40 years of faulty wiring

Rotten, Rueful Ending for Riotous, Raucous Robin Williams

Originally posted on Tales from the Dark Side:

I miss him. I am devastated by the man’s death. I know he suffered from a mental illness, purportedly bipolar disorder. Many celebrities, literary Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)giants and artists seem to suffer from either clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Who knows why? Among them are Virginia Woolf, Axl Rose, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and many others. There is a proven genetic connection between artistic ability and mental illness that is based on 20-year studies in the psychiatric field, worldwide.

Robin Williamswas no exception. He had a number of reasons to be depressed:

  1. two divorces
  2. expensive alimony
  3. expectation to be funny when he was secretly suffering
  4. constant media attention and scrutiny into his private life
  5. professional disagreements with

However, many celebrities suffer these same conditions and they do not kill themselves (Monroe and Woolf being exceptions). This is going to be a controversial suggestion on my part and probably something I will receive a great deal…

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August 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stupid Financial Advice that will put You in the Poor House

1Canadian%20Money%20Rainbow%20-%20Jonathan%20Hayward-Canadian%20Press. Buy low, sell high.  Oh really? Are you a stock market aficionado? Can you play the stocks along with the best? Even the pros cannot manage the market with perfect timing. The odds of doing this consistently are incredibly low. That means you have to be buying straight stocks rather than mutual funds or a GIC or even Savings Bonds and keeping an eye on how they’re doing. I wish you luck with that. Usually mutual funds or ETFs are the way to go for the middle-class investor. Affluent to wealthy people may have more leeway but even the affluent need a good financial advisor when investing their hard-earned cash.

2. Follow the 1/3 rule. The 1/3 rule in a nutshell: to invest your money in a supposedly wise manner, invest 1/3 of your income in a high risk venture, 1/3 in a moderate risk and 1/3 in a low risk. Seriously? Let’s consider a high risk. Someone wants you to give them a few start-up bucks to open up a restaurant, promising you a significant return, maybe even a long-term venture together. Everyone knows the restaurant business is notoriously unstable. If you are a millionaire, go ahead with the 1/3 rule. Otherwise, what are you thinking? Invest 90% of your funds in low-risk and maybe the rest in moderate – high risk. You can’t afford the risks.

3. Always get a private financial investor or stock broker. Don’t be stupid. That’s like saying always trust a used car salesman.You might be lucky to find a good one and they are out there, but most brokers are in it to win it for themselves. Generally speaking major banks are the way to go. They also have an agenda of course, but there are so many people investing through banks that your likelihood of a good return is significantly higher than investing through someone whose eye is more on her own commission than on your financial well-being. Besides they might be pushing a specific product and that is ridiculously misleading.

4. Open a credit card account but don’t use your card so you can build up a good credit rating. Of course you will use that card. And often. You will tell yourself it’s only for emergencies but your definition of emergency will be pretty lax once you realize how easy it is to pull out that card and ch-ch-charge it!

5. Nix a written financial plan. Okay so you won’t reach every goal you have on the plan, it’s more of a forecast than 10 financial commands written in stone. A good financial plan however offers room for flexibility and allows for set-backs. It is updated regularly to suit your goals and financial situation. You need it and you need a good, certified financial planner to help you make one.

6. Ignore undervalued stocks. This may be smart but an undervalued stock that has good potential to rise is a different story. Your financial advisor at your bank or your certified financial planner (whom you have checked out and are satisfied with his or her credentials) should be able to advise you on this one.

7. Canadian-Currency1Hire an investor without recognizing significant personal and professional characteristics. A good advisor is patient, understands human needs, has no hidden agenda, has strong, verifiable credentials and is without bias.

8. Ignore your retirement needs, it will all take care of itself. This one is huge. you have to do the math in order to predict what you will need to live on comfortably when you retire. You need to allow for the cost of living, inflation, recession, ill-health, the duration of your mortgage payments, and the age you want to be when you retire. These aren’t fun facts but they’re important. You need to invest in an RRSP or ETF portfolio you are willing to buy and hold, or some such thing and contribute to it with every pay check.. It is never too early (or too late if you haven’t begun) to start planning for your retirement. Seriously. That even applies to people who are fresh out of university or college and are still in their 20’s. The sooner the better.

9. An RESP for your kids shouldn’t be a priority. Well, if you cannot invest in your child’s education and your child has to apply for a bank loan or a government loan, the world won’t stop turning. Most of us had to pay for our own schooling. It was tough, but we did it. However one of the best gifts you can give your child is an education and if you can do it, then why not? The sooner you invest in an RESP, the better. It doesn’t have to be a large investment. I started investing for my 6-year-old daughter with only $25 a month since, as a single mother on a $40,000.00 a year income and no child support, that was all I could afford. I increased it to $50 a month only after she reached about the age of 13. It was the best I could do. However, in Ontario the government matches RESP investments dollar for dollar up to $4,000.00 annually. By the time she was ready for college at the age of 18, I had close to $6,000.00 for her, more than enough to pay for a 2-year college program. Who knew?

10. TFSA’s aren’t as financially sound as RRSPs. Not so. The proper use of a TFSA (tax-free savings account) is to hold your money in it for as long as possible. Investing then withdrawing on a regular basis will lead to taxation and that renders it useless. However, sometimes you may need to cash in your TFSA for an emergency fund. It’s a small tax shelter when used properly. It’s great as an emergency savings plan or for a relatively short-term goal, such as a purchase you wish to make within 5 years of opening the account. It’s wise to take advantage of this investment on a short-term basis. If you’re looking for a retirement fund however, RRSPs or ETFs that are comprised mostly of mutual funds are the best way to go. RRSPs tend to be good starter investments for the new investor but they are also very reliable for the middle-class investor who has little risk room.

11. You always need lots of diversity in your mutual funds. Not necessarily. The “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” mentality is a smart one but a more experienced investor doesn’t invest in hundreds of stocks via mutual funds. Those that are tried and true can be highly beneficial and relatively risk-free.

12. Renting your home is throwing money away. Nonsense. It is true that a house is a long-term investment and that home ownership gives a person a feeling of accomplishment. But renting isn’t throwing money away. Going to a casino and gambling away your pay check is throwing money away. if you aren’t in a position to buy, and that may always be the case, there are other ways to invest your money so you won’t be house-poor or cash-poor. When you can’t rent for significantly less than you can own, that can be a more sensible move than buying a home. At least you don’t have to panic when a recession hits, and recession will hit. It is inevitable, especially with financial trading and national economy going more global than ever. Besides, you are locked in to your mortgage and your location when you buy a house. And you are responsible for your own yard work and the repair and maintenance of your own home. Meh. Flip a coin. To each her own.

I’m sure you know of other tips to avoid bad investing (or missing out on good investing). I’d love to hear from you to add them to my list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 24, 2014 Posted by | Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating Insects isn’t a Foreign Delicacy

ladybugDid you know that you consume at least 1 lb of insects and other animal parts every year? I’m not kidding. Never mind the mites that you inhale when you’re asleep, snoring away, or the tiny insects that work their way into your mouth and nasal passages whether you’re asleep or awake. I’m talking about your food.

It’s all about globalization and sustainability. You’ve seen those documentaries that show different countries around the world pan-frying and sauteing all kinds of creepy-crawlies in restaurants and outside at food markets. They serve everything from ants to maggots to god-knows-what. And people eat them! Not just locals either. Tourists like to bravely give it a go. Lots of people love them and eat them on a regular basis. Sounds gross, right?

Well, with the population explosion continuing unabated, we’re simply running out of food. Where will it come from? So many thriving insects that are edible and some people swear, quite delicious, they are a highly efficient and plausible diet staple. And except for the Arctic and Antarctic, they are available virtually anywhere on this earth. They claim 30% of our land surface. Yikes. Greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 18% if insects became a staple in our diets. Yum-yum. Right now, most of us turn up our noses at the thought of consuming insects. Within the next couple of decades however, eating insects will be as commonplace as eating hotdogs and bread.

You might consider yourself a vegetarian but you’re eating meat whether you like it or not. Carnivore that you are, inside your food, and that can be anything from the tiny leafy growths on apples and strawberries, all the way to hamburger meat, a minute amount of insects is legally permitted in your food by the FDA, otherwise, you’d never eat! Insects rule the soil where all our food is pretty much grown so it’s unavoidable to get away from them. And what do cows graze on all day long? Naturally you’d have to expect partly undigested insects in hamburger meat but they’re so tiny you don’t know they’re there.

There are 6 million species of insects. To put that into perspective there are only a few hundred species of animals. Like it or not, they’ve got us surrounded. Insects rule the world. A good thing too: insects eat feces, they pollinate our flowers and crops, and they feed many animal species, including birds and bats. We need insects. They were here long before we were and it’s likely they’ll be here long after we finish destroying our Earth.

It gets worse: fly eggs, rodent hair and feces are also permitted in your food. What_a_324_inscThis may seem like a cruel joke or perhaps an attempt to wipe out the entire human population while being able to claim it was all due to natural causes, but the reason is simple: it is impossible to produce, package and distribute food without coming into contact with parts of  insect and animal byproducts, or the entire insect itself. The FDA states that impurities such as these in reasonable amounts don’t pose health hazards. Mind you, the FDA only inspects 2% of our food. That certainly puts their “inspections” into a different light.

Here’s an example of food and insects that are okay with the FDA: canned mushrooms are packaged with a small amount of maggots. Ground oregano is permitted a small percentage of ground insects. And if more than 5% weight of sesame seeds is due to insects then and only then will the FDA take action.

There are those who swear that eating insects will save our earth. I guess it makes sense. Insects don’t require any processing. Cooking them is healthy and pollution-free when done in small amounts. There is such a thing as cricket flour. Eventually insects may even become snack food.

Now that you’re totally grossed out, here’s one consolation: insects aren’t bad for you. In fact many people swear they add nutritional value to the human diet. Well, they are high in protein, zinc, iron and certain vitamins. Myself, I’d prefer not to think about that when I’m eating. I simply won’t indulge in microscopic eyeglasses anytime soon.

August 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not just leave her at the Altar?

 

 

Honestly I think that would have been less painful and humiliating than what article-2727808-209C84E000000578-106_634x422this jerk did to his fiancée. An American 23-year-old man named Tucker Blandford called up his lovely fiancée, Alex Lanchester, who lived in London, England, and faked being his own father. He sadly informed Lanchester that his son had taken his own life because he had been depressed. He stated that Blandfield had stepped out in front of a car. Sad day, no? Well actually, no.

Lanchester contacted Blandford’s mother to offer her condolences and discovered Mrs. B had no idea what Lanchester was talking about. Blandford’s purpose? He didn’t want to get married after all. Lanchester had already invest about $1,200.00 American in the wedding-to-not-be, and Blandford was probably trying to get out of reimbursing her, although he has since paid his half of the expenses.

Lanchester met Blandford in August 2012 while studying in the US. She met Blandford at the campus cinema in the University of Connecticutt. It was love at first sight, or so it seemed. Lanchester told the press: ‘Tucker was such a gentleman and was always buying me dinner and beautiful article-2727808-209C84DC00000578-229_634x677vintage jewellery. I’d never been in love like that before. Every Sunday he would take me out for pancakes, it was so sweet. And to celebrate the day we got together, on the 10th of each month we would go out for a posh dinner. The worst thing was the idea that one day I would have to leave him and go back to England. The thought of that was breaking my heart.’

Lanchester organized her dream wedding and set a date on August 15, 2014. She bought a handmade dress from eBay She even agreed to pay for Blandford to fly to Britain to help with the wedding:I went all out even though I had hardly any money. In the weeks running up to his visit I was mad with excitement.”

For his part, Blandford told a reporter: ‘I’m a terrible, awful person. I know I shouldn’t have told her I was dead, but I didn’t know what else to do. Alex is an amazing girl but I got scared and wanted to get out of the relationship. It was moving extremely fast and with us being in different countries, it was really hard.”

The only really hard thing to understand is Blandford’s lousy move when he ended his engagement to Lanchester. Lucky for Lanchester she didn’t end up married to the jerk.  I’ve heard of shitty break-ups before but this one tops the wedding cake.

 

 

 

August 19, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Relationships | , , | Leave a comment

It Brightens! It Whitens! It Kills!

 

Skin Bleaching
I was watching a Youtube video about black people bleaching their skin with whitening products (btw it’s gauche to call it bleaching – people say “toning”). The largest percentage of women and men who whiten their skin are in Nigeria for some reason. There’s a huge market for bleaching products in that country, as there now is worldwide. I didn’t know there was such a thing as mikeskin whitening products until Michael Jackson turned that ghastly chalk-white. I didn’t believe for a minute that he had that skin disease,     whereby the skin’s melanin deteriorates and patches of dark skin lose colour. How stupid are we Michael? He swore on Oprah Winfrey that “it’s a disease!” He certainly did have a disease. It was in his head.

Mercury Rising
One thing a lot of people don’t know about skin bleach is that the main ingredient is mercury. Uh-oh. Mercury is that stuff that used to drive hatters mad about a century ago. Lewis Carroll aka The Reverend Charles Dodgson, invented the character the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp did a great Mad Hatter (I always put a plug in for Johnny wherever I can) in the 2010 release of the movie. Depp stated that playing the role “was a dream come true.” Personally I think Depp is a dream come true. Okay enough of that. Men who made hats once upon a time used mercury in the process. Over time it drove them insane (mad). They suffered from brain damage due to the mercury poison, merely by inhaling the fumes. Eventually the stuff killed them. In modern bleaching products, there isn’t enough mercury to cause brain damage, thank heaven, but there is enough to cause skin cancer and God only knows what other health consequences.

Celebrity Culprits
A woman in one of the documentaries I watched told the interviewer, “I want to look more beautiful. I got tired of being ugly. I don’t look beautiful when I’m dark.” I’m not sure who put the idea into her head that whiter was prettier. I suppose we can all point fingers at the media and blame it. There is a strong element of truth to this belief. I was surprised at the before and bleachafter pictures of Iman, Rihanna, J-Lo, Beyonce, Dencia and Mariah Carey. These are several beautiful women who have worked hard at becoming white. Their before pictures looked gorgeous to me. In fact, Carey looks much less attractive as a “white” woman.  When used over a long period of time, skin whitening products can cause nasty blotches all over the face and body. Skin doesn’t always react the way a product claims. And different people’s skin will have different results. Copying a celebrity is usually quite foolish. No doubt a famous person has a dermatologist assisting a celebrity’s skin whitening. Celebrities also use products you’ll never find on a shelf anywhere and you’d never be able to afford anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if laser surgery is the manner in which most celebrities whiten and brighten. Mind you, who knows how these people look when the makeup comes off? There could be horror stories underneath the light brown foundation.

Cosmetic Procedures
Laser surgery
on the surface of the skin is known to lighten brown spots and even out skin tone. Photo facials use a type of laser but the laser a dermatologist uses is much more intense and much more expensive. I suspect this is one of the only viable and safest ways to lighten skin if you are having the procedure done by a licensed, experienced medical doctor, but I don’t know that using it on the whole face is a good idea. For one thing, it burns. Sometimes a preparatory cooling gel will be used on the skin and some machines have a built-in coolant. I will admit i have a few brown spots, besprobably from sun exposure in my younger years, on the sides of my face that I would love to laser but this whole skin whitening thing sounds frightening to me. I would never bleach it. That is a terrifying thought. Greg Absten, executive director of The Laser Training Institute claimed,  “It’s not that hard to learn. But whether the person is a doctor, a phD., or a tech, they have to take the time to learn, they have to care what they’re doing, and they have to have the ethics to know when not to treat something. Those are the safest people in the world because they stick to their limits.” I agree with Absten, with one possible exception. I would always go to a medical doctor for any type of surgery, including that involving light pulsation or a laser. In Ontario, all dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons have to be licensed with the Ontario College of Physicans and Surgeons in order to practice in Ontario. I have never read a single headline about botched IPL, which isn’t to say it hasn’t happened but my bet is that it’s relatively rare. One sensible piece of advice may be to “get a regular facial first before trusting them to give… an IPL treatment.” 

A photo facial or photo rejuvenation, uses light-based technology. Photo facial supposedly tone and lighten blotchier parts of skin that seem to arise with aging. It also treats broken capillaries (spider veins). This procedure is not a skin whitening process per se. One type of photo facial  is called Intense Pulsating Light, or IPL and it uses short blasts of polychromatic, high-intensity light to damage the melanin that causes “age spots.” Keep the word damage in mind. It darkens the skin spots and broken capillaries first. Then skin repairs the damage within 5 – 10 days and the overall skin tone becomes enhanced. We hope. skinIPL is touted as a way to boost collagen and elastin.  As with every type of “advanced” beauty treatment, there is always a risk. Some spa centres are more interested in commissions than the safety of their clients’ skin. They pressure their technicians to speed up the process so they can treat as many clients as possible in a week, resulting in clients who develop serious skin damage. This is called the  turn em’ & burn em’  effect. A discount spa or a college where students perform the treatment should be avoided unless a supervisor performs the procedure while students merely observe.

People with Asian or darker skin should be extra careful as IPL can cause hyper-pigmentation (darkening the skin spots).You can get  severely burned if the operator is not careful during the treatment. The burns can be severe and cause permanent scarring, scabs andwelts. One woman had to apply a medical cream every 2 hours for three weeks and stay out of the sun after a technician severely burned her skin. The spa refused to apologize or offer her a refund. The director told her she was “overreacting.” Seriously. I say get a lawyer and go after them. We’ll see how the director “overreacts.” The idea however is NOT to experience this type of damage to your skin. You’ve only got one skin. You need to make very careful decisions about it. Before you proceed with a laser treatment it might be helpful to look at your spots and spiders and compare them with the type of photographs embedded above. On the other hand, the photograph below is how skin looks with an experienced, ethical technician. The problem with skin whitening is it’s hit or miss. And when they “miss”, it’s devastating. “What they have done to me is criminal,” one permanently scarred woman in her 50s stated. “I feel like an idiot.”

A Personal Account
Nature usually knows what it’s doing when it gives a person a certain skin, eye or hair colour. It is our changing perception of what Photofacialbeauty is as we leave childhood and grow into youth and young adulthood that effects how we perceive ourselves. Another woman in the documentary I watched stated, “I started [skin bleaching] when I was in 10th grade. I went to a more predominantly white school and so being dark wasn’t really popular. The darker you were, the more mystery you got. So I just started bleaching my skin to get it lighter.” Certainly there is and always will be prejudice against black people of any nation and race. I got that. But popularity also depends a lot on one’s social skills. I remember a young black man in my high school circle of predominantly white friends and everyone loved him. He had great social skills. He was intelligent. No one commented on the fact that he was black and no one cared. My best friend (a gorgeous blonde, as it were) dated a young Filipino man. We didn’t care in our group. It didn’t even occur to  me that he wasn’t white. So what? He was fun, pleasant, and reasonably intelligent. I’m sure you’ve known white girls in high school and college who were hated because of their nastiness. People like to blame the media only, and blame society’s prejudices against their lack of acceptance and popularity and there certainly is that. I’m inclined to agree with that in many, but not all, situations.

Dencias-Whitenicious-January-2014-BellaNaija-594x600Dencia
Dencia is a piece of work
. She should be no one’s role model on earth or in hell. She has 44 EE breast implants (or so it looks). She wears 6 inch glittering, chunky, platform shoes. She wears stretch one-piece cat suits with psychedelic patterns. Dencia (a fitting name – the root word rather sounds like dense), looks like a pop star from Neptune. She is a caricature rather than a person. She promotes a skin bleaching cream called Whitenicious.  She claims looking whiter doesn’t mean looking better. Right. She claims Whitenicious is a “dark spot” remover. Why she called it Whitenicious is a reference to “pure.” White means pure,” she claimed. “A lot of people don’t feel clean with dark spots…everybody needs Whitenicious.” She argued endlessly with an interviewer that the product is strictly for dark spots. Onstage for this interview, Dencia wore brown face makeup. It looked ghastly, very fake. I’m certain that underneath that makeup is a much whiter face. Do you remember when Black Face was an insult? How times change. Guess Dencia has a lot of dark spots. I mean aside from the ones on her character. There’s no cream anywhere that can erase that kind of dark.

 

 

 

 

July 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Sure-Fire Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great when You Are Way Past 20…For Real

 

Since the 1960s there has been spectacular, golden advice on how to live a healthy, gorgeous life and not put on unnecessary pounds. It’s so Einstein it staggers the mind.  Drumroll please…...eat less, exercise more.  Ta-daaaaa. That’s it. That adage is still true today. You don’t need pills. You don’t need a personal trainer (unless that’s your thing and you just like having a trainer). britwb1You don’t need to buy manuals about “secrets” to a great body that you never knew before. You don’t need celebrity-endorsed b.s. about why they look so much better than you.  It’s all crap. Seriously. Those privileged (jerks – haha) people:

  1. get liposuction
  2. get tummy tucks
  3. use fat-deteriorating injections (no kidding – Britney Spears will always do it one more time)
  4. have enemas to empty their colons (ick – Marilyn Monroe was a fan of that one),
  5. take laxatives
  6. hire chefs who cook the most nutritional yet sinfully good-tasting meals
  7. have a whole team who work on keeping them fit and beautiful. They are an industry unto themselves especially if they want to keep getting movie roles. We just cannot hold up to that. Period.

Kevin Bacon of the infamous Bacon body once told an interviewer that he has to keep his body in superlative shape (those ncx7X8vweren’t his words, she was fawning over him…so shallow…I wouldn’t of course because I would have passed out cold already), because he has to be ready at any time to take on a role. His living depends upon it. That puts things into perspective I should think. That and a sense of humour. Bacon isn’t getting any younger either. He recently celebrated his 55th birthday. On Jimmy Kimmel Live he stated quite sincerely about the birthday celebration his family had for him, “my wife spent a lot of time in the kitchen looking for the caterer’s number.”

Having said that there are a few truisms that you have to accept about your life and your body if you are going to be happy:

  1. your body is not the same at 20 as it is at 50. That’s obvious. Your system changes. Your hormones do a double-loop when you hit menopause (if you’re a female, obviously). You may have sustained long-term injuries or developed an illness you didn’t have when you were young.
  2. the amount of food you ate at 20 is probably not going to cut it when you’re 50. It does for some people. I like to ignore those people. Either that or push them over a flight of stairs.
  3. the type of exercise you engage in may change radically over the years. Or not. It’s good to have change in my opinion. It keeps boredom at bay. It’s a learning experience. It’s fun. However, there’s nothing wrong with tried and true. Whatever has seen working for you for 20 years, God love ya. Keep at it.
  4. Swimming tends to be a great option for most people. It is injury-free. You cannot hurt yourself doing aquatic exercise. It’s a fact. Go ahead and try it. But it doesn’t count if you jump off a diving board into an empty pool. That’s cheating. And stupid.
  5. regular exercise and a regular, healthy diet are essential. You aren’t 20 anymore. There are no exceptions to this unless you’re in that 10% of people who can still eat whatever you want yet not gain weight or suffer from health defects. You’re in that percentage I want to push over a flight of stairs so watch your back. And your front.

forkfulHere are a few happy positives to reflect upon when you have nothing at all better to do (including reading this blog):

  1. you are at a stage in your life where your lifestyle change and body changes can be a thing of peace and beauty. No kidding. Accept that you are in a new zone and embrace it.
  2. the media is idiotic. You have my blessing to ignore it. I do and it seems to be working for me.
  3. embracing a healthy lifestyle means you’re worth it. You are worth those hours during the week that you spend time walking, biking, running, working with that snotty personal trainer. You are worth the hours you spend preparing healthy meals and snacks. You are worth it.
  4. You’re worth it.
  5. You’re worth it. Is that one sinking in yet?

I hate the expression that a woman or a man looks good “for a person their age.” What the hell does that mean? When a person looks good, that person looks good. For any age. Don’t demean yourself or anyone else with that expression. It’s rude and is in no way a compliment. Unless it’s said in this manner “my God! Did you see that 40-year-old woman with the kick-ass body? I should be so lucky! Even now at 20!” I can live with that type of mentality. That is a perfectly complimentary perspective. I am sure you hear that sort of thing all the time because you likely respect your body and live a good lifestyle. I know this because you are reading this blog (don’t you have anything better to do?).  Am I in the best shape of my life? Ah, I am not. Do I have the best body I’ve ever had? Not at the moment. My tummy sags too much. It needs work. Overall, I have been more toned, but I am thrilled when I see the results of my self-discipline with my food choices and not spending all my time lounging around like a lady of leisure. I’m not ever going to be perfect, but parts of me are pretty damned sweet. Besides, fitness isn’t reaching a goal. It is an ongoing process. And if it isn’t ongoing then that’s when you “fall off the wagon” as they say and put the weight back on.

Heidi-Montag-Bra-SizeThis isn’t to say that a little plastic surgery is a no-no. That’s your call. Your business. I don’t judge that (and who would care if I did?). If that makes you happy and takes a little stress out of your life, so be it. Sometimes there are conditions that won’t ever be improved through diet and exercise and if they bother a person, then do something about it. Here’s an interesting example (beginning at 14:44). I’m not talking Heidi Montag. I feel sorry for that girl. She cannot make up her mind for one thing. One minute she has “10 plastic surgeries” in one day. The next day, she regrets it. She even admitted her implants “hurt so bad I wanted to rip them off.”  That isn’t self-improvement. That’s a personality disorder. Personally I thought Montag was beautiful before the surgery. That’s how she looked on the right. Not too shabby.

I will add one tidbit (pun) to the adage eat less and exercise more. Eat well along with eating less. Don’t starve yourself yet eat junk and think this is what that expression means. Nuh-uh. In fact, don’t starve yourself at all. You are not an Eating Disorder waiting to happen. Nope, nope,  nope. You have too much sense and too much self-respect. After all, you’re older now than you were at 20. You have experience. You have common sense. And you have a love and acceptance for your body and your lifestyle. No one can take that away from you. Excuse me. A woman with a God-given body just walked by. I am certain she is at least my age or older than me. I have to follow her and look for a flight of stairs….

 

 

 

 

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Celebrity Chic, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing Old with Surgery doesn’t Mean Growing Old Ungracefully

 

One doesn’t cancel the other out in my opinion. Wanting to maintain a reasonably youthful beauty isn’t a crime and there are many cosmetic and surgical procedures that assist women and men in achieving that goal. Nowadays however turning back the clock is seldom about getting surgery in order to look 20 years younger than you are. It’s not going to happen and it looks
dreadful. Check out the enclosed picture of Cheryl Tiegs. She was a knock-out in her 20s and 30s and I understand why she’d want to keep herself as youthful as possible. However (there’s always a however) she’s gone way past the boundary of plastic surgery sanity and has hacked her way into self-mutilation, much like Michael Jackson. Michael J however had a vastly different story. He wasn’t trying to look younger. He was trying to look whiter.

Cheryl+Tiegs+Cheryl+Teigs+Hollywood+_yJbZaFRas6lMany celebs and ordinary women are opting out of extreme plastic surgery and only tweaking what they perceive to be flaws, rather than trying to erase all signs of aging and recapture their lost youth. It just doesn’t happen. It looks creepy. And everyone can tell when a woman or a man has gone overboard with the plastic surgery thing.

Lisa Renna is a celeb I happen to like. She’s known for that big, pouty mouth, which happens to be a bit extreme but works for her. Due to constant filler injections in her lips, one  year ago her lip hardened up completely. The filler had to be removed and her lip was closed with 40 stitches (gross). Right away she filled her healing mouth with filler again then suddenly she did a 180 and decided to remove all of the filler in her lips, (lip reduction surgery) and I mean all of it. It makes her unrecognizable and quite plain. At the same time she looks younger! Who knew?

Short_Hairstyle_For_Middle_Aged_Women_30It’s understandable that celebs try to look years younger than they are. Their PR people and photographers insist on a fake representation of their clients. PR people want actual surgery. Photographers want to airbrush a 40-year-old actress into looking 20. There is such a stigma against middle-aged women being allowed to look like middle-aged women that the constant criticism thrown at them must truly sabotage their self-esteem. I don’t like hearing it and I’m certainly no celebrity.Today there are plastic surgeons who devote their practice entirely to removing or fixing bad cosmetic surgery jobs. imagine getting cosmetic surgery to fix cosmetic surgery? That has to be the ultimate irony.

We can only fight aging and fading for so long, no matter how much money we invest in youth. The Hollywood icon of beauty and sexuality, Marilyn Monroe, said it best, “gravity catches up with all of us.

June 21, 2014 Posted by | Human psychology | , , | Leave a comment

The Black Dahlia Lives On…

 

 

Although Elizabeth Short was found dead on July 15, 1947, severed in half, drained of blood, with a Glasgow Smile carved into her once-beautiful face, today there is still no lack of interest in this woman and her tragic story. It has been 65 years since Short dominated headlines in Los Angeles and across the U.S. when her nude, severed and spread-eagled body was found on Norton Avenue, a vacant lot at the time. One of the many ironies in the case was that the lot had a number of signs posted around it stating “No Dumping.” Apparently our killer had a sick sense of humour, along with his sick sadistic sexual fetishes.

Short grew up in Medford Massachusetts, one daughter of four born to Phoebe (nee Sawyer) and Cleo Short. When Elizabeth (known as Bette) was about 8 years old Cleo up and abandoned his family, making his escape appear to be a suicide. It’s doubtful that Phoebe was fooled. Cleo left his wife elizwith bankruptcy, debt and credit collectors to contend with on her own. She had to move her family of girls three times over the following two years in order to afford a house where they could live. The family depended on welfare for food, shoes and nightgowns. Elizabeth’s bedroom in their last home was on a sun porch.

Elizabeth learned her father was alive when she was about 18. At the age of 19 she joined him in Vallejo, California but after only a month, the relationship soured and Elizabeth moved out. At this point, Short became somewhat of a drifter around the states. She found work at a naval base called Camp Cooke and was voted Camp Cutie. She began dyeing her mousy hair pitch black, wearing it high on her forehead and fastening a white dahlia in her hair. Although she often wore black she also wore pastels and favoured pink and light blue. Her notorious name, Black Dahlia, was not contrived from her appearance in life. It was created by the press after her murder. When the media discovered Short used to wear a dahlia in her black hair, they dubbed her the Black Dahlia as a reference to the movie The Blue Dahlia, that had been released in Hollywood the year before. In the film the Dahlia was a nightclub, not a woman.

Around this time Short met an army pilot named Matthew Michael Gordon Jr. They fell in love and for several weeks were inseparable until Gordon was sent overseas to India to test airplanes. They wrote back and forth tphoebeo one another but on the night before Gordon was due to return to America, he was killed in a plane crash while testing it for the aviator unit. Short was devastated. Once more she began traveling.

Short travelled around to other cities until she finally reached Los Angeles, Hollywood, California. For about 2 years she enjoyed the night life and slept all day. She seldom held down a job and hence could barely afford to pay for a room with her roommates. Linda Rohr, a 22-year-old roommate who worked for Max Factor, remarked, “the kid was hungry and broke.” In order to provide herself with a meal a day, Short went out on dinner dates with men. However, unlike the press’ claims, Short wasn’t promiscuous and she wasn’t a prostitute. The press and some members of the LAPD smeared Short’s reputation in the mud for reasons known only to themselves. Even the detective in charge of the case, Detective Harold Hansen, falsely stated years later that “she was a hooker, you know…”

Short was known to frequent celebrity-filled clubs such as The Florentine Gardens, owned by a successful businessman named Mark Hansen (no relation to the detective). Short also liked the Crown Grill, and Tom Brenamen’s. It was common for movie stars, Mafia men and servicemen to frequent these bars. Since Short had a preference for men in uniform this appealed to her, however she also dated two Mafia men who were kingpin Mickey Cohen’s henchmen. Clearly Short was a naive girl who had no real knowledge about her friends and boyfriends. It was this character trait that would prove to be her downfall.

On July 15black-dahlia01, 1947, a nude corpse of a young woman was found that was so brutalized as to be unrecognizable. The Glasgow Smile carved into it’s face went from the corners of the mouth to the ears. It would seem to me Short didn’t have much to smile about. The smile originated in Glasgow Scotland and was used by street gangs. Eventually it became more popular in England and also became known as the Chelsea Grin. Short’s body was completely drained of blood. Police surmised her lower half must have been hung upside down in order for the killer to accomplish this gruesome task. Her intestines were tucked beneath her buttocks. Most of her internal organs remained in her upper torso. Her right breast was almost completely severed. She had been burned with cigarettes and bludgeoned about the head. Experts surmised that it was exsanguination from the wounds to her head and face that caused her death.

The bisection began after Short was either in a coma, unconscious, or dead. It is theorized that her wrists were tied to a faucet in a bathtub and her feet were tied together. Although photographs show Short displayed spread-eagled with her upper torso beside the lower, it was suggested by the son of a detective who helped to work the case, that originally Short was found in a more obscene pose, as if she was performing oral sex on herself. The police supposedly re-positioned the body before the press could take pictures. A few days ashort2fter the corpse’s discovery the killer mailed some belongings of Short’s including her purse, to the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. A note was enclosed stating there would be more information to follow but that was not to be the case. LAPD knocked on 10,000 doors and followed up on approximately 5,000 leads to find Short’s killer, but to no avail. Detective Hansen claimed he was “sure we didn’t encounter the killer during our investigations. He didn’t slip by us…”

50 people falsely confessed to the savage murder, including a woman. None of the stories were true as they didn’t match facts that only the killer could know. Several suspects were interviewed and placed on a polygraph. One suspect in particular, Red Manley, had been seen dropping off Short at the Biltmore Hotel on the night of her disappearance. He was given a polygraph test twice and both times he passed. Police compared Short’s murder to that of the Cleveland Torso murders to search for clues of a possible serial killer, but no connection was made. They studied other murders in the Los Angeles area but met a dead (pun) end. For Elizabeth Short, life was long over. For the press, the public, authors, and musicians, the story was just beginning.

 

 

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Harrowed Hoarders Hurt from Haunted Habits

You’ve seen the show Hoarders: Buried Alive. There used to be another one but I can’t remember the name of it. It’s astounding that these people live this way. This isn’t a scripted show from what I can tell, at least I believe it. Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think lonelyso. Hoarding is in the DSM-V, listed under a compulsive disorder, under OCD. It was debated whether or not it would get its own category for V but that didn’t happen. Of course OCD can also be symptomatic of a larger issue, such as Bipolar Disorder or any one of a number of Anxiety Disorders. I feel for these poor souls. That cannot be an easy life and since these urges are incurable, the best hoarders et al can hope for is control of their symptoms. Usually this requires intensive, ongoing counselling and medication. Meds are actually very helpful. They don’t sedate people. It requires an anti-psychotic to cause sedation (or a sedative) and the former are usually given to schizophrenics or bipolars who are in mania. These are extremes. For OCD and hoarding, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications tend to fill the bill. Sometimes.

Hoarding has many levels  – from 1 – 5, with 1 being the mildest (barely begun) and 5 being the worst and most difficult to control. Levels 4 – 5 are fire hazards, and therefore life-threatening. In the previous episode, the psychologist attending the house had to wear a respirator to avoid contracting any bacteria or viruses that could lead to a disease. Children are always removed from these households by Children’s Services. These are illegal households and often the city will intervene and enforce by-law to make the hoarder clean out the household. Fires are a no-no in suburbia, because they easily spread to other houses, as do coackroaches and rodents. Hoarders bring down the value of real estate on their streets. People have the right not to tolerate this abuse of their environment. However, abuse is exactly where hoarding begins. Whoarderhen a hoarder is young, neglect and abuse tends to contribute to hoarding. Often this person is a victim of the foster system; constantly moving and not permitted to gather personal items. They own next to nothing. Ownership of personal items, no matter how repulsive, becomes a safeguard, a false sense of security against the cold, untrustworthy world around them. The worst possible thing done to these children is when a foster parent, or biological guardian, forces the child to dispose of their items. Some adults have been known to force children to burn their precious belongings. I can’t think of anything crueller, next to sexual abuse. Now that the child has grown up into adulthood, s/he can collect and hoard as many items as desired. It becomes a cycle that spins out of control.

Another reason is in the way that people process information. Consider:

  1. The objects physical appeal for the hoarder’s attention. This makes sense. You know how it is when you’re garage-sailing of course. You might not be searching for something specific but an item suddenly catches your eye for reasons you’re not even cognizant of and you have to buy it.  A hoarder displays an extreme form of this behaviour. S/he pays attention to the shape, colour and texture of an object. Whereas most of us consider the usefulness of an object before we purchase it, hoarders consider the appearance of it and whether or not it can simply be added to a collection at home.
  2. Length of time assessing an object. The hoarder spends a great deal of time investigating an item purely for aesthetic reasons. It takes a long time for the hoarder to make the decision as to whether an item is valuable or not.
  3. Hoarders are highly disorganized. A lot of us think that about ourselves as disorganized but wait! This is different. When you get mail, you probably have a place where you usually place mail. A hoarder has a very different system. S/he organizes visually and spatially. They rely on memory rather than organization.
  4. Creativity. Some hoarders have a creative streak in that they appreciate the detail of an object. However this is taken to the extreme when almost everything the hoarder sees has an artistic bent.
  5. Hoarders’ brains process information differently than non-hoarders. Studies have discovered differences in patterns of brain activity between the two.

This story brought my interest back to the topic (I’ve blogged about it before). A Connecticut woman died when the floor above her head collapsed on top of her, while she was in the basement doing god knows what. Police found the body of 66-year-old Beverly Mitchell after an alert mailmabooksn told police her mail was piling up. The building was so unsound, firefighters had to cut into the side of it. They used a backhoe to scoop up the pounds of debris that covered her corpse. If hoarding isn’t a type of mental illness then I’d like to know what qualifies. Surely at this level of hoarding, there are rodents, cockroaches and other infestations, feces from insects and roaches everywhere. The woman’s own toilet was probably backed up and in that case, she would have been defecating on the bathroom floor. “She just never threw anything away. Mail, packages, bottles, lots of papers, newspapers, magazines, you name it. Piled to the ceiling in most rooms. There was a waist-high layer in the room she had been living in.” A police officer commented. He stated that social services offered to help her many times, but she refused. No surprise. “It’s unfortunate because … we’ve tried all along to get her assistance, but she was a very private and solitary lady.”

It would seem to me they didn’t try hard enough. I’m surprised that the city didn’t intervene and force the woman to accept a clean-up crew to clear out the house. Social services are all well and good, but not if they can’t help the affected person.  There are other channels that could have been used to help Mitchell so that her life didn’t end beneath a collapsed floor. What happened here?                                                  

 

 

June 17, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

The War on Drug Addicts

Lots of people get addicted to one thing or another. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping (seriously) and on and on. I like Dr. Gabor Mate`s take on what addiction is and why it develops. He believes childhood trauma is the direct result of addiction. Every woman he has ever counselled has been a victim of sexual abuse. Every man he has ever counselled has suffered through a physically abusive  environment. Here is something we probably all know about cancer, for instance, but didn`t know about addiction: it is genetic and is turned on or off by the environment. Think about that. My friend grew up in a household where her father was addicted to both alcohol and cigarettes. He lived on the stuff for 30 years yet she never took to smoking and she barely drinks. Perhaps she doesn`t have a gene for addiction.

The Addiction Gene
Mate talks about a study that proved people who were genetically predisposed to becoming addicts didn`t – that gene was `turned off` so to speak  – becaBaby-Face-IIuse of the good childhood. I have a question. How do we know when someone is predisposed to becoming an addict. Just asking. Dr Mate insists that people who are addicts yet insist they had a `blessed childhood` truly didn`t. They may remember or choose to remember a “blessed childhood“ but that really hasn`t been the case. A closer, more honest analysis of an addict`s childhood often reveals stressors the alcoholic didn`t remember having suffered. For some people, dredging up and resolving these traumas isn`t possible. Alcohol or drugs remain the crutch that helps them live their lives. I remember reading about a woman who suffered such severe abuse that she developed several personalities in order to cope. She kept a distant, cordial relationship with her parents after she left home and married. She was afraid to delve too deeply into her background in case she discovered for certain that her parents were indeed her childhood abusers. It was just too difficult a journey for her to make.

Addiction in Adulthood
As an adult, if an extraordinary thing happens to a person, addiction is highly unlikely to happen. The brain isn`t able to make that connection. The infrastructure is formed in childhood and addiction won`t happen. Remarkable. Will-power seems to have nothing to do with it. Our impulses come from much deeper brain areas than that which we use to make an informed decision. The gap between the two takes a split second. As for people who`ve had dreadful childhoods but don`t become addicts, there are other negative outcomes. Some repeat the cycle. Some make themselves ill because they repress so much harm in their lives. Some develop eating disorders or self-mutilate. However, the lucky ones have the opportunity to process their difficult beginnings as they happened, and this can make a huge impact on avoiding adulthood addiction. The overwhelming number of people who become addicts are those who had overwhelming trauma and had no one there to help them to cope.

The War on Drugs

Mate admits that less than 5% of his clients succeed at leaving addiction. This is true across the country. We also know this to be the case with support groups such as AA, and others. There is no cure for addiction and getting it under control is like fighting fire with gasoline. The anguish, the guilt, the origins of pain, these things are unavoidable obstacles. And for some, they are unconquerable. Mate insists that the so-called War on Drugs isn`t helping anyone; the addicts or the families of adguiltydicts are still marginalized and maybe more so. He believes there is a war on drug addicts. Special homes,end of the war against people, resources that are allotted into treatment centres rather than jails are the tools needed to help more addicts break the cycle of addiction.

What is an Addiction
It`s anything compulsory that gives you pleasure or relief to the point that it interferes in your daily functioning. Mate himself blew $8,000 in one day on CDs when he was younger. People who call themselves workaholics are trying to fill an empty void. Work gives them fulfillment and a sense of purpose but certainly too much of it creates a void in personal relationships. Their early lives may have been that of neglect or a chaotic household perhaps, one where a parent came and went or where divorce was frequent. A lack of family stability early in life cannot be erased. It often causes something known as avoidant personality disorder, a condition where people deliberately sabotage their relationships first, before the partner can cause them emotional harm.

Willpower
Willpower has nothing to do with addiction. When talking about willpower, Mate states it makes people aware that they themselves can and should make rational decisions, place themselves in the driver`s seat and maintain control. This can apply to something as simple as the hour a person gets out of bed in the morning to whether or not a person strays from a diet. This isn`t to suggest that people don`t fail in their quest to practice willpower. But usually the choices they make or don`t make don`t tend to interfere with their daily functioning. If that`s the case then the situation is not one where willpower can help. There is a far bigger issue at hand. Addiction is far more intense. It controls the addict. It is always the driver. There is no question about control. Willpower cannot battle with addiction because one is nothing like the either. Apples and oranges.

Creative Genius and Addiction
scared womanNo. Creative beauty isn`t the result of addiction. A sense of passion about one`s work means the creator is in charge. Addiction places the drug or other stimulus in charge. Sometimes some good can come of creativity and addiction but this is extremely rare and it never overcomes the bad.  If you want to test whether physical beauty results from addiction, click here.

Doctor Heal Thyself
As previously noted, Mate has a shopping addiction – and it is truly astounding, especially for a man (ha). He shares that information with his clients. They often snicker and shake their heads. Shopping. Ha. It could be worse. Well, yes and no. If Mate ends up having to mortgage his house to satisfy his compulsion then it doesn`t get much worse. Mate contends he has had a stable upbringing. Okay now what. Mate seems to contradict himself here. But it is what it is I guess.

Vancouver`s East Side
The places where Mate`s clients live are often infested with roaches and rodents. Mate`s office is swarming with roaches. Gross. That`s how it is there. It wasn`t always like that but now the East Side is so neglected, regional government doesn`t regulate it and doesn`t care enough to clean it up. Vancouver Services feeds people and finds them housing but the quality of housing cannot be helped. Not without government funding and perhaps a little philanthropy. More than ever, it seems to me, that addicts in Vancouver are marginalized. Not only do people look down on them for their disease, but they are forced to live in squalor. What do most people think about that situation. Ick probably. That`s hardly helpful to anyone. Vancouver politics is slowly changing according to Mate. There seems to be the stirrings of an effort to “clean up“ the East Side. If that`s the case, perhaps Mate will receive a little more of those aforementioned resources he needs to help more clients overcome their addictions.

Celebrity and Addiction
Mate`s theory that bad childhoods create addicts make me wonder if that also implies to the many celebrities we have lost in recent years. Some famous drug users who also overdosed include Marilyn Monroe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Whitney Houston, John Belushi, Rick James, Chris Farley, Sigmund Freud (euthanasia), Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Alan Ladd, Bruce Lee, and many others. These are irreplaceable people. Did they all suffer from early childhhoffmanood trauma.  We know this is the case for Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane Baker), Michael Jackson unquestionably suffered traumatic childhoods. Hoffman and Houston did not (so far as anyone knows). In a rare interview on ABCNEWS’ Primetime, Houston stated that she
used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs at different points during her career. She was known to use crack but wouldn`t admit to it. Perhaps she, like many others on the list, are exceptions in Mate`s theory about childhood abuse and addiction simply due to their celebrity and easy access to drugs.

Oprah Winfrey was subjected to continual sexual abuse by male relatives as a young child. Traumatized, she became addicted to alcohol and drugs. She was pregnant by 14 but she went into labour went it was premature and it died soon after birth. Somehow this woman overcame dreadful beginnings and so far as I know, doesn`t currently struggle with addiction.

Demi Moore is another celebrity who had a dreadful beginning and has been in and out of rehab. I don`t know what her current status is in terms of drug use. She was born to an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. They were only married for two months. Her stepfather struggled to hold down a job due to his own addictions and because of this the family moved more than 40 times. Both her mother and stepfather were serious alcoholics who also physically abused each other. In 1980, Moore’s stepfather committed suicide. During her childhood, however, the family suffered in poverty and Moore had both a vision and a kidney problem that she could barely afford to treat. Moore is estranged from her mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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