Saturday, September 26, 2009

Strike One!

After the luncheon and fashion show last Saturday, my friend and I went to a park to sit and relax and visit while watching a couple of my kites fly.

At the end of our visit, when we were discussing eliminating unsuitable prospective mates, I said, "Three strikes, he's out."

She said she's proud of me because other women she's known say, "One strike, he's out."

We agreed that isn't fair because nobody's perfect and a good man might be cut because of a single mistake. In the days since, however, I've decided that "One strike, he's out," is a valid and necessary rule:

1. If he hits, kicks, chokes, or compels her to have sex against her will. This would be a no-brainer except for the fact that there are women who make excuses for or accept excuses from men who physically or sexually abuse them.

2. If he does drugs or engages in other illegal activities or tries to persuade her to do the same. This is another supposed no-brainer that some women somehow manage to miss.

3. If he doesn't respect her personal boundaries. The lack of respect shows how little he cares for her and may indicate a controlling and abusive personality.

4. If he steals or borrows money or items and doesn't repay or return as promised or in the same or better condition than they were loaned. Not only is he a thief or a mooch, he is unlikely to stand by bigger promises. Appropriating or damaging her material possessions without reparation may be a sign he's a financial abuser especially if he denies her access to her own property or refuses to return the favor of the loan.

5. If he exhibits cruelty to animals. Not only is it harmful for the poor animal, it is an indication that he's likely to treat her and her children badly when she doesn't do as he wants.

6. If he doesn't like her friends and refuses to spend as much time with them as he expects her to spend with his friends. Such isolation is an aspect of control and abuse.

7. If he uses emotional blackmail or other methods of coercion or intimidation to induce fear, or attempts to "pull rank" in order to get his way. That is, as a self-proclaimed superior male, he presumes to know what's best for a female. These are some of the controlling tactics of an abuser.

8. If he acts badly and denies it or blames her for it. Was she holding a gun to his head or a knife to his throat? No, this type of lack of respect is verbal, psychological, or physical abuse. If he demeans her to others or humiliates her, it is a symptom of his own low self-esteem. Since verbal abuse is often a precursor to physical abuse and since abusers are notoriously low on self-esteem, "One strike, he's out," helps women avoid wasting any more time on abusive men.

9. If he's unduly competitive with her. When a man loves a woman, he helps her be the best she can. Striving to beat her instead of helping her to improve is a sign of his low self-esteem and is only a precursor of the many future power struggles between them. Watch this one, too, because there are critics who claim they're only trying to help when, in fact, they're bruising souls and crushing spirits. Adept criticism will mention positive qualities as much or more than any negative points and will convey how to make something better without putting her or her effort down.

10. For a Christian, if he won't go to church with her and discourages her from attending. This marks a self-centered man who wants a woman in his life but doesn't want to be in hers. If he belittles her belief in God, she may be looking at a power and control freak and an abuser. In any case, a man who isn't yielded to the Lord makes married life harder on the Christian woman, and vice versa, which is one of the reasons why the Bible exhorts us to marry only another believer.

11. When the still, small "voice" of the Holy Spirit of God disturbs her spirit and soul. Since God knows everything, He may warn her away from a bad relationship so she doesn't have to experience any of the above.

So, for behavior like the examples above, it's "Strike one! He's out...Next!" because abuse is never an accident nor is it a one-time occurrence. It is a set of reprehensible methods chosen by abusers to get what they want.

And, yes, there are women who abuse men.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yesterday, a friend and I attended a light luncheon and fashion show put on by a local business women's club in the cafeteria of a local hospital. The clothing was provided by Dillard's, modeled by members of the club and their daughters as well as the club's scholarship recipients. The $25 tickets were a gift to my friend from her employer.

Since I've eaten there before, I was confident that the food would be good and the setting pleasant. Sure enough, the round tables with white tablecloths customarily used for banquets awaited us loaded with plates of salad, dessert, and sparkling goblets of iced tea and water at each place.

As expected, the food was delicious, so much better than I've had at other cafeterias, good enough for a decent restaurant. Two grilled steak strips topped the bed of freshly crisp rabbit food punctuated by rather large soft croutons with a bread stick along side. The dessert was a layered, flaky cream pastry topped by strawberries.

The accompanist was a man I had met in a local music store who had left a long time ago. The last I heard, he was the music minister for a local church. David joked with us as we were deciding where to sit saying that we'd have to pay him $2 for the privilege of sitting at the table closest to him.

The fashion show opened with a mother-daughter pair of unmatched black and white coats. The busy print on the mother's coat was large enough to tell it was houndstooth and small enough to be an instant headache. The black and white houndstooth on the girl's coat was larger and a relief to see but still too small to look good.

With that start, I was not eager to see the rest of the show.

As it turned out, the fashion show was a mixed bag leading me to hope that whoever put the show together isn't making fashion her career.

Some of the outfits were fine but the descriptions inappropriate. For example, a lovely pine green dress was described as emerald. Another dress, totally unsuitable for the office, modeled with stiletto-heeled, thigh-high leather boots was described as an outfit for the professional.

I leaned to my friend, "Professional what?"

What got to me were the separates that came across as totally uncoordinated and downright ugly. For example, while gray is a neutral, supposedly going with anything, gray slacks that were definitely cool in color temperature were topped with a print blouse and short jacket in light olive green, soft gold, rust, and other colors on the warm side of the color wheel resulting in the model looking like she was chopped in half at the waist. All I could think was, "Ugh." Why weren't warm neutrals such as khaki, tan, or brown used for the pants instead? Best, in my opinion, would have been pants in a darker olive.

Pleasantly surprising were the shoes that ranged from fun black and white lace-up tennies to slip-ons to boots to platforms with those really high "hooker" heels you just know that no woman will be able to stand or walk in comfortably for very long.

Between the categories of casual, business, party, and evening wear were dance performances by a group of teen girls. Seeing movements that were rather listless and sloppy except for their high kicks, I told myself not to be hard on their performance since they were only teens. Then, I remembered that high school cheerleaders look alive and put snap into their routines. Why can't these girls? Of course, they can. It must be their choreographer or whoever was coaching their practices who let them look like slouches.

The best part was the door prizes. I almost always pray to win something I can use and when I heard, "Now, we have a $50 gift certificate to [a local flower shop]..."

I thought, "No, Lord. I don't want that."

The name was pulled and the announcer finished, "...goes to Gail Rhea."

Puzzled, I accepted it with thanks and pondered how I might use it before its expiration date as the rest of the door prizes were awarded.

Near the end, the lady seated next to my other side won a small green cutting board and paring knife set by Pampered Chef that I instantly coveted. As we stood to leave, I ventured to ask, "By any chance, would you be willing to exchange door prizes with me? That shade of green is my cousin's wife's favorite color and I'd love to be able to give it to her."

I know that my gift certificate was worth much more than her prize, but it isn't always about monetary value, is it?

The real question is whether the set will make it into my cousin's Christmas box or if I'll end up keeping it for myself.

It's the perfect size for traveling.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tips From "The Happening"

M. Night Shyamalan's film, "The Happening" starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, has been showing on HBO. With preparedness on my mind this month, I gleaned the following tips from the movie:

- Firearms will harm you and others. Avoid people who have them and don't carry one yourself.

Although, having one or more weapons for self-protection is debatable.

- Keep an emergency bag near you at home, in your car, and at work especially if you walk or use public transportation.

A few items should be readily accessible at all times. Build your own Everyday Carry (EDC) kit to keep in your purse, briefcase, or backpack. A 32 oz/1 L wide-mouth water bottle will hold several of the larger items and a key chain will hold the small stuff.

- Keeping your mind occupied will avert panic attacks.

Solve puzzles, play games, swap stories with others, sing.

- Backpacks and duffel bags are easier for going over rougher terrain than are rolling suitcases.

- Don't yammer at the person you're looking to for guidance. Be quiet and let him/her think!

- There's safety in numbers...except when it's safer to be away from the crowd.

Every situation is different from the next; maybe a little bit, maybe a lot. If what you should do isn't clear, unlike being on something that's in the process of collapsing under the combined weight of a crowd, pray for God's guidance - He knows what's best. Pray, anyway. It never hurts.

- Have maps for where you are and for where you're going. What if there wasn't a vehicle or it didn't have the map they needed?

- Respect other people's property.

If you don't leave when told, you are trespassing and some (all?) states permit the use of deadly force against trespassers to protect the occupant(s) and property.

- Keep a positive attitude.

A final tip that wasn't given:

An exposure kit (N95 mask or at least a bandanna, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing such as a cheap plastic rain suit) might have protected them from the toxins.

That had to be ignored, of course, or the movie would have been different than it was.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preparedness Progress Report

This September is the sixth annual National Preparedness Month. Since I asked the question, "Are You Prepared?" last year, it's time for a progress report.

How have you been doing with your own preparedness kits? Do you have a bug-out bag and a plan in case you have to evacuate? The Red Cross says that the disaster most Americans face is a home fire. It'll be good to have a grab & go bag ready for your escape because a fire is sure to destroy at least some of your belongings and put you out of your home for awhile.

Through Sept. 30, 2009, you may save 10% on a Red Cross radio by Eton at Radio Shack by presenting this coupon.

For my part, although I got bogged down and didn't finish writing my Essential Systems series by now as planned (please stay tuned), I did continue with my personal preparedness by getting:

- A new city street map for my home town and the closest large city.

- A pack of N95 masks in case my bandanna isn't enough.

- A new, packable, top SPF-rated, sun hat.

- A pair of Yaktrax Walker traction cleats.

- Katadyn Micropur water purification tablets.

- A new emergency blanket. I already had a Space Blanket and decided to augment it with another that's sturdier and has grommets.

- Fox 40 Mini and Micro whistles for my key rings and to replace the one that was on the lanyard of my compass in my hydration pack that was stolen when my car was broken into in 2007.

- An Eton Microlink FR150 solar/crank-powered AM/FM/NOAA weather radio and light that can recharge a cell phone if the card for the free plug is returned to Eton.

- Two boxes of can't-blow-out birthday candles and 3x jumbo cotton balls and petroleum jelly for fire starters and tinder.

- New LED flashlights and upgrading my incandescent Mini Maglites to LEDs.

- Solar charge flashlights to ensure having a light that's safe for magnetic media if my flashlights with batteries happen to die.

- A UCO Mini candle lantern to safely hold tea light candles and an oil insert for the original UCO candle lantern I've had for a few years because I've always wanted an oil lantern and in case I run out of the UCO candles.

- A Trangia alcohol burner and a Sterno collapsible stove to accommodate the Trangia burner, cans of Sterno, and Nuwick candles.

- A Freshette feminine urine director.

- 100 feet of 550 lb. Type III paracord with a seven-strand core.

- A crow bar to keep in my car trunk and 8-1/2" pry bar for my pack.

- ResQMe and LifeHammer car escape tools.

Last week, I went through my emergency food supply and pulled out everything that expires within the next six months. Moving them to be used for daily meals, except for my tea that I buy elsewhere so still need to do, I replaced them with fresh stock for my emergency stash along with new gallon jugs of water.

Two days ago, using wide adhesive Velcro strips because I didn't want holes drilled, I mounted a LifeHammer sans bracket onto the front slope of the center console of my car leading down to the hand brake so it's accessible by a passenger, too. The soft, loop side of the Velcro strips went on the LifeHammer for comfort and the harsher, hook side went on the car.

Unfortunately, I somehow managed to misplace my Freshette during the past few months which demonstrates the disadvantage of robbing Peter to pay Paulette since Paulette doesn't seem to have it any more. Oh, well. It will either turn up somewhere or I'll have to buy another because it's a great convenience that I don't want to have to do without now that I've used one.

Along with other miscellaneous items, I still need to build up a cash reserve because if the electricity goes out, credit and debit cards won't work.

Documentation is an entirely incomplete category for me. I can't scan my important papers because my scanner is broken and I can't photocopy (or scan) them because I put the key for my fireproof lock box in a place that's so safe, even I can't find it.