Letter to Amazon: “I suspect you’ll become even busier as I pass your name around like a new prison inmate.”

Dear Amazon,

I love you. I realize we hardly know one another, but sometimes one must confess their true feelings for another when those feelings are this strong.

My husband is comfortable with my affection toward you and is understanding to our new, wonderful relationship. You get me. Never before have I met someone who’s understood my quirky tastes in British science fiction television or movies and recommends unheard of shows that I end up enjoying. Better yet, you offered me your Prime services early on in our relationship at little cost to me. I like that. Now I can guiltlessly enjoy those shows without needing to hide my obsession from the Evil Banktress.

Speaking of the Evil Banktress she’s beginning to suspect our relationship. Unlike my husband she’s less understanding and much more selfish. However as your Fire stokes the flames of my love for you, I find myself perusing your many pages for book titles I have yet to read. Your first of the month surprise deal of a free book is a gift that keeps on giving and in a good way to boot! Your lending library holds more titles than my local library and the books I crave are always in stock. Bonus!

You know me better than some close friends and you never judge my taste in books, TV, movies, or music. Rather than criticizing me you embrace my individuality and recommend series or artists to sample and follow-up with asking me how I liked it. Some of my friends won’t even do this!

We can take our relationship out of the confines of my home and I can proudly display you in public without fear of embarrassment or scornful looks. You’re dignified when needed, funny and charming at the proper times, sexy when asked; you’re like Suri only quieter (okay that was a lame stretch of a reference to The Big Bang Theory when Raj develops feelings for Suri; another recommended TV show that I love!). You even tolerate my lame attempts at humor with good humor and grace. No eyes roll in sight, no audible sigh of frustration.

Our relationship has begun slowly and with trust issues from past relationships. But we’ve built a good rapport and my trust grows. As I was discussing our relationship with a friend and stating how understanding my husband is, she stated our relationship is like a threesome without the weirdness. She’s impressed by your discretion and ease with 1-Click. No other suitor offers gratification like you.

In addition to sending me as many gifts as I like, you always reassure me when I need it most. Another click on “Track Package” and I get a quick and easy fix. You enable my neuroses without complaint. If I’m unhappy for whatever reason your superb communication soothes my frazzled nerves all the while answering my endless questions.

In essence you’re the ideal partner.

It would be selfish to ask you to become monogamous especially while I’m happily married so I’d like to reassure you that I’m comfortable with you seeing other people. When a relationship of this nature is this good it you have to share it. I suspect you’ll become even busier as I pass your name around like a new prison inmate.

Thank you for being the perfect mistress. Paying for your services never felt so good…

With love and adoration,

Tara Aarness

Posted in Culture, Dating, Economics, Happiness, Humor | Leave a comment

The High Cost of Happiness

Happiest place on earth (and it's not Disneyland)

Happiest place on earth (and it’s not Disneyland)

Behind the snow-capped mountains lies a country steeped in culture and contentment. In present day the people of Bhutan still protect their way of life all the while embracing the challenges modern technology bring. This week’s celebration of Earth Day fueled a long-standing interest in a country that seemingly effortlessly thrives on happiness and nature.

In 2012 the UN Climate Change Conference was held in Doha where leaders the world over asked a simple question: How does the happiest country on the planet keep up environmental and economic sufficiency?

Bhutan holds more than 800,000 residents and, on average, 7,000 tourists yearly. This little known country has intentionally kept to itself, but for the past decade or two they’ve begun to emerge from their self-imposed seclusion to share their wisdom with the world. Finding a balance between traveling to other countries and learning from other cultures all the while maintaining your rich heritage is no small feat.

The introduction of internet and television came in 1999 and by 2002 only about 1,000 of the country’s 800,000 residents were connected  to the outside world. At that time only 70% of the population had electricity and internet café’s were only just beginning to pop up in the capital Thimphu.

Truly amazing woman, photographer, and world traveler, Kellie Netherwood, captures the essence of every country she visits. Find her here at http://www.mydestinationunknown.com

Truly amazing woman, photographer, and world traveler, Kellie Netherwood, captures the essence and soul of every country she visits. Find her here at http://www.mydestinationunknown.com

This peek into the world at large garnered insight and desire for progress. Soon Bhutan’s strict importation guidelines faced new challenges and concerns. Eventually King Wangchuck welcomed the new world with open arms, but struggled to support his people’s happiness as greed and jealousy soon became an issue.

Gross National Happiness vs. Gross National Crabbiness

Money makes the world go round or so they say. King Wangchuck’s predecessor, his father, the fourth King of Bhutan, King Wangchuck, introduced Gross National Happiness in the 1970’s. His concept as stated on their website, www.grossnationalhappiness.com, states:

“The concept implies that sustainable development should take holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. Lately the four pillars have been further classified into nine domains to create widespread understanding of GNH and to reflect the holistic range of GNH values. The nine domains are: psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards. The domains represents each of the components of wellbeing of the Bhutanese people, and the term ‘wellbeing’ here refers to fulfilling conditions of a ‘good life’ as per the values and principles laid down by the concept of Gross National Happiness.” 

Photo courtesy of www.boundlessjourneys.com Visit their site for exquisite photos and tour information.

Photo courtesy of http://www.boundlessjourneys.com rated by National Geographic as one of the 50 Tours of a Lifetime.

The concept is particularly luring as I look out to the busy city streets and contemplate a life less hurried and filled with things I don’t actually need. In our race for the title of Leading Nation we’ve lost our once tree-lined path. Now our feet the pavement as we stride toward progress. We fill our homes, and our lives, with belongings we don’t truly need just for societal acceptance. Our children, as well as ourselves, are fueled by depression and bitterness over our inability to purchase the next It thing before our neighbor or friend.

Every day media bombards us in every format – cell phones, television, internet, radio – that we’re unable to effectively process the information being freely given. We’re so disconnected with our lives by remaining continuously connected we’re suffering from an overload of information. We feel empathy toward our fellow-man, yet we rarely lend him a helping hand.

As I sit typing this I think of my own 1,200 square foot home, modest by some standards, a mansion by less opulent communities from around the world, filled with needful things. And yet the malcontent at the loss of nature and humanity is still present. When will we, as a western society, learn that possessions can’t fill the void?

Peace and Prosperity

Money does indeed make the world go round and as people the world over felt the impact of the global recession I, too, join in asking could King Wangchuck’s concept of happiness actually be successful?

Photo courtesy of Shanti Travel for all your travel needs visit www.shantitravel.com

Photo courtesy of Shanti Travel for all your travel needs visit http://www.shantitravel.com

In 2011 the UN replicated Bhutan’s holistic developmental concept and backed by 68 countries in hopes of heeding Bhutan’s ominous projection that the world is on collision course set of self-destruction unless immediate action is taken.

Like locusts the human species is rapidly increasing devouring natural resources than we can duplicate them. Bhutan’s king has placed a cap on economic development in the form of environmentalism. King Wangchuck has halted export logging and placed a ban on private vehicles on all roads one day a month. Additionally a minimum of 60% of Bhutan’s land must remain natural and carbon neutral. With 8 billion people on the planet replicating these decrees would be nearly impossible for countries such as the US.

Paradise Screwed

Photo courtesy of www.littlebhutan.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.littlebhutan.com

A serious issue the people of Bhutan face is the effects of the environment. Though protected by their own efforts the rest of the worlds actions have reached deep into paradise. The changing weather has created havoc for farmers. Rains fall at the wrong time of year damaging crops, warmer summers invite insects infesting crops, and no snow in the winter create possibilities of draughts. With 70% of Bhutanese being farmers the world’s carbon footprint is crushing a developing country.

With the UN and 68 countries in tow looking toward Bhutan for the solution to survival the leading countries of the world need to stop discussing the issues humanity faces and start lending our neighbors a helping hand.

Bhutan vs. the World

The people of Bhutan claim they feel “human” and “connected” to the planet. Yet the rest of us outside of the last Shangri-La are busy multitasking ourselves into the grave. We walk among our fellow-man like mindless Zombies unaware of the human lives we touch. Of course there is a certain amount of awareness, but to what extent? Can you recall the last in-depth conversation you had that left you feeling renewed and enriched? Nor can I.

Progress is vital to mankind’s survival. It technically improves our lives ensuring we’re able to grow beyond our current reaches and lead a richer, more rewarding life. Isn’t that what the people of Bhutan are already doing but with less technology?

Photo courtesy of Shanti Travel, www.shantitravel.com

Photo courtesy of Shanti Travel, http://www.shantitravel.com

“Just as Alice, when she walked through the looking-glass, found herself in a new and whimsical world, so we, when we crossed the Pa Chu, found ourselves as though caught up on some magic time machine fitted fantastically with a reverse.” Lord Ronaldshay, British governor of Bengal, 1921

Posted in Bhutan, Culture, Economics, Environment, Family, Happiness, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Askhole’s Anonymous

askhole1We’ve all met them – the coworker with a problem that ignores your solicited advice; the friend who cries for help, then sloughs off your hard-earned wisdom; your teenager who comes to you with dating issues only to tell you how wrong you are. Annoying, time-consuming mutants that invade our world without warning and often spew their noxious demeanor creating a pollutant so damaging the EPA is called in.

Just as Alcoholics Anonymous helps those with addiction issues, we as a society should introduce a different form of AA – Askhole Anonymous – and lead off with a similar prayer.

The Askhole’s Prayer

Lord, grant me the self-control to not ask the questions I already know the answers to; the courage to admit stupidity; and the ability to shut the hell up. askhole4

Kindness will be given, and will be received,

Please, Lord, don’t let them be peeved.

Trusting that they’re usually right, that’ll take all of my might.

And that I may be content with their knowledge,

I know I will be, if only I may ask one more question of thee.

Lord, please grant patience toward those who helped,

And show mercy in their attempts to flee.

An open forum where needy people can gather and support one another as they traverse through the minefield that is self-confidence and awareness. It would be here that they may learn the necessary skills of respectful communication. Either that or banish them to an island in the middle of the Pacific.

askhole3 Do you or a loved one suffer from this debilitating condition? Do you have a problem you can’t quite figure out? Drop by and share your suffering with unsuspecting strangers now for a free, no charge consultation that you’ll be sure to ignore! Why wait? Bloggers are standing by! Comment now!


Posted in Askhole, Coworkers, Dating, Drama Queen, Family, Humor, Marriage, Psychology, Relationships, Relatives, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Disorder is Showing

Personality disorders are as fascinating as the disorder itself. Let’s face it. We’ve all met someone in our lifetime that’s suffered from an unbridled disorder. We know there’s something not quite right them, they know there’s something not quite right about themselves, but we all just quietly go on about the business of co-existing peacefully. What happens when peace can’t be achieved? Do you walk away? Do you stay and try to find a resolve?

Narcissism. Not just for dummies.

Narcissism. Not just for dummies.

15 years of innocuously studying psychology has led me to where I am today – not a psychologist or even a counselor, but one who has a firm grasp on the human psyche. This may seem narcissistic, however, for personal reasons I’ve invested much time and money into my research going as far as discussing my knowledge with psychologists and psychiatrists alike. Keep in mind I am not saying I’m on par with either, quite the contrary; rather I simply feel confident in my knowledge to share what I’ve learned.

There are three different clusters of personality disorders. They are:

Cluster A – Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal

Cluster B – Histrionic, Narcissistic, Antisocial, and Borderline

Cluster C – Avoidant and Obsessive-compulsive

With two Provisional Categories – Passive-Aggressive and Depressive

Now before we board the Crazy Train please make sure you’ve got your tickets to ride, keep your hands and feet safely in the compartment, and, as my grandma-in-law used to say, smile and nod because crazy people like it.

An interesting side note is that most people who have personality disorders rarely seek help or for that matter are even diagnosed. It’s only when they face personal crisis such as self harm or legal trouble that it becomes clear to the psychologist or medical professional involved. To gain an accurate estimate of percentage of the population who suffers from these disorders would be nearly impossible. Would that then show that the statics are actually greater than what they are showing?Narc2

Again as a reminder I am not a professional with a degree. I am merely hobbyist who has studied psychology for several years and has, when I could, verified my knowledge with  professionals. The reason for verification revolved around a custody case that turned into much more and, again, you’ll need to read the book to get the whole picture.

Given the extensiveness of the clusters I’ll be focusing on parts of Cluster B with future posts exploring other disorders. Why Cluster B? For that you’ll just have to simply read the book that’s due out soon. More on that in future posts.

First let me point out that to be classified with a disorder the person needs to have a long-standing pattern of behavior contrasting with societal culture. It can be traced back to adolescence or early adulthood. The pattern must be rigid and affect nearly every aspect of the person life – work, relationships, school, etc. Additionally, it’s common for someone to have more than one disorder and/or other mental health issues, as well. Examples would be Narcissistic and Histrionic with substance abuse issues; or Paranoid with Anxiety and Depression.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) generally affects men, while Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) affects mainly women, though it’s not unheard of for men to be histrionic or women to be narcissistic.

Narc1NPD has a host of symptoms and it’s safe to imagine that at one point or another you’ve encountered a narcissist. Perhaps you’re still working on a relationship with one. In order to begin to be classified as narcissistic the person would need to reach five or more of the following criteria:

Lacks empathy; unwilling to acknowledge the feelings or thoughts of others

Grandiose sense of self

Thoroughly believes he/she is unique/special and only values those of the same importance

Has unlimited fantasies of power or brilliance

Overly concerned with appearance and strongly believes they are, literally, perfect

Prone to exaggerate accolades, achievements, and abilities; lying

Requires regular recognition of their superior abilities; exaggerated need for praise and adoration

Believes they are entitled to whatever they want

Will readily use people to obtain their goals

Envious of others and concludes others feel exactly as he/she does about him/her

Arrogant behavior; may be accompanied by rage

Histrionic2Histrionic Personality Disorder is much like NPD and can be difficult to distinguish between the two. As with any personality disorder to be classified as having such the person would need to reach five or more of the following criteria:

Continual attention or being the center of attention; is uncomfortable otherwise

Style of speech is annoyingly vague, lacking details, evocative

Sexually suggestive beyond societal normality, including speech, topic of conversation, and style of dress

Uses style of dress to attract or garner attention

Emotionally shallow and incapable of expressing genuine concern or empathy

Melodramatic, prone to drama induced instances, think Drama Queen or Drama Mama on steroids

Relationships, like mirrors, are closer than they seem or rather they consider relationships to be further along or closer than they actually are

An example of someone with NPD and HPD is showcased in the story below:

Ben has worked for Acme Corporation for a little less than three months. His job as Quality Control is unfulfilling and he considers it beneath him. He tells his family and friends that he has a high paying job in which he is the head of Quality Control and even assists in the creation of new products.

He is continuously late to work and has been given several warnings.

One morning his boss, Al, pulls him into the office to explain that due to his tardiness he will be terminated. Ben is angry and denies being late. He states he was driving along the freeway and stopped to help a motorist. He quickly realized the woman was in labor and delivered the child himself as police and aid drove by. Ben continues stating that he’s the best employee they have and that he deserves a raise for all the mistakes he’s caught his coworkers making.

After several minutes of pointless arguing, Al shows Ben the video of Ben’s arrival. Though it’s clear that Ben arrived half an hour late for his shift, he fully denies his actions offering justifications about why Al may believe he’s late.

Al again explains that because of his absence a coworker had to miss a very important doctor’s appointment. Ben re-explains his reasoning, all the while never accepting responsibility, never admitting fault, creating elaborate excuses as well as the one he’s already used, and places blame upon others – stating his coworker should have scheduled the appointment for a better time and that what he was doing – delivering a baby – was more important.

Having had enough Al stops Ben from launching into yet another variation of Ben’s story that’s drastically different the last few and orders him to leave the property. Ben becomes enraged. He clenches his fists, his knuckles turn white, his face turns red with anger and he slowly advances toward Al making him feel threatened. Ben suddenly yells “I AM NOT LATE! I AM NEVER LATE!” Demeaning names are screamed at Al and possibly even threats are made. Then suddenly the rage is over and Ben storms from the building never to be heard from again.

Histrionic1If you think about all the people you’ve encountered some characteristics begin to emerge. Each of us embodies some traits of personality disorders. However this doesn’t mean we all suffer from such. Just as more than one person has a love for jazz, we all share an interest – to varying degrees – in music.

Your turn. Have you ever met a narcissist or histrionic? Share your stories and thoughts below.

Posted in Coworkers, Dating, Drama Queen, Family, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Personality Disorders, Psychology, Relationships, Relatives, Science, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Relatively Timely Blog Entry

Time. It’s relative and usually there’s not enough of it (time that is, not relatives; I have an abundance of those). My last blog, tarasdismalnitch.wordpress.com, was terminated in 2010 due to my lack of time. Now some four years later and I’ve been given a precious gift and while I can’t guarantee regular postings, I can do my best.

My grandmother, Mildred Bergman, passed away in September, 2010. The months prior to her death we began conversing as two adults, woman to woman, rather than grandmother to granddaughter. In that short time I learned more about life, both hers and my own, than I had in the 37 years I had known her. And it was because of her that I made the choice to have my DNA tested.

DNA ProjectThe company I tested with was familytreedna.com. They offer a wide range of DNA testing for moderate pricing. Gender plays a role, though, so be forewarned. If, like me, you’re female, you’re only options are mtDNA and Family Finder, both routes I took. If you’re male you’re in luck. Family Tree DNA can test not only your mt, but your Y chromosomes, as well. Wait. What does mt and Y DNA mean?

Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is the chromosome you inherited from your mother. Those chromosomes contain 37 genes of maternal life spanning generations upon generations. For more information click here.

Y DNA is the chromosome you inherited from your father and they, too, are the givers of life spanning generations upon generations. Detailed information can be found here. Call it sunshine-itis, call it laziness, call it whatever you want, but for the sake of word count and attention spans (mine included) I’ll let you conduct your own research.

Family Tree DNA offered me two choices, which I took, as you now know. The first test, mtDNA was quick and painless. A quick cheek swab with Q-Tips cousin gave me results in as little as six to eight weeks. The amount of information you receive is overwhelming. There are nine different branches of information to explore, often each offering another set of branches of information. Don’t expect this to be a short burst of information, though that’s possible if that’s what you’re looking for.

The first stop you’ll probably want to make is Ancestral Origins or Haplogroup Origins. Ancestral Origins provides you with which countries your mother’s (and yours) ancestors originated. Mine came back with New Zealand, Sweden, and a few others. There are different levels of the test and you’re always allowed to upgrade whenever you wish.

Haplogroup Origins informs you of which haplogroup you belong to. For more information about haplogroups click here.

Once you’ve discovered your lineage you can click on over to Matches and Advanced Matching. Here you’ll see who else has taken the test that you are related to. Some people may have chosen to include their family names and you can peruse through to see if any are familiar. Additionally, Family Tree DNA also suggests your relationship with that person. Example would be if you’re a first cousin or a fourth cousin, or sister, brother, father, mother, aunt, uncle…you get the idea. The Advanced Matching is pretty self explanatory. The great thing about this company is that they will notify you when new matches occur. There’s never a monthly subscription like other companies and they keep your DNA on file for when you decide to upgrade (and believe me you will).

DNA1The other test I took was Family Finder. The name says it all – it matches your DNA with other members to see if you’re related, and if so, to what degree. The Matches tab will provide you with a – sometimes – lengthy list of family. It’s important to note that though you may share DNA, they may not all be related to you. We all came from Adam and Eve and they could end up being our closest match. I jest, but only moderately. You still have to do conduct your own research to determine how you’re related. This is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but at least you have a very large magnet to do it with.

Feeling froggy and have some time to kill? Plug yourself into the Matrix tab and discover which members of family are related to one another. Say you’re trying to figure out which side of the family Ida Smith, someone who also tested with Family Finder and is related to you, resides – mothers or fathers? Now say your uncle on your dad’s side also decided to take the same Family Finder DNA test and is on your list, as well. Click on your uncle’s name and add it to the “Selected Matches” box under Matrix, then click on Ida’s name and add theirs to the box, as well. A graph will appear. Inside that graph are the lists of names you’ve added as well as white/grey boxes. If Ida is a relative on your dad’s side a check mark will appear next to their name and your uncle’s. If not, the boxes will remain white/grey. The Matrix is much like the movie – a bit surreal, enlightening, and it’s a fun way to kill a few hours.

Family Tree DNA is currently going through another growth process and this time they’re improving the Family Finder. It will be interesting to see what advances they introduce.

Grandma was eager to share with me all she knew about our family ancestry, and while I knew quite a bit, there was much that was left to my surprise. With the technological advances we’re making these days I’m certain she’d have been tickled pink with this adventure. My only regret is that she isn’t here to share it, but I guess timing is…relative.

Posted in DNA, DNA Testing, Family, Family Tree, Genealogy, Genetics, Relatives, Science, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments