Category Archives: Life

A Relaxing Long Weekend

I have heard horror stories about travelers who have been mugged or otherwise assailed. It is not a pretty picture. Above all you want to survive intact and not be abducted. Remember the Kim Kardashian Paris story. She was robbed in the safety of her own hotel room. Don’t be caught unaware. My girlfriend feels like this and always carries mace spray. When we recently took a vacation, we had all our personal supplies sent to our hotel. We had ordered them on the Internet from a service we’d found on Facebook and they were in our room upon arrival. You can’t take too many precautions to ensure your safety when away from home – or in your abode as well.

We had a relaxing long weekend because we felt we were out of harm’s way and perfectly protected. It is a comforting thought. So just what is pepper spray? It is so named because cayenne pepper was used in ancient China and Japan, making it certainly the oldest self defense product existing today. I suppose not much has changed. Now it is mixed with filtered water and oleoresin capsicum. This is a substance found in chilies and hot peppers giving them their “heat.” Experts like to recommend pepper spray because it is not deadly, easy to use, and costs little. Police and security professionals attest to its value.

My girlfriend learned about it from a friend who had taken a survival course. Basically, it is sprayed into the face and causes the eyes and nose to burn. It packs a punch! It lasts a quarter of an hour or more. Believe me, from what I have read, it can save your life. The premise is that while the attacker is suffering, you can run and get help. A spray of sufficient intensity is all you need. They come with safety features so the unit will not “go off” unexpectedly. It is small enough to fit in any pocket or backpack, but should be easily accessible when out of your hotel room. It can slip on a belt clip, a keychain, or a holster perhaps.

I didn’t know at first that it comes in a steam, fog or foam format. Steam and foam impart the most of the substance if you are accurate in your aim. If you buy the fog version, it must be strong. There is such a thing as “police strength.” Mace is simply a brand name and you can buy the product you like all over the Internet. At first I thought my girlfriend was a bit skittish, but given that it makes us feel safe, it is well worth the effort to bring it along on every trip we take.

Posted in Life.

Fish Where the Fish are

I got a top rated fish finder as a gift. Now that is something different! I suppose one day I really will want to search for fish. For the moment, however, it makes me think for more conceptually and abstractly. The saying, “fish where the fish are,” may well apply to the sport, but it also has a generic meaning for me. In life, when we want to have certain encounters and experiences, we have to seek them in the right places. You don’t go to Alaska for sunbathing or Tahiti to ski. If you want lots of crab and salmon, you do go to Alaska.

Knowing the ropes for whatever you do makes success and fulfillment more plausible. We all strive for happiness and gratification. You don’t just find it under a rock. You have to seek in order to find. This applies uniquely to people. If you want good friends, and not acquaintances, you opt for shared activities like favorite sports or hobbies. Perhaps you embrace religion or a club. In another realm, if you want to learn something new, you find the right venue. Say you want to learn a new language. You will want to practice and find others in the same “boat.” Going where the fish are is about the wisest advice I can think of for most everyone. We don’t live in a vacuum.

I am told that with fishing, it is a no brainer. You go to popular places for a reason and you get what you expect. You want the tried and true, not the remote and implausible. Such is life in general. There are those who desire a challenge, but most of us want to have an easier time of reaching our goals by going with the typical flow. We might need our own “fish finder” for certain life events, but usually the path is apparent. Seeking a relationship is an area of great concern for youth for example. They go online to dating sites and they frequent bars and clubs. They go for known entities in their quest. You can get lucky, of course, and find anything and everything by chance, but why not give yourself an edge.

Asking others for help is clearly the right road when you first start out. I don’t care if it is fly-fishing or speed dating. Learning a new sport, going on a diet, joining an acting company—whatever—means camaraderie and a team spirit. People are social animals, even if it is from a smart phone. In every society, the methods are prescribed. One of the great responsibilities of living abroad is to adopt the culture. When you first arrive, you don’t know where the fish are at all. You acclimate and accommodate over time and soon you are guiding others!

So remember the wise words above and set your sight on a goal, whether it is a new friend, lover, fishing experience, or college degree. Enter the proven world and find great joy in your accomplishments.

Posted in Life.

From Bucket to Blasting

Whether you are a boy or a girl, no doubt you got roped into washing the family car as a kid on weekends. When it came to my turn, I embraced the assigned toil. I knew that I had no choice and it was a chore that was handed down from generation to generation. You could not balk lest you reap the punishment of rejection. We did not waste money at the car wash, even though they did a superior job and threw in a waxing on top for mere dollars. On Saturday morning, after cartoons, we got out the bucket and a giant sponge. You were lucky if you had siblings to help. It’s hard for a five-year-old to cope alone. The best part was the detergent. Suds were the saving grace of the nasty task.

Mind you, this job could take hours. If there had been rain or snow, the tires were caked with mud and some major brushing was called for. Chrome work was dreaded, especially if an application of buffing cream was required. Tiny hands were taxed and tired. Mom knew that rewards were to be expected: hot cocoa, home-made goodies, a quarter, etc. You do have to bribe the young ones. You can’t fool them into thinking it’s fun, can you? It became rote, however, and moaning and groaning ceased rapidly when you got harsh looks. The repercussions of disdain were to be avoided at all costs.

Years later, I am grown up and now sincerely regret not having an electric pressure washer for the recurring job. Even quite small, I could have handled a portable model. It would have been better than the alternative and I went to bed many a Saturday night with seriously weary muscles. Did they exist then? Of course. Dad preferred the real thing, however. Not me. Given the hearty nature of the chore, I say go for the power. I think he had some kind of moral issue in mind.

Even the basic, low-priced power washer models have brush attachments and multiple nozzles. You can choose what you need and you are ready in an instant. There are types that use gas if you don’t have an outlet. This is a car-washing must and a device of first resort.

I was taught to use a power washer by my uncle who took pity on me, but I was already a teenager by then and fairly strong. I didn’t care anymore having been worn down into compliance. I was used to the bucket method and squeezing a dripping sponge was par for the course. The power unit was a marvel, however, and I never looked back. I could use it on the greasy garage door, the oily driveway, the leaf-covered sidewalk, the filthy windows, and more. If you clean regularly, you can attack it once and then just touch up. Some families let things go until spring cleaning time. Whatever the practice you have established, you will find this item of the essence.

Posted in Life.

A Lame Duck

When your feet hurt, you are lame. You can’t walk far and are stuck at home. It sounds like a problem for my grandfather, but it happened to me. Once is enough!

I got this god-awful toe fungus after a quick self-diagnosis based on some pictures I saw here. That wasn’t hard—a few photos on the Internet, a good hard look at the reality of what was under my big toe, and it was done. OK. I have toe fungus. Gross but not life-threatening. I just didn’t want it to spread and mar the pristine pink under the rest of the nails.

A bit of a research whiz, I found all kinds of solutions online that should have saved me from a long stint in a doctor’s office waiting room. I just don’t have that kind of time or interest. Here we go, I thought. I purchased some over-night delivery liquid, a surefire cure. It was probably acid in a bottle that would burn away the fungus along with the living flesh around it!

When it arrived, I daubed it on that very minute with great anticipation. Two days later—nothing. I then tried mixing it with bleach, vinegar, and lemon juice. My version of a home-made remedy, a kind of natural healing cocktail. (Maybe I should market this.)

It got a little better, turning a pasty white and removable in thick chunks. Impatient, I started to dig in and help the process along. Since I was able to remove it with a manicure scissors, I continued until I had reached the nail bed. Dutifully I also “cleaned” the corners of the toe with gusto.

It was going well. I was pleased, if not elated, to have solved the problem. Not the technical kind at which I think I excel, but a practical one in any case. I like the feeling of accomplishment, like completing a puzzle or deciphering conundrum. There is a point of pride in figuring things out yourself, a sense of self-reliance and independence. This may be a bit much when it comes to toenail fungus, and I am digressing…

I was a bit premature in my self-congratulations. A couple of hours later, my toe started to throb. Then hurt. It was pretty swollen. Downing a couple of aspirin, I waited. It got a little better but the next day it was red as a beet and probably starting to get infected. (Did I use alcohol on the scissors?) So much for taking matters into your own hands. It really hurt and I was relegated to sitting in front of my laptop to avoid any pressure on the foot – in effect, I was a lame duck of the worst kind.

I had to go to the doctor after all to get antibiotics. They worked, but not after a couple of days homebound. I think I learned a valuable lesson to share with you that speaks for itself. When it comes to medical issues – even minor – get off the Internet and into experienced hands.

Posted in Life.