Not yet the day for detonations

We aren’t quite to the point where everyone sets off fireworks for the US Independence Day, but today is still a day where we honor the men and women who fight for us.

Today is Memorial Day in the US.  For many people, that means the first day of summer, a day for camping and barbecues.  It’s also a day for giving respect to the armed forces.

Most think only of the dead, as they fly flags, lay wreaths and put flowers on the graves of our fallen soldiers.  However, there is another aspect to this day.  Traditionally, the time from dawn until noon is devoted to honoring the living men and women of the armed forces, and only the time between noon and sunset is devoted to those who have passed from this life.

In that tradition, I want to highlight one very special part of the US armed forces – the Marine Corps.

I am not a member of the military, but every Marine I have ever met, even the ones I didn’t like, has been a special person with unique and valuable qualities.

To do their jobs well, Marines must be brave and steadfast. They are taught to think on their feet. They are also taught to never give up and that attitude carries through all aspects of life. They have a drive to make sure things are done right. They value their friends. They are loyal. They make great friends. A Marine is always a Marine, even after they retire.

My uncle is a Marine. He still keeps fit and trim even though he’s in his sixties. I never got along with him but I can appreciate his tidy house, his physical fitness, his success in life, and his sense of mission.

A good friend of mine is also a Marine. She entered in the seventies, and even though she was a female Marine she learned the same Core Values that other Marines learn. She’s brave, loyal, trustworthy, intelligent and dedicated.

My wife is an honorary Marine by virtue of training, and she learned much from her grandfather, who was a Marine. She’s taught me a lot about what it means to be a good person. I value her insights about life.

Today, I want to raise a toast to Marines everywhere. The Corps is the US’s oldest armed force. All volunteers, they’ve protected this country since the beginning. The few, the proud, the Marines!

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/detonate/

Evanescent Flycatcher

 

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Meet the lovely Phainopepla, a Central American bird who graced a treetop near my backyard.  He landed in the middle of the city, as so many other exotic birds do.  My neighborhood is a haven for wildlife.  His visit was short and welcome.  My sharp eyed wife pointed him out to me, and a little research revealed his name – that of the northernmost family of Silky Flycatchers.

Now the cicadas are starting, summer is here.  The lizards are busy in the leaves.  The evanescent days of summer have begun to march past us.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/evanescent/

 

 

 

 

Infusing sense into grocery store management

Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to find some things in grocery stores that were once common?

Today was the Great Battle of the Mushrooms and Pearl Onions.

My mission: to make pickled eggs with pearl onions and mushrooms.

I needed pearl onions and loose mushrooms.

My grocery store, which is otherwise pretty good, absolutely didn’t have pearl onions.  I recall when they were easy to find, nestled in their little net bags.  Also, there were no loose mushrooms.  Instead, all they had were those prepackaged cardboard trays, covered with plastic wrap that holds condensation!

Does anyone else remember when the mushrooms were all loose and they had little paper bags to put them in, because everyone knows a damp mushroom is a sad, soggy mushroom?

I searched across three grocery chains and didn’t find better.  I had to buy “knob onions” at three times the price and some of those odious little cardboard trays.

The spouse was mad, I was mad.  Nobody listened when I complained.

More and more, grocery stores (and other stores too) choose what they want me to have, in what quantities they want me to have it in, all in plastic packaging.  If I want to get away from that, I have to go to the incredibly expensive high end stores, even though bulk food should cost far less because there’s less packaging and less waste.

The real problem I have is not so much the food, but the fact that I can’t get anything to change no matter how many managers I talk to.  Even as I submit my feedback forms and am thanked for my opinion, nothing changes.  I make calls till I’m blue in the face and still nothing changes.  What’s a dissatisfied shopper to do?

I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, customer service is a barrier between you and the people who make decisions.

The real key here is to get to the decision makers.

I realized there is a potential solution here.  I am going to take it higher, and if you share my frustration, you can too.  Enter the old fashioned letter!  I’ll be searching for corporate hierarchy, finding names and addresses to people who really do make decisions.  I send letters by registered mail, so that they actually get into the hands of the people I’m sending them to, instead of getting lost in the mailroom.

Little by little, that gets results.

I found that if I can get past the ramparts of customer service, past the corporate donjon, and into the actual throne room, then my letter lands in the hands of the actual rulers of the corporate kingdom – and my lonely letter heads arrow straight to the place where all the calls, forms and emails couldn’t reach.

The more we all do this, the more we will make ourselves heard.  The actual views of the customer will be infused into the corporate system and be heeded, perhaps someday even more than any number of useless focus groups.

 

via Daily Prompt: Infuse

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/infuse/

Your Car’s Survival Kit

You don’t need to spend a bundle on a survival kit just to feel more secure as you are out and about.  Sure, there are a lot of things that would be nice to have but if you buy them bundled usually you also pay a bundle.  Better to head off to your local discount store such as Dollar tree.  Many of these items can be found there.  A cheap backpack (hit the before school sales) makes a convenient way to transport them.  A good first aid kit is also well organized and easy to get to.

In all cases, tailor your kit to where you are.  If you live in a cold area, include warm blankets and a bag of kitty litter to give you traction on ice.  If in a warm place, pack extra water, disposable cold packs, and sunscreen.  If your car is old and needs repair, pack an extra quart of oil.  Everyone should have jumper cables, a spare tire, a jack, and a lug wrench.

 

First Aid Kit

Band Aids – just a few large ones.  You don’t need a million tiny ones.  They can be cut to fit with your

Scissors, Knife, Tweezers – make sure they’re sharp

Antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, change once a year

Gauze pads

Tape, both duct tape and first aid tape

Feminine pads (like Kotex) they make a great semi-sterile dressing

Gloves to protect yourself from blood borne illnesses should you help someone

Pain and fever relief – Aspirin or Ibuprofen, avoid acetaminophen because of liver damage.

Benadryl gelcaps – for allergic reaction.

 

Survival Kit

A good knife – needs a strong blade that can be sharpened.

Means of making fire – such as matches, lighter, flint and steel, or burning glass.

Compass – never breaks, rarely fails.

Flashlight – LED type is best.

Extra batteries – change them once a year.

Water – at least a quart.

Energy bars – high quality ones that will last.  Cheaper than camping food.

Multitool – not required but great to have.

 

Many other things can be added to a survival kit depending on where you are and what you need.  Mine has rain ponchos for monsoon season and two small umbrellas.  Mine also has mylar blankets – they are good for a sun shade as well as for warmth.  Important in the place where I live!  I also have some instant cold packs in case I have to deal with a case of heat exhaustion.  You might want an Epi-pen if you’re allergic to bees.

I hope this gives a good framework to start your own survival kit!  Remember, it’s better to have a bad survival kit than none at all, and you can always improve as you go along.

Keep calm, be prepared.

 

via Daily Prompt: Survive

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/survive/

Unmoor from emotion, find mental peace

 

So many times we yearn for peace. We want a true serenity that makes our problems seem far away. This is possible – though meditation, it can be possible. Walks in nature, a good back rub, time with kids or pets, a good book that takes you away. All these things can help.

It is quite possible to live much of your life in a calm and harmonious way. Eastern traditions often teach this. The key is mindfulness. To be mindful, observe your emotions. Watch how they work. Think about why they are. This practice, in itself, will help you to be at peace.

If a person lets their emotions run them, their life can be highly turbulent. It can be difficult to relax or get going, relationships suffer, projects only are worked on when the person is “in the mood.” It’s also much easier to be angry or offended and it’s far too easy to feel threatened and lash out verbally or even physically.

Emotions shouldn’t rule things. They are a fickle master. If a person observes them and notices what causes them, emotions can be beneficial. After a time, emotions add spice to life but don’t make up the whole dish. Who would eat a meal that was all spices? Better to have a good solid base with spices as an accent.  Put another way, being ruled by emotion is like being tossed on a stormy sea when you have no oars.

An analytical mind may sound cold and unfeeling. It isn’t. An analytical mind merely decides what the person is going to do, using emotions as information but not letting them run the show. The best place to start is, as mentioned before to be mindful and observe how things work. This is a great way to face fears, ease emotional difficulties, banish anxieties. If attention wanders, refocus. “Failure” is okay. Giving up isn’t.

One of the best parts of living mindfully and thinking about everything is not only will you feel more peaceful, you will learn faster. Your life will run more smoothly. People’s opinions won’t sting as much. Fears won’t loom as large. You will know peace that is based on fact not fantasy. Your brain is your greatest tool, the more you use it the better.

Being guided by your mind and not your emotions is like getting two oars and a motor in your boat tossed on a stormy sea.  Suddenly, you can move about and get to calmer waters!

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Unmoored

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unmoored/

Fear, Cliffs and Precipices

I’ve been scared of heights my entire life.

Mostly cliffs and steep stairways, steep hills, things like that.  It makes my knees go all watery when I look at pictures of that city in China, the one that’s all built on a cliffside and is nothing but dizzying views of the valley floor, far, far below.

It even makes me nervous to look at rock climbers when they are dangling from some difficult rock face.

At a writer’s retreat, I wrote the following passage:

What is it like, not to be afraid? I’ve never known. Among the planar ferns, carpeted with dew- bedazzled moss and roofed with maple clerestory, I’m fine. Or, watching mist-silvered ripples run cross mossy swells of granite. Or ranging mile on mile through fir and cedar pillars, hot pitch perfume rising to my nose. It’s easy to forget when things are comfortable.

But venturing along a cliffside trail, or threading a narrow planken bridge, I’m liable to turn… and there it is, a grinning vista. My blood runs icy as a spring when I contemplate infinity. Far peaks turn into fangs to bite me, friendly lake a vat to drown me, lovely trees just claws to catch.

“How lovely,” I hear from far away. “How picturesque!” For my best appreciation, it should stay in the picture. Caught between cliff and hill it’s all too easy to feel the footing fail, the world tilt askew and the mountain come tumbling on my bare head. Here, imagination turns from friend to foe. A stout stick and a will of unworked sponge-iron are my only defenses. Step by halting step I head for home.

I’d like to be able to stand atop a cliff or mountain, and not know what that fear meant. Not feel my heart slam against cage of ribs, not have my legs turn to egg noodle paste, not taste imminent death on the wind.

Until then, isn’t this fungus under the emerald-blanketed log a thing of beauty? And do you mind if I stay on my knees?

 

Anyone with a phobia can probably relate.   There’s a way through that terror.  The way is to remember that fear is a paper tiger.  If you realize that it can’t truly control you, and you face it and move through it, fear dissolves.  I have not been entirely successful yet.  However, whenever I truly practice this, I beat back fear.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Precipice

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/precipice/