Category Archives: Challenges

Through the Keyhole CW cue

“What do you see on the other side of the door when you look through a keyhole?
 a prompt for this week’s CW piece.
[Source: @DailyPrompt]

“What do you see?!”

“It’s dark, but it kinda looks like a library. There is some light in there though.”

“There has to be more to it than that!”

“Because…”

“Because they won’t unlock it. Let me look.”

“I’m going to look under the door.”

“Never seen a keyhole like this. It’s BIG!”

“Nothing but dust bunnies down here. Ya, it’s an old house. It’s like the old movies where they carry an enormous key ring.”

“Shhhh! I just heard something inside!”

“What? There are people in there?!”

“Shhh! They’re talking.”

“What are they saying?”

“There’s music coming from behind the wall. He’s knocking on the bookcases.”

“Do you hear any music? Can you See anything?”

“Nope…wait, the light is moving around.”

“Is it a flashlight then?”

“What was that? It sounded like furniture moving. They seem to be talking.”

“More than one person?”

“Yes, a man and a woman.”

“And…?”

“It makes no sense.  ‘Put the candle beck?’

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/cw-its-not-what-you-think/#comment-10553

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HOW DO YOU TURN IT OFF?!!!!

I am co-writing a book:  “Spotlight on the Art of Generating Energy.”  I am also editing said book which means I have to read all the contributions.  One of the chapters is about the interplay of all the energies–intellectual, creative, and emotional.  Fascinating theories!  If any one aspect of energy takes control to the exclusion of all others, your brain may be overwhelmed, your body might be compromised, or you could spiral emotionally (either up or down by the way!)

Unfortunately, I have experienced what happens when two of the energy sources conspire against me.  Yup…  In addition to editing this book, I am running for a district office within an organization to which I belong.  I am actively marketing my skills and my qualifications and vision for the organization so I am making use of both my intellectual and creative energy sources.  You may or may not have read my stuff in either this blog or my other one.  You know how creative and intellectual I can get.  Let me put it in perspective.

I had coffee with dinner, a couple of cups, about 8:00 last night.  Then I watched NCIS, 3 episodes in a row.  I was nodding off during the last one.  I thought, “I’ll just head upstairs and check the weather and go to bed.”  3 hours later…

Creative energy Creature: “Hey!  That’s a great idea for promotion!  Let’s go to all the contests and provide a one-sheet and meet the folks at the contest so they get to know you.”

Intellectual energy Imp:  “Ya!  Did you see your competition’s flyer?  She listed her grandkids by name as part of her qualifications for the position!”

CC: “How does that help?  She procreated kids that were also able to procreate and she remembers their names…so she doesn’t have memory problems?”

II: “Our stuff is better.”

CC: “We could add all the Girl Scout information…We could name all our students…we could perform the Bach Prelude that we learned at age 9 to prove our memory capacity!”

II: “We have plenty of good stuff in our flyer.  We’re good.”

Me:  “Ok, good.  We have that settled, let’s go to sleep.”

II: “Did you hear about the guy that felt so bad about the Girl Scouts standing out in the cold selling cookies at their booth that he bought them all? $500 worth!  Then he was arrested for drug trafficking!”

CC:  “Hahaha!  It makes perfect sense!  You KNOW how addictive those cookies can be!  He was shipping the cookies back to the Cartel!”

II:  “You mean…trading one addiction for another!  Oh wait!  Maybe the cookies were how he was getting drugs into the country!  He ships them down, they alter them and ship them back!  Hey Kid!  you want some peanut butter patties?”

CC:  “Well that would explain why you can’t have just one box of Thin Mints!”

II:  “I had two boxes of Thin Mints and I’m still 50 pounds overweight.  Is that false advertising?”

Physical Energy Phiend (Fiend see?): “Shut UP!  I’m tired!  I want to sleep!”

Emotional Energy Elf: “I don’t know how I feel about that: forcibly shutting down two other energy sources to serve your needs.”

PP: “Well if you want to get UP in the morning, we have to turn them off!”

EE: “I’m still not convinced.  Some of our best ideas happen when those two pull an all-nighter.”

PP: “Do we ever remember what they did overnight?”

II and CC:  “Hey!”

EE: “Ok, I see your point.  Could you two tone it down a bit?”

II: “I will if she will.”

CC: “I can be totally silent.  How well do you sign?”

PP: “Her eyes are closed, idiot.  II can’t see a thing if her eyes are closed.”

EE: “Please try to be civil.”

PP: “I’M TIRED!  I’M TRYING TO SLEEP!”

II: whispers “Remember to get the flyers from the printer and stop by the college to get the Speaker’s and the Conference ads for tonight.”

CC: whispers “I really don’t think the Conference advert is very good–too busy and too much information.”

II: low voice “And the wrong information…it doesn’t have start times.  We could redesign it…”

EE: low voice “But how would Colleen feel about our stepping in and fixing it?”

PP: low voice “So tomorrow, breakfast, Bible study, pick up flyers from college, go to printers and pick up personal flyers, deliver print instructions for conference flyers…100 enough?”

II: normal voice “to start with I think.  It will cost more due to having to print both sides.  And don’t forget we need to stop at Wally World to get frames.”

PP:  “Yup.  Then drive to contest…Says it’s a little over an hour’s drive, but with traffic, could be longer than that.”

II: “Take the Prairie View Road instead of the interstate, less traffic that way, and it’s prettier country.”

PP: “Contest starts at 5:30, and since it’s Area level, only 4-6 contestants in either contest.  Figure we’ll be done by 8:30 by the time we get our glad-handing and clean-up done, then an hour home.  Figure 314 Joules.”

II: “That would convert to 75 calories.”

PP: “So the minimum amount of sleep would be…”

II: “Figure about 6-7 hours.”

Me, still awake, and I check the clock.  “Guys, it’s 1:30 AM.  We get up in 5 hours.”

PP and II stare at each other.  CC jumps in to the rescue.

CC: “We can take a nap after we get home!”

EE: “Um wha?  Did somebody say something?  Weren’t you complaining about all the noise, PP?”

PP blushes.

Momentary silence.  I drift off to sleep…

II: “Did you see that snow forecast?  It just went around our city!”

CC:  “Gandalf was standing on the interstate saying, ‘You SHALL NOT PASS!'”

II: giggles “Maybe one of the wind turbines got turned on and blew it away!”

CC:  “I wonder if they’re maneuverable remotely.  Hey!  It’s Hot over there!  Aim them that way!”

II: “I heard that they tell the wind farm tourists in Texas precisely that!  *with a Texas drawl* ‘Yep, gets up to 110 we turn them puppies on and they’ll pretty much cool Austin and Fort Worth.  Dallas is a whole nuther story though.'”

PP: “HEY!!!”

EE: “What?  What’s going on?  Why is PP yelling?”

Me:  It’s 3 AM!  Go to sleep!

CC, II, PP, and EE, ashamed, do not answer.

II:  whispers, “Did you know her husband snores?”

CC, PP, EE and I shout: SHUT UP!

Husband wakes and turns on the reading lamp just as the alarm goes off.  It’s going to be a long day.

 

You need HELP!

So I have heard this 3 times in the last week.

Here’s the problem: I am simultaneously the smartest person in the room, and the least equipped to handle anything.  The first thing people notice about me is that I’m not very bright, but I am very loud and annoying.  No, the first thing people notice about me is my size, and they are shocked to find out I taught ballet.  No, the first thing they notice about me is that I’m always talking.  No the first thing they notice about me is I stand in a corner just watching.  I am a dichotomy.

I agree with the person that said I needed help with the house and recommended a cleaning company.  I think I’m going to do that.

I agree that I have a bad self image.  I don’t know how to fix that, so I would need to find someone to help me with that.  But see above…I’m always the smartest person in the room, even if I’m not.  When my boy was having problems in school, we went to a therapist, and he learned how to say exactly what she wanted him to say.  He thought it amusing.  One of the sessions, I was required to go with him.  She diagnosed me as Obsessive/Compulsive, Anal Retentive, and manic/depressive.  This is after talking with me for about 20 min.  I was shaking my head in disbelief.  Then she sent him out and told me in no uncertain terms, “No wonder your kids are all messed up!  You shouldn’t have had any!  You should have been in therapy for decades before you had kids.  It’s all your fault that your kids are useless.”  Remember, smartest person in the room…  I believed she was so set in blaming someone for the fact that she couldn’t figure out how my boy thought (because he was so much smarter than she).  I met a family therapist that thought he could solve our family’s problems with 3 sessions.  Tada!!! You’re normal!  Well, if we were normal, why were we required to have therapy?  Yes, again it was a requirement by the CPS.  I must have rose-colored glasses and be completely deluded about the mental health of my kids.  I couldn’t think of any kids that were as smiley and engaged as mine.  I have since been informed that all of them were extremely depressed and couldn’t wait to get out of the house.  (Oh?  then why is one of them still in my basement?)

As you may have guessed, I do not like being categorized.  I may have stressed this fact in this blog, and this one.  Never-the-less, I know from working all the myriads of jobs I’ve done that most of the people will take the easiest, least complicated path in solving a problem and then blame you if it’s more complex than they can handle.  I am fortunate to belong to a group of people who are very smart and in different ways.  One has 2 PHD’s in  the Sciences, and one in has a PHD in Human resources.  One is gifted in the emotional arena, and one in the ability to read and understand people.  3 are amazing in computer programming.  2 of them are wise on the spiritual level.  1 is exceptional in communication.  (That is good since we’re in the book writing business…)  Where does that put me?  I guess I connect all these various and sundry interests together.  So when I need some advice in my psychological state, and I talk to a psychiatrist and this person doesn’t measure up to this level of intelligence and takes short cuts–putting me into a box that is entirely too small and ill-fitting, I get discouraged.  I’m tempted to have a cattle call and have all the psychiatrists come to my office and give me their best shot so I can eliminate 3/4 of the incompetent people right off the bat.  Ya, right.

As for the 3rd time someone told me I needed help, I have been on this stupid diet/exercise/pill/herbs/mental trip for 4 years and I’m about 5 pounds heavier than when I started and that’s when I thought I was 45 pounds too heavy.  I’m going to try the Kathy Diet…forget to eat for a year.

New year’s resolutions?  Stuff I can handle, 1 more DTM, done with 1 full path in Toastmasters, read 10 more books, work out 3 times a week for an hour, replace the front door and the bathroom, hire a cleaning service, find my office and change it into a real library so all our books are in the same room instead of scattered all over the house, and dispose of the bunk beds…my grand kids will never use them.

Everyone Dabbles

They dabble at playing guitar or piano or maybe they have dreams of fronting a band.  They dabble in crafts, papier-mache, needlework or yarn work, maybe painting cute little sayings on distressed wood.  They dabble in art, in web design, in programming, in psychology.  My Facebook is jammed up with people dabbling in Philosophy and Politics.  Seth Godin categorizes these as “Non-Dentist” jobs.  To be a dentist or someone in the law profession or medical profession, or in finance, you have to have passed a rigorous test and gotten certified by the state or the bar association.  Nobody dabbles in dentistry, yet, people still dabble in law, medicine, and finance!  REALLY????!!!!  C’mon!

I see it though.  You’re a parent and little Billy has fallen off his bike again.  You got this.  A little antibiotic ointment on the scratch and a band-aid, and he’s fine.  Your sister is married to a jerk and you tell her about her legal choices.  “No thanks, we’re fine, we do our own investing.”  Of course, they’re $20k in debt, upside down in their house, just bought a car and are wondering why they’re paying 21% on their loan.

I do not have a law degree, but I read legal documents for financial contracts.  I have a degree in finance, certified and licensed in insurance, and licensed as an Investment Adviser Representative.  I’m also certified as a John Maxwell Speaker/Trainer/Coach.  I’m a Distinguished Toastmaster.  I have a degree in Music…and 160 college hours in music and music education.  It only takes 60 college hours to get a bachelor’s in Math.  It only takes 120 hours of college credits to graduate,  I had 147.  Of those 147 hours, 80 of them were in music.  I clocked in an additional 80 hours since my BME degree.  Then, I got a 2nd degree in finance.  I’ve gotten lots of hours outside a degree program, obviously.

I’m not trying to be braggadocious, but I ask you:  How many people have that much intensive study in anything?  Why do I bring this up?  I am not a dentist.  To quote Mr. Godin again, “If you’re doing one of these non-dentist jobs, the best approach is to be extraordinarily good at it. So much better than an amateur that there’s really no room for discussion. You don’t have to justify yourself. Your work justifies you.” I am extraordinarily good at what I do.  The feeling I get from most people is that if I can do it, it must be easy.  Nobody can have that much talent, and nobody can really get that much education in multiple areas.  It must not be that hard.  

NEWS FLASH!  It is that hard.  If you are getting an education in something that people perceive as unimportant, then they will downgrade the difficulty.  We can agree that finance is important, but most people do not believe they need a degree in finance to balance their checkbook.  Most will not do enough loans to understand the nuances of those contracts.  A majority will not consider that life insurance is a priority and since it is all gobbledygook in the contract, they’ll just sign on the bottom line and trust the salesman and hope to GOD that they’ll never see the bugger again.  Since everyone lives paycheck to paycheck, and they hate the rich, and the rich are the only ones in the stock market which people regard as gambling writ large, these people that really and truly need some financial education will not seek it.

Everyone knows that music is unimportant.  It is only the background for movies and TV where the emotion is amplified by the score.  It is only the jingle you can’t get out of your head.  It is only the music that makes you want to buy more ugly sweaters at the store.  It is only one of the largest sectors in the entertainment industry.  It permeates every single second of your day whether you turn on the radio when you jump in your car or while you are on interminable hold on the phone.  If someone happens to be good at music, it’s because they have “talent.”  Talent gets your toe in the door.  It takes enormous amounts of work to be good as a teacher or performer.  It’s like the duck parable:  calm and serene on the surface and pedaling like crazy underneath.  People who are really good at music have to make an effort to make what they do look effortless.

Do you know scales?  There are 12 major scales.  There are 3 minor scales associated with each major scale (Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors).  You have to be able to play or sing any of these without having to concentrate.  That’s 48 scales.  There is a chord that is associated with each pitch in the scale, and inversions of each chord.  Then there are augmentations such as adding a 7th degree, or a 9th degree, or up to or even beyond a 13th degree, and then there are alterations like flatting or sharping one or more of the degrees of the scale, and not only do you have to be able to play them, you must recognize them when you see them in the music and know what they sound like before you hear them.  That’s just the reading part.  Oh, and there are various voicings to each chord too.

Can you match a pitch regardless of the instrument you’re playing?  Oh, and by the way, oboe, bassoon, flute, trombone and tuba read C in music and it sounds C when they play.  French horn reads C and it sounds like F, Saxophone reads C and it sounds either Eb or Bb,  as does Clarinet.  And the fingerings for low register clarinet are different than the upper register.  Trumpet and Clarinet read C and it sounds Bb.  Given this diversity in pitch and fingerings, can you improvise a counter melody or a harmony without seeing the music?  Can you tell the difference between Frank Zappa and Tchaikovsky by sound?  If you are in a group, can you tell which individual is singing or playing out of tune and whether they are sharp or flat–high or low?  Can you tell, if they sound sharp, if it is the actual pitch or the pronunciation of the vowel and the timbre that makes it sound out of tune?  Can you apply the awareness you have gained in listening and performing music to any other area of life?  Of COURSE!  So do all musicians have that awareness outside of music?  OF COURSE NOT!!

It is assumed that if you are majoring in music, you take Algebra I in math and very basic English classes.  You are a musician after all, and these things are beyond you.  You have more important things to do…like practice and study your scales!  People always assume that if you’re a musician, you don’t have any interests outside of music.  In fact, most musicians couldn’t give a flying…well fill in your own word here…about math or English.  And yet, the awareness I transfer from music to the world around me connects dots that no one else can connect.  I can see the Stock Market as a large orchestra.  I see the study of sociology as a macro of a choir.  I see composition as an allegory to metaphysics.  Am I now interested in sociology (and therefore statistics), investment in both the technical analysis and the trend marketing, and the study of physics and religion as extensions of my music studies?  Of Course!  So yes, I have studied all those things.  Would being a musician be helpful if I wanted to be a dentist?  or an architect? or a rocket scientist?  More than you’d think!

But music is not important.  Therefore none of the information I have gathered and synthesized is of any use, so I am dismissed as just a musician.  I guess you could say that I’m extraordinarily good at things everyone else dabbles in.  Being extraordinarily good at something that is unimportant is not an advantage.  Truth be told, if you were to ask anyone, it is a useless thing to be good at.

When people drive me crazy

I had a busy day yesterday.  It’s my day off.  Do you see a disconnect here?  I purposely do not schedule any recurring activities on Tuesdays.  It allows me clean my house, decompress, bake, do fun things.  If however, I have some business to do or make-up lessons to schedule, they go on Tuesdays.

This was my schedule for Tuesday:  5:00 lesson

This was what actually happened.

  • 8:00 Write an article for the news letter
  • 10:15  Study group for Bible Study
  • 12:00  Gym (for a whole 15 minutes instead of my regular hour)
  • 1:00  Mentoring session
  • 3:00  Follow up with client
  • 4:30-9:30 Toastmasters training session

I had to cancel the 5:00 lesson.  During the training session, I led a discussion among the treasurers and secretaries.  I presented some training to the group of about 48, and they had no PA system.  They also had no sound for the video clips so that totally messed up the session on judging by the poor guy at the end of the program.  He was supposed to have some recordings of some award winning speeches and we were to practice judging using the methods and the sensibilities gleaned from his presentation.  After that, since hubby and I took separate cars, we were to just head home, but no.  Our logistics manager is in the postal service and they run him ragged this time of year.  The next event is Saturday a distance away and we volunteered to transport all the necessary equipment for him.  We had to load up the car with coolers and containers and banners and easels, and then we also had the leftover sandwiches from the night’s training.

I am a “T” personality, or “Green” or whatever Meyers-Briggs classifies me.  That means I’m most comfortable one on one, but even more comfortable squirreled away in my little office behind mounds of junk just working on my computer or reading.  Big crowds and lots of personal contacts make me anxious (?) so I have to decompress for a while.  It tires me out!

I enjoyed the study session, no one says much, and we just study and fill out the questions.  I don’t interact with anyone at the gym.  When I mentor, that takes some concentration.  I have to ask questions that bring my mentee to greater awareness.  Sometimes I fall back into teacher mode instead of asking questions so he thinks for himself.  When I do that, I see his eyes start to glaze over, and have to work on bringing him back to himself with some questions.  It mentally exhausts me.  Then I went to follow up on a client, and I love this woman to death.  She’s fun and lively and unstoppable.  But she’s a client so I need to make sure she’s on the right track.  I have to ask the questions and get the answers from her so I know what things I need to do to make sure she stays on the right track.

I headed out too late and got to the training session 15 minutes later than I intended.  I facilitated the small group of Treasurers and Secretaries, and to tell you the truth, they didn’t have much to offer.  They were forced into the office because someone had to do it and they were “voluntold.”  This office is an “easy” office, not much for you to do.  Liars.  So we discussed the ways that we contribute to the club that no one in any other position can.  Morale went up, and we weren’t lowly Treasurers/Secretaries.  No, we were the power behind the throne!  (Insert evil laugh here.)

 

Getting them to contribute was like pulling teeth.  Then they asked me to speak for the group since I was the only one taking notes.  Did you get that?  3 Secretaries there and I was the only one taking notes.  I had some rudimentary ideas that we’d discussed, but I’ve been doing these training sessions since I joined TM in 2008.  I expanded on the stuff I had written down so we sounded amazing.

Then my part of the presentation came up and I was helping people get started on a new educational program.  The only thing they remembered about my presentation was the word, “SAVE.”  In truth, the presentation I gave was written by someone else.  They wanted consistency through out the training sessions: 2 here, 2 there, and 1 way the heck out there.  Then we had an interactive session, and one of the activities didn’t go through.  We had to tap dance waiting for it to show up, and it never did.  We would have answered questions, but there were only a couple.  They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

By the end of the night, I’m REALLY short tempered and anxious to go home.  I still have to be nice and smile and laugh.  I helped my hubby get stuff out to the car.  He had the sandwiches on top of the cooler and the storage bin.  I figured to put the sandwiches in my car so I could get them into the house.  I opened my door (which was not locked) and asked for the sandwiches.  At this time I discovered that my hubby was also anxious and short tempered.  “Close that door and open my car door!”  So I did.  Then I grabbed the sandwich plate and squirreled it into my car and took off.  The cooler and the big storage unit, his briefcase, the banner, the easel and the paper went into his car.

When I get home, I jump out of my car.  (OK that’s funny because you’ve never seen me jump out of any car!)  This is how it actually goes:  open car door, stick foot out, watch as car door closes and try to catch it before it cuts my foot off at the calf.  Re-open the door, and get second foot out, and again catch the door as it’s about to hit me in the head as I lean out. Watch the colorful blue smoke and sparks emanate from the driver’s side, the paint peels and the window cracks from the vehemence of my cursing.  I finally get out of the car, hobble over to the passenger’s side, carefully open the door and grab the sandwiches.  Close the door and it catches my coat.  My hands are full of purse, notebook and a big tray of sandwiches.  More colorful adjectives and vindictive curses escape my lips.  More melted paint.  I get the door unlatched, and it immediately closes on my coat again. The temptation to throw the bag, the sandwiches and the notebook rises, but gets subordinated by a new stream of invective. Re-open the car door, pull coat out, move away from door and close it with foot.  March into house.  Deposit purse and notebook, carry sandwiches to kitchen, return to entryway and remove coat, take phone from purse. Stomp into living room and look for murder and mayhem on Netflix.  Watch 2 episodes of Glee.  Yes.  I was looking for Frontier, but I’d seen all of those, and all the Criminal Minds, and all the CSI and the Vikings, and and and…Glee was the only thing left.  There was not nearly enough blood.  I went to bed slightly unsatisfied.

Greyhound Customer Service

I did not think that I was booking a complicated trip.  Bus service is supposed to be for the common folk, not the kind of “Coach” tours that you have in Europe or the VIP tours you have in the US where they have mapped out all the stops and once you pay your tour fee, you’re relieved of all your worry.  I don’t get to see my oldest son very much as he lives several states away, and though he’s busy, he’s not gainfully employed.  So on the holidays, if I don’t send him a bus ticket, he can’t come.  Thanksgiving!  Woohoo!  Time to get online and get all the details done.

A month ahead of when you want to take the trip, you get on the Greyhound website and pick your dates.  You do this for the same reason you buy your plane tickets 3-4 months in advance:  the price goes up as you get closer to your departure date.  I have Tuesdays mostly free, so I figured if he could arrive on a Tuesday it would accommodate my schedule.  You get onto the site and it asks you for the dates you want outbound and inbound.  I set the dates.  It asks you to choose which route, and I choose one that makes it more likely that my son can get a ride to the bus station and one that allows me to take him to the local station at a reasonable hour for him to go home.  Then it asks you for your coupon code.  I leave that blank, I have no coupon code.  Then it asks for you email and your payment details.  Checked that off.  For some reason, it doesn’t ask for the name of the passenger.  Maybe it’s on the next page.  I hit “submit.”  The transaction doesn’t go through.  Search through all the page to find anything highlighted.  Nothing highlighted, it just doesn’t go through.  Check the whole document and for some reason, it’s put my email address into the coupon code and says it’s an invalid code.  Well OF COURSE IT’S AN INVALID CODE!  It’s my EMAIL!  I erase the email address, scroll to the bottom of the document and push submit again.  There isn’t a 2nd page that gives details on the passenger, and I get an email confirmation that I WILL BE TRAVELING.  I’m not traveling, my son is.  I recheck the document. I call customer service.

After 2 minutes of waiting for someone to answer the phone, I notice a chat feature on the site.  I push Chat.  I get the little time indicator saying my request for a chat is being processed.  2 more minutes waiting for someone to answer the phone.  I get a question on the chat, “What can I help you with?”  It’s one of those phrases that chat help puts up automatically.  You KNOW the person at the other end of the line doesn’t want to type that out every time some person wants to chat.  They hit the button and the initial question automatically pops up.  How do I know that?  Because if there WAS a person at the other end of the chat, it wouldn’t take so long to answer your question.  Still no answer on the phone.  I hang up.  “For some reason, when I submitted my payment for the ticket, it didn’t put the right name on the passenger.  It has my name on it instead.  How can I fix this?”  Wait… wait… wait…  See?  I knew this chat wasn’t Live the way we understand it.  It leads me to one conclusion:  Customer Service Chat uses zombies.  I go to Face Book to pass the time while the little back and forth dots indicate that someone might answer my question.  2 minutes later.  “Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable.”  I know that.  So I type back, “That doesn’t help me with my problem.”  “Didn’t you read the directions?  You have to put the name of the passenger on the form.”  “There was no place to put it.”  “You missed it.  Did you check the box that said the ticket was a gift?”  “Where was that?” “Right beneath the scheduling details.”  “I didn’t see it.”  “Well that’s where it was.”  “How do I make sure that my son can make the trip then?”  “Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable.”  “So I just made a donation to Greyhound?”  “Yes.”  “So if I didn’t have enough money to pay for two trips, I’d be out of luck?”  “Yes, you have to read the directions.”  “So….not your problem?”  “Not my problem that you refuse to read directions.  You can’t blame me if you’re incapable of following simple directions.”  What. A. Bastid!  He must have had a bad day.

Start the whole process over.  Found the stupid box.  Did you know they charge extra if you don’t use the ticket yourself?  Oh, and after you enter your email address, you MUST go up and take your email out of the coupon box. It automatically shows up there every time because you don’t know how to turn off the Chrome autofill feature that is supposed to make things easier.  Now that that’s been cleared, you have to re-fill out the information and re-enter the gift recipient’s name or it defaults to your name again.  HA!  Not going to get me this time!!!  Submit.  It submits!  Yay!  Send tickets to son.  Repeat process for Christmas trip.  I have now spent $700+ so my son can see his family for the holidays, $262 of which was a donation to Greyhound to keep their profits in the black.  Since it is a private company instead of publicly traded, the only information that’s available is the earnings report.  Their profit was down 16,000,000 British Pounds since the same time last year.  Well now, I’ve contributed to their bottom line.

So the story’s over right?  NOOOOO.  What?  There’s More?

I didn’t check on the actual route my son was taking.  He was to leave at 10:30 AM or so, travel from Norman to OKC to Tulsa to KCMO to Des Moines to Omaha.  4 different buses, one without plugins or wifi.  I had to pick him up Wednesday Morning at 1:30.  Remember that I had Tuesday as my chosen date of arrival?  He spent 14 hours on the bus.  I hadn’t chosen Tuesday for the arrival date, I’d chosen it as his departure date from OK.  I picked him up and found an IHOP where he got to eat for the 1st time since lunch the previous day.  We got home about 3:00 AM.  This is the day before Thanksgiving.  So if there’s going to be food tomorrow, I have to cook today.  I get up about 9:00 and start.  Turkey is frozen solid so I set it in the sink.  (I had put the turkey in the refrigerator on Saturday per instructions of the FDA…liars.)  My son spends the whole day in bed recovering.  14 hour bus trips are not the best way to spend a day.  Thursday, we have our Thanksgiving dinner and watch our football.  I have my Turkey Coma nap.  Friday we see little indications that our son is alive and well and truly visiting his loving parents.  “Hi Mom.  Hi Dad.”  Hello son.  About midnight, he comes up and says, “I’ve missed my bus…”  

Now I find out the rest of the story, he’d also missed his initial bus in Norman, it didn’t come.  What he didn’t know was that there are two bus stops in Norman, and he was at the wrong one.  Norman has a population of about 110k people.  Why does it have 2 bus stops?  His friend had to drive him to Oklahoma City to catch the next leg of his trip.  I was confused about him missing the bus from Omaha though.  He showed me his ticket.  It said Boarding at 11:41 PM Saturday. This was Friday.  Then he showed me the next ticket on his transfer in Kansas City.  Boarding at 8:00 AM Saturday.  I checked his tickets again.  Departure was 12:01 AM Saturday, not Sunday.  If he left Omaha Saturday night, how could he leave Kansas City on Saturday morning?  If he didn’t catch the bus in Kansas City, he’d have to stay here until January.  I’d be out another $183 for a new one way ticket if we got him another trip for a later time this week, or he’d miss getting his bills paid and might be in danger of having utilities shut off and losing his apartment.  So since his KC bus was leaving at 8:00 AM Saturday and it was a 3 hour drive…we jumped in the car at 3:00 AM and drove.  It cost me $45 in gas and $30 for breakfast at St. Joe, and 7 hours of driving.   His tickets for December are the same, pick him up Monday morning at  O Dark Thirty and send him to the bus station a day before his ticket says…(Wednesday at 12:01 AM is when his bus leaves, so I have to get him there Tuesday at 11:40 instead of Wednesday 11:40.)

So Greyhound!  Get your act together!  Print the tickets correctly!

Smoke gets in your eyes, retasked

They asked me how I knew

Walking, I must doooooooooo…..oh oh

I of course replied

Stomach over-rides

Must now be denied!

 

They said someday I’ll find

I have over-dined, oh no!

Calories you burn

Tend to then return

Sweat gets in your eyes.

 

So I Huffed and then I bravely puffed

upon my big hill trail, (gasp…gasp)

And today, the chiggers had their way,

I have not lost a pound!

 

Now, laughing friends deride

bite marks on my hide!  (Scratch…scratch)

As my red skin fries

And my momentum dies…

Sweat gets in my eyes.

 

I’m messed up

My world view has skewed.  I was watching (with tears in my eyes) the story of 3 little kids in this impoverished country.  The little boy was about 10 or 12 and had 2 little sisters.  Every day, they had to walk 2 miles to get water.  The path has snakes that can kill you if they bite you, so the little boy goes in front to make sure the path is safe for his sisters.  All the kids are sick, the water is not really safe to drink.  None of the kids has had anything to eat all day.  “Send money!  for $19.00/month, you can send $190 worth of food and medicine to save these children!”  If you don’t get out your checkbook right away, they will guilt you some more.  Food for the Poor will give 95% of the donations to the poor and save so many lives!

I didn’t get out my checkbook.  I didn’t do a money order.  I didn’t go on line to the site and pledge my undying support.  I didn’t adopt these poor kids.  I am a HORRIBLE person.

What I was thinking was this:  If you give them food and medicine, are they any less poor?  They are alive but dependent.  What happens when the shipment of food or medicine is derailed or delayed?  What happens if this charity goes under?  What happens if the economy bottoms out and donors are harder to find?  They’re still poor.  They are still desperate.  We just don’t feel guilty for having water and food and jobs and clothing and shelter any more.

What would happen if we sent a pair of goats or sheep or whatever indigenous food-type animal there–something that wouldn’t cost much to raise and would still be able to feed these people?  What would happen if they were taught to make flamboyant t-shirts to sell to rich Americans?  They could make as many or as few as they wanted.  What if we investigated their folklore on medicinal plants and learned how they survived up to that point?  Their ancestors had a reason for settling in that place.  Has it changed so much that it no longer supports that community?  Do they need to relocate (preferably closer to the water)?  Do they just go get water and sit and wait in their inadequate housing to die?  I can’t believe they would.  Could they make products out of the surrounding materials that they could sell?  Could they start farming crops that grow in that environment?  Don’t they have a shaman or wise person in the village that can teach the children?  Since they obviously do not have contact with modern societies, why would they need a stereotypical school?

Why is it our duty to “save” these people?  What if our idea of salvation is their idea of obliteration of their culture and their way of life?

Could we survive without TV’s, computers, internet, cars, fast food?  If we were suddenly plunged into a life like that, would these people who live without these critical objects show us how to live on nothing?  If I was living like them,  I would point and laugh and whisper, “City Folk..,” but then I’d help them anyway.  How can we help these unfortunates if we don’t change their living conditions?  How do we make them Not Poor?

Instead of just sending donations, can we send people to improve their living conditions?  Doctors without Borders brings health care to people in need, but then they leave.  Do they train people to take their places?  Do they teach people how to MAKE the medicines and how to treat infections?

Once again, these desperately poor people didn’t just appear.  Their ancestors survived there.  Why can’t they?  What would it take to make them self sufficient?  You can’t just throw money at them and change their fates!

So I am a HORRIBLE person.  I want to fix the cause, not just treat the symptom.

The Sketch

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/65044839/posts/1911777871

7th grade art class assignment:  We’re going outside to the bridge to draw a tree.

 

The bridge was rickety, it was plain.

It crossed a creek you could step over.

But the trees around it were tall and stately,

So we all drew tall stately trees.

The instructor was drawing as well.

But when he finished, we knew exactly which tree he’d drawn.

Ours were blobs of green on brown sticks.

He smiled and said, “Draw the space between the leaves,

Draw what you don’t see.”

THEN we drew our trees.

He taught us how to see.