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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We've got a million things to worry about, don't we? Well, I just discovered one more chunk of worry fodder for our obsession stockpile. It's something I never even heard of before now and it generally occurs in women. But by golly, it's a doozy. CANKLES.  Huh?  I repeat: "cankles". It's slang for chubby ankles. I wonder why they don't call it "chankles"? But that's another worrying point I'll save for later. 

Ladies, better look in a full-length mirror right this minute to determine if you have cankles. It's the part of your leg where the ankle and the calf meet. If there is a shapely, attractive narrowing in the ankle zone between your calf and your foot, then you have been blessed with fetching, well-defined, slender ankles.  On the other hand or foot as in this case, if your leg pretty much resembles the trunk of a redwood tree from your hips to your feet---you've got cankleism. Aka: large ankle girth. No need to rush to the nearest emergency room, however. Although aesthetically alarming, fat ankle syndrome or "fankles" (I just invented that word), is not a genuine medical disease. Podiatrists report that cankles may occasionally be caused by inflamation, diabetes, hypertension or obesity. If you are truly concerned, you should get checked out by a medical professional.

However, for most women, cankles is simply an unfortunate, physiological body flaw bestowed upon us at birth. And you don't have to be plump to have cankles. I am reminded of those classic 16th century paintings which depict hardy, rugged European farm women wearing babushkas, in the fields tilling and harvesting their crops. Those gals probably had cankles. They were born with them to aid with stability and endurance in the fields. Today most of us females do not struggle long hours in the back forty. So why should this condition be passed down genetically through the ages? The answer seems to be merely the luck of the draw. You either have cankles or you don't. You either look like Cindy Crawford or you resemble Hillary Clinton. I'm guessing the latter has cankles.

Of course it's not fair. So what can you do to disguise those less-than-svelte ankles? Some women who are overly self-conscious about them, turn to liposuction which costs between $4000 to $8000 for ankle shaping. Yet many doctors warn that ankle liposuction can be dangerous because it can destroy nerves in the ankle region. You could camouflage cankles with boots. But for those with extra ankle avoirdupois, it may be difficult to squeeze their cankles into stylish bootery unless they can wrangle a pair of oversized, rubber fisherman boots off a beefy longshoreman. Fashion stylists suggest wearing footwear with at least a 2 inch heel and avoid ankle straps. Long, solid-color slacks that cover the cankle area help mask the flaw also. I heard that some women rub hemorrhoid cream on their cankle region and then wrap an ace bandage around it for several hours. Supposedly when you remove the bandage, the cankles will have temporarily shrunk slightly.

As far as I'm concerned, hemorrhoid cream should only be applied to one body location and it ain't your ankles. I say, "Cankles, schmankles." We've got enough to worry about without stressing out over chubby ankles. Look at it from a positive perspective: if you carry your weight in your stomach, you'll never see your ankles anyway. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh Crap, My Mom's On Facebook!

My kids groaned when I joined the social network site, Facebook. At least I imagine that they did. I never actually heard them groan. They're adults and we don't live in the same city. But I'm sure they were thinking: Oh crap, why does she have to crash our party! To their credit, they are kind and cordial to me on FB. They are charming, cheerful, witty, clever and have tons of FB friends. For my part, I try not to play the worried mom card too much and I don't scrawl dumb messages on their wall that will embarrass them in front of the world...certainly not every day anyway. I'm still their mother, afterall!

I've recruited lots of my friends, who just happen to be parents, to join FB too. You know what? This scares your kids so much their lip rings tremble. My kids don't wear lip rings but make no mistake about it, your offspring are uncomfortable when you show up in their As parents, we have suddenly embedded ourselves in their space. I guess it might be compared to having dear old mom appear on their college campus and announce she's joining them on Spring Break. Or even worse---ask directions to the next Rave party. Or maybe they feel it's like you barged into their work place one day out of the blue and began mooning the Zerox Machine. I sense that the younger generation prized Facebook as their own personal cultural-generation, secret society. Their very own exclusive cyber clubhouse where they could blather on about anything and not be outed. Then suddenly mom and pops leap out of the bushes and drats---the kids are doomed.

Having their parents on Facebook rattles the younger generation so much that a couple of Gen Xers have come up with a website called: Oh Crap, My Parents Joined Facebook. It's actually an amusing site and the two female creators insist they still love their parents. They just don't love them being on Facebook.

Sharing Facebook with your kids can lead to some very dicey internet protocol. For example: should your kids befriend you or not? If they don't, will you disinherit them?  What about your kid's pals? Should they accept you as a friend? This is a huge quandry for them. If they accept you and your kid finds out, will they end up enemies for life?  I've had some friends of my kids initiate the friendship thing with me. I don't mind at all. And what about parents? How should they behave on Facebook?  For starters: don't play grammar police. Avoid oversharing about yourself as in your love life, personal hygiene or about how sonny boy, Bubba, sucked his thumb until age 17.

The fact is our kids were on Facebook first. We've invaded their privacy. Yet I think by now they're getting used to us. We are not spying on them. I repeat, we're not keeping tabs on you. But how come you weren't in the chat room last night? Ha!  Parents and even grandparents have come to regard FB as a really cool thing. We can reconnect with old friends, get updated on what everybody's doing, tell people about ourselves, view photos of friends and family, play silly games, even shamelessly plug our blogs. It's far hipper than email. The neat thing about FB is that members come in all ages, sizes, nationalities, religions, political and social viewpoints. It's an amalgamation of generations and amazingly we all seem to get along in Facebookville. It's a beautiful thing.

Oh, there's a brand new site out there called: My Parents Joined Twitter. And guess what. I just did...this morning. You can't escape mom. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Who Is the Happiest?

In the movie Cocoon, a group of feeble Florida retirees become mysteriously rejuvenated when their retirement home swimming pool turns into a fountain of youth. Does feeling youthful make you happy? If so, are younger people happier than elderly folks? The American Psychological Association reports that persons in their 80s and 90s may be happier than the rest of us. How can that be? Elderly people are not as physically active as they used to be when they were younger. Many of them can no longer drive. Their health deteriorates. Many of their spouses and their friends have died. It's hard for them to get out and make new friends. They resist change. Many have had to leave their homes for assisted living facilities. They engage in fewer social activities and tend to be alone more often. So what's making these folks so gosh darn euphoric?

Turns out that researchers have discovered that with the exception of dementia related diseases, mental health tends to improve as people get older. SAY WHAT?  Yes, apparently the older you get, the more content you become. Several studies have found that older adults report fewer negative emotional experiences than younger adults. Researchers also learned that teenagers most frequently reported negative emotions while octogenarians seemed to feel the least negative.

Older adults tend to see the good things in life more easily and are less likely to get as upset when little things go wrong, according to researchers. Psychologists refer to this as the "wisdom of aging"; the ability to experience everyday life as uplifting. Dr. Susan Charles says that younger people focus more on negative criticism and demand more information as to the origin of the criticism, resulting in greater stress. Older folks tend to let criticism roll off their backs and do not get as upset about it---which helps them feel less anxious, sad or angry than younger people.

The key to being happy as you age, seems to be make the most of the time you have. Elderly people in particular, avoid engaging in situations that will make them unhappy. They make choices to avoid situations and individuals which cause them stress and aggravation. Even if you're not an octogenarian, it makes sense not to hang with folks who annoy you.

So as we age, we won't all be turning into  "grumpy old men and women" afterall. Whew. What a relief. I feel mellower already. An Australian study reports that young people ages 18-30 actually were no happier than seniors aged 66 and over. Despite older people being less socially active than their younger counterparts and spending more time alone each day, the report says that seniors are just as socially satisfied as the younger generation.

The reports do caution that while elderly people appear to have a good stock of emotional well being, it doesn't mean that they are enthusiastic all the time. God forbid we have a worldwide slew of octogenarians hopped up on happiness while the rest of us are miserable. Is it possible that we'll all be actually looking forward to growing older, if it makes us happier?

All this makes you wonder: Was that movie Cocoon really a fantasy....or a possibility?   Old age---bring it on! Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Happiness Factor

Happiness. It's a feeling, condition, state of mind, philosophy that mortals have been seeking since the dawn of man. Happiness is elusive. It's like the vein of gold we've been mining for our entire lives. The shining star that's beyond our reach. As children most of us expect that we'll be happy when we grow up. We hope to live happily ever after. It's our birthright, don't ya know. Our entitlement. It's something we all desire. Something we all deserve. But for millions of people, happiness is the brass ring on the carousel that eludes our grasp.

Are you happy? Are you struggling to find happiness, peace, inner contentment? I can honestly report that I .......
                                               To be continued...

Dear readers, do you have tips, anecdotes, lifestyle solutions that make you happy? Let us know by sharing your comments or helpful advice. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You May Be a Jackass if....

1. You may be a jackass if the President of the United States calls you one and your name is Kanye West and you stole the mike away from a sweet little country songstress at the MTV Video Music awards and ruined her big moment.

2. You may be a jackass and dance like one too if your name is Tom Delay and you're Dancing with the Stars in brown spandex because you've got nothing better to do since you lost your powerful job in Congress as Majority Leader of the Republican Party because you were indicted in a political corruption scandal and money laundering and may eventually be facing jail time.

3. You may be a jackass if your name is Joe Wilson and you rudely interrupted a Presidential speech before a joint session of Congress, screamed "You lie", showed complete disrespect for the leader of the free world, embarrassed your political party and the state of South Carolina and arrogantly exploited the situation to raise money for campaign donations.

4. You may be a jackass if your name is Mark Sanford and you're the governor of South Carolina and you got caught in a steamy affair down in Argentina and when trying to reconcile with your wife and four children you referred to your mistress, not your wife, as "my soulmate".

5. You may be a jackass if you were one of South Carolina's most respected social conservatives and mother of 4 children but resigned as head of the South Carolina State Board of Education because it was discovered you hang out in online X rated chat rooms and pen pornographic erotic stories all the while proclaiming to be an evangelical Christian.

We interrupt this list to wonder: 
What are they smokin' in South Carolina?

6. You may be a jackass if your name is Jon Gosselin and you left your wife and eight children for a slew of younger babes, allegedly boffed the kids' nanny and are taking 2 puppies away from your kids and sending them back to the  breeder. (the puppies not the kids)

7. You may be a jackass if your name is John Edwards and you were a former presidential candidate but you cheated on your cancer-stricken wife with another woman; lied, denied and finally admitted the affair and then lied, denied that the love child is yours; possibly used campaign funds to silence your mistress and others; reportedly promised your mistress you'd marry her and you'd get the Dave Matthews band to play at the ceremony---as soon as your wife died.

8. You may be a jackass if your name is Rod Blagojevich and you were disgraced and ousted as governor of Illinois and you're indicted on umpteen felony and racketeering charges and now you've written a memoir book and are arrogant enough to think people will buy it and still you have not the decency to change your hair style. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hooking Up Means What? Ask a College Kid.

Where were you when Kennedy died? Which one? If you're a boomer, you'll undoubtedly recall precisely where you were and what you were doing that terrible day in November, 1963 when you heard the unbelievable news that President John F. Kennedy had been asassinated. The killing of Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968 will likely instill personal memories for Boomers and members of Generation Jones. But what about the death of young John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash in July, 1999?  Do Boomers have the same deep rooted feelings and sentimental memories of his untimely death as say Generation Xers would?  Now consider the recent passing of Senator Edward Kennedy. Five years from now what generational group will remember exactly where they were when Teddy died?

It's fascinating how different generations conjure up drastically diverse experiences and concepts for the same word or idea. Over time, words and phrases take on totally new meanings. The incoming crop of 2009 college freshmen might  identify JFK as a rap artist or an airport in New York. These kids have no personal reference for JFK, the President of the United States. They may recognize Ted Kennedy, the elder statesman but have they ever heard of Chappaquidick?  When boomers think of text, we generally think of it as a noun defined as words in a textbook. For today's young people, texting is a short-cut means of communication via cell phone. Ever talk about hooking up with pals---your intention being an innocent get-together for lunch? Be forewarned that the younger generation consider the term hooking up to be a casual sexual encounter. We used to call it a date.

For the last 12 years, Beloit College in Wisconsin, has released its annual Mindset List. The list has become an unscientific but popular teaching tool to illustrate the cultural subjectivities of different generations. The list often humorously demonstrates how new freshmen view their world and what experiences have shaped their lives thus far. Today's class of 2013 was born in 1991. They are known as Generation Y or the Millenials. Below is a sampling of the cultural touchstones from the perspective of the Millenial generation compiled by Beloit College's Mindset List: 
1. The Green Giant has always been Shrek; not a big guy in green tights picking vegetables.
2. Millenial kids have never used a card catalog to find books in a library.
3. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
4. Tats (tatoos) have always been hip, chic and highly visible; not something   sailors used to get on shore leave...among other things.
5. Rap music has always been main stream for them.
6. They've always been able to charge a latte on their cell phone.
7. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
8. They don't know what R.S.V.P. means.
9. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
10.They never knew life before flat screen TV.
11. They wonder who Bob Dylan is.
12. There has always been a MacDonalds and a Planet Hollywood.
13. There's always been a computer in the Oval Office and in the home office.
14. They've not known life without blue jello.
15. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
16. They have no clue as to the meaning of Heeeeere's Johnny!

The purpose of the list is to remind professors that references familiar to them might not be shared by today's college students. Beloit College insists the Mindset List is not meant to make older folks feel even more ancient. Maybe so, but just keep in mind the next time you're thinking about hooking up with friends for potluck dinner, bring a salad and a condom.

Hi readers!  If you enjoyed this or any of my other commentaries, why not sign up as a Follower or subscribe to this blog? It's free and easy to do. Just click the Follower box or the Subscribe box in the side columns. Then enter your email address. Whenever I write a new entry, it will appear in your email inbox. Also, feel free to post a comment by clicking the Comments tab under each commentary. Remember to click the Publish your comment tab to post your comment. There will be a short delay before comments are weed out the loonies. So you won't see your comments immediately. But don't worry, they'll appear soon and I can't wait to read them. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Trapped on the Tarmac

I hate to fly on airplanes. I'm afraid of flying. But still I continue to fly.  My very first plane ride was about 45 years ago in a tiny 2 seater, twin engine propeller orange crate of a plane. A friend of mine was the pilot. And no, he wasn't one of the Wright brothers. He was 16 years old. He had just got his pilot's license and it was his first time in the air without any supervision. It was just him and me, his nitwit sidekick riding shotgun. Looking back, I'm not really certain it was totally legal. But all I know is that we hopped in the plane and took off. I was scared to death but like a lamebrain, I went along just for the thrill. In the blink of an eye, we soared out over an enormous expanse of deep, blue water, otherwise known as Lake Michigan. I prayed with all my might that we would not crash. I remember seeing the waves get closer and closer and then I noticed a guy on a sailboat wave at us. Oh my god. We were so low I could see the guy's red cap. My prayers were answered. We didn't crash. We landed safely at the airport. But it was the wrong airport. My pilot pal had miscalculated and we bounced down in a mud bog at an airstrip 50 miles from our intended landing destination. Stuck in the muck up to the wheels. I don't remember too much after that except we both laughed hysterically over the whole incident and later bragged to our friends about what incredibly cool and daring flying aces we were. Secretly, I promised myself I would never, ever, ever fly again.

But teenage promises were made to be broken and I did fly again. In college I took off into the wild blue yonder with a fellow from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He owned his own plane. It was another cramped, tin can, propeller job held together with rubber bands. To my astonishment, he announced that he liked to perform stunts in the air. Over and around, upside down, loops and barrel rolls. I was too petrified to even throw up. After we landed, we downed a couple pitchers of beer at the Brat Haus on State Street. Then I puked all over the table. I never saw him again.

I mention all this to explain that I am not a flying novice. Since those youthful aeronautical escapades, I've flown over vast oceans, across several continents---in huge modern turbojets and in dilapidated contraptions that were barely airworthy. I am a fairly seasoned flyer. And yet to this day, my nerves are on edge nearly every minute in the air. For the most part, I have had extremely good luck on airplanes. My flying experiences have been incredibly uneventful, smooth, few delays, no on-board drunks, no crying babies, no shoe bombers, no terrorists, no backed up toilets, no nasty flight attendants. I guess I've been very, very fortunate.

My worst fear (aside from crashing and burning) is being stranded in a plane on the tarmac for hours or even overnight with no air conditioning. We've all heard the horror stories: airline passengers trapped on the blistering tarmac with no information, no a/c, no water; sweltering human flesh, the stench of overflowing toilets and poop, screaming kids and adults huddled together in crazed pandemonium. I've often feared that if that situation ever happened to me, I would be overcome with claustrophobia and morph into a deranged lunatic. I'm petrified that I would have a monumental meltdown, be rendered temporarily insane and not be responsible for my actions.

Last happened. I was on what was supposed to be an easy-breezy flight back to my home in Michigan. From the beginning of the trip I was jittery because we took off in a ferocious rainstorm with giant lightning bolts bombarding the skies. If that wasn't bad enough, it soon became apparent to me that my seatmate was a terrorist. Dressed entirely in black, he had dark unruly hair, a black unkempt beard and a bushy mustache. He seemed nervous and kept fidgeting. He held a small bottle of hand sanitizer and kept shaking it into his hands. My mind raced. The hand sanitizer stuff was no doubt some kind of bomb explosive gel that would blow us all to kingdom come any second. How did it get past security? Oh did I mention, we were flying on September 12, one day after the 8th anniversary of 9/11?

It turned out he was not a terrorist. He worked at Walmart. Or so he said. I tended to believe him after he told me his hard luck story. His girlfriend had just left him, his uncle died, grandpa died, dog died. He said he'd lost his house, lost his car, no money, no friends. "Bad luck seems to follow me everywhere." he said. Somehow he managed to find a glimmer of happiness working at a Super Walmart in the electronics department. On second thought, maybe he was a terrorist afterall. He told me this was his very first time on an airplane and then he offered me some of his hand sanitizer. I declined. Suddenly and without provocation, he stuck his huge fist right in front of my face. I was paralyzed with fear. "See this?" he asked.  I squeaked: "See what?"  He pointed to a dried blood-gouged section of skin on his fist and said "See this big scab on my knuckle? I cut my hand on a metal case at Walmart. It's a dangerous job there, that's for sure."  For my own safety, I nodded in agreement.

I quickly immersed myself in a book while Walmart dude licked his sore knuckle. After we emerged from the thunderstorm, it was smooth flying through beautiful, sunny skies. I looked out the window and the weather was perfectly clear, bright and not a cloud in the sky. A gorgeous fall day in the Midwest. Suddenly, about ten minutes before landing, the pilot made a shocking announcement. There was a mysterious fog hovering over our intended airport and the entire facility had shut down. Our plane was being diverted to South Bend, Indiana. We would wait there until the fog cleared. The pilot nonchalantly mentioned that our plane would also need to be refueled. Refueled? As in we're running out of gas?  Would we even make it to South Bend? Was there any gas left in the tank? Would we end up splayed out in an Indiana cornfield? Could we possibly manage to limp into South Bend on a wing and a prayer and fumes?  Dear, Lord, save us.

After buzzing acres upon acres of lush green, patch-quilt farm land, we landed at the South Bend airport--which from the air appears to be smack in the middle of Farmer Brown's back forty. We did not conveniently pull up to the terminal ramp. Instead, we were way, way, waaaaay back on the outfield of the airport. I could almost smell the soy beans. The pilot announced that dozens of other diverted planes were ahead of us waiting to get refueled. He asked that we kindly stay in our seats and behave ourselves for the duration---which at that juncture might be several hours.

A collective groan ensued from all the passengers. My Walmart buddy turned to me and said proudly as if trying to prove his point: See I told you bad luck follows me. Ignoring him, I looked up toward the loo at the front of the plane by the cockpit. Nobody was using it. I reasoned that in a matter of seconds, everyone would rush the toilets and use all the toilet paper. The toilets would overflow and crap would careen down the aisles. I needed to make my move at once. I grabbed my purse, tucked it under my arm, unbuckled my seatbelt and charged hellbent up 16 rows to the toilet. An attendant tried to stop me but I pushed past her. I felt like a football quarterback scoring a touchdown. Yahoo. The thrill of victory.

Exiting the restroom, I discovered I had reached it without a second to spare. Twenty people were in line. And there was only a half roll of toilet paper left. As I squeezed my way past the loo people, I noticed several mothers were changing their baby's diapers on the seats. The aroma of freshly brewed baby poo annointed the already stagnant air. Babies howled from one end of the plane to the other. Back at my seat, I heard bells ringing. Am I starting to lose it already? I worried. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Non stop, the sound was merciless. It was the attendant call buttons going off....over and over and over. The culprits were two toddlers up front who were standing on their seat screaming at the top of their lungs and pushing the buttons. Their distraught mother had her hands full with an infant and could not restrain them. Suddenly a man in front of me stood up and screamed bloody murder at the flight attendant: Shut those kids up! They're driving us crazy. Make them stop pushing that button. The flight attendant appeared unflustered and did not respond. That made the guy even angrier. He raised his fist and hollered: I'd like to strangle that mother. Let me up there. I'll stop them. At that several of the passengers seated near him, including myself, drew ourselves around him and shouted: Shut up and sit down, you despicable, obnoxious, child-hating oaf or we'll beat you to a pulp. Or something to that effect. Apparently he felt outnumbered and I'd like to think our little gang put the fear of God in him because he sat back down and said not another word.  My one bit of advice to fellow travelers: Show some patience and compassion for mothers traveling with children. It's very hard coping with kids on a plane and those harried moms are doing the best they can in a difficult situation.

After we shut the big jerk up, the attendant announced: No more water. We've run out of water. Another loud groan errupted from the passengers. Luckily I had purchased a bottle of water at the airport and had it squirreled away in my purse. It occurred to me that I might make a hefty profit offering sips for sale to my thirsty traveling companions. But as the onboard situation seemed to be turning uglier every minute, I figured I'd best keep the water to myself lest some crazed lunatic cut my throat for it.

So there we were. I was grounded in my own nightmare, trapped with 165 other hapless souls in a giant steel tube. The sound of children screaming and crying pierced the cabin. An elderly lady began vomiting. Poop, piss and other foulish odors permeated every inch of the air. No food. No water. No toilet. Impatient and angry passengers cursed the flight attendants. The blonde woman across from me looked ready to faint. My seat pal, the Walmart guy, picked his scab and droned on about the merits of Korean-made flatscreens.  I wondered if Mr. Unlucky had not been on this plane if we would have had this problem. Is there such a thing as a person who dispells bad luck wherever they go? A spreader of ill fortune? Then I wondered just how long I could hold up before cracking up. How long had we been stranded? Two, three, four hours? My watch had stopped. WAIT! What's that outside? Oh my's a fuel truck.  And it's refueling our plane. The captain came on the loud speaker and informed us: Just a few minutes folks and we'll be on our way. Passengers errupted into applause. Sure enough, we were back up in the friendly skies and in no time, we landed safely at our destination.

Turns out we were on the tarmac in South Bend for only 55 excruciating minutes. I can only imagine what horrors would have occured if we'd been there any longer. Is it any wonder, I hate to fly?

Hi readers!  If you enjoyed this or any of my other commentaries, why not sign up as a Follower or subscribe to this blog? It's free and easy to do. Just click the Follower box or the Subscribe box in the side columns. Then enter your email address. Whenever I write a new entry, it will appear in your email inbox. Also, feel free to post a comment by clicking the Comments tab under each commentary. Remember to click the Publish your comment tab to post your comment. There will be a short delay before comments are weed out the loonies. So you won't see your comments posted immediately. But don't worry, they'll appear soon and I can't wait to read them. Sphere: Related Content
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