Friday, July 27, 2012

How old is old enough?

A couple days ago, a group of young women (12' ish in age) from our Church came to our house (my wife is an adviser) for a meeting. I was out working in the yard. They all waved and said high to me. I waved back, and was thinking about what exceptional young women they are; Smart, Kind, Modest,... just plain good people.

And then for some reason I had a random thought about how those poor girls are hearing - every time they pick up a magazine, or turn on the TV - about how inadequate they are. That's how a good deal of marketing works after all. I mean, at some point everyone knows about your product, so what is the point of further marketing? To get said people to buy your product (or more of your product). And one proven method for doing that is to convince people that they are somehow incomplete without said product.

So these girls are constantly being told they aren't skinny enough, tall enough, athletic enough, tan enough, pretty enough. Wrong hair, wrong eyes, wrong complexion, wrong shape...

And as I went through this train of thought, I suddenly wanted to be a voice in opposition to that deluge. I wanted to say say something like," how are you lovely ladies doing?".

I didn't.

See, when you are a teenage boy, you can say stuff like that. It is called flirting, it is the natural order of things. Little old men can as well, because they are cute and sweet. They are adorable little grandpas.

But then there is that space in between, when it is creepy. When the girls (and most everyone else) goes quiet, and disengages the safety on their pepper spray. And justifiably so. It seems there is no dearth of creepy at present.

But where does that threshold fall? At what age do you go from creepy to sweet?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Well, that was stupid...

So, after my little 1 month fever and cough, I have been having this thing where I have numbness centered around my top front teeth. Well, in the gum above them really. I mainly notice it when I am drinking from a glass.

I checked in with the dentist, who sent me to an endodontist for an evaluation. He said the teeth are fine, so he isn't sure what is going on. He and the dentist and I discussed it and decided to give it a month, see what happens, and then re-evaluate whether to send me to an oral surgeon.

So, I left feeling depressed that I am an ongoing medical mystery. Weird stuff, no answers. I hadn't had lunch yet, so I picked up a subway sandwich, bag of potato chips (on the danger list for me), and three chocolate chip cookies (also not recommended). Then I went back to work, and had a massive Chocolate brownie loaded with Chocolate and white chocolate chips.

Yeah, not feeling so hot now. Moderately miserable in fact.

A bit of advice for others who suffer from Crohn's, or probably any chronic illness...

Days like this are going to happen. It is going to suck sometimes. And your not going to be able to 'chin-up' readily. So a little 'disaster preparedness' might be in order.

One good idea might be to keep an mp3 or video player on your person, loaded with some material from each of the following categories (examples from each category included, these are to my taste though, so you will obviously need to pick your onw, from your own collection as appropriate):

1. Comedy - Stuff that makes you laugh. Bill Cosby, Bill Engvall, Brian Regan... Whatever tickles your funny bone.

2. Light, uplifting music - Stuff that just makes you feel light and happy, like you can fly.

3. Butt Kicking music - Something intense, not angry or rebellious, more like hero swings into action stuff.

(Actually, that one is a bit of a cross between light and happy and butt kicking)...

4. Slightly Sad, but reflective music - Sounds weird, I know, but sometimes, what you need is to... just ... breathe...

Now make playlists for each of these categories, make them extremely easy to get to. (This was where I went wrong, I have stuff form most of these categories on my Android Gadget (A Samsung Galaxy player, I am too cheap to pay for a phone contract). But I don't have it organized, or playlisted).

When you feel discouragement setting in, or you feel the urge to binge on stuff that is going to lead to regret, or any other tendency toward a destructive behavior. Pick a playlist, and turn the volume up. Not dangerously high, but loud enough to distract your mind. this will give you a chance to reset your thoughts, clear your head. If the playlist you picked isn't working, try one of the others. With a little practice, you will probably be able to recognize which one is going to help best for a given mood.

I'll be ready next time...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Buy this book!

I just finished reading "Janitors". I started on Tuesday,  and finished on Friday. It is youth fiction, in the same family of stories as Harry Potter - young "normal" kids who have a run-in with a hidden, magical world. Only in this case it is magical critters that inhabit schools, and Janitors are a secret society that combat them. I don't dare say much, for fear of giving story away, but I will say that I am greatly looking forward to reading it with my kids when we are done with the current book we are reading (we read a chapter from a book almost every night).

I had seen a random ad for the book somewhere, and thought it looked interesting, and perhaps I would grab a copy if the opportunity presented.

Then a few weeks ago, I met the author, who is house sitting in our neighborhood. I met him at church. and had the chance to chat with him a bit (It took me three weeks of these brief interactions to learn that he was the author of Janitors, from which you can conclude he is not one to "toot his own horn"). He was a very pleasant, humble, and insightful individual, and I greatly enjoyed the brief conversations we had. Of course having met the author, I had to read the book.

So, I had my wife pick up a copy. What a great book!! It is exceptionally well written, fun, full of plot twist, subterfuge, conspiracy and magic. It is an easy read (of course it was written for 8-10 years, and I'm a forty year old so...), and the story moves along nicely. The characters are fun, colorful, and quirky.

What I love most about it is that it actually adheres to positive values. I love the Harry Potter series, but I have always been a bit bothered by the fact the Harry seems a bit of a chronic liar. he is constantly lying to his friends and teachers, and sneaking about This is not a quality unique to Harry Potter, It is a story element that commonly shows up in the youth/young adult fiction. I suppose the books try to appeal to the "Nobody understands me" feeling of that age. Janitors, on the other hand, take the high road.

In Janitors, the hero tries his hand at deceit, but quickly discovers honesty to be more effective. The story also includes adults who are trustworthy, who listen, and who help and seek to protect the young heroes of the story. A refreshing change from Harry and friends being constantly thrown in harm's way them against the world. Or like the Lemony Snicket series, where adults all seem to be either evil, or incompetent, and completely unable or unwilling to listen to children. The relationship aspect of Janitors is much more positive, more grounded in reality.

I won't say more than that, as I don't want to ruin the experience for you, should you decide to read it (and you should.... Just sayin...).

It is a fun, fast, read, with refreshingly positive morals. I can't wait to read book two.