Archive for December 31, 2014

Last-Minute Resolution to Consider

This is the last day to make our New Year’s resolutions.  May as well forget the traditional weight-loss one, since we fail before February anyway.  We could resolve to quit smoking or swearing, be more organized or thrifty…. Then, again, we could step out from our own little world into the larger one.  We can make this the year to help protect and nurture a child.  Yes, we can send money to support a child on another continent, but why not make it more personal?  One way is to volunteer at a local hospital as a person who cuddles at-risk infants, giving them the warm contact that will save their lives.  Another is to become a Foster Grandparent, Big Brother/Sister, or Child Advocate.  Also, we must do something when we see that timid first-grader being bullied by other kids.  Closer to home, we can spend more time with our own children or grandchildren, playing games, taking walks, and providing times for talk to happen. Focusing on children is a resolution that makes a brighter year for everybody.

Happy New Year.  May 2015 be a year of peace in the world and in your lives!



A Positive Look Back and Forward via UC Berkeley

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has published its 2014 “Top 10 Insights from The Science of a Meaningful Life.”  For an explanation of each, click on their article cited above. Meanwhile, here’s the list:

  1. Mindfulness can reduce racial prejudice—and possibly its effects on victims.
  2. Gratitude makes us smarter in how we spend money.
  3. It’s possible to teach gratitude to young children, with lasting effects.
  4. Having more variety in our emotions—positive or negative—can make us happier and healthier.
  5. Natural selection favors happy people, which is why there are so many of them.
  6. Activities from positive psychology don’t just make happy people happier—they can also help alleviate suffering.
  7. People with a “growth mindset” are more likely to overcome barriers to empathy.
  8. To get people to take action against climate change, talk to them about birds.
  9. Feelings of well-being might spur extraordinary acts of altruism.
  10. Extreme altruism is motivated by intuition—our compassionate instincts.

I think there’s a lot to chew on as we finish one year and embark on a brand new one.



Personal Note: My Christmas

Today I thought I’d share my Christmas glow with you.  My husband and I spent five days in a little place called Nuevo, CA.  There’s nothing there to speak of–maybe half a dozen family-owned businesses and an occasional tumble weed-blocked road.  The lack of McDonalds, Walmart, and traffic was refreshing, and the view of the rugged-rock mountains from the desert floor was spectacular.

Our hosts, Trino and Maria–our son’s future in-laws–recently moved onto five acres of quiet beauty.  Slowly they’re turning the land into a ranch, planning to build a barn for their three horses and add chickens and ducks and they’re-not-sure-what-else.  Their home is a barn-shaped house filled with warmth and love.

Christmas Eve and Day the house and yard were overflowing with family of all ages.  Food was plentiful and constant, all homemade, from traditional tamales to the Navajo daughter-in-law’s Navajo fry bread. (I’ve decided that Mexican moms and Jewish moms have one big thing in common: their unending cry of “Eat, eat, eat!”)

Gifts were thoughtful.  For example, one of their sons who is a Marine (four active-duty tours in recent years) exchanged stories with my ex-submarine-sailor (two tours, including Nam) husband, then gifted him with the ribbons my husband had earned but lost over the years, plus a Navy watch.  The talented fry-bread cook gave me–someone she’d never met–a stunning necklace, crafted in the Navajo style, which took her two days to make.

Needless to say, the two sets of people bonded into one family. Our son had already been totally accepted long before; now we’re part of a larger family, too.  This was a most excellent Christmas gift for me.  I hope yours was just as joyful.



Have a Happy Time Without Me

It’s family time!  My husband and I are flying to Southern California this afternoon to meet our son’s girlfriend of 3+ years and spend Christmas with them.  (She’s pretty brave, letting the two moms get together and possibly plot strategy toward a wedding.)  That means that I won’t be posting again until Monday, Dec. 29.

Meanwhile, I want to wish my Christian readers a very blessed Christmas; and, for all of you who celebrate it not as a religious day but as family time, a very merry holiday.

(If you’re bored and have nothing else to do over the next 5 days, you can always browse through my old blogs.  Nawwwww…..)



Blame These Wise Guys

The truth is revealed: these are the wise guys who started it all.




Sock it to Her…Again

Love soccer and are good enough at it to play in the World Cup?  Go for it, but, if you’re a woman, don’t expect to be paid the bigger bucks the men get.  Comparing women’s tournaments with men’s is “not worth debating” and “nonsense,” according to FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke.  He doesn’t anticipate any pay equality in the near future, nor does he see a reason for it, even though women’s soccer is becoming more and more popular.

This is yet another area in which gender discrimination rears its ugly head when the same job is being performed by women as it is by men.

Read more about the situation with the World Cup in the Huffington Post article, “FIFA Has No Plans to Give Women Equal World Cup Pay Any Time Soon.



What Kind of People ARE They?!

Why kill children?  I know the Taliban wanted revenge and they believe they’re fighting a holy war.  What god might they be following who would approve of going room-to-room in a school to kill children of senior military officials and any other students who got in the way?  Certainly not the peace-loving Allah!  What did the youngsters, aged 6-18, do “wrong,” except be born into military families?  If the bombers and gunmen made their “point,” why continue to endanger others by taking hostages and planting explosives around the perimeter of the school?  Yes, those IEDs did prevent outside help from Pakistani police and soldiers from coming to the rescue of the children; but how many more people will stumble on them and be killed?  That must be their plan.

What kind of people are these killers of more than a hundred innocents?  And how do we revoke their membership in the human race?



Don’t Be Charitable to Scammers

You may be tempted to give in to charitable appeals between now and Dec. 31, the deadline to claim them on your 2014 taxes.  But be sure those donations do some real good for real people rather than enriching scam artists or CEOs.  Clark Howard offers some tips:

  • Don’t give cash. Legitimate charities will take a check.
  • Don’t give out your credit card, bank account or personal information to telemarketers. If you want to donate, initiate the call yourself.
  • Don’t fall for Internet appeals if the cause does not look legitimate and doesn’t check out. Make sure to do your research!
  • Expect specific information. Ask what kind of relief this organization is going to provide. Don’t accept vague explanations.
  • Check out the charity with national, state, and local authorities. Established charities register with the Internal Revenue Service. You can search for specific non-profit organizations on the IRS website:
  • Beware of newly formed organizations. If the charity is new, you may have to rely on your relationship with the company or sponsor of the organization to determine whether you trust the group.
  • Report abuses to the nearest Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General’s office. Both are listed in local telephone directories. You can also report abuses to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060. NFIC also has a web-based complaint form at

And here’s one of my own:  Check to see how much of your donation will go to charitable work as compared to administrative costs (including CEOs) and fundraising costs.  Look them up at or the Better Business Bureau site

For more tips on donating, check out Clark’s Donation Guide.



Plastic Poison

40,000 garbage trucks filled with plastic = 270,000 tons of it floating around our oceans.  That’s what the current estimate is. And that’s a conservative guess, since fish, birds, and other species eat a good amount of it.  It’s unsightly and deadly for the critters who eat it or get hopelessly entangled in it.  It’s not healthy for humans, either.

This is something to think about next time we’re about to toss a plastic bottle cap, bag, food wrapper, or other item onto the roadway or gutter, where it can wash into the waterways leading to the ocean.  Or tossing those items off of a boat or bridge.

The item can’t be that heavy to hold onto until you see the next recycling container.



Kill off the Defectives

What kind of society kills off its mentally disturbed and low-IQ citizens?  Us, as is shown by two executions earlier this week.  A Missouri inmate who was considered mentally disturbed was executed, as was a Georgia man with an IQ of 70.  This is not uncommon in our American justices system.

I find this VERY unsettling.