Sharing the Joy

It can get a bit much when it’s all you seem to have.

People on Facebook who complain all of the time drive me crazy—so crazy, in fact, that I’ve taken to either A. blocking them or B. unfriending them altogether. There’s only so many times I can hear about you whining about being bored or not getting into some concert without wanting to take a blowtorch to my eyes, mmkay?

But lately, as I become friends with many more hippie unschooling moms—whom I love, by the way—I am bombarded with nothing but happy messages. And it would be okay if it didn’t sound so damn smug. “I made homemade salt and a dozen hand-sewn diapers today and I am so blessed and I wouldn’t have it any other way!” is lovely until you hear it every. Single. Day. I’m not even on Facebook as much as I used to be—which I like; I have a few moments of fun, check in, update my author’s status and check out—and I still see these shiny happy statuses everywhere I look.

The thing is, I believe them. I know they are true, because in the moments when life is not shiny and happy—the moment when your three-year-old defiantly crunches pretzels all over the carpet while you are in a conference call training interns and just looks at you like, “What!”—you aren’t going to be posting on Facebook for sure, so why would you report it to the world? You get on when you have a few moments to spare in sweet silence, probably unwinding with that cup of hot tea you promised yourself six hours ago.

And sharing it might be good for others. The more we share our joy, the more it magnifies—and I’m all about making a better world with positivity rather than negativity (ie, “Make Peace” slogans without the “Not War” part). That said, I think there are so many people just bumbling through life in sadness and despair, and when they see your happiness, they just sigh or cry or feel like even more of a “loser,” which, of course, they aren’t. I have a few friends like this, too, and anytime I post anything positive I can almost hear the sigh from across the country—or even the border.

So what do you do—share the joy, take care, or meet somewhere in the middle? I say do whatever makes you happy and if someone gives you trouble, kindly ask them to mind their own business. Their opinion of you is, after all, none of your business to begin with.

Fired over a grapefruit

Why are people so flippant and inhumane with one another?

The other day, my husband, who works in the grocery department of a major worldwide store, was threatened. Again. This time, it was because his store did not carry grapefruit.

He tried to explain to the irate woman that they had never carried it, that the store wasn’t a full superstore, and that he was sorry. She accused him of—get this—hiding the grapefruit from her because he didn’t want her to have it. I guess this was better than the old woman who threw a package of lunch meat at him—or, at least, it would have been, until the woman threatened to have him fired over grapefruit.

She informed him that it was somehow in her power to have him thrown out on his butt from his job because he couldn’t produce grapefruit out of thin air. It just amazes me that someone could be so flippant and inhumane like this over a piece of fruit! Did she not consider that he supports a family, that he’s trying to get out of debt and buy a house, that he worked hard to move up to this position? Obviously he knew she had no such power—in fact, I was more troubled over her ranting than he was—but it’s distressing to have someone try to threaten your whole livelihood over a piece of fruit nonetheless.

Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in fast food and I know how hard it is to deal with irate people, but I don’t understand why we treat each other this way. It’s absolutely astounding that we would equate produce above a human being!

Whenever I use a store, restaurant, or other service where someone is going to help me, I always make sure to make eye contact, smile and be friendly. I leave tips every time I can—I don’t think you should dine out unless you can, unless it’s fast food or something—and sometimes I even leave notes to thank people who were especially kind. Now, when someone who works is irate to me, I can understand getting your feathers ruffled. It’s their job to help, after all, and it can be hard to get a job these days. When my husband was laid off, it took him nearly a year to get another job—and he works hard every day to keep it. So when someone is grumpy when I try to be nice, I do get a little peeved.

But then again, they’re probably irate because someone just threatened their job over a bag of frozen peas.

My New Best Friend: The Parking Lot Attendant

Kindness and Respect Matter BIG


Every time I am denied service somewhere, I save money. Or at least that’s my new mantra as I try to make myself feel better. 


The most heartening thing that’s happened to me in weeks was at the parking garage last night. My dad and I were talking about the Obama advertisement for the increased need for Food Banks and the parking attendant overheard our conversation. When I left the parking garage, the parking attendant let me out without paying and thumped his chest in a hearty motion. That’s the power of the people and his action left us both smiling. 

I’ve seen too much of the opposite of the power of the people lately. It makes me sick to my stomach sometimes and I don’t know what to tell people. Did the woman overcharging me at H & R Block by $500 have the right to do so because she couldn’t live on social security? Did the guy embarrassed by his job at the Jersey Sub Shop have the right to add on a tip that I would have paid for anyway?


But it got worse than this. 


I started to notice more pettiness, spite, and sheer malice around me for nothing. Nada. Fake Facebooks for people to make others feel bad. A news report from Australia about a nurse who committed suicide because of a prank call. More reports of attempts to intimidate people with mental disorders. Bitchy snide comments of a personal nature. 


The power of Facebook is making people feel worse about themselves. 


The worse the economy gets, the worse people seem to get to each other. We seem to have all become Scrooges, only without the big company to guide us. Instead, we are ruled by fear of the economy worsening and jealousy of those who are more fortunate than ourselves. 


I stupidly got robbed by a pickpocket at a grocery store. She kept her job and my wallet because that is the way the system is going now. Even the suburbs aren’t safe. 


It’s not like a Robin Hood story or an equal distribution of wealth. It’s a lack of resources and a lack of knowledge about how to get people to the right resources. I’m not saying that we have to use the “Pay it Forward” strategy because that didn’t end so well. I’m saying that common Respect and Dignity are sadly lacking from many of the people who “have good faces.”


Again, the most heartening, inspiring thing I witnessed in recent days was the thumping heartbeat from the parking lot attendant. 

Caretaker steals $1 million from a 107-year-old's account

What has this country come to?

I saw this today and was absolutely disgusted. A supposed caretaker of a 107-year-old woman took $1 million from her retirement account. 

What did he spend the money on? 


The unworthy caretaker spent the woman’s retirement money on guns, tractors and horse trailers. Just what every person really and truly needs to get themselves through the day. 


What condition was the woman left in? 


She was not well taken care of. The 107-year-old woman was surrounded by dog feces with garbage left everywhere in 2011 and now lives in a nursing home after the police found her. Most octogenarians dream of getting interviewed by Jay Leno, but this poor woman just dreamed of getting fed.


Why are we allowing the elderly amongst us to go unloved and uncared for when they have no family? 


Social services are dwindling with today’s tight federal, state and local budgets. People who have done absolutely nothing wrong are falling between the cracks through no fault of their own. Which makes this kind of crime all the more horrifying when you stop and consider how easily how it could happen to any elderly person. 


Many nursing homes do not have high standards, and many caretakers are not qualified to be caretakers. In addition, many of the elderly are left in vulnerable positions due to illnesses associated with age. 


When times get tough, it seems to bring out the con artists in people, but this situation could have ended in the woman’s death in the middle of her own home in what the newspaper termed as “squalor.” The ends do not justify the means. Obviously. The caretaker’s great need for new tractors and horse trailers and guns--thank God he was caught--outweighed the woman’s need for care and help in his mind. 


The man was her caretaker for four years. Who knows how long the woman lived in this awful condition while he was her caretaker? It’s not only the man’s fault, but the fault of the system. There have to be resources out there--whether public or private--which are honest and cater to elderly care in a way that ensures the elderly are in fact receiving the care they are said to be getting. 


I’m glad to hear the woman is ok, but I’m sad to say that there are probably more situations like that happening elsewhere. 


Sometimes, those stereotypes ring true.

Most homeschoolers are pretty competent people.

There are plenty of myths about homeschoolers that I can confidently debunk. Most homeschooled kids are not losers without social lives, for example; on the contrary, most have more friends and more fulfilling social lives than any kids in school that I know. I also hate it when people tell me, “Oh, well you’re a teacher already, so it’s OK, but if you don’t have a teaching degree, you shouldn’t homeschool.”

Well, that’s complete BS, because all my teaching classes taught me were classroom management—discipline, not teaching—and I didn’t teach any better or worse with them (well, I would have taught worse had I integrated them). That said, some parents do leave me wondering what the heck they do with their kids when they do seem incompetent themselves.

I have been running a homeschool group—mostly because nobody else offered to do it, though I do enjoy organizing events in groups of people who can act like adults. I stress this because oftentimes people just don’t, and it’s really starting to get to me. I have tried to be fair and pleasant and accommodating, but it’s really starting to eat into work time for me, and I just wanted to get a few things off my chest…

I shouldn’t have to remind people if they signed up for things. I’m not a second grade teacher keeping track of your homework. You have a calendar; use it. If I confirmed when you signed up, you’re down; so write it down.

TELL ME if you aren’t going to show up after you sign up! We wait for you to get started. It’s embarrassing if 30 people sign up for a field trip and less than a third of them arrive, especially if a business cleared its schedule and prepared many handouts, foodstuffs, or other materials just for us.

I’m not a God. So please don’t expect me to know everything every moment of every day, or to move mountains to schedule two (or three or more!) of the classes I’m hosting just to accommodate you. I also don’t have time to write down all of the activities for you or to individually email you just because you “don’t want” to join a Yahoo! Group. It’s not hard to do, and you are asking a lot for me to do this. I’m a homeschooler too, and while I know you think that since I have an Only Child I must have all the time in the world—but I also care for an elderly relative a house full of pets and I have my own business that I’m constantly trying to improve and grow, so please don’t make assumptions.

Why is it that the people who never come to anything so feverishly demand to know when this or that is, or seem so disgruntled? Show up and maybe that will help.

Check the calendar. Check the messages. Use the search tool. Please don’t ask me to repeat things that I’ve already posted for you when you can find them in seconds. The same thing goes for Googling anything on the group that you are unfamiliar with, from terms to locations to anything in between; sometimes I really wonder what you use that computer for. It’s one thing to have a discussion; it’s quite another to keep asking for things that you can easily find on your own.

For goodness sakes, don’t get haughty with me! (I think I’m doing enough of that for us both right now, don’t you?!) I am doing this all voluntarily so my daughter can have a local group that’s open to both non-religious people as well as religious (our county has plenty of latter groups). I’m not a dictator, so if something’s not been decided because no one can agree, don’t blame me for it. If you’re indignant because something isn’t up to your standards, perhaps you should seek a bigger group that requires payments instead of our little free one.

The customer is always right

So stop judging me if you want my business, dude.

Recently we had some really trying issues with our Internet. It all started when I realized that we weren’t password protected in all of our years—nearly seven!—with this company. I had thought it was originally issued and saved within our computer, but we didn’t have one. I called the company to get one only to be told that since we had our own router, we’d have to go through the router’s company, which sounded stupid, but we tried it.

The router company told us that not only was our perfectly good router outdated, but that they’d charge us a bunch of money just for the password. Again, stupid, so we asked the cable company if they could just give us a new router. This piece of crap, which isn’t nearly as reliable as our old router, was $50.

I really wanted to make sure we were password protected, though, so we went through it. And guess what? I’m not sure if it was really worth it at all. For starters, we had to have techs come out FOUR times because it wasn’t installed properly. It kept shutting down, not giving us access, or losing its signal—then, later, it wasn’t compatible with our wireless phone and we had to buy a new phone to have it on a different setting as well! You can scream anytime you like; I sure did for two weeks. I still am, considering that the crappy router and whatnot seems to be slower—and slower to launch online—than my old one still.

Each tech told us it was our fault, or the previous tech’s. One even told us that it was our computer! Yeah, the laptop that I use at Bread Company, friends’ and relatives’ houses, the library, and other establishments just won’t pick up a signal all of the sudden. I’m glad that the next tech proved that one wrong, even though it took an hour and a half on the phone to waste in the meantime.

Don’t tell me that YOUR faulty equipment and crappy service is MY fault, dude. Don’t tell me I bought the wrong computer (my Toshiba is perfectly fine, thank you), that I need to buy something new AGAIN to use your crap service, that you’ve done all you can do. Because obviously you could do more; I’m online right now, aren’t I?

I can’t believe how much I pay for this awful service. Once my contract is up I’m looking elsewhere for sure. Though this company gave us a measly $50 credit for being so inconvenient and stupid, that’s still far less than our monthly bill. My husband maintains that we should have received at least a free month’s service, if not free equipment, and I am inclined to agree.

People Who Have a Sense of Entitlement...

...can make life miserable for everyone else

When I was a youngster, the way this topic was explained to me was individuals who have a misguided sense of entitlement generally fall into either of two categories:  those who "had nothing" in their early years, and those who had "everything handed to them on a silver platter."  Individuals in both categories seem to have the idea that the world and everybody in it "owes them something."  The general viewpoint is "what's mine is mine...  what's yours is mine...  and everything I want, also, is mine." 


I have known numerous people in the first category, and fewer in the latter.  I have known people in the first category who, through their adult lives, lie, cheat, and steal with a sense of entitlement in mind--  even though they did not earn something, they fully believe they deserve it. 


Those in the second category are equally difficult to deal with.  As they were given everything when they were young, they go through their adult lives fully believing they are entitled to everything they want. 


The one factor both have in common is a misguided sense of entitlement is often harmful and damaging to someone else.  Whether they are attempting to claim something that is not rightfully theirs by cheating on their income taxes to get more money, infringing on another person's rights, or stealing from stores, there is probably no instance in which a misguided sense of entitlement does not harm someone.  It seems no different than a bad little child who steals his friend's toy simply because he wants it for himself--  although it is on a much larger scale. 


All Spam is Not Alike

some can appear to be harmless

If there is one thing everyone probably agrees on, it is the "intense dislike" of finding spam in our email. However, while most types of spam can be quickly identified and deleted, there is one that is especially bothersome. During the last couple of years, I have received countless streams of emails with the names of people I know in the "from" section. The emails are not from those people at all.


Fortunately, I learned in my earliest computer days to never click on links in emails without being absolutely certain of the sender. Upon opening the links in separate windows, I have found ads for drugs and other assorted garbage.


The main point I have noticed about this type of spam is the emails do not contain legitimate messages. They contain either nothing but links, or messages that are easily recognized as suspicious.


This has been a major annoyance to me, so I thought I would pass the information on to others. If you receive emails from someone you know, the absence of a real message should clue you in that it is not actually from the person.


I have not been able to determine how spammers get ahold of people's names and email addresses, and no one I have spoken with has been able to figure it out, either. As clicking these links can result in anything from unwanted advertisements to your email account being hacked, please put a couple of minutes into finding out if an email is from the sender, or whether it is this type of spam.

Learning the Meaning of "Going Postal"

rates go up, service goes down

My most recent aggravation with the local postal service involves a package that was sent with a Delivery Confirmation.  The sender informed me it had been delivered last Friday--  but it was not delivered to me.  I made eleven calls to the local post office, each time with nothing but a recording on the other end.  Yesterday, some unknown person drove up and dropped the package in my mailbox.  As it had been opened, it seems the only reason she brought it to me was it was something she did not want. 

This is the kind of thing that's been going on continuously since I moved into this area more than seven years ago.  The local post office does not do anything about the problem, making the excuse that they cannot find any carriers to deliver on a regular basis.  Mail gets misdirected, returned to senders, and sometimes lost entirely.  When they are approached about it, they make no effort to find the missing mail.  While I am far from being the only person who puts in regular complaints, they simply brush it off.  In recent months, they have not even answered the phone.


I believe anyone who takes any job should take it seriously.  When it comes to postal workers, though, it would seem their rather large salaries should be enough incentive to take their jobs seriously.  One or two instances may be understandable;  but mail getting lost regularly for years on end is not.  Whether mail is personal or business-related, people should be able to reasonably expect it to be delivered properly. 

Stop Ruining Kids' Futures!

all of the "research" in the world is useless when it is ignored

When Vance Packard published The Status Seekers in 1959, abortion was still illegal in the United States.  While there were other things about present-day life in America that did not exist in Mr. Packard's era, one of the many points in his book that is still relevant today is the topic of teenage pregnancy.  After extensive research, Mr. Packard concluded that youngsters who do not envision bright, hopeful futures for themselves are the most likely to find themselves dealing with teenage pregnancies.  A 2004 study concluded an additional factor:  children and teens who grow up in dysfunctional families are also the most likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone while they are still in their teens. 


Rather than learning anything from these studies, and doing something constructive about the problems leading to teen pregnancy, sensibility has been placed on the back burner.  One example is portraying teen parenthood as positive.  I have even found websites that encourage teen parenthood.


The second example can be illustrated by a group called "The Feminist Majority."  While they may not be unique with their outrageous viewpoint, they are pushing for the "Plan B One Step" abortion pill to be available to every girl "of childbearing age."  Their petition states these pills should not be behind-the-counter, so any girl can purchase them without proof of age, and no questions asked. 


As the age of the onset of puberty decreases and decreases due to numerous factors, it is currently considered to be around nine years of age for girls in the United States.  If you have a nine-year-old daughter, would you want her to become pregnant and use an abortion pill?  Wouldn't it seem to be more sensible to start reducing the risk factors of teen pregnancy so fewer kids are in this position in the first place?!


In my opinion, neither of these examples are acceptable--  and I am certainly not unique in seeing it this way.  Giving kids the futures they deserve does not ride on higher education and other benefits for teen parents, nor making abortion pills accessible to sexually-active children.  Instead, it rides on the fact that kids who see nearly limitless futures for themselves, and have solid family environments during their formative years, are less likely to engage in this type of behavior in the first place.