Especially since retirement, Spouse and I have come to appreciate the fact that, since each of us is left with only half a brain at this point in life, the only way we can function is to put those two halves together!
As I was catching up on emails today, I came across this prompt from yesterday. In the bad old days, when I was working on my last job, being this far behind on emails would have caused a great deal of stress, both internal and probably also coming from Twit and Princess Fairy Dust. I am so fortunate to be out of that situation and to not feel like I’m required to stay consistently current with friends and family, because they are all generally healthy, happy and content as possible given the possibility of a Republican takeover of the federal government. I can say this knowing that most of them are Democrats like me, and if they’re not we’ve already forgiven each other for mutual political lapses, and the RNC ended just last night.
Spouse and I live under the same roof and are generally carefree, content and happy in our retirement home. One reason for this current state of bliss is that, although we keep different schedules and pursue different activities as individuals, we both seem to feel that it’s part of our “marriage contract” to monitor each others’ well being on a daily basis, and to act accordingly. Our daily interactions start when he joins me in my “woman cave”, usually bringing his morning wake-up beverage with him. He’ll come through the door and ask, every day, “Whatcha doin’ dear?” knowing full well that I will be either sitting in front of my computer or reading in my grandma’s pink upholstered rocking chair. He’ll then sit down on the my other grandma’s pink flower covered couch and we’ll begin our mutual morning status checks on sleep pattern and quality of the previous night and the expected aches and pains of old age.
The pattern this morning, however, was very different. I got up and initiated my usual morning routine but, after plowing through the second fifty pages of The Big Sleep, I started to feel a little sleepy myself, and realized that I had hauled my buns out of bed an hour or so earlier than usual. So, I decided to mix things up a bit and go back to bed where, if I was able to catch a few more Z’s, I would probably be a little more energized for all the additional reading and computing I expected to do today. I did fall back to sleep, and when I woke up I simply restarted my morning routine where I had left off, back in the woman cave.
In the interim, unbeknownst to me, my poor caring Spouse had come up to join me and became a bit concerned to find me not upright in a chair but quietly prone back in my bed. When he returned to restart his usual morning routine he made a point to tell me that he really to make sure that I was OK since it was so unlike me to sleep during the day, unlike him and most other husbands I know who, for some reason, as a group, feel that a midday nap is a right and requirement to keep their grizzly bear grumpiness in check, especially if if they have been cooped up in the house with their wives all day i.e. every weekend while they were working.
Or is it sometimes OK is good enough? Either way, that’s the best bit of wisdom I’ve ever received. I even remember approximately when and how this sanity-saving advice came under my purview. I believe it was when I had two small children, a near-absentee husband, a full time job and a large new-to-me house. It came in a rather unique format – a Beetle Bailey comic strip, and it must have been a Sunday one because, although I can’t remember the word order or the situation in which it was offered, I recall noticing the vivid colors when I would occasionally catch a reassuring glimpse of it, pinned to the bulletin board above the kitchen trash cans.
Since I so love to reveal my age, and for those of you who have never been exposed to the Sunday funnies in a printed newspaper, I can tell you that Beetle Bailey is an American comic strip created by cartoonist Mort Walker, who still writes it today, at age 92. Today, after more than six decades, Mort Walker’s creation is still one of the most popular comic strips in the world, and is among the oldest comic strips still being produced by the original creator.
The title character started as a college student when he debuted in 1950, before I was born, but was converted to an Army Private, as he supposedly enlisted during the Korean War. Most of the humor in Beetle Bailey revolves around the inept characters stationed at Camp Swampy, a fictional US Army military post. Private Bailey is a lazy insubordinate goof-off and straggler who usually naps and avoids work, and thus is often the subject of verbal and physical chastising from his superivisor and nemesis, Sergeant 1st Class Orville P. Snorkel. The characters never seem to see combat themselves, though Sarge is known to frequently beat up Beetle for any excuse he can think of, leaving Beetle a shapeless pulp (one of the most iconic images in the strip) . Sarge is too lovable to be a villain, however.
Sarge and Beetle seem to share an uneasy alliance that sometimes borders on genuine (albeit unequal) friendship. In this vein, in an exchange between these two comical characters, that is where I first read these memorable and valuable words, though I can’t remember which one said it. Nevertheless, in one brief shining moment, sometime in the mid-1990’s, I adopted this simple five word phrase as my mantra and guiding principle for all endeavors. What a relief that was! Clearly, while neither Beetle Bailey nor Sergeant Snorkel would have excessively high standards or expectations of themselves or others or certainly of the Army, I was struggling to live up to my own unattainable, if not clearly defined, standards as a mom, wife, career professional and neighbor as well as cook and housekeeper and quintessential California girl, which most of my new neighbors were.
Until then, as the eldest and golden child, the first in my family to have received not just one college degree but two, and the sole producer of grandchildren for my mom and dad, I had generally felt a constant striving for perfection. Then, suddenly, after therapy, yo-yo dieting, uncertain dating results and periods as a self-hating recluse, I was miraculously saved by this thought: Why? Why spend all that time and effort to achieve the perfect result when good enough was in fact enough for nearly everybody else but me. It had only taken forty years for me to accept that most of the people I cared about could and would accept what I did as the best I could do and that, therefore, I didn’t have to beat myself to do more or to accept that fact myself.
In my recent research into this topic, I came across an article titled Why It’s Healthy to Sometimes Settle for What’s Good Enough which hit the nail on the head with this statement. “People who tend to obsess over decisions, big or small, and then fret about their choices just cause themselves a lot of unnecessary grief. People who have trouble making the everyday decisions in their lives cause themselves a lot of extra stress and grief. A study from Florida State University suggests that some of their problem comes from an inability to commit. Even after making a choice, some people are never truly committed to it.” OMG, that was nearly me!
The article did cut me a little slack, though, by noting that there’s a little bit of perfectionist in all of us but some people take it to an extreme when making choices. This is what I used to do all the time, and still catch myself doing occasionally. “People who tend to obsess (or in my case stress) over decisions — big or small — and then fret about their choices afterwards are sometimes called maximizers, while those who make decisions and simply live with them are sometimes called satisficers, a portmanteau combining satisfy with suffice.” Thank God, I can now call myself a semi-satisficer. “Whether these differences are a central and stable part of personality or simply a frame of mind isn’t clear. What is clear is that indecisive people cause themselves a lot of grief that those who are more satisfied with their decisions don’t.” What a revelation!
A study of Florida State undergraduates produced results that were interpreted to show that maximizers still could not commit to their choices, even after were finalized. Their decision didn’t bring them happiness, it brought them doubt and caused them to second-guess themselves. The study also found that maximizers place a high premium on the option of being able to change their mind, even after making a decision. They want to avoid commitment.
“What this all suggests is that maximizers would be happier if they brought a little more perspective into their life and learned to accept minor decisions as final after they’ve been made.” Well, there it is. Sometimes good enough is OK, and sometimes OK is good enough for me these days.
Thanks to AGMA, a fellow Old Fart blogger, I have reblogged her multi-faceted post Under the sink strategery on which I can expound for what I hope will be a thoughtful and thought-provoking Independence Day Old Fart Friday, even though I didn’t actually do it till Sunday. Old Farts hate schedules.
First, let me confirm by Old Fart bona fides by confessing that (1) I knew what NPR was before AGMA explained it and (2) I am comfortable in concurring that Walter Cronkite, who has been off the air since 1981, would indeed have been proud of this masterful reportage. I must also confess that my Old Fart bona fides may be somewhat tarnished as I have been remiss in embellishing my aged intellect; I don’t even know what the local NPR station is, let alone listen to it. Perhaps that will be a 2017 New Year’s resolution, if I remember it six months from now.
I am also in agreement with AGMA’s attitude towards “expiration date control” and the efficacy of the multiple meds stashed in my bathroom drawers as well as under the sink. I have practical proof, though, that expired (by at least a few years) Benadryl, still works on my allergy to horses and other furry creatures to which I am not exposed on a consistent basis. We’d dragged our kids to a rodeo from which I emerged barely able to breathe. May have been mind over matter or just distance from the source, but I contend to this day that the expired Benadryl I downed ASAP after leaving the rodeo saved my life and now I don’t leave home without them even if I’m just going to visit my sister and her dog or my daughter and her cat.
Where this post really got me, though, is right where I live, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, AKA The Secret City or, more appropriately here, The Atomic City. My safety concern would of course center around radiation hazards in addition to biohazards. That’s in addition to as opposed to instead of. As I’ve learned in the five years that I’ve lived here, if the potential exposure to uranium and other radioactive materials stockpiled in nearby federal facilities wasn’t a big enough concern, then potential exposure to chemicals and other byproducts of research and development projects undertaken at any of the local government facilities certainly could be.
I won’t bore, or frighten on my behalf, any of my very few but hopefully also very interested readers, by providing ALL the gory history and details here, but suffice to say you all should be able to get the picture from this summary.
In 1942, the federal government established the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) in Anderson and Roane Counties in Tennessee as part of the Manhattan Project to research, develop, and produce special nuclear materials for nuclear weapons. In 1989, the ORR was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Priorities List because over the years, ORR operations have generated a variety of radioactive and nonradioactive wastes that are present in old waste sites or that have been released to the environment. Since 1992, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has responded to requests and addressed health concerns of community members, civic organizations, and other government agencies by working extensively to determine whether levels of environmental contamination at and near the ORR present a public health hazard to communities surrounding the ORR. ATSDR scientists have completed or are conducting public health assessments (PHAs) on iodine 131 releases from the X-10 site, mercury releases from the Y-12 plant, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), radionuclide releases from White Oak Creek, uranium releases from the Y-12 plant, uranium and fluoride releases from the K-25 site, and other topics such as contaminant releases from the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Incinerator and contaminated off-site groundwater.
AGMA, bless her little Southern (lives in Atlanta, I think) heart, also expressed concerns about which antidotes to stockpile in the National Stockpile. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no antidote for any of the nasty things that could occur in a body if exposed to unduly high levels of radiation. That’s a potential concern for as there are only ten miles between this Old Fart’s retirement home overlooking beautiful Melton Hill Lake and Y-12. What, you may ask, is Y-12? It is part of a National Nuclear Security Complex and is, among other things, responsible for the maintenance and production of all uranium parts for every nuclear weapon in the United States arsenal.
Located somewhere on the west side (the side closest to me, of course) of Y-12’s 810 acres is this lovely and inviting building, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF), a 110,000-square-foot, fortress-like storage facility which may very well house the world’s largest inventory of bomb-grade uranium at a single location.
According to a local scribe who for the last thirty five years has been, in his own words at Atomic City Underground, “Piecing together information from multiple sources until a story took shape. Challenging the system — the federal government — to do what’s right…given its size and the scope of work and the security that surrounds it (and he should know since he’s actually been inside and lived to tell the tale), the HEUMF has maintained a fairly low profile over the years.” Many thanks to the very recently retired Frank Munger for that bit of reassuring news, along with this bit from one of his last articles summarizing the results of a Department of Energy (Y-12’s owner) assessment of the site’s, especially its WWII era buildings, criticality accident alarm system.
The currently used suite of accident detectors located in the building were uranium is still actively processed, as opposed to just stored, at Y-12 were purchased and installed in the 1990s, according to the DOE’s report, which went on to say that “Overall, the operability of CAAS (criticality accident alarm system) is adequately being maintained and is verified through routine completion of surveillance testing requirements defined in (safety documents)”, though there were “deficiencies that indicate that there is some amount of uncertainty in the CAAS detectors’ ability to perform its functional requirements specified in the safety basis.”
“The coverage area for the installed criticality accident detectors in Building 9212 — the main processing center for bomb-grade uranium — is not in compliance because of the shielding inside 9212 and possibly some adjoining buildings.” Fortunately, the “intervening shielding” in some Y-12 buildings is greater than what’s assumed in the safety documents that establish the area covered by the accident detectors. The report said the assessment team also identified other deficiencies “with a lower level of significance.” Among those was that Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Y-12 — has not adequately responded to issues related to a backlog of maintenance on the criticality accident alarm system. That backlog is reportedly growing.
You might guess that, like AGMA, this Old Fart has some concerns about the efficacy of our government’s stockpile for this radioactive stuff, especially since our feuding representatives up there in Washington, D.C. can’t even agree that terrorists who can’t fly here should not be allowed to purchase guns here. As she is concerned about deployment plans for some good stuff- getting the stuff from the warehouse to the people who need it – I might be equally concerned about the contractors who let three protesters — including an 82-year-old nun — make a mockery of Y-12’s security by cutting through multiple fences to reach the uranium storehouse in the plant’s forbidden zone, if they hadn’t already been replaced. I might also give a small thought to other, occasional news stories about the uranium storehouse, including a report that cracks had developed in the exterior of the mammoth concrete structure.
In conclusion, like AGMA, at this point this Old Fart has already decided that, in the event of local momentous bad news, I would probably kiss my sweet Aging Gracefully ass goodbye, get a bottle or can of beer of something-or-other from Spouse’s beer fridge, as opposed to AGMA’s bottle of champagne from the wine fridge, dive under the bathroom sink and start popping open expired bottles (or cans) of whatever I’d found. AGMA gave and accepted for herself a 50-50 chance. This Old Fart will also take those odds.
Photo from Google Images courtesy of Steven Spielberg and Indiana Jones
Yesterday, AGMA heard about her worst nightmare. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic. Redo. I heard about something that caused my head to pound and my eye’s to glaze over.
Not that far off of a typical morning for AGMA.
NPR’s Morning Edition reporter Nell Greenfieldboyce did a segment on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Does that sound like an oxymoron to anybody else?
For AGMA friends across the globe, NPR stands for National Public Radio. It’s non-commercial, not for profit, as close to unbiased media as you can get in the U.S. It relies on a combination of listener contributions, corporate donations and some public monies for funding. In other words, it’s independent, fact-based journalism at it’s best. Old school stuff.
Walter Cronkite would be proud.
So evidently there are these six huge (double super WalMart sized)…
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“Life is like a hot bath. It feels good while you’re in it, but the longer you stay in, the more wrinkled you get.”
– Robert Oustin
Observation started with this post (http://mindfuldigressions.com/2015/03/12/how-often-do-you-fart/) by one of my favorite bloggers. After complaining of stomach pains, and taking a lot of icky meds, his doctor asked him how often he farted, which prompted the following thoughts about the many similarities between babies and old people.
Their bowel movements are often observed and noted. They’re either constipated of have the runs. Neither of these conditions is very much fun.
A corollary to the above is that they pass gas pretty often. That makes babies smile, and maybe old farts, too!
They wear diapers
They frequently visit doctors, even if they aren’t sick.
As people age, they often take on the characteristics of dependent children.
They sleep all day but are up all night.
They leave this world the same way they came into it: toothless, hairless and wrinkled
Prefer to take vitamins (and/or fiber) in the form of gummies.
Always want what they can’t have or is not good for them
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