Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 277 - Stop Staring

About seven years ago, one of the things they told us in our annual NCAA meeting was to stop staring down players.  Usually if a referee called a foul and the player didn't like the call, they will stare down the referee all the way to the table while he/she reports the foul and then all the way through the free throw to let the referee know that if we "dare" to make eye contact with them, they are NOT happy with the call.  It is human reaction to just "stare down" the player in return to let them know, you are SOLID in your call, and you are SURE of your decision and they can't intimidate you with their unsportsmanlike behavior or staring YOU down.  Well unfortunately, nothing good happens with staring. So I took this "human" nature out of my game.  We don't give them "status" anymore by even acknowledging this behavior.  Ignorance is bliss. 

My sons and I know this well.  People ALWAYS stared at my family when we were out in public.  A white woman with a black man and two brown kids.  When I was with only my kids, people wanted to know if they were adopted!  If they stopped just looking at the color of our skin, they would see that Brandon has my eyes and eyelashes, nose and mouth.  Cassius has my chin, smile and mannerisms.  His use of  the English language and the rhythm to which he speaks is exactly like mine.  As the kids came into their own self-identity of being "black" as well as "white", there was an even larger population of "stare idiots."  He was with me when we registered him for college and he said, "Mom I always forget that people stare at us when we are together.  What they look at and think is strange, I feel is so normal."  I told him, "I know what you mean."

So the right thing to do is for people to ask if they are confused.  "You seem so close, your family is very happy.  I'm assuming this is your son?"  That would be a polite right-thing-to-do if you are really interested in clearing up your own confusion.  So now what I do when I see something I don't understand, I try to ask questions and stop and understand.

I was driving on the road and saw a woman and what appeared to be her daughter pulling water plants from the ditches in two different parts of town.  On the second occasion, it drove me crazy so I made a U-turn and stopped to ask what they were doing.  Her name was Brenda and it was her daughter and she said that they have a state permit to pick these water plants and put them into garbage bags to replant in their pond at home?  I don't know what part is not true or true but at least I know what she is doing.  I was concerned because the first place she picked these plants is where the Sandhill cranes eat the animals that cling to these flowers at the base and I noticed that after she pulled in that area, the cranes did not return.

I don't stare anymore but I do ask to understand.  As Steve says, Seek first to understand and THEN to be understood.  I'm working on this as its hard not to push my own thoughts first as I'm married to them.  But I've learned with wisdom and time that there CAN be more than two sides of a coin.  I just wonder why it has to land on tails or heads.  Maybe we should just start flipping dice, at least this way we could have six different opportunities to be on the same side of the die.
“My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard” ~ David Allen

Here are two photos that people SHOULD have wondered what the heck?  for giggles....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 276 - Thanksgiving

The American tradition of family gatherings and food special to each family must be bad for pessimists.  It is bad enough that they have to be around the people in their family to which they were born, but then to have to be thankful that they have eaten so much that they need to take a nap for round two of the Joe Frasier's Eating Ring, ding ding is just too much to admit.  We are happy.  Among the chaos of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, dogs and cats, grandmas and grandpas, sons and daughters, the familiarity sings a song of contentment. This is the way at has been and this is the way we always want it to be.  Chaos and all.

So for this Thanksgiving, I give you with the words from St. Theresa. The Saint which I picked my confirmation name after.  St. Theresa, although there is still a debate in catholicism over which St. Theresa coined the phrase.  St. Theresa de Avilla or St.Therese de Lisieux?  Either way, they are words of wisdom that brings out the thankfulness in even the worst pessimists...

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.  

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

St. Theresa had her conversion at age 14, joined the Carmelite order in Liseaux the next year, and in less than a decade became a giant of Catholicism by preaching smallness. She described her life as “the little way”: 

‘What matters,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love.’” Holiness is an everyday thing. Of a person who found spirituality in what’s immediate and vulnerable, one might expect similes of flowers. So was Theresa’s dainty theology.

From her Story of a Soul: “Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay. It is just the same in the world of souls.”

This is more true than false even as it relates to my confirmation.  Baptized Catholic at the age of three months or so, I was raised by who ever would take me to church religiously.  No pun intended.  I attended different churches with each of my different friends, and believe me each of them were different, Luthern, Mormon, Catholic, Non-denominational or Pentecostal and Catholic.  There was just something about Catholicism that just "felt right" to me.  The discipline pattern of rigid structure helps anyone get through the uncertainty of a crisis.  So it was always a place for me to know that I would be confirmed but it wasn't until my last year in college that I studied privately under Father Bungo (thought that was such a funny name for a priest) and became confirmed. 

So my first two names Brenda-jean are followed by Theresa and then my surnames.  I chose Theresa because she was a saint of young age and innocence and knew a young age that doing the right thing like feeding the homeless and needy was her calling.  Even then it was evident that doing the right thing was just in my bones.  So at times when I don't like all of the evil within the Catholic church, it still is what we call "meat and potatoes."  What we mean by this is that wherever you attend a Catholic church, the mass will always be in the same order, with the same stand up, sit down, stand up and kneel down, then stand up and sit down again procession. 

So for Thanksgiving, I'm at peace and thankful for the meat and potatoes of my religion.  Pass the gravy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 275 - The Leader of the Pack

In my home there exists a triangle.  I've blogged about relationship triangles and I don't believe that taking a side of the other two points is good at any time.  But this triangle needs to be a line and not a triangle at all. The shortest distance between two points in a straight line.   Here is how it goes.  My boyfriend and I have a dog.  Her name is Mattie.  Mattie seeks my attention and loves me unconditionally.  I got her for him but because he wasn't home the first few days she was here, she attached herself to me and my rules.  I didn't even want the dog but he kept sending me photos of dogs from the dog shelter, so I thought I'd be proactive here rather than wait for some German Shepherd to just appear on our doorstep.

I'm stern and direct with her. I show her love on occasion but for the most part, she is just a dog to me.  Now Steve loves the dog unconditionally and shows her affection as soon as he wakes up.  In a high pitched tone, he says, "Hi Mattie, How are you?"  To me he gives me the gruff voice of "mornin'" as if life sucks to be him.  He then pets her while rolling around on the floor or sofa with her about three or four times a day and then covers her up with his t-shirt in the doggy bed when when she goes to bed at night.

The dog doesn't cook for him, pick up the socks and shoes he left in the living room, take care of the plates and cups left in the living room, and in general be his life partner through thick and thin.  If I'm not home, she doesn't even sit with him, she sits at the window waiting for my return. I'm told that on occasion she whimpers also. 

Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer says this is the biggest mistake we make as dog owners.  The dogs seek leadership as they are the followers and we are the leaders of the pack.

The number one biggest mistake dog owners can make with their dogs is to treat them like humans. The human race is such a kind, compassionate species that we tend to look at our canine companions as little humans. When in reality, they are canines and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies; there must be a specific order, from the leader on down to the last follower. Everyone has a place. The leaders are the strength of the pack. The followers need the leader to guide them. A dog has an instinct to constantly test the being above them and an instinct to be tested by the being below them. Instinct tells them that if there is not a strong being in charge their life and the life of the rest of their pack is at stake. This primal instinct keeps the pack secure and happy.

Dogs instinctively need rules they must follow, and limits to what they are allowed to do. When dogs live with humans, the humans become the dog's pack. For the relationship to succeed, humans must become the dogs pack leader. The mistake is made when the humans in the pack only give the dog love, and the other factors are overlooked. To a dog, constant affection without rules and limits goes against every grain in a dog's instinct. While dogs enjoy being loved on it does not satisfy the animal and it is not what makes them well balanced, stable minded, secure and happy. Affectionate love is a human trait, not a canine trait. Affection does not make dogs happy, satisfying their instincts do. You need to provide a proper emotional stability in order to achieve this, and showing you have an orderly pack with rules to follow is what the dog needs. Giving your dog affection is important for the human, and enjoyed by the dog, but must be done at the correct times. 

Here is a video clip that shows a perfect example of humans giving a dog affection at the wrong time. This is a result of many years of being treated like a human. The dog is terrified of the thunder and fireworks she hears outside. This dog is in a weak state of mind. The humans in this clip are comforting the dog in a way humans understand, but not in a way a dog can understand. The comfort means two different things to the human and the dog. The dog sees it as everyone around her being weaker than she is. For a dog to be in a weak state of mind, then be surrounded by pack members who are in an even weaker state of mind, well this really messes up a dogs psyche and intensifies their fear. Watch the clip. While watching keep in mind how the humans feel they are comforting, and how the dog's instincts do not see it that way.

Cesar Milan also states that when we take our dogs for a walk, they are to know we are the leaders, don't allow them to walk ahead of you.  You are the leader. When taking Mattie for a walk, I keep her to my right and don't let her walk in front of me.  She knows who is the leader, me.  Now as for my wishes, I wish there were more people in my home that were leaders of the pack.  Leaders who cared about the people they lived with more than the animals they live with. This is the right thing to do if you really care and love (human emotion) the person who loves you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 274 - Bright Idea and Big Government

incandescent bulb        CFL bulb
The right thing to do for all of us is to budget and stick to the budget in these lean times.  So at first glance the cost of a newly required CFL is $4.74 and the old "regular" light bulbs that are equal the time of light output of just one of these newly "fangled" light bulbs is still cheaper $2.31(4).  So is this another example of the "BIG GOVERNMENT" taking our rights away to deny us the freedom to choose which light bulbs to buy? 

Lets dig a little deeper...The cost of energy ($.107/kilowatt-hour ~ about 11 cents) over the CFL bulb lifetime (8000 hours) for the incandescent light bulbs (old-fashioned kind) is about $51.  For the CFL bulbs, it is $12.  So adding the cost to energize to the cost of the bulb, the final tally is: For the CFL (newly required to purchase Florescent bulb) is $17 for the total usage and for the same usage of the four incandescent bulbs is $53.

So the savings is in the time which we can't always remember or see immediately.  Common sense says CFLs cost less money and energy than regular light bulbs.  The problem we have is that people ignore the obvious cost and energy savings CFLs provide, for what appears to be no more than the "Fear BIG government" political propaganda.  This sounds like the same argument that was used for putting seat belts and air bags in cars, or requiring helmets for motorcycle riders.

Sometimes change is only made through requirements, legal and binding...otherwise we choose do it the old way because "we've been doing it this way for years" even though we are spending more money...we have chosen to be kept in the dark, literally

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 274 - Halloween American Style

Like most things, I've discovered as a host parent of international students, Americans do everything in excess.  Including Halloween.  To enjoy the experience, our host sons carved pumpkins, attended a party and a "trail of terror" and handed out candy.  This year we downloaded a free app with scary sounds and played it while sitting around a fire pit in the street.  Thankfully, nobody called the police on us and we had a blast.  Truth be told, I felt like a Brazilian...Party!

One Scary Dude!

Gabriele was scary!

The kids in the neighborhood

Crazy Julie Witch!

Really, she's older than I am!

The adults join in the fun!

Oompa Loompa!

Day 273 - Carillon at Stone Mountain

For those of you not familiar with the Stone Mountain Carillon, the instrument was built by Schulmerich Carillons in Sellersville, PA for the Coco-Cola Pavilion 1964 World's Fair in New York. At 610 bells it was the largest instrument of its kind. After the fair Coca-Cola moved the instrument to Georgia's Stone Mountain Park. By this time 610 bells wasn't the largest any more so a few more ranks were added during the move putting it at 732 bells. [from blog: Principles Unknown]

We took our host sons to Stone Mountain and while they hiked up the mountain of stone and back down taking in the views of Atlanta and other areas, the leaves were dancing magically to the sounds of the carillon. I don't know what it is about that sound of bells but it reminds me of being a child.  The bells at the church rang at noon everyday.  That doesn't happen in the south.  Perhaps that explains why the churches near my home don't have steeples.  The steeples held the bells and they played.  They played at noon and the curfew horn sounded at 9 PM.  At 9 PM if you were out on the streets, the police could stop you and take you home.  I still think this is a good thing to do.  Parents should be with their kids after 9PM or some other adult appointed if they are working.  

We had tried to find the carillon last time we were there two years ago.  We couldn't find it.  Now I know why, it's in the center of the roads on the side of the lake behind the restaurant.  If you go, make it a point to find them as their sound and magnificent presence is worth the struggle to get there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 272 - Everytime You Run...

We have a saying a Quitter Never Wins and a Winner Never Quits.  The biggest regret I ever had when I was in high school was quitting my basketball team as a Junior due to the unfair and unequal treatment of my high school Basketball Coach, Miss Polly McKeon.  She had defeated me in spirit.  I have only had this experience one other time when I was working for a company who hired a new Plant Manager from another state without doing a background check.  He started bothering me at work and following me around wanting to know where I was all the time.  I came to work early so that I could knock out a lot of work before the day started that was a tidal wave of events every day for a solid eight hours.  This one extra hour in the morning gave me some sort of control.  I arrived at 6:30 AM on regular occasion.

The straw that broke the camels back (or as Gabriele would say the horse with the hump's back) was when this new Manager met me at the car in the parking lot and started talking to me about what I had to do as soon as I got to my desk.  I told him, "Dave, please let me at least go in and put my lunch in the refrigerator." I even hid in the back darkroom where NOBODY ever goes to get away from him that day and he had searched the entire plant looking for me.  A fellow co-worker came in and told me that Dave was going crazy trying to find me. I asked Why and he said he didn't know, it was just driving him crazy that Dave didn't know where I was.  He found me and I asked him what he wanted and he never did give me a reason.

I talked to my immediate supervisor and to HR (the entire HR department consisted of one man) and they refused to take action.  I turned in my resignation.  The day after this turn of events of hiding at my own company, I realized that my company wasn't going to protect me and that this was just a ludicrous way to live your life.  I came  home, got out of the car, and just fell to the ground in my suit and cried my eyes out.  My husband came out of the house and picked me up and told me, "Don't let this man get inside your head." Later that week, my husband and I were looking for a new home and when we pulled up to a random house we were interested in, who would you guess showed up?  DAVE!! I told my husband, get in the car, we are not going to move ANYWHERE near this part of town.

Later as luck would have it, I met his ex-wife and she told me that he was actually a cocaine addict and that is why they had moved to Florida from Colorado.  They were trying to start over. The company that we worked together had never done a drug test or background test. 

I didn't quit, I moved to a more appreciative company.  I was the better for it.  In my thirties I was wiser from learning from high school that nobody can damage my spirit.  I  did however regret the decision I made when I was sixteen. I could have become a better basketball player... but the truth is this drove me to become the basketball referee that I had become.  The point is, you can run but you can't hide from your past.  You can only learn from the events and try hard to never repeat the same mistakes twice.  You also can turn any negative to a positive if you look for the right opportunity. It may be as simple as having the experience to understand how somebody else feels who is going through what you have been through already.  There is comfort in sharing the pain.

I do know this, if I had another adult in my life who could have protected me from that coach, it would have made a difference...if only JoePa hadn't turned a blind eye to what his Defensive coach was doing to the children who trusted this evil coach. Maybe these children wouldn't have to live the rest of their life not trusting the people or coaches or male authority figures. 

If you find yourself in this position of being deceived, remember the words, I Promise Not to Quit.  Every time you run, every time you hurt, every time you cry....Don't Quit.

Even more importantly, if you find yourself in the position of witnessing the deception and evil, expose the bastards!  Its the right thing to do. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 271 - SteamPunk

The first time I saw this word or read it, I was a bit confused.  The words don't seem to even fit together. Although we all know what steam is and the force it has and punk is the force that our teenage rebels show.  One was reigned in to create inventions that move such as the steam engine and the other could never be corralled and usually goes on to do evil.  So how do they fit?

On the CBS Sunday Morning Show they showed a tour of SteamPunk which is now gaining...well... steam, pardon the pun, and creating a buzz.  There is even a SteamPunk Bible that will explain what it is that you can order on  From Wikipedia: Steam­punk — a graft­ing of Vic­to­rian aes­thetic and punk rock atti­tude onto var­i­ous forms of science-fiction cul­ture — is a phe­nom­e­non that has come to influ­ence film, lit­er­a­ture, art, music, fash­ion, and more. The Steam­punk Bible is the first com­pendium about the move­ment, trac­ing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expres­sion in movies such as Sher­lock Holmes. 

So now you know how it is defined?  What IS it? Well lets just show you with pictures first....

Ok, so now you get the Steve Jobs (Apple) wanted to streamline everything down.  Now that he's gone, we are preparing to "Jazz" everything up...the old fashioned way, the Victorian Way.  Gadgets with Style is what I call it and  no outfit is complete without at least one robo arm or "gadget" and leather.  Skirts with lace and electronics.  It's the new yin and yang...and the weird I like it.  I love technology and the future and we are literally going Back to the Future with this style.

We have always watched science fiction and love the show Warehouse 13.  I can see this coming back.  In the event of loss of electricity on a global scale, could we some how harness the power of steam to make our widgets and gadgets work?  Probably not.  We need more battery power actually.  But the whole point of "punk" is to do it "their" way, a different way.  I like the rebel in these folks and I think its kind of fun.  I'm just curious how Steve Jobs would feel about what I just saw in the recent gift catalog sent for Christmas???  Hello?  Is anyone out there????  I wonder if it works....

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. ~ Mitchell Kapor