Life & Logic: Part 1 – An Introduction

As another election approaches with summer primaries around the corner, we are reminded again that smart, engaged voters are our key to a strong, healthy democracy. We often can’t agree on candidates, issues, or results. We may even be surprised by the choices good friends make. Yet we probably agree we need to do more to protect our great democracy from the campaign and issue chicanery that has clouded the process over the years.

We’ve all noticed how decorum, mutual respect, and getting along are in short supply when it comes to our nation’s politics. Yet many of us think about positions and claims, and practice courteous conversation and diplomacy along the way, in spite of the behavior of some politicians no matter the party.

One way to have more impact is to strengthen our good reasoning skills. As we filter through political speeches and promises, we can all head to the voting booth clear headed and strong. We must stay engaged in the process and vote intelligently. Let’s continue to be thoughtful, calm, and sensible citizens to bring a better future, and learn to better identify faulty reasoning used to manipulate votes.

Authors Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, in their book Fallacy Detective, write about the importance of having an inquiring mind. I’ve been reading their book and will summarize the lessons in this blog from time to time. I know I need to sharpen my critical thinking skills to be bolder in identifying faulty communication, especially in politics.

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An Inquiring Mind

The authors suggest the value of having an inquiring mind. The most fascinating older people I’ve known have kept their inquiring minds open to new ideas. They stay interested in new ideas. I aspire to keeping an inquiring mind as I age. The book highlights these steps to activate and maintain just that:

  1. Exercise your mind. We need to continue exercising our thinking skills. Like with any exercise, thinking deeply can be tiring and hard at times. Have you ever experienced a situation you had to think through so rigorously that it seemed like your mind was stretching and felt like it even hurt? I have. That is exercising your mind muscle, important to staying flexible and strong as a thinker, though we get in the habit of staying comfortable in what we already know.
  2. Listen well. Take an interest in what others have to say. Ask questions and be respectful. Accept that others may have better ideas or know things you may not know. Be brave enough to even question your own position on an issue.
  3. Learn other points of view: The caution here is “Any side may seem logical if we only see things from that point of view,” according to the authors. I’ve experienced that for sure. Benefits of understanding other points of view include 1) the opportunity to grow either in developing our point of view with more solid thinking and awareness, or 2) the opportunity to change our perspective if we discover we are wrong, and 3) being able to better help others as we build our ability to explain our answers and improve our communication. Even with limited time to dig into different perspectives, we can do some digging.

To be good citizens, we need to recognize faulty reasoning in others and ourselves. As we dust of our logical thinking tools, I think that better prepares us all for the coming election seasons, and encourages us to model good thinking to those younger than we are.

Stay charming, friends! And logical.

For more on critical thinking, watch this video:


Note: This is part of a blog series on a logical thinking to strengthen skills as we filter information in coming elections. Being an involved, informed voter is strategic and becoming more important. Plus, logic exercises the brain. That is a great benefit. I am doing some reading on faulty logic, using a book, The Fallacy Detective, by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. You can learn more at www.fallacydetective.com. Let’s work toward more wisdom as citizens and voters together. Our democracy is strong. Let’s keep it that way together.

A Sunday Sundae Fail

This past Sunday, I ordered a sundae. Maybe you are like me and limit your sweets for healthy reasons. I made an exception and decided to order a hot fudge sundae for a special occasion. That is one of my favorite desserts!

My expectations were high when it arrived. It’s a basic classic dessert, not tricky to make. The server set it on the table and that is when my troubles began. This did not go well.

First of all, it was set in the center of a large dinner plate. I would have been able to reach it, but getting the spoon of gooey, melty goodness back to my mouth without dripping or spilling would have me challenged. So I picked it up and moved it to a smaller plate, and set it closer to the end destination, my mouth.

Sundae Plate

Now my fingers were sticky. One of the many traits passed down from my father is that we cannot tolerate sticky hands. Simple to solve. I headed to the restroom to wash up, so that, upon my return, I could relax and truly enjoy my moment of indulgence.

I got back to my seat and reached for a spoon. The dessert was presented on that big dinner plate with four spoons, and there were only two of us at the table. And the Mr. had ordered his own slice of carrot cake. Needless to say, he was not interested in my sundae. Nor would it be likely for me to share. OK, I have learned to share, but back to today’s comedy of errors and the four spoons. Each of the spoons was resting in the goop on the plate. I just needed one clean spoon. That’s a simple expectation.

The plate was covered in caramel and chocolate sauce and four small piles of whip cream. Did I mention that whoever garnished the plate with the two sauces must have taken out some aggression or taken a dare to create a plate that looked like an explosion in a sundae factory. And the cherries, which I’d mentioned to the server to not waste on me. There were five cherries wasted on me. I could not use any of the spoons. Still the sundae sat waiting patiently for me to partake.

It was a very crowded day at the restaurant and service was so slow. We liked our server and figured everything was backed up, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a very slow meal together. However, I figured it would be some time before I’d see the server again, so I walked to the hostess stand and asked for an extra place setting. The place settings come wrapped in a napkin. I unfurled the napkin back in our booth and found a lovely fork and steak knife. No spoon. Duh. It’s kind of a burger and steak place. I should have known.

So I gave up and began to eat my sundae with my fork. The server came by and I asked for a spoon. She did return with it. By then my sundae was soupy, but I don’t object to soft ice cream. I then realized there was no caramel in the bowl of ice cream, though it had been promised in the description on the menu. There was no hot fudge near the ice cream, either.

Oddly, the goblet containing the ice cream had been dipped in hot fudge then rolled in nuts, so the chocolate and nuts were on the outside of the glass. So weird. I ended up scraping the sauce and peanuts off the outside and then taking a spoon of soupy ice cream. OK. That worked in an unsatisfactory way.

Sundae Dish

So I gave up and quit my sundae before it was finished. I don’t like wasting calories on something sweet I’m not enjoying. I pressed pause on that disaster, we’d paid the bill, and left. I didn’t even care enough to complain. I learned not to order a hot fudge sundae again there. Although the hot fudge was decent, the ice cream was average even for vanilla, and the whole construction of it was out of a joke book.

It was called a “Messy Sundae” on the menu, but I did not believe them. Now I do.

Stay charming, my friends, and definitely avoid sticky! Have a sweet week!

 

 

See You Next Week

Image - Tree Reflection in Puddle 2018-1 WACC Patio

Trees Reflected in Puddle

I’m taking a week or two off from the blog. My schedule got away from me, as if it were a pet. I caught a cold, as if that were a sport. There are things to think through, and I just have to admit that takes time. I’ll be back soon. Thank you for your patience. Stay charming, my friends!

Celebrating Easter Then & Now

I want to acknowledge that not all of my readers celebrate Easter, and I respect that. So, perhaps if that is you, simply reflect back on your childhood traditions and celebrations as you read this post.

By way of background on this post and this past weekend, my husband and I were involved all weekend at our church serving and celebrating Easter. We attend a large church with between 2,700-3,000 attending on a Sunday. This year, the church hosted two Good Friday services and three Easter services in two venues. One Easter service was held on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to redeem us to life as we follow his ways in faith.

The main venue was on the large lawn just outside our worship center. The alternative venue was inside the worship center for a quieter viewing experience of the live service via projection on a large screen. I’m guessing at least 6,000 people attended this Easter in total. We worked hard and were tired at the end of the morning.

WACC Easter 2018

I helped with various things that came up, including taking family photos of people and checking the women’s room for paper towels and toilet paper. My husband helped with baptisms, as part of our Easter service traditionally ends with an opportunity for people to be baptized, if they wish.

I got to thinking back to my childhood memories of Easter from the 1960’s. Pause and gather your earliest memories of Easter celebrations, too. Or whatever spring was like for you growing up. The contrast may be interesting, as mine was today. I do remember Easter as a special time, a simpler time. But then I was a child, and the responsibility to make it special would fall mainly on my mom, it may not have felt simple to her.

Easter Eggs

We colored eggs every year. I loved that tradition and still think back on it fondly. I may pick it up again one day as a little happy nod to my childhood.

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From the 1960’s

Easter Baskets

My mom would prepare Easter baskets for my brother and I, filled with candy we enjoyed. That definitely excluded milk chocolate in my case, which I did not like. Still don’t. I liked the colorful baskets with green plastic grass. Although we did not do egg hunts, I have a vague recollection of searching for our Easter baskets.

I remember marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans. I’d give away the black jelly beans. You, too? Or are you a person who enjoyed the black jelly beans? Easter baskets are no longer a part of my Easter tradition, probably because I don’t indulge in candy any longer, and we do not have children of our own. I do enjoy an occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg from time to time at Easter. Jordan almonds are also a favorite. What is your indulgent candy of choice? Do you remember your favorite as a child?

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If milk chocolate is wrapped around sweet peanut butter, I don’t mind it at all.

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Such lovely colors in a sweet coating surrounding crunchy almonds.

Easter Outfit

It was also our tradition growing up to get new clothes for Easter. I remember getting new clothes on only two occasions as a child – for the back-to-school season and at Easter, and that is about it.

Shopping for clothes is so much more common now, and getting an Easter outfit is not as essential as it was when I was a child. During my junior high years, I remember being permitted to wear fishnet stockings, quite in style, for Easter Sunday with my new dress. That was a big deal!

Fishnet stockings in the 1960's, oh yes, we were that cool. by karyn

Many families I saw today were all dressed up for the Easter services. I enjoy seeing them, especially the cute outfits on their children. That is one of my favorite parts of going to church on Easter Sunday.

WACC Easter Kids 2018

Easter Church

Each Sunday, my family went to church as I was growing up, and Easter was no different. I attended a congregational church, a community church, and a Methodist church in my younger years. Easter Sunday would always find us sitting in church to celebrate the risen Lord. That is the same in my adult life, but church was much different. Smaller congregation, very few instruments and no electronics beyond a microphone, hymns to sing, and no problem finding parking.

Woodlawn United Methodist Church

My family attended Woodlawn United Methodist Church from about 1966-1969.

Easter Lunch

My mom often prepared a delicious family meal for Sunday after church. We’d often invite some friends or a few relatives to join us at the table, but I don’t recall a big family get-together. My mother would set the table with beautiful table settings and pretty dishes. Those felt like special times of celebration. I do not recall any special recipes. I miss those dinners together.

For many years after I was married, we’d share Easter lunch after church with my husband’s family at my mother-in-law’s home.  His family has a tradition of purple deviled eggs. I am a fan of deviled eggs and enjoyed the purple ones just as much.

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I’m not sure how my mother-in-law makes these, but the photo above is from A Beautiful Mess blog.

Recently, I work hard all weekend at Easter services at my church. I help clean up after church. By the time we can go to lunch, it is late and I am tired. We don’t eat lunch with family on Easter, though we often get together on Palm Sunday or during the week before Easter. My husband and I go out to eat and relax before heading home for afternoon naps.

So much has changed. We still celebrate Easter, but it looks different, and yet the important things remains the same. We celebrate with loved ones in ways that bring meaning and enjoyment. If we had children, some of the traditions would have carried on in similar ways.

Traditions are often changing, yet always hold a special place in our hearts and memories. We can keep the important values in tact, and open our minds to how they may look different through the years.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was filled with celebration, the hope of the season, fun, love, and good food, no matter what it may have looked like this year.

Stay charming, my friends!