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Author Archive for Russell Trahan

It Can Drive You Batty!

This weekend we were playing our favorite game: “What?”  This is where you go to different rooms in the house, they don’t have to be far apart and actually rooms right next to each other makes it more fun, then one of you says something to the other, and the other yells, “What?” back.  Whoever can get the other to say “What?” the most times wins!  Variations on the game include, “Huh?” and “Damn it, come in here if you want to talk to me!”

The game gets more fun the older you get, and the louder the TV gets.  Being in the room with the TV is an advantage if it’s your turn to get the other to say “What?”  Even though they do lose their hearing as they get older, it’s not as much fun to play with the dog.  They can’t respond with “What?” and you always end up going into the room where they are to get their attention. Unless you open some cheese.  I don’t care how old my dogs have gotten, they can hear me open cheese in the kitchen from the upstairs bedroom.

This reminds me of an article I read a while back on animals that can hear better than humans.  I broke a couple myths I’ve always believed were true.

How many of you were at the NSA Winter Conference in Austin, TX in 2016?  It was so cool to go down to the river at twilight and watch all the bats fly out for their evening meal.  It turns out, bats are neither blind nor deaf.  They have eyes that can see, but in much darker conditions than humans.  They also can hear the echoes of the sonar they put out, and are genetically prevented from going deaf as they age.

So, good luck during your next game of “What?” and remember not to play it with teenagers, they don’t care what you’ve said enough to respond.






Rest In Peace, Betty

Now you can speak like Sophia, with Estelle.

Now you can think like Dorothy, with Bea.

Now you can dress like Blanche, with Rue.

There was an editorial cartoon this weekend that said, “If you live ‘til 99 and people still think you’ve died too soon, you’ve lived a good life.”  This can be said about very few, but in this case it’s true.

A social media movement got Betty White to host SNL at 88 years young, the oldest host to date.

Now, social media is urging good deeds in her name #BettyWhiteChallenge.  I hope you can participate.

We will miss you, Elizabeth, Sue Ann, Ellen, Rose, Elka, etc., but most of all when you were just being Betty.


Resolve To Give For Others

The holiday season is known as a Season of Giving.  This year many givers are discovering there are empty store shelves due to a supply chain problem, and even if an item is well stocked there are empty pockets due to a pandemic problem.  However, there is one gift everyone can give anyone, and that’s the gift of themselves. 

This is why volunteering goes up over the holidays.  Some studies say volunteering rises by more than 40% during the fourth quarter of the year.  But this can also make it hard to volunteer over the holidays, as many shelters and food banks are packed with volunteers for a couple of months, but then searching for help during the rest of the year.  So, although you want that “helpers high” during the season of giving, consider making volunteering one of your New Years’ resolutions. 

There are many added benefits to you, personally, not just the non-profits you’ll be helping out.  People who volunteer regularly also make more effort to take care of themselves, as demonstrated in visits to their doctor for preventive health care.  Perhaps their networks are chiding them to do so.  People who volunteer may be more physically active. 

To try to tie this together, volunteering likely exerts its positive effects on health by connecting people to others, as well as to an activity that they find meaningful. Achieving connection, purpose, and meaning is critical to attenuating the stressors of life. When there is purpose and we are connected to others, we take care of ourselves. 

Rather than face the over-crowded gyms in January, why not go to an unstaffed homeless shelter.  It will be just as healthy for you and a lot more appreciated by your fellow humans. 

Give Willingly But Wisely

Thanksgiving, in the United States, is the fourth Thursday of the month of November.  Black Friday is the day after.  Since 2005, the Monday after is Cyber Monday.  Since 2012, the day after that is known as Giving Tuesday.  Giving Tuesday 2021 results, as the world rallied around the 9th annual global day of giving, brought in $39,254,555.

Giving Tuesday’s founders have said it was formed as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” But, Giving Tuesday is not just a grassroots movement, it has a structure, a CEO, a budget, and funding from sources such as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Motor Company, and PayPal. 

But this is not unusual.  Many charitable organizations can have a structure similar to a large corporation.  In fact, Goodwill Industries is actually a for-profit organization with a very well-paid CEO and only a fraction of its income going back to charitable works.  The Salvation Army was organized to serve everyone with love, hope, and without discrimination; yet they have a history of turning away those in need whom do not align with their traditional values. 

So, as you give this holiday season, please be aware of whom you are giving to and who they in turn give to.  There are plenty of opportunities to support worthy causes.  Several such opportunities were founded by people that did get rich from their non-profit, but got rich first and then started to give back.  One such case is former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier.  He was wheelchair bound after a tackle in 2017.  Having fully recovered, he started The Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation to give back to others who did not have the resources he did during his recovery. 

This holiday season, don’t give until your heart’s content – give until it hurts, because if you have even $1, or a pair of socks, or a can of green beans to give, you can be sure there’s someone who doesn’t have that much who would be grateful to receive. 


I am thankful I went through puberty.  I am thankful I went to grad school.  I am thankful I had my wisdom teeth pulled.  I am thankful I had my gallbladder out.  Why would I be thankful for these awkward and somewhat painful experiences?

You see, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word thankful as “pleased and relieved.” This puts the word more in the past-tense.  Something that has happened, not really something that is happening or being felt.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word grateful as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” This makes being grateful more an action. Something you’re currently experiencing and finding motivation from.

When I was in college I attended Trinity Episcopal Church, and every year at Lent, Father Lamb would suggest rather than giving up something for 40 days, we should start a new habit.  Something that benefits our fellow human or other creatures on earth.  Start donating, start volunteering, start giving in some fashion and do it for 40 days and nights, so that it becomes engrained and we do it all year long.

So, I would encourage you, as you gather around the table on Thursday, rather than saying what you have been thankful for, tell everyone there what you are grateful for and what you’re going to do about it!