Dear Gayle,

I recently moved to this area from a place where I’d grown up and knew a lot of people. I’m not used to having to make new friends. Any suggestions for making this easier?

— New Here

Dear New,

Welcome. Yes, I have a few thoughts about making new friends. Start by trying out clubs with focuses in your areas of interest. Try out churches. Try different grocery stores where they will get to know you and you will see where they are the friendliest. Even if your budget is such that eating most meals at home is best, try having a cup of tea or coffee and perhaps a slice of home-made pie at a local restaurant at other than busy meal times. This could allow your wait person to be more chatty. Ask him or her where the good places are to get an oil change, to exercise your dog, or take a nice bike ride. Ask others about quilt clubs, bridge groups, book clubs and more. Introduce yourself and ask about that person; how long have they lived there, what is your new town’s claim to fame, where are volunteering opportunities.

Consider making cards with your name and contact information on them to hand out when opportunities arise. You may wish to go door-to-door on your block to give a card to each of your neighbors asking them to get in touch if they think of anything that a new resident should know. Take extra blank cards and a pen in case they offer you their phone number. Ask them how many trick-or-treaters you should expect to see each year, are there on-street parking practices, pet protocols, etc.

Four months after I had moved into my new home, I heard a fire-truck siren go off and then just keep on going. From the sound of it, the truck seemed to be in search of the fire, going up one street and down the next. When the same thing happened about a year later, I went to the door in time to wave at Santa and Mrs. Claus seated in a sleigh atop a flatbed truck following behind a fire truck with its siren and horn going. I had not known to expect this. I later learned as well that a fire truck escort accompanies the school busses going through town heading back to the high school after a big win of special sports games. With that sound, I have no doubt that new people could easily be convinced that there is a five-car pile-up nearby. (As I write this, I feel bad that I have never thought to give new people I have met a heads up about those local practices.) Ask others if there are any such routines in your area.

Watch for newer people than yourself to move into town. Be ready to greet them and make them feel at home. You just may make some very good friends this way, too. All the best.

Dear Readers,

As I was driving today with the sun low enough in the sky for sunlight to be seen coming through the trees casting long straight shadows across the road’s surface, and no longer as impeded as when more leaves were still clinging to the branches, I thought about a theory I had long held that the strobing affect of such a driving condition might be capable of bringing on a seizure in someone affected, as I am, by photosensitivity seizures. While this condition has been known of for a very long time, it was not given much attention until after the showing of a certain Pokémon cartoon on Japanese television on Dec. 17, 1997 led to 618 people — mostly children, of course — to experience seizures. Of those 618 who had seizures, 111 of them — mostly adults — had one as watching an evening news report about the phenomenon during which the suspected section of the cartoon — one showing a strobing effect — was run on that news show. Clearly, cartoons could no longer depict such screen work.

I had considered at the time that there might be a gene involved in that seizure-inducing sensitivity. As I am part native American, and because the aboriginal people of this continent were said to have come across a “land bridge” from Asia when it still existed thousands of years ago, I have also wondered if the gene I suspect might be more likely to be found among those with a genetic heritage similar to my own.

As preparing to write this column, I did an internet search and discovered that such highway lights as the sun rays I described are already on the radar of researchers as being possible triggers for such seizures. So are those bright, strobing emergency lights on some fire trucks, ambulances and school busses. There are more known triggers. (For me, it has been a certain computer screen with a low-level pulsing effect, and a neon light fixture with a failing ballast.)

Because I have known people who experienced seizures as driving, I decided that mentioning this possibility might help some people who would see this column. If you believe that you may be photosensitive, you may want to remember while driving to glance up from pot-hole spotting to view the horizon as able when the above-mentioned light conditions exist.

[Gayle Wright is a mental health counselor doing area agency and hospital social work. Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to gaylewright@mail.com where your anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards.]

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