Monthly Archives: October 2014

Guest Post: Is There a Celebrity in the House?

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Please enjoy another tongue-in-cheek guest post by my friend, “Anonymous”…

Among the many things that I do not understand is the high value that our society seems to place on the opinions of celebrities.  Many celebrities have spoken out about many topics, including politics, religion, science and medicine.  They, like the rest of us, are entitled to their opinions, and to freely express those opinions.  But I fail to see why so many people give inordinate credence to these ideas.  The opinions of celebrities should be no more valid (or invalid) than mine or yours—after all, most celebrities do not  have expert status, just their own opinions.  And, being a curmudgeon, I find it irritating when they use their fame to grace us with their ideas; and especially irritating when their ideas are ill-conceived and can potentially harm others, or simply promote themselves.  I offer a few examples.

Jenny McCarthy.  Former Playmate.  Actress.  High school graduate, college dropout.  Yet she publicly voiced some very strong opinions, basically stating that childhood vaccinations cause autism.  Quite frankly, I doubt that she could find her own butt with two hands and a butt map.  Yet with no medical or scientific background, she caused quite a few parents to refuse vaccinations for their children due to this fear.  Nothing, including vaccination, is risk-free.  But the diseases that vaccinations prevent are far more risky than the vaccinations themselves.  It is true that signs of autism are often manifested shortly after some vaccinations are administered.  But there is no cause-and-effect relationship.  It’s like saying that everyone who ate tomatoes before 1789 is dead; therefore, tomatoes are poisonous.  Just because one event precedes another, it doesn’t mean that the first event causes the second.  And there is no scientific evidence that vaccinations cause autism.  But her unfounded opinions were made highly public because of her fame, and children went unvaccinated.  Epic fail (OMG, I’m starting to talk just like they do on that internet thing).

More recently, Ben Affleck was involved in a disagreement with Bill Maher over Islam.  Both are celebrities, one more liberal than the other.  Affleck apparently didn’t approve of Maher’s disapproval of some of the basic tenets of Islam. And Islam strikes me as relatively intolerant compared to our society (yes, it’s my own opinion, and you don’t have to agree).   So Affleck seems to have been intolerant of Maher’s intolerance for a relatively intolerant culture.   But why should either of their positions affect our own opinions?  What special qualifications do either of them have that would render their opinions superior to yours or mine?  Why would news media report their opinions rather than some regular schmo’s?  Yes, because their fame seems to render their thoughts somehow valuable to all us little people.

Now I won’t even try to get into a discussion of immunology or political science.   The point is not about what we each believe, but how some use their fame or celebrity to espouse their positions, not necessarily having any qualifications that would make their opinions more valid than anyone else’s.   The other point is about the huge following that celebrities seem to have once they spout off.  In a perfect world (the one with rainbows, unicorns and unlimited barbeque), we would just think for ourselves and form our own opinions based on the best and most objective information available at the time.

Read.  Think critically.  Form your own opinions.  But don’t just follow someone popular.  It’s OK that there are disagreements and discussions—that’s how new ideas are born.  But have a reason that you think whatever you think.  And if anyone has Jenny McCarthy’s phone number, let me know—I’d love to get her thoughts on quantum electrodynamics.

The Next Right Thing

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those big steps we take in our lives, and wondering what it is that prepares us to take those steps. For me, there have been several big decisions in my life…moving cross country for a new job, getting married, getting divorced, moving cross country and taking a risk on a new house and finding a new job, determining cancer treatment options, and quitting a job. And there are many, many lesser decisions that I’ve had to make along the way. Each of these forks in the road presents its own set of possible outcomes. And each one takes us a different amount of time to finally take the plunge. What is it that makes us ready to do the next right thing?

We all make decisions using different processes. Some just impulsively jump, hoping for the best, and not worrying too much about the possible consequences, or what they’re leaving behind. And some of us agonize over big decisions, plotting out the pros and cons (yes, I do this on paper for just about every big decision.) Sometimes we gather the opinions of friends and family. Sometimes that works in our favor, and others not so much. I was raised by parents who both were of the logical, practical mindset. But I like to factor in the fun and adventure, too. And unfortunately, fear is a big driver for me. It’s like a big recipe or science experiment…some of this, some of that…mix it up and see what you end up with.

I was talking with a friend yesterday, and she said maybe it’s not so much about being sick and tired of whatever we’re thinking about changing, but that we’re just so ready for what’s next. I think it’s a mixture of both, for me, at least. I’ve added a step to my pros and cons method, and always ask myself to imagine what it will be like after I choose either path. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best? How will it affect others, and not just myself? And, to quote my ex-father-in-law, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

Looking back over the major decisions in my life, they’ve all turned out pretty well, I think. Not always easy, and not always immediately better, but all in all, pretty good. I used to focus on the sick and tired theory, and figured that as soon as I got to that point, it would be time for me to commit to a change. But after thinking about what my friend said, I think it is more about what’s on the other side of the decision. Yes, we might be sick and tired of something, and start to consider a change, but maybe we’re just really ready for the next possibility. The next big adventure. The next right thing.

Memories Light the Corners of My Mind

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This weekend I tackled a task I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. I went through the drawer of old pictures. These pictures represent the bulk of my adult life, ranging from the 70’s, when I was in high school, through the 90’s, when I was entering my 40’s. These are actual printed pictures, that have lived in the photo processing envelopes, with their negatives nestled next to them for all these years. (For those of you youngsters reading this, this is how we documented our lives before the days of selfies, iPhoto, and Instagram.)

I LOVE looking at pictures! Especially from my past. I wanted to see if there were snapshots worth scanning onto the computer to be used and preserved digitally, and to find any pics that might mean something to some of those people in them. It was a daunting task, because I probably have around a hundred envelopes of pictures. But as I opened the envelopes and pulled out the stacks of shiny photos, I found myself transported to the various eras of my existence, and got all caught up in reliving my life, in no particular order.

There were events I remembered, and some I did not. There were people I had forgotten about, and some I can’t remember for the life of me. There were hairdos, and hair don’ts. Wardrobe fails, unflattering poses, and facial expressions I didn’t even know I could make. But no matter the image quality, I realized some important things in this trip down memory lane.

I was once young, and took up way less space. I had nice hair. A LOT of hair. Curly, brown hair. I had a nice tan (or so I used to think.) My teeth were whiter. I had a glowing complexion. I looked better in my clothes (except for the leggings era.) I had a lot of good times. I had a lot of friends. I did crazy, fun things with these friends. And I laughed. A lot.

This made me both happy and sad. Happy that I have had a life with so much fun in it…good times, good friends, good travels, good adventures, and good food. I’ve lived in some great places and have met wonderful people in each place I’ve lived. But also sad that I’m older, and don’t look as thin, tan, or young. That maybe I don’t do as many crazy things, or have as many great adventures. But one thing that has remained the same in my life is that I have fun. If I cruise through my iPhoto pictures from the last ten or so years, I can honestly say I do see just as many smiles, and even a few crazy adventures captured in that digital vault. It turned out to be a great experience, traveling through my life in a day. I’d highly recommend it, if you get the chance.