Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And then...

For most of us, life is a series of cycles. We get up, make breakfast, feed the pets, go to work, eat lunch, work some more, go home, watch Family Feud while grinding on a salad 'n' steak, and watch television while alternately dozing and laughing over something on a situation comedy (or the news).

Image result for loon lakeAnd then, we go to sleep, have bizarre dreams concerning falling out of tall buildings, and being called upon to solve a math problem at the blackboard while not wearing any pants, and get up to go all over again. 52 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 40 years of work, minus two weeks every summer at Loon Lake: you're going to lather, rinse and repeat that cycle 10,000 times.

So life has a way of cutting past the monotony and sending little rewards to us. People are capable of such love, such goodness, that it stands out.  

Like the time a friend of mine drove over 50 miles early one summer morning just to be there for me for my mother's viewing and funeral.  At such a time, as many of you know, sadness whirls past us like a morbid merry-go-round spinning out of control, and one person showing up with a kind hug and comforting word means more to the heart than one's words can convey.

Or, like what happened in a restaurant the other night. A woman surrounded by others are her table was being drowned out by rabid political talk. She wanted to express her concerns about human rights, education, the environment, but was shut down at every turn. Her feelings and intentions ignored, she finally said, "I’ll discuss this when you listen to my WHY," only to be shut down by a man who had been part of the rabble saying, "I want to eat my dinner. I don’t want to listen to your politics anymore."

Another woman dining there that evening heard all this, and when she went to the restroom, she jotted these words on the back of a slip of paper: "The WHY matters and I hear you. – an Environmental Science teacher."  She slipped the note to the lady who had been so unfairly treated by the galoots she dined with, and went back to her supper.

On her way out, the woman stopped and hugged that teacher.  

It's in the moments like those that we see the strength of character that gives some of us the boost we need to get over the bridges and hurdles that life, and some of our companions, put in our place. I'm certain that lady went home knowing that, no matter what else, someone is out there for her, someone is listening, someone is giving her the respect everyone deserves. The gift of confidence is like no other.

What a gift, what a grace note, what a blessing!

I'll never in a million years tell you any names.  And I don't think you're surprised at all to find that the same angelic woman is responsible for both of these kindnesses (and thousands more!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

See ya later...

I was just about over the stunning outcome of the college football championship, in which my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide came up short against the Clemson Tigers. I have no doubt that next year at this time, the natural order of superiority will return, and 'Bama will once again parade around with the crown.

But in the meantime, there's this alligator...

In Hanahan, South Carolina, there is a pond where dwells an orange alligator.

And you ask why I don't want to move anywhere. I like to walk around my neighborhood after dark, and while I can deal with deer, dogs, foxes and an occasional surly cat crossing my path, there is something about alligators and crocodiles that brings out my atavistic fear of being consumed like a four-piece chicken box by some dinosaur-like creature.

Some down that way are saying the alligator is orange because he is a Clemson fan. I have to wonder about that, because I checked Map-A-Rama, and find that there's a distance of 203.05 miles from Hanahan to Clemson as the crow flies, and 230.67 miles by car.

And of course, no alligator needs to roam a couple hundred miles away in search of food, when there are always golfers people right close by.  I can't see one hopping on a Greyhound bus, although I can see one hopping on a greyhound.

Local Hanahanians say this beast is about 4 or 5 feet long, and currently residing in a retention pond in the Tanner Plantation community. 

They should hope that retention pond lives up to its name.

Jay Butfiloski with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says that maybe this creature spent the winter in a rusty steel pipe and got the orangeness that way.  

People versed in the ways of nature point out that alligators shed their skin every year, when the new spring line comes out, so look for that murky green brown 'gator look as soon as he can get to Nordstrom and do some shopping. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Rerun: A Tale of Two Blood Samples

Peggy goes to the Q. Diagnostic Center:

The whole way over to Towson, her car is borne aloft by the wings of angels, and it seems to park itself in the giant garage, where a team of valets waits to detail the Corolla in the 4 minutes she will be away from it.

She steps into the lobby as a man in a big red coat and snappy uniform hat holds the door for her.  An elevator attendant has the car ready for her to step into.  A sofa is in the elevator for her to rest while she rides up four stories, and then she steps off the elevator just as a smiling employee holds the door, offers her a nice cold water and takes her right back into the blood draw area, which has opened long before the scheduled 7:30 start just because.

Robert Wagner, wearing a velvet blazer with a silk scarf and shirt, is there waiting for her with a dozen mixed roses.  They chat amiably during the 13 seconds it takes to select a vein and draw enough blood.  As she leaves the room, Celine Dion music is on the radio, and Peggy wafts back to the car on an ocean breeze of love and good feeling.  On the way home, cars seem to part like Moses and the Red Sea, and she is home in minutes.

Mark goes to the Q. Diagnostic Center:

Every nutball between here and Towson is out this morning, making left turns from the right lane, pulling out of Dunkin Dognuts with a Bavarian Creme in their right hand and a Mocha Chocolata YaYa in the other while steering with their knees, and speeding like it's Indianapolis.  OF COURSE the person pulling into the garage ahead of me miscalculates how to pull up to the parking ticket dispenser, so they have to get out and take 20 minutes to get their ticket.  Once parked, I get in the elevator and get to the blood center at 0704.  Minutes later, a lady comes along to be second in line, but she asks if I am in a hurry because SHE has to go to work and it doesn't look like I have to. And then along comes a senior couple, and the lady starts jawing with them about how there didn't used to be a bench to sit on but now there is and her daughter moved back in with her two kids and a baby and the dogs and she had to teach her daughter how to roast a turkey so they did that yesterday and for Thanksgiving she is making the Lithuanian side dish that everyone loves so much, and also a pie, but pumpkin this year because apple is too sugary, and we had a pecan pie and we were going to freeze 1/2 of it but we kept eating until there wasn't enough to freeze and isn't a shame about Joe Flacco.

They run through every vegetable, appetizer, side dish and entree that has ever been served at any Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, because I have to fast, hearing about great heaping plates spilling over with turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy does not bother me a bit.
The receptionist opens the door at precisely 7:30 and we file in. No phlebotomist is around, but she walks in at 0733 with a cheery greeting for her coworker ("What you opening early for?" "I didn't!") and five minutes later calls me back with this pleasant invitation ("Clark!  Room 1!").

"In The Air Tonight," the most deadly horrible of all the awful songs in the Phil Collins canon, is pounding off the walls and into my ears as I sit gently upon the Throne Of Blood.  The phlebotomist can't get enough red stuff out of my right arm and mumbles that I need to drink more.

Finally! Just what I've been waiting to hear!  And from a medical professional, no less.  I go home and take her advice.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, February 18, 2017

Dateline: my own neighborhood, right around the corner across from the Senior High Rise where I'll probably spend the last years of my life beginning in maybe 10 years and ending, who knows? I'm not saying it was one of the residents who attempted to open a drive-in window at the laundromat. But I am saying that you had all better come visit me at the old folks' home senior living center, or I'll get in a car and drive over to see you, and you know how that will go...
This is the amazing ├śresund Bridge, which takes you from Sweden to Denmark (whether you want to go, or not). It's 5 miles from Sweden to Peberholm, in the middle of the strait. There is a 2.5 mile tunnel called the Drogden Tunnel, and that takes you from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager. 
Remember the first guy (or woman) in the office who figured that you could write in yellow hi-liter on a master copy of a form and Xerox it, without the yellow showing up? Here in my continuing fascination with food plummeting from heaven during commercials is how they make it look like the parts of a cheeseburger descend from above to make your lunch.  The food sits on wires which do not show in the pictures.
This was New York in the 1970s, in case anyone thinks it's impossible for big Eastern cities to get themselves cleaned up for company.
On the other hand...this looks like an ad for Vigoro, which makes everything turn green (including your neighbors!)
I don't know the nature of this trial, but this fellow is obviously translating for the jury the words of the accused pumpkin.
Part of our Famous Jackets In History series: this is a leather bomber jacket worn by General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower during World War II.  I'm telling you, you get good quality leather, and it will last you for years and years and years.

And we wrap up this week's fun with a bird who recognized himself in the book the man is reading, and came in for a better look!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hello Goodbye

This one is even more personal than most, but I'm sharing it to help us all understand.

I was good friends with another person since 1973.  Let's call that person "X" as in ex-friend now.  Because.

Image result for 1973 kojak
Nothing says "1973" to me
like Kojak
X and I worked in the same field and had dozens of friends in common, and we often talked of work stuff but also family stuff and medical stuff...as friends will do, over the years.

I might add, never a harsh word passed between us over the years, all 44 of them.  And there were times that we each achieved successes and had good things coming our way, and just the same, we each had our turns in the barrel as well as in the sunshine.

So, you get the picture: a fair friendship of many decades.

In late January, X texted me to complain about a coworker, and we went back and forth on that topic and then moved on to "how are you doing?" and such.  X is single, having suffered that most awful loss of a spouse to death years ago, and still despairs of love ever returning.

When I tried that night to offer words of reassurance, I was met with hostility for the first time ever in our relationship, about how the hell do I know what it's like to lose someone like that. Well, no, I can't empathize, not ever having been there, but I sympathize. I want everyone to love and be loved, especially a friend of many years.

Well, within a few minutes, everything went way south, and as much as I tried to say I was feeling that pain for X, X was having none of it and said "I think I need a timeout from you" and boom, hit that unfriend button and walk away.

And then...I remembered so many times I saw X boast of how fast friends would be unfriended for daring to share a contrary opinion. We never disagreed on a political matter, but those who did, and said so, were banished from X land.

And then...I remembered how many times on the phone X would denigrate other people for whatever reason and say they were no longer to be spoken of, or to.

And then I realized that X does not like to be happy, and is doing everything possible to remove any trace of it, and that none of this has anything to do with all of us banished to the Island Of Former Friends.

It's a funny world. Someone oughta sell tickets.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just Joshin'

It's the wise person who learns lessons through the mistakes of others.

You know that Josh Elliott guy on TV.  I mean, you have to, if you watch, because he has now been given the gate from CBS, to go along with his unceremonious departures from ESPN, ABC, where he was on Good Morning America and found himself on the sidewalk with the rest of the viewers because he wanted a Robin Roberts-type salary, and NBC, where they thought he might replace Bob Costas, but found out that people would sooner just not watch the Olympics if he was part of the show.

He only went to work for CBS 11 months ago and was the main daytime anchor of their streaming service, CBSN, which is what people in offices with no cable TV service have to watch. Apparently, there were plans to move him up in stature, and that was to begin by having him go out and so some reporting.

So last Friday, like a guy who just found out he was getting promoted from being the guy at a used car lot who washes used cars all day, Josh made what the New York Times called a "rather gushy announcement that he would no longer be one of the streaming service’s main anchors."

His bosses, who are busy juggling all the other reporters and anchors, did not know he planned to spotlight his personal sendoff, and so they called him in on Monday morning to tell him to pack up his stuff and go home.  

That's a tough business, TV, where the dollars and egos and future and risks are very large. You have to figure that what Josh Elliott did, announcing with a certain pride that he was moving up from the junior varsity, is not a sin requiring him to be fired...unless they were already tired of him, and looking for a way to send him packing.

He's STILL getting paid by NBC, and now CBS has to pay off the rest of his contract too.  

Two paychecks still coming in for doing nothing! No wonder people line up to get jobs like that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Brand new words!

One of the many things that amuse me is that the people at Merriam-Webster, like workers at an AYCE* buffet, keep piling new fresh words onto the lexicon tureen that we call the English language.

I mean, if you haven't finished your edamame** or your headcheese**, you're not supposed to go back to the trough to load your tray with more mystery meats.

And since we clearly haven't learned all the words in the current dictionary, why are they adding more to the word plate?

Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, have come out with their annual list of new words added to the reference volume. This year, a thousand words were added to their online version, which is what I turn to to check spelling, usage and pronunciation.

They don't say whether they remove words that are no longer in use, but I would suggest "groovy," "floppy disk," and "future" for any list of words we don't need.

OK then..for some of the words that are on the list...

Seussian ("of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss")
made the list. I'm that one-in-a-million person who has no time for silly Seussian poetry. Sorry, but "Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" just
doesn't work for me, either as philosophy or poetry. 

I prefer the words of Nipsey Russell, who taught us, "What is the secret of eternal youth? The answer is easily told; All you gotta do if you wanna look young is hang out with people who are old."

Side eye.
We've all given it; we've all gotten it.
Much more portable. How about these other newly-official words? There's face-palm ("to cover one's face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment"), SCOTUS ("Supreme Court of the United States"), FLOTUS ("First Lady of the United States"), ride shotgun (I can't believe this term would take a back seat to any other seating designation) and side eye, which is better described in one picture than in a thousand words. 

This time next year, when the next list comes out, I look forward to checking them out.  Perhaps "Spicer out" will be a recognized verb by then, paralleling "go postal," but meaning "to lose one's cool at a simple press gathering," or "flopcorn" (the dud kernels that are never never gonna fulfill their destiny) or even that French term for 20/20 hindsight, "L’esprit de l’escalier" (literally, staircase wit, for when you think of a clever retort when you're halfway down the stairs and out the door). 

2017 can be the year for great new words.  Won't YOU help?

* All You Can Eat (should be listed!)
** two things you won't find on my plate