How I Keep from Killing People

After forty-five plus years working and the resulting work-place restrictions on my personal freedoms and decision making, the freedom I’ve acquired in retirement is very important to me. To maintain this freedom, I’ve developed a couple of strategies to keep from killing people, and thereby, avoid incarceration. There are other reasons I want to keep from killing people (killing people is bad), but I’m going to focus here on avoiding incarceration. Specifically, I’m going to focus on how I keep from killing people by accident (or due to my own stupidity), and how I keep from killing people due to anger (which frankly, is also due to stupidity).

Here in Albuquerque, there’s a lot of killing. Lots of those killings are due to stupid anger, and stupid accidents. I don’t want to get caught up in those trends, so I wondered if I couldn’t come up with some anti-killing-people strategies. One of the strategies I’m adopting is not to drink and drive. I did not come up with this one on my own. There is plenty of evidence in New Mexico (memorials along the roadsides) that are testimony to the danger of killing people as a result of drinking and driving, so it’s a good idea not to drink and drive. At a much less significant level, I also say out loud the color of the traffic light I’m approaching. When I say “green” I go. When I say “red” I stop, and when I say “yellow” I usually slow down (much to the dismay of whomever is behind me) and stop. Sometimes I don’t say “yellow” but rather, “I’m gonna go.” Yellow is really tricky when it comes to not killing people. I also avoid doing things that involve electricity and power tools, because one of the people I’m trying to avoid accidentally killing, is me.

Anger is truly a stupid reason to kill someone. I read in my local paper, an article about some teenage boys who, after being kicked out of a party, returned and shot three people. The reason they gave for the shooting, was that they had been disrespected. I don’t find shooting people very respectable (able to be respected) behavior, so I see why they may have been “disrespected.” I don’t own a gun, so I can’t shoot someone if I get angry with them (I also put down shovels and other heavy tools and remove myself from the general vicinity of people with whom I’m angry). I haven’t killed anyone, so I think lack of access to firearms and discriminate use of heavy tools are good strategies to keep from killing people. Also, we probably shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. If someone treats us in a manner we find offensive, leave that person’s company, and then don’t return (with or without a gun) until no longer angry.

While I’m on the topic of stupid reasons to kill people, another stupid reason to kill someone is the fear of having that person reveal something we would rather not be revealed about ourselves. I’ve read more than one account of this happening. What happens next? The killer gets caught. The thing they didn’t want revealed is revealed at a much higher, widespread level (like on the evening news and in local newspapers) than an individual could have managed, and the killer is incarcerated. So pretty much EVERYONE knows what they didn’t want ANYONE to know, plus the whole “now you’re a killer” thing. Killing people really reflects badly on the killer. So, how do I avoid this? I write a blog, telling everyone who reads the blog, the stupid things I’ve done; thereby, avoiding the fear of exposure. Some character flaws (like overuse of parenthetical statements) are apparent, and don’t require that I spell them out (hopefully correctly – I find misspelled words and hypocrisy irritating).

I will summarize, with bullet points (a holdover from my days of employment), how I keep from killing people:

  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Say out loud the color of the traffic light I’m approaching and then behave appropriately
  • Remove myself from the vicinity of people with whom I’m angry, and implements of destruction, until no longer angry
  • Don’t play with electricity or power tools
  • Allow people to say what they want about me
  • Don’t take myself too seriously

I’m sitting in my She Shed, listening to the music of my youth (James Taylor, Elton John, etc.). Having a She Shed, and listening to music are also great ways to keep from killing people. Life is good. Don’t kill people.

It’s Part of the Plan

Before retiring, I developed a retirement plan. The plan was to retire as soon as possible. I tried to do things that would allow my plan to materialize, including maxing out my retirement savings plan contributions. This left me with very little money to live on, which I considered to be retirement training, because, if I retired as soon as possible, I would have very little money to live on. Happily, it turns out that I need much less money to live on, than I thought. Working was expensive.

Part of my retirement plan was to have a shed built in the backyard. My spouse (Phil) and I would then finish the inside to create a self-contained, self-controlled office (She Shed) for me to write in, and stay out of his hair (he’s been disabled for over 20 years and is used to having control of the house, television remotes – including volume, thermostats, etc.).

Tuff Shed was happy to take my pre-retirement money and then deliver and assemble the shell of my 8 X 12 shed, which they did in September 2018. Phil, a former electrician, very kindly ran electricity to the shed so that I would be able to heat and cool it, and power my laptop computer. We didn’t start working on the inside until I began retirement in December, 2018 We decided to go with polystyrene foam insulation, and learned that we could purchase a block (I could have sworn they called it a blub, but my cognition has suffered following many hours of polystyrene – in both its solid and gaseous state – exposure), and have sheets cut to our specifications. We felt that 3 inch sheets would work, and the company was happy to comply. We picked up our custom-cut polystyrene and then experimented with ways to cut the stuff so that it would fit between the studs in the shed. We tried an electric carving knife which was messy. We don’t get a lot of snow in Albuquerque, but it looked like it was going to be a White Christmas in our backyard. We moved on to a “heat knife” and were much more successful (I did worry about the ozone).

This was followed by spray-in foam insulation, to fill in gaps. That resulted in many foam insulation stalactites. It was like Carlsbad Caverns North. After much trimming, we were ready for the paneling.

We went with the cheapest paneling available at Lowes because it was our favorite. With the help of family, we got the paneling cut mostly to size, and up on the walls. I put down peel-n-press tile. Next we painted and put up trim and molding to cover spaces that the paneling had chosen not to cover. The spaces that remained were filled with paint, and if too large to fill with paint, they were filled with caulk and painted.

The plants are to remove the toxins emitted by the cheap paneling.

Furnishings were repurposed items donated by family members (again, with a heavy reliance on molding, caulk and paint). The best decorations were donated by friends and family (two personalized signs and a chandelier). The remaining artwork is the result of sales at Hobby Lobby and Michaels, lots of hot glue (Phil says the house still smells like burning wax and skin), and artificial plants. There was even a little sewing involved to make a cushion cover for the repurposed banco.

I was so proud of our finished project, that I sent pictures to Tuff Shed. They like it!

The welcome mat is out, and I’m planning lots of She Shed shindigs like She Shed Scrabble and She Shed Screenings, and of course writing She Shed Scribbles.

I Wonder…

I was eating a bowl of cereal this morning, staring at the free McDonalds-provided 3-d Lego Movie juice cup that held my grapefruit juice. I was trying to determine the secret identity of “Lord Business.” By shifting the cup to just the right angle, I revealed that “Lord Business” is also “President Business!” I will not expound upon the freakishly prophetic content of the 2014 “Lego Movie” here, because I promised my son-in-law that I wouldn’t use this as a political forum. It did make me realize that retirement has provided me with more time for reflection and contemplation.

The things I contemplate are, sadly, not lofty ideals, but rather an indication, that I probably watched way too much TV in my rare free-time while working. As I was contemplating what I want to be while retired, the Toys-R-Us jingle, “I want to be a Toys-R-Us kid” kept running through my head, and I wondered, now that Toys-R-Us is closed, are all of those Toys-R-Us kids orphans? Commercialism has not only taken over Christmas and Easter, but also my thought processes.

In the spirit of repurposing, I used an old blanket on my couch as a prophylaxis to spills and the day-to-day wear of exposure to my spouse, grandchildren, and me. I wondered if the blanket was now acting as a kind-of couch condom. It would be a kinder, gentler couch condom (if less effective) than the clear vinyl couch covers of old, but you wouldn’t stick to it during hot weather, unless you spilled something, and you sat there long enough for it to dry and adhere to exposed skin. It’s this kind of earth changing thing that I wonder about in my now increasingly available free time thanks to retirement.

I wonder about avoidance behavior. I was wondering why I settled on Friday as my blog writing day. When I retired, I decided that I didn’t have to clean house on Saturday any more, and that I could make the bold move of choosing to clean house on FRIDAY. Sadly, I soon realized that cleaning house on Friday, is no more fun than cleaning house on Saturday. I wonder if the avoidance behavior that plagued me while working (I would tell myself that I would be better able to prepare my program budget if my desk drawer was clean and organized) has followed me into retirement (I tell myself that I will be more energized to clean house once I’ve spent an hour or two writing; except when I tell myself that I’ll be more inspired to write once I’ve spent two to four hours cleaning house)?

I wonder if I’m qualified for the position of retiree.

I Forgot!

I forgot (you tend to do that when you’re old and retired); I also want to be an inventor when I grow up while I’m retired. I have experimented with inventing. Many of my inventions involve repurposing items, like my sweatshirt sweater/slipper sets. I then make dozens of my newly designed item, and force them on family members and friends.

Since I’ve always valued function over form (function/form; nature/nurture; this/that – I love alliterative “this or that” comparisons); my inventions are not beautiful. They tend to get the job done for me (the sweater/slipper sets provide warmth, and a modicum of modesty preservation as I traipse around the house in my pajamas), which leaves the recipients of my homemade inventions wondering, “what was she thinking?” Another personal invention is the “Two- Rectangles-Easy-To-Switch-Out Purse.” I like for the color of my purse to match my jacket and shoes, but the effort involved in changing purses (not to mention the cost of purchasing many different-colored purses) was distasteful to me, so I invented a totally tasteless purse that accepts a handy-dandy purse insert with pockets for all of the items needed in one’s purse. They are VERY functional.

Not all of my inventions have been material; I’ve also come up with conceptual inventions, like the “See Food Diet” (it’s not the one you’re thinking of). Basically, you use your phone to take pictures of everything you eat during the day, and in the evening you review the pictures to “See” exactly how much, and what, you’re eating. I told friends and family about it, and no one seemed interested in giving it a try. I tried it, and was so depressed to “See” how much, and what I was eating, that I ate some cookies, after refusing to take a picture. Not all of my inventions work.

Image result for free images cookies
This is not a picture of cookies that I ate; however, it is representative of many cookies that I ate without having taken a picture.

I WANT to invent wonderful things, but I don’t want to market these things. In fact, I don’t even want to know when my inventions are not wonderful. There is safety in giving away your inventions. It would be rude for the recipient to be critical. I don’t take criticism well. I’m not sure if it’s a nature or nurture thing.