Sunday, February 26, 2017

Alternative Facts v Truth

I am thinking even more about the power of language. And even though I don't want to, I am fascinated with the words "alternative facts" and "truth."

Watch this. I am going to show you how to apply these ideas to your own life by sharing some from mine. Study the following sentences to decide which one is TRUE and which one is an ALTERNATIVE fact for me:

Exercise is best when I go early in the day.   

Exercise is best when I leave the gym.

See the difference?  The first sentence might be revealing a positive attitude about a trip to the gym. The second sentence shows something not so positive about working out. One of the sentences is more TRUE about me while the other is simply an ALTERNATIVE FACT.

Here's another one:

Fred Meyer has a gorgeous produce section featuring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Fred Meyer has narrow aisles which make shopping for produce difficult on Senior Discount Day.

See how the first sentence provides a pleasing image of grocery shopping at Fred Meyer?  And see how the second sentence de-glamorizes the shopping process at Fred's?

And a third example:

My body is like a well-tuned car with 200,000 miles on it. 

My body is slowly falling apart and my doctor is now my very best friend.

This is the most challenging one to figure out so have at it.

You should really give this activity a try using yourself as the basis. At the very least, you should make a sincere effort to separate any and all AF's from T's that you might read or see.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Word Power

When I was an English teacher for all those years I often commented on the power of language to illustrate how students could empower themselves quickly and freely.  I actually based my whole first lesson in Writing 122 (argument and persuasion) on that concept. I began with asking students to think about one of their favorite words. They would look at me sideways so I'd model by telling them that I love the word waterfall. I love the way it sounds, the way it looks, and the image it produces in my mind when I say or think it. Sometimes I'd also share a word I don't like. For example,  I was not allowed to say the word stink when I was growing up so today I rarely say it.  Strange, huh? By now, students would be engaged in trying to discover and share favorite words and a lively discussion occurred,

Next, I asked students to share how they received their names at birth. Responses included that they were named after one of their relatives or that they were named after a dear friend. Others received names that were created by their parents.  Still others were named after a famous athlete or actor. You get the drift. Then I suggested that most parents choose names for their offspring before they are even born. What that does is to provide them with identities before they even land here on earth.

So I wove the concept of word power into every lesson we did in learning how to use persuasive writing effectively. Sometimes we might repeat a word several times in an essay. Occasionally, we can use negative words to take away the power of this or that idea. Then we'd move on to creating power sentences and working them into persuasive essays. The goal was to develop proficiency in choosing effective words and sentences to support an argument. (And, just for fun we'd once in a while do some creative or narrative writing that we studded with power words. The results were amazing. And by the way, amazing is over-used and has lost its original power.)

The upshot of all this reminiscing about WORDS is not only that we need to use them, but we need to recognize their power to be used in a negative way.  Sometimes untruths can become truths if we hear them over and over. Examples follow:  Alternative facts. So-called judge. The enemy is the media. Putin is a good leader. The press does not always report acts of terrorism. Climate change is a hoax.

Do good thinking about what you hear. Be careful about what you believe. Take care not to say or write words that are meaningless or that contain too much negativism.

Most of all and most importantly, analyze and interpret what you are currently reading and hearing about the state of our good country. We are still strong.  We are still free. We are still compassionate toward others. We still have the opportunity to upgrade our lives. We are good Americans.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

I've been thinking a lot about a couple of different topics since yesterday. One is the Mosul Dam in Iraq and the other is Egypt.  These oddball thoughts are probably a result of reading this week's issue of The New Yorker magazine which I've subscribed to for nearly 50 years. Both of the topics were covered this week. One article was about the Mosul Dam which is located in Iraq and has the potential to burst and kill up to hundreds of thousands of people. Its danger has been considered since its construction began in 1981 under the orders of Saddam Hussein (remember him?). Such a structure could highly impact the power and strength of the country and its leaders. So reading about it and how compromised it is by its own weight made me spend some time thinking about water and the power it has to influence civilization as a whole.  These are heavy thoughts for me to have so early in the year.

The other article was about Egypt, in particular its leader President Sisi, a country and a political figure I can barely comprehend. In fact, I can probably just almost describe Egypt's location. I have nearly no knowledge of its leader or even how its people and culture work. Here's what I do know: Egypt is the oldest country in the world, was home to an ancient culture that is still influencing the whole world, and seems to be subject to a lot of revolutions. I used to long to go to Egypt myself because I was so fascinated by the excavation of King Tut's tomb.  I wanted to see it and absorb the desert history that flourished so long ago in this arid valley so far away.  See?  More weighty thoughts.

So I started the New Year lost in random thought about far away places and people and even though I was thinking about a possible catastrophe and a country where a voter can be arrested for "spoiling his ballot," I am nonetheless considering heavy topics having nothing to do with the monumental changes that will occur soon in my own country.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Keep Moving

Happy December! I'd like to introduce you to one of my Important People. It's Angie and she's my trainer. Angie is petite and pretty in what I think is a Jennifer Lopez sort of way. She has long dark hair which is almost always stuffed into a baseball cap. Her skin is bronzy and I wonder if she uses a tanning bed but my guess is no. She's way too busy to spend her time doing dangerous light time. Most of the time I see her she is dressed in her gym clothes with the jacket zipped up to her chin. It's cold in the gym.  Which, by the way, she owns with her hunky husband, Justin. I can hardly conceive of spending my work days in such an environment.  There isn't a book in sight.

I've been working out with Angie for six or seven years. Once in a while, I work out with another trainer.  There are three: Maddy, Dale, and Zoey who's fairly new.  Maddy is the go-to girl for the gym and can be relied upon to do just about anything around the gym. I don't see how Angie and Justin could get along without her. I see Zoey once a week and Dale sometimes directs the Saturday flex class. Each is interesting in his or her own way and can easily amuse me with chatty bits of personal information from their own lives.

 I don't remember the sort of routine I started with but I do remember that Angie worked me in correspondence to whatever body part was on the fritz. That has continued as I've made my way through my 60's and now into my 70's. I've learned what to expect in terms of movements but I swear that the routine has never been the same twice since I started there. I know that pelvic tilts and other on the back exercises will take up about half the time and that I'll be up on my feet for the other half.
I will clock-watch as much as she allows me to. I don't like to exercise and I feel free to tell Angie every time we're together. She has promised to allow me to complain as much as I want but it
doesn't make the drill any easier or any shorter. And she always asks me if I want to stay and do cardio. HA!

There are things that Angie regularly says.  Most of these are comments I don't like, but I try not to complain when she says them in the spirit of being a true gym rat.  Here are some examples:

  • That's right!  You've got this!
  • Only three more; you can do it!
  • Don't forget to breathe.
  • Watch those planks as you step up; they're a little rickety!
  • Push, Ter, push!
And here's what I really like to hear from here:  "Good job, Miss Terry, we're done for today."

I'll  never be an official gym rat but I do know that I need to keep this body moving if I expect to follow my life's path. If you go the gym, well, bless your heart. (And I think that's part of the goal of exercise, isn't it?  To "bless your heart"?  Happy downward dogs to all!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Election Selection

I'm just as tired about the election hype as you are. My ballot is cast and I am eager for next Tuesday to get here just so we can have it over with.  Well, maybe not "over" as much as being finished with this part of the election.  I fear that no matter who wins, we are in for a bumpy inaugural and first 100 day ride for either a short time or a longer time depending on who's elected. But here are some conclusions I've come to regarding the voting Americans of this campaign:

  • Americans want to be respected no matter who they are.
  • Americans are suspicious of people with a lot of money.
  • Americans don't think anyone should mix their professional e-mails with their personal e-mails.
  • Americans are still heavily influenced by the media, particularly television.
  • Americans are divided into two power groups-the haves and the have nots.
  • American  "have-nots" want more opportunities for jobs.
  • American "haves" are still interested in big tax cuts.
  • Americans are more reluctant to accept immigrants than they used to be.
  • Americans are experiencing the strangest election in history.
  • Americans want change.
There are many other observations I could have made.  What are some that I've left out??? Will you miss any of the campaign drama and wish it wouldn't end???

Friday, September 30, 2016

Canadian Beauty and Quirks

Our trip to Calgary, Canmore, and Banff Canada brought our travelling group into new and surprising realms of experience-some good and some not so good.


  • Look at the first photo over there and you will what's best about Canada.  This random shot of the Bow River represents what's all nearly everywhere you can look as you walk your body around in a circle. I'm not kidding.  Big plus=no billboards, no advertising, no litter, few traffic or directional signs. You can drive and drive and see nothing but stunning views that bring instant calm and peace to your soul.
  • Eating is truly fun. Not only is the food superb, the servers are all interesting people from all over Canada who have come to Canmore and Banff for snow sports, to make some travelling money, or just to enjoy the different life experience found in remote resort areas.
  • And about the food mentioned above-we only had one mediocre meal in all our time there. Even though the food was just okay at one of our stops, the service was prompt, courteous, and saw to every serving detail.
  • Imagine you just left the crowds of tourists at Lake Louise and don't care to spend top dollar at the chateau. Just a hop down the road and two left turns and following the short gravel road will bring you to the Railway Restaurant.  Too small to accommodate the herds of bus tourists, you'll find few diners here at this unique preserved RR station from old time Canada. The wooden floors creak, the lovely tables are set up beautifully, and you can gaze at all the historical items displayed in the cabinets here and there.  The food is fabulous.
  • Check out the photo of the head. That's one of Canada's quirky things. This head is found near the footbridge in Canmore.  Canmore means "big head/smart person" in Gaelic. Ed's big head is also quirky in its own bald and likable way.
  • Visit the Heritage Historic Park Village and enjoy the authentic buildings, whimsical costumed people who periodically break out in acting scenes of representations of street life back in the Canadian day.
  • READ all the small print on your passport. As we were picking up our boarding passes at PDX, Ed and Penny learned that their driver's license sized passports  only permit travel into Canada by land or by sea.  Uh-oh. Major disaster for all of us that called for quick brainstorming. We ruled out abandoning the trip. Canada Air helped them get a flight to Spokane where they rented a car and made the nine hour driving trip to meet us in Calgary. That surprising leg of their trip left them exhausted and anxious but brought us all back together for the rest of the trip.  And how did they get home? You cannot be denied entry into our own country so we all flew home together. Big, big WHEW.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


The cake pictured on facebook will never win any State Fair awards for appearance but would easily earn some kind of recognition somewhere because of its fabulous taste and quirky history. It looks funny because it's totally homemade from the wax paper lined cake pans to the melted chocolate drizzle on top.  It's been presented to my family on this plate made by Brian when he was in pre-school at age four originally as a way to award his art endeavors.  When the Cake is brought out, the family greets it with hoorays and clapping.  Everybody loves it.

The recipe came to my mother from her oldest sister, Ethel, who sweet talked her way into procuring a copy from a family down the street a few houses.  That neighborhood was somewhere in California in the 1920's and the recipe belonged to the Comstock family of the famed Comstock Lode.  Ethel was served a piece at a social gathering of the Comstocks and when she asked for the recipe, she was told it was "secret."  Ethel, whose people skills were as honed as anyone's, figured that if she couldn't get the recipe through the front door, she could maybe get it through the back door.  Hence, her friendly approach of the Comstock maid who happily produced the recipe. She shared it with my mother who, in turn, taught me how to make it and now my own daughter (the non-cook, as you'll remember) and two grandgirls all know how to prepare this cake exactly as it was intended to be made and served all those years ago in a rich person's parlor.

The made from scratch cake begins with wax paper lined cake pans and ends with the chocolate drizzled according to the creative mood of the baker and thus always looks the same and yet has an original twist due to the mood or fancy of the baker as she applies the drizzle. The leavening is vinegar and baking soda and "don't over mix it as you add it to the batter."  Be sure to add "just a drop or three of almond extract to the cream cheese frosting for that extra bit of flavor" and "remember  it tastes even better the next day because of the buttermilk." I can hear my mother reciting these lines more than a few times as she led me through the process of making the Cake.

The Cake in the photo is literally only moments completed by my own hand and will be served tomorrow at a family BBQ. I can never, ever get the Cake to rise as high as my mom's Cakes always did, but I'm resigned to my shorter Cakes due to the compliments of the family.  And tomorrow the birthday will be my own as I enter my birthday season celebrating 70 years at the table.  And I'll bet that I've easily made 100 if not more of these cakes in my lifetime.

Happy 70th birthday, Terry!