Fun Fact: Encyclopedias

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Image by Julia Schwab from Pixabay

Does anyone remember encyclopedias? Do they still exist? If so, does anybody use them?

Encyclopedias are a set of about 20ish, identical-looking, hardcover books. Each letter of the alphabet has its own volume, and the letters that don’t have many entries are grouped into one book. So, for example, topics beginning with XYZ might take up a volume.

Basically, encyclopedias were what Google and especially Wikipedia are now. If you needed to do research, you used an encyclopedia. If you wanted to know more about a particular subject, you used the encyclopedia. As you can imagine, these were a pain to use because you had to carry around several volumes, usually, in your school bag and it was all so clunky. And unlike Wikipedia, they didn’t cover as many topics.

Every year or two, the encyclopedias were replaced by a new set, which were edited to include more topics, change any sort of recorded stats, basically update information. I don’t know what people did with their old encyclopedias. My own family didn’t have them, so I don’t know. I don’t think there were many recycling programs back then (the 70s). Maybe they were donated? Ha! We could probably Google it to find out!


Did you have and/or use encyclopedias when you were growing up?

Fun Fact: What’s in a (Filipino) Name?

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Photo credit: JCT(Loves)Streisand* on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

I was named after American singer/actress, Barbra Streisand., who was actually born with the conventional spelling of her first name: B-A-R-B-A-R-A, and then dropped the second “a” to be unique. Hence, B-A-R-B-R-A.

My mom named me after her because she was a huge fan; me, not so much. And I’m certainly not a fan of my name because I have to spell it out for everybody. Even then, they don’t always spell it correctly, which is really frustrating.

Up until high school, I went by Barbra, that is, Bar-BRA, not Bar-BA-ra. To simplify the matter of how my name is spelled/pronounced, I began introducing myself as “Barb.”

Then there’s my sort-of middle name. It’s A-N-N, without the “e” at the end. My dad was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I guess my parents compromised and named me Barbra Ann, after the Beach Boys hit, “Barbara Ann.” If you’re of a certain age, then surely you know the song. If not, well, here it is:

In Filipino culture, babies’ middle names are their mothers’ maiden names. So when I was born, I was Barbra Ann Lingat Natividad. My first name is actually Barbra Ann, like Mary Ann. But no one ever called me that because . . . well, I don’t know why. So when I became a naturalized citizen, I dropped “Lingat” and made “Ann” my official middle name.

My family, on the other hand, calls me “Chic” or “Chic-Chic” (pronounced “chick,’ not, “sheek.”) In Filipino families, it’s very common to have a nickname. My paternal grandfather called me his little chickadee, and that’s how I became “Chic-Chic.” Most of my family members call me by the shortened version — “Chic” — while my siblings and younger cousins call me “Ate (pronounced AH-teh) Chic-Chic.” In Filipino culture, older brothers/sisters/cousins have an honorific as a sign of respect. For girls, it’s Ate; for boys, it’s Kuya.

The first time I was married, I changed my last name to my husband’s. Whenever I’d show up for an appointment or something, people would look at me with mild surprise because they were expecting a white woman. So when we divorced, I took my maiden name back. When I married my current husband, I kept my name because: 1) I didn’t want to lose my cultural identity; and 2) for professional reasons — I had already published poetry under the name “Barb Natividad.” Is your head spinning yet? Lol!

Do you have cultural norms surrounding your name? Do you know how you got the name you have? If you’re a single/married woman, would/did you change or keep your last name?


via Daily Prompt: Simplify

Fun Fact: I Didn’t Quit Smoking For My Health

Why I Quit SmokingNope. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for my cats. I can almost hear the trill of laughter coming from those of you reading this, but bear with me. I also didn’t do it cold turkey, take a pill, use a patch, or chew gum.

I began smoking when I was 16, and smoked one-half to a full pack a day for the next 12 years. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, but a smoker is a smoker. I’d tried quitting cold turkey during my smoking years because I wanted to be healthier, but it never worked. When I quit for good, I was a broke college student, and at $3.50 a pack, cigarettes were getting expensive (that price is probably laughable to current smokers).

For me, the motivation was my cats’ health. I lived in a studio (1-room) apartment at the time, and I knew about second-hand smoke. One day, it occurred to me that if my cats got cancer, it would be my fault. That was the wake-up call that made me determined to quit smoking. I didn’t care about my own health, but I sure as $hit cared about theirs! Here’s what worked for me:

In 1998, we didn’t have cell phones, but we had wireless phones. So my first step was to quit smoking in my apartment. Back then, texting didn’t exist, so I’d spend hours on the phone with my friends, during which I smoked a lot. Fortunately, my apartment was at the end of the hallway where the fire escape was located, so I talked and smoked out there.

Writing papers was stressful, so I smoked plenty while doing homework. Because I made the decision not to smoke in my apartment, I started eating Blueberry Morning Cereal. Every time I craved a cigarette, I’d eat handfuls right out of the box! This included after regular meals, when I’d normally smoke. Whenever I felt like smoking, I’d reach for that box of cereal! I gained 10 lbs., but lost it once I stopped substituting cereal for cigarettes, which happened once I quit smoking for good.

My next step was to quit buying my own packs. I bummed smokes from my friends at school. They didn’t seem to mind. At that point, I had quit smoking in my apartment altogether and just smoked before, between, and after classes. As I smoked less, my cravings declined. And then one day, I had my last cigarette, and haven’t had one since 1998.

This isn’t a traditional approach to quitting smoking, but it worked for me. Again, my cats’ health was my motivator. Hopper (Princess), on the left side of the picture, and Basil (Blue-Eyes), on the right, lived to be 18 and 17 years old, respectively. After having worked with cats, both as a volunteer and as a veterinary assistant, I knew they had lived fairly long lives, even with the health problems that comes with being a really old cat. Towards the end of their lives, Hopper and Basil had a host of health problems, and were on all sorts of medication. Our current cats have never been exposed to cigarette smoke in our home and at 17, they aren’t even on medication!

I don’t know if quitting smoking made a difference in my cats’ lives, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I’m healthy for having quit.


This post was inspired by Beckie’s of Beckie’s Mental Mess series of posts on quitting smoking, which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. As of this writing, these are the only posts in the series. Please visit her blog to see if she writes more.


Photo provided by author

Fun Fact: Why I Didn’t Become a Veterinarian

Daily Prompt: Static via The Daily Post


7553051646_26fe5f6ea6_zMy first stint in college lasted all of 2 semesters, back in 1988-89, when I was 19. I was a music performance major because it was my dream to be an orchestra percussionist. Dreams change. I dropped out, and played drums in several local rock bands. That dream didn’t pan out, either.

When I was 26 or 27, I had worked as an admin assistant for a few years, but I realized that my life was static: I wasn’t going anywhere in that company. There were no promotions for someone in my position to be had.

My love for animals and wanting to help them gave me the idea to become a veterinarian. I had a long way to go because I had to finish college first before I could even apply to vet school, but I was ready for the challenge.

I quit my full-time job and worked part-time at a small animal (dogs and cats) clinic before the school year began. It was one of the greatest places I’d ever worked. As a veterinary assistant, I learned so much. I had the opportunity to observe surgeries, such as spaying. I learned how to perform fecal tests and look for parasites under a microscope. I filled prescriptions. I helped the veterinary technician take X-rays, and I developed them. I greeted patients and led them to the exam rooms.

I wasn’t a vet tech, which requires a special degree and certification, and is basically an animal nurse. They assist, rather than observe, in surgeries, such as monitoring the patient’s vital signs. One of their many responsibilities was to draw blood, and it was my job to hold, and if necessary, calm down the patient, as they did this.

When the quarter began, my school and work schedules clashed. I got a job working at an emergency vet clinic, which was open when the regular clinics were closed overnight. (It’s now open 24/7.) I had much of the same responsibilities as I did at the animal clinic, but I also assisted in an increased number of euthanizations compared to my previous job, by holding the patient. We also got a lot of HBC (hit-by-car) patients, injuries that I felt could have been prevented. For me, it was a depressing work environment.

Meanwhile, in school, I was in a basic biology class. I did fine with the lab work, but unfortunately, these were about 3 weeks behind the lectures, and I had trouble understanding the concepts until we did the labs — I’m a hands-on learner. It didn’t matter how much I studied. I fell behind, which was no surprise, because going into this endeavor, I already knew that science was not my strongest subject. So I changed my major to English, because I knew how to read lol!

Also, I realized I would have made a horrible vet because I became too emotionally attached to the patients; I couldn’t remain detached, which I believe is necessary if you have to euthanize someone. I learned this while working at the emergency clinic, which was a valuable experience in teaching me what I can and can’t handle. I knew that for me, being a vet would take a toll on my mental health.

Have you ever changed career paths because your original plan affected your mental health?


Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass on VisualHunt / CC BY

Fun Fact: I’m Allergic to Cats

Daily Prompt: Allergic via The Daily Post

NOTE: Ok, so this is my first attempt at using a one-word prompt, which means I’m writing this spontaneously (but with much editing and proofreading because I’m like that), as in today, rather than weeks ahead of time, with tons of revisions, editing, and proofreading. So please bear with me!


About 13 or 14 years ago, I saw an allergist because, well, my allergies were bothering me. When I told her I owned cats, she said to get rid of them immediately. I walked out of the exam room and never went back.

The thing is, I knew I was/am allergic to cats, but not so bad that my eyes tear and swell up, or I sneeze when I go near one. After having been tested as a tween, I know I’m also allergic to dust, weeds, ragweed, all kinds of pollen — basically I have allergies all the time; they’re just worse in the spring. Even so, I use Flonase nose spray and take a Claritin every day, according to my primary care physician’s instructions.

Also, over the years, I’ve grown at least a little tolerance to my cat allergies. And really, how could she expect me to just get rid of family members? No way.

IMG_0576I  know I mention my dog, Rudy, a lot, so now I’m taking this opportunity to introduce my cats. The picture on the left is of Angelo (l) and Hee Seop (r) — pronounced (HEE-sop) — who was named after former Cubs first baseman, Hee Seop Choi. This picture was taken in December 2017, around their 17th birthdays.

Angelo, named after the pizza place across the street where he hung out, was left behind by former downstairs neighbors when they moved. Nice, huh? This was at our first Chicago apartment. We brought him home.

Hee Seop was a feral who showed up on our back porch and tore up a trash bag we had set there. Long story short, I slowly socialized him, and then managed to bring him inside. He now seeks attention and doesn’t hide, but he can still be a little skittish.

He was originally named Portia, the porch cat, because we thought he was female. But as I watched him go down the back steps one day, I realized he had “wee-sops.” My  husband had the Cubs game on — the one in which Hee Seop Choi collided with former Cubs pitcher, Kerry Wood. And that’s how he got his name.

IMG_0579At one point we had 4 cats, which included Basil and Hopper — “hyper” pronounced with a Texan accent — which she was when I adopted her, but they’ve passed: Basil, at age 17 in 2012; and Hopper at age 18 in 2013.

Hopper was a real princess, as you can see. We worshipped Hopper, though I was merely furniture to her! She was my first cat. I adopted her from the shelter when she was 6 months old back in 1995.

Basil’s full name was Basil Ratbone, a play on the actor, Basil Rathbone’s name. He was a Siamese/tabby mix, also from the shelter. He had the most beautiful blue eyes, which you can’t see here, obviously, but I like the photo. It was so hard to get a picture of those baby blues — they always came out dark.

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After I adopted him, he and Hopper bonded immediately. Oh, and here’s another picture of Hopper just because:

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I miss them so much, that when their pictures come up on the On This Day feature on Facebook, I tear up. They were such a huge part of my life after my divorce, and were with me through the down times.

We got Hee Seop and Angelo when Hopper and Basil were about 6. Basil got along with everyone, but Hopper, being the princess that she was, couldn’t stand them! Which is why we waited until she crossed the Rainbow Bridge to adopt a dog.

By the way — I’m not allergic to dogs!

What are you allergic to? Do you have furbabies (and I don’t just mean cats and dogs)? Are you allergic to them?


Photos provided by author