The Right-Fighter Syndrome

I wrote this a few years back regarding “right fighters.” For a while, they all seemed to calm down, but they are definitely on the rise again.

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So what exactly is a right fighter? This is the description I found: “A rightfighter is someone who gets overly emotional or angry when people do not agree with them and their opinions or beliefs. A rightfighter is someone who insists on having the last word in an argument or refuses to back down no matter what.”

Does anyone remember the old SciFi movie, “*The Day of the Triffids?” Basically, the triffid plants start killing people. It may just be me, but it seems that we are quickly devolving into a triffidish country of a new species: the Day of the Right Fighters.

Now, I’ve always said that opinions are like anal sphincters; everyone has one. This does not mean that everyone has to agree on the same things, however. As has been said before, I do not talk politics or religion with anyone except the Crankee Yankee. Years of experience taught me that no good comes from conversations about either subject. At best, you end up hot and sweaty from trying to defend your own views, which could possibly lead to a stroke or heart attack. At worse, you lose friends and mark yourself for bullying and heckling. Seriously, who needs either?

Look, we are not all alike. We do not always march to the same drummer. I understand that we all have our cherished opinions and that is our right as human beings. That said, there should be absolutely no reason for people to harrass other people, yell obscenities at them, throw things at them, bully them, embarrass them, haunt them on social media, or threaten their lives. Seriously, would they like being treated that way?

This is not the country I grew up in. What happened to “live and let live?” What happened to the The Golden Rule: “treat others as you would like to be treated”? We are a country where freedom of speech is the right of each and every citizen. Of course there will be arguments and disagreements; we don’t all march to the same drummer.

It saddens me that we seem to have become haters and harrassers instead of listeners and thinkers. One of the major things my dad taught me as I was growing up was that, if you lose your temper, you lose the fight, your credibility, and possibly, your life. Over and over again we have seen throughout history that riots can turn deadly in an instant.

Is this really how we want to be remembered? Is it so important to get our way at the expense and possible harm to others who don’t agree? It’s a lot like that old phrase from the hippies: “fighting for peace is like f***ing for chastity.”

We are better than this. We are more than a mob mentality, we are people who are privileged to live in a free country. With that freedom comes the realization that not everyone is going to think or do as we think or do. I hope that we can come to some middle ground where we agree to disagree without bloodshed.

In the not-so-distant past, we fought for our freedom and liberty. It was a hard-won battle but we came out of it with a free country, something many people around the world do not have.

How about we think first before drinking that big old glass of haterade?

*Per Wikipedia, “the movie, “The Day of the Triffids,” is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel by the English science fiction author John Wyndham. After most people in the world are blinded by an apparent meteor shower, an aggressive species of plant starts killing people.”

The Queen of Scrabble

I published this back in 2017; Mom was the best Scrabble player I ever knew.

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My mom was an absolute shark about Scrabble; she was very good at it, and she played to win. She was clever and quick and always found the best ways to reap the biggest scores. I wish I had a dime for every “Bingo” she made (using all seven letters, which garners you 50 extra points), and then got more points for playing it on a triple word score!

Anyone who has ever played Scrabble with my mother has had the pants beaten off them more than once, including me.

I learned a lot about strategy from her. Scrabble is exciting and a little bit dangerous; that is, you can’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings. You’ve got to play with a bit of blood in your eye; you watch for the weak spots in your opponent and play to that weakness.

Mom had one Scrabble partner who always played defensively; it drove her nuts. If you play that way, you miss opportunities. Playing Scrabble with my mother was both nervy, challenging and filled with landmines. You really had to be on your toes with her. She liked a player who took risks. She loved the competition;  it made her even more sharp.

Scrabble is a heady combination of risk, daring, mental agility and just plain nerve. But Mom would always take the risk, even if she had drawn all vowels. She would somehow make it work and win. I’d say in all the years I played with her, I won about 20% of the time. The rest of the time she absolutely ran over me.

Anyone who ever beat my mother in a game of Scrabble went home sweaty, shaking and reaching for a bottle of wine. What they didn’t know was that Mom was sharpening her wits for the next game, vowing that she would beat them the next time.

I have Mom’s old Scrabble game; the cover held together with elastic bands. Many of the tiles are worn soft around the edges, and there are still pencil-and-paper lists of games past. Some days I lift off the lid and swear I can smell all those years of victory.

Well played, Mom.

Some Like It Hot; Some Like It Cold

The Crankee Yankee is usually cold and likes to crank up the heat. If I get cold, I just put a sweater on because I know that in less than a half hour I will be hot again. And no; not the sexy “hot”—-it’s the hot flashes that never seem to go away. My wonderful doctor has told me many times that they should stop at any time; well—they haven’t, not in the last 10 years.

It’s not easy when one person is always too hot and the other is way too cold. At this time of year, our bed is “dressed” with sheets, a flannel blanket and on top of that, a thick down comforter. The Crankee Yankee loves it, and happily burrows into the blankets until all I can see is the top of his head. During the winter time, I always put “toasty toes” in the bed for him; this is a flannel bag filled with *deer corn. Put it in the microwave (as hot as you like it; deer corn does not pop) for a few minutes. When it’s done, you put it in the bed so that your feet can stay warm for quite a while.

So, all good for him. For me, not so much. As soon as he starts snoring, I open the window a crack (which is right within arms reach as the head of the bed is an inch away from the window) to get some cold air. I know it’s sneaky, but he is all covered up in blankets and quite frankly, I need the cold air!

So what to do? I’ve completely given up on hoping that my hot flashes will stop (I mean sheesh; I’ve had them for ten dang years!) one of these days. I actually look forward to the time when I start griping about being cold during the summer!

*Deer corn does not pop, so it’s perfect for filling up a flannel bag; sew up the top and put it in the microwave for a few minutes. Your feet will love it!

Why We Need To Know Our History

When I was in grade school, I was fascinated by history. It was so interesting that just hearing about it in school wasn’t enough; I wanted to know more. As I spent most of my Saturdays in the library anyway, I read everything I could find about the *Holocaust and the bombing of **Hiroshima.

I was both fascinated and horrified to know what human beings did to other human beings. I went to my father and asked him if such things could ever happen again. He was reading the newspaper at the time, but he put it down and answered me. He told me that yes, it was horrible that so many innocents were killed. He told me this: “And if you think that this can’t happen again; it CAN.”

I asked him why it could when everyone knew how horrible it was. Dad’s answer was this: “it could happen because people don’t learn from history. It can happen all over again; don’t ever doubt it.”

I remember that I couldn’t sleep that night, worrying that such a horrible thing could actually happen again. By then I was already infamous in school for being a know-it-all and a history nerd. Those two horrific events were in my mind all the time. Even to this day I can see the start of similar horrors; in fact, there have been horrors for years. But the worst thing, in my mind anyway, is that schools seem to have dropped history (American and/or others). How in the world can we avoid the devasting mistakes of the past if we don’t understand and study history?

Whenever I see or hear students being asked about our history and the history of other countries, it’s shocking to hear that they don’t know anything about it. Simply put, if we do not know and/or understand our own history as well as the history of others, the same madness, cruelty and horror can happen again. In fact, it IS happening again.

We live in a time where we are too complacent for our own good. History can certainly happen all over again. I pray to God that it doesn’t. I still have hope, but I fear that the horrors of the past are waking up and shaking their hoary heads all over again.

*Regarding the Holocaust, written by Michael Berenbaum:

Alternative Titles: Hurban, Shoʾah

Holocaust, Hebrew Shoʾah (“Catastrophe”), Yiddish and Hebrew Ḥurban (“Destruction”), the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by NaziGermany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this “the final solution to the Jewish question.” Yiddish-speaking Jews and survivors in the years immediately following their liberation called the murder of the Jews the Ḥurban, the word used to describe the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Shoʾah (“Catastrophe”) is the term preferred by Israelis and the French, most especially after Claude Lanzmann’s masterful 1985 motion picture documentary of that title. It is also preferred by people who speak Hebrew and by those who want to be more particular about the Jewish experience or who are uncomfortable with the religious connotations of the word Holocaust. Less universal and more particular, Shoʾah emphasizes the annihilation of the Jews, not the totality of Nazi victims.

 

**”On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

 

Self Defense

Years ago when I and two other female black belts ran a karate school together, we not only taught people to learn karate but also self defense. Self defense is largely all about being aware of where you are and who is around you. I wince whenever I see people so involved in their cell phones or ear buds that they don’t hear or see what or who is around them. And believe me, the bad folks who want to steal from us or hurt us are well aware of this.

This is not to say that everyone you see is a bad person; it’s just about being aware. For example, when you are out and about on your own, walking, running, biking, etc., DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES OR EAR BUDS! I know you think that you can listen to your music and stay alert, but the fact is that you actually can’t. If you are plugged in to your device, then you are not plugged into the world around you.

Also (and this is very important), be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you are out jogging alone, be aware of where you are; are there houses around, are there people around, etc. You may want to keep a canister of pepper spray with you just in case. If you choose to run or walk in a area where there are no houses or stores or other people, be aware at all times. If you are running on the side of a road, be sure that you are facing traffic. Why? Because if you are running with traffic, it is incredibly easy for someone to slow down, open a door and pull you in.

Whether or not you are a martial artist, it is imperative that you stay aware at all times. I was a martial artist for years, and I taught what I called “Common Sense Self Defense” for years. But you don’t have to be a martial artist to protect yourself. I still observe the rules I learned a long time ago to keep safe. The ultimate best weapon truly is your head. Keep it in the game, be aware of where you are, who is around you, and don’t think for a second that something can’t happen to you. I understand: bad things can happen to the most prepared and aware person. But you stand a far better chance of staying safe if you stay AWARE. 

And one more tip: whenever you’re in your vehicle, LOCK THE DOORS. This also goes for when you get out to pump gas. Take your keys, your credit card/cash and lock up the vehicle while you pump gas. It is incredibly easy for someone to sneak around the side of your vehicle, open the door a crack and grab your purse, wallet, the cake you just picked up at the bakery (and wouldn’t THAT ruin your day?), whatever. Play it safe and make it a habit.

Be prepared, not scared!

Cat Entitlement

I have loved cats all my life, and have lived with many; currently we have five indoor cats and a small herd of outdoor cats (we feed and shelter them all). As has been said many times before, cats know that they were once revered as gods, and they have never forgotten it. They have more entitlement issues than your average spoiled brat movie star.

They have no problem hogging the bed at night (the Crankee Yankee always wakes up with at least one cat sleeping on his pillow and most of his head). Also, they can’t read, but they do know when it’s time to eat; which means they always let us know—loudly.

It’s been said that pets do wonders for us humans; just petting an animal helps to lower blood pressure and gives us comfort and calm. During the day, it’s not surprising to see at least three of the five cats snoozing on the bed. Pookie, our most shy cat, likes to burrow under the blankets on the bed. I can always tell when he’s under there; he makes soft little kitty snores.

As they are all indoor cats, we make sure that they have plenty of toys (usually the ones stuffed with catnip) to whack around the house. I always buy them “kicking sticks” (these are long cloth tubes filled with cotton and catnip); the cats adore them. It’s hilarous to watch them grab onto one, flop over on one side and bite and kick the crap out of them.

Most of our cats are “lap cats,” and love to sit in our laps and snooze. Of course, they aren’t fooling us for a minute; we are just big heating pads for them to enjoy. But we still appreciate it.

So yes; cats are definitely entitled, and boy, don’t they know it.

Men and TV

When it comes to watching TV (together in one room), there is a definite difference between men and women when it comes to who has the controller. Usually the Crankee Yankee has it, and he decides what is “good TV” vs. what he calls “bad/useless/not my thing” TV. He will land on something that looks interesting to me, and then click-click-click and we’re off again.

It’s the old story; men hunt, women nest. I’ll see something that looks pretty good, and I’ll want to know more about it, and then the dial sagain. The Crankee Yankee knows that I don’t care for watching sports of any kind, or most of the news. We have been married for 18 years, and he still doesn’t get that all that clicking around drives me nuts.

It comes down to this: men don’t necessarily want to know what’s on TV; they want to know what else is on TV. I think it’s just in men’s DNA; I really don’t think that they can help it.

So I always keep books in the living room; when I know that I’m just not going to enjoy anything the Crankee Yankee wants to see, I read. It’s my universal sign that says “I give up.”

To be fair, the Crankee Yankee understands that on some evenings there are a few programs I really like to watch; then he reads the paper or gets on the computer. Fair enough.

So why does this whole TV thing get out of hand? I think it’s just a man-thing. Also, in the Crankee Yankee’s mind, he feels that if we have seen something before, we don’t need to see it again. However, there are some programs (and books) that I like to see or read over again. The Crankee Yankee doesn’t share that opinion; he feels that if you see something once, you don’t need to see it again.

Ah well, this whole TV issue isn’t a huge deal, and he admits that he has a different take on things than I do. Besides, in the general scheme of things, it’s pretty small potatoes. I now call him the Mighty Hunter and he thinks that’s pretty funny. Sometimes humor can be the best medicine.