The American Women Who Carved Their Initials in the Colosseum

I don’t know if many of you read this story in the Guardian.  I’m not sure which US newspapers picked it up (if any), but 2 young American women decided it was right to carve their initials in the wall of the Colosseum in Rome so they could take a selfie.  This is wrong on so many levels and it burns me up that people have such little reverence for history and antiquity and these monuments that have stood for thousands and thousands of years.  These women were arrested, and will probably be sent home with a fine, but I’m sure they won’t learn a thing.

colosseum

And, what did the women have to say for themselves?  “We apologize for what we did. We regret it, but we did not imagine it was something so serious.”  REALLY!?!?!  Defacing a thousand-year-old ancient Roman building isn’t something so serious.  Maybe I should go to their houses in California and carve my initials in the wall outside their front door, or maybe graffiti their swimming pool.  These people don’t think!!  They just do whatever gratifies them at that moment.  And for a SELFIE, no less…those vile, disgusting weapons of conceit that young people are so fond of these days.  I hope these GIRLS, I’m not calling them women anymore because that denotes some level of maturity, get fined more than they can pay and end up in jail.  I’m sure there are some nicely carved initials in the walls of the cells!

Here is the link to the story:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/08/us-tourists-caught-carving-names-into-colosseum-rome

Facebook Feeling Fat?

I don’t normally do “re-blogs,” but I thought this blog post was rather relevant, and it’s something I would have written about anyway. the author of “Dances With Fat” is one of the few people in this world who is trying to fight “fat-phobia,” as she calls it. She’s doing a lot of good for those of us that have always been teased or discriminated against because of our size. I’m also going to link here to a former blog post of mine that has a similar theme (https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/people-obsessed-with-my-fat/).

Dances With Fat

If you’re on Facebook you may be aware of an update option where you choose “Feeling…” and then one of the pre-filled answers that include a little drawing to match your current feelings.  A member of the Fit Fatties Forum noticed that one of the options is “Feeling Fat”

Feeling Fat

While I’m happy that the face is smiling, this is irritating to me because fat is not a feeling.  It’s true that people have different definitions of what is being fat, and some people take the attitude that people aren’t fat, they have fat (I’ve already discussed my feelings about why that is problematic).  We can definitely discuss these things but what should be clear is that fat is a descriptor of appearance, and not a feeling. “Hmm, do I feel happy, frustrated, or fat today?”  does not make sense.

Generally when we use physical descriptors to describe how…

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Rushing Christmas

Ok, raise your hand if you think that businesses and the media are pushing Christmas earlier and earlier every year.  Put your hands down…wow, that was a lot of you!

There used to be  a rule in the United States that Christmas decorations and Christmas music didn’t make an appearance until after Thanksgiving.  It wasn’t a written rule, but a general rule that people followed.  These days, I know the rule is not kept.  Many establishments have been known to put up their Christmas wreaths and play “Jingle Bells” on the elevator musak much earlier than Thanksgiving.  There was a radio station in New York that would begin playing Christmas carols in November 1st and wouldn’t stop until after Christmas.  This is insanity!

I love Christmas.  I love the feeling of Christmas, the decorations, the music…everything about it!  I don’t like the cold weather, but spending Christmas in Singapore this year will cure that!  I enjoy going into the mall and seeing the giant Christmas trees and candy canes hung from the ceiling.  I love the gold star and Santa Claus decals on the store windows (like seasonal Colorforms).  I also love the sales that I can take advantage of.  I am one of the few people that actually gets a thrill out of buying gifts for other people.  I love when I can get the perfect gift, or surprise someone with something unexpected.  It’s a great feeling, this “Christmas!”

Unfortunately, I don’t like to have those feelings in October!  Here in Singapore, where Thanksgiving is NOT celebrated, there’s nothing separating the summer from the Christmas season.  Before Halloween I was witnessing Santa Claus decorations and plastic reindeer in the malls.  I sat in a restaurant below a giant Christmas wreath in the middle of October, and walked into Starbuck’s to hear some jazzy rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” during the first week of November.  Singapore has pushed Christmas 2 months earlier!  In the United States, they set up for Christmas early, but never in OCTOBER!!!

This early Christmas actually diminishes the real Christmas.  If people are preparing for Christmas for so long and seeing and hearing Christmas-related memorabilia for 2 months, they will be jaded and bored by the time December 25th rolls around.  By celebrating Christmas too early, these companies and the media have actually caused people to not celebrate it as much as they would normally.  They are jading people to the Christmas spirit by bombarding them with it in early November.  So, please ignore the music, decorations and that (surprisingly thin) sidewalk Santa until the “proper” time of December, or your Christmas won’t feel as special as it should!

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Halloween

halloween 3“There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world.”  – Jean Baudrillard

When I was a young kid, I liked Halloween.  I liked the dressing up, I liked the parties, I liked the candy…I even liked the shaving cream fights with my friends.  As I got older, the Halloween “traditions” just got more and more tedious.  Dressing in costume became less fun and more chore-like.  There was increased pressure to find a party or something fun to do, or look like a loser.  AND, instead of getting candy, I was expected to give it out to kids…FOR FREE!

halloween 2Living in New York City taught me to hate Halloween.  Invariably, every year, on November 1st, I was treated to an impromptu, early-morning car wash to get the dried egg and shaving cream off.  The worst years were the years when Halloween did NOT fall on a weekend because I’d have to leave extra early for work the next day to get to the gas station and use their hose, getting wet in the process and looking a mess when I finally arrived at work.  There were always more eggs and shaving cream on my house to clean when I got home, and even on the sidewalk in front.  All this while getting by on 2-3 hours of sleep because of all the noise outside all night.

Halloween is used as an excuse for people to behave like complete asses.  It’s a day when people try to be as moronic as they possibly can because they feel it’s warranted and excusable.  I don’t excuse any destructive vandalism no matter what the tradition or the “holiday.”  Granted, I used to melt the nozzle on Barbasol cans when I was young so they would shoot further, and pack my “trick-or-treat bag” with a little toilet paper, but I’m not making excuses for myself.  I was an ass!  I was caught up in the peer pressure of Halloween.  That peer pressure causes completely normal people to turn into morons on October 31st.

halloween 1First, let’s talk about the peer pressure to dress in costume.  When you’re a kid, the school usually “forces” you to dress in costume by sponsoring a Halloween parade, or some kind of costume contest.  If you’re not dressed in costume on Halloween, you’re ostracized and made to feel like you don’t fit in.  So, every kid dresses in costume, no matter whether they want to or not.  The peer pressure doesn’t stop there.  As you get older, the pressure continues.  The “Halloween zealots” all have crazy Halloween parties and INSIST that you come dressed in costume.  It’s just easier to tell them that I’m “going to another party” on Halloween now than to actually have to try to find a costume.  People don’t understand that the whole history behind dressing for Halloween is rooted in the idea that the dead that rise from the grave should not be able to find you, so you disguise yourself from them.  The cute “slutty cat” and Ninja Turtle costumes were not what the medieval Europeans had in mind.

Second, I have to talk about the vandalism that occurs on Halloween.  I’m pretty sure this is only an American tradition, so international readers can skip this paragraph.  When did Halloween become associated with throwing toilet paper on houses, spraying shaving cream on unsuspecting kids or tossing eggs at passing cars?!?  When I was a kid, there were people that would spray Nair (a hair depilatory) at kids out of a fire extinguisher.  This would cause the kids to lose their hair!!  How is this not assault?  Why is this given a by on Halloween?  I know the police are out there saying they are “on extra watch,” but most policemen were Halloween hoodlems, themselves (as most teenagers are), and I’m sure they let many a vandal slide each year.  All these people that throw eggs, spray shaving cream or in any way vandalize someone else’s property should be prosecuted.  But, you NEVER hear about any prosecution or fines stemming from “Halloween mayhem.”

halloween 4Third, let’s talk about costumes, in general.  Is it me, or have costumes become less and less about what the person is pretending to be and more about how much the person can show off their body?  I’ve seen men dressed as Borat in his wresting singlet or Chippendales dancers and women dressed as ANYTHING (as long as it’s slutty).  Of course, there are still people who work hard to create a fun costume that’s not just a tight t-shirt and short-shorts, but they are becoming far fewer.  Even “older” people, who should not be wearing these types of costumes seem to be holding fast the slutty/beefcake costumes that have pervaded the past 20 years of Halloween.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the hype that surrounds Halloween.  I will never understand the people who spend thousands of dollars buying moaning ghosts, moving vampire coffins, wailing pumpkins or screetching witches.  These people over-decorate their homes and pour time, effort and money into NOTHING!  What’s the point?  It’s going to be there for 1 day and then it comes down…make room for the next holiday!  Carving pumpkins, buying candy, just trying too hard…why?!?!  I’m one of “those” people who, on Halloween, turns all the lights off and pretends he’s not home.  I don’t want to be bothered every 5 minutes to run to the door and hand out candy, that I bought with my money, to people who threaten me with a trick if I don’t give it to them.  Call me a Halloween Scrooge if you will, but I don’t see the point in this “holiday.”  The only thing good that came from Halloween is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  It’s kind of nice to think that Halloween isn’t all about scary noises and slutty girls, that there is a benevolent spirit out there who will bring toys to all the good boys and girls.  Unfortunately, that’s not true, and the Great Pumpkin doesn’t ever come.  Halloween is all about hoodlems with eggs, annoying doorbell ringing late into the night and women showing their cleavage.

BAH HUMBUG…or rather…BAH HUM-BOO!!

 

Not Being More Productive at Home

prod 3I take pride in my job.  I like it, I think I’m good at it and I work hard at it.  I can be highly productive at work.  I know how to prioritize and I make daily lists of things that need to get done.  I do not allow myself to leave until the list gets completed or, through no fault of trying, can’t be completed.  I am efficient, and I make the best use of my time.  This is why I think I’m good at my job.  When a person’s productivity is high and their output is decent, they are a good worker and they will be happy at their job.

prod 1I am not always overly busy at work, but being busy doesn’t necessarily makes you productive.  You can be busy and be highly disorganized.  In this case, the reason you’re busy is because your disorganization causes you to constantly revert back and forth between projects without ever actually finishing one.  If a person is productive, then there will be times when they can afford to rest a bit, and they won’t be too busy.

Unfortunately none of this productivity carries over to my home.  It’s like night and day with me.  At work I am organized, efficient and energetic.  At home I am haphazard, sluggish and a mess.  When I return from my productive day at work, I no longer want to be productive.  I know there are things to do, but I choose not to do them.  Most of the time I just forget that there’s something I need to do.  If you read yesterday’s post about not having a dryer, you’ll know that I have to stagger my laundry loads…well, I’ve been home for about 90 minutes now, and I just remembered that I have to do another load of laundry!

prod 2I have read the 8 habits of highly productive people, and it has become my mantra at work.  I just simply can not adhere to it at home.  Sitting here now, writing this blog, I can remember about 5 things I was supposed to do today that I didn’t do.  The reason that there are some days without a post here is because I just forget, and by the time I remember, it’s too late and I’m ready for sleep.  I forget to take things in the morning.  I have very often forgotten my watch or my keys and had to rely on others for help during the day.  Those incidents I hate, because my inefficiency at home has now encroached on my efficiency at work.  When there’s a crossover like that, I have to think it’s time to change.

The only problem is, I don’t know how to change.  There’s no Microsoft Outlook for life!  It helps at work to keep track of my time, and the ability to red-flag things is brilliant, but I don’t have that at home.  I suppose I could write myself notes in the morning before I leave so I will see them when I return home in the evening, but I’ll just forget to look at them or ignore what they say.  The inefficiency and lack of productivity at home really has a negative effect on my homelife and my personal life.  I can’t tell you how many times I have made appointments only to forget about them and be awakened on a Saturday morning by the doorbell, or how many times I have ordered food for delivery (here in Singapore it takes, like, 2 hours for it to be delivered) only to forget and order more food an hour later.  It has become a real problem!  A bigger problem is that I don’t know how to fix it.

Right now I should be packing for a trip to the States, but I haven’t unpacked from the last trip yet because I’m waiting for the laundry on the drying rack to dry so I can put the dirty laundry that’s in the suitcase into the washing machine.  Then I’ll be able to pack the suitcase!  I will also need some of the clothing that I will be washing after I publish this post…ugh…I guess I can always pack tomorrow night, the flight doesn’t leave until 6AM on Saturday morning!

Not Having a Clothes Dryer

dryer 1I know this is going to sound strange, but I actually like doing the laundry.  I like the cleanliness of it.  I like feeling the clean, dry clothes on my skin and folding them into nice, neat little piles.  I can’t explain why, but I like the entire process.  The only think I hate is the ironing…so I have a housekeeper who does that for me!  When I lived in the United States, I hade a clothes dryer.  It was such a convenience to be able to put your clothes in the washing machine and then dry them quickly when it was finished.  My dryer was even stacked right on top of my washer, so the movement of the clothing was minimal.

In Madrid, I didn’t have a dryer, but my washing machine was so small that it didn’t matter because I was doing laundry almost every day, and setting them outside to dry in the desert-like Madrid climate was easy and fast.  I could sometimes bring those clothes in after only a couple of hours.  My washer in China was a combination washer/dryer.  I could set it for 3 hours, and when it was done the laundry would not only be clean, it would be dry as well.  The only problem with this is that it left enormous wrinkles in the clothes that were very difficult to iron out.  But…I had a housekeeper for that!

dryer 3Now I live in Singapore, once again without a dryer.  Only now my washing machine is normal size.  I have a drying rack…like the one I had in college…that barely fits a full load of laundry on it.  I have to stagger my loads every other day so I can be able to hang the laundry out on the rack and have it dry before another load is ready to be hung.  The drying rack just doesn’t do it for me.  It’s on the terrace, so it doesn’t take up too much space, but the Singapore air is very humid, and it takes very long for the clothes to dry.  It’s not like it was in Madrid.  Also, while the clothes dry, they are being beat upon by the damaging rays of the sun, and some of my clothing has started to fade in the areas where it crosses the bar on the rack.  It’s ruining my clothes not to have a dryer.  It’s also making something that I usually enjoy an unbearable experience because of the excessive waiting and waiting I have to do between laundry loads.  I recently got back from a trip, but there was laundry in the basket and there were towels to do.  I still haven’t gotten to do the laundry from the trip because I’m waiting for one load to dry on the rack.

dryer 2I know you’re going to say “just go buy a dryer,” and I know there are some inexpensive “makeshift” dryers out there, but my apartment is fully furnished and I don’t want to buy a clothes dryer just to “donate” it to my landlord when I move away.  I don’t like my landlord that much!  Also, the cheaper, makeshift dryers are not of good quality.  They are made of plastic, and have a drying hose that needs to be placed near the clothes.  Then you zip them up into this plastic tube that inflates and dries your clothes.  The problem with this is that it only dries 5-6 garments at a time and there’s a chance of burning the clothes.  These dryers are not for me.

I need a dryer, though.  The drying rack is ruining my clothes and it’s making laundry time into a chore instead of something I like doing.  It takes too long for my laundry to dry, and there isn’t enough room on the rack for everything I want to dry (I don’t even try to get sheets on there any more).  I don’t know how anyone can live without a dryer.  These people must have quick-drying clothing, or they must not do so much laundry that hey need their drying racks to be immediately available.  Whatever it is, I’m glad they can do it because I can’t.  I will never move into an apartment without a dryer again!

 

People Who Dote on Their Kids too Much

Recently I was at a hotel with a breakfast buffet.  I like those hotels because they provide breakfast, and you can go back to your room when you’re finished to clean up before going out for the day.  Needless to say, I was enjoying my breakfast when a family of 4 sat at the table next to me.  It was a pleasant family with mom, dad and 2 kids of about 10 and 12 years old.

The mother immediately got up and brought back juices for the 2 children.  The father went over to the buffet table and started to fill his plate with whatever he wanted, while the mother walked over with the children and made them hold their plates while she filled it for them.  She then brought them back to the table and continually asked them if they wanted anything else, or she would just get up and get them more juice or cereal or whatever.  She did not eat anything for herself yet, mind you.  The father was quite content with his food and ate his breakfast quietly while mom continued to dote on the children and jump up and down getting them more and more things.  She even wiped one of their mouths with a napkin at one point!  When they were finished, and mom could finally eat for herself, the children got a little “rambunctious” and the family left.  Mom had about 3 minutes to actually enjoy her breakfast.

Now, I may be wrong, but 10 and 12 year olds are fully capable of getting their own breakfast and pouring their own juice.  They can walk over to the buffet and get whatever they want to eat, without any outside help.  The children were not overly obnoxious or annoying to the point where mom might have been doing all this for them so as not to have them get out of hand.  I think she just didn’t know what else to do.  She dotes and dotes on her children as if there is nothing else for her to do in life.

I see this a lot, especially when I lived in China, and the child was the family’s only child. Not only would mom and dad dote on the child, but all 4 grandparents as well.  The children would begin to expect everyone to do everything for them.  They called it the “little emperor syndrome” in China.  These parents that do everything for the child like they are royalty created children that felt like they were royalty.  They created children that expected to be treated special and had a sense of entitlement that I have never seen matched.

Unfortunately, it’s not only the Chinese that do this with their children.  I have seen over-doting parents all over the world.  These people don’t understand that, even though they want to do everything for their children, they are creating people who can’t do anything for themselves, and will expect people to always do things for them.  These parents who fawn over their children and try to anticipate their every need are not helping their children at all.  They’re just making it more difficult in the long run because, eventually, that child is going to hear “no,” and they’re not going to be able to deal with it.