Homeward Bound

I very gratefully got a lift home from Salisbury yesterday, another volunteer. Of course, the subject got onto our forthcoming election. She quite openly said that she intended voting Liberal. I made the same point I made on here a few weeks ago, that I thought every party was pretty fatally flawed, so I would spoil.

The reason, by the way, that I think the Liberals are fatally flawed, is because we [i.e. the UK] had a plebiscite to decide an issue, and the Liberals have said openly that they will do the opposite of the result. So, I’m left wondering how much they respect the whole electoral process.

The subject, inevitably, turned to Brexit. The Liberals, after all, are overtly anti-Brexit, it is their flagship policy. I’m not sure, these days, if they have any others. This woman advocates another plebiscite. I mean, we don’t have to have a view on Brexit in this case, we can argue it just on the basis of what we want out of a political system. I said: for starters, there is no precedent for voting many times on the same issue. Second, when you decide that some plebiscites count and others don’t, I think you’re on a slippery slope. Who decides, for a start?

There were various arguments about the result of the plebiscite being too close to determine policy. Something I happen to agree with. But you have to say all this before the actual plebiscite. When you don’t think of it until afterwards, it’s just sour grapes. In fact, if the plebiscite had been taken more seriously by its organisers, there was every opportunity that we could know a lot more than we do.

There was that old refrain, what is there to fear? The fear, dare I say it, is obvious, at least to me. That we will have become a society which ignores the result of the ballot-box.

Then the comment that gave the game away. There are more youngsters now, and fewer oldies, so there is a chance that the result will go the other way. So, rely on the electorate changing, until it becomes sufficiently proportioned that we can get our way! Every election is a snapshot of people’s views at a particular time. For better or for worse. If people are not happy, they can change their minds next time around, as I am sure will happen in this case.

Fortunately, by that time, I was home.

Things that go Bump…

I see on the news, and read on here regularly, about people’s elected representatives coming out with a line of utter nonsense. For example, a recurring theme on WP is the very serious subject of gun control. And yet, these people, wherever they may be, are elected. So, I’m left wondering, are people just dumb?

Funnily enough, as it is Wednesday, Fandango has just published this week’s provocative question. There are a few frills this week, but he is basically asking the question: do you believe in ghosts? And he notes that according to a YouGov poll, 45% of Americans believe in ghosts. 45% also believe in demons, while 46% believe in other supernatural beings.

Funny, that first paragraph came to me in a blinding flash, and I cannot now think of the link between it, and Fandango’s question 🙄.

But I shall pay the guy the courtesy of answering his question. If you hadn’t already guessed, no, I don’t believe in ghosts. I’m afraid I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a ghost and a demon. As for other supernatural beings, I’m gonna have to dig out my copy of Ghostbusters, to even be able to name what they are.

What I do think, however, is that there are things out there that we don’t understand. In fact, there is a kind of pathway along our understanding of things, and we’re barely a step along it.

Plenty of examples. Think back to medieval times. We might gasp in awe at that spooky green flame, but today,as every schoolchild knows (should know 🙂) that there’s just some copper in there. Or (and I remember the line from Highlander, so it must be true) whether stars were just pin-pricks in the curtain of night.

Indeed, cosmology is a good example. Compare what we once thought with what we now think, as we chip away at the big problems bit-by-bit. Or, that only a hundred years ago, we learned to fly aeroplanes. Now we have space rockets. Heavier than air, be damned!

So, we can celebrate our achievements. But, at the same time, there’s plenty of things we don’t know. Medicine is an easy example. I don’t want to get too heavy, but when I started asking questions after the stroke, it was not long at all before I started getting the we don’t know answers. How can they not know? When so many people have experienced a stroke? It’s not as if it is rare. But look inside the brain, we don’t have a clue.

I’m not going to write a long post here. People believe in ghosts, in demons, in gods, for that matter, because they don’t understand things. I don’t mind if they don’t understand – I probably don’t, either – it is just their conclusions which make me wonder, are people just dumb?

PS – You have no idea how long it took to find an image which did not look like a klansman!

In Training

I had a thought a couple of days ago about how I have felt about not being able to do things, over the several years since the stroke. When I next looked at WordPress, I saw that somebody had posted on a similar subject. As aspect of the post was about people needed to learn to laugh at themselves, I guess. Same subject, different context. So, it was a sign!

For me, it was not a process of learning to laugh, but learning to shrug, really. Things are what they are, and if I couldn’t (can’t) manage something, I had (have) two choices, to accept it, or to think of a workaround. In that respect, your brain really is key. So there have been wins, but there has been lots of frustration along the way.

There are lots of things I needed to relearn after the stroke. I guess the biggest individual thing was to get back onto my feet and master walking again – that started about a month post-stroke, tiny steps around my bed, and I have become stronger ever since. Even then, it took the best part of a year before I was good enough to walk any kind of distance.

My arm, though, still poses problems to this day. More specifically, my hand. It’s got a flicker but not really any more usable than the day I had the stroke. So, this workaround notion is ongoing.

Two-handed things are a struggle. It’s kinda weird, these are everyday tasks that just require two hands, that I never really used to even think about.

Buttering a piece of bread, for example. More specifically, how to accomplish it without (a) the spread running away from me, and (b) the piece of bread running away from me. Even now, my wife does not realise that the spread is jammed in between those two other things, making it imnmovable, for a reason.

Another example is my socks. If you don’t believe me, try it, one handed. I once posted on here about the arguments I used to have with my socks! Not a word of a lie!

However, I mastered these battles a long time ago, and I can think about them and chuckle. I can even share tips with other survivors – just last week, how to brush their teeth one-handed! (Clue – you squeeze the toothpaste directly into your mouth, instead of trying to squeeze it onto the brush, which is just gonna move.) I can’t stress enough how trivial these things are – they’re things we’ve done our whole lives and never thought twice.

So I can chuckle now, although it was bloody frustrating at the time. Some things, like my socks, I am trained. Other things, like my teeth, I thought of a workaround.

Some things are still out of reach. In particular, gardening. I used to allow my garden to run wild flourish each year, and maybe two weekends per year would involve lots of chopping, lots of cutting, and a couple of trips to the dump. So I have all the equipment – I even bought a trailer for the occasion!

No longer – most garden tools here are deliberately made two-handed, plus just lifting the things, with what was my weaker hand in any case, is beyond me. I even bought one of those new, lightweight, battery-operated hedge trimmers, figured out how I could rig it to work one-handed, but even a couple of pounds was too much. Okay, these things have double-switches for a reason, too, so I’m also kinda aware thet each of my workarounds is disabling a safety feature. I haven’t even tried working around the chainsaw (yet).

Staying on gardening, just before the stroke, I bought a new petrol mower with a turnkey ignition, and I can manage that – in fact, the turnkey makes all the difference. Although this, too, requires two-handed starting, I worked out how to trick that. Emptying the grass cuttings is also a knack that I mastered. Fortunately the mower is also self-propelled – otherwise I wouldn’t have a hope of pushing this 100 lbs machine across the lawn.

So there are ways I can contribute, things I have worked out how to do. But it has been frustrating, along the way. Even then, I note that the old me could mow both of our lawns in an hour, where now, it is one lawn per day, with breaks partway through.

But, there’s no point being frustrated here, especially with things like gardening. My strength is what it is, and speed isn’t important, so I have to just shrug my shoulders. And let my wife get on with it!