Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I've been watching my neighbor's cat (and house) while they went away for a couple of days to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family. They don't watch a lot of TV so there's an abundance of reading material hanging around to look at while I'm there (I try to spend some time with the cat, not just feed her).

One of the things to read was a powerpoint slide presentation about boosting the immune system naturally. Like most of these things, some of it seemed more pseud0-science...but, the overall message was good. A good summary of the finer points in here (and the ones that tend to be more "science fact") are:
  1. Reduce stress - use the stress we have for constructive purposes. Get organized, eliminate clutter, simplify choices, and treat yourself well (like you would your best friend or pet).
  2. Eat right - Drink enough water, eat foods with fewer chemicals, be sure your diet is well-balanced and contains enough (varied) vitamins for your body's typical activity. Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. Don't over-eat.
  3. Reduce alcohol usage - No more than 21oz/wk for women, 28oz/wk for men.
  4. Don't smoke or inhale other chemical fumes
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Exercise
  7. Get outside a little every day (sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D)
This is what we've been told for years. There's more in the presentation, but what isn't expanding upon the points above tends to be way too new-agey (ie. pseudo-scientific) for my tastes (eliminating red meat and pork completely, stop computer use after 7pm, don't get metal fillings, etc.). While some this "other stuff" may have some merit, it doesn't tend to be very practical and, in some cases, I doubt that it is something that truly affects the body's immune system.

If I look at the list above, there are definite areas for my improvement - mostly in the one I listed first: stress. One way the presentation identified to reduce unnecessary stress was to look backward and locate the root of the stressor. While I generally talk about this in other areas, I am not so good at putting the idea into practice when I get angry and stressed-out. Reduction of clutter doesn't just mean stuff - it also means reducing mental clutter as well. In general, what is being suggested in the area of stress reduction is to take time to smell the roses, and get rid of those things that tend to keep us in a constant state of stress. Another specific idea from the presentation was to get news from online sources rather than watch the news on TV. While this may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, the goal here is to identify those items that are really news, read it, and set aside the sensationalism and exaggeration that examplifies the typical TV news report.

So with it being "black Friday" today and my desire to be no part of it, here are some thoughts I had about what I should be thankful for:
  1. I have a job - actually, it is a job that I mostly think is a good one too. I need to take time to put it into the correct perspective sometimes (not over-work or become overly concerned about it).
  2. My finances are stable - In a time where some people are having trouble paying the bills, or who don't know how to budget when money is tight, I continue to make a good living and have a good sense of how to budget for all situations. I need to put some extra money in the budget to take care of myself, when I figure out what that is...
  3. I have good friends - While I don't see many of them as much as I probably should, there are many who stand ready to remind me that I'm not the dreadful person I sometimes see myself as. As I sit here typing this in my neighbor's house with their cat on my lap purring, that reminder is most definitely appropriate.
  4. I have common sense - I wish that I didn't have to include this one, but given what I see and read I need to be thankful every day that I can think for myself. Common sense isn't common anymore, and people are increasingly looking for ways to explain-away problems using supernatural magic or through illogical reasoning, or simply by ignoring them outright. This is not to say that every decision I make is perfect or well thought-out, but I at least put forth the effort.
Some clutter that needs to be dealt with is:
  1. Cable TV - Time Warner continues to have problems delivering a consistent TV signal to my neighborhood (possibly all of Austin). I have tried repeatedly to contact them recently about this, and they are generally unwilling to return my e-mails and phone calls, nor are they showing any progress on identifying and fixing the trouble. While I understand the complexity of delivering cable service (really, I know more than most people do, being a network guy and reading lots of Cisco/Scientific Atlanta literature), Time Warner, with their money and expertise, can't seem to get it right. Maybe the best thing to do is to just get rid of cable. Dealing with the cable company is overly-stressful and much of the programming on TV is of questionable quality anyway.
  2. Computers - While this is my area of expertise, I'm finding that I'm sitting in a sea of computer equipment without any real purpose. My personal computer projects are becoming less satisfying - partly because my workload (at work) has increased and partly because the effort required to complete the projects is more than the anticipated satisfaction resulting from their completion.
  3. Aggravation over Austin - Specifically what they call growth and I feel is more a destruction of the flavor and fabric of the city. I need to set my sights on leaving and finding a simpler and less populated place to live. I can't do that right away, because of my job (and pension), so the best I can do is to try my best to find some oasis inside the desert of ideas instead of hoping that the people here will get a clue. They won't.
I'm sure there's more, but my laptop battery is getting low and I need to spend some time with my own cat, and find something to do that doesn't involve shopping. There's certainly enough turkey and fixin's hanging around for lunch and dinner, so there's no way I'll be hungry. Sick of turkey, maybe...

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