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A Cultural Shift

I’ve always owned a car.  At least, since I was a licensed driver.

First, a loaner from my parents, then a used car (bought with assistance from my parents).  Then, a succession of beaters (to which Dave-the-mechanic can attest!).

Finally, after the accident, I bought my dream car – a 1989 Isuzu Trooper! This was in 1995.  Most of my previous cars were at least 10 years old when purchased.  I just never had the money/credit to buy new.

When the Izuzu ‘gave up the ghost’ seven years later, I already had begun looking for a replacement.  The engine blew, and I needed a car.  I was still working, commuting, and one really needs a car to get around the Valley.

Credit, money, income limited my choices.  I ended up with a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue. (This was 2002!)  She was NOT my first choice, but I did qualify for her.

Who knew she would last fifteen years?

The sad part is, now she is worth maybe $500, if I’m lucky.  She still runs (the engine is still powerful), but needs major work – rack and pinion leak, crankcase leak, a/c compressor, engine mounts and window regulators, and many other things.  I’ve been advised not to drive her unless it’s absolutely necessary.

And, as I now drive J’s car (a 2006 Honda Element, the a/c works!) it seems silly to insure two cars.  We rarely need both.

SO…I’m either selling or donating the car.

It will be the first time since 1970 (broken beater car downtime excluded) that I’ve not actually HAD a car.

I’m looking at one Internet site who claims to buy cars.  As well as Father Joe’s Villages charities and the Salvation Army.

And it makes me sad and a little scared.

I can no longer walk very far w/o pain.  And, what if J’s car goes South – then what?

To get the Olds road-worthy is a minimum $1000.  Seems silly on a $500 car, when a second car is available.

So she’s on the block.

Sigh.

 

 

With A Stroke Of A Pen…

(from Chris Farrell’s On Watch, in part)

 It’s time for some extreme transparency. 

You’ve heard President Trump talk about extreme vetting for persons seeking to the enter the US from terror hot-spots – well, we need to aggressively exercise a similar technique when it comes to government records that you are owed through the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.

Judicial Watch files more FOIA requests and litigates more FOIA cases than any other organization in the country.  Much of the Washington corruption you have heard about in the news started with investigative work by Judicial Watch.  Cases like “Fast & Furious,” the political weaponization of the IRS, the effort to cover-up Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s reckless criminality concerning her outlaw email server, and many other cases.

The FOIA law allows for agencies and departments of the Executive Branch of government to make “discretionary disclosures.”  In plain English, that means President Trump and his cabinet secretaries can release whatever they want – whenever they wish to do so.  It’s up to them.  They can exercise their discretion to release records that are of broad general and news media interest concerning important public policy issues and/or the operations of the federal government.  These discretionary disclosures take nothing more than a stroke of the pen.

Ironically, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Sessions is currently making the exact same legal arguments as the Obama administration – and using all the double-talk and excuses from the Obama era, too.  The Justice Department remains in full cover-up mode for anything that would be embarrassing or illegal for the Obama administration.  That’s frustrating and disappointing, but you need to remember that the rank-and-file staff attorneys at Justice Department headquarters are largely Leftists that continue to support the Obama agenda.  President Trump appears to have a tough road ahead.  BUT, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Discretionary disclosures!  Extreme transparency!  With the stroke of a pen, President Trump and his cabinet secretaries can order the release of all government records concerning any number of important issues and lingering questions.

Here’s just a small sample of some of the cases Judicial Watch is investigating and litigating that could be released in full for the public and news media to examine:

  • FBI 302s – or investigative reports of interviews of President Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett during criminal investigation of Rod Blagojevich trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat.
  • The entire FBI’s investigative file of Secretary Clinton’s email practices.
  • Records about the tarmac meeting between former President Clinton and Attorney General Lynch at the Phoenix airport.
  • Draft indictments of Hillary Rodham Clinton prepared by Whitewater Deputy Independent Counsel Hickman Ewing, Jr.
  • Records about the Intelligence Community’s decision not to conduct a damage assessment of Secretary Clinton’s criminal email practices.
  • Records of notes, updates, or reports in the Office of the Secretary of State about Benghazi.

If you’re looking for some accountability for what’s happened in this country for the past eight years there’s a starting point.  But, there’s much, much more.

It’s time for extreme transparency.  Let’s get past the cover-ups and double-talk from the past eight years.  Your employees owe you records and answers. President Trump can provide them with the stroke of a pen.

I’m Chris Farrell . . . On Watch 

Or not.

And what about the current administration’s transparency and accountability?

So much for draining the swamp!

How DOES One Pay It Forward?

When one is broke?

I have been so fortunate in this life.  Not in the money/riches sense, but in the helpful friends and family sense.

These most recent trials involving my roommate’s surgery (and subsequent loss of income), coupled with my own health issues (heart, rash, suspected clot) AND repair of the shower leaking through the ceiling (with an insurance deductible, and the insurance company promising they would pay for a hotel room – they didn’t(!)  They said the hotel wouldn’t take it (!?)

I’ve a Sister stepped up without my even asking, with the deductible.  That was eaten by the plumber and the hotel.  And other friends have come forward to make certain I would have a positive bank balance(!)

The insurance company said, as the hotel refused their method of payment, that we could subtract the hotel charges from the deductible.  Making today’s visit from the adjuster forty-one dollars and change!

We actually have that.

Will wonders never cease?

But, back to the question.  I’ve been told by my generous friends that there is no balance sheet, and, when I am able, to pay it forward.

I’m on permanent disability, and have no savings left, nor credit!  Exactly HOW am I supposed to pay it forward?

And, I have some other payments due shortly with which my friends traditionally assist.

(As an aside, I certainly do not feel worthy of such help, or friends.  How they made such determinations is beyond me.)

To all of you (and you know who you are) I have undying gratitude and thanks for all the help you have given me over the years.

I just don’t know why I deserve such help, or how to pay it forward?

On Mother’s Day

Long-time readers of my humble blog might notice I don’t usually make mention of the above ‘Hallmark holiday’.

Because reasons.

First, my real Mother, the woman who bore me, passed away when I was in the Second Grade, directly because of her addictive personality.  She was ill my entire life with emphysema.  I barely knew her – certainly not enough to bond, or to have fond memories.

My Father loved her immensely.  Her death about killed him.

Subsequently, he met, dated and married the woman who became my stepmother.  She obviously wanted to be with him, but soon after the marriage, it became apparent she had no patience to raise yet another child.  She already had two grown of her own.  And deeply resented my Father’s traveling for business, and being absent because of his addiction to sports – watching, officiating, refereeing, umpiring, baseball, softball, basketball, football and hockey.

And, not to put to fine a point on it – she took her resentment out on me.

So, my relationship with my mothers was lacking at best.  Certainly it colored my future relationships with other women.

But, I am learning.

My ex-wife receives a bouquet of roses every Mother’s Day.  And has for the past twenty-two years.  Not because I wish to rekindle the relationship (we remain friends), but because our daughter Molly is unable to get them for her.

It’s the least I can do.

To all of you who had good moms out there, Good For You!

I wish I had…

LAZINESS

Borepatch recently posted regarding his dearth of posts.

Hardly.  I told him I wait for friends and quality!

I, too, have been remiss in my blogging duties.  Either in performing more than the minimum, or in leaving comments for my blogging brethren and sistren.

Turns out, there are reasons.

First, both my roomie and I have had recent health ‘issues’ and concerns.  She, a number of surgeries; me, a rash-of-indeterminate origin, a bad fall and a blood clot scare.

Second, my focus has been on trying to help keep us afloat while she misses work (and income).

Third, the ongoing household chores and maintenance – they never stop!  Dogs and cats to tend, trash to be taken out, groceries…

Two days ago, a leak from the upstairs shower became apparent, as water began coming through the ceiling!!  Do we have homeowner’s insurance?  Of course.  Can we afford the deductible?  NO.

And we have neither diagnostic nor physical plumbing ability…

The good news, is J. was released from her restrictive sling yesterday (following rotator cuff surgery).  Only eleven more weeks of physical therapy for her to follow!  And four more doctor’s appointments later this month.

My rash is largely gone (although I still itch, somewhat) and my bloated calf seems to be getting smaller.  I return Thursday for another follow-up with my doc.

So, Life keeps us busy.  And my focus has been less-than-perfect on the blog.

But, we will continue and prevail.

Peace.  Out.

 

I’ve Not Visited Here In a While…

The Art of Manliness! (a blog to which I often refer) (in part)

Decluttering Your Digital Life

Hamlet’s Blackberry. The Joy of Missing Out. Irresistible. Reclaiming Conversation. The Tech-Wise Family.

Recent years have seen a boom in books (and articles) about being digitally mindful — putting down the smartphone, closing the computer, and engaging with real-world, tactile things. All this content makes the case that our devices are sapping a bit of our soul.

And I have to agree. Here on the Art of Manliness, we’ve written about FOMO (and interviewed Christina Crook about JOMO), breaking the smartphone habit, the importance of conversation in a digital world, and more.

This isn’t to say that the digital revolution is a bad thing, just that it needs a little more mindfulness than simply picking up the latest iPhone and diving into the digital ocean with reckless abandon.

In reading these commentaries on the effects technology is having on our lives, and considering both the negative and positive sides of the coin, it occurred to me that perhaps the best way of thinking about how we should engage our digital spaces, is to compare it to how we inhabit our physical ones.

In the same way that “analog” possessions are neither good or bad in and of themselves, but only detract rather than enhance our lives when they become too great in number, require too much maintenance, and clutter up our garages, kitchens, and bedrooms, apps and websites aren’t inherently problematic, but become such when they overwhelm our devices and require too much attention. When they become digital clutter.

Just as physical clutter can cloud the mind and hinder your focus, so can digital clutter. It takes up an inordinate amount of mental space and bandwidth.

Fortunately, just like with physical clutter too, the digital variety can be readily sorted through, organized, and cleaned up. By making the effort to do some digital decluttering — putting everything in its place and ditching what isn’t desirable — you’ll be able to focus better, breathe easier, and reclaim many of those spare moments that have been lost to endless scrolling on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re ready to vacuum up some digital dust, clean out your closet of apps, and pare down your technological junk drawer, then grab a metaphorical trash bag, and let’s get to work.

The Harm of Digital Clutter

Just as physical clutter leads to stress and a muddled mind, so does digital clutter. It leaves you with what author Scott Hartley calls “constant partial attention.”

It works in the same way that physical clutter sometimes leaves you unable to fully focus on a task: You need to finish up some administrative work at home, but you know there’s a pile of mail that needs your attention, the living room needs vacuuming, and the coat closet is bursting at the seams with junk.

The digital version: Your inbox has thousands of messages. Your smartphone notification window is alerting you to 6 different social media apps that need your attention. You have 19 tabs open, each with some purpose that you’ve probably already forgotten. You have a conversation going with a family member in a variety of different places — text message, Facebook messenger, email — and you can’t keep track of what was last said.

With all that going on just in your little device that you hold in your hand, it becomes impossible to truly focus on any one thing, let alone something that’s truly important.

Scott Hartley states this problem well in The Fuzzy and the Techie:

“It’s a process of constant minor interruptions that delude us into thinking that we’re highly engaged across a number of shallow conversations, but in fact, we’re just continually, partially attuned.”

The very technology that we’ve created has in fact very slowly hijacked all of us. As Christina Crook notes, “Facebook in 2006 was fun, Facebook in 2016 is downright addicting.”

You know the feeling of satisfaction, relaxation, and relief that comes when you’ve tidied up your room or house? It’s the exact same when you tidy up your digital life. You regain the ability to focus on important things — not necessarily productive things, but important things like your family, a good book, even a great meal. (When’s the last time you went a day without checking your smartphone during a meal?)

Identify and Inventory the Problem

The task of physical decluttering often starts by surveying what areas of the house have become overly filled with junk, and deciding on a rubric for figuring out what should stay and what should go.

The job of digital decluttering should begin in the same way.

In The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook offers a helpful yardstick for evaluating the effects of our digital “possessions.”

She was inspired by a seemingly unlikely and decidedly un-modern source: Saint Ignatius Loyola, who lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

While it’s unlikely he created the discipline, he considered what he called “The Examination of Consciousness” (sometimes shortened to simply be called “Examine”) to be the most important spiritual practice one could partake in. It was really quite simple — twice a day, the Christian practitioner would guide themselves through a reflection of their actions and time spent, using the 10 commandments as a guide.

With Ignatius’ Examine as a starting point, Crook created a shorter, modern, secular version designed to inspire reflection. She asks readers to inquire of themselves, on a daily basis, two things (and in this case especially, thinking with your device and internet habits top of mind):

  1. What today was most life-giving?
  2. What today was most life-taking?

In just two days of practicing this contemporary Examine I came to realize that most of my digital actions were far more life-taking than giving. What was most life-giving in a normal day? A splendid cup of coffee in the morning alongside a real book, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the day, playing with my son after picking him up from daycare, writing a letter to a friend. Not once in my reflections has anything social media or internet-related been most life-giving.

And yet, before this digital decluttering, I spent a lot of my time on my phone. Granted, I was better than a lot of people. It’s rare that phone time was truly disrupting something, but in spare moments I was playing games, or perusing Facebook, or trying to pick which adorable picture of my kid to post to Instagram. Those spare moments really added up — I’m a little ashamed to say that my game of choice was Two Dots, and I got up to level 1,006 before recently working up the nerve to delete it.

Viewing my digital habits through Crook’s Examine questions helped me to identify the areas of my tech habits that were problematic, and gave me criteria on which needed to be re-organized, pared down, or eliminated.

Before beginning your own decluttering project, I recommend engaging in the same illuminative exercise. The insights that you get will be different than mine, which will allow you to create a more personal plan.

In a lot of the material out there on digital detoxing, you’ll find plenty of prescriptive advice. The thing with clutter (of any kind), though, is that it’s actually fairly personal. A desk with piles of of books and papers and mail on it doesn’t bother me, but a sink full of dishes does. Some folks are just the opposite. Similarly, an email inbox with more than 30 messages in it stresses me out, while plenty of people have never deleted or archived anything and are perfectly happy to leave it that way.

You’ll have to find out for yourself what bothers you — what takes up mental space — and what doesn’t. Don’t necessarily just blindly follow what’s been recommended by others. Experiment and tailor your digital decluttering to your wants and needs.

How to Declutter Your Digital Life

Once you’ve determined which of your digital habits are more life-taking than life-giving, it’s time to take a broom to the former.

Below I walk you through some steps — both easy and not-so-easy — to tidy things up. Some of them may seem a little intense, but I encourage you to give them a try. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, and as The Strenuous Life implores — “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”

Since our age is pushing us hard into the abstract and distracting, don’t be afraid to be similarly ruthless with your decluttering — to go to what other people might call “extremes.” You can always add back in what you miss and what you discover is truly life-giving. Sometimes when cleaning up, you just need to throw it all out and start with a blank slate.

Christina Crook did this by going internet-free for 31 days. After going nuclear for a month, she added back in what was useful and beneficial (and also kept the good habits and routines she discovered in that month).

Kyle Eschenroeder did something similar with his Input Deprivation Week. For seven days, he lived without blogs, social media, and online news sites of any kind (among other non-internet forms of input too). He realized the space they were taking up in his life, and noticed a slew of benefits from taking a break:

“It will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.”

With the principle of doing more rather than less in mind, let’s get into specific tactics for reducing the digital clutter in your life:

Cull your email inbox. Let your inbox become a sacred space. By utilizing filters for any advertising or social media email, and by unsubscribing to anything I’m not actively interested in reading, my inbox has become a place where I know that almost anything that comes in is either important, or from a friend or loved one (which I’m interested in even if it isn’t all that important!).

Rather than letting Redbox into your inbox to tell you the new releases, just go to the website when you want to rent a movie. Rather than letting Target suck you in with coupons, search out the coupons when you need something.

Practice Inbox Zero if you’re into that; if it doesn’t bother you, not a big deal. Personally though, knowing I have a fairly empty inbox at the end of the day clears up a bunch of mental space.

Get rid of apps on your homescreen(s). The homescreens on our smartphones are hotbeds for clutter. Between apps, folders for apps, and notifications, it’s pretty much constantly beckoning for our attention. If you have an Android phone, if you delete an app from a homescreen, it’s not gone, it just goes away into a slightly-harder-to-access app section. I’ve done this, so if I want to get to Instagram, I’ve added a step besides simply unlocking my phone. I now have to navigate to apps, then to Instagram. Just one extra step has me checking on a weekly basis rather than a few-times-per-day basis. My homescreen now only has apps that I use regularly for life-giving or practical purposes: Kindle, flashlight, kid’s mode, camera, phone, email, text messaging, and Starbucks. And boy is it nice.

(On iPhones, it’s a little harder, as apps are downloaded automatically onto the homescreen. Utilize folders, multiple homescreens with less on them, or the below option of losing your apps altogether.)

Decluttered homescreen(s), decluttered mind. You’ll no longer be mindlessly sucked into 20 minutes of Facebook scrolling because you’re worried you’re missing out on something. If you don’t see that little blue F button, there’s a good chance you won’t even think about it (or if you do, you’ll think about it much less).

Ditch apps altogether and use your browser or your computer. Frankly, I love this tactic. Get rid of all the apps on your phone and force yourself to use its browser, or your home computer, when you need a social media fix or to search for something. Apps are clutter. Period.

Need to look up flights? Right now? Doubtful. It can wait until you’re in front of a computer. If it can’t, use your phone’s browser. In general, apps give us permission to feel the need to check or look something up instantly, when that is rarely, if ever, a true need. We check the weather app constantly only because we can. Ten years ago we survived with weather reports on the news, maybe looking it up on a computer, or heaven forbid, stepping outside to feel the temp and look at the sky. Now, I check the temperature on my phone while standing in front of a window. Seems a little silly.

As noted above, don’t be afraid to go nuclear with your apps and mass delete things, and if you find you really need something, download it again knowing that it’s truly useful.

Ditch all notifications. Okay, this is somewhat prescriptive advice. Notifications are clutter, just like a pile of mail on your table is clutter. It’s stuff that’s just begging to be opened and looked at and dealt with. Except whereas your mailbox might have 5 items to look through, between email and social media and news alerts, you could have hundreds of things to wade through every day. Mental clutter.

Treat your notifications more like you do your actual mailbox. When you get snail mail, it’s not chucked through the window at you the instant it arrives at the postal service’s distribution center. That would be rather distracting. Instead, it’s sorted and delivered in a bundle all together at a single time during the day. Take 15-20 minutes once or twice a day to check email, news, social media, etc. Don’t let it clutter your day and interrupt the important things you’re doing.

And while you’ll generally think of notifications in terms of your smartphone, ditch ‘em on your computer too. There are multiple inboxes I keep track of for work, but I’ve limited desktop notifications to only my main account. And I’ve also disabled all social media desktop notifications. Those are things that can be checked at set times during the day.

Stick to 1-2 social networks. I have personally found that trying to maintain regular use of multiple social networks to be just too much. It takes a lot of brainspace to check and be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and more all in the same day. So I’ve decided that in addition to deleting most apps from my phone, I won’t even try to keep up with more than Facebook or Instagram, and won’t maintain a presence on even those platforms beyond posting a weekly or bi-weekly photo. I’ve also taken up letter writing to keep in touch with people I truly care about. It’s far more satisfying for both parties than simply “liking” a social media update.

Put your phone away. When you come home and throw your keys into a basket, catchall, or other small container, toss your phone in with them. When it’s with you — and in your pocket — the mental clutter of an entire internet’s worth of headlines and viral videos can be too much to resist. Having your phone always next to you is like having a stack of newspapers and magazines on the floor that you have yet to read. Only when you ditch the newspapers because you realize they’re literally old news will the mental space they’re crouching on be freed up. Same goes with your phone. Those memes don’t call to you if your phone isn’t within reach.

Change your “zoning out” routine. Plenty of people, myself included, cite phone use as a way to zone out and chillax a little bit at certain points throughout the day. Maybe you had a long day at work, or your kids were being extra rambunctious during dinner. So when it’s time to kick back and relax a little, you grab your phone for some mindless browsing and social media scrolling. You need to just not think for a little bit.

But in doing so, you’re adding to your digital and mental clutter. You’re actually filling your brain with more FOMO and more headlines that don’t usually convey anything important. You want to empty your mind, but you’re only adding to it.

Rather than zoning out by engaging the digital clutter, do something else. Anything else. Pick up a book — some easy-reading cheap thriller will do. Sit outside with a homebrew or a cocktail and watch the sunset. Bake some bread. Carve a spoon. Jumpstart your journaling. These are the things that will truly declutter your digital life. While your phone calls you in a million different directions and to dozens of apps to constantly check, doing something tactile often requires that you focus on one thing at a time.

While these actions often necessitate more effort to start than simply grabbing your phone, resolve to do it, and once you’re in the moment, you’ll realize it’s far better than staring at a screen.

When it comes to spring cleaning this year, don’t just think of tidying up your physical spaces, but take time to declutter your digital ones too. Determine which of your digital devices, apps, and emails are taking from your life rather than giving to it, and organize or eliminate the vitality suckers. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” doesn’t just apply to your clothes and dishes, but to your phone, and your habits, too.

Do I follow their sage advice?  Not as much or as often as I should.

But I AM learning!

 

From The ‘Just When You Thought It Was Safe’ Dept.

In the past eight years, I went from a low-to-middle income ‘career’, to short-term disability and illness, to long term disability and remission.

Thus far.

While I am most grateful for having survived(!), with long term disability has come a lower income, and the loss of my job and home.  I tried to recover in the short term, and ended up maxing out my credit cards coupled with the inability to pay for them.  And the medical bills that followed.

Along the way my firearms collection was stolen.  Just to add to the ‘fun’.

Through the kindness of friends, I’ve been able to increase my firearms acquisitions to a small collection* (my surviving .38 snubbie and 1911, a Ruger .357 revolver and a compact Sig-Sauer .45!  And, of course, a spring-operated pellet pistol and single-shot gas one!!)

My cup runneth over.

Not the over 50 firearms I once owned, but, it’s a great beginning.  (I know, poor me.)  😛

So, what do I get in the email the other day?

Your Dream Gun Within Reach

One Gun One Gunsmith combined with oversized hand fit parts makes Nighthawk Custom pistols more expensive than assembly line guns. We know many of you dream of owning one “someday”, well someday is now today. With just 10% down and payments as low as $94 a month we have been able to make owning a work of American Craftsmanship attainable without having to cut corners.

The best part is, even if I had the down payment (which I don’t) with my trashed credit, there’s no way they would approve my application!

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t apply…

 

*We say collection.  Arsenal has developed a negative connotation.

 

(FTC – Nighthawk gave me nothing.  Apply for your own pistol!  My roomie has one she bought years ago.  It’s delightful!)

 

 

Last Minute Louis™ Visits Once Again!

(Last Minute Louis™ is the moniker I’ve given myself for procrastinating)

So, here it is again.  Tax time.

The government giveth and the government taketh away.

INCOME TAX IS THEFT!  Period.

Having said that, being on disability, I don’t generally get taxed.  Of course, I don’t get paid much, either.

And, as most of it comes from the government, they could decide at any moment to take it back, or stop giving it to me.

Regardless, I must file stoopid paperwork under penalty of law this time of year, showing how poor I really am.

I may make up to $1000 a month over my stipends, and not lose benefits – like someone would hire a 64-year-old cripple with many health problems, including the need to recline every couple of hours!

Sigh.

I DID finish the requisite forms and efiled last night about 1915 hours.

Having no real property, assets or income, I pay nothing.  And am receiving nothing in return.

The State of Arizona does see fit to give the lowly $25.00 in return.  Of course, it cost me $10.00 to file!

And a couple hours of combing through meaningless paperwork.

Is it any wonder I’m a Last Minute Louis™?

 

“I’ve Fallen, And I Can’t Get Up!”™

… and I’m not even an old Jewish woman! 

(My blogpost title is marked as a trademark, as the phrase is now legally linked with Life Alert™, the ad where I stole the phrase.)

(Yeah, yeah, political correctness – watch the original ad!)

One of my jobs is to retrieve the mail. We share one of those communal mailboxes about 100 steps from our front door. (I miss having a house with a mail chute built – in! But I digress.)

So last night I go out to retrieve the mail. Undoubtedly ads, solicitations, bills and perhaps collection notices, all for our enjoyment.

I noticed there was a significant breeze, cool, but not cold.

And no one else was outside to enjoy it. 

On my return trip, I did exactly that. I tripped. I suspect ‘Ed Sullivan’ (the really big shoe)* caught on one of those dividers they place in concrete sidewalks.

And down I went, pitching forward, my eyeglasses flying forward.

The ‘good news’ is I reverted to old karate training (from a Bruce Tegner book?) Instead of putting my arms out straight (ensuring a break or sprain), I placed them as if going down in a push-up – to absorb some of the shock. (Having a fused right hip, I am unable to bend all my joints and roll.)

I hit the sidewalk, felt some pain in my palms, and left ribs.

(Ok, so I didn’t do it perfectly. It’s only been 50 years or so.)

I rolled on my left side and began inventory. Hands, wrists, arms, no apparent sprains or breaks. Pain in my ribs, just below my left chest. It hurt a little when I breathe.   Palms hurt, but not any abrasions.  Glasses unscratched and unbent!

Now for the fun part. For a few years now, getting up off a flat surface has been challenging. To say the least. If I have foot stools, or something low and stable I can pull myself up on, incrementally, I’m golden.

If things are just flat, not so much.  (not being able to bend like normal folks, and having less body strength in my arms and left leg)

And, while I did yell aloud upon impact (a kiai?), no one came outside to investigate. It was 1940 hours, and dark.

What to do, what to do? 

I considered, for about two seconds, crawling across the sidewalk, to a narrow grassy area to the colored gravel adjacent to the townhouse stucco wall. There, using the wall (I reasoned) I could get a purchase and pull myself up!

Crawling, especially across gravel with sore ribs didn’t have much appeal to me, which is why I only thought about it for a couple seconds.

I know! I’Il call J., my roommate! She had said she was going to join me downstairs shortly.

Of course, sometimes she goes back to her nap, and turns off her phone! (911?)

I called, and she answered. She is recovering from shoulder surgery – there is no way she can pull me up…

I explained to her what had happened, and asked her to bring the aluminum patio chair out to me, that it might work for me to get myself up.

No dice! It was to high for me to get enough leverage. I suggested she knock on neighbor’s doors, until she found some help. Failing that, it was 911 for sure!

I think it was on her third try. Neighbors we didn’t know (and how sad is that?), a nice young man who was active in martial arts and sports medicine (a Twilight Zone moment, to be sure!) came, assessed me before touching me, then lifted me to my feet as if it were no big deal(!)  He walked J. and I to our door, not letting go until he was certain I was ambulatory.  He asked where all the blood was from – I didn’t know there had been any!  He said I should get ‘checked out’ (as if I were in my eighties and broke my hip).  I thanked him profusely.

Turns out I led with my chin**.  A couple of abrasions that wouldn’t stop bleeding until I shaved off the kung-fu beard! (A disappointment for J.)  I may have to grow it back. We’ll see.

Blood? What blood?

The never-ending bleed

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I have had broken ribs a couple of times. These are only bruised. I take pain meds for ongoing conditions, anyway. No biggie.  Unless I cough, sneeze, reach for something, bend – you get the idea!

Getting old ain’t for sissies, no siree!

 

*Ed Sullivan was a variety showman on TV from the late 40’s ’til the early 70’s.  He used to say, “We have a really big show – pronouncing it as shoe.  Youngsters, ask your parents!  I wear a built up shoe on my right leg – hence the clever nickname.

**Faces are VERY vascular (they can bleed a lot).

When Did THIS Become The Norm?

I don’t drive much, anymore.  Between having a beater car (when my roomie’s car isn’t available – thanks J.!), the cost of maintenance (which I can’t afford) and gas, and the whack-jobs on the road…

Speaking of whack-jobs! (See above)

I understand you don’t want to climb into the back seat of the car in front of you, both for safety reasons and just general courtesy.

BUT IT SEEMS 6 OUT OF 10 CARS KEEP A DISTANCE AT A STOP LIGHT OF GREATER THAN ONE CAR LENGTH!  SOMETIMES MORE THAN TWO!!

Have so many been rear-ended they are paranoid?

It’s just an annoyance if there are only two cars stopped at an intersection.  But if there are 12 cars in three lanes, and 60% of them are ‘keeping their distance’ of more than a car length, it causes back-ups!  Sometimes back to the previous stop light!

And I’ve NEVER seen anyone getting a citation for being stopped too far back – if there even is such a thing?

Personally, I keep a safe distance, usually enough to see the license plate in front of me.  A reasonable distance.

This phenomena seems to have developed over the past ten years.

What happened to cause this?

Bueller?  Bueller?

 

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…