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Neko

Saturday, April 28, 2007

How much are your bookmarks worth? 


Think about it: If you've been online for any length of time, you probably have THOUSANDS of bookmarks, many of them for sites that'd be time-consuming to locate via a search engine, especially if they aren't high-ranked... and that's assuming that you remember every site you've bookmarked, and that each one has either a distinctive name or unusual keywords to give you any sort of chance of pinpointing it amongst what're probably a million similar sites. This means that if you lost all your bookmarks, by which I mean ALL versions, forms, copies, backups and files of bookmarks from every computer you use, some of those sites would only be recoverable with a great deal of time and effort, possibly more than you'd ever be able to make, some you'd never find again, and probably MOST you'd have no specific memory of and thus have no way to look for; what would that mean to you? Take a minute and look at your bookmarks, and ask yourself how many of them you'd reasonably be able to recreate if they were lost; then, ask yourself how much you'd be willing to pay to protect them. I'd probably be willing to pay $1000 for mine, maybe more.

What about your cookies? You're probably signed up with a whole bunch of sites, some of which make you go through elaborate procedures to get back into your accounts if you can't remember your login info; what'd it be worth to you to prevent your entire cookie file (and all backups) from being wiped out? For me, this is worth a couple of hundred dollars; there's nothing that'd be lost forever if mine vanished, so it's not as valuable as bookmarks.

How about all the files you've downloaded over the years? Music, videos, images, cartoons, photos, animated gifs, graphics, etc; how much would you pay to keep from losing every copy you've got of all of those things? For me, this is probably a $1K deal again.

And your blog entries? Some people delete all their stuff periodically anyways, to get a "fresh start" or some such thing, but most of us place a little more value on what we write; what's your blog content worth to you? Frankly, I'd let all my posts about my personal life, and the ones about trivial stuff like movies or food, go without a whimper unless I could get them reasonably cheaply; I don't love the sound of my own voice, bloggily speaking, enough to value everything I write highly just because *I* wrote it. There are a fair # of my posts, though, that cover spiritual, psychological or sociological topics that represent a huge amount of time, effort and thought, and for them I'd pay... it looks ridiculous typed out, so let's just say I'd value them at quite a bit more than mere bookmarks.

For those of you with fancy templates, it'd also be fair to ask how much you'd pay to not have to start from scratch, with a blank or simple pre-fab template, with none of your files or scripts (again, this means that all backup copies of everything would be lost); I'd be willing to pay maybe $100 to not have to find and re-install all my blog doodads and such... I bet folks who did detailed artwork and/or code for their blogs would pay a great deal more.

How about all your emails from loved/liked ones, including those that have photos attached? How about your entire inbox address book(s)? How about your complete IM histories? How about the meaningful posts you've made on forums or other people's blogs? How much is all that worth?

What's the total combined value to you of all these internet-related pieces of information?

When's the last time you backed all that stuff up?


The fine folks at Shedd's/Country Crock have created a way for you to help feed the hungry for free, and all they ask is that you "Tell us about a time you shared with someone or someone shared with you. For every story you share with us, we'll donate a meal to a family in need through America's Second Harvest." They've provided 12K meals as of when I'm writing this, and are promising to provide up to a MILLION meals, so go here

http://spreadthesharing.com/StoriesofSharing/TellStory.aspx

and add your story... remember, all across America people are hungry every day (disgraceful, isn't it?), not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas when most of us donate food.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Omni's semi-recipes 


I can't just call them "recipes" because they're only partial ideas about how food can be put together to taste good; I don't cook, but as a supertaster (see my post of 3-5-04) trying to find ways to eat in a culinary landscape designed for tasters and non-tasters I've given alot of thought to food and how it can be combined in palatable, convenient ways, and this is what I've come up with:


1) The glory of Monterey jack, especially pepper jack (which is just a LITTLE hot, so don't be afraid to try it):

a) Mozzarella goes bad quickly, and isn't actually that good; instead, use jack cheese, which looks the same, has the same consistency, but lasts longer and tastes MUCH better, on Italian dishes (including pizza).

b) Instead of using only cheddar cheese with Mexican dishes (how did we Americans get used to doing that-it's not like this British cheese is authentic on Mexican food), omelettes, mashed potatoes, etc, mix it with jack; the latter is far lower in fat and calories, doesn't separate its oil out so easily, and adds a great deal of flavor, especially if you use pepper jack... it's one of the rare occasions where reducing fat and calories IMPROVES flavor.


2) Sourdough makes it better:

Sourdough isn't only for the rolls in fine restaurants and the occasional Jack in the Box burger; in addition to being just plain tastier than white bread, the tanginess of it adds another dimension of flavor to whatever you're eating it with, which makes food more satisfying... and even by itself, with real butter (the trans fats in margarine are deadly), the sweet/sour combo is so good that you can nearly make a meal out of it. I keep hoping for the return of sourdough rye, and sourdough dill rye, which starred in the best sandwiches of my childhood; if you can get these breads where you live, try some and see what I mean. I also hope that eventually some entrepreneurial type will make a sourdough crust for pizza; if they also substitute pepper jack for mozzarella, they'll have made the ultimate version of my favorite food.

3) WTF is nutmeg, anyway? If you've got that ancient bottle of nutmeg that only gets used as a garnish for eggnog, toss it out and use cinnamon instead; it has a nicer color, smells better, and is utterly delicious.

4) Sprouts aren't just a relic of the 70's; they're the fastest way to get some green stuff into a sandwich, pitas, tacos, etc, because they don't need to be cut or shredded. Even better, if you can find radish or daikon sprouts (a daikon is a root veggie that tastes like a mild radish), they've got that sharp radish-y taste to them, and are REALLY good with more strongly seasoned foods... I even put them on my Montague's All-Meat Marvel pizza.

5) And speaking of the 70's: Remember yogurt and granola?

Now that they've discovered that over 70% of our immune system's in our digestive tract (who'd have guessed it-I'd have thought 0%, wouldn't you?), it's time to start eating the only thing known to directly enhance the intestinal flora... active cultures, found in yogurt and yogurt-ish drinks (there's also cultured soy stuff, but I wouldn't feed that to a dog). Make sure the carton says CONTAINS active cultures, not "made with," as the latter doesn't mean that any of the cultures are still alive and the former does. Unless you want to ingest as much fat and calories as if you'd had ice cream, go for nonfat yogurt, and get plain to avoid having a cup of sugar in it; granola's sweet (Quaker Valley 100% Natural's still the best), and the tartness of plain yogurt goes well with it. To greatly increase the fiber and nutrition of the grain part of the mix, go to Whole Foods and get that other 70's favorite, wheat germ, and also some bran (in its natural form of little flakes, not a yucky cereal containing it); you can use lots of wheat germ, which tastes pretty good, but go easy on the bran, which is sort of like eating cardboard but which is unnoticeable in small amounts. Add some fresh fruit and you've got your nutritional bases covered. You don't have to save this for breakfast; we use it as a dinner once a week, and it'll be extra-good when it gets too hot to cook in a few months.

6) Glop:

This is the closest thing I have to an actual recipe; it's what my husband and I call the dessert I came up with for us to have on special occasions. Unlike most folks, I HATE pie crust, and don't get too excited by cakes, so I combined the things I DO like into something that's not only delicious but fun, and allows each eater to personalize it to their own preferences: canned pie filling (usually light cherry for me and tart cherries for my husband), mountains of whipped cream (Cool Whip Extra Creamy is the best), and walnuts or pecans. My husband adds chocolate syrup to his, and if we've got shredded coconut that's awesome too. On alternating occasions, we have the glop on angel food cake; I'm betting that pound cake would be good too, but no one makes it fresh around here. And that's all there is to it; no baking, no measuring, no preparation, just open up the containers and let people glop it onto their plates... hence the name.

Bon appetit!!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Financial institutions f*ck up 


We put a great deal of trust in our financial institutions; we have to, because with the exception of a few holdouts who still keep their $ in their mattresses we've all handed over our entire accumulated funds to them. The gov't is aware of this, which is why so many laws apply to such companies... except for PayPal (which acts as a bank but isn't regulated like one), but that's a whole 'nother essay. The companies themselves are aware of the importance of dotting every "i" and crossing every "t," and so go to great lengths to perform each function in a proper manner... usually. Their failures, therefore, are particularly dismaying. I've got 2 such issues currently in progress:

I belong to a military credit union, a holdover from when I was a military dependent; this is mostly a good thing, as it provides even more benefits than a regular credit union, 1 of which is that I've had a free credit card from them for about 20 years. A couple of months ago, they sent me a letter informing me that they were inexplicably eliminating gold cards, and thus that I had to choose between several equally worthless types of "reward cards" to replace my current one; given my lengthy history of things going wrong, I held onto that letter in case of trouble... which provided me with the # to call them with when, well past the date that my new card should've shown up, I still hadn't gotten it. The guy I talked to apologetically explained that there'd been some delays getting the new cards out, but that I should have mine within a few days; this was a little grim, especially since the old cards were going to be cancelled en masse whether we'd gotten the new ones or not, and some folks might not HAVE any other cards, but I resigned myself to waiting. And waiting. Finally, I called again a few days ago, and was informed that it'd been so long since even the delayed cards had been sent out that, after a check to see if someone had tried to activate or use the one they'd sent me (they hadn't), they had to CANCEL that account and issue me a card with a whole new #. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Wait, that's not all!! Yesterday, I got a card from them... with the OLD #. There were no dates on any of the enclosed letters, or on the envelope either (they have the special non-profit thing on there that doesn't get postmarked), so I have no way of knowing if the card was sent 6 weeks ago when it should have been and had been floating around the postal system in the interim, or had just been sent out instead of a card with a new #, or been sent some random time in between; this totally violates professional business practice, and might even be illegal for financial companies' paperwork. I called them today, to discover that my old # has in fact been cancelled, and that, brace yourself, they have no way to find out when the card with the old # was sent out...???!!! So, now I have TWO versions of the card with the old #, neither of which are good, and have to wait at least 2 weeks before getting the card with the new #... all because they decided to be the only credit card issuers on Earth to no longer offer a gold card. Oh, and the final blow; according to the supervisor that I asked to speak to, everyone EXCEPT the idiot who cancelled my old # was aware that the delays had continued, and if I'd spoken to anyone else I would've been told to wait a little longer, and thus would be DONE now instead of having to continue waiting for their next blunder.

Even scarier, for sheer ineptitude, is my ongoing problem with USAA, which usually provides top-notch service in all their departments (I have investments, insurance and a credit card with them), but this time have really embarrassed themselves: I'm signed up to use their website, and recently they started asking the members to create login names to use instead of their member #'s to access their accounts, which is a good idea security-wise, and not rocket science to implement... right? I created a login name without a hitch, but the next time I tried to access my account it accepted the login and then took me to the screen asking me to CREATE a login name. After several trips through the add-a-login system failed to convince it that I HAD a login name, I called the website support #... and they had no idea what was causing it to misbehave. They talked me through all sorts of activity on their site, but couldn't figure out what was going on; finally, I had to get off the phone, but they were supposed to call me within the next couple of days to let me know it was fixed and what the bug had been... and they never contacted me.

I finally just went to log in and see if it was fixed... and it refused my login. After a protracted struggle with security questions (which they later agreed should NOT have been asked under those circumstances), it sent my login info to the email account I had on file with them; I discovered that my login name had been CHANGED without my knowledge or consent, and without them even TELLING me... and neither my phone nor my email had been out of service in the intervening time. I called them again, and they couldn't determine what had happened or why; they assured me that the system couldn't have altered my login name, which any 6 year old knows is baloney, and theorized that one of the tech guys might have done it because the underscore in my chosen login name was causing a problem... which is pitiful if true and still no excuse to change my login and not TELL me. Once I realized that the girl I was talking to couldn't help, I requested a callback from a supervisor for the next day (today).

The supervisor seemed genuinely appalled at how far afield from USAA's normal treatment of members the tech department had gone, gave me his private # so that I can deal exclusively with someone who knows my case (classy), and asked me to log into my account and see if I could change my login name back to the original one; although it had let me log in with the new name and use the account without problems the night before, today when I logged in it sent me directly to the "create a login name" screen... and of course we had no idea why. He had me go through a bunch of trial and error stuff on the site to no avail, and then went and got a programmer; she had me do even MORE trial and error, also to no avail. Now, as so often happens, an entire tech department is going to have to be called into action to fix a glitch that appears to only exist for MY account; the supervisor's supposed to call me back within a few days with a full report... I can't wait to hear it. He also informed me that, not only was he going to track back to whoever said they'd call me and didn't, and whoever changed my login name without informing me, with thorough squaring away to result, but that there was going to be a training exercise about this particular problem so that the next time it happens (which it probably won't, unless I have a long-lost twin somewhere) they'll all know how to handle it properly.

Un-frigging-believable.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Fun with freebies 


If you're still struggling to get your taxes done, this one's for you; if you didn't earn over $52K last year, you can get "free federal online tax preparation" and access to free electronic tax return filing via the IRS website:

http://www.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp

http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html

Several years ago, I went through a period of signing up for tons of freebies and samples online; even then there were forums dedicated to getting free stuff, so all I had to do was click links and fill in my info on the requisite websites. Most of what I got was those little packets of lotion and shampoo, but I got some bigger stuff too: I especially remember a large bag of hard candy from Sweet'N Low (for my husband, who loves saccharine), and, the all-time champion sample, several styrofoam bowls filled with cereal that I'd "designed" with my choice of ingredients from a lengthy menu of options (also for my husband)... and the latter was so good, although very expensive, that we bought it a couple of times when it was on sale and mourned when the website closed down (the idea was brilliant, they just either couldn't figure out how to do it cheaply enough or were too greedy).

I got some unusual freebies from sites eager to bribe people into signing up for their newsletters (I was still willing to acquire more email in those days, when spam wasn't an issue): gardening gloves, a tire pressure gauge, and then there was the ugly pen... I was supposed to get an ugly pen for subscribing to a daily humor thing, and never got it, but the emails were hilarious so I read them anyways; I eventually submitted a funny rant to them, and when they accepted it they sent me a free ugly t-shirt, which was much better than a pen, so I was satisfied (and besides, I'd gotten plenty of pens from other sites).

I ran across a couple of blogs dedicated to samples/freebies a few weeks ago, and dove in and signed up for a bunch of stuff; the bulk of it has been for my mother, who's thrilled to go to her mailbox each day and get something new to try, which provides a valuable distraction from her constant worries about her health (there's no sign of the cancer having returned, but she still has to take blood thinners and deal with issues from the surgery) as well as saving her some $, which will always make her happy. I've received various pet food samples (all of which are being checked to be sure they haven't been recalled, fear not), which I'm testing on the raccoons and skunks to see what they prefer; I got a generous 6 oz of Purina Naturals cat food that the little male skunk and one of the coons have shown a real preference for, but there are still plenty of contenders... and, as crazy as we are about our critter visitors, we'll probably end up buying a bunch of different pet foods so that everyone has their favorite.

Samples seem to be getting bigger, because I've gotten some pretty impressive ones: My husband consumes soy products, so I signed up here

http://www.soyjoy.com/spreadthejoy.aspx

and he got THREE full-sized Soyjoy bars, and liked all 3 flavors enough that he plans to buy more; they're not gross like most nutrition bars, and they're not too sweet like cereal bars, so they make a good on-the-go snack.

The folks at 3M have the honor of being the ones who sent the biggest samples ever; 1st, they sent me (and my mother, from whom I learned to be a habitual note-writer) a package of different kinds of Post-It pads, a dispenser, and a variety of sticky tabs to mark places on paperwork and such... and that seemed pretty impressive, until the doorbell rang Saturday morning because they'd sent me a package too big to fit into my mailbox!! The box is over 26" tall, and I assumed at 1st that it was something my husband had ordered, but MY name was on it, so I opened it up; it contained another set of sticky tabs, a pad in a hard leatherette folder, and a GIANT Post-it pad meant to be stuck on the wall to use for business presentations... the paper for this monster is 20"x23"!! If you'd like a mountain of Post-it products too, sign up here:

http://www.3m.com/us/office/postit/perks/perks.html?rp=postit

The best recent sample came from Yogi Tea, which gives you 5 different choices of trios of tea bags to try free:

http://www.yogitea.com/FreeSamples/FreeSamples.asp

My mother, who's notoriously hard to please, was so enthusiastic when she tried the Green Tea Pomegranate flavor, which she was able to drink without honey, that we were very hopeful about our own samples, which came 4 days later (the post office sucks); my husband tried the Classic India Spice flavor, and pronounced it so wonderful as to be "revelatory." I don't drink hot beverages, but I'll tell you that this was the best-smelling stuff ever; I kept sniffing his mug to get hits of the cinnamon, cardamon and ginger, and it's made his entire study smell lovely, in marked contrast to its usual miasma of "eau de colon" (not a typo). He started joking that he'd rub the tea bags on his body to increase his chances of "getting lucky," and then that, given tea's alleged antibacterial powers, he could wash under his arms with them to kill the stink:

Him: The only problem would be that I'd forget and reuse those tea bags.
Me: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!
Him: LOL!!!!!!!

And that, dear friends, is how we had fun with freebies.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Beware List, Part 8 


The Beware List represents my lifetime experience of how people behave if they're evil, sociopathic, manipulators or major depressives, especially when they're about to screw you; folks like these follow very consistent patterns, so if you pay attention, and don't discount the warnings out of misguided loyalty, you can stop them cold. This post contains the latest installment of the list; to read entries 1-70, see my posts of 5-31-06, 7-6-06, 8-31-06, 10-6-06, 11-19-06, 1-10-07 and 2-27-07. Beware of anyone who:


71) Has no problems with someone being attacked, but cries “foul” if the victim fights back, especially if they outfight the attacker.

This is a sure sign of someone who doesn’t hesitate to attack and feels entitled to get away with it; only chronic evildoers think that evil behavior is ok, and only the scariest sociopathic ones object to victims fighting in their own defense.


72) Expresses intolerance and an ugly attitude towards any group of people for whom they don't have proof of MAJOR wrongdoing, and/or fails to see such an attitude in others as a reason to not associate with them.

Anyone who'd have such dislike of a group of people based on nothing, whether it takes the form of bigotry or just contempt of those who post on a "rival forum," will just as easily dislike, and abuse, YOU based on nothing, and in general is either evil, a psycho, or too stupid to be involved with.


73) Thinks that, no matter how monstrously someone behaves, all they have to do is say “sorry” and they should be totally forgiven, and thus that the victim can NEVER reproach them, demand reparations, or even express their anger/hurt.

Only the most chillingly evil and sociopathic types believe that their victims should be denied the basic human right to express pain and confront the ones who caused it. With the hypocrisy that's typical of wrongdoers, they'll react to any wrongdoing (real or imagined) done TO them with vicious counterattacks or crazed melodrama, AND will totally ignore any apologies given to them, however heartfelt.


74) Believes that there’s a statute of limitations to their bad behavior, such that, if a certain # of days (weeks, etc) have passed, a misdeed is magically erased even if nothing has been done yet to “settle” it.

This is a sure sign of a frequent wrongdoer; this person can screw you over repeatedly and if the last time wasn't in the recent past they expect you to treat them as if they've never done you wrong... and will see YOU as bad if you have a more sane view of things.


75) Thinks that being their friend means that you always have to do whatever makes them happy, and so considers anything you do that makes them UNhappy a “betrayal” and just cause for outrage (although they of course exert no effort to keep YOU happy).

This person has no clue that adult relationships are NOT supposed to be the same as when their mommy circled everything around them while expecting nothing in return, and may also be a manipulator, albeit a clumsy one; you'll NEVER be able to please them long-term unless you're an absolute doormat... and why would you want to?


76) Tells you they believe that friendship means you give unconditional love.

GOOD people assume that treating their friends (lovers, etc ) well, and behaving decently in general, will always be a condition of being loved; only evil people need to be loved unconditionally... even though they don't GIVE unconditional love in return. In addition, it's usually a red flag when someone feels the need to announce how friendship should be; it means that they're NOT following the standard rules like you are... and will make you pay for it eventually.


77) Uses “depression” or “going through a bad time” as an excuse to be overly-demanding, show no caring about you or your life, or otherwise treat you badly.

It's perfectly acceptable for someone who just suffered a major loss to focus on themselves and their pain such that they don't bother to consider other people's feelings, but when someone behaves protractedly in this manner, and isn't losing a loved one every month to justify it, they're a master manipulator trying to persuade you to let them walk all over you.


78) Has no consistent definition of what's “good” or “bad” in a relationship, but expects you to know how they’re seeing things at any given moment and act accordingly.

This person is either a clueless depressive who confuses friends with their mommy or a manipulator determined to keep you guessing and trying desperately to please them.


79) Can’t handle being disagreed with, even if you have more info on the topic than they do, and so starts a fight and/or goes stalking off if you hold firm in your assertions or opinions.

Manipulators love this tactic, but it can also indicate that someone is a depressive, overly aggressive, or seriously immature; not a good bet in any case.


80) Does the “fire and ice” routine EVEN ONCE (this is when they give super-intense attention and then back way off for no reason).

This can indicate a psycho or extreme flake, but 99% of the time it's used by manipulators to take control of the relationship by making you chase after them.


I hope these warning signs will help you prevent people from sticking it to you; remember, they can only get you if you LET them.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

The most delicious chips EVER... and the sweetest otters 


I had a really good coupon for the new Pringles Select chips, which are gourmet-style snacks in a bag rather than the can-o-chips Pringles is associated with; 3 of the 4 available flavors (Parmesan Garlic, Sun Dried Tomato and Cinnamon Sweet Potato) didn't have a chance of tasting good to me, but, as a lover of Chinese food, including moderately hot stuff (and how hot could a mainstream chip be, after all?), I figured that the Szechuan Barbecue flavor had a good chance of being enjoyable. I got them, tried them, and...

YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They're so good that I, with my will of steel where food consumption is concerned, could barely stop eating them. So good that my husband, after just ONE chip, warned me that I needed to hide the bag, half-joked that he'd be buying more bags that I'd never see, and asked if we could have a MEAL built around them (which we will-we'll have hamburger patties to provide protein and then polish off a bag of these chips with them).

They have a wonderfully complex flavor, with a combination of different "categories" of flavors as is common in Asian foods; salty, savory, tangy (from the soy sauce) and spicy... and the potato/rice combo from which they're made makes them very crunchy and satisfying. These are surprisingly sophisticated, "adult" chips... which most likely means that they won't be around long, because kids probably won't like them, and Americans are used to blander snacks and view anything really different with suspicion. Go grab a bag while you can, and, if you love 'em like we do, stock up before they're replaced with the 10 millionth version of cheese or ranch flavor.


If you haven't seen it yet, the cutest video ever posted on YouTube can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno&e

It's called "Otters holding hands," and features 2 of the adorable critters floating around in their exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium with their paws clasped; when they drift apart at one point and then come back together, the bigger one REACHES OUT to recapture the paw of the smaller one... I was literally shrieking with delight the 1st time I saw it. While it was easy to anthropomorphize this as romantic, especially with one otter being so much bigger than the other that they were presumably a male and a female, I suspected that there was a natural behavior involved, and so contacted the aquarium to get more info. The email I got back said:

"This is a common behavior for otters in the wild. It is called rafting. They do this in the wild to stay together in turbulent water. The sea otters in the YouTube film are Nyac (the lighter one) and Milo. They are not mates that I know of."

I also was told to look for more info here:

http://www.vanaqua.org/education/aquafacts/seaotters.html

where it says:

"Sea otters segregate by sex: groups of females and their pups stay in the centre of the range. Territorial breeding males stay close to the female groups while sub-adult male groups are seen on the outskirts of the range."

and:

"'Milo' is one of the Northern sea otters at the Aquarium. He was born in August 1999 and weighs 36.8 kg. His daily diet is 8 kg of fish fillets, crab, squid and clams.

'Nyac' was born in 1989. She weighs 28.2 kg, and eats 6 kg of fish fillets, crab, squid and clams."

So; despite the fact that otters of different genders don't normally hang around together, and that the water in that tank was anything but "turbulent," a male and a female, both old enough to be sexually mature, were "rafting" around protractedly... granted, being in an abnormal environment could cause abnormal behavior, and they apparently haven't mated YET, but it sure LOOKS promising for baby otters to be showing up sometime soon, doesn't it? In any case, they've done more for otter conservation than anything we humans could come up with; no one who sees them could fail to love them and want them kept safe, and according to this clip from the BBC (yes, this has become an international story)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6530000/newsid_6532000/6532073.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm

well over 1.5 MILLION people watched the video within a 2 week period, so the ottermania will clearly have a real impact. The BBC clip also reveals that Nyac was one of a sadly few otters to survive the Exxon Valdez oil spill; she's a tough little girl as well as fluffy and pretty... let's keep our fingers crossed that Milo's noticed her finer qualities as well.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Live each day as if it were your last... yeah, right 


Sounds like a wonderful bit of advice, with the subtext that it'll allow you to make the most out of life... but will it?

If you knew that tomorrow would be your final day: Would you go to work and/or school? Would you exercise or take any other health-enhancing measures such as stress reduction or consuming nutritional supplements? Would you make, or go to, any doctor or dentist appointments? What kinds of food would you eat, and in what quantities? Would you bother showering, brushing or flossing? Would you do any housecleaning or yard maintenance? If you had sex, would you use contraception or worry about safer sex? If there was someone hot you've wanted to sleep with who was willing, but you'd held back because at least one of you wasn't single, would you go for it? Would you waste time picking up your dry cleaning or running other errands? Would you shave, trim your toenails, or do anything else that'd essentially be primping your corpse? Would you be polite to people you dislike? If you'd previously quit drinking, smoking or doing drugs, would you binge on them? Would you read/listen to/watch the news? Would you engage in any retirement planning? Would you get those squeaky brakes on your car checked? Would you sleep for even one minute? Would you obey the speed limit and other traffic laws? Would you worry about the price of anything you wanted to buy, especially if you had no dependents?

Would you blog?

The reality is that we have to do lots of things that we don't like, and restrict or eliminate things we DO like, in order to be healthy, to not live in a pigsty, to earn a living, to get along with those we can't avoid, and so on; if you were honestly going to live each day as you would your last, you'd have to live like a lunatic or little kid with no idea as to consequences... it can't be done.

What if the quote was just meant to refer to your free time, rather than allowing for things like not working or doing other important tasks? If you were honestly going to treat that time as if it were on your last day, you'd still make plenty of choices that'd be disastrous long-term; on the constructive side, it's likely that you'd want to contact as many of your loved/liked ones as possible to say good-bye, tell them how you feel, and have final exchanges of whatever thoughts you'd never gotten around to sharing... but you can't have those "final conversations" on a daily basis. In general, you can't just pick the 1 or 2 most fun or emotionally important things and do only those every day; even if it were possible, it'd be foolish, and would mean eliminating the variety and new experiences that're a part of a healthy, happy life.

What if the quote was just meant to encourage you to do MORE of the most important or joy-making things each day? Unless you're self-destructive or an idiot, aren't you ALREADY doing the things that're the most important or joy-making for you as much as you can within the confines of living your life properly? I don't mean the things that other people or your guilty conscience tells you SHOULD be the top stuff, but the ones that actually ARE; isn't whatever you're CHOOSING to do the stuff that's truly important to you, and what actually gives you the most enjoyment for your effort (whether that means doing outdoor activities, knitting like a maniac every spare moment or just sitting quietly watching TV)?

What if the quote just means "Live life to the fullest"... translation, DO more, and make sure it's stuff that OTHER people see as worthwhile? Screw THAT; I want to do LESS "worthwhile" stuff, and spend more time doing trivial things like playing solitaire (with CARDS) or just lounging around and staring out the window, thus becoming more relaxed and happier... how about you?

And finally, what if the quote is just an encouragement to savor life? Unless you've got some sort of mental illness (which would need to be treated with MEDS, not glib advice), you're already savoring everything to the degree that's right for you based on your personality and circumstances; if you're so busy that you don't have time to, say, fully enjoy your food, making your time crunch worse by pausing and going "mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm" after every bite so that eating takes 5x as long won't work in your favor... and focusing on things you don't care enough about to already be "savoring" with the idea that this'll improve your life is just nuts.

With that said, there clearly ARE some people who get all wrapped up and frenzied about their lives, such that they're not really living them to the full because they "forget" that they'd be more satisfied if they smelled the occasional rose... but there's a whole different saying that better applies to them.

What we SHOULD be saying is "Live each day like you're gonna live another 100 years"; this would encourage you to take the long view, and make the best choices about caring for your body, managing your $ and maintaining your relationships, so that they'd all be in the best possible shape for the many years you'd have to live with the consequences of your decisions. Do you think that'll make it onto a bumper sticker anytime soon?





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