Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Perception Gap

Just want to pass along that handy term for your next dinner party or stimulating intellectual discussion. It's from a David Ropeik op-ed in the Times, and he says:

... Our risk perception system, which blends thinking and feeling and mostly takes place subconsciously, often produces fears that fly in the face of the facts. Many of us are more afraid of some risks — like mercury or pesticides or genetically modified food — than the evidence warrants. And many of us aren’t as concerned about some really dire dangers as we ought to be, like climate change, particulate pollution or acidification of the ocean. The problem is, being too afraid, or not afraid enough — a phenomenon I call “the perception gap” — produces dangers all by itself. For that reason, it’s worth exploring just why our fears don’t match the facts, as a first step toward protecting ourselves from the real dangers that arise when we get risk wrong.

Some of us, ahem, miiiiight have mothers and grandmothers who routinely display (or displayed) bold illustrations of this perception gap.

And it miiiiight be influencing our own daily fears, and is worth thinking about - either doing more research and less seeking of validation, as Ropeik suggests, but also, for me, being aware of the very real consequences of long-term low-level stress, and long-term low-level fight-or-flight decision-making.

Food for thought... 'tis better to make peace with my daily choices and live calmly, than to warmly welcome my existing facts-and-feelings perception gaps, nurturing them to my own detriment...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sick day.

For most of my working life (from my first job at 15 until age 28) I was not the beneficiary of paid sick days - nor of any other employment benefit like health care, life insurance, vacation time, retirement savings, etc. For a little over two years, I have had the option of all of the above and today, I went home sick.

But, oh, how quickly we adjust to a new reality! What have I spent some of today doing? I was worried about the work going undone, the emails going unreturned, the lack of hard deadline for my return - will I be better tonight? In the morning? Will I have this cold as bad as John has had it, which has knocked him over for a week? I have been checking my BlackBerry, thinking of little things and sending an email or two to the co-workers I just left hours ago, and obsessing about one piece of casework in particular - where I can't save a life by being at work, but I can be the best listener they have right now, and that has some serious value.

But what I haven't done today is stop and be grateful that I am getting paid right now. My paycheck won't be less for having to miss work today - so I don't have to cut a few dollars from the budget to compensate, as I did for so long - and since I'm not at a super-small business*, I don't have to worry about retribution, lost hours, or a lost job, for not showing up. I don't have to lie about annoying allergies when I really have a head cold, and I get to hope that my 3-hour-nap and chicken noodle soup and tea and salt water gargles and Neti Pot will end up making me well sooner - which is what sick time is truly all about.

So before I let the last two years of safety net whitewash over the previous 13, I'm taking a moment to feel grateful while the tea water boils. Again.

* Not all very small businesses would engage in such practices. But some would, and do - and did in my working life. If they're not required to abide by FMLA or other labor laws, they definitely don't, for reasons both sensible - and evil.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Official

Today is February 15th... which means I can say, for the first time since I can remember, I got through an ENTIRE Valentine's Day without one person - not by phone, by message, by letter, by Facebook, by overhearing in the world, by smiling stupid ignorant face that I want to desperately correct but somehow cannot - saying to me "Happy Valentime's Day!"

I can die happy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I've always been glass half empty...

John and I have been listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine these days. Tonight I said, "So she's saying I'm gonna drink myself to death right?"

And John replied, "No I thought it was I'm gonna treat myself tonight."

Answer found here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Who has a gourmet recipe for a tres leches cake, or something like it? I love to make cakes, but since I eat less of them now, I must find reasons to make them. And one of my sisters-in-law has a birthday coming up, and she wants a sweet, moist, dense, delicious, cinnamon-y tres leches cake. I've made one once and it was "meh". Might you have a tried and true recipe for me?

Also: auto-correct would like to call this a tres leeches cake. Real nice.