Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Holiday Spirit

I'm trying to get into the holiday spirit.  Music usually helps.  This is my favorite Christmas song (although my 2nd or 3rd favorite version - but his recording is the most famous version).  Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

16 Puns

Timing is everything and maybe so is laughter. I was in a bad mood at work this afternoon, took a break to check personal email and found a note from a friend that contained a list of puns. These are the ones I laughed at and that laughter pulled me out of the bad mood. Enjoy. And laugh.

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other,

'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'

11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

12. A backward poet writes inverse.

13. In a democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your count that votes.

14. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

15. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'

16. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says 'Dam!'

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random or Fate

Friendships are often random and “just happen” but sometimes you get an opportunity to actually design a friendship. Meeting this person might start as a mix of randomness and fate but when it becomes obvious that a genuine friendship connection has been made, two people can determine exactly what defines that friendship. Some of it might still be a natural evolving process but it is shaped by communication and mutual agreement.

Can a real friendship develop online? I believe some of that growth can happen in the cloud but real friendship usually involves at least some in-person time and a sharing of experiences unique to those two people.

Some of my best friendships began in person and the internet has enabled them to continue across time and distance. I’m mostly thinking about my closest friends from my teens and twenties. I am currently in touch with most of the ones that really mattered.

Funny thing is that one of my closest friends is someone who I met online, eventually in person and now we maintain a deep friendship through a combination of both. Most of our communication over the past few years has been email, chat and text but we’ve spent some time in person too; and the friendship is strong and real. Developing friendships that way is not something I could have imagined. We have designed our friendship, defied some rules of male-female friendships and honored others, set boundaries in some obvious areas and developed a great communication style that is uniquely ours.

My longest-running close friendship began through a funny mix of fate and randomness. I flunked chemistry in high school and had to take it again in summer school. She was in my class.

Regardless of whether it is fate or random or both or neither, friendships mean a lot to me. I do what I can to keep in touch with friends. Online friendship maintenance is great but I’ll always chose the in-person option when I have that choice.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ignoring the Obvious

The ‘politically correct’ mentality that leads businesses and local governments to avoid using the word Christmas annoys the crap out of me. Those who say that saying the word Christmas in connection with this time of year because it might offend somebody completely miss the point.

No matter what you believe or do not believe, Christmas is obviously named for a person, a very influential and well-known person. Whether Jesus Christ is your lord and savior, a messiah, a prophet, a historical figure or some random eloquent speaker from two thousand years ago with a good public relations agent, you can’t ignore the fact that his birthday is celebrated all around the world and that day is named for him.

Christians believe Christmas is a celebration of the widely-agreed-upon day of his birth (no existing document verifies an exact date). A large number of non-Christians acknowledge Christmas Day and the Christmas season as a time to celebrate peace, love, family and friends, things they all believe in whether they believe anything else he said or not. In America, Christmas is a federal, state and local holiday with religious roots that is now a commercial and government holiday inspired by religious themes of peace, love, family and friendship.

This year’s trigger for my annual rant on this topic is an ad for Target announcing their sale on Holiday Trees. What?!?! “Holiday” trees? They mean Christmas Trees, don’t they? I don’t think there is a tree for holidays like President’s Day, Labor Day or Memorial Day. Is there an Independence Day tree? Why would anyone not call a Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree?

I’m no religion expert, but I’m quite certain that Jews don’t celebrate Hanukkah with a tree and Muslims don’t celebrate Ramadan with a tree. If you are Jewish or Muslim, you are not likely to be interested in a plastic, triangular-shaped tree to be decorated, lit and displayed the corner of your family room for one month each year. So that sale isn’t really for you anyway; it’s for people who celebrate Christmas.

If you are not a Christian, are you really going to be offended by the word Christmas? If so, then I guess you’ll be at work December 25th each year while everyone else isn’t.

Being an American means you have the right to celebrate or not celebrate whatever you want. Public acknowledgement of our wide variety of beliefs and traditions is a good thing, an inclusive aspect of our multi-cultural salad bowl. Many groups of people, in the past and the present, celebrate around the time of the Winter Solstice. The Hopi Indians’ Soyaluna Ceremony, for example, is a sacred prayer-offering ceremony in which they pray for the New Year and wish each other prosperity and health. Hmmm, sounds like Christmas.

I believe it is important to not leave anyone out, but that does not mean ignoring anyone either. Avoiding saying the name of a celebration originally based on the dominant belief system that our country is formed on is ridiculous, especially now that the name is so much more inclusive than its origin.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Randomness

Macy’s opened at midnight last night/this morning. I was asked to be the driver on a little ride to the nearest one, a request which I initially turned down. After looking on their web site, however, I decided to go, partly because there were some sale items I wanted, partly because the crowds would probably be less than the middle of today and partly out of curiosity.

My observations:

The crowds were less than they probably are as I’m writing this at noon, but by 1:00 a.m. the store was definitely crowded.

The stuff on sale looked better online than in the store, so I only bought two things: flannel sleep pants that I’ll probably use a lot and a Jerry Garcia tie that I might only wear a couple of times a year (but it was half price).

For the first half of my sixty minutes in the store I was sure we were the only shoppers over the age of twenty. It was apparently teen date night.

Five other stores in that mall were also open, including Radio Shack and Victoria’s Secret – which both appeal to me for obvious different reasons.

The story teller in me is glad I did this. The pragmatist says ‘check that off the bucket list and don’t do it again’.

I have been in four malls during the past three days and have yet to buy a gift.

Now we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday and a new one this year called Small Business Saturday. I plan to support the new one tomorrow by shopping at a quirky store near where I currently live. I might even buy a gift there – they have products you don’t usually see at a typical mall.

So there you have it. I do not plan to leave my house today. No travel traffic, no mall traffic. I will clean my house, open a bottle of wine and drink some of it while I watch LSU beat Arkansas on television. Happy Holidays. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Looks Fake but ...

Clouds are amazing things, aren't they?  I took this yesterday with my iPhone, while in my car at a stop sign.  The clouds look fake but they are real.  The only enhancing on this shot is a little bit of added contrast thanks to Photoshop.  The little crescent shaped black thing in the middle-right is a smudge on my windshield.

Happy

Happy Thanksgiving Day !!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Outlet Mall Randomness

Yesterday I visited a “snooty” mall and a “normal generic” mall. Today’s little shopping adventure involved going to a nearby outlet mall.

I shop here several times a year, always visiting Eddie Bauer and Reebok/Rockport and usually buying something at one or the other.

All I wanted today was shoes, specifically casual shoes in some shade of brown with a sole that might not be slippery on wet pavement like the shoes I am about to throw away because they are slippery.

Reebok and Rockport did not have what I wanted, which is a first. I’ve always been able to find what I’m looking for there.

Nike, Bass and one or two others did not either, not in my size anyway. Am I too picky?

Last time I tried on Timberlands was ten years ago. They never fit right. But I walked into their outlet store anyway, just to see what they had. I walked out with two pairs of casual shoes in shades of brown. Maybe I found a new brand today. Maybe I was duped. I’ll let you know in a few months or the first time I slip on wet pavement.

In an attempt to avoid holiday traffic on I-70, I tried to take a parallel non-interstate route home. I got lost in Hagerstown because I assumed two things: that I knew where the other highway was and that there would be signs directing me to the other highway. Silly me.

This post is NOT an ad for any of the brands I mentioned nor is it an endorsement. I just want to be clear about that.

Yes, I know that just because something is at an outlet store does not mean it is the same style or quality as that same brand but sold at a lower price. I do know that some products are made specifically for the outlet malls, often at a slightly or greatly reduced quality level. But I have been generally happy with purchases of my favorite brands at their outlet stores, so I keep going back.

I would never be confused with a guy who has style, but I do sort of have “a look.” Jeans, khaki and brown cargo pants, long sleeve t-shirts in various shades of blue and rust, plaid shirts or solid-color Henley shirts. I should call it “suburban 45-year-old.” Think that’ll catch on?

I do still have a closet full of Hawaiin shirts, just in case that style comes back. Or in case I just feel like wearing them. I don’t really care that much about style.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mall Randomness

Like many people, I have brand preferences in certain product categories. For clothes, I usually buy Eddie Bauer and Dockers and if I go to a typical mall I usually shop at Macy’s. My first stop at a local outlet mall is the Eddie Bauer store. Those choices probably put me one or two notches above the very middle of middle class, but I am just as much at home in Wal-mart as I am in Macy’s.

All of that is a setup for these random observations about two malls I visited today:

First stop was a “high end” mall I hadn’t visited in years and I entered through Bloomingdales, probably the most “common” of the stores there. Every sales clerk who said “can I help you” seemed snooty; maybe it was obvious I was wearing Bauer.

I immediately checked out the “sale” rack of men’s shirts. Regular price: $135. WTF?!?! Even at 30% off, the price was still $95. No way. I don’t pay even half that much for ordinary shirts.

Bloomingdales oozes elegance, yet there was a stock clerk hauling boxes of stuff through the aisle on an old, rusty hand truck. And in another part of the store I had to walk around an aluminum ladder left in the middle of an aisle. I’ve worked retail before and those two things aren’t (or weren’t) tolerated even at Sears.

The food court in this mall had none of the usual franchise eateries. A pleasant surprise.

Next stop was a “normal” mall. By that, I mean a mall with all the predictable stores you see at nearly every mall. I entered through the only upscale store there, a Nordstrom’s. Didn’t bother to even look at prices.

The food court had a McDonald’s, Subway, and, you guessed it, a Panda Express.

The Macy’s there had lots of stuff on sale but I only wanted shoes, and I didn’t see what I was looking for. I shop at this particular Macy’s six or seven times a year, but for the first time I can remember, everything in the men’s department was moved around. I actually got lost trying to find my way back into the mall. Geez.

The last time I was in this Sears store was to buy a TV more than ten years ago. Everything in that store is in exactly the same place it was back then. The only difference: the TV and home electronics department now is surrounded by plexiglass walls with theft-deterrent alarm thing at the entrance.

The dreaded “black Friday” is three days from now yet this mall was packed, at 2pm on a Tuesday.

It was a big deal for Macy’s and Penney’s to open at 4am the day after Thanksgiving last year. Signs in the mall this week say Macy’s will open at Midnight.

This shopping trip had nothing to do with gifts. I was only shopping for myself today. This adventure was another reminder that online shopping is a lot easier.

Unlike most men, I actually like shopping, but I am a very focused shopper. I know what I want before I go; I find it, buy it and leave. If I browse, it is usually to check out other things I regularly buy that I didn’t plan to buy that day, just in case something I want is on sale.

Ladies, do you like men to wear cologne? I got a whiff of some powerful scent reminiscent of one I used to wear and thought I was going to pass out. Is there really any appealing men’s cologne?

My goal today was shoes and maybe a shirt. I bought neither. I did get iPod headphones and some blank DVD-Rs. I could have found those items at Wal-mart.

So there ya have it. I wonder why I was mildly depressed as I left. Maybe because of the pouring rain. Or the disconnect between the festive holiday decorations and the grumpy store employees. The three traffic jams I encountered on the way home didn’t help. Hopefully that’s the only depression I experience this holiday season. I have an awesome holiday road trip planned; no malls are on the itinerary.

This Day in History

Do you know what November 22nd means to some boomers? Those who know might remember details of that day in the past. Some won’t remember or care. Gen X or Gen Y might think it means Thanksgiving is coming.

I remember my parents talking about the day President Franklin Roosevelt died. His death was tragic but not caused by a person. He died from a stroke on April 12, 1945. I don’t know if my parents remembered that date or not.

November 22, 1963 is a day I remember surprisingly well. I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, or why so many adults were crying and nervous. Teachers were having hushed conversations in the hallways at lunch time. An announcement was made that school would be closing early, which seems like happy news because it was Friday and that meant an early start to the weekend. But why were the adults so sad?

At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 1963 United States President John Kennedy was shot and killed on the streets of Dallas, Texas. People loved Kennedy, even people who voted against him and didn’t agree with his politics. He represented youth at the time and a departure from politics of the past. I didn’t know any of that at the time, of course, because I was too young. I mostly remember that he and his whole family were on TV a lot, trend-setters emulated their sense of fashion and comedians imitated their Massachusetts accents.

I didn’t really understand what a President was but I knew this guy was important. I did know what ‘thou shalt not kill’ meant so I knew that it was a bad thing because somebody killed him. The unfolding story dominated all the TV channels. The suspected assassin was captured, and awhile later was escorted into jail in front of cameras. My most vivid memory of that time is from Sunday, however, as I watched somebody step out of a crowd on live TV and assassinate the assassin. Talk about reality TV!! I think my parents turned off the TV after that. We had all seen enough that weekend.

So here we are, 48 years later. November 22nd still stands out to my eyes on a calendar, but the day goes by almost unnoticed to most people I know. Media coverage ramps up on zero-year and five-year anniversaries, but the 48th may go mostly unnoticed. Except by curious me. And now you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eyes

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what happens when the window gets foggy?

I have been thinking about my eyes a lot lately. Why? Because I am fifty days away from cataract surgery. That makes me feel a lot older than I am. Medical treatments like that are more often associated with 80-somethings than with 50-somethings.

I first wore glasses in 7th grade and began wearing them nearly every day fifteen years ago. For the past year I have worn them nearly every waking hour of every day. My vision is rapidly deteriorating, which is what led to the decision to finally have this surgery.

Loss is the biggest single issue we face as we age. Loss of friends and family through death, loss of youth, loss of various body and mind functions. We start losing brain cells in our late teens, so this should come as no surprise as we reach 40, 50 or more, but acceptance doesn’t equal liking it.

Loss of vision scares me more than loss of mobility, hearing, money or libido. Fortunately, of those five, vision is the only one in jeopardy right now. Vision seriously impacts all but the last of those. With glasses, I can see well enough to drive, work and read. It is difficult to do any of those things without them. Even with the glasses, there are issues related to the cataracts. The decision to have surgery done happened when it begins to affect quality of life. I am there.

Cataract surgery is considered almost routine now. I know two people who have had the operation; one was 52, the other was 80-something. Neither had complications and both were happy with the results. One of them was 52 at the time of the operation a year or two ago.

The eyes, like many other parts of human anatomy, offer redundancy. We have two of them but we can see with either. I need the surgery in both, so you can see why I am concerned. First operation is scheduled for January and the second will likely be in March. I have a wait-and-see attitude about that second one; I want to be sure the first one was successful. Part of the operation involves a plastic implant, so there is no going back.

I have interviewed two sight-impaired people on my radio shows and they function very well with limited vision. One was actually blind. They each represented support organizations for people with vision issues. But their lives are definitely a struggle. I probably could not do my current job without sight. One of my non-job passions is photography and another is writing. You see the obstacles with both, don’t you?

If you know me in person, then you know I can be obsessive about things and sometimes project myself into possible future scenarios, some of them negative. When I was in the hospital years ago after breaking a few things in a fall down some stairs, I was imagining myself not being able to walk. I scared myself needlessly. For several months I did need crutches and later a cane, but within six months my walking was perfectly normal. I even tried running again, although that is more of a struggle.

So now I imagine life without sight and it scares me. Even limited vision scares me. Just the other night I had trouble reading a recipe and seeing chopped onions on a white cutting board was a challenge. Odds are overwhelmingly in favor of completely successful surgeries. In fact, I probably won’t need glasses for distance any more. Those odds do not stop me from being concerned and a little obsessed with the slight possibility of a negative outcome.

I feel a little foolish even telling you all of this. My optimistic side assures me all will be fine. Maybe I’m just saying this stuff out loud to give you a little glimpse through the windows into my soul.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Are You?

Have you ever seen those self-help books or web sites that ask you to define who you are? If you’re like most people, you instinctively answer with a description of what you do. That is probably the point of those self-help queries … you are not ‘what you do’ you are ‘who you are’.


In our American society, however, we are often defined by what we do for a living or by our primary hobbies or interests. I am a radio commercial producer, talk-show interviewer, former DJ working for the biggest owner of radio stations on earth who is also an avid photographer, traveler, car enthusiast, blogger and would-be musician. But that is not really who I am, it is what I do.

So who are you?

I have a life-long friend who if asked that question, might say she is a teacher, mother, wife, female gear head and music enthusiast. But that is what she does or is interested in. My take on who she is: an adventurous, moderately risk-taking, caring educator who is passionate about life, love and music, an idealistic but realistic dreamer with a good heart and a desire to make select people in her life happy.

Another friend could answer the original question by saying she is a self-employed animal caretaker, rescuer, storm chaser, former quality control specialist and hotel front-desk employee. I see her as someone who is curious, passionate about all animals, caring and an idealistic dreamer and music-lover with a good heart and a desire to make select people in her life happy.

Yet another friend might say she is a psych tech, nursing school student, blogger, former bartender, socializing people person, and music and photography enthusiast. Those are things she does. My take: spontaneous yet grounded adventure-seeker, outwardly friendly but inwardly selective about friendships, artistic, thoughtful, creative, a music-lover with a good heart and a desire to make select people in her life happy.

Do this exercise for yourself about yourself. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Who am I? I think I am a curious and idealistic-yet-realistic story teller, people connector, stubborn grounded free spirit who both sets and breaks boundaries, an artistic photography and music-lover with a good heart and a desire to make select people in my life happy.

Hmmm, I think I see a pattern connecting me and my friends. There is probably another blog story in that observation.

Tell me who you are in the comment section.

And if you are one of the three friends I mentioned in this post, tell me (privately) if you see yourself the way I see you … and tell me some more about your own impression of who you are.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Morning TV Randomness

Watching cartoons and old cowboy movies on television was a Saturday morning childhood ritual for me. There were only three or four channels at the time, so there weren’t many choices. This morning I made a partial list of viewing options on the hundred or more channels I currently have.

- Grease 2 (Michelle Pfeiffer – yummy)

- A History Channel show about salvaging a giant B25 World War II bomber sunk in 300 feet of water in a South Carolina lake.

- Countless news channels, two of which seem more like infomercials for left and right wing political interests.

- A Law & Order episode from 2008.

- College football previews and an interview with the LSU coach talking about his 10 – 0 record so far this season … and how they will beat the crap out of Arkansas next week. (OK, I made up that last part – I have a friendly bet riding on the game).

- Deer hunting tips

- A 30-minute program about a vacuum cleaner

- Celebrity hair-styling tips.

- Paula Dean making Thanksgiving cupcakes

- A John Wayne movie.

So which show did I stop on? I considered the John Wayne movie, for nostalgia reasons, and the Grease 2 channel, for Michelle Pfeiffer reasons, but I landed on the History Channel. Wow, they successfully removed the B25 from the lake, where it had rested for more than 60 years. Yes, I wear my geekiness with great pride. But I’ll be covering my Saturday morning hair with a baseball cap before leaving the house to run errands. I don’t want to go out looking like a brown-haired Smurf.  Maybe I should have stopped on the hair styling tips channel.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Not Bragging, but ...

Nothing new to say today.  I'm in the middle of writing a couple of posts, but meanwhile here is a little gem relating to my Italian heritage.  Caio.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Job Stuff

I wonder what it's like to have a 9 to 5 job in a business that is only open during those hours. Or a job that is mostly in the moment, one that stops when you leave for the day and doesn't have work that has to be done in advance of vacation, like retail sales clerk or burger flipper I've rarely had a job like that.

My business, media, is alive 24/7. My duties continue whether I'm there or not, so much of what I do has to be done ahead when I'm going to be out of the office. I'm not complaining; I love my job. But I hate the week before a vacation because I have to do two weeks work in one.

I go through this angst every time I'm coming up on a week off. I'll be fine as soon as vacay begins. I'll say this again: I do love my job.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Was One Too But Don't Thank Me

When I see the tributes and thank you messages to vets around Veteran’s Day each year, I usually embrace the message and in some way add to the salutes. I want to praise “them” for their service. Then in the middle of it all, I remember that I am a military veteran too. I do not usually include myself in the praise.

I have served my country in many positive ways over the years but my military service is not one of them. I hated the military at the time and most of what I thought they stood for then. I enlisted in the Army but only because I thought I lost my college deferment because of bad grades and I mistakenly believed I would have more choice if I joined rather than being drafted. The draft ended soon after and I would never have had to go. Fate works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?

My three-year enlistment lasted only one year. The details are my business and I’ve only shared them with a few friends. Let me just say that it was perfectly legal and I was honorably discharged with access to full VA benefits prorated for the amount of time I served.

I will say that I did not and do not believe in killing. Something I understand now that I did not get more than three decades ago is that sometimes there is no other way. Our brave military men and women sometimes have to kill to keep us free. I don’t like it but I understand it, accept it and benefit from it. They put themselves on the line for the rest of us and deserve our respect for that. I and others serve our country in different ways that are just as valuable. Another thing that has changed inside me over the years: while I still do not believe in killing, I will gladly beat the shit out of someone who harms me or someone close and I won’t regret it a bit. I just hope I’m never in that position. I have the right to hold this complicated set of beliefs, thanks in part to veterans; try not to judge my for what I believe.

Another military veteran with complex reasons for his service was my Dad. He joined the Navy at the very end of World War II for reasons similar to mine. He did serve his full two-year enlistment. He almost lost his life but not because of lingering post-war gun fire; his ship almost went down in a typhoon in the Pacific. Other ships did sink in that same storm. Fate again?

I wonder what it means that my Dad died on Veteran’s Day ten years ago. There are plenty of reasons for me to remember him and the day he died, but the public spotlight on that day each year makes it even harder to forget. It is such a public day yet he died very privately in a nursing home room with only his wife and his two children at his bedside. That month we were still in the process of arguing with the VA over benefits he earned that would have helped pay for his medical care. How ironic that the VA paid for a year of my education and helped me buy a house yet they threw up obstacle after obstacle to avoid paying for some of his needs.

Everything in life presents a learning opportunity, in my opinion. I learned a few things during my unremarkable Army year: the value of physical fitness, the buzz of marijuana, the positive side of discipline, how to correctly peel a potato, how to befriend the only black man I had had deep conversations with up to that point in my life, how to scale a solid 7-foot wall, how to clean a gun, how to clean a gunshot wound, how to clean a latrine, how to defend myself with words, how to stand up for something I believed even though I was the only person in a room full of 40 men who all thought I was some kind of unpatriotic freak for having those beliefs.

And since that time more than three decades ago I have also learned to accept and respect all men and women in the military for what they do and who they are, for how their actions help make us free and for the bravery some of them show in the face of situations that even the best training cannot fully prepare them for.

If you are a veteran, I thank you for your service, whether you spent your whole time stateside as a cook, driver, mechanic, doctor or band member, or you ran headlong into certain death in a jungle or a desert and returned missing limbs and parts of your soul. But don’t thank me; all I did was sweep floors, move furniture and type sympathy letters to families of those who didn’t make it. I learned to respect and support you and what you do over the years, but you taught me that. You can thank yourself for the lesson.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blame It On the Asteroid

An asteroid flew by Earth earlier this evening, coming closer than the moon. Even though it was “only” the size of a city block, and not nearly as large as planets or the moon, it did have some influence on human and environmental activity on our planet. Or at least some people think so. I heard about a coastal flood watch on the Chesapeake, for example, even though there has been no rain in the area for days. That could be blamed on the gravitational pull of the asteroid.

I wonder what else we can blame on this potent little astronomical body.

Today was an odd day for me, with some normally predictable behaviors just slightly askew. For one thing, I didn’t have lunch till just past 3pm. I am obsessed with having lunch around Noon or 1pm, but I had to record an interview at Noon, this session is usually 30 minutes but today it went 50, which kicked it up next to my 1pm meeting, which is usually 45minutes but went a full hour, followed by my completing two more overdue projects, taking another hour. Whew. So I walked across the street to a carryout place I eat at once a week. I have ordered exactly the same thing there almost once every week for more than a year. This particular lunch special costs $5.50 … until 3pm. It was 3:08 when I ordered, so now the exact same meal costs $7.50. Hmmm, can I blame that on the asteroid?

The caller ID on my work phone displays names if the call is placed by a co-worker inside the office area, but only the number is shown if the call comes from outside. I’m crazybusy most of the time, so I usually do not answer outside calls unless I recognize the number. In the middle of something else, I got a call from area code 404, which I know to be Atlanta. I rarely get calls from Atlanta and when I do it is usually one of two corporate people and I really do have to take those calls. So I answered it. It was not one of them. It was from a local college student’s cell phone; she’s from the Atlanta area. Normally someone else could take the time to answer her questions, but there I was spending time I didn’t have, helping her with a project. Blame it on the asteroid?

Got a text this afternoon from a friend who thought I’d appreciate how odd it was that she got a medical textbook about drugs, a Tom Waits CD and a package of printer ink she ordered, all at the same time. Yes, that was odd. The asteroid?

I used to pay attention to astrology; hey, I’m from the “what’s your sign” era. I don’t believe in the daily horoscope but I do think there are factors beyond coincidence that connect zodiac signs with personality characteristics. And behaviors do seem to be affected by a full moon. I view these things with a mix of belief and skepticism.

I am a little bit of a space geek too, so hearing about the asteroid on Monday, then observing these mildly out-of-sync events on Tuesday, leads me to accept the possibility that Asteroid 2005 YU55 played a small but noticeable role in the oddness of today.

Oh, and my computer locked up for a few minutes while I was reading information on Space dot com. Can I blame that on the asteroid?

And I was trying to upload a picture to go with this post, but it kept locking up.  Do I blame that on the asteroid?  Or blogspot/google?

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Aging Prayer

Dear Lord, when I'm 75 please don't let me be one of those people who is so interested in that thing across the hotel lobby that they stand up from their chair and walk across to get a closer look without realizing they just walked right in front of three other people. Just sayin'

Amen

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cool Quote

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says "I'm possible."

- Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kids and A Learning Op

A work friend is going through a rough patch right now. He has finally convinced his mother that she needs more help than the family can provide, and they are shopping for assisted living or a nursing home. I am a long way from that for myself but listening to his story reminds me of what my sister and I went through when faced with similar choices for our parents; and that puts an image of my own possible future in my head. I don’t like the image, in part because I don’t have children, which means I probably won’t have the type of support my parents had from us or my friend’s mother has from him and his siblings.

It seems like everybody I know who is over 30 has kids, but when I think that through, I realize there are several people in my friend circle who do not. Sometimes I ask them if they regret that. Some are childless by choice, some by circumstance. My situation began because of circumstances, mostly short-term failed marriages, and eventually by choice. I don’t regret it but I do wonder how life would be different if I had become a parent.

Still holding hands in their 80s
The decision to move my parents into a nursing home came ten years ago. Medical and financial conditions played a role and the timing was such that we moved both parents in at the same time, which fortunately meant they could share a room. Dad died there two months later and Mom lived there nearly five more years. Mom’s quality of life there was not all that good but one thing that kept her spirits up at least a little was my sister’s nearly daily visits that whole time. That was a hell of a burden for my sister, but she rarely questioned it and it really was her choice. She lived ten minutes from the nursing home, so that helped reduce the inconvenience a little bit.

I wasn’t nearly as supportive, at least with regard to time. I live 1200 miles away. I could have visited more often, but I didn’t … maybe got there once or twice a year. To this day I feel guilty about that. Let me stop you before you remind me that I was supportive in other ways; I know I was, but it doesn’t reduce the guilt all that much. My parents and my sister did not do anything to make me feel that way; the guilt is self-imposed.

As with most things in my life, I look at this as a learning opportunity. Since the death of my parents, I have become more sensitive to the needs of other family members and friends. I provide whatever support I can, emotionally and sometimes financially. I don’t do these things out of guilt, I do them because that is who I am. I was always helpful to people but have become more so as a result of these life experiences. I don’t say that here to gain praise; I say it to share what I have learned and to encourage you to learn from my experiences and take actions in your life while you can.

Parents are teachers, whether they try to be or not. Their obvious lessons help us stay alive and healthy. If we become parents, we teach our own children some of those same lessons. If we do not become parents, we may still have the opportunity to teach others or maybe the chance to provide advice and emotional support to a younger friend facing tough choices about his parents.

Sometimes we even wake up in mid-life and realize that our parents still teach us long after they are gone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Big Bucks

Lottery fever is in the news this week because the Powerball jackpot is $245 million tonight. The odds of winning are ridiculously small (1 in 195 million) but everybody suddenly plays anyway. Why not play when the local jackpot is only a million? That’s a lot of money to most people too, isn’t it?

So what would you do if you won $245 million?

My plan is funny because very few people would know I won, at least not at first. I'd tell my sister, a couple of very close friends and my accountant. I'd keep my job but eventually cut back to just the parts I like. I wouldn't buy crazy expensive stuff but I would buy several properties, one here as my primary residence, one on a beach, one on the river in New Orleans and a couple in other places I like to visit. I'd pay off all of my sister’s debts and some big bills for a few close friends. I’d probably buy a 2nd or 3rd car. And take quiet but insanely expensive vacations. Fly 1st class, of course. Buy box seats at concerts and sporting events and treat friends to that stuff.

I would NOT buy a Bentley, $5000 suits or $500 shoes. I would avoid publicity at all costs.

I WOULD find a way to help fund some non-profit organizations that mean something to me.

Great to think about this stuff, isn’t it? However, I guess I actually have to buy the lottery tickets to have any chance of winning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who Has Time to Read

A friend had a great idea a couple of years ago – a travelling book. She sent me a book with instructions to write my name, town and the date inside, and then send it along to someone else who might want to read it. Her plan was to try and keep track of it to see where it travelled, hoping it would eventually find its way back to her. It travelled from her in North Carolina to me in Maryland to two friends of mine in Wisconsin, back to me in Maryland, back to her in North Carolina. I inquired about its whereabouts yesterday and she told me it was travelling around … in the back of her car, mostly because she hasn’t had much time to even send it along to another destination. Meanwhile I sent her a book with the same instructions. That went to a co-worker of hers who is now a former co-worker and she doesn’t know its whereabouts.

The point is this: Who has time to read anymore?

She and I are avid readers but neither of us have time to read these days. I love to read and almost always have a book in progress, but at two or three pages a night, it takes way too long to truly capture the sense and flow of plot lines in fiction and connective facts in books about biographies, history or urban planning, three of my favorite topics (nerdy, I know).

So far in 2011 I have completed two books. That’s it. One was a pretty good mystery, Tell No Lies by Julie Compton, a relatively new author I met by way of this blog and hers. We found each other because we are both Dave Matthews fans and wrote some things about him two summers ago. The other book I finished was Rogue Angel, not my usual read but it was somewhat mystical, sci-fi-ish. I used to read lots of sci-fi novels, mostly Asimov and Bradbury.

Currently on my nightstand, being read two pages at a time is Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun. It was one of five or six books I bought during the Border’s Books going-out-of-business sale. Others waiting in the wings include Christopher Moore’s Fool, another Mayes book, a reference book about Native Americans and a goofy book about designing a man cave. Other books gathering dust on my shelves include two from Dan Brown (author of DaVinci Code, which I did read a few years ago), some more books about Italy and another about time management. I should read that last one first, shouldn’t I?

I think I’ll be done with all of these by 2013. However, I am mildly addicted to book stores so I believe I will soon have many more books on the shelf waiting for my eyes.

What about you? Do you like to read? Do you have time or make time to read? What are you reading? While I’m thinking about it, thanks for reading this blog.