Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Knew It!

The National Bureau of Economic Research just published a study indicating that first-born children are smarter and do better in about useless research! I could have told them that based on my experience with my brother, the first born! Fred was always much smarter than I was. I think he also tried harder as well. I have to admit that, to this day, I think he's far brighter than I even though I'm the one with the master's degree and he survived one semester of junior college.
The researchers opine that first children are treated much more strictly with regard to television, playtime and school performance than are succeeding children; thus, they perform better. Sounds logical. I must add, though, that my brother was, as I recall, far easier to handle than I was. It seemed I was always running afoul of some rule or other. I don't recall him ever really having issues with parental or school rules. On the other hand, it seemed as though there wasn't a rule I didn't bend, twist, or otherwise destroy...though I may simply be paranoid, too.
I do believe that expectations were high for all first-born children because parents didn't exactly know what to expect. In addition, the behaviors exhibited by said child might logically have been seen as a reflection of parenting skills, and new parents are particularly worried about that.
By the time the second and succeeding children come along, parents know how things work so there's less stress on everyone...except the succeeding children who ALWAYS think their parents like the first one better!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Overreaction or Justified Complaint?

In every activity that is contested, where scores are kept, and winners separate themselves from losers, there are bound to be embarrassing losses. The questions are always asked about sportsmanship and inherent values in such contests. There are no simple answers in many cases, and this is one of them.
Over the weekend, Aledo, Texas, high school (ranked #1 in the state...and remember, this is TEXAS where football is king, queen, prince, princess and court jester!) defeated Fort Worth Western Hills High 91-0. Ouch. That's a picture of lopsidedness. So much so that one parent is charging the winning coach with bullying the Fort Worth kids. This, too, is a serious offense in that the school district must report such things on its website for all to see.
Coach Tim Buchanan felt bad about the whole thing: his starters played only 21 snaps, threw only 10 passes, and had the game clock running through the entire 2nd half. Was he supposed to have his subs NOT play hard to spare the feelings of the other kids (and their parents)? Losing coach John Naylor wasn't upset, insisting that the Aledo team was #1 for a reason. His team? It was 0-6 and giving up an average of 35 points per game. Classic scheduling mismatch, to be sure, but does the result qualify as an act of bullying the other kids? Or is this a case of a parent taking a loss harder than his or her own son and feeling that he or she needed to salvage some pride? Tough questions.
Yes, there is value in winning and in losing. Learning that you can't always come out on top is a critical lesson to is that a parent can't shield his or her child from every harsh blow that comes along.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Valuable Poll Information

Public opinion polls are taken to measure just about everything in American life from what television programs we favor to our degree of respect for various public figures. Naturally, politicians and advertising executives pay close attention to these polls since the pulse of America directs just about every move they make.
Of course, the public's opinion of legislators has taken a real beating, and no one or party is safe. Every faction, every individual is looked upon with incredible disdain these days after Congress and the House of Representatives spent 16 days accomplishing nothing and making the average citizen suffer for their lack of, well, balls, for lack of a better term. In the end, they merely put the financial crisis off for three more months at which time, we'll do it all over again. "Kicking it down the road" is their all-too glib expression for the process. Some say the other side is merely creating problems for our children and grandchildren to solve. I say we're creating problems that WE have to deal with in the guise of elected officials.
Enough ranting on my part. Time now for the latest poll results. A group called Public Polling Policy took (what else?) a poll last week to measure how Americans felt about Congress. In a not-so-scientific questionnaire, people were asked to compare their feelings toward Congress to their feelings toward a variety of other subjects. here are the results:

People gave higher ratings to Congress than they did to Vladimir Putin, Anthony Weiner, Lindsay Lohan, Honey Boo Boo, Charles Manson, Ebola, heroin, Syria, Miley Cyrus, and twerking.

However, Congress had less approval than other items listed. The Congressional favorability percentage is the LOWER in all of the following cases:
dog poop--47% to 40%
hemorrhoids--53% to 31%
jury duty--73% to 18%
toenail fungus--44% to 41%
cockroaches--44% to 42%
IRS--42% to 33%
Mothers-in-law--64% to 20%
potholes--47% to 36 %
zombies--43% to 37 %

Now THAT'S a comment on public opinion!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Won't Stand For It...But Maybe I Should

One pundit recently noted that the chair is this generation's cigarette. His or her point was that we are killing ourselves by sitting down so much. While not true across the board, I do believe we are far more sedentary than ever before, but how much does this hurt us? Dr. John Buckley of the University of Chester in England decided to study the effects of a reduction of the number of hours spent sitting in a day.
His was not the first such study, but his is definitely the most recent. Although he was hampered by a small sample size, it would seem that he has a reason to study further.
Statistics would seem to indicate that most of us spend about 12 hours a day sitting. If one adds that to an average of seven hours sleeping, we spend approximately 19 hours per day doing nothing. This is a problem since the pancreas regulates glucose levels in out bodies dependent on how active we are...and too much glucose is not a good thing. In a related point, it is being posited that even exercise cannot undo the damage we are doing by our sedentary ways. That remains to be researched, as far as I know.
Anyway, Buckley's experiment required 10 volunteers to spend at least three hours per day standing instead of sitting for a week. Levels were monitored by accelerometers, heart rate and glucose monitors. What researchers found was significant.
Those who stood had increased heart rates and greater body movement which accounted for an increase in heart rate of about 10 beats per minute. This statistic, off course, shows that calories were being burned: an estimated 150 per day. Of course, that doesn't seem like much, but it amounts to about 30,000 calories burned per year: equivalent, according to researchers, to running 10 marathons! In addition, the calories expended would amount to a savings of eight pounds of
Just for fun, I will try to figure out how much I stand during the day...I'll bet it's not three hours.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Aging, for Better or Worse

I was about to load some groceries into the trunk of my Miata the other day, and a woman who was in her 70's (or so) stopped me with a surprised look on her face. "This is YOUR car" she asked? She had seen a somewhat younger more stylish man walk toward it and thought he owned it. "I said to myself, 'He must really like driving that car.'" She was truly perplexed that I would be getting into such a vehicle. It made me think about aging.
By their mid-60's, my parents were definitely into the last rounds of their lives. Neither of them had as many as 15 years left at that point, and I don't think they particularly enjoyed the last few. I know my mother did not. My uncle who is mid to late 70's is on his last legs even as I type this...but he even LOOKS old! How can I avoid that?
Lots of life and death is involved with heredity. I know many family members who checked out of the "hotel California" far sooner than they might have wished; however, there are others still going somewhat strongly. I hope to be one of them.
Can exercise, a relatively good diet, meaningful work/leisure time, and a generally positive approach keep me spry and sprightly well into the 80's? I hope so. That one aspirin a day I take to ameliorate the possible effects of atrial fibrillation is the only medication I take...perhaps fish oil...or Vitamin D...or...
The fact is: the closer I get to The End, the more I like my life, and the more I'm afraid to lose it. There is too much to do...too much wisdom to pass on to younger family much of life to live.
I hate the future: too uncertain. The past is, in many ways, too painful. That leaves me with today: stop typing and go watch some baseball!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

"This Is Not A Safe Thing"

On the "Most Wanted" list!
Long gone are the "go outside and play" days; they have been replaced by supervised play dates and more adult oversight than the budgeting process for the U.S. government, it seems. We knew enough to keep ourselves occupied since our mothers would have found something to do...and it would not have been a pretty sight.
Most of our leisure time activity was taken up utilizing some sort of ball or board game; at least our mothers knew where we were and how we were doing. We were able to learn spatial and body awareness on the playground as we negotiated whatever space was allotted...always mindful of the older and bigger kids who might create an issue if we wandered too far astray. Now, it seems like everyone has a say in how we can spend what used to be unstructured playtime.
In San Francisco, officials recently declared the daily outdoor chess games to be a public nuisance, and the police appropriated the boards and pieces for the largely homeless population that gathered every day along Market Street to play...and, occasionally, scrounge a bit of money from tourists.
In Port Washington, New York, the students at Weber Middle School were told that their recesses of 20 minutes would now be taken without the usual accouterments: footballs, baseballs, soccer balls or lacrosse balls. The principal declared that the use of such objects constituted a safety hazard for students in the small activity area. really. Objects that helped us learn teamwork, running and dodging as well as a fair amount of skills and gave us an opportunity to release excess energy were now if cutting physical education classes weren't enough of a handicap!
Merchants in San Fran complained that illegal activities were taking place in the chess games' proximity, and even though the players were not suspected of being involved, general wisdom indicated that such game-playing needed to be halted...of course, the illegal drug sales that were happening went right on happening, but at least governing officials could say they had done something about the problem.
One might surmise the ban on balls at the school was the result of a threat of litigation because a child was hit with an errant throw or kick. The concern for head injuries is real and needs to be addressed, but taking balls out of play will not stop a child from flying off the merry-go-round or falling from the monkey bars, or getting pushed in a game of tag...which, by the way, can only be undertaken under adult supervision on the playground. wow.
Maybe the kids should take up chess.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

...and No "Thank You", Either!

I'm told that I obsess about silly things that most people do not consider. for example, if a person who gets paid to speak (news anchor, weather person, etc.) says, "continue on," I feel that I am justified in snorting derisively, despite the fact that the person on television or radio cannot hear me. I have also had it "up to there" with folks who use the singular "they" (as in: "A person went to the store and they bought milk"). It's not as if I don't already grind my teeth at night...I should not be subjected to it during my waking hours. However, it is just possible I have a little OCD and cannot let such things slide. I'll try...but there is one thing that humans do that continually intrigues me.
I routinely hold the door open for people who are either coming or going through the same portal that I am or have. It's automatic; I don't think about it as a's just something I was taught to do and continue to do. Not a big deal.
However, I am totally amazed when EVERY time I hold the door, the person or persons passing through puts out an arm to hold the door open...just in case I happen to have a coronary and let go? Just in case it's just a prank, and I intend to slam the door shut as they enter? Just because I look like a criminal who is waiting to accost unwary shoppers? I have no idea.
But it irritates me when it happens.
Maybe next time, "Get your own damn door!"
But probably long as the person doesn't "continue on."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Pass the Lingonberries and Meatballs, Please

We all know that the Baby Boomers are getting older, followed closely buy whatever generation comes behind us. In fact, according to a recent UN-backed study, by 2050, there will be more people over 50 than there will be under 15...for the first time in history. That means, of course, that there will be fewer kids to yell at for being on my sidewalk or playing music too loudly at, say 8 p.m. when I'm trying to sleep. What? Oh yeah, by 2050, I will be doing the Big Sleep so those darn kids won't be bothering me.
Anyway, until the time that the Reaper summons, if zombies don't get me first, I'll need a place to live that assures me that I will live comfortably, surrounded by a caring government and a social structure that values me for my wisdom, such as it is. That's where research comes in.
Research done by the UN Population Fund with help from Help Age International, recently studied 91 countries in an attempt to judge which one was best prepared to support positively an aging population. In all, 13 factors were considered: among them income and employment, health provisions, education, and the environment.
Here's the list of the top 10 BEST places to be old for the next 30 years:
10. Japan
9. Iceland (often mentioned as the happiest as well)
8. United States
7. New Zealand
6. Switzerland
5. Canada
4. The Netherlands (despite potential sea rise as a result of global warming)
3. Germany
2. Norway
1. Sweden

Being in the top ten is a lot better than being at the bottom of this list with Pakistan, Tanzania, and Afghanistan. Those places are all too hot for me, anyway. I've been to Sweden, and I liked it a lot, but I'd have to live in the south because those months without sunrise that occur in the north would be really SAD!