True stories with a twist!

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SELF CONSCIOUSNESS

As we sat on the Midtown Direct train leaving Convent Station heading to New York, a loud, raw, ugly sound came drifting through the train cars, attacking our calm, peaceful ears. It was the unmistakeable sound of a young child exploding into screams. 

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This sound was especially distressful since we had, the night before, seen an episode of “Call the Midwife.” In this episode everyone was absorbed by the unabated joy upon the faces of nurses, midwives and new parents. A baby was born. Cause for celebration. No reason to imagine that life from now on would be anything but ecstatic. 

Until baby becomes unhappy about something and its protests start reeling in from the next train car.

That child was completely unaware of its surroundings, totally disinterested in people’s reactions to the noises it was emitting. The baby had the power to force people to unwillingly listen. Nobody could simply switch the channel or activate a “stop” button. The child did not care what anybody thought of it’s screeching concert. He/she was tuned out of any reaction, reviews of the performance or negativity about its expression skills.

When does that change? When do people turn from screaming child unaware and uncaring about the effects of its disturbing their restful train ride? To twittering, self-conscious, insecure adolescent-like humans, afraid of being seen wearing the wrong brand of jeans? Or of expressing unpopular opinions to the “in crowd?”

Isn’t it a shame that the freedom baby has to express its desires and opinions is diminished just at the time that their ideas and opinions might finally become worthwhile and interesting to listen to?

If only babies came with control buttons. One to “mute” any vocal unhappinesses and the other to “play” the sweet sounds of contentment.

MAN vs.SQUIRREL: Spring is Here

IMG_1810This elongated squirrel is the first view of what was going on at the bird feeder. “Those blasted squirrels,” he shouted; “They won’t get away with this.” I won’t go through another frustrating season watching those blasted squirrels steal the seed I bought for the birds.”

And so the battle began in the privacy of our back yard.

Man, armed with a newly sharpened pair of hedge sheers approaches the foot path  leading to access of the bird feeder.

IMG_1815Surveying the scene, he decides to sacrifice a few branches of the landscaper designed, perfectly manicured shrubbery serving as access for the squirrels to the feeder they lust after. He begins to mercilessly chop away at the previously wellIMG_1817 tended plants.

Reviewing the effect of his pruning job, he realizes that there still exist ways that can be used as jumping off points leading directly to the bird feeder. So he chops some more.

I cannot bear to show any further proof of the decimation of the backyard landscape. Take my word, though; the garden will no longer require landscape design, unless man is prepared to completely redesign the yard starting with the planting of seedlings.

The fully grown plants that used to exist in that area would be far too expensive to replace. And the squirrels have discovered their incredibly amazing ability to jump huge distances from nearby trees right onto their coveted bird feeder.

You can’t fool Mother Nature.

 

 

SKYDIVING FUN AND GAMES or How to Be Entertained and NOT Lose Your Head

I feel completely in control and of sound mind.  I know I am perfectly safe when I put my head into a lion’s mouth. Similar to the kind of feeling of control that people feel when they free fall from the sky.

Airplanes are mechanical. They have no feelings when they toss people out into space. 

Lions are living creatures and do have feelings. They are territorial. They mark their ground and will challenge anyone crossing the line. Some might think I’m putting my life in danger when I place my trust in the kindness of a wild beast. But I believe I could safely put my head into a lion’s mouth. Why would a lion hurt me when I mean it no harm?images-1

Being involved in this challenge won’t be the first time people have doubted the beliefs of others. They all laughed when Christopher Columbus said the world was round. That assumption is elementary compared to putting your head into a lion’s mouth.

Unknown.jpegCan you remember the days when people doubted the safety of jumping out of airplanes? Jumping from planes is now a sport; maybe it will be an Olympic sport soon. We call the sport “Skydiving,” and it is every bit as safe as putting your head into a lion’s mouth. Lion’s mouth’s don’t require equipment, which can be troublesome: all you need is the good, warm support  and cooperation of the lion.

Unfortunately, in skydiving does require equipment. It is possible that equipment will not operate properly. Circumstances change; sometimes rip cords don’t open when they are pulled. How many airborne soldiers never made it to the ground because parachutes malfunctioned?

A skydiver or two is killed occasionally while jumping out of an airplane.

Sometimes the landing field is overshot and the diver is blown far afield.

Broken bones and other injuries are not uncommon due to bumpy landings. 

But now and then it can be safe to jump out of a moving airplane.

Aside from the possibility of getting killed or crippled for no good reason, they tell me that skydiving can be good, clean fun, exciting and challenging.

But so can putting your head into a lion’s mouth.

TECHNOLOGY and TEENAGERS

What an annoying necessity it is to go for a haircut. Why do we need haircuts on such a regular basis? What was so terrible to walk around sporting a look like Lady Godiva or Cher? Must we always be so darn groomed in order to appear acceptable?

So as I was probing and considering the irritating ritual of transitioning from needing a haircut to well-groomed person, I was fuming about a totally different issue.

I have seen people casually walking around, cell phone in hand, phone encased in a battery charging case, seemingly without needing to recharge the device. But, as I learned on our summer vacation, using your cell phone to take photographs causes battery time to run down quite rapidly. One minute I was filming the Andes Mountains and suddenly my phone’s camera was dead. I would have to resort to old issues of National Geographic magazine to see real pictures.

Whether you happen to be hiking the Andes or meandering through the streets of Manhattan, what do you do if your battery needs a charge? Duck into a local clothing shop, plug it in next to the new spring suits?” Then pretend to browse while the phone recharges?

And what if you forgot to bring your charging cord?

So I was counting on a battery charging case that fits right over the phone and takes over when battery time expires. I sent for the case. 

The new battery charging computer case I ordered had just arrived from Amazon before I left the house for the hairdresser.

The directions said that first I had to “open the bumper.” What language were they speaking? What is a bumper? It sounded British, but since the Brits were busy figuring out what to do with Brexit I dared not look to them for an explanation. And even if I understood the meaning of “bumper,” how would I open it? No explanations given; just orders. Since it was made in China I couldn’t call them for a lesson either.

 Now if only I could attach the case to the phone I’d be happy. But try as I might I couldn’t open it to insert the phone.

As I pondered and agitated about my situation my haircut was completed. I was about to extricate myself from the chair and pay the bill when it happened. A lucky opportunity in the form of an innocent teenaged boy entering the salon. The boy asked where the ATM was, and as he withdrew the money he needed for a haircut the answer to my problem formed in my mind. 

The boy started to wedge himself into the hairdresser’s chair when I casually approached him, and asked,

“Have you ever seen these kinds of chargers? “

“Sure,” was his loquacious one word reply. 

“Did you ever hear of a Bumper?”

“Sure.”

“Oh, great! Would you mind showing me how to put my cell phone into it?”

He was now in his comfort zone.

He took the case and the phone and before I could say, “Split ends,” the two were entwined and functioning as one!

So the saying, “If you want to know how to do anything involving technology ask a young person!” is true. 

It seems to work every time. To further prove my point, some day let me tell you how my 14 year old grandson taught me how to use the safety features on my new car!

EATING COMMENTS

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Have you ever eaten with someone who, after the meal is complete, and you ate everything on your plate, says with great enthusiasm,”You Were Hungry!”

“That was a totally unsolicited and unwanted observation of the amount of food I consumed. The comment surprised me. I felt as if I were being observed and evaluated for how much I ate. And who likes to be judged?

Unknown.jpegI interpret the comment as an insulting one; it gives the impression that the person with you thinks you ate too much. Hearing that remark addressed to me made me self-conscious. It never occurred to me to pay attention to how much anyone else ate at a meal. So why is the amount of my food intake being observed, judged and evaluated?

When I mentioned my feeling of being insulted to a friend she said,

“Oh no. That is not an insult; My mother was from Italy. In Italy it means that the hostess is pleased that you, enjoyed the food and were happy with the meal“

This interpretation makes the comment,

”You were hungry”

a compliment. You might have been hungry when you started eating, but now you are happily satisfied. And the fact that you ate everything the hostess served is a compliment to her and her cooking.

A third interpretation of that comment is, “I’m glad you were not wasteful with food. It is not a commodity that anyone should take for granted, seeing the hunger in this community and around the world.” So when a person says “You were hungry,” it simply is confirming that you were appreciative of that meal.

Interesting.

It reminds me of my business partnership which lasted twenty two years. A business partnership is almost as hard to manage as a marriage. Two people discuss something, and each assumes that the other person understands a words the same way you do. It astounded me to learn how many ways there are to understand the same sentence. Hearing or saying the same words does not mean you understand an issue the same way.

So the comment“You were hungry”doesn’t mean what you assumed it did.Maybe. But still I wonder, “Does he think I’m getting fat?

LUXURY CARS

Along wealthy, distinctive neighborhoods in any large city exist blocks of luxury. Luxury everything, from designer clothing to shoes, handbags and cars. Especially cars. Jaguars, Maseratis, Bentleys and Rolls Royce’s.

But when I saw a McLaren I asked; what’s a McLaren?  I never heard of a McLaren.shopping

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article about the elusive McLaren. Perhaps the reason I didn’t know about this car before was that not one of my friends, business associates or Uber drivers ever showed up in one. I never saw such a car in parking lots at Costco, Sam’s Club or BJs. There was never this vehicle in front of me at the car wash either.

As I soon learned, the price was not so outrageously terrible: between $230,000 and $300,500, depending on what extra accessories you prefer in a car. For example, are traffic turn indicators really necessary? And why do you need power brakes, when with a little extra strength-building power of pressing hard on the brake pedal you can stop the car yourself! Think of all the extra accessaries we blindly sign up for that we don’t really need.

Believe it or not, when you consider the price you realize that paying for it is not so impossible to achieve.

There are many ways to save money. Here are some suggestions:

Imagine all the money you could save if you eliminated the excessive cost of driving to work. Since you don’t yet own a luxury car why would you want to drive anyway? The distance between New Jersey and New York may seem far at first glance, but look at it in a different light. 

How much is a gym membership worth? Does anybody think of eliminating this cost? What if, instead of working out on mostly mechanical machines, you walked from Morristown New Jersey to mid-town Manhattan for exercise? You could reap a number of benefits. First, you would eliminate the high cost of joining a health club. Secondly that short thirty mile walk would give you all the exercise you needed to stay healthy and in shape.

By walking you would also save on the cost of train fare. Eliminating the price of train travel would really help those dollars pile up in your wallet. Trains would become totally unnecessary in the Walk-Work model.

The only expense that might increase with this new transportation ideal is the small price of leather replacement for resoling your walking shoes. But compared to all the other savings you will gain, this price is a small one to pay as your shoe leather wears down.

Another price-cutting idea is heating your home. Surely you could manage to eliminate the cost of artificial heat used in so many homes. Do you think our country’s founding fathers were stronger and tougher than we are? They survived the cold by lighting bonfires, wearing warm scarves and drinking hot tea all day, although it might be tricky preparing dinner while wearing those bulky sheepskin gloves!

Try to avoid the occasional broken water pipes that may burst when you shut off the heat, but that is a minor problem, easily managed by the local plumber and your electric or gas supplier. 

Electric lights are another frivolous expense. Abraham Lincoln managed to write by candlelight; what a forward thinking gentleman! Think of the romantic environment he established by candlelight. Try it; everyone in the neighborhood will wish they had thought of the idea first!

You have saved on transportation, gas and electricity, and eliminated the cost of a health club. What about all the money you now waste on food, especially prepared foods, or restaurant meals? Some simple Macaroni and cheese casseroles or peanut butter sandwiches (made on day-old bread, saving 50% on each loaf) would be perfectly filling for a tiny amount of money.

With some of these money-saving ideas you will be in a position to put a down payment on your first McLaren.

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The environment will be so much improved! The conservationist movement will praise your name to the skies! And when you tell people that you have a new McLaren they’ll say,”What’s a McLaren? I never heard of it!”

 

CALIFORNIA TRAVELS

 

Everybody knows that weather patterns have been changing. It used to be true that beautiful weather was consistently dependable in San Diego, California. It was never too hot or too cold there. And the beaches of La Jolla were always perfect too.images-1

This has been a cold winter in New Jersey. We thought it would be a healthy change to return to the quaint custom of opening the front door without shivering.  

As Mark Twain said,

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” But we would do something. We would escape from the northeast to year round sunshine.

But the “Weather-Fixer in the Sky” issued the alarm that “The Hammers are approaching; drop those temperatures and add some rain, Oh, Mighty Weather-Gods!” 

And they did. When we reached the California Shores we discovered that the cold temperatures and rain came along for the ride. 

We had packed lightly for the trip, knowing that California dress codes were casual. So we were able to reach every traveller’s goal: to pack light. All I needed were some T-shirts, a sweater or two, and extra pair of casual pants. That would basically carry me through our vacation. In normal days these choices would have been perfect. But now, in order to venture outdoors, every piece of clothing I packed had to come out of the suitcase and onto my back at one time. Even a pair of woolen gloves that I found in my jacket pocket from that frigid, snowy day we left for the airport were called into action.

Woolen gloves were definitely not what I would expect to pack on my vacation to Southern California. But I will be more clever planning our next trip; I will book us a trip to Antarctica, where it would be a pleasant surprise if the weather pattern were not as cold as tourists would expect. And we will use every bit of subterfuge to avoid detection by that “Weather-Fixer in the Sky.”

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