Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's official. Life is unfair. So what CAN you do about it?

Pam's note: This was forwarded to me in an email recently. I thought it was perfectly appropriate to share as everyone starts thinking of their New Years' Resolutions...
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Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
All reports are in. Life is officially unfair.

What Dr. Zimmerman Has To Say About This:
That's right. Life is unfair. And that's been especially evident during the Great Recession. Lots and lots of people got hurt who did nothing wrong. In fact, they played by the rules, did their best, and still lost their jobs, homes and savings. It wasn't fair.

In a sense, we all became the victims of a few politicians and a few businesspeople who made decisions and carried out policies that feathered their nests while they destroyed ours. And I'm angry about that ... because it isn't fair.

HOWEVER, we do NOT have to remain victims. No matter what has happened or is happening in your life financially, occupationally, physically, relationally, or emotionally, you CAN rise above it. You CAN become bigger and better than the unfairness.

You CAN get through this ... and any other unfairness in your life and your work ... IF you nurture your maturity. For maturity, you see, is the capacity to face unpleasantness and disappointment without becoming bitter. It's knowing that it's not so much what happens to you but how your respond to those things that really count.

Marty Nemko, the author of "Cool Careers for Dummies," talks about that. Growing up, he knew his father had survived a concentration camp during World War II, but he rarely heard his father talk about it. So one day Nemko asked his father why he never complained about his suffering and losses.
His father simply replied, "The Nazis took five years from my life. I won't give them one minute more. Martin, never look back; always look forward."

He's right. And when you're in the midst of great trial, trauma, and unfairness ... when you need to get through the tough times ... when you need maturity more than ever, I recommend the following three strategies.

1. Practice acceptance.
As sociologist M. Kathleen Casey put it, "Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation, then deciding what you're going to do about it."

In other words, when life smacks you down with some of its unfairness, you can't afford to waste your time on griping, groaning, whining, blaming, or complaining. That will only make you bitter.
Your first step has to be "acknowledgement." You acknowledge the fact you're in a tough situation, AND you're going to do something about it. That will make you better.

Perhaps the best example of that very strategy was Noah and his Ark. He acknowledged the fact he was in the midst of tough times ... with the whole world set against him. And he was determined to do something about it. As one anonymous author put it, everything I need to know about life I learned from Noah's Ark.

One: Don't miss the boat.
Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built his Ark.
Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
Six: Build your future on high ground.
Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.
Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

So the first step towards maturity is acknowledgement ... accepting the reality of your situation ... which is quite different than "woe-is-me" submission. And once you've got this step in place, I recommend the second strategy, which is ...

2. Control your reaction.
If you can't prevent the bad things from happening in your life, if you can't stop the unfairness in your work, you CAN at the very least control your reaction to those things. After all, as Bushrod H. Campbell points out, "If I've learned anything in my 70 years it's that nothing's as good or as bad as it appears." It's all in the way you see it and react to it.

Jerry Smith, a builder from Duluth, Minnesota, gave a vivid example of that. When he was working in the Black Hills of South Dakota in the 1980's, a major forest fire roared through the area. In the midst of that, he stopped at a fast food restaurant for breakfast. As he was eating, a teenage boy and girl came in with their parents, all looking as if the end of the world had arrived.

The mother began to tell anyone who would listen how a forest ranger roused her family from their campsite in the middle of the night. He'd told them they were in a fire danger zone. "Get in your car and leave immediately," he'd ordered. "Do not gather your belongings. Just head east to the main highway."

"We had planned and saved for this camping trip for years," the mother lamented. "It is just terrible. Our vacation is ruined!"

A short time later, another family came into the restaurant -- a mom, dad, two boys, and a girl. All were smiling, laughing, and in good spirits. They sat near Smith and the mother began recounting a familiar tale. "We were amazed at the way the ranger took control of a difficult and dangerous situation," she began.

"We scrambled to get dressed and in our hurry, I was barefoot, my daughter was wearing my husband's boots, and the boys were in their socks! What a wonderful experience it was!" she exclaimed. "This is a great vacation we are having and we will remember it forever!"

So you see, both families were in the SAME situation, but their reactions to it were very DIFFERENT. It only goes to show that you DO have control over your reaction, and you need to exert that control when life is unfair. As TV writer and producer Susan Harris puts it, "Anyone can be happy when times are good; the richer experience is to be happy when times are not."

Finally, to practice maturity, to get through the tough times, I strongly suggest that you ...

3. Give thanks for the tough times.
"What?" you say. "Give thanks for the tough times? That's just plain crazy." I can hear you say it.
I grant you the fact that it's not "normal" to give thanks when life is unfair and work is overwhelming. But I'm more concerned with what works and doesn't work than what's "normal." And the smart folks ... who do the best job of getting through the tough times ... have learned to give thanks for them.
The smart folks give thanks for the LESSONS that come with the tough times. And there are always a host of lessons to be learned. As author Brian Tracy says, "In life, difficulties are placed in our path not to obstruct, but to instruct."

I know that's been true for me. When I lost many of my family members ... due to the ravages of divorce, alcoholism, suicide, gambling, unemployment, and imprisonment that ran through some of my family members ... I learned how to take care of myself, no matter what. And I'm enormously thankful for those lessons, even though I would not want to repeat the experiences that brought those lessons.

As poet Joseph Addison said hundreds of years ago, "Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures."

So smart folks give thanks for the LESSONS that come with the tough times. And smart folks give thanks for the LIGHTNESS that comes after the bad times.. They give thanks for the bad times, because without them, the good times would not be nearly as sweet.

Helen Keller knew that better than most. And despite the fact she was not able to see, speak, or hear, she still climbed to international fame, proclaiming, "The marvelous riches of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse."

Senator Bob Dole learned the same lesson. As a senior, retired, and distinguished politician, Dole says, "I think one of life's greatest pleasures is when a person can look back and be almost as thankful for the setbacks as for the victories."

Now that's maturity.

Identify two tough situations in your life, or pick out two areas where life is unfair to you. And then take a good, hard look at your reaction to those situations and areas. Are you CONTROLLING your reaction? Go back to point 2 and re-read that section if necessary.

Make it a GREAT week!
Dr. Alan Zimmerman

Monday, December 28, 2009

AdSense, Amazon, SpongeBob, and slide whistles

Frank and I have been experimenting with some new blog stuff for the new year. If you are a regular reader at his blog www.deafchefatlarge.com you might have noticed he recently added some Google AdSense spots.  He's had some of his favorite cookbooks listed on an Amazon widget on his site, and after jonesing on his widget I added one here, too.

I'll experiment with the Amazon links here, but don't be surprised if you see some weird things show up. I'm kind of attracted to totally random, silly stuff. Either way, if I come across something amazing and think you might want one too, I might blog about it here and include a link for you to get your own.

For starters, (and I'm experimenting here) Rachel and I are huge (albeit closeted) fans of SpongeBob Square Pants. We quote lines from one episide or another so often... well this morning she was saying that the fog we've been having makes us feel isolated. In the nanosecond pause we both pictured Squidward when he went into the future and ended up nowhere and everything was white. (You know exactly which episode I'm talking about, don't you?) So as Rachel was talking about the continued fog we both looked at each other and said
"Alone. alone... alone      alone   ..."

Now if I told you we really really want slide whistles really badly, you'll understand, right?
I'm gonna have to get a couple. I think the 59c variety will do. Oh look, here's a link.

I think we could stir up a good bit of mischief at the mall food court with these things, don't you?

Don't worry; I'm too thrifty to spend $9.99 on shipping for a 59c item, but next time I order something you bet I'm throwing a couple of these babies in my order.

Allrighty, so I wanted to let you know we're playing around with different ways to monetize our blogs. Just to see what happens. Of course, some days I think my mother is my only reader... Hi mom! How deep is the snow out there on the farm? Hi to John. Frank and Rachel say hi!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teeny tiny kitchen

This is it, folks. The fridge is next to the stove and there's no more space.

Yet somehow we have managed to not starve to death, cooking in this space.

Now here's where it gets tricky. The yellow pot on the stove is melting white chocolate - I'm making white chocolate peppermint bark in the pan on the counter to the right of the stove.

Balanced at the sink is a pan of cooling peanut brittle. One bump and I'll have to re-do the batch, but it was quick and easy. I used a microwave recipe that actually worked out beautifully. Ok, it rained all day, so the candy was a little soft and sticky, but it wasn't bad. I'll make another batch and share the recipe.

If you click on the picture, it should take you to the flickr page for this picture. You can then hover your mouse over the picture to see extra notes about all the stuff you see.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Setting up the tree

Yes, yes, we're bad Oregonians with our fakey pre-lit tree. You can call it lazy; I call it thrifty.

At least I try to rationalize that I can pay $30 once for a pre-lit tree and I'm done for several years. You can point out the gorgeous 7 ft Noble firs selling for $5 at the makeshift tree stand in the grocery store parking lot.

Fine. Laugh at me. Maybe next year I'll treat the family to a real tree.

If you're living outside of the Pacific NW and wonder how on earth a $5 Christmas tree can be called gorgeous, I have two words for you: Shipping Costs.

PS: The black cat staring at Frank and Rachel as they arrange the branches is Violet. She's planning how she will un-decorate the tree and bend all the lower branches. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ravenous Couple

I love comments.

The other day I posted about our first visit to Super Pho and was delighted to see a comment from Ravenous Couple. Of course, I had to go visit their blog to see who they are and... wow. I'm new to Vietnamese food, and don't get to L.A. often - ok, almost NEVER - but I love their blog. 

At home we've been exploring Asian cooking. In the past two weeks Frank has brought some interesting items home from the grocery store: two different kinds of hoisin sauce, a big bottle of sesame oil (a little goes a long way and we've got enough to last us several years), various spices and seasonings...

A couple nights ago he made a beef stir fry that was outstanding. After many guinea pig dinners, we think he finally got the seasoning just right. Ok, honestly, the beef cut was wrong for the dish and the fast cooking made it chewy. Very chewy. Think Violet Beauregarde and her meal flavored gum at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. For a while I was worried that we would end the meat chewing with the flavor of blueberry pie and be rolled out of the house to be squished...

But the flavor was perfect!

Anyway, back to Ravenous Couple. Love the blog, added it to my Google Reader, and recommending you take a look.

Hey Frank, can we try some Thit Kho? Looks tasty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Noodle bowls at Super Pho

Last week we went to Super Pho for the first time. In fact, it was our first time at any Pho restaurant.

The food was fantastic and it is now our new favorite restaurant.
Would you believe these huge noodle bowls were only $7.95?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scared of Santa

I'm a little twisted.
I find great joy in the unexpected.
This year, I'm changing my computer wallpaper daily  - with one disturbed Christmas picture after another.

Creepy scary Santa pictures with crying kids
funwithsanta7, originally uploaded by willandmaggie.

There are several great collections out there. You know you want to look:





Monday, December 7, 2009

Portland isn't as weird as it thinks it is...

Well, I guess I can hang my head in disappointment now.
Both Korinne in NE and Deborah in Orlando, FL have pointed out that their town/state are weirder than dear old PDX.
Here's Deb's email - hot off the wire.
PS: I still love PDX, so there.
Science has now proven what we knew all along! ;o)
Happy weekend, eh!
Luv yuz all, ya know!

-----Original Message-----
From: News Release
Sent: Wed 11/18/2009 2:42 PM
To: Deborah
Subject: Florida Named Strangest State; NYC & Lincoln, NE Named Strangest Cities
Florida Named Strangest State; NYC & Lincoln, NE Named
Strangest Cities
(MMD Newswire) November 18, 2009 -- Tableseed.com, a new
service that helps restaurants get more customers using birthday
email clubs, has analyzed nearly 2,000 Associated Press (AP)
"strange news" stories that were released in the past year. After
segmenting all of the news stories by location, the state of Florida
was the runaway winner of Tableseed.com's strangest state award.
Further analysis led to the conclusion that the three strangest cities
in the US over the past year were New York City, New York; Lincoln,
Nebraska; and Madison, Wisconsin respectively.
The rankings were calculated by collecting all of the AP's strange
news stories released over the past year, segmenting them by the
location where the stories took place, counting the number of stories
in each state and adjusting for population.
A sampling of the 169 strange stories that came out of Florida this
year were:
* Man calls 911 after eatery runs out of lemonade -- Boyton Beach,
* Florida lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch --
Brooksville, FL
* Dead shark left in Miami street after failed sale -- Miami, FL
* Man wearing sleeping bag as cape attempts robbery -
Gainesville, FL
* Man allegedly flings jellyfish at teens at beach - Madeira Beach,
Here are the top ten strangest states in Tableseed.com's rankings:
1) Florida
2) New Hampshire
3) Alaska
4) Wyoming
5) Maine
6) Wisconsin
7) Vermont
8) Pennsylvania
9) North Dakota
10) Ohio
The strange news data was also broken down by city, which
resulted in New York City easily winning the strangest city crown. A
few of the strange news stories out of New York City included:
* Businessman accused of demanding dentures with gun
* Turtles crawl on runway, delay flights at JFK
* Goat wanders into nursing home in the Bronx
Here are the top twenty strangest cities according to
Tableseed.com's rankings:
1) New York City, NY
2) Lincoln, NE
3) Madison, WI
4) Philadelphia, PA
5) Chicago, IL
6) Cinncinnati, OH
7) Boston, MA
8) Detroit, MI
9) Dallas, TX
10) Pittsburgh, PA
11) Columbus, OH
12) Salt Lake City, UT
13) Des Moines, IA
14) Portland, OR
15) San Antonio, TX
16) Cleveland, OH
17) Sheboygan, WI
18) Fairbanks, AK
19) Denver, CO
20) Tampa, FL
The full rankings can be found on the Tableseed.com website at
*** Contact Information ***
For more information on this story, contact:
Aaron Quinn
Email: aaron@tableseed.com
Phone: (888) 345-9376
Website: http://www.tableseed.com/

This press release distributed by Mass Media Distribution LLC.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Four Horse

Pam's note: I once made the mistake of asking Frank for a Sign Language name. It starts with the letter P but is not something I like to use ... in mixed company... or any other time.
I once thought it would be neat to have an Indian name, but I'm sure his reply would be something like this joke that was recently emailed to me:

A man asked an American Indian what was his wife's name.

He replied,
"She called Four Horse."

The man said,
"That's an unusual name for your wife. What does it mean?"

The Old Indian answered,
"It old Indian Name. It mean: NAG, NAG, NAG, NAG."