issue; the fact that they honestly can't give a reason for how they feel apparently doesn't matter.

I've never for one moment in my life felt the desire to be understood, by ANYONE, or wondered whether or not I was; now that I AM thinking about it, I'm 100% sure that no human being has ever understood me at any point in my life... and it's had no effect on me whatsoever. If someone DID understand me, what would that gain me? Would I win a prize? Live longer? Have more $? What return would I get that would make it worth all the time and effort it would take to foster understanding in someone?

I asked my husband about this, and he said that HE never cared about being understood, either; he admits, though that he IS understood by ME... and adds that he wishes I understood him "25% LESS," because that would make his life easier (since that would mean he'd get away with more, which is his goal in life... and he's reading over my shoulder as I'm writing this, snickering away). As unusual as this viewpoint is, it's interesting that we both have it; it's probably NOT a coincidence, as I'm betting that our lack of attempts to make each other understand is part of what makes us fit well together.

I asked him if he's ever been interested in understanding ME, and he said "no, that might be scary," lol. Seriously, though, men just aren't programmed to want or need to understand others, and if women internalized that there'd be much less upset in the average romantic relationship, and in other sorts of relationships between men and women as well.

In general, I think that we as a culture need to grasp that the countless details that make up our mental and emotional landscapes may NOT be an effective use of anyone's time to learn, and thus that it's not reasonable to ask or expect people to understand us... and that, if they DID understand us, it wouldn't actually benefit us. I know, you think that if people just understood you, they'd alter the way they behave with you to a way more to your liking, but it just ain't so; people's personalities dictate how they behave, they aren't creating a different set of behaviors for each person based on their understanding of them, so learning new information about people has little or no effect on how they act. If you've got people in your life who are good people, and who treat you well, that's all that matters; to get all hurt that these well-meaning and caring folks don't understand you is just plain silly, and to generate negative energy over a harmless situation is NOT good for your karma.

Besides, if you're not understood by even the people who know you best, doesn't that mean that you're an unusually complex person with many unique aspects to your personality? How bad could THAT be?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas card conundrum 

We got the first Christmas card of the year today, and as I do every year, I wonder; WHY do we do it? How did it become ingrained into our culture that we should send a slew of cards each December to people we can't be bothered to keep in touch with the rest of the year, people we often don't care about any more, people whose lives we're no longer part of or familiar with, or who NEVER meant anything to us?

Yes, we send cards to loved ones, but we also send them to family members we barely know and rarely see, college roommates that we haven't ever been in the same city with since graduation, neighbors from where we lived a decade ago that were never more than friends of convenience, ex-coworkers that we never really socialized with, "friends of the family" that we've never exchanged more than polite greetings with... people who can't be getting any real pleasure from receiving the cards, any more than WE turn any cartwheels when we get THEIR cards.

Why do people who can't spare 5 minutes to call their elderly parents or grandparents spend hours and hours filling out cards for people that could drop off the face of the Earth without them noticing? Do we imagine that we're so important to these people who aren't important to US that they'll be devastated if we stop sending them cards? Do we secretly feel important if we receive a bunch of cards, and so we keep sending them out so we can get some back? Will we feel inferior to our friends if we don't have as many cards on display as they do? Do we feel like we're carrying on this great tradition of sending folded pieces of paper to bare acquaintances? Do we feel like better people if we can pretend that we care about all our intended recipients, despite the obvious fact that if we REALLY cared we'd use some of our free cell phone long distance minutes to keep in touch with them throughout the year?

One of the few useful things my mother ever did for me, if only indirectly, was to decide out of the blue one year that she was tired of sending cards, not just for Christmas but for all occasions, to all the endless members of my father's family when they couldn't be bothered to reciprocate, and that from then on if he wanted them to have cards, HE would have to handle it himself; her gargantuan annual Christmas card project became a breeze from then on, and no harm or complaint ever came of it from any of those who were no longer getting cards (as my father couldn't be bothered to send any to his own blood relatives)... and I learned that lesson well.

My first married Christmas, I made the effort to send cards to all those that a case could be made that I "should" try to exchange cards with, and each following year I subtracted from that list those who didn't reciprocate; this year, I've only sent cards to a handful of immediate family, and am going to see who sends one to me withOUT getting one from me first (mine always go out early)... I'll send a card out for each one I get, if any, and at the very least will have saved myself a good chunk of work.

Can you imagine the savings in time, effort, $ and trees if we'd ALL just agree to send cards only to people we actually care about? Nothing that sweeping will happen in our lifetimes, but if you haven't done your Christmas cards yet, ask yourself if some of them are being done for reasons other than love... and maybe we can make a start on a new tradition.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Astounding karmic cartoon 

A couple of nights ago, I saw a show on the Comedy Channel called "Jump Cuts" that featured a series of animated shorts (including the gift-related one I mentioned in a recent post), and there was one that, although the artwork was primitive, totally blew me away:

It started out with 2 bugs stuck on the windshield of a car; the 1st bug, who just has a leg trapped under the wiper, points out to the 2nd bug that its guts are leaking out onto the windshield. The 2nd bug says, "Oh man, I had so much I wanted to do; I'd always hoped to make some sort of contribution, you know, to the bigger picture, give some meaning to my existence," and the 1st bug says, "Maybe you have and you just don't know it yet; God knows how many hurricanes my flapping wings are responsible for"; they exchange a few more lines, and then the driver of the car turns the wipers on, smearing the entire windshield with a layer of opaque green goo (yeah, that's gross, but stick with me for a minute, it's worth it). The driver belatedly tries to squirt on some washer fluid, but there isn't any, and because he can't see and is too stupid to hit the brakes, he goes roaring off of the road and crashes headlong into a tree, wrecking the car. We see the 1st bug flying away from the scene, and I was starting to snicker about what great "revenge" the 2nd bug had gotten, and was wondering if they'd show the surviving bug laughing or cheering or some such thing, when the trunk of the car popped open... and a little girl with tape over her mouth stood up inside of it.


I was in absolute AWE; never in a million years would I have guessed that ending. The idea that the death of a bug could lead to a child escaping what we can only assume would have been a horrible fate at the hands of a man who was a pervert or killer or both is utterly stupendous, as is the message that, if you want to make a contribution and have a meaningful existence, you CAN do just that, although not always in the form you would have wished; karma, and therefore life, is often that way, which is why we have that saying about being careful what you wish for.


This series only lasted 4 episodes, and hasn't been shown since its cancellation as far as I can determine; there's no longer even a mention of it on the Comedy Central website. In case they ever decide to show it again, this clip was in Episode One, it's called "Bumble Beeing," and it was described as "Two bugs confront meaninglessness and a windshield." You don't need to wait for that to happen, though, because the creator of the animation (which it turns out was featured in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival), Billy Blob, has put it on his website in its entirety (including bits that didn't make it to the TV show) here:


I didn't originally see the part of the cartoon with the radio news talking about the missing girl, and I don't know whether that part was cut out of the version shown in "Jump Cuts" (along with the driver's nose-picking), or if I just noticed the clip being shown well after it started; in a way, I'm glad I DIDN'T see that part the 1st time I saw it, because it might have tipped me off... either way, it's a brilliant piece, so do go and see it.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Karma strikes again, in a BIG way 

You might remember hearing a few months ago that a woman who had donated a kidney to a total stranger had won a half million dollars from a lottery scratch-off ticket in Virginia; I posted about it on June 17. Yesterday, my buddy Haws, whose fine blog is here:


posted (in the comments to his recent essay about karma) the URL to an equally astonishing story; Debi Faris-Cifelli, who helped get California's safe-haven law (which allows parents to leave unwanted babies where they'll get care without risking criminal prosecution, the idea being to keep babies out of dumpsters) passed, and who has dedicated herself to spreading the word about it to save babies, AND to giving babies that are found abandoned and dead a decent burial, has won a California lottery jackpot of $27 million... with only the 3rd ticket that she and her husband had ever bought. You can read the full story, and about more of her extensive do-gooding, here:


That 2 women who were so overwhelmingly deserving of karmic rewards won the lottery within a few months of each other blows me away. To those who'd point out that most lottery winners are NOT so heroic, I'd point out that only a minuscule % of people are that good, and only an equally minuscule % of people who play the lottery win, so the amazing thing is that those 2 groups EVER had any overlap. much less that it happened twice within such a short period of time. Could it still be a coincidence? Sure. Will I ever believe that it was? Nope. :-)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Picking out Christmas gifts 

It's always amazed me how difficult this is for most people; if you know someone, even a little bit, you should have SOME idea what they like, and as a human being with a brain you should be able to figure out what they will NOT like. For example:

No one likes gifts the hidden message of which is "You need to change, you're not good enough as you are now"; unless specifically asked for, therefore, things like gym memberships and exercise equipment are OUT (no matter HOW overweight or out of shape the proposed recipient is), as are cookbooks or pots and pans for someone doesn't cook (no matter how horrible you think their diet of microwave meals is), and clothing of a radically different style than the recipient wears (no matter how sure you are that they need to dress better)... these sorts of proddings are disrespectful enough during the rest of the year without poisoning Christmas with them.

Just as bad are gifts which are intended to make the recipient do something that you think they "should be" doing; art materials or musical instruments shouldn't be given to people who've expressed no interest in exploring those avenues, however talented you think they are or might be, embroidery or stamp collecting kits shouldn't be handed out just because other members of the family are into those things, and books on baby care are out of the question for those with no kids and no current desire for any, no matter how desperate you are for grandkids... it's not your job to force or manipulate people into "improving" their lives.

Because no one wants a gift relating to an interest they don't have, don't give bubble bath to the woman who's never mentioned taking tub baths, or wine to the man who's never mentioned drinking anything but beer, or books to someone who doesn't read anything other than the listings in TV Guide, or a marmalade of the month club membership to someone whose idea of breakfast is a power bar... even if the gift is objectively nice, it's worthless to the recipient. (Note: a weird short piece just came on the Comedy Channel... an animated thing with a guy who was listing all these freaky, inappropriate gifts he might buy for this woman... coincidence?)

People also don't like gifts that are contrary to their preferences; don't give a green shirt to the guy who only wears black, or a fleece jacket to the woman who always wears cardigans, or a dog figurine to a cat lover, or perfume/cologne to a person who doesn't wear scent... when picking a gift, ask yourself honestly if it fits in with what the person already has and therefore likes.

Another mistake is using a gift to pull a fast one, by giving the victim something YOU want (but they would NOT) as an indirect way of giving it to yourself; I saw an example in an ad today, where the husband gives the wife a fishing pole that she obviously has no clue how to use, but that HE'S all excited about. My husband has slipped up with this one, bypassing the wifely approval process for Christmas decorations by giving me some hideous ones that HE liked as "gifts." The most common example of this trick is the man giving the woman lingerie; sorry, fellas, but the woman does NOT get any pleasure from the lingerie, and she DOES know that it's really a gift for YOU, so save the lace teddies for your birthday. Another sadly common one is the man getting a household appliance as a "gift" for the woman; unless you really love sleeping on the couch, you should just buy appliances as they're needed throughout the year (with full spousal input, of course), and avoid the appliance department entirely when looking for a gift for the better 1/2... head to the jewelry department instead, and maybe she'll wear that lingerie you tried to pass off as a gift to her on Valentine's Day.

A related version of this problem is letting YOUR preferences influence the purchase of an item that isn't for you; when you find a shirt that you know will be perfect for your sister, if your favorite color is red and her favorite color is blue, buy the BLUE one, no matter how much better you like the red one... that old gift-giving rule about buying people stuff that you'd like to receive yourself is only meant to keep you from giving people garbage, not for you to deliberately choose an item the recipient will like less because it's what you'd prefer.

Parents of preteen kids are famous for faking the kids out with what LOOK like gifts, as they're wrapped up and under the tree, but end up being pajamas, underwear, or other clothing items... and they either don't notice or don't care that their kids are badly disappointed every time this happens. Parents, until your kid gets old enough to ASK for clothing, clothes do NOT count as gifts; just buy what they need and put it in their rooms like you do the rest of the year, and make sure that everything the kids unwrap on Christmas are things they WANT.

The final category of gifts that people don't like are those so awful that NO ONE would ever like them; you know perfectly well what sorts of things I mean here, and there's no excuse to buy them, or for "recycling" them if they're given to you, either.

Getting presents that people WILL like is easy; use the information you have about their personal style, hobbies, collections, sports, pets, and favorite music, colors, movies, foods, and anything else they've ever said about what they like, want, or used to have and wish they had again, as purchasing guidelines. You can mess up an otherwise good, well-intentioned gift by ignoring important details, though; for example, your nephew has been begging for Spiderman pajamas, and you get him some... in the size he wore 6 months ago... and 5 other relatives got them for him as well. You know your aunt always wears perfume, so you get her some wonderful-smelling stuff in a beautiful bottle... but it's a musky scent and she only wears floral scents. You know who your brother's favorite author is, so you get him the hardcover edition of that writer's latest book... but your brother got a copy for himself as soon as it was released. You remember your friend saying she wanted a new lamp for her nightstand, and you find a lamp in a style you know she'll love... but it's orange, and her bedroom is yellow. It's easy to get so excited about finding a great gift for someone that you rush blindly to buy it, but taking a few minutes to think it through, and to maybe check with parents or spouses about what loved ones that don't live with you have or prefer, will save you alot of returns and exchanges.

Using these simple guidelines, you can pick out gifts that you can be PROUD to give... and don't be surprised if you get some good "gift karma" in return.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The importance of letting go 

When somebody screws you, whether in personal or business dealings, you should stand up for yourself, for your rights, and try your best to get satisfaction, to right the wrong done to you; few would disagree. The hard part, especially for someone like me who was raised to fight like a mad demon, is to accept that sometimes things will get to the point where it's not only not worth the effort to keep fighting, but where it's actually detrimental to your blood pressure and your karma to keep fighting... the point where the negative energy you're generating from your tension, stress, anger, upset, etc will overwhelm any likely amount of positive energy you might produce if you eventually won.

I finally reached that point with an eBay seller; I won a very unusual clothing item from her, and if I told you the full story of what we went through with her you just plain wouldn't believe it... *I* can barely believe it, and I lived it. We went through many different avenues to try to come to an end to the situation that wasn't a disaster, but not only did they not pan out, her behavior was inexplicably belligerent for someone who was, let's be blunt, a crook who'd been caught out and should have been trying to smooth things over, and erratic and weird as well; we're quick to label someone as crazy or psycho these days, but I honestly think this woman qualifies as majorly unbalanced to have acted as she did.

The whole thing had caused me a great deal of stress, and we'd gotten to the point where all I could do was use the Federal mail fraud laws to try to get her, which wouldn't have guaranteed that we'd get our $ back even if they went ahead with it and ruled against her, and I'd already put in too many hours of effort over an item that wasn't remotely expensive to begin with, so... much as I hate to see an evil person not get what's coming to them, I decided that at Thanksgiving I'd simply drop it; delete all the emails, pack up the paperwork, and never think of it again.

As always, karma came through to "reward" me for doing the correct thing (aka send me positive energy to fill the void left by the negative energy I'd just eliminated, and in the form that I'd been focused on); although the clothing item I'd lost out on is so unusual that it rarely comes on eBay, and when it does it always goes for far more than I'm willing to pay except for that one time, since I officially dropped the issue I've won THREE different versions of it, and in every case I got it almost embarrassingly cheaply.

Coincidence? Not a chance.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

You know it's love when 

I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone claim that their romantic partner REALLY loves them, when in fact that person treats them with indifference or even contempt... what exactly do they BASE these claims on? When someone says something like, "(S)he treats me bad, sure, but (s)he loves me," what mental process have they gone through to convince themselves that this love exists without proof, and with ample proof to the contrary? Do they think that WANTING to be loved somehow substitutes for actually BEING loved, or do they just have no idea what love actually looks like? If YOU know someone like this, here's an example to pass along to them, to hopefully help them to get a clue:

Last night, as I was eating my dinner, I gradually became aware that my feet, which were bare in a chilly house, were so cold that the toenails were blue; not wanting to go to the other end of the house and dig out a pair of socks, I asked my husband to come over and warm up my feet. He made a joking comment about my lack of socks, but he came right over to, I first assumed, hold my feet in his hands and maybe rub them a little to get the circulation going; he sat on the floor next to my chair... and then slid his legs and lower body UNDER the chair, lifted up his sweater, and put my icy feet under the sweater and against his bare skin. My feet were quite pleased with this, as it was VERY warm in there; my husband cringed and grimaced as one would expect a man in his circumstances to do, but he stayed there until my feet were warmed through.

Now THAT'S what love looks like. :-)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Joel Osteen makes an interesting point 

In tonight's sermon, Osteen told a story about a man who was trying to travel through the mountains, and got to a place where a huge boulder completely blocked his way; the man asked God to move the boulder so that he could pass by, but God told the man that he must move it himself. Although sure that he couldn't do it, the man tried, and tried... all day long, every day, for 6 months (this story is so grim that it's probably Old Testament). Finally, God sent a big storm that swept the boulder away, and the man asked why He had waited all this time to do it, and caused him so much sweat and struggle for nothing; God replied by telling the man to look at his legs, his shoulders, his arms, and see how big and powerful he had become in his battle with the boulder, and by assuring him that he'd be glad of this muscle mass in the times to come, and be greatly benefited by it... and that's why He had set the man to that dreadful task.

The point of the story, clearly, is that when we have struggles and suffering, even when they seem pointless and fruitless, what in fact is going on is that God is making us stronger so that we may triumph later on; although I don't believe in God (nor do I deny His existence, as I can't prove He doesn't exist), I DO think that this story has meaning, because it often seems clear to me that my sufferings, and those of people I know, DO end up benefiting us, making it possible for us to endure, understand, achieve and triumph far beyond what we otherwise could have.

There's no doubt that hard times toughen us up and allow us to learn many important lessons, but I think there's more to it, at least some of the time; karma tends to place in our path whatever we need to reach our goals, whether that be the people who'll help and teach us, the urge to take beneficial actions, or hardships to bring out our finest qualities. If, as Osteen points out, we can keep working at our goals with a positive mindset, we can use everything that's happened to us to accomplish more than we ever thought ourselves capable of.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Odd stuff in "Alien" 

I saw "Alien" tonight for about the billionth time; do you remember the line from the ads, "In space, no one can hear you scream?" This was meant to be scary, and it IS, but it's also scientifically accurate, as sound doesn't carry in a vacuum; since they KNEW that, why then did they have SOUND accompanying the various things the spaceship did when our point of view was out in space? When the jets fired up, when stuff exploded, it should have been in absolute silence, but they went along with what every other scifi movie and program does and gave us sound effects for all of it.

Another lapse in common sense came when they had a crewmember smoking; they have a limited amount of air that has to be recycled endlessly for months, so would they be burning oxygen and spewing pollutants into the air by smoking? What was even worse was when they were charging around with flamethrowers; wouldn't a fire on a spaceship be a BAD thing, for reasons beyond the wastage of oxygen and the strain on the air filters?

And then there was Jones the cat; who would ever be stupid enough to let an animal roam freely around a spaceship? Not only are there all sorts of controls and such that you KNOW a cat would make a beeline for, cat hair gets everywhere, which, when you have sensitive computer components on which your LIFE depends that can't even tolerate a speck of dust getting on them, would be a BAD thing.

The reason for having the cat, though, is to allow them to have several rounds of the classic horror movie maneuver, chasing after the cat as it ignores the human character that's about to become monster-chow or a slashed-up corpse and keeps running away, leading the unwitting human right into danger; the pet HAS to be a cat for this suspenseful scene to work, as a DOG would run obediently to the human the first time it was called, and would bark and growl at the monster/killer AND would attack it ferociously if it tried to kill the human... whereas a cat would trip the human up and leave him/her for dead in its mad dash to escape.

Perhaps the dopiest thing in the movie is the elaborate and time-consuming procedure necessary to arm the self-destruct mechanism; since it would likely be a screaming emergency when this had to be used, wouldn't that sort of defeat the purpose? The procedure to shut it off is just as bad, and it seems sort of silly to risk the entire ship and everyone on it on whether or not a panicked crewmember could jump through all the hoops fast enough to stop the countdown. Silliest of all, they showed Ripley, who's the 3rd in command of the ship, reading the directions for the mechanism... um, wouldn't she already KNOW such an important procedure?

Don't get me wrong, I think that the movie is conceptually brilliant, and the moment when the alien bursts out of the man's abdomen is one of the all-time classic horror moments, but, you've gotta admit, some of the fine points leave a little to be desired.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Date-busters for men 

We all know what sorts of things make a date bad from a woman's point of view, with poor hygiene, sexual pushiness and talking only about himself topping the list... but what sorts of things make a MAN turned off on a date? (Men deserve some credit for complaining little enough about this stuff that it's not common knowledge, by the way.)

1) The woman not being ready on time; men HATE having to sit around while a woman makes mysterious alterations to her appearance, and if you're late getting ready for a date, which is when you're still on your best behavior, he assumes he's ALWAYS going to have to wait for you, and this is a grim notion to him. You know how long you need to primp and preen, so start early enough that you're sure to be ready when he shows up.

2) The woman can't make her mind up at dinner; it's not like this is your last chance to eat any of the foods on the menu, so pick a meal, ANY meal, and don't say a single word about the meals that you didn't pick, or act like you don't like what you ordered... whining about food is utterly foreign to the male half of the species, and it makes you look high-maintenance and impossible to please, which makes you not worth dealing with in his mind.

3) The woman won't eat real food; guys know that you're weight-conscious, but they don't want to take you out only to see you eating skinless chicken on a lettuce leaf... it makes them feel like poor providers, and like you're going to be equally lacking in appetite in bed. You don't have to order the fattiest dish on the menu, but DO pick out something that looks like food rather than rabbit chow.

4) The woman takes calls on her cell during a date; unless you're a doctor on call, or have a minor child, there's NOTHING important enough for you to talk about on the phone in mid-date, so turn it off and leave it that way.... otherwise, he'll see you, rightly, as rude.

5) The woman's home is guy-unfriendly:

A) She has lowfat, nonfat, reduced fat, sugarfree, low salt, and every other kind of food that tastes icky in the name of weightloss or health; there's nothing for HIM to eat, and, again, he's put off by a woman who doesn't eat real food.

B) She has too many cutesy things like stuffed animals, dolls, figurines and other stuff he associates with junior high girls; this makes him think that you can't relate to him as an adult (which, granted, is hypocritical when HE has a video game system and still eats Captain Crunch for breakfast), and those sorts of things just plain make him feel uncomfortable, not to mention un-sexual (aka unmanly).

C) She puts a CD on, or asks him to pick one, and all she has are sappy wah-wah-wah singers that make him want to cover his ears and scream to blot out their music; this makes him wonder how depressed and/or unrealistically romantic she is.

6) She ignores him to baby-talk to her pets; few men enjoy playing second fiddle to lower life forms.

7) When they've agreed to watch a movie together, she tries to get him to watch a chick-flick; it's NEVER ok to try to get another person to watch a movie you know they'll dislike, and to do so means you're either rude or clueless or both. A suspense movie, on the other hand, is a good choice, because it gets the adrenaline going without being too violent for the woman to enjoy.

Ladies, guys are usually easy to please; if he asked you out, he already likes you (unless it's a blind date, but with those you usually don't CARE), so all you have to do to keep him happy is avoid coming across as a selfish little girl living in your own world... yes, and let him toss a few moves at you, but if you don't want that, why are you seeing him in the first place? Show him some courtesy, try to make him feel comfortable around you, and let him see that you're easygoing and not a princess, and you'll have no problems... other than all the goofy stuff HE does, of course. ;-)

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