The value of examining your core beliefs regularly

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The world is flat.

Applying leeches will get rid of a patient’s illness.

If someone takes your picture, they’ll steal your soul.

At one time, each of these statements was believed by groups of people. Today, we scoff at these theories because we know them to be untrue.

But the people who believed these things were not stupid.

The world’s best scientists believed the world was flat. Experienced, caring doctors believed leeches got rid of “bad” blood. Wise community leaders believed that spirits could be captured by cameras.

So what changed? How did people come to accept a different reality from beliefs that they fully embraced? …


REDISCOVERING SELF

What else have I forgotten?

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The ’70s was the era of canned tuna and cottage cheese and peach slices for the calorie-conscious woman. My mom was a fan. When I was growing up, she served cottage cheese with supper, maybe five or six times a month.

I liked it fine, but once I moved out, I don’t remember ever buying curds OR whey for my tuffet. It seemed like old-people food. And my meager food budget was allocated to only the basic necessities: pasta, chicken, bagels, frozen veggies, cereal, milk, chocolate, and Diet Coke. Mostly pasta and Diet Coke, to be honest.

A curd in the hand…

A few years later, the man I married had a cottage cheese obsession. We had to have it in the house at all times. Small curd. Only small curd. He ate cottage cheese in place of mashed potatoes. He put it on his nachos. And, yes, he even scarfed it down with gravy on Thanksgiving. …


WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Visiting art museums in an hour or less

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Overseeing my company’s presence at trade shows was a big part of my professional life for almost 20 years. Like nomads, the events team would travel to events all across the country; I would join them for a few major conferences each year.

Friends would say, “Wow, heading to LA for a week? That sounds fun!” Little did they know.

Working at a trade show guarantees that you’ll see three things: the inside of a convention center, the hotel lobby bar, and the hotel room. …


HUMOR

Why you need to read every review before buying…anything

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Sadly, after many years of loyal service, our kitchen timer [sniff!] kicked the bucket this week. It came as a total shock. I mean, there I was, baking a cinnamon coffee cake when I reached for the egg timer to set it for 42 minutes. I turned the dial carefully, and, much to my dismay, it fell silent. No amount of banging, twisting, and sweet talking could make it tick.

Alas, little timer. I hardly knew ye.

So I tossed it unceremoniously into the trash and tried using the built-in range timer. Pfftthhhhht. Not the same. As time expired, it only bleated out weak little beeps rather than a full-throated bbrrrrrrrrrrring that resonates in my sternum. You really need to feel that alarm, not just hear it for the authentic cooking experience. …


OPINION

Life in the Post-Truth Era hasn’t worked out so well

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Many pundits pin the beginning of the Post-Truth Era on the moment Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s then-senior advisor, introduced the term , as she defended then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false assertions about the Trump inauguration crowd size.

Spicer claimed that the crowds were much larger than photo evidence showed. The President, Spicer, and Conway pushed a narrative that crowd sizes surpassed previous inaugurations for reasons that continue to puzzle most of the nation. And so began a presidential administration filled with falsehoods peddled as “truth.”

But the truth has been slipping from our grasp for a long time. …


LIFESTYLE

New furniture is overpriced…and overrated

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My life partner and I bought a house together three years ago. We each brought furniture to the new home, but have slowly replaced most of it to suit the style of our 1950s custom ranch house and, well, us.

As I look around, I realize now that about 75% of the furniture we’ve bought is used. I didn’t intend to do it that way…it just grew as we found great items. And we discovered five great reasons to keep buying used:

  • Cost savings is the most obvious reason to buy used furniture. Used furniture typically costs only 25% or less of the cost for a new item. For example, we got a well-built wood (no pressed wood) end table for $40 USD. …


MICROFICTION

Finding humanity

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“Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged 32. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California 1936.”

“You sure there were seven, Dorothea?” asked her assistant, dutifully writing the dictated caption.

“Yes. Very sure,” Dorothea replied, gazing out the window.

It had been a hot day. Dry winds billowed. Her lens clouded with dust over and over.

When the curious but timid children emerged from their makeshift tent, she noticed their swollen bellies.

Dropping her camera, she scoured her car for food and hard candy, which she delivered to greedy hands and downcast eyes.

“I’ll tell your story,” she whispered.

This photo was taken by Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), the American documentary photographer and , best known for her -era work for the (FSA). …


POLITICAL HUMOR

An unconventional suggestion to make DJT leave

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“How can I miss you if you don’t go away?” is one of my favorite expressions. Not that I don’t love my loved ones and cherish time with them. But I recognize the value of a little separation.

I started saying this — only to myself; never aloud — as a single mom. After the divorce, I’d have the kids for 10 days at a time. It was glorious, and honestly, I’d have happily taken full-time parenting if it were possible in any way. Believe me, I tried.

But, because it wasn’t, and because our parenting agreement called for 10 days with me followed by four days with their dad, I admittedly began to look forward to the little respites from making lunches, doing laundry, cooking two different meals due to food aversions and allergies, homework, early wake-ups, general problem-solving, school drop-offs, after-school activities, church activities, and the other 1,000 daily details of life while juggling a demanding full-time job. I had about eight days a month to take a short break and gear up for the other 22 days. …


PANDEMIC COPING

The vaccine brings a torrent of relief…and panic

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I must have done something good in a former life, if you believe in that sort of thing. Because, even though I’m not a healthcare provider or over the age of 65, I was invited to get the COVID-19 vaccine just four weeks after it was released in the U.S.

I made my appointment with mixed emotions. Others need it more than I do. I work as an administrator at a university medical school. I never interact with patients; I’m a desk jockey, 100%. …


Today I witnessed the country of my birth and my heart slide its final notch to a third-world country. It’s happened slowly over the last four years, and the inevitable violent insurrection attempt finally occurred today.

I heard a sitting president incite violence and domestic terrorism.

I watched a man in a MAGA hat casually chipping away at the Capitol — the symbol of democracy — with a crowbar.

I witnessed the cordial treatment of rioters. Like welcome guests.

I saw sparse policing, in spite of weeks of threats of violence.

I observed rioters taking selfies, unabated, in the sacred chamber of the Senate. …

About

Tina L. Smith

Writer, humorist, animal lover, lifelong language geek (er, I proofread for fun). I write on diverse topics that catch my fancy. Everything but haiku(tm).

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