Monday, April 24, 2017

Bleak, I Tell You! Freaking Bleak!

In a meeting not too long ago someone referenced the novel Bleak House. The twenty-something seated next to me looked to me for an explanation. I discretely informed her it was a book by Charles Dickens.

She asked, with wide-eyed innocence and so everyone could hear, "Who's Charles Dickens?"

Excuse me while my head explodes...

I didn't expect her to get the Bleak House reference, but I at least expected her to know who Charles Dickens was?

Or was I expecting too much?

I was mildly comforted by the fact that the few others in the room, all above 40 years of age, stared at her in shock too.

She's a high school graduate and currently attending college. No, not an English major, but still...


What in the hell are they teaching in schools these days?! I was exposed to Dickens and his work in high school and again in college. I still haven't read everything he's written, but I've read most of it.

I leaned toward her again. "You know ... Charles Dickens. Oliver Twist?"


"Great Expectations?"


"A Christmas Carol?"

A glimmer of light. "I know that one," she said, beaming. "Didn't they make a movie out of that?"

At least she didn't reference the Muppet version.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Not too long ago someone posted this video to my Facebook page. I was instantly charmed and have viewed it many many many times. So have most people on the internet.


Huh, I thought. I wonder if I could teach B to do that?

For those of you not in the know, B is my Norwegian Forest Cat. She is 18+ years old and has a touch of feline dementia.  So basically, I'm wondering if a 90 year old woman, who is a tad off kilter, can learn new tricks.

Game on!

Bell? What bell?
I started with 20 minutes of training a day with a bell just like the one in the video and her favorite treats. By the end of day 1 of B's training, she'd figured out that the ring of the bell meant a treat was coming, but she didn't make the connection between her and the bell, that it was on the floor in case she wanted to ring it.

Day two was pretty much the same. As soon as I rang the bell, she perked up, waiting for a treat to be dispensed. I even took her paw several times, rang the bell with it, and gave her a treat.  At the end of the 2nd day, she at least was sniffing around the bell once I stopped distributing the treats, but no paw made it to the bell unless I put it there.

This was going to be tougher than I expected.  But I was undeterred.

Day 3 was more of the same.

Don't need no stinkin' bell!
For three days I'd been holding the training sessions around 8 pm. On Day 4, B came up to me around 8 pm demanding a treat. There was no bell prompting her. She just knew it was time for her treats. I was in the middle of dinner and not ready to do our training. Didn't matter to her. She was not to be deterred. It was 8 pm. Treat time. She climbed up on the arm of the sofa and started aggressively going after the treat canister. Seems I'd trained her well. At least to tell time.

The next few days it was more of the same. B demanded treats at 8 pm. I rang the bell and gave her one. I picked up her paw, rang the bell, and gave her one. Over and over and over. Not once did she make the connection that she needed to be the one ringing the bell. And why should she? She had me well trained to do it for her.

I left the bell out on the floor 24/7 over the weekend, hoping she'd have a kitty epiphany. I kept the treat can handy so if she did ring the bell at an odd hour, I'd be ready to reward her.

Nothing, except that she laid next to it and took a nap.

So what has this taught me?

1) I'm trainable.
2) My cat is smarter than I am.
3) Einstein was right.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Year Into My Journey

Sometimes a journey begins long before you actually start down the road.

On April 13, 2016, I knew for sure that I wanted to travel extensively after retirement. I'd been considering several retirement options, but wanted to travel before settling down in one spot. But as my list of things I wanted to see and places I wanted to visit grew, I was slapped by the realization that I probably couldn't afford to do all the travelling I wanted and still put a roof over my head.

By April 22nd, I'd made the mental leap from simply gassing up the car and hitting the road to buying an RV and living in it while I did all this travelling. From there, there was no turning back. I knew it was the right decision for me.

I began researching the possibility.  With each article and blog I read and You Tube video I watched on the lifestyle, with both the joys and the ups and downs, the freedom, and physical responsibilities of maintaining a home on wheels, I became even more convinced that this was where I belonged.

The open road beckoned to me. The freedom of setting up camp wherever I desired, for as along as I desired, was appealing to me more and more.

First, I did the math. I was 63 at the time and needed to hit 65 in order to get my Medicare. That was a year and a half away. Next was the decision of whether I should retire at 65 or wait until 66, when I was eligible for more Social Security. That increased my departure by another year. I crunched more numbers.

My practical side said to wait that additional year. My growing wanderlust was pushing me to go sooner than later, while I was healthy and excited.

What's a gal with itchy feet to do?

I had a sit down with my financial adviser and determined that it would be best financially to wait until I hit 66 to retire.

I wasn't happy about this delay, but it was just a delay, not a deletion of the dream itself. Trust me, whining was involved. That's whine, not wine. Soon that whine changed to happiness as I realized the extra time would buy me more security and time to plan more thoroughly.

It was a bitter pill, but one I needed to take.

I may have changed my departure date, but not my van buying date. I intend to buy it by the end of 2017, and spend a lot of time camping around California and Arizona as I wait for my retirement date. With the van at my disposal, I figure the waiting won't be so difficult.

Wow. Already an entire year has gone by since I started making plans.

Whoosh! Just like that!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Excuse Me While I Mansplain

As much as I like Facebook, I get really tired of all of the "mansplaining" that goes on.

Mansplaining, for the very few of you who don't know, is when someone (usually a man) explains something to someone (usually a woman) in a condescending or patronizing manner.

Except that a lot of women do it also, to both men and women, but I usually find mostly to other women. It's equal opportunity rude behavior.  I've been guilty of it myself.

Here's the thing... when someone posts something to their personal Facebook page, maybe we should all take a step back and read what they've posted. Really. Read. And comprehend. Before making a knee jerk comment. And it doesn't hurt to read the comments before yours either.

Did this person ask for your advice?

Did this person appear lost or confused about the topic they're posting about?

If not, if it was just a comment or observation they shared, maybe we should keep our comments to just comments and not force a teachable moment. Not that all information given is mansplaining. It's not. Mansplaining is about attitude. When someone mansplains, you can almost hear the deep inpatient sighs through the words they write. You can feel the eye rolling going on without seeing their face.

Even worse is when someone posts a mansplaining comment when the original poster clearly shows their understanding of the topic. Obviously the mansplainer did not fully read and understand the original post. This happens to me often on Facebook. I have even, on occasion out of frustration, told comment posters to please RE-READ my original post and see that there is no need to educate me on the topic. Sheesh!

I believe that the problem behind all the runaway mansplaining is communication, or lack of it. For years men have been mansplaining to women and women have complained that the men never really listened to what they were saying.  Now both genders aren't listening (or reading) and spreading their unwanted advice like thick morning scum on teeth.  Instead of listening to others, we tend to think first about how we can respond, so the true meaning of their post gets lost in our self-absorbed thoughts. This is how inappropriate comments start, and sometimes those loosey-goosey comments can even hurt. Don't think about yourself first, think about what that person is saying.

Not too long ago, I had a woman post several pieces of information to one of my threads, even after I told her there was no need. The topic of my post wasn't even what she was commenting about. She couldn't help herself. She had to show that she was the smartest kid in the class. Instead, she came off as overbearing and rude, even though I know she meant well. She never bothered to read the post fully or any of the comments. She pushed ahead, hell-bent on delivering her message, even though no one needed or wanted to hear it.

And please don't get me started on all the political mansplaining going on! I've unfriended people for that.

If you still feel the need to give advice, think about the tone in which you're saying it before you hit that send button. Sometimes it's difficult to strike the right tone with just written words, but all the more reason to be careful. I have gotten tons of great tips from people on Facebook. But only if they are presented with the right attitude. If it comes off as mansplaining, I won't give it the time of day, even if it is valuable information. It's my inner child sticking out my tongue.

Like I said, I've been guilty of this myself, and now try to think before I type and send. Hopefully, I'm getting better at it.

Now, did I mansplain mansplaining clearly?