We are only as strong as the weakest among us

Imagine a family needs to walk across a river in order to get to the other side, and there is no bridge. Among the family members is five year old child. The water is up to her chin and her swimming skills are poor. What would happen in this scenario? Probably the mom, dad or a strong older sibling would pick her up and carry her, so that the whole family could make it to the other side together, alive.

Now extrapolate this story to the entire human race. We are all trying to survive in this world, but among us are some people who are struggling to make it across that virtual river of life. They may have been born poor and disadvantaged, or have suffered a debilitating injury or illness. Whatever the reason, who’s responsible for making sure we all make it as best we can, this human family of ours?

There seem to be different philosophies about this.

1. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”

This is the attitude which says, “I cannot recognize drowning when I see it, or I do not care.”

2. “Only help your own family and friends”

These folks seem to be saying, “I will only help people who I personally know, like and care about.”

3. “Help everyone”

This is the philosophy of those who see that we are all connected, who understand that if the left hand is bleeding, the right hand should put a bandage on it, or the whole body will suffer the consequences.

Have you considered where you stand and why?

Email Fail and Ramble

It’s obnoxious I guess, but when someone doesn’t reply to an email, sometimes I just find the email they ignored and forward it back to them, copying and pasting the exact same thing I sent before. I especially do this with party invites, because it seems that most people don’t understand what RSVP means.

Sometimes I am horrified at how many of my peers just can’t respond to emails. Especially when I’m doing them a favor. Some days my default thought is, “Will you help me so that I can help you?”

Now I get that people are busy. Many of my peers have full time jobs, small children, aging parents and household responsibilities. This is why I want to help them out, make their lives easier, if I can. But I can’t get blood from a turnip. If I need information in order to help you with the thing you want help with, then, I need information. From you. How will you get it to me? Via telepathy?

Yeah email sucks. Not everyone has gmail, which helpfully filters out Spam to make the task of checking it less overwhelming. Not everyone has a working computer. But even my parents can respond to my emails. What’s up with some of the 30- and 40- somethings?

Then there’s Facebook. I have lost count of the number of times I wish I could log off Facebook and never go there again. Unfortunately, there is information there that I need, and people there who I cannot communicate with any other way. Facebook is also a huge struggle for some people. They don’t have Messenger, because they think you have to let it bully you into accepting notifications, which you don’t have to do. So I send messages to people and never hear back, and I have no way of knowing why. I miss the college dining halls, when anyone I wanted to see was there, everyday, for lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast.

I grew up in the 1970s and 80s. To communicate, we either saw each other in person, made a phone call, or wrote a letter. This was pretty limiting, so I welcomed these new communication technologies into my life and embraced them as best I could. Email, Texting, Usenet (oh I’m showing my age). What’s going on with the rest of Gen X? Are they just distracted by the array of television and movie options now, which are far and above much better quality than we had growing up?

I guessing most of my peers didn’t have a big advantage I had: In the early nineties, I bought a PC which apparently had a hardware conflict. Trying to figure out what was wrong with my computer consumed me for years. I was fascinated by the process, which led me deep into the CMOS, the DOS Command-Prompt, to the Jumper Pins inside the box. Eventually I realized that the 486 Dx-50 processor wasn’t playing nice with the video card. A few years later I was studying for my MSCE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certificate and doing Technical Support for Adobe and Microsoft products. Computer problems give me life. I tend to forget this is not true for the vast majority of humans.

So anyway, if you are full of email fail, just know that I’m here for you. I can help. Will you let me?

Getting the Family to Help around the house

Drawing of me doing dishes, by Ryan Henry Ward

 

I’m a stay at home mom, so the vast majority of house cleaning tasks fall to me. And that’s fine, but I do occasionally grumble about doing the dishes, since it’s a task that requires my attention for a good five to ten minutes, two to three times a day. It’s onerous enough that when I had the opportunity in 2013 to have Ryan Henry Ward do a quick sketch for me in exchange for $10 or so, I asked him to draw me doing the dishes.

Now my husband and daughter are both very competitive and my daughter loves prizes. So my husband got the idea to have a contest between the two of them to see who could put away the most dirty dishes. First it was about picking up any dish, including and especially your own dishes, and getting them into the dishwasher. Tally marks on the white board would indicate by the end of the week who had done the most dishes, and the winner would get to see a movie of their choice.

Then once the two of them had mastered getting their own dishes into the dishwasher, they switched so that only “someone else’s” dishes count. By and large, this means my dishes. So since I’m used to just letting the dishes pile up by the sink for a third of the day, for the most part, the two of them are doing my dishes now. This morning, right before my husband left for work, he was furiously loading the dishwasher and adding more tick marks to his column of the white board, and when my daughter got home from school, the very first thing she did after putting down her stuff was wash dishes. I didn’t even have to say a word.

Freakin’ Chaos in the Kitchen

I know some people like to keep their cabinets neat, their dishes and foods sorted and stacked neatly. I would do that too except that I don’t have enough room, and have learned to enjoy the chaos not knowing whether things will fall out on floor me when I open a door. I think it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected in life: messy cabinets are good training for that.

A Bunch of Questions Designed to Provoke Thought

Look at your life circumstances, like your health, wealth (or lack of). Did you chose them? Look back at the series of events that got you to where you are today. How much were you really in control?

Some say that people need to make good choices if they expect to have a good life. This POV downplays the role of one’s background, environment or family and instead prioritizes self-determination.

Do you think people in dire straits have made poor choices, or were they swept up by forces outside their control?

Does it scare you that people can get swept up by forces outside their control?

If you admit that others might not have had a choice about whether they went bankrupt, contracted AIDS, or became refugees (for example), is it then scary to admit that these these could happen some day to you or someone you care about?

What if true strength comes from learning to navigate the stormy waters of life’s unpredictability with acceptance? What if instead of judging yourself or others harshly, you just accepted what has happened and what is happening?

Photo of Some people having a blast letting life take them on a twisty ride

Some people having a blast letting life take them on a bumpy ride. Click the pic to learn more about where this.

I don’t claim to have any answers, but I think the questions are worth asking.

Facebook Learning Curve

I’ve been using Facebook for a long time, and so have many of my Facebook friends, but some things about it are just not intuitive.

Who Can See What You Posted?

Here’s an issue that crops up a lot for me, because I only share to Friends, rarely ever to Public. So what happens is I post a link to an article, then one of my friends thinks it’s great (thanks!), and then Shares it directly from Facebook, rather than clicking on the link and posting from the link. (The depressing thing about this is that they may not have even looked at the link at all, just saw the headline and pressed Share underneath.)

The trouble is that the thing they just shared will only be visible to themselves and the Mutual Friends we happen to have, if any. Everyone else will just see “Attachment Unavailable” or something like that.

I’m guessing a lot of folks are using Facebook on their Phones and either can’t see or aren’t aware of the icons (below) that show who can see a Post. Check out these little pictures (ignore the time stamp, it’s just there to clue in to where you will see these icons in FB):

 

Friends

 

 Public

 

Friends of Friends **

 

So if you see that something is marked as Friends, you won’t be able to share it directly from Facebook and have your Friends actually see it. (Hi Mom!) If it’s a link, click through to the site and post to Facebook from there.

**Whoa, how do you post to Friends of Friends!?

I just started using “Friends of Friends” for things I don’t mind being a bit more Public that just “Friends.” It’s not obvious how to do this, so here are the steps:

As you are posting, click the button next to Post, select More, then See All, then Custom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then start typing in the box “Friends of friends” and it will look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select “Friends of friends” and Save Changes.

Now let’s look at a different topic that has been affecting several of my friends, mainly female ones.

Fake Friends

You get a friend request and don’t recognize the person. The vast majority of the time, you should absolutely not friend these strangers. In fact, you may even want to take the extra step of blocking them. Why? They could be scammers trying to get personal information. They could be trolls wanting to harass you. Some extra reasons to be suspicious:

  1. You have no mutual friends
  2. There’s a disconnect with the profile picture vs the person’s page, for example, the profile picture looks like a stock photo of a female model but the page appears to be a man’s
  3. The person’s page contains extremist language or hateful memes
  4. They’ve been on Facebook less than a year and have posted very little
  5. Their profile pictures all look like stock models
  6. They’ve combined attempting to friend you with a private message containing poor grammar and misspelled words
  7. They appear to have a set up a page for the sole purpose of selling something

 

Baby boomers are awesome

Baby boomers are awesome. Here’s why:

  • They grew up without the Internet, NetFlix and smart phones, so they know how to focus on a task without being distracted
  • They were there during the civil rights and anti-war movements and have the experience to mobilize for any threats they see on the horizon
  • They remember what it was like before safe abortion was legal
  • Most are retired but still active and have plenty of time for meeting, marching, educating
  • Healthcare is very important to them, as it could be the deciding factor on whether they die in poverty or have something to leave behind for their children

Baby boomers are ready to lead the resistance. Let’s learn from them.