None will be spared from safety features

I love my car. It’s battered, it has 163,000 miles on it, and it was built in 2006. It’s put up with minimal maintenance, a paper route, a drive across the country while carrying heavy loads, and done it all with minimal breakdowns. It’s a Hyundai Elantra with a standard transmission. Even as old as it is, it can still go from zero to sixty in six or seven seconds.

Driving around in my responsive little car, the windows open to the world, I notice big differences between my car and others around me. I see the newer cars, with their higher stances, their taller doors, their smaller windows, their wide doorposts. My car is fairly low to the ground with big windows. It makes situational awareness easy. There is no navigation system, just a radio/cd player, and that leads to far less distraction.

I drove a rental a couple years ago. It was some kind of compact Chevy. Driving it, I felt so insulated from the road. It was harder to see my blind spots, and the thick door posts were also difficult to see around. The high doors, caused by the side impact airbags, further reduced visibility. The suspension system made the road hard to feel. I felt insulated – which is good, if you aren’t hurtling down the road at forty five miles an hour in heavy traffic.

Ironically, “safety features” cause most of these problems. In fancier cars, there are also lane warning systems, backup alarms, camera systems, GPS of course, and many other distractions. There are also automatic braking systems. As much as I love technology, I don’t trust a computer to know when to brake better than I do, or know when I should or shouldn’t change lanes. Do I need an alarm beeping at me, when I’m already in a crisis? No, I don’t.

The more control a vehicle takes from you, the more dulled your skills become. The harder it is to see and hear the world around you, the less situationally aware you are. I’ve seen enough traffic accidents to know that improved situational awareness would save many lives every year. For example, knowing that I have somewhat bad eyesight, I purposely avoid distraction when driving – not using the phone or texting – to give me more brainpower to devote to looking around me. I have avoided so many accidents that way!

The key to being a good driver is improving your ability, not relying on a bunch of safety features that may or may not work. Modern cars often give up real safety in exchange for increasing the driver’s perception of safety. So if a government ever tries to force me into a modern vehicle with all the bells and whistles, then I’ll develop a sudden interest in historical pieces, or build my own!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/none/

via Daily Prompt: None

A Painful Symptom: Treating the dreaded leg cramp

Whether from exertion in the heat or a night time charley horse, cramps are no fun at all.  Just the other night, I was nearly crippled by a nasty cramp in my ankle that seriously threatened my ability to walk and drive.  Luckily, I knew what to do and the painful spasm was cleared in just a minute or two.  You can do the same!

Prevention

Stretch your legs before bed and/or lightly massage them.

Don’t tense your muscles or point your toes in bed.

Supplement with calcium – tablet style antacids like Tums work great for this.

Eat enough potassium.  A banana is easily absorbed and cheap too.

Magnesium is also said to help.  This can be found in nuts as well as other places.

Drink enough water, especially if you’ve been exercising in the heat.

Treatment

When the cramp first hits, flex your foot if it’s in the leg.  If it’s somewhere else, relieve the tension on it and try to work the muscle around.  Massage the muscle.

Stand on the foot if possible, but take it easy – you don’t want to strain your muscle.

Stretch the muscles gently.  The pain will go away eventually – breathe through it.

Drink some potassium bearing substance right away.

Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte, or any generic sports drink.

Coconut water is also great for potassium replenishment.

The Ultimate Cramp Fix

This last remedy deserves a section of its own.  It might sound strange but it really, actually works.  When I have a very nasty cramp, I drink a couple ounces of pickle juice and the cramp is usually completely gone within just a couple of minutes.  If you don’t have juice, eat a couple of plain dill pickles.  This is actually science based. Even for stubborn cramps, this remedy works faster than anything else.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Symptom

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Minimalism is a Mindset

A person can donate all their possessions to charity and still end up with a cluttered home within a year unless they change their mindset.

I have had to give up most of my things several times in my life.  More than once, I’ve had to fit everything I owned into a carload.  I was good at finding things at good deals, so I’d always end up with twice as much stuff within a few months!  A lot of my security came from having stuff.

This started to change when I had to drive across several states with only the things I could fit on and in my Hyundai Elantra and it’s home made roof rack – including bedding, tent, sacks of dried rice and beans, clothes, spouse, and two cats.  After that I never wanted to have too much stuff again.

The stuff crept in again but not as quickly as before.  I started to focus on quality rather than quantity.  When I had to move one more time, I had better resources for moving everything but used that move as a reason to rid myself of more dross and replace it with more good quality items.

I can see the effect of my mindset changing – smaller spaces look larger as I have less furniture.  I have more time in my day because I don’t have to organize things.  I can find everything easily.  Once, I was famous for always losing things.  Now, I know where everything I need is, right away, and I find it the first time.

Life is a bit more satisfying as I move from plastic to glass and metal and get rid of disposable things around my home.  I feel more settled.  As the things I use grow fewer in number, but more beautiful, my life feels more like art rather than common drudgery.  I haven’t had to spend a lot more money to do this, but I have had to be intentional about my purchases and choose quality over convenience or quantity.  I still have a long way to go.  However, my changing mindset has brought peace to my life and home!

 

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

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

Avoiding Controversy: Advice for Transsexuals

I was at a public event recently and saw several transgendered people. I shouldn’t have been able to spot them so easily but they made it really obvious. It made me think. Two in particular made very little effort to pass as female. They drew attention to themselves, stuck out like sore thumbs and sadly, looked like drag queens rather than women.

A transwoman is a real woman – according to her brain structure, that is. She’s trying to make her body and public image match how she feels inside. At least, she should be.

Too many transwomen seem to think they need to make a spectacle of themselves. Apparently certain individuals feel a need to be “loud and proud” about their transition. They often make little to no effort to truly pass as female.

They speak with loud, deep voices, they stand facing the toilet in the bathroom, they wear eye catching, loud clothing. They wear high heels even when six feet tall. They use vibrant, often badly applied makeup. Sometimes, some transwomen will think they can still wear jeans and traditionally masculine clothes. They try to wear a dress while they are sporting five o’clock shadow and no make up. All these things catch the eye and make their status obvious, when a little effort would avoid these problems.

Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences to their actions. Transwomen who don’t try to pass aren’t just making decisions for themselves, they are affecting many other people too. To put it bluntly, irresponsible transfolk draw negative attention to the community, and may even cause people to be beaten or murdered.

Consider the following scenario: There are several people who were born male but are making their best effort to fully become women. They work hard to pass as women. They moderate their voices, they dress in a feminine way, they act in feminine ways. They simply want to live their lives quietly, as women, and give no one any trouble. They don’t call attention to themselves, spending their time working, playing, and being normal people.

Picture now, in this scenario, what might happen if a masculine looking person who is six feet tall with a deep voice walks into a room with them. This person is wearing high heels, bright makeup, a badly stuffed bra, and is looking like a drag queen. She’ll probably freak out those who are intolerant, hateful, or fearful. She might even incite violence. At the least, she’ll inspire plenty of nasty comments. She’ll also draw attention to any person around her who is also sexually ambiguous.

Hypervigilance toward gender differences can lead to tragedy. It causes masculine looking women to be beaten and thrown out of bathrooms, as you can see if you’ve followed the news. A very poorly passing trans woman sensitizes bigoted individuals, pushes the issue into everyone’s faces, and frightens the intolerant into even more hypervigilance.

A transwoman who is busy “following her own bliss” and doesn’t take care with her appearance or actions not only puts others in danger, gives the entire community a bad name. They make people think all trans folk are drag queens, clowns, or circus side show acts. It’s very hard for someone such as myself to say “trans folk just want to live normal, civilized lives and blend in with society,” when there are so many six foot tall, inconsiderate, poorly passing “women” who think that it’s all a lark and figuratively jump up and down shouting “look at me! I’m trans! I’m trans!”

For women who truly are trying to transition, it isn’t a game for them, nor is it a joke. It’s a deadly serious choice between a painful, difficult, expensive process and inevitable suicide. Transwomen who make it all the way through gender transition have gone through more struggle and heartache than almost anyone else in the world. It takes tremendous courage and determination to be successful. The public perception of transition as a simple surgery is woefully inaccurate, in actuality it takes at least a year, including intensive counseling and hormone treatments.

If you’re trans, I cheer for you. If you support trans folk, I’m with you all the way. That’s why I wrote this article. I care about the trans community and I want everyone to be whole and free to achieve their own goals. We will never be free of hateful people, they’re everywhere, so why not do what we can to help each other and help ourselves at the same time?

Helpful tips:

For any transfolk who want to pass more successfully, I’d like to offer the following advice. I got it from friends of mine who are successful transwomen.

For the successful transsexual, the goal is to blend in to society.
The more gender cues you can display, the better. This is true no matter what direction you are going in, whether male to female or vice versa. Sometimes someone might spot you for one thing, such as a deep voice, but still decide you are bio female for other reasons – presence of breasts, wearing a skirt or dress, well applied makeup, etc.

Stay neat and clean. Bathe, groom yourself in a way that is appropriate.

Choose good role models. If you’re a man, don’t try to look and act like a low class thug, if you’re a women, don’t try to act like a cheap hooker. Transmen: Don’t be Al Bundy. Transwomen: Don’t be Peg Bundy. Instead, why not emulate people with real style and class?

Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are classically masculine if you are a transman, or classically feminine if you are a transwoman. Don’t bother with loud designs or ambiguous clothing. No skinny jeans or stretch pants for a transman, no blue jeans or sloppy sweat shirts for a transwoman. The idea is to give people a good impression, with clear indications of what gender you are. Avoid loud, clashing fabrics or extreme styles. Go for a sylish but somewhat conservative look. Avoid extremes. Strive to be a lady or a gentleman.

Speaking of style and class, try always to be courteous and respectful to others. Not only will you be treated better, but even if you are spotted as trans, you will be a good ambassador for the rest of your community. Also, being polite doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means being assertive without being aggressive, and respectful of others.

Learn the skills appropriate for your gender, even if it’s a bit stereotypical. People sometimes rely on stereotypes to guide them though ambiguity. While a transwoman can retain any skill she had before transition, she should at least know how to talk about subjects regarding cooking and homemaking for example. A transman would do well to understand something about fixing things, building things, how a car works, and enough about sports so as not to appear a fool. In either case, research the things that everyone in your gender seems to know, and know them too. Besides, it can be a great deal of fun!

Do things the way others do, especially in the bathroom. If you’re a transman, don’t leave tampons around. If you still need them, be discreet. If you’re a transwoman, don’t face the toilet, but sit down to pee. If you have a hard time doing that, spend some quality time at home with a case of beer or other diuretic beverage and train yourself.

Never be a caricature. Stay balanced. When possible, take your cues from bio men and women, not other trans folk.

Alter your voice to match your gender, but don’t go overboard. Transmen, just deepen your voice a bit and use masculine word choices. Transwomen, don’t go falsetto. Instead, soften your voice, raise the pitch a bit, not the volume, and strive for smoothness. Always pay attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. It does get easier with practice.

To all transwomen: I can’t emphasize this enough. You aren’t transitioning to become a transwoman or a drag queen – you’re transitioning to become a woman, in body as well as mind. Since you have the chance to remake yourself, why not be a lady, not a diva?

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

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

 

Turmeric works for this world traveler!

I’m sure, if you have Facebook, you are subjected to all sorts of links that Facebook algorithms insert into your feed. I just whizz past all the wrinkle resolvers ( too late I think), most of the Foodie porn things ( I really can’t afford weight wise to drizzle chocolate, cheese and fat, I’m trying […]

via Is this root really working for me…Turmeric. — Travels in the Middle East and beyond

A Centered View on Healthcare

Afraid of losing the ACA? It’s not a disaster.

I work in the pharmaceutical industry and help people with their insurance.  As the ACA passed, I saw premiums go up, sometimes more than doubling, I saw copays go up, I saw prices go up in general. Yes, it’s true, women had free contraceptives and free preventives.

I’ll tell you a secret. Those contraceptives and preventives were usually the ones you could buy for less than $30 a month without ANY insurance. If you think about how much more the premiums cost, though, you are easily paying for more than the value of the “free” items you are getting.

There are a few who were helped by the ACA, whose premiums were subsidized by the government. That means they were subsidized by your higher premiums, by the way. Meanwhile, millions of working families saw their insurance costs double, saw their deductibles skyrocket, and could no longer afford care – or much of anything else, for that matter.

I could tell you story after story about people who were making a several thousand dollars a month, had a good plan with fair copays and coverage, and saw their premiums go up by hundreds every month.  They didn’t get better coverage either.  Their cost increase came  with a corresponding loss of coverage!   Many of the examples I have seen were low income people, who had either a self funded plan or one they had through an employer, and lost with the ACA.

Before the ACA, I could have chosen to buy insurance.  Now I can longer afford good coverage. If I had an ACA plan, I could afford to learn what was wrong with me but couldn’t afford to fix it. The claim that millions now have insurance coverage who never did before, really means nothing if they aren’t substantively helped by it.

Free preventives? Most of them could be gotten for four dollars if you just use an in-house pharmacy discount plan. Without insurance, mind you. They’re available at several of the major pharmacies.  The people who drafted the ACA knew what they were doing – most people seem to turn their brains off when they see the word “Free.”

I will not be sad if ACA goes away. A single payer health care system isn’t the answer. Countries who have it tend to have long wait times and substandard care. There’s a reason why Canadians used to come to America for their medical care – even though they had a single payer, universal coverage healthcare system.

Except for in a few isolated situations, you’re better off exercising, watching  your diet, and avoiding high fructose corn syrup than shelling out money for an ACA health plan.  Meditate, learn about the medicine of food, and stay centered.

On the bright side, there’s no reason to fear the ACA being repealed.

via Daily Prompt: Center

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

Beyond Meow – How to Talk With Your Cat

Sometimes, we all wish our cats could talk. Then they could tell us where it hurts, where the annoying bug on the wall is, and what flavor of cat food they REALLY want for dinner.
Though we’ll probably never get cats to use more than a few words of human speech, we can talk to hem – and encourage them to communicate in return.  Awareness of their communications styles can go a long way.
The number one thing you can do is talk to your cat, meaningfully. Cats are very intelligent and pick up on words fairly easily. At the same time, pay attention to their body language and look for signs of understanding. Make a fuss over them when they show they understand. Use relevant words when you are doing things – like talking about the kind of food you are setting down, pointing out the brush and talking about it when you are about to groom them, pointing out different body parts when you are petting them. “Here are your paws. Here are your ears. Here is your pretty tail.” Cats can be trained in much the same way you’d teach a baby.

Whenever possible, give your cat opportunities to communicate back. Demonstrate to them that they can make a difference in your behavior by communicating. For your part, pay attention – sometimes cats are very subtle. Look for significant glances, postures, gestures. Cats communicate a lot through body language.

I knew someone who encouraged her cat to communicate – she was in chimp language research and used the same techniques on her cat as she had with the chimps. By teaching her cat that communication mattered, and he could get what he wanted by communicating, she achieved a remarkable level of understanding. He even had modified sign language “words” he would use to talk back.

For example, my own cat will lick her lips and stare at me when she is hungry. That means “dinner.” So if I say “Are you hungry, Nezumi-chan?” and she doesn’t lick her lips at me, I know she doesn’t want to eat.

She’ll also reach up and pat my shoulder (from the surface of a table) when she wants my attention.  Or she’ll boop my nose when she’s feeling playful.  Sometimes she’ll gesture to things with her tail, using it like a finger.  She’s learned more and more signals as she’s gotten older.

Rules of cat communication

Pay attention to behavior and non verbal cues – be aware in general.

Talk to your cat frequently, and listen.

Be creative and encourage the use of gestures.

Name things when you do them.

Let their communication make a difference in your behavior.

When you can, give them choices.  Help them see that communicating properly will get them what you want.

Soon, you’ll find that there are many fine shades of meaning beyond “meow!”

 

catspaw-1000

 

via Daily Prompt: Aware

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