Tag Archives: Life

This, That And The Other Thing

 

 

Just a few random thoughts/questions that may or may not be tied into each other. I’m not really sure these days.

Chick-fil-A

Full disclosure, I’m not a big fast food person. By fast food I mean, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc. If any of my grandchildren want to stop there, I’ll pick at some fries but I stay away from what the Tiger King crowd considers edible. By the way, I’m not a food snob by any means. I prefer casual rather than fancy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some standards. Though some may say I don’t have many. But who listens to them anyway.
Now apparently Chick-fil-A  has a serious groupie following. So one day after seeing a movie with two of our grandchildren,  they asked if we could stop at CFA for lunch and we thought, why not. We’ll give it a try. Bottom line, I don’t get the fascination. It’s fast food fried chicken. Put in on a bun or lay it on a plate, it’s average at best. But I’m not here to judge, only to tell you about a sighting.

About nine months ago a CFA opened about fifteen minutes from us. The crazy thing is,  every time I pass it, without fail, there is a serious double line of cars waiting to go through the drive thru. By serious, I mean 30-40, complete with security and orange cones helping cars weave through a large strip mall parking lot.

And then this past weekend happened.

I drove past there at 3:15 on Saturday and there were 64 cars on line. On my way back home, at 4:45, there were 97 cars on line. 97! How do I know? Because I stopped and counted both times. Don’t judge. Like most people I have lots of time on my hands these days and my numbers had to be accurate for this post. You see, I do have some standards.  Besides, I was curious as hell and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Now I don’t know how long it takes to fill an order but even if, by some miracle, they can push a car through each minute, people will still be waiting an hour and half for fast food fried chicken.  Do the math for two minutes, or three.

Come on now. Am I missing something?

Traffic Reports

On a normal day, the local channels around here provide  traffic reports each morning, afternoon and evening. But these are not normal times, So for the life of me, I don’t understand why these people are still coming on each day to provide an updated report on nothing. NOTHING.  All the roads are green and have been for weeks. There is no traffic to be found anywhere. We live 45-50 minutes outside of NYC. East bound traffic  is usually a mess during morning  rush, and west bound in the evenings.   Not these days. Once in a while I can see excitement in the eyes of these traffic reporters when there is a road construction project to report. But it doesn’t matter because the maps are still green. Even closing two of three lanes on the busiest stretches of Route 80 during rush hours won’t create a problem these days. Why? BECAUSE  NOBODY IS DRIVING ANYWHERE.

Unsubscribing

I often get junk mail in my in box. When I hit the unsubscribe button to get taken off the list I sometimes get a message that says I’ve been unsubscribed and they’re sorry to see me go. But more times than not, I get asked to enter my email address. Why? Don’t they already have it? If I’m unsubscribing from the email address they sent mail to, why can’t they just do what others do, say thank you and move on. Why does it have to be annoying? I don’t understand.

Taneytown

Taneytown, Maryand is a city of less than 7K people about 40 miles outside of Baltimore. A few days ago the local police apparently had to issue final warnings to residents who were going out  to get their mail without  pants on. Now I don’t know what that means and the stories I read didn’t elaborate. Did these people have under garments on or were they buck naked? Because that’s a big gap in the story. (no pun intended). If there’s anyone out there from Tanytown feel free to respond.

Imagine if the name of the city was Tinytown. That opens up a whole new set of jokes. Thank goodness for vowels.

Finally

I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t wait for this self quarantine to be over, but no one has mentioned what they plan on doing when it is. So my question is….

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this cloud is lifted? Where’s the first place you plan on going? If it’s a restaurant, which one? If it’s a location, where? If it’s going to see a person, who?

Stay in and stay well!

 

Remembering

Remembrance Day July 15 2045

A man about 70 years old is sitting in a backyard chatting with his eight year old granddaughter as their family is preparing for other family members to arrive.

Grandpa, did we celebrate Remembrance Day when you were my age?

No, not when I was your age. I was closer to your mom and dad’s age. This day has only been a national holiday for a little over twenty years, w,ell before you were born.

Mom and Dad say we get together because of a bad virus that spread all over the world and we remember so we don’t forget. Why do we want to remember a virus that got lots of people sick?

Well, it’s not so much the virus we remember but those who were most affected by it. We remember the people who didn’t get better and the people who helped us get through that time.

You mean like doctors and nurses?

Yes, like doctors and nurses but so many more who risked their own health so that others would remain safe. People like first responders, police officers, firefighters, and those in the military. There were so many.

They’re always the heroes, right?

Yes, they are, but there were many other people who put their own health at risk so the rest of us could live our lives safely at home. Before that time, we never gave much thought to truck drivers or people who worked in food stores as heroes, but those drivers transported food to the stores, even though it was risky. And the people who worked at those stores showed up everyday so that the rest of us were able to purchase food.
Teachers made sure their students continued to learn, people who worked in pharmacies made sure people continued to get their medicine,  restaurants stayed open so that some people could order food if they couldn’t get to the grocery stores. Maintenance people made sure the hospitals stayed clean and those who worked in banks kept coming in so people could get money if they needed it. I’ve probably not mentioned nearly as many heroes as there were during that time.

So that’s what today is about?

Partly, yes. We want to remember all those who lost someone and we want to give thanks to those who helped us get through that period of time.  We don’t ever want to forget any of them.

Do all countries celebrate this day?

Well, a few other countries remember this pandemic in their own way, but they don’t call it Remembrance Day since that name means something different for other countries.

Mom and Dad said things changed after the virus. Did they change a lot?

For many, yes. Others just went back to the same routine and the life they lived before this happened.

What kind of things changed?

Well, you know we lost our way of life for a while; our freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. To see and hug  the people we love the most. You really don’t know how much you miss something until it’s been taken away from you. Then you realize you miss it even more than you could have imagined.
People used to live very busy lives. Many families never had dinner together, were pulled in different directions and missed family celebrations or birthdays, because of commitments they thought were important.

People really missed birthday parties and celebrations?

Sadly, yes. But a strange thing happened after this was over. Some people came to understand what was really important in life. That you can’t get some days back. There’s only one of them and when you miss it, it’s gone forever. Just like people. Unfortunately, some people learned that the hard way.

So people changed?

Like I said ,some did. But not all. You see, during that time you really couldn’t go anywhere and families were forced to spend a lot of time together. So instead of rushing around with other commitments, they went for walks, played games, ate together, talked a lot more, went for bike rides, read books, watched movies, cooked meals together and just hung out. They had time to make time for each other. Sometimes they got on each others nerves, but when it was over and they were able to do the things they did before, some realized they would miss what they had during the time they were forced to stay home. They decided they wanted more of their down time and less of the craziness they had before. So they changed the way they lived their lives. They made compromises and adjustments so they could have the best of both worlds. They realized it was easy to do if they just focused on what was most important to them.
But like I said, not everyone felt them same way.

Did our family change?

Eventually yes, but it took a little time, which was probably true of most people.

Mom and Dad said people who used to work in offices had to go in everyday. That must have been weird for kids. I couldn’t imagine not having mom or dad home almost everyday.

Well, it wasn’t weird before the virus. In fact, that was pretty standard. But two things happened. People realized they could work just as efficiently from home and be able to spend more time with their families. And companies realized if they allowed that to happen without it affecting their business their employees would be happier and they could cut down on the amount of office space they needed and save some money on rent in the process. So there was a compromise of sorts. Some people began working in the office one to three days a week on rotating shifts. Not all jobs could do that, of course, but quite a bit more than people realized just a few months earlier.

So the virus wasn’t all bad?

Well, for some it was terrible. Many people lost family members and some nurses and doctors had a tough time healing after what they experienced. But people also became kinder to one another. If you went for a walk during that time, people who were strangers would wave to you and ask if everyone was okay. If someone needed help, they received it. People sang, and danced, told jokes, made crazy videos and raised money for those who were less fortunate and needed support.
So to answer your question,  there was some good that came out of something that was bad.

That happens a lot doesn’t it.

Yes, that happens a lot, if we pay attention and just look hard enough.

For several minutes, the little girl said nothing, looking past the people who started to arrive. Finally, she asked her grandfather if he thought  a virus like that could ever happen again.

He hesitated before answering, putting his arm around her and holding her close.

It’s possible, I suppose, though we’re much better prepared in case it ever happens again. But if that period of time taught us anything, it was to live in the moment and not worry so much about tomorrow. And our moment is coming through the door as we speak. Your cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all here. How about we go remember and celebrate this day with them.

The little girl looked up at her grandfather and smiled.  I think I’m going to give them all big hugs so they know how much I love them.

The grandfather pulled the little girl close, hugged her tightly and whispered softly in her ear.

I think that’s a great idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colors Of New England

With everything going on out there, I needed to escape to a better time. So I started looking at some of the photos we took during our trip this past fall to Vermont and New Hampshire. For too many years this fall trip of colors has been on our bucket list. We were finally able to work it out this past year ad what we found was breathtaking. As with many beautiful spots, no picture can really describe or give justice to the beauty that surrounds you. It’s like a brilliant 360 degree canvas that follows you wherever you go.

We spent some time in the beautiful village of Woodstock, Vermont at a terrific Bed and Breakfast called the Blue Horse Inn. We ended with a few days in the quaint little village of Jackson, New Hampshire, exploring the surrounding towns and lakes while staying at the Wentworth Inn.

We’ve always been big fans of upper New England, spending a lot of time exploring the Maine coast along with the villages and towns of Vermont and New Hampshire. There’s something magical about these places; the people have always been friendly, and the food, well, what can I say.

But seeing it in the fall takes it to another level.

So if you have a few moments, (and who doesn’t these days), take a little trip with me to a better time. One we will all get to again very soon.

Enjoy and stay well!

P.S. I’m not a photographer so these were taken with only an iPhone; and I’ve enlarged them a bit here so the clarity may be off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can I forget a sampling of the food…:)

 

 

The Randomness Of Life

“We all want to convince ourselves that it is about hard work and education and perseverance, but the truth is, life is much more about the fickle and the random. We don’t want to admit it, but we are controlled by luck, by timing, by fate.”
Harlan Coben

I don’t want to believe this. It goes against my faith, my Christian upbringing and what we try to relay to and teach our children. But sometimes…..

When I was a teenager, I used to have conversations with priests about predestination and free will. I went to Catholic grammar school, was an altar boy and attended Catholic high school and so I was “indoctrinated” into a certain set of beliefs. (Of course they didn’t include current lawsuits and settlements, but that’s another story)
I never logically understood how predestination and free will come together and quite honestly, no one ever had an answer for me. So the people I spoke with fell back on the only answer that ended all conversation.

Faith.

And I understand that. I accept that there are things that will never be clear to me and that faith is something I need to have as a Christian. But I’ve never been convinced that predestination and free will are a matter of faith. Other aspects of beliefs, yes but this one never settled in with me.
And as I was reading a Coben book and came across these words, the whole issue came back to  me again. Because I’ve also always believed that so much of life is controlled by place and time.

A woman is walking a child in a stroller on a perfectly calm and sunny day in the park when a tree limb falls on them and kills the child.

Five young people get into a car accident and three survive, telling me that the seat you chose determined if you lived.

You move when you were a teenager to the other side of the country and ten years later you find and marry the love of your life in the town you moved to. What if you didn’t move? Would you still find the one your love and live happily ever after?

You happen to run into someone you haven’t seen in years by chance in a random setting. You talk and the conversation changes the trajectory of your entire professional life.

You get my point. The list is endless. The randomness of life, the paths we choose, the decisions we make, the people we meet, the timing of conversations, is pretty crazy when you step back and think about the possibilities

There are good, well educated, God fearing people who are dealt a bad hand and bad people who live long, privileged lives. I often wonder, when traced back, what turned their lives around.
I’ve always believed in hard work and perseverance but there are many hard working people who have persevered their entire lives and continue to struggle. Conversely, the opposite is true. A chance meeting at the right time, a phone call, an introduction, a decision, an opportunity taken, may change not only your life, but those you love.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. At times, it makes life easier to deal with; easier to accept certain things that happen in your life. But I still struggle with whether or not God knew things were going to happen, and if He knew it was going to happen then I really had no choice but to follow His plan. And if that’s the case, then how can I have free will.

I know I’ll never understand it and though I’d like to find a way, I’ll never logically accept it. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I should just accept and not try to find logic in the illogical. Maybe faith is the only answer when it comes to this particular topic.

Then again………

 

Deconstructing A Life

So it’s been a couple of days since I’ve last been here. What, you think it’s been more than a couple of days? Really? Maybe you’re right. I’ll have to count on my fingers to check. Sometimes life gets in the way or I get distracted.

My mother in law passed away this past fall at the age of 93 and so we spent the rest of the year going through her home and preparing it for sale. Not an easy task. My father in law passed away twenty-six years ago and so she’s lived in this home for the last sixty years. Up until recently she was able to take care of herself but the last year and a half required some help. Her home was always meticulous, even at the very end. The only problem was, she never threw anything away. I think that’s somewhat common for that generation, who came from a time when everything had value. Nothing was wasted or discarded needlessly. Nothing had a shelf life. It’s something I understand but it didn’t make the process any easier.

We sometimes didn’t know, going through her belongings, what had real value, sentimental or otherwise. Did it have special meaning to her, was it worth something, or was it an item that was given away for free at gas stations back in the day. Some things were obvious, some not so much. And what about the photos of people from so long ago that we didn’t recognize. Did the people in the photo hold special meaning to her? Did they remind her of a special time? What do we do with them now?

And here’s where deconstructing a life comes into the conversation. Here are the decisions we had to make, whether they seem logical or not. We kept quite a few things, as did our children, who wanted remembrances of their grandmother. We donated quite a bit to various charities. We sold a few things. And unfortunately, we ended up tossing some things. For some reason, the photos were sometimes the toughest decisions to make. It seems sacrilegious to throw them out but why keep photos of people we don’t know, and if we do keep them, you just leave it for the next person to deal with when we’re gone.

The whole thing was just so surreal. I’ve known my wife since third grade and have been going to that house for over fifty years. I spent more time there over the years than in the home I grew up in. I knew every corner and almost every story. To take it apart seemed like a violation of her life. Every day another piece was gone, until nothing remained but the shell. Until the home became a house. A property to be sold.

But it seemed even more than that and I’m not sure it’s easily explained. It’s like someone who existed a short time ago, no longer does. Her “stuff” is gone. I understand about the memories we”ll have to hold onto and the items we have to remind us of her life, but there is a big difference between the body and the soul of a person. In certain homes, filled with years of love and memories, I believe the same holds true. Strip away what made it special, and the deconstruction is complete. Emptying that home was like emptying a life. It’s a strange feeling and I’m sure many of you have gone through similar moments over time.

When we were done, I joked with my wife about what our children may think or say when their time comes to do the same thing. What questions they’ll have that may remain unanswered. What photos they’ll find and wonder who those people were. What decisions they’ll have to make and if sentimentality or practicality will be the deciding factor. Probably a little of both.

I just know that a few days after we finished up we started going through our own home. If we can make it a bit easier for our children when the time comes, all the better. I just don’t want to make it too easy. After all, what fun is life without leaving  some mystery and unanswered questions about your parents. I might even plant a few things around just to keep the conversation interesting. I wouldn’t want them to forget us easily.

It’s nice to be back.

 

Why…Are We Still Having These Types Of Conversations?

The USA soccer team, arguably considered the best in the world, is currently playing a World Cup tournament in France. They have won three of the seven World Cups played, including the last one in 2015 and are playing in the semis next week. They have a chance to win a fourth World Cup but it won’t be easy

By comparison, since World War II, the men’s team has advanced past the World Cup round of 16 exactly once. They finished eighth in 2002. They are 24th in FIFA’s rankings and failed to even qualify for last years tournament.

According to audited financial statements from the U.S. Soccer Federation obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the women’s team has generated more revenue than men’s games over the past three years.

So why was the women’s team forced to file a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging that although they could earn a maximum of 99,000 for winning 20 friendly games this year, the men would earn an average of 260,000 for the same exact accomplishment.
For winning the 2015 World Cup, the women’s team received 1.725 million from the federation. For its 15th place finish, the men took home bonuses totaling nearly 5.4 million.
According to figures obtained from the Federation’s financial report, the women’s team helped the Federation exceed it’s overall projected revenue  for the year by 18 million.

According to the lawsuit, the women’s player association has proposed a revenue sharing model that would tie player compensation to revenue generated by the women’s national team.

Seems fair  and reasonable to me. Oh, and the men’s national team has issued a statement of support for the women’s team lawsuit and the revenue sharing model.

By the way, this is not just a USA problem. The best female soccer player in the world, Ada Hegerberg, from Norway, has not played for her national team since 2017, protesting what she states is gender discrimination from the Norwegian Federation between how it treats the men’s and women’s team. While Norway has since adjusted their pay scales and bonuses, it’s hasn’t done enough to encourage Hegerberg to return.

So the big question is why? How can an organization who acknowledges that women are generating higher revenues than men, continue to pay women less?

What year are we living in and when will this type of antiquated thinking finally be put behind us?