Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vision & Hearing Needs

Resources -- Comment Responses

I recently received hearing impaired and vision request inquiries in comments on my post about the Gnomedex Conference 2007. (see "Gnomedex Proud Elder" 8/11/07.) That was the Seattle conference where Ronni Bennett of "Time Goes By" presented on the topic of Elderblogging. (See “An Elderblogger At Gnomedex”) She discussed with these technology professionals some of the special computer features that would benefit some of all ages, but especially many elders (50 yrs and older) and those with special needs.

She continues to champion special features integration into computer design for elder ease of use and simplicity. She also proposes an inexpensive computer be produced to expand the Internet world to all elders including those with limited financial resources.

CBS-TV “60 Minutes” recently followed up an earlier Lesley Stahl story about the $100 computer created by MIT’S Nicholas Negroponte which could well have application to elder needs as Ronni has suggested.

Meanwhile, I promised in my blog post that I would explore and post here further information on the hearing and vision comments made on what I wrote.

1. Darlene said here and at TGB:
"I am severely hearing impaired and I wish someone would convince the computer geeks at YouTube that we need closed captioning below the videos. I miss out on so many things like clips of the Daily Show{with Jon Stewart} and Bill Moyers Journal."

Darlene, I tried many approaches but was unable to find a way to forward your request to any of the YouTube Team. Perhaps others more technological knowledgeable than I will read this and be able to find an email address. I think it's quite likely Ronni Bennett will make note of your same comment made on TGB. She will likely be more successful in presenting your view to those who need to be aware.

2. Ruthe said:
"I have trouble reading your blog, which shows up as gray on white. Be kind to vision impaired elders like me and make the typeface larger and bolder."

Ruthe, as I mentioned in an earlier comment response to you, my technical skills and time to devote to learning how to make alterations from the norm on my blog through Blogger are limited presently. Perhaps the best option for you and others with similar low vision issues would be to use a screen magnifier that would enlarge ALL print on your computer screens, as most blogs seem to be written in normal typeface size. I know only too well from my mother’s visual needs and that of others with whom I’ve interacted, that often thick or heavier black lines contrasted against a white background are needed to facilitate visual perception for many individuals.

Following are some links I was able to obtain through Google search that provide information and/or products of interest to individuals with visual limitations. I have not personally used any of these links and products, nor have I had direct contact with anyone who has used them. They do appear to be worth a potential users investigation.

I am aware there has been increased vision emphasis in recent years with some Occupational Therapists (O.T.) providing low vision therapy. You might want to consider checking with your local hospital or rehabilitation hospital to see if such service is available in your community. Be certain to establish any vision therapists you engage have obtained special or continuing education and training for providing such visual deficit interventions.

In Southern California, Los Angeles County, where I live, whenever I receive inquiries about special vision needs and products, I provide referrals to their ophthalmologist and a local hospital whose O.T.’s do provide a low vision program. A primary referral source I provide is to the Braille Institute whose website states: "Braille Institute is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate blindness and severe sight loss as a barrier to a fulfilling life."

They have a large mobile van that regularly visits Southern California communities, often senior citizen meeting places, where individuals can seek the most current information about all vision issues. I suggest you check with your local ophthalmologists, senior groups, phone directory and Internet listings to see what is available in your area.

One Braille Institute service with which I am most familiar is Talking Books -- available throughout the United States, free to those legally blind or blind. I do have personal experience with this organization as my mother, legally blind, received the benefits of some of their services; was a user of audio Talking Books, first when they were records, then tapes. Today the books are on CDs. Certainly they are much more readily available from public libraries, for purchase, with Internet sources, too. Talking Books were a lifeline to the world for my mother for many years.

Following is a computer screen magnifier product I have read favorable comments about from some individuals who reportedly are satisfied users that you might want to consider: BigShot Magnifier"This low-cost, easy-to-use magnification program allows you to fine tune the screen for more comfortable viewing. With 20 levels of magnification from 100 to 200 percent, BigShot allows you to focus on your work without straining to see the screen. Price $99."

Other links I located included:A listing of numerous links to U.S. Internet Resources - Low Vision; UAB Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences; Association of Vision Science Librarians

"The Low Vision Gateway to the Internet is your starting point to the world's resources to vision loss, vision impairment, blindness, low vision aids and low vision rehabilitation services."

Vision Aware - Self Help for Vision Loss

The Low Vision Store.com
Vision Related Websites:
"Untangling The Web" WVU

”Resources on Visual Disability
“Resources in this category are primarily targeted to software and devices to assist people with visual disabilities to operate computers.”

Access Dome
"For People Working to Make the Web Accessible"
"We are a Global Community dedicated to individuals seeking or offering products, services, information, and participation in ensuring that the Web is accessible to people with disabilities, including people who are vision impaired or have hearing disabilities, physical disabilities, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.”

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)is a significant information source reporting: "Low vision can result from specific eye conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, or from a stroke." This AFB site also clearly describes the differences between cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

There are many more resources on the Internet for those who wish to conduct further research. No doubt others may be able to provide additional information on these topics.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

King's History

(Sputter, sputter...I lost this post last night when my server connection ceased. Am having DSL or server problems almost every day, so appreciate readers' patience waiting for new posts.)

(oldoldlady, Naomi, at "Here In The Hills" asked why I had to give up my dog, King, as I described in my previous story, “Betrayal and Heartbreak,” so I am responding here.

BTW Naomi has been posting some fascinating color photos of multiple hummingbirds and bees in flight taking nourishment from some rare and unusual blooming cacti at her uniquely landscaped Hollywood Hills home. There are many interesting posts and photos at her blog. She’s a bit pre-occupied right now watching DVDs as she completes her voting for the Emmy Awards. She’s providing her readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on some nominees for later comparison with her own .)


KING'S HISTORY

I decided to elaborate on my dog story about King, since it was an unusual year in my young life. Our family then was composed of my folks and me. A couple of years earlier we had moved to the country which proved to be an isolating new experience for this city girl.

I had never lived in the country year 'round before, though I had always enjoyed visiting my grandmother at her rustic farm home for a week during several consecutive summers. My uncle lived across the road from grandma. He sometimes recruited me to assist with his dairy farming activities, often despite my grandmother's admonitions that he not ask me to do so, but that’s another story.

Talk of our moving began after only a couple of years residence in this country home. Pop was having an increasing number of medical problems including exacerbating breathing difficulties, all of which worsened in the cold climate where we lived. Doctors in those days often recommended to many patients with respiratory problems that they should move from the colder climes where we lived, to a sunnier drier climate. Pop's breathing and other medical problems continued worsening, so we joined those who moved to the desert. This was the impetus for my having to give up this young stock collie given to me as a pup to be "my dog."

Our house and acreage was sold to the real estate agent friend from whom we had purchased the place, and who had given me the puppy I named King. King was the son of this man's dog that had been trained for livestock herding. His dog was not utilized to work as much as the dog needed to do, so he was kept chained on the agent's big, generally unoccupied, farm. With the dog's herding activity limited, so was his human contact which was mostly with workers who regularly fed and watered him.

He broke his chain one day and got into a pen of young pigs weighing 150 to 250 pounds. For some strange reason he actually bit several of them, tearing huge chunks of flesh from their haunches. The owner and workers concluded he did this simply because he was bored. I wondered if he may have tried to herd the pigs in their small pen just to feel useful. Perhaps with no humans present to control the situation, the pigs could have fearfully attacked the aggressive dog, so he fought back. He showed no other signs of being dangerous afterward, continued to be able to herd various animals safely when needed. When he was chained, however, if any chickens escaped their contained area and wandered within the length of his chain, he lay in wait and snuffed out their lives.

I had always petted and played with him whenever I visited the farm. After the pig incident, I was cautioned that I should be wary and probably should avoid him entirely. I had never met a dog, however unfriendly and vicious they were purported to be, that would not make friends with me. So in the confident fearless nature of youth, remembering my prior relationship with this dog, I always sought him out. I knew he was lonely, and so was I some of that time. I did, however, stay at the outer edge of his fully extended chain whenever I petted him, and I rough-housed with him much less. He never exhibited any aggressive behavior toward me. The dog was sometimes used for breeding purposes, so when his owner was offered a pup from a litter he had fathered, the owner then gave the pup to our family for me.

Pop had a snooty little part Toy Pomeranian that he had spoiled rotten for years and was the focus of his affection. This spayed female was a snotty, snippy little prima donna who returned his allegiance. She barely tolerated the rest of us. Before we moved to the country we had acquired a German Pomeranian as a pup to whom I had given my beloved teddy bear to be a companion when the puppy cried at night for his mother after he first came to live with us. He soon transferred his attention to my Mom who housebroke him, met his daily needs of food, water and caring. He did play with me and was affectionate, but despite Mom's efforts to redirect his primary emotional attachment to me, he clearly preferred her.

The folks made the decision we would take the two smaller dogs on our move west, Pop's pooch and the young dog we'd had since a pup before King. I was told the latter dog, now 2 or 3 years old, would be mine despite his having bonded to my Mom. Since we were selling everything, and would live in a small trailer we pulled behind the car, there was no room for the larger dog my King would soon become. He was not made to live in such confined quarters anyway. Presumably he was to be trained to herd livestock as had his father who I had befriended earlier.

We had a public auction and sold all of our personal belongings, other than those that would fit in that Trotwood Trailer. (Our trailer looked exactly like this picture without the blue horizontal stripe.) We had to part with some possessions in earlier moves and now again with even more. Pop had the Trotwood sawed in half and added some footage to make it a bit longer. The sofa at the back of the trailer made into a bed which would be used by my folks. The front end of the trailer had a breakfast nook that
could be collapsed and became a bed where I slept. The interior was compact with some closets, drawers and shelf space, a sink, a small refrigerator, a stove on which to cook, a furnace, but no other facilities.

I was sad and excited, with a range of emotions in between, at the prospect of this move. In my adult years, as I have reflected on events, such as this, I've often thought about how experiences beginning in childhood serve to influence my perspective and attitudes toward life. I chose to look upon those geographic moves as great adventures and they were for me. I continue, as then, to learn about accommodation and adjustment. Perhaps these were early learning experiences for me in adaptation, coping with loss, preparation for my future. My memories of those years linger on.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Betrayal and Heartbreak

I remember when we first met. He was of quite small physical stature standing next to me, but I cared little about that difference in height between us. I looked into his eyes and saw his admiration for me so apparent. His gaze followed me wherever I went. I began to feel an unbidden affection toward him developing within me. When his brown eyes focused on my own, I was overcome with a sense of commitment to him.

We had considerable time together learning so much about one another through the ensuing months. We delighted in pleasing each other in a manner that required little effort. Neither of us had to sacrifice our own sense of individualism in that process to achieve the respect and retain the affection we both wanted.

We looked forward to moments when we engaged in playful teasing games. When we chased one another he usually could catch me, as he was much quicker and more adept at darting and dodging. I generally couldn’t catch him unless he wanted me to do so. In the winter we had fun making tracks in the snow. During the warm seasons, the two of us took long walks together along narrow dirt paths that I imagined to be hidden trails into some unknown world. On either side of the trails, tall growing grasses swayed in the quickening breezes. On an opposite hillside unseen fantasized figures emerged disguised as wild flowers scattered randomly in the field.

Then came the day when I was unexpectedly informed my beloved friend and I must part.
He was going to be fully engaged elsewhere in working activities he would enjoy.
We would no longer be able to spend time with each other. I was certain this was not his choice. I knew I could not prevent this separation. The only hope I had was to make our parting as painless as possible. I knew his departure would bring me such intense pain, that I believed I could not be present to witness his leaving. I was familiar with loss experiences from an early age, so was sensitive to the prospect of having even one more.

Also, I did not want him to think I had wanted this parting, nor did I want to mislead him into believing I endorsed his entering the situation to which he was going. The fact was, I did not fully know specifically what sort of situation in which he would find himself. All I knew was, at some unknown time in the future, he and I would be allowed to meet again, if I so wanted. Any such meeting was to provide me with reassurance as to his welfare.

The day came for his departure, and I hid in my bedroom. I heard loud talking, shouting, increasingly angry sounding voices outside. I was lured with great reluctance to my window to see exactly what was happening. What I saw was greatly distressing to me. My friend did not want to go. He was resisting all commands from everyone, refusing even to walk. Those involved with taking him away were resorting to force, dragging him, to get him into the cab of their large shiny new pickup truck.

He gave the appearance of being undisciplined, uncooperative, generally disobedient. I did not want him viewed from this perspective. I so wanted those with whom he would soon spend all his time to fully appreciate his fine qualities. He deserved to be treated with respect, would respond in kind when trust was established. I knew he was proud, truly regal as the name I had given him implied, he was "King."

So, I rushed from my bedroom to his side. He immediately calmed and walked with me to the pickup truck, entered the cab at my direction. He trusted me implicitly. My point of view was, I was betraying him to I knew not what. The cab door was closed and they drove away. I returned to my room, fell on my bed, sobbed into my pillow to muffle the anguished cries that tore outward from deep inside my body.

Many months later to reassure me as to his welfare, I was offered the opportunity to exercise my option of visiting him. I quickly accepted the offer, but with mixed feelings at the thought of enduring the pain of separation when we would have to part once again.

When we arrived where he was now living, before we even left the car, the man with
whom he had departed in that pickup truck came out to caution us that my friend had developed a rather unpleasant and dangerous habit. He approached people from behind, not just nipping but biting them in a totally unfriendly manner. I was shocked to hear this, as I knew this was not my friend's nature.

I exited the car with only slight trepidation. There was silence for some time, then I heard a scuffling noise coming from the dirt driveway somewhat in the distance behind me. I never turned around. Instead I stood stark still with my arms stretched out at my sides, the palms of my hands open with fingers extended. The noise drew closer and closer, evolving into a scurrying sound more directly behind where I stood.

Soon I heard cautious sniffs for scent, alternating with short slight bursts of air at my feet. I felt the breaths against my bare legs. My body posture remained rigid as though I was frozen in place. I heard increasingly rapid sniffs, the sound increasing in loudness with movement upward on my body. I then felt the airbursts against the palm of my right hand, finally followed by the touch of cold moist skin against my own.

The sniffing figure began jumping up and down, circling around to face me. He quickly raised up on his hind legs, placed his front paws on my shoulders as in an embrace, so I hugged him close to me. This was, indeed, my friend, who could hardly contain his enthusiasm at finally seeing me again. During our separation he had grown to become a full size handsome black colored stock collie trimmed in a golden brown with touches of white at his neck. We only had a short time together before I had to leave.

Somehow I think he hoped I had come to rescue him. Had it been within my power, I would have taken him with me that day. There was little doubt in my mind that my friend had been subjected to what I would have termed abuse, but which his new owner probably thought was appropriate discipline to train him properly. My heart figuratively broke that day as I experienced such feelings of anguish and sadness when we drove away. My tears were suppressed with even greater effort than I had to exert from the heartbreak I felt when we first parted.

During the years since that reunion, I have sometimes dreamed of him, fantasized about the life we might have had together. I wonder on the occasions when he lay sleeping, maybe rapidly moving his paws and legs as though running, perhaps even uttering a slight whimper, as dogs sometimes do, if he, too, would have been dreaming of me? I have remembered him always with such bittersweet memories though I never saw him again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday -- Saturday, August 18, 2007

M I L L I E

G A R F I E L D

... and many more !!!

"See you" over at your place: "My Mom's Blog".

Keep writing those funny stories, fascinating memories, and philosophical facts.

Oh, yeah! Keep us entertained with those hilarious videos of you opening aggravating and downright difficult to get into packages.

You constantly surprise me with new features on your blog, including your most recent cooking adventure with "Spices of Life."

ABC News, Retirement Living TV appearances, AARP, newspapers around the country -- up and down the East Coast from Palm Beach to Boston -- a multitude of Internet web sites and blogs sing your praises. My voice and words join that number.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gnomedex Proud Elder

(See photos of Ronni at Gnomedex at "Blogging In Paris" in a 8/13/07 link.)

Ronni Bennett's appearance in Seattle at the Gnomedex Convention
made this elder feel proud of how well she presented and represented my views and interests. I just can't think of a better spokesperson with such a complete grasp of aging issues that are of concern and interest to me.

For anyone who isn't familiar with Ronni Bennett, she blogs at "Times Goes By." writing about "What It's Really Like To Get Older." I don't think I am overstating the reality when I say she is a guiding light mentor for many Elderbloggers. She certainly is a primary source for important information about all aspects of aging.

She adopted use of "Elderblogger" to designate anyone 50 years of age and older after Elisa Camahort of BlogHer coined the term. Elder, of course, refers to the multi-cultural centuries old term usage which denotes respect and wisdom for community selected old er members.

Chris Pirillo, tech guru running this second annual Gnomedex Convention asked Ronni to provide a presentation about elderblogging. She did just that yesterday, Friday, August 10, 2007 with live streaming audio and video to our computers. I was able to adjust my schdule to enjoy the experience and want to write some my observations here while they are fresh in my mind. Perhaps they'll be of interest to anyone who may have missed this event.

Ronni engaged the audience with a brief recap of just how many elders there are in this country today and how rapidly our numbers are increasing. This was food for thought since many of the young people in the audience likely can't imagine they will ever be elders, but we all know better. They should hope they become elders, since there is only one other alternative.

I was reminded at the beginning of this streaming video event of the early days of television's live programming. In those days, little glitches (sometimes big ones) occurred, to an audience's delight, and all could see real people coping with unexpected problems resulting in a less than perfect production -- just like the real lives we all live. So it was with this production, there were a few little snafus getting the technical quirks corrected.

As with life sometimes, some good came of the glitches, as lucky Ronni was introduced by Chris to the latest, but, not inexpensive tech gadget from Steve Jobs' called the IPhone. She was promised some hands on time with it.

The streaming audio and video was a bit frustrating to follow at times with brief spurts of content loss more often than I would have liked, but think that's the nature of fine tuning some of these new technologies, just like the issues we each face with our own computers. I'm comforted all these bright intelligent young geek technologists are having such a great time trying to correct all these issues to provide us with more and better system operations.

Ronni brought two convention attendees onstage to demonstrate some of what the aging experience is like for individuals with vision, touch and other sensory problems. The realilty is many people of all ages experience some of these problems and more, but we don't always hear too much about them except from those involved in providing special education and selected therapies.

Among the numerous points she made were some we know from our own experiences. For many people, larger size keyboard letters/symbols are needed. Print sizes, color contrasts are important i.e. black print on white is preferable. I know much of this from my own mother's needs.

Ronni continues to make the case for an inexpensive, less than complex functional computer incorporating other desired features appealing to elders. She offered much more pertinent information than reported here.

One unexpected interesting feature to me on this live streaming vdeo was another real time feature called T Flash Commenters. A viewer could sign up and make comments that would appear just under the video in an ongoing dialogue. I immediately tried to sign up, but my security system wouldn't allow me to do so, and I didn't have time to try to adjust it since I wanted to concentrate on the videocast that was starting.

I could really sense that as Ronni's presentation progressed, her live audience was becoming increasingly interested and responsive to what she was saying. Just to give you a flavor of how I arrived at that perception, I'm going to repeat just a few of the T Flash Comments that I copied from my screen from reactions when she first began to speak until the closing of her presentation. I didn't attempt to write down the names of the commenters, since all was happening so fast. Here are some of the comments:

"Who is she?"

This was followed by a few ageist comments about "old people" and then, "Who cares!" in response to some points she made in the beginning. (I thought, "You better care, because you'll be one of us before you know it.")

Gradually, as some wrote about their parents, grandparents the climate warmed and the naysayers cooled.

"My grandma is 71." ... "Mine 102."

Commenters setting a more postive tone toward elders seemed to mello the earlier negative ones, perhaps making them stop and think. I believe this is why ageism dialogue is so important, and why we should speak up instead of just letting ageist language slide on by.

Chris became involved on stage with Ronni at one point and suggested that maybe what was needed was an Elder Browser. Sounded like an interesting idea to me. I'm just enthusiastic that thoughts and ideas about elders are being stimulated.

More written comments on the T Flash Dialogue about Ronni followed:

"She is making good points."
"Old people need a computer they talk to."
"She is cool."

Ronni mentioned typing as a forerunner of keyboarding and her typing speed of 120 WPM, to which the commenters wrote:

"120 words per minute! Can any of you ignorants out there do that?"

Then ensued a brief written dialogue about typewriters, whether or not anyone had ever used one. ("I have! I have!" I said laughingly to myself, "...and I could type 120 WPM, too.")

Ronni continued with even more intelligent information, to which a commenter wrote:

"This woman is actually making good points."

Later, Ronni turned to the audience for questions and comments. I was pleased when some of the audience responded by expressing interest in devising technical equipment for elders needs. I just hope they met with her afterward, or will have contact later to actually take some action. A man then shared a story about his father's early computer involvement "scanning old slides." These T Flash written comments about Ronni followed:

"I wish my parents knew half of what she does."

"Interests transcend ages."

"She's not a dog!" (My thought to that was, "Is this what some of these younger people think of older people?")


I watched a presenter, Vanessa, (sorry, I didn't get her full name or blog) who followed Ronni, discussing an interesting topic about how much to disclose about oneself on a blog and other privacy issues. Ronni asked her some really pertinent questions and offered some comments that really enhanced Vanessa's presentation. Here's what some of the T Flash Dialogue was about Ronni then:

"Is that the old lady talking?"

"Good for her!"

I wish I could remember what Ronni's comment was that prompted this, but I had a big laugh when I read it:

"Please, lady, your generation is the one that kicked out polite society."

I'm going to have to attend one of these blogger conventions somewhere sometime. I think they need to see and hear from more elders.

Thanks, Ronni!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Violation

The front door wasn't pulled closed as tightly as usual which is what created my daughter's feeling of apprehension when she arrived home that afternoon. Noting also neither of our family's cars parked in the driveway, she went to the neighbors to express her discomfort with the fact our house’s door was ajar. Our neighbor came with her to the house, and cautiously pushed open our front door. They could see nothing out of place in the living room, so stepped into the entryway.

They were greeted by only absolute silence, so concluded that no one in our family was present. Their increasing unease with the situation resulted in their decision to phone the police. In retrospect, we all realized they should never have entered the house at all. They should have instead phoned the authorities in the very beginning lest someone was hidden in the house.

The local police arrived almost immediately. They must have been close by. The officers conducted some preliminary exterior investigation before entering the house. They established there had been intruders, but they were no longer present. Entry by our family members was now safe. About that time my husband arrived home from work and learned of the break-in.

When I came home a short time later, the officers had just left, so family members greeted me with the account our house had been burgled. My first feeling was of heightened alarm at the thought my children might have been home and the danger to which they might have been exposed. That concern was alleviated as I learned the sequence of events from the time of the break-in discovery until I returned home.

The officers' concluded that burglars had entered through a small window in another room, after breaking a glass panel, rifled through our belongings, then exited by the front door. I was told the manner of the robbery was unsophisticated and unprofessional. Coupled with that information was the fact the point of entry was such a small area, detectives had deduced there was a high probability that the culprits were young kids.

But now, my sense of anxiety mounted as I looked around the house. I quickly headed toward my bedroom, since my family members initial investigations indicated most of the ransacking appeared to have occurred there. Walking down the hallway, I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders tense, my stomach tighten to ward off unpleasant feelings that could precipitate tears should I find unwelcome sights or missing emotionally valued possessions. Thoughts of items that might have been taken centered mostly on those of sentimental value such as my recently deceased mother's wedding rings.

My husband had discovered earlier the items he was missing were from the top of his chest of drawers. Most significantly absent, was the wedding ring he had no longer been able to wear due to swelling in his hands and fingers as a consequence of medical problems. I experienced a sickening feeling with the information his ring was gone. Pictures flashed through my mind like one of his colored slide shows of 35 mm photos. I could see our visits to the jewelry store, making our final ring selection, arranging to our tastes the slight change in ring stone design, then visualizing the engraving we had done on the inside of each ring that made them ever so personal. The re-lived show climaxed with the moments when we presented our rings to each other.

I noted soon after entering our bedroom that a few pieces of my jewelry were missing. Curiously, in the earring category only one of each of several matching pairs was taken with the mate left behind, lending credence to the likelihood of the youthful nature of our criminals. I also discovered my underwear drawer had been rifled. The drawer contents certainly called for laundering now, though there was no outward sign of soiling.

Stashed at the front of the drawer, but now missing, had been a couple of souvenir
miniature bottles of vodka from some much earlier event. We were rather glad they had located those bottles as we think that finding deterred them from further felonious activity. With this bottled spirits discovery, I think the crooks headed straight for the kitchen.

The partially filled orange juice carton had been removed from the refrigerator, the vodka possibly added, then clearly shaken with the lid opened. The orange liquid contents had splashed on the soft yellow ceiling, slopped on the geometrically patterned floor, smeared on papers lying on the oval-shaped maple table and sprinkled in small now-sticky puddles across the table top with a few drippy splatters on the wall. Quite possibly the mess-makers left the house soon after, perhaps having concluded they didn't dare stay any longer. All I could think was, how much worse the aftermath might have been from these marauders.

Nothing appeared missing in my daughter's room, but they had invaded my son's bedroom. A damaged metal cash box indicated they had expended some time prying this locked box open. How excited they must have been imagining paper money or some other valuables from the slight rattle that came only from the empty drawer inside, but they didn't know that, so disappointingly they found nothing for all their effort.

Later searches throughout the house revealed additional items of consequence were missing, along with some items that had little significance except to me. They took my Sony Walkman that was one of only two prizes I had ever won in a drawing in my entire life. (The first was a boy's bicycle won many years ago when I was single, but I had sold that for the obvious reason -- I wasn't a boy.)

These thieves did take my first ever just started personal journal from a bedside night table drawer. This book, a gift from a friend, would have had no value whatsoever to them. I've often wondered did they just glance and see writing on the first page, then conclude there might be more of interest to read? Or, did they just want a souvenir?

The reality was, the only entry I had made was on the first page. That entry had been ever so carefully worded with abstract questions, a generalized quote, non-specific wordings with intentional vagueness as to obfuscate any literal meaning to anyone except me. The fact these hooligans took my journal served only to reinforce my long held apprehension about the wisdom of ever writing my inner most thoughts in a journal in the first place.

I had always felt strongly I didn't want other eyes to read my thoughts, believing that some meditations are better left inside the mind, which I do occasionally forget, only to sometimes regret later having done so. These common crooks had graphically demonstrated to me that a written journal would always be at risk for such a personal violation. Could I reconcile myself to taking this risk again by starting a new journal, or would I even want to bother?

Most people with whom I've spoken, or read others written accounts about their home having been broken into, share a common view. Even those of us subjected to the experience more than once are left with intense feelings of anger, vulnerability, as though our whole being had been violated in some obscene way. I can only wish the same experience on those who commit these acts, but then that would likely just reinforce in their minds justification for inflicting a retaliatory response toward other unsuspecting souls which may be what prompted their act in the first place.

Clearly there is a lack of moral compass, an inability to discern right from wrong, a failure to respect others, poor judgment discerning acceptable behavior in a society, absent feelings of empathy with known or unknown people being robbed. Such actions are simply not bored kids wanting to have fun. There is never anything funny at any age about inflicting pain on another human being whether by actions or words. There is damage to the belief in the good will of one person toward another clearly violating trust.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nude Humor

An earlier blog version was first posted as "Tick Epidemic" at "The Elder Storytelling Place."

Tick Epidemic

A lot of fun in teasing, joking and craziness that can include practical jokes occurs between friends through the years. Some exchanges happen in person, other interactions with more distant friends occur by letter, in recent years more easily by phone and for some via email today. One such area of humorous expression on the Internet involves distributing written information presented as accurate, that actually is false.

Some unknown third party foists on to others,in jest, their untrue written concoction of phony facts that generally reads as though it’s quite authentic. Then in a gesture of caring and concern well-intentioned individuals, believing the information to be true, forward these erroneous facts to their friends and family. Examples of such jest seem to materialize frequently disguised as diet and health warnings. Checking the authenticity of these story facts, referred to as "urban legends," is often wise.

A friend did once send me such a warning. Thinking she had probably checked the veracity of the facts, I didn't bother to verify the accuracy before forwarding the information to another friend. That friend, much more Internet savvy than I, immediately recognized the long known lack of legitimacy of this data, and set me straight. Naturally, I had great fun informing my other friend her story was bogus. She has not forgotten though considerable time has passed since then.

I recently received a message from her stating that she has now developed an intense dislike toward sending diet, health and other warning emails to friends. She told me that a recent experience was so serious, however, she was disregarding this aversion, just this once, to send me this warning. She said, "I had someone come to the door who told me there was a tick epidemic and to take off all my clothes." She continued, "If someone comes to your door and tells you the same thing, don't do it!" I'm so glad I have a friend that cares so much about me.

I am reminded of a factual story another friend told me that contrasts with the fictional stories described above. He sometimes provides training for people with short term memory problems. Such difficulties manifest themselves in many ways, sometimes involving the person forgetting to perform ordinary daily activities like brushing their teeth, or dressing, even how to do so. Some may, irritatingly to others, keep repeating words they've just said. What is actually forgotten is unique to each individual.

It seems my friend had an adult woman patient with serious short term memory problems. He went to her home for their regular scheduled morning training session, then knocked on her door as usual. When she opened the door, he was quite startled to observe that she was totally nude. He quickly recovered his composure, then said in a manner and tone to not alarm her, "Oh, Jean, I see you forgot to put on your clothes today." Glancing down, she noticed her unclothed body apparently for the first time that morning. She responded, quite unembarrassed, "Why yes, I see I did." She quickly excused herself to her bedroom to get dressed as she motioned him into the living room to wait for her.

When fully dressed, she re-joined him. They immediately focused their attention on continuing tasks to assist her in increasing her memory skills and to develop ways to cope with the challenges in the meantime.

I find humor in many sources with some originating in creative minds, others in the interpretation of real life events. Either way, interesting and humorous stories can evolve to evoke my chuckles. The laughs those tales generate are just enough to release the brain chemicals called endorphins that science has proven provide a beneficial healing effect in our bodies. I think I'll give more thought to some of the humorous stories of my life as well as seeking such tales from others.