Yet Another Plea for Money

I care.  Yes, I do, but I am getting really bummed about being constantly asked to contribute money to a worthy cause. 

Here is one letter I wrote:

You know what is stopping me [from donating]?  All you will do is keep asking me for more money.  Money rules everything and it is something that, as a substitute teacher, I don’t have nearly enough of.  I am tired of being asked for more money.  I contributed recently to the Democratic committee.  What did I get as a result?  A plaintive plea for MORE money.  I know I don’t have a chance of getting to meet the president – the odds are completely against me.  But the odds of being asked for more money are 100%.  And I am tired of people thinking up new and better disastrous possibilities, if I don’t give you more money.  Yes, I care.  Too much, in fact.  But I hate just being asked for more and more money.  It only proves that nothing counts, except for money.

Laura Walsh

And, you probably won’t even read this, since all you care about is whether I contributed or not.  Sigh.


Why Representative Democracy Isn’t

I suppose hundreds of people have studied and written about this, but here is my (largely uninformed) opinion, anyway.

Representative democracy means that we elect people to represent us in the various governing bodies that make laws, define policy, and enforce laws.  Elections are expensive and only occur at fixed times.  We only get one chance every few years to elect a particular representative to a particular office.  When political figures run for office, they typically have opinions on a number of issues.  After they are elected to office, these issues may or may not actually come up in legislation in front of that particular legislative body. 

People running for office on a national level, let’s say, the House of Representatives, put forth opinions on lots of issues.  There are only two major parties and they try to distinguish the candidates, based on their approaches to the major issues.  But, we are voting for the candidates collective views, not any single view in particular.  In essence, we are voting for the general idea that the person represents, not their view on any particular issue. 

This is why representative democracy isn’t.  The candidates aren’t elected based on their views on any particular issue.  if, for instance, I hate everything a candidate stands for, except for one issue that is extremely important to me, I may actually vote FOR that candidate, on that issue alone.  The candidate has no way of knowing what that particular vote stood for, unless the voter contacts the candidate directly and tells him/her that is what the vote was for.  And, most people don’t contact their representatives.  Not only that, but by the time the next election comes around, the representatives views/votes on that particular issue may be obscured by the importance of the newer issues. 

With the general availability of computers and the rise of petitioning, there is a chance that representatives are becoming more responsive to voters.  But it is still hard to tell if a representative is truly representing his/her constituency. 

Plastic Bottles

I take a number of pills and supplements every day and I have long noticed that the bottles containing the supplements, and sometimes the pills, are rarely anywhere near full.  In fact, the other day, I used up one of my supplements and had recently purchased two replacements, in a two for one sale.  So, out of curiosity, I opened both of them and poured the contents of one into the other.  They both fit easily.  This means to me that we are wasting an enormous amount of packaging.

Years ago, I even tried asking the company that made one of the products I was buying why they didn’t fill the bottle up.  They gave me the usual reasons about 1) settling and 2) labeling.  But, 1) pills don’t need to settle and 2) the need for a large bottle in order to print all of the required information on the label still doesn’t answer the question why the bottle can’t be filled up.  As a matter of fact, one of the two prescription medicines I take DOES fill up the bottle.  The other one, sadly, does not, but that may be due to the pharmacy and not the bottler.  Everyone assumes that purchasers are easily placated, because “everyone does it”.  That much is true.  Pretty much everyone does do it.

But that STILL doesn’t answer the question about why.  Presumably it is because the big bottles make it look like you are getting a lot.  The bottles are mostly opaque, so you can’t really SEE how much you are getting.  Once you buy the product, the chances are you will buy it again, because it is familiar to you and “everyone” fills the bottles only half full, so switching gives you no advantage.

So my question is, how much packaging is wasted in a year, on bottles that are only half or less full?  All those pill and supplement bottles must surely add up to a lot.

Reciting the Pledge Every Day

As a substitute teacher, I get to visit many different classrooms in many different schools.  In many of these schools the students are given the “opportunity” to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, usually at a designated time announced over the intercom.  This gives me the chance to observe what children of many ages do when reciting the Pledge.  Most stand; most put their hand over their heart – until you get to middle school and then the hand starts to sink lower and lower, until, in high school, it is much closer to the top of their chair.  Most say the Pledge.  Some just mumble in the correct rhythm.

I think reciting the pledge every day actually leads to complete disregard of its meaning. I am pretty sure that most of the younger students have NO IDEA what they are saying or why. And the older ones, who should have a clue, just mumble so that they appear to be patriotic, but they are really not thinking about it at all.

Yes, they do learn the words.  But I much prefer mindfulness in this regard.  If you are going to say the Pledge, you need to say it in circumstances where you are actually thinking about what you are saying.  It is much like the idea of praying for me.  If it isn’t done mindfully, it isn’t worth the time spent.

I stand, but I don’t say the Pledge.  I don’t say it, in order to respect those people whose beliefs don’t allow them to say it.  I don’t say it, because my mind is actually elsewhere, making sure the students are being respectful.  I don’t say it, because I don’t accept the inclusion of the “Under God” clause.

On the other hand, I love singing the national anthem.  Part of that is because I like to sing, but part of it is because I do so rarely enough that I can really think about what it means.

Exercise Doesn’t Make Me Feel Good

I have heard them talking in the locker room; I hear them gushing about their latest workout.  On and on.  As for me, it just isn’t so.  No, I do not love exercising.  No, I do not feel great after a “good” workout.  No. No. No.

I have tried a LOT of different kinds of exercise, from weightlifting to dance to swimming to running to bicycling and even various team sports when I was younger.  Unfortunately, I don’t like ANY of them.  I don’t like to get sweaty.  I have never felt a runner’s high.  When I finish exercising, I don’t feel great.  I am just glad it is over.

My doctor has urged me to do additional exercise and occasionally, I try to do so.  But, the only exercise I seem to be able to sustain over the long run is swimming.  So, I swim – not gladly, but I do it.  I swim 4 times a week for a little over 40 minutes.  I swim 48 lengths of a standard pool (25 yards) – 24 laps.  I used to vary the strokes I did, but my knees hurt too much when I do the whip kick now and I never was good at backstroke or butterfly, so now it is just the crawl (freestyle).  Even so, by the time I finish, my feet are cramping and in constant pain.  I once asked my husband to look at my feet while I was swimming to see if they were either bright red or completely white.  I thought maybe the pain they caused me might come from circulation problems.  But he said they looked normal.

So, don’t ask me if I feel great after my workout.  I don’t.  I only feel relieved that I am done for the day and can leave.  I guess I should make the most of that.

Fat Advice

Why do people who are thin think it is their job to advise people who are fat on how to live?  I was on the bus talking to a woman I know about our similar interests, when she asked me what exercise I do.  It happens that I swim 4 times a week and, since I didn’t know where she was going with that question, I answered her straight.  She looked surprised that I would exercise so much.  She then told me that she uses the treadmill.  I told her I couldn’t do that as much, since I had hurt both knees many years ago.  She then started suggesting other forms of exercise for me – e.g., a recumbent bicycle.  I told her I had used to have a recumbent bicycle, but I found that it hurt my knees as well.  She finally told me that, well, at least swimming was good exercise.

Then she told me that several years ago, she stopped eating sugary desserts.  Now, it happens that I stopped drinking soda and I also stopped adding sugar to my tea, but now I could see where this was going.  She was trying to subtly or not so subtly advise me on how to lose weight.

I think people who are thin need to be reminded that people who are fat already know that they are.  If it were easy to lose weight and keep it off, believe me, they certainly would do so.  Our culture shuns fat people; it makes fun of them; it shames them; it discriminates against them in jobs.  Losing weight isn’t easy.  Several years ago, I lost 80 pounds, but that weight has been gradually coming back.

Please don’t offer me advice on how to lose it again.  I have tried this diet and that diet and this exercise and that exercise.  I am tired of viewing myself and my body as being in constant need of fixing.

Hey, I am a worthy person, anyway.  I have lots of things I can talk about with you.  Ask me about them.  But please, unless I ask you specifically about any of my problems, don’t just offer me advice – especially about being fat.  I am too sensitive about that.

The woman is nice and intelligent and I am sure she thought she was helping in a very subtle way.  It still hurts a bit.