Archive for April, 2013

SALUTE TO THE HEROES

Only a hermit could not know that there was a bombing at the Marathon in Boston this month so I’m not going to say anything about the details of what happened. However, I obviously have something to say or there would not be this blog.

As I’m drinking my tea and eating my chocolate chip cookie this morning, I was thinking about what happened in Massachusetts and about what some people have already said regarding the amazing number of heroes that jumped in to help.

I became curious about what defines a hero.

Right around the time of the bombing, there was the Masters Golf Tournament. The announcers said at one point, “There will be many heroes at the event”–meaning, of course, the pro golfers who would successfully hit out of the rough, for example. At the time, I thought, isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, really, how can you call those men heroes?

I immediately thought not of Greek heroes of legends, but rather of the many people we called heroes after the Twin Towers in New York City were bombed. There were police and firemen but also just civilians who rescued people from the building. For the professionals, it was their assigned job. Does that mean that we still use the name “heroes”? Well, of course we do as they are heroes to just take on those hazardous jobs.

But the more I thought about all of this, the more I wondered about what the “experts” had to say on the subject of heroes. I found a lot of sites on the internet, naturally, and many different things were written. However, one word kept recurring–“Selflessness.” That pretty well sums it up for me, too.

I thought about what it takes to be a hero. Many of those at the Boston Marathon were not people who do dare devil things like jumping out of an airplane and opening the chute at the last minute. Many of them also had no family or friends nearby who required immediate help. They were just spectators who went to view a world famous marathon and have fun.

While we mourn the tragedy that so many are still experiencing and will have memorials next year to remember the victims, I hope that we will not forget the many selfless people who ran towards the injured, helping and consoling them.

In the midst of all this unhappiness, we should be filled with joy that the perpetrators are
punished, and even more that there are so many wonderful people in this country. The true heroes. I salute them all.

COMING IN TWO WEEKS: Babies Are Eager To Walk

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TRITE IDIOMS ARE LIKE TRITE TRAVELING

“Cut off your nose to spite your face.” If you haven’t heard that phrase during your lifetime, where have you been? Of course, if English is your second (or more) language, perhaps you are now recoiling at such a thought.

Our language is filled with idioms, phrases, sayings and expressions that make no sense if you “take them at face value.” I’m guessing that there are a lot of other languages that have the same situation but I’m an English-only person.

If you’ve read my book, “Ticked Off and Tickled About It,” then you know that I am a lover of trite phrases. When I first got the “Dictionary of Idioms,” by Marvin Terban, in around 1997, I was astonished to find that I had heard almost every one of the over 600 sayings in his book. I’ve often wondered if that is because of the area in the country where I grew up or is it a generational thing? Over the years, I’ve sometimes been asked to explain what I mean when I blurt out an idiom and that never ceases to surprise me.

Language is such an incredible thing. After helping young children for over fifteen years with learning to read, I realize that it takes so many diverse elements in a person to make it possible to learn a language. Some kids pick it up easily and others may struggle all their lives. And when it comes to learning more than one language, it seems that even age is important. I’ve heard and read over and over that after your teen years, it becomes much harder to learn more than one language.

Most serious writers avoid using idioms because they are considered to be trite, and they are. I have written about this before, which I guess makes this whole thing I’m about to write–trite.

My so-called theory is that trite idioms are like trite traveling. When people go to Paris, for example, are they going to avoid seeing the Eiffel Tower? If they land in London, are they going to close their eyes when passing by the Tower of London? I think not. These places are not original choices in expressing yourself, but they are known by most people and are rated “fun.”

So, what sent her off on this rant today, you may be wondering. Well, when I got to “cut off your nose to spite your face,” in the book, it just “stopped me cold.” I thought, what if you said that to a child, and I shuddered.

Anyway, I “had to get this off my chest” and you can just “take it with a grain of salt,” if you like.

COMING NEXT: Babies Are Eager To Walk

FLUMMOXED AND FLIMFLAMMED

Whew! What a week it was. I whined and wined but I’m back to my hot tea and chocolate chip cookie now. Things weren’t at the crying stage, moaning only.

First, the transmission on my husband’s car died, long before it was to be expected. I went all over the internet researching the whys and what-to-do. There’s a picture on one site of a transmission. It looks like a scaled down NASA prototype headed for outer space.

I recalled my mother telling me how she once fixed an old Ford Model A or T with a hairpin. I was shocked as my mother couldn’t repair anything.

So, my husband rented a nearly new car with a brake pedal much smaller than in his car, and therefore bumped into another, very beat up, car when his foot slipped off the pedal. His license plate was wrinkled a little but the “victim” was planning to alert the police.

I remembered a story about my father-in-law. Back in the 1930’s, he met another car on a dinky country road around a curve and they bumped together. The men got out and jumped up and down on the bumpers, shook hands and went on their separate ways.

Next, we received a phone call from one credit card company and a letter from another that said our cards may have been compromised (their word) and we would need new cards. “Be sure to notify all the companies that you are paying automatically,” they said/wrote. Well, gee, I thought, that will only take me all of next week to wend my way through the punch this number and that to get to a live person.

Then I remembered how we used to use that green paper stuff to pay for things. What a concept!

After that, while talking to the credit card person who called, I discovered that that we had also been flimflammed by a company that supposedly sold me a membership to something. If you didn’t call them to cancel after 45 days of the free (yes, free) offer, you would be automatically charged $24.99 a month, which I was. Yes, I should have discovered it on my charge bill, but together with being flummoxed and flimflammed, I was foolish and failed.
Nothing can be done to fix this, I was told.*

My next memory was of the stories about the flimflam men who used to roam the country selling this and that. They were easily taken care of by the Sheriff who simply threw them out of town or into jail.

Are you flattened yet from reading all about the maddening modern life we all live? Well, sorry, but there’s more.

The lights on our TV has dimmed. It looks like night at the beach when it is in Florida July 4th at noon. I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do about this problem.

My parents owned a cabinet style radio for about a zillion years with never a problem. It had a fairly large window showing the station numbers. In the 1950’s, a young boy visiting neighbors came over to my parents’ house, looked at the radio and said, “That is the smallest TV screen I’ve ever seen.”

Okay, thank you for reading. I just had to get that rant out of my system. Sure, things could be a lot worse and are for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean that things like I just experienced don’t tick us off. At least some of us.

Here’s a blatant pitch–You can buy a book I wrote. It’s on Amazon. The title is “Ticked Off And Tickled About It.”

*However, I have contacted the Attorneys General and Better Business Bureau where the company is located. It has already been sued and lost over this scheme/scam.

COMING NEXT: TRITE IDIOMS ARE LIKE TRITE TRAVELING