Monday, October 11, 2010

One common mistake people make when moving

What I’m about to say seems incredibly common-sense, but I have seen people make the same mistake time and again. The first day that you think you might be moving, go into your bathroom and look at your shampoos/conditioners/body lotions, etc. Do you have multiple bottles going? Are there some you could finish off before you move? Then go into your kitchen and do the same thing. How many half-eaten boxes of cereal, pasta, etc do you have? Anywhere you have supplies, go look! I see people looking shell-shocked by it all, because their mindset is that since those rooms are packed last, they don’t need to be dealt with until the day before the move. By then, of course, it’s too late. They have to either throw out usable stuff or pack/move/unpack it. They also have to dispose of things at a time when the recycling bin and the garbage can are probably at capacity.

So think about it early and save yourself time, effort and money!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Golden Rule Restated

It seems to me that in dieting, as in every other area of life, it is essential to apply the doctrine of grace. God treats us with grace, and the Bible makes it clear that we are to extend grace to others. Why, then, should we not extend that to ourselves? Unless we are to speak kindly and forgivingly to ourselves when we eat something that isn’t edifying, our efforts at eating better will inevitably end in failure. After all, in this endeavor, we are dealing constantly with our inner child. It’s pointless for people to argue, “Don’t you want to be healthy?” That isn’t the issue; everyone wants to be treated well, even by their own inner parent. If the choice is between harsh criticism and fun, well, the inner child will make a quick decision!

It isn’t about being self-indulgent. Rather, it is a matter of saying, “All right, that wasn’t your finest hour, but let’s start now to do better. I know you can do this.” Anything else just leads to further rebellion.

I don’t think we can separate how we treat ourselves from how we treat other people. The harshest critics I know are unflinching in their disapproval of their own mistakes. I think they tell themselves that it’s all right to come down hard on other people if they also do it to themselves, but I think too that there’s a corollary of the Golden Rule that applies here: “Do unto yourself as you would have your neighbors do unto you.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

All washed up

I imagine that every photographer regrets certain pictures left untaken. One of mine is my grandfather’s utility knife. It was incredibly thin and narrow and had an odd shape from having been sharpened countless times over several decades; it was thickest at the bottom and thinnest in the middle. It occurred to me, after I had finally thrown it away, that a shot of the knife would have been a snapshot of how my grandfather thought. You didn’t throw away a knife until the blade was truly gone.

I realized this morning how much of that ethic I have in me. The old Maytag washing machine, which was probably bought in 1968, had sprung a leak. For years now, I’ve put up with minor leaks and a tendency to stop during a cycle. But making an actual puddle was too much, and so I ordered a replacement.

It had lasted for over 40 years, and yet it felt somehow wasteful that I had not at least tried to fix it. After all, on its last day in service, it still finished the load. I wonder if the new one will give that much for that long.

This, I think, may be the crux of the matter. I have several old machines in my house, which I am replacing one by one. Somehow the passing of the old Maytag in particular represents a step from 1968, when a consumer could count on well-known brands, to an unknown future. I haven’t needed to buy a washing machine until now, and so I realize that what I thought I knew about brands comes from previous generations. I feel a bit adrift.

Meanwhile, my dryer, the mate to the old washer, continues to work without complaint. Like that hundred-and-something-year-old light bulb in Livermore, it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two degrees of separation

I’ve just read a book on the Donner Party, and that time seems so incredibly long ago, and so foreign. Yet I realized suddenly that I knew someone (my grandfather) who knew someone (his grandmother) who came out to California from Pennsylvania around that time, although she came by ship, not wagon train. Two leaps from me to pioneer times.

Recently I was looking for the grave of one of the Donner Party (Nancy Williamson, nee Graves) who is buried in Sebastopol. It turned out that I had a different sort of chain of connection. A friend of a friend was married to one of her family, and in finding his grave, I found hers. This is my photo of it. So long ago, so distant and foreign, and yet one of the unfortunate group lies buried two blocks from my house.

We have connections all around us to all sorts of things we don’t yet realize!