My Many Interests

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021

As I peruse my Facebook memories from previous New Year's Eves, I look to writing this one in the time of Covid. I think back on the past months and look for a little perspective and I search for the silver lining.

But in the end, 2020 sucked. It took from us people who still had a future ahead of them. It took from us our freedom. It took from us our time and energy. I am ready for it to go. See ya, don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

So, for 2021, I wish you health and happiness. We are all stronger for having gone through 2020 and yes, we are still struggling, but the new day and new year is another opportunity to try again. Stand up, dust off the dirt, and put up your dukes. Remember you life is in your control. Make good decisions. Make informed decisions. Live your life!

Most folks go out and make a long list of resolutions. You know what? Just pick one thing that will make you happy and knock it out of the park. Even if that thing is going to get a good hamburger from your favorite restaurant. Small happies make a happy life. It's cliche' but it's true, it's the little things. Happy New Year to you and yours and much love from me and the Kid.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – Write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. ~Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wreaths by Nicole Makes a Great Gift for a Service Member

I was just watching the news and saw this clip on a young woman who is making a craft that is a great idea for service members. Texas Air Force Staff Sergeant Nicole Pompei takes old uniforms and makes wreaths out of them. She has received such fanfare from folks after the video showed that she now has a one year waiting list. Here is her Facebook page and the clip that ran on CBS News.

Facebook - Wreaths by Nicole

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What New Year's Traditions Do You Celebrate?

The best way to start off the New Year has many examples. Growing up in Louisiana, we always ate turnip greens, cabbage and black-eyed peas for good luck. If you throw a little pork in with any of them, it would increase your luck throughout the year. Mix it together in different combinations and you have Hoppin' John. The greens and cabbage, of course, represent green money and the black-eyed peas represent coins, and you can't go wrong with a little 'golden' cornbread.  Folks with deeper Louisiana roots had King Cake baked with a little baby in it. If you got the piece with the baby, you were assured luck for the new year. And let's not forget about some tamales celebrated in Hispanic culture and beyond!

Hoppin' John - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock
Hoppin' John - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock
There are plenty of food related traditions such as eating twelve grapes, one for each month of the year. You can't go wrong with food, though I had never heard of not eating lobster or chicken. According to the tradition, lobsters walk backwards thus reversing your luck and chickens have wings and your luck will fly away. I guess if you can believe in the greens and peas, you might as well believe in this, huh?

I've been halfway around the world but only experienced New Year's Eve in one foreign city and that was Naples, Italy. When I was their in the late 80's, we were warned to be off the streets at midnight as Italians believed in "out with the old." Amongst the sound of fireworks could be heard the thunder of furniture and appliances hitting the streets as the items were tossed off balconies and out doorways. What a way to celebrate though I've read that it's not as celebrated as it was then.

Below are links to some of the more prominent traditions around the world. Do you celebrate a tradition that isn't quite as mainstream?

Country Living - 15 Best New Years Superstitions That Could Bring You Good Luck in 2021

Are you sleeping enough?

Someone on my Facebook page asked how much sleep everyone usually got. The answers ranged from enough to not enough. You know, the general consensus you would expect.

I have to wrangle my sleep patterns to get enough. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein when it comes to piecing habits together to make sure that I get enough.

There are several things that contribute to my lack of healthy sleep. Some I've always had and some are brought on with weight gain and old age. I never lack of reasons.

According to the Sleep Foundation, my kid requires more sleep than I do and I can see that. She expends more energy in her day than I do. But, she also doesn't have any of the problems that I exhibit, so when she get 9-10 hours of sleep, it's a good 9-10 hours. I, on the other hand, according to the Foundation, only require 7-9, but that requires me to sleep a full 10 just to get it. Here's all of the factors that affect me.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay 

Night owl - I have always been a night owl. From the earliest recollections, I've always been more wound up at night. That may have come from my father being a shift worker and me and my brothers staying up late for when he came home. It might also have been just a natural biorhythm that puts me out of sync with a majority of the world. I've never been a morning person. A good day for me is sleeping until 11am and then getting up and going by 1pm. I really hit my stride late in the afternoon and could stay up until 2am or 3am easily. This worked fine for the years that I was a club DJ, but doesn't work so well when you have a kid.

Caffeine - I've always drank colas, starting at a very early age. I know, I know. The damage is done, no need to point fingers at my parents. It was I that continued to harm myself. I've tried curtailing my use and I've done pretty good, but if I drink anything with caffeine, it better be before 3 or 4pm or I'm up all night.

Sleep apnea - In 2017 I was put in the hospital for pulmonary embolisms, blood clots in both my lungs. I was told that if I had waited another 24 hours, I wouldn't be here. It was found that one of the culprits was sleep apnea. As I began to put on weight about my late 20's early 30's, sleep apnea affected not only the amount of sleep I was getting, but how much oxygen my body was getting. This worked hand in hand with other factors to give me blood clots which almost killed me. I did a sleep study shortly after my leaving the hospital and found that I was waking up 113 times an hour. Yep, I was impressed too. So, now I use a cpap and get much better sleep, but not the way I'd like as you'll find in the next paragraph.

Medication - I am on numerous medicines, one of which makes me go to the bathroom. A lot! It's for blood pressure and it's called Furosemide and it's a beast. I was contemplating a few months back about how I could get better sleep and then I wandered down the path of "what" was keeping me up. Though the VA put me on a cpap to help me sleep better, they gave me medicine that made me NOT sleep better. I researched my drugs and found that though they had me taking it once in the morning and once at bedtime, bedtime was not a good time to take it. Through online research and speaking with a neighbor who is a nurse, I found that I could take it at least six hours after the first dose, preferably in the afternoon and it should be out of my system by bedtime. This has worked to some degree. Since some of my drugs have to be taken with food, I tend to eat earlier in the evening between 4 and 5. At least I try. And then there is the remembering to take the medicine at this time, when I've been taking it at bedtime for almost three years. Working on those new habits.

Kid to school - And the last hurdle to getting good sleep is the fact that I have to wake up at 6:15 AM to make sure that the Kid hasn't overslept. As I said earlier, I'm a night owl and so this isn't really conducive to getting sleep. I have found though that if I go back to bed fairly quickly, I can be up by 9 AM with no repercussions.

My ideal schedule would be to get to the point where I could go to bed at 8 PM and sleep all the way through with maybe one pitstop and wake at 6 AM. Hopefully, this would give me enough energy to work the whole day through.

*** While writing this post, I came across this article that describes how pre-Industrial Europe had two sleeps. Not exactly like naps, mind you. Naps mean you sleep as you normally would and then take a short twenty minute to hour nap after lunch to get your energy back up. In the Navy, we usually skipped lunch and went straight to our rack (bed) and called them Nooners. In two sleeps, you go to bed at dusk, sleep about four hours, wake for two or three, and sleep another four hours. I've read where Thomas Edison, didn't necessarily sleep, he catnapped. He'd sleep an hour or two, work a few hours, sleep a few more hours and so on. But he also was able to flexible with his lifestyle, unlike most in the 21st century.

Or are we inflexible. With Covid showing us how we can work from home, we may be getting back to that ability to do things like second sleep. I might even try this since, aside from the Kid waking at 6 AM, I'm pretty flexible the rest of the day. Now to work on normalizing first breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Reflections on Veterans Day 2020

Child wearing a baseball cap
I'm a little overdue for getting this out, but it's been busy around here. I had a table at a comic book show the weekend after our little town parade and then boom! Thanksgiving was upon us, but here it goes.

I joined the Navy as a means to an end. I wanted to be a nuclear engineer but didn't have any idea how to accomplish it. Navy recruiters came to school showing a video about the Nuclear-Powered Navy and I was hooked.

I didn't end up getting my degree, but I finished out my six year service. I didn't have any desire to stay in at the time, but as the years went on, I would look back at my service with growing pride. I served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I didn't really understand everything that happened until I got back to the states and eventually got discharged in 1992. Even now, it's hard to find information on what we did, but thanks to Facebook groups, I've been able to find more and more info.

As I get older, I realize that though it wasn't my original intention, I did something that less than one half of one percent of Americans choose to do. I don't necessarily believe all conflicts are justified, but the folks that I met from Kuwait and surrounding countries during that time wanted us there. It makes me proud to have served and I support anyone who wants to join the military.

At first, I didn't feel comfortable having someone thank me for my service. I didn't know what to say to something that I didn't feel I deserved. To me, those service members who gave their lives or were in heavier combat than I ever saw were way more deserving than I. But I read an article from someone who put it in perspective. We can't all be on the frontline, but we support them by doing our jobs, like my ship, among a flotilla of ships, setting up warfare ops off the coast of Kuwait and drawing fire for main force attacking from the western desert.

When I heard of our little parade here in Winnsboro, I pulled out the old ball cap with my ship's emblem on it. With Covid, the veterans formed up out in front of the high school and listened to the high school band play the different military songs and afterwards drove off in procession to the other schools. Along the way, we got cheers and "we love you" from the kids and it felt awesome. There were several times when I thought I would tear up. My daughter and her friends were so excited to see us drive by and my heart was full seeing all of the kids.

I love this little town and it's American pride. I know America isn't perfect, but what truly makes America great is the fact that there are so many people working together to make it great. Do we still have racism, poverty, injustice and inequality? Yes, but it's our constant stride together to make it better that makes me proud of America and my service in the military.

Thank you to those that served and are still serving.