Physical Fit: Dehydration, It’s not Just For Summertime

Dehydration concept.

Something has occurred to me recently… as in the last week because of some other incidents I have mentioned (i.e. nearly freezing to death in my own home). During the shivering and trying not to become a popsicle, I also realized that I managed to avoid drinking the recommended daily allowance of H2O. I am dehydrated.

Most people know that water is necessary for life. More necessary than food and less than breathing, and by that, I mean that you can go for a long time without food, less time without water, and we all know that depleting our bodies of oxygen for more than a few minutes will result in unpleasant consequences like unconsciousness, brain damage, organ failure, and death. That’s hardly earth shattering or genius level deduction. Most of us learned that in primary school to some extent.

Anyhow, not drinking sufficient water can lead to a lot of unpleasant things including skin issues, cracked lips, dental problems, halitosis, fatigue, muscle deterioration, headaches, digestive issues, and elimination difficulties (yes, I’m talking some potty problems). It is not a fun time, and of course, failure to hydrate properly can lead to the ultimate adverse effect… death.


People do not realize that our bodies need water all the time. In fact, most people do not even know the actual amount that they need on a given day, and would most likely underestimate that amount. For example, based on my weight and age, I am supposed to consume 110 oz. of water every day. That is just with normal activity and average temperatures and humidity. That does not even take into account diet, medications, consuming alcohol and caffeine, activity levels, or extremes of weather.

On top of all of the negative impact of dehydration upon the body, lack of appropriate water intake can also negatively impact the fitness routine and weight loss goals. Dehydration can result in fatigue and general lack of productivity. Not drinking enough water can slow down your cardio and can even result in increased appetite due to the body’s attempts to boost energy. Staying hydrated can decrease overeating, and boost energy levels. Maintaining proper levels of hydration can also ensure that the body is using the food and nutrients consumed in the most efficient way.

For me, it is so much easier to stay hydrated in the summer. I know that is counterintuitive, but it is true. During the summer, I have no trouble consuming a cool refreshing beverage. I frequently keep a large container of water near at hand and sip on it continually through the day. In the colder weather, however, I find it less automatic to continually drink my water throughout the day, and in truly frigid temperatures, I find it almost impossible to make myself drink enough of the cool water that drops my core temperatures even lower.

It is, however, just as important to stay hydrated in winter. Keeping appropriate hydration allows the body better temperature regulation, and dehydration can contribute to hypothermia. Also, many heating systems tend to dry out the air inside homes and the moisture in the body as well, chapping the skin and drying nasal passages and mouth preventing the body from resisting environmental allergens and other contaminants.

I must remember to drink my daily allotment of water. I also need to remember that by the time that my brain registers that I am thirsty, I am already depleted in my fluids. I have been considering different ways I can get appropriate hydration during the chilly months. My beloved coffee will not suffice as caffeine acts as a diuretic on the system. Though I will do my best to drink water, I will admit that it is more difficult, and I want to mix things up a bit and include a warm alternative. Non-caffeinated hot teas can help with hydration and provide an alternative to cool water. I expect that awareness is probably the greatest asset to my efforts, but it is decidedly important for my continued health to stay hydrated. Contrary to commercials you may have seen, it’s probably not a good idea to “stay thirsty, my friends.”

SERIES: Email Diseases: How they affect your life and how you can avoid them (Issue 2: SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS)

Do you like to be yelled at?  Does anyone?






Argument A

Picture, if you will, an email exchange between two individuals engaged in an electronic argument.  (I shall not make something up here because my ability to argue successfully extends really only to myself – I tend argue with myself a lot – and to very few others.  Needless to say, debate class in high school was not my very favorite thing.  Though some would say I live to argue, this is simply not the case.)  These two individuals have allowed their virtual disagreement to escalate to a point where one user (let’s call him USER 1) has finally lost his ability to reason effectively and has resorted TO SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS in order to make his point.  The other user (let’s call him USER 2), upon receiving the SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS, sits back in his chair feeling defeated and thinks: “Well!  You don’t have to yell at me!” Followed by some choice words (fiercely unspoken) directed at USER 1.

Argument B

Imagine, now, this same exchange – however long it may have been – in person.  Two people, standing nose to nose, both red-faced and obviously ticked off, each about a stones-throw away from coming to blows.  To the outsider, it is apparent one individual of this duo is the instigator and the other is simply doing his best to hold his ground and not allow himself to be bullied.  Both are furious with one another.   Both believe they are right and the other is wrong.  The shouting is disruptive to others around them both in a way that disallows these others to be productive employees and in a way that makes these others truly uncomfortable.  It could be that a few of these others are interested in this heated exchange in the same way a passer-by might be interested in a train wreck, but for the most part, people have scattered to other parts of the building to attend to suddenly urgent duties.  This argument culminates in one person finally blowing his top and shouting, “YOU’RE WRONG!  YOU’RE JUST WRONG!  YOU’RE STUPID, YOU DON’T KNOW THE PRODUCT OR THE CUSTOMER BASE AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!!”  Whereupon hearing this, the other individual deflates, says something quietly to the shouter which witnesses can’t really make out, and slinks off to lick his wounds.

Does the “winner” of either argument actually win?  Or is that person simply better able to argue some point or another and, possibly, better at wearing down his opponent?  Does it make the “loser” less right, or his argument less sound?  Granted, it will depend a lot on the actual argument and since I did not see fit to imagine one for you we’ll really never know.

But…what does all this have to do with SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS?

In my most humble of opinions, using SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS in an electronic exchange is, quite simply, unacceptable.  I tend to use capital letters if I am trying to place emphasis on a word or phrase that underlining or italicizing will not draw adequate attention to.  But in those cases, it is usually very obvious that I am NOT shouting.

I read a story once (well, actually, if I’m being honest I’ve read this particular story multiple times) about a group of Solomon Islanders who had an ancient practice of felling trees by yelling at them.  (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum –  The theory behind this practice was that yelling killed the spirit of the tree and so it died and fell over.

I believe that being yelled at does, indeed, kill one’s spirit.  Especially if one is yelled at often and for an extended period of time.  To make one cower before you by the very act of yelling – out of anger, frustration, intent or intensity of feeling – is a lowly act and one that only makes you a bully.  Yes, there are absolutely reasons why yelling, on occasion, is warranted; but only on occasion.  If you go around yelling at people all the time, will you have any friends?  Will anyone truly love you and will you be able to truly love?  Will anyone respect you?  Listen to you?  Act on your words or simply ignore you?

Ending an argument by so thoroughly defeating your opponent is akin to abuse and yes, in some cases, even murder.  Do you really wish to kill someone’s spirit by yelling at them?  I believe there are much better ways to win an argument and that, my friends, requires finesse, an adequate understanding of and ability to use the English language, and a genuine desire to make your point without completely steamrolling your opponent.

Just some food for thought.

Sucker, Savior, Samaritan, or Survivor?


Most of us at some point in our lives have the impulse to reach out and help someone in need. Sometimes that someone is family, a child, a grandchild, a sibling, parent, etc. Sometimes the person is a friend. Sometimes the person could be an acquaintance or even a stranger down on their luck whose plight touches the heart. The point is that many of us feel a need or even compulsion to reach out a hand and try to ease the burden of their misfortune. With all the best intent, we give of our time, our emotions, our finances, and our energy to give them an opportunity to improve their situations. Sadly, that doesn’t always work out for that Good Samaritan, and sometimes, it hurts… a lot.

In the past year, I have unfortunately had to learn a lot of difficult lessons about this very topic. I never really considered myself to be naïve or a “soft touch.” I’ve actually spent a good deal of time in some rather unsavory company that has encouraged me to be cynical and wary of the individuals that brush past us in life resulting in negative balances in wallet or heart. I’m not a bleeding heart, and I’ve never thought of myself as someone of whom advantage could easily be taken. The last year or so has shown me the error of my suppositions and perceptions of my own judgment.

Several incidents contributed, but the big one was that I had opened my home (and heart) and offered assistance to some people who needed a second chance. It was a poor choice on my part. Not so much the attempting to help, but that my choice of recipient was ill advised. Not only did they continue to take any assistance offered without attempting to better their own situation; while we were on vacation in another state, they also walked out with my television, instruments, tent, and sleeping bags (yeah, I know)… not to mention my faith in humanity and sense of security in my own home.

Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson, but it still hurt me in some indefinable way when later (well after the incidents above) an acquaintance/casual friend called to ask if they could kip at the house due to some unfortunate circumstances of their own, to which I responded, “No.” I felt heartless and cruel shutting down this avenue of succor, but I had agreed to be strong in the face of the most pitiable tale. There were other options for them, and I was not the only source of shelter in the cold, cruel world. So, why did I feel like I should be put on a Most Wanted list for exceptional cruelty and pretty much sure that everyone would hate me because I turned someone away? It was an irrational burden of guilt that I put on myself, ruminating upon my response, but it was probably that long conditioning of the golden rule “Do unto others…” Oh dear. I could feel the negative karma points building. In my mind, I saw my character assassinated as a mean and heartless miser unwilling to assist a fellow creature.

Coincidentally, this topic actually came up with some friends on social media. The meme above actually started the conversation (no offense, but I’m not the biggest fan of Dr. Phil), but some really good points were batted about, and I “listened” and participated with rapt attention. First, I was amazed and gratified to know that I am not the only person on the planet that struggles with the balance of doing good, and self-preservation. Additionally, it was very nice to see some of the finer points of boundary-setting discussed.

Because, in truth, isn’t that really what we are talking about? It is all about boundaries. Each of us probably has some internal drive for our altruistic behaviors. For some it is paying it forward. For others, it is paying it back (because we’ve been there, and done that). There are people who are of a spiritual bent who are admonished by their faith to help those who are unable to help themselves and do good works for charity sake, and there are those who end up beggaring themselves attempting to help children, parents, siblings, and others because… they are our blood and family (or if not by blood, at least dear enough to feel like family). Lastly, there is an impulse to save a fellow human…just because. It is partially instinct (for most of the non-sociopathic folks out there), but it is also a societal construct that is reinforced by stories and modern media. Think about all those “Good Feels” type stories that are run through the morning programming, Headline News, and talk show circuits. Inside of each of us is a tiny little superhero trying to get out and make the world a better place… ok, maybe not all of us, but I’ve personally always wanted to be Batman, and I digress.

The thing is we want to be heroes. We don’t want to be the cold-hearted villain. That is where that guilt and recrimination in my own heart comes from. Logically, I know that there are other resources. Part of me is even a bit of a Darwinist (survival of those who have the strength or ingenuity to figure it out), but I don’t want to be the bad guy. I want to be the hero. I want to (for those of the biblical leaning) be the Good Samaritan, not the guys who walked by on the other side. But were they so very bad? I guess in the story, the guy in question was dying by the side of the road, and leaving someone to die is pretty rotten, but in the less life threatening instances of poor choices and missed opportunities, how much assistance is helping, and how much is enabling?

“It’s just the nature of some of us to try and try to help people that have no intention to improve or get well. Some of them even expect people to keep giving and giving and have no remorse about the after effects of the giver… Where is the line drawn at enabling? And…..why is tough love so devastating to the helpers/enablers’ hearts? [People] that pretend they want help/improvement and you invest in them and concern yourself with them but they continue to throw away the opportunity until they destroy all life lines… it’s painful…” – Friend 1.

“It’s just some of our nature to never give up hope that by being good to others will actual make a difference in that person’s life!… Especially as parents, it is hard to let go when we know in our heart that the path sometimes chosen will only lead to difficulty!” – Friend 2.

That is just it. We have people that we care about. We empathize with their situations, and we want them to do better and to have enough slack in that rope that they’ve reached the end of to pull themselves out of the jam. We believe them when they say, “If only I were given just a little help…” And we give…and give… and give some more. We give until we have given out, and all our energy and resources are put into the situation, but eventually we realize that the parties in question are taking the assistance and contributing absolutely nothing towards their own change and growth, and are very unlikely to leave the comfort of the caregiving to make it on their own.

“Because we instinctively want to fix people, but we can’t. It’s hard to just sit back, watch, and wait for them to fix themselves. Sometimes it takes a lifetime for people to change, if they ever do.” – Friend 3.

That makes it even more difficult. We care. We hate seeing people for whom we may have genuine affection struggle with the same page in the book of life and never quite get past it. We imagine ourselves in those situations and think that if those people are just given the same opportunities as more successful people have had, they will make the better choices and be successful in their own lives. However, experience and observation will tell you that it just isn’t always true. There are people who have been given no resources that make their own opportunities and make something positive out of their lives, and there are others who are given every chance in the world and continue to choose the path of self-destruction. For some of those that are assisted, it is absolutely true that they take the opportunities and they use them appropriately to pull themselves out of bad situations and into better lives. For others, they will continue to use that assistance and milk it until it runs dry… and then some.

“You guys need to learn about the ‘light switch’. If I stretch myself to help you and you shit all over it, I’m turning the switch to ‘off’. Once the switch is off, it stays off!” – Friend 4.

The “light switch” has another name. It is called “healthy boundaries.” Sometimes those boundaries are blurry and difficult to see. Sometimes, like the metaphor of the frog in the pan of water on a stove, that temperature just keeps increasing so gradually that you don’t realize that you are being boiled alive. That “switch” or boundary is our cue to recognize that we’ve done enough, and further efforts would be fostering dependence and/or detrimental to our own wellbeing. If altruism results in the depletion of resources to the point of endangering the stability of the giver, it benefits no one. At a certain point, we have to realize that continuing to bail someone out or attempting drag them out of a bad situation without their own active contributions towards the progress is just wasted effort. In the end, the recipient of the good will and help has to be willing to make the better choices and take a step on a better path on their own. If they are not willing to do that, no amount of effort from an outside party (namely us) is going to change their circumstances.

There are going to be people in our lives that no matter what we do to help, they are not going to change until they decide, or sadly hit rock bottom (from which they may never fully recover). Does that mean that no one should be charitable or offer assistance to someone in need? Of course not, and I’ll probably continue to help people out to the best of my abilities. I’m just going to exercise a little caution and try to be more aware of where I’m investing my time, energy, and resources. Remember, if we allow ourselves to be used up, we won’t be there for the next person in our lives for which our efforts might actually be beneficial. It isn’t cruelty to occasionally say “No.” It is just good boundaries for survival.

A Tale of Ice and Fire or Winter is bloody well here!!!

I am seriously displeased. I live in the south. We don’t have to deal with too many winter-related disasters, but boy howdy, when they hit, they don’t pull punches.

Power outage is a typical side effect of mother nature’s icy wrath. I’ve experienced this several times and lived to tell the tale, but this time, I had some concern… And I blame watching some poorly dramatized disaster movies which prompted my imagination to provide a looped reel of images where I and my loved ones (including the fearsome Toehunter) were discovered frozen into popcicles like that homeless dude in Scrooged (“You’d be a prettier color, I can tell you that!!!”) Aside from my vivid internal playback, and a tendency to catastrophize, I also blame power companies with a significant lack if emergency planning.

Modern humans are more dependent upon the comforts of electricity than we are aware. Aside from lighting, entertainment, food storage and preparation at the press of a button, and heating, there are a number of conveniences we don’t consider: Such as modern phones (yes, even the land line type), garage door openers, and water heaters.

During my most recent brush with nature’s elemental fury, our power got knocked out at around 10:30PM. Temperatures diving into the teens and wind chills lower than that, we were still ok inside provided the power resumed within a reasonable amount of time. “Reasonable” is apparently a relative term upon which the local utilities and myself completely disagree. Additionally, we are campers, and we do have some equipment to forestall tragedies of Donner Party proportions. We also have a gas fireplace, but that, sadly, has been malfunctioning and refused to light.

Again, we had no reason to manifest fear. Surely, the power provider was prepared for this apocalypse (since the meteorologists had been screaming about it for a week). Perhaps that was the problem? The “Crying wolf” thing?

The temperature in the house began to fall, and with each passing hour room temperature came closer and closer to those out of doors. Attempting to reach the electric company, I used my smart phone to go to their website. It proclaimed that their offices were closed due to inclement weather. They did provide an emergency number. I tried it. It was busy. For seven hours it was busy. Finally, in a desperate attempt to reach someone (perhaps we are the only ones left?!?), I called through a line to a different region and got the recording “Thank you for calling … Our offices are closed due to inclement weather…” But it allowed me to patch through to an emergency line, where upon I encountered a male who obviously was not used to customer service calls. I was informed that they could not give me any updates or timeframes, nor could I find that they even knew my area was experiencing an outage. He did thank me for the information and suggested I make other arrangements.

Other arrangements? Like move to the tropics, because I am not entirely certain what other arrangements he was imagining. For those of you who own homes in areas that drop below freezing, you may be aware of things like pipes that freeze and other little foibles of home ownership. At that moment, trapped by frozen garage door, shivering in the now below 45 degree house, and dressed in my most fashionable impression of homelessness, all I could think was about people who might be at the mercy of medical equipment that only have battery back ups, are without transportation, are alone and cold. I guess they should have made “other arrangements”.

I have also called someone to hopefully fix our fireplace that we might not achieve solid ice block status tonight, and dear friends have offered us shelter and a chance to warm ourselves (if able to pry open the garage), but to say I’m less than pleased with the efforts of our local utilities to support the community in this situation is a massive understatement. It isn’t even that I expect miracles. I understand they are working hard. I really do, but to pretty much give me the “Sucks to be you” speech and tell me to make other arrangements? Wow, I’m so glad they get nearly $300 of my hard earned wages every month! There is a rival power provider that supports the adjacent area, with more people in need, they were able to keep power on or restore it to a large portion of their customers (not all yet) relatively quickly and provide updates… Yes! Updates, and a press conference to discuss the plans and where to locate shelters. Oh, and they didn’t shut their doors and turn off their phones. Isn’t that amazing?!?

Second chapter of the icepocalypse:
I call a place to see if perhaps they can fix the gas fireplace. We could have some heat. I speak with the dispatcher who took my information and all the details of our unit (a gas fireplace! Come on!) The nice man on the line said the absolutely could help with that! They would try to get someone out today. Awesome.

After a few hours of waiting, I call back to see if we are on the list at all, and I’m told “Probably not today, because of the weather. Maybe tomorrow.” Ok. I’m disappointed but not dismayed.

About a half hour later I get a call from a guy who says “Are you still needing service?” Of course! Yes! Thank the heavens! He verifies my address, and asks about my unit (stop it!). I explain about the fireplace and lack of the beneficial attributes of… Well… Fire! He suddenly says, “Oh we don’t do gas fireplaces.” What?!? They said… “Oh they’re dispatchers. They don’t know.” Um… Ok. At this point, I’m tired (not much sleep), cold, and trying to come up with some plausible alternative to freezing to death.

Finally a friend (bless you Margaret!) called in a favor from the man that moved the gas lines in their house. This darling man talked us through and managed to get our fireplace to work well enough to knock off enough of the cold and get us through the night! So, while still not entirely happy with our utility providers and some of what I perceive as planning issues, I am grateful for friends, my hobo/homeless chic style (quite warm and dead sexy), and a fire in the grate.

In no way connected to any thrones or George R. R. Martin

Physical Fit: Back from the Dead

‘Tis the season, not of good will, but of cold and flu. Yes, it is true. Despite the best efforts to improve physical health, the athlete can be felled by organisms invisible to the naked eye.

Sadly, I am one of the victims. Not long ago, I found myself feeling a bit like death would be preferable to the sorry state in which I found myself. I survived the plague. At least that is the medical consensus. However, despite my alleged recovery from all the more active symptoms of illness, it seems my body and spirit requires more recovery time. I don’t bounce back from injuries and illnesses the way I used to do.

The truth is that I was angry; angry that illness had disrupted  routine that I have taken months to create, angry that the unscheduled break had potentially undone all the work on increasing endurance and speed. I was also worried. I know myself well enough that I was concerned that I would go back to some nasty old habits of any excuse to avoid a workout.

Prior to my attempt to reenter the world of workouts, I reached out to my support network. Yes, I have one of those. Not one of the places where we only go by first names or bare our souls to each other. These guys are the ones that give me ideas, help me modify various workouts to avoid injury to my no longer young joints. They are the ones that I went to when the plague was being insidious about derailing my new lifestyle of physical activity.

What was most valuable was that all of my friends told me to take it easy. I was going to have to learn to walk again before I started to fly. I needed to give myself a break and take things slow if I didn’t want to cause myself injuries or set backs. So, they told me:

  • Slow my run time
  • Decrease my run duration
  • Decrease my weights
  • Take it easy on the reps
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Rest days in between for a while

Well, in truth, I’ve stumbled a bit on my path back to the gym. I did manage to get my sorry self back to the gym. It is frustrating. Actually, it is a few mega-levels beyond frustrating. The part that makes it so maddening is that all of the difficulty and struggle and lack of elasticity in my physical bounce back is that it is one more fact in evidence that I am not so young as I used to be. Ooooh that stings.

Anyhow, my muscles ache again. My endurance officially sucks. My knees remind me that it’s been a while since I ran more than the few steps to the necessary room. However, I’m back at it. I have faith that my muscles and joints will eventually forgive me for my momentary lapse and will start responding in a more appropriate manner. For now, it seems, I am back from the dead.

Confessions of an insomniac: perfect bacon bowl, magic bullets, ninja juicers, and that thing that shocks your abs

Insomnia is an ugly and unpredictable foe. It also is a somewhat recent addition to my life, recent meaning only in the last 15 years or so.

At one point in the not terribly distant past, I prided myself on the ability to sleep in any situation, a handy talent when my job consisted of long hours on call and being paged to the emergency department all all hours. Back in those good ol’ days, I could grab a 5 minute nap in the doctors’ lounge, put my head down briefly on a desk waiting for lab results or callback from insurance, and I could exist quite well or that maladaptive sporadic sleep until I had the opportunity to sleep in an actual bed.

Something happened to me, though. At some point my body rebelled and now, regardless of exhaustion, surroundings, comfort, or sleep hygiene, I lay with eyes wide open, unable to achieve entrance to the land of Nod. My mind refuses to shut down. My brain’s off switch declining to respond to my requests, replays events, catalogues tasks unaccomplished, ruminates and catastrophizes over potential disasters… And I do not sleep.

Often I will drift off only to find myself wide awake, heart racing with a plethora of anxieties in the wee hours. Trusting to my body’s exhaustion to send me back to dreamland is a really bad joke. So there I lay victim to my own racing thoughts.

What I have found to be helpful on occasion is the television. Documentaries or shows that can distract my brain, but not engage enough interest to keep me from drifting back into sleep.
However, what is the bane of my efforts is the prevalence of infomercials that become omnipresent starting at around 4:00 A.M. Sadly I usually see them even if I’m lucky enough to drift back off, because they are at an elevated volume and are way too excited and dramatic in their speech patterns to fade into “white noise”.

I have discovered that the marketing gurus who came up with the evils of infomercials knew exactly what they were doing. Attack people at their most vulnerable times psychologically! The human brain is a curious thing. The ploys and selling strategies that are completely resistible during the light of day have the power of a hypnotist in the wee hours. The worthless and completely useless dust-collecting doo-dads that are laughable in the light of day gain the value and irresistible aspects of breathing by the glow of the television in a darkened room to sleep-deprived eyes.

You think I’m kidding, but I promise you that I am very far from being an impulse buyer. Typically, I am a person who will see something that appeals to me, have to think about it for a considerable amount of time, put it away on a wish list or back burner, wander around for weeks or months to see if I still want it, and then typically decide I can live without it. Believe me! Loved ones have literally had to give me gift cards that will expire to go get myself new wardrobe items because my clothing started to resemble hobo-chic or something from a retro store … and not in a good way. So, needless to say, I’m not one that might generally be supposed to be in danger of the wiles of the late night/early morning infomercial.


Yes… I found myself listening to the joy and happiness of people eating out of the “perfect bacon bowl” while designing their new fitness program by individualized plan guaranteed to result in phenomenal weight loss in less than a month! I felt compelled to call the people who exclaimed over their silken, tangle-free hair that had all the shine and brilliance without stripping it of the natural oils that keep it healthy. I was astounded and amazed that I had lived so long without the thing that shocks your abs (and other muscle groups), firming and tightening without so much as a droplet of sweat expelled.

As silly and ridiculous as it sounds, all of the products took on a glow and produced a desire in me that I never could have predicted. I felt my hand twitch and reach for the phone on the bedside table. I wanted to immediately rush to the nearest computer to access the website for quick-ordering… because if I ACT NOW, I CAN GET THREE… THAT’S THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!

It was all I could do to resist the pull of those words. It was like my life depended on the acquisition of this item that would only be available for the NEXT TEN MINUTES!!!

Thankfully, the cat demon that likes to sleep in such a way that I am prevented from moving during the night was roused by my physical reaction to the brainwashing attempts from the screen. He wasn’t terribly pleased by all of this and expressed his dissatisfaction by biting my toe. This was enough to awaken me to the sense of what was happening, and I reached not for the phone, but for the remote and silenced the sales patter with one press of the power button.

Thank goodness cats are immune to the perils of late night infomercials or I would be the proud owner of the Shakeweight, Magic Bullet, Flex Belt, Ninja Juicer, or ThighMaster!

SERIES: Email Diseases: How they affect your life and how you can avoid them (Issue 1: Reply All Syndrome)

In my professional life as an administrative assistant, I see a lot of email.  And I mean a lot of email.  Tons.  I’ve seen all manner of badly written email.  SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS.  the perpetual lowercase user.  The Forgetter of Punctuation.  Let’s not forget individuals who do not care how a word should be used grammatically, or how it should be spelled; if it looks good, or perhaps is one of those words favored by that particular individual, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the context of what they are writing, they will use it.

Today, I shall touch upon something that, if I am being truthful, annoys the crap out of me.  Something I am certain you, fellow email user, have either encountered or have (GASP!) been guilty of.  Frankly, as email users, we are all guilty of this from time-to-time, but the ramifications…well…the ramifications could be at least embarrassing, at worst, damaging, and always annoying.

The REPLY ALL Syndrome

So there you are.  You’re buckled down.  You’re focused.  You’re organized and getting stuff done.  You are feeling productive and your day is moving along very nicely.  You receive an email which has been sent to…for the sake of this argument…over two hundred recipients.  You do your due diligence, open the email, read the information contained therein, and think hm…looks like they forgot to include the date on which this event they’re telling us all about is going to happen.  (I’m making stuff up, just stay with me for a bit.)  Just as you are considering your reply, another email pops through with the same subject.  You think hm…looks like someone got to it before I did; let’s see what they say.  You open the new email, observe that the responder has come to the same conclusion that you did (the event date is missing) and further, has taken the liberty of responding not only to the original sender of the email, but also to everyone on the original distribution list.

This secondary individual in this example (we’ll call him The Responder) has a disease.  It is called The Reply All Syndrome, or RAS, for short.  It’s contagious.  And it spreads like wildfire.

In the blink of an eye, two more emails hit your in-box in response to the original email notifying you about the event.  Rapid fire REPLY ALL.  And quickly, three more.  Each email saying essentially the same thing, “What is the date of the event?”  Now, not only has your day been interrupted once (the original email) but before you could say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” your day has been interrupted seven more times.  And it’s only just beginning.  Pretty soon, you get one brilliant responder who decides that it’s up to him to respond to everyone to ask everyone to please discontinue Replying to All.  It is at that point where you, who were so productive and focused earlier, are now totally distracted to the point of considering slamming your head into the nearest hard surface, wall, whatever.  Full-on Face Plant on your desk out of sheer frustration.

We’ve all been there, ladies and gentlemen.  And unfortunately, we’ve all been guilty of it, too.  However, there is a difference between accidentally hitting the Reply All button and doing it on purpose.  Let me give you a hint: If everyone on the original email absolutely must receive information which is vital to their continued existence or to the subject matter at hand, then yes, by all means, select Reply All.  If your response is based on a feeling – for example, you feel you should let everyone know that the date of an event was missed – please, for the sake of all that is good and organized and free-flowing in this world, respond only to the original sender!

You could respond to the original sender with something like Hey – you may have already gotten this several times, and I apologize if my email is just one of many, but I wonder if you realize you neglected to include the date of the event?  If you would please let us know when said event is to occur, I sure would appreciate it.

OK – maybe not exactly like that.  But wouldn’t you much rather receive an email response such as the example above, even if you have already gotten several, than over a hundred Reply All responses?

There is a cure for this disease.  It is called Conscientious Attention to Detail or CAD, for short.  CAD is not something that comes naturally for humans.  It is something to which we need to aspire.  We are born with a natural immunity, if you will, to CAD.  CAD must be actively practiced, on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis.  It must become habit to become an effective cure for Reply All Syndrome.  Unfortunately, in today’s society of instant gratification, CAD is rare.  Texting, truncating words to fit within a certain character limitation, or simply a gradual (and sometimes not-so-gradual) slide away from proper usage of language is prevalent.  Therefore we must be diligent!  We must be attentive!  We must constantly consider how our actions (or non-actions) are going to affect others!  But again I say, this instant gratification society is also a “Me” society.  How many of you have said, “Well, it (whatever it is) doesn’t affect me so therefore why should I bother?”

I think I have just made my case.

SWISH! Score one for Tangent.

CROSS POSTED: …Off on a Tangent

Rant: Society’s Humor Deficiency and Terminal Self-Importance

First of all, I want to preface this by saying, this is not directed towards any one individual, and while I am going to address one particularly silly situation (silly, in my opinion), I do not necessarily fail to recognize the feelings and seriousness of actual social inequity or genuine concerns for the public health. This, however, is a rant. Pure and simple. Well, probably not so simple since my brain likes to take side roads and get lost in the woods, but you get the drift. And with that said… on with the show.

At what point in time did everyone in America become so thin-skinned that every blessed thing that is said, done, or even hinted is going to cause offense?!? When did the melting pot of the world become so polarized in thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that casual communication is a constant risk of litigation?!?

I have pondered and written before about hyperbolic opinions and lack of moderation, but things seem to have gotten way out of hand. It seems like every day I hear of something else that has a group of people vaguely bonded by some single common interest getting their knickers in a wad over something that has been said on the television, radio, internet, social media, etc., and said group decides to stage a protest, start a petition, or even go so far as to file a legal complaint. Seriously? Most recently, I have heard yet another completely ridiculous social outrage battle, spawned and nurtured by social media (and other forms of media just to boost ratings, I’m sure). I’m perplexed as to why we are still giving energy and air time to the nonsense that seems to be predominantly fomented by people who are just looking for something to be upset about anyway. I shall use this most recent (to my notice) issue as the example because I am myself one of the people who would be in the group who would find the incident offensive… at least if I felt like it was worthy of my time to get offended.

So, it seems that someone, possibly in an attempt at humor, has once again made some vague mention of gluten. People were so offended by this that they have petitioned to pull commercials from the Super Bowl. This follows the trending topic of Celiac and gluten sensitivity being a figment of the imagination according to some. I’m not going to argue about this one way or another. I will only say that this is something I have been hearing and reading from various people and a whole bunch on social media. It turns out, I am one of those fantastic (as in fantasy) beings who suffers from a gastrointestinal intolerance to gluten, specifically of the wheat variety (there are other types, you know). I’ve heard the arguments. I’ve heard people say, “It is all in your imagination.” I have read an article written by an MD (who turned out to profit by genetically modified food products) who proclaimed that there was no scientific evidence for gluten sensitivity.

And… my reaction? I DON’T CARE! Seriously. I’m not sure why me, my eating habits, my colon, and other digestive organs are any business of the people who seem to be completely offended by my choice to avoid gluten. So, why do they care? ‘Tis a puzzlement; a quandary for the ages. Why do people give two rips whether I or anyone else eats gluten? Why should they care whether there is a gluten free option on a menu or in the supermarket or that said quality is labeled on those particular foods? Sounds like a personal problem to me, and I find it somewhat amusing that my digestive health is of such concern to the people that don’t have to put up with it. I know how my body responds. I know how it has responded for literally years before I removed said protein (yes, gluten is a protein) from my diet. I know how much better I feel now. It is entirely worth the small sacrifice of wheat products from my life. As for science, there is actual genetic testing to support Celiac, so… not sure how or why anyone would debate that one.

The point being, what anyone says or doesn’t say about the legitimacy and truth of my gluten sensitivity doesn’t have any impact whatsoever on whether I choose to eat it or avoid it, and it certainly does not offend me if they choose to believe that my gastrointestinal response to wheat gluten is all in my head. I doubt seriously that my choice of entrée that does not include whole wheat rolls or wheat flour pasta is going to have some sort of psychological impact on them. So, why should I allow their belief about “dietary delusions” impact my own food choices?

On the other side of the argument, however, are a lot of people who are offended by the statements and have taken up the banner in protest of people who choose to believe gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist. Why would you care what they think?!? People! Eat the way that is healthy for you. Their opinions, no matter how loudly or frequently expressed are not going to change your body’s response. Unless that someone is physically forcing whole wheat bread down your gullet, their opinion is not going to harm you. (And honestly, if someone does that sort of thing, their opinions are the least of their issues. That is a pathological somebody to force feed something to a person who could legitimately have an allergy to it. )

I guess what I am getting at is, practice a little planned ignoring people! If you don’t like the fact that my body responds very badly to ingesting wheat products, don’t eat a meal with me (though, chances are you might not even notice anything amiss if you did). If you are one of the people who suffers from intolerance to gluten or worse, Celiac, take the precautions and stay healthy. For Celiac disease sufferers, exposure is a very serious risk that can literally be deadly (bleeding internally is a potential consequence). Otherwise, lighten up everyone! Stop assuming that flippant comments about any given topic are a personal attack on you. Half the time people say over-the-top things just to get an over-the-top reaction and boost their exposure by controversy. Better yet, learn to laugh at yourselves, because point of fact, not everything is about YOU! Here endeth the rant.