True stories with a twist!

It happens every year during the holiday season. Anticipation and good cheer abound. Except for the agony of getting anywhere to see anybody.

Battling traffic is enough to start a cycle of migraines in the healthiest of people.

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How we can eliminate the traffic problem while still getting everyone where they want to go?

Here is my plan:

Every car owner periodically must renew his car’s registration. I propose that every time you send payment in for the new registration you get back not only the new registration, but a date for jury duty and a “Holiday Time Slot.”

With the new Holiday Time Slot everyone will be assigned a given time to travel. Since Thanksgiving is the most heavily trafficked holiday in the United States, we will start the new program on Thanksgiving, 2018. The efficacy of this groundbreaking new plan will be measured and evaluated.

Some travel time assignments may be more convenient than others. But when people understand the value of open roads and free access through them, they will be delighted to cooperate with this effort. Just to insure that Time Slot Travel is being taken seriously, decals will be issued stating the hours that this car is authorized to be on the road. Those not traveling at their appointed times will be issued traffic summonses.

One family may be assigned to travel at 9AM. This assigned time slot could turn some against our innovative and revolutionary holiday travel plan. But we offer options.

The 9AM slot, now called the “Too Early Time Slot” will be dedicated to those needing airplane involvement to reach their families. Find a family needing to travel to the other side of the USA. They need the extra time to get to their destination. If they were assigned a 3PM Travel time they will be overjoyed to switch times with you. Switching times is cleverly referred to as “The Bartering System.” This barter system will be encouraged, so all parties will be permitted to exchange their too-early time with a family assigned an afternoon time with shorter distances to get to.

Or you can be a good sport and travel at 9AM. If you choose that option you will accrue points toward next year, which you can use for an afternoon assignment. With structuring and arranging times travel will occur, we reduce traffic on the roads at any given time.

As always, taking human nature into the equation, there is the possibility of unscrupulous people using prime time slots for profiteering. Anyone caught price gauging will be barred from buying tickets to “Hamilton” for five long years. And a huge, outrageous, unfair fine will be charged for those tickets, just as it is now. But compound interest on the ticket prices will be added, whether or not the family wishes to see the show. Airfare to New York’s Broadway district: not included. It’s a great incentive!

Holidays lift us out of daily doldrums and bring people together with those they love. We wish you joy and hope you appreciate the efforts to manage massive movements of travelers we have every holiday year. Happy Thanksgiving 2018 and safe travels!

Ask any hobbyist and you will hear the same answer. Fish have distinctive personalities, just as humans do. Some get along swimmingly with tank mates and others show hostility and aggression towards them.

Some are happy to share their space and others try to claim the whole space for themselves.

Into a calm, settled and friendly salt water reef tank, add a beautiful Raccoon Angelfish. Not only does that angel never stop swimming, but he does it an agitated manner. I’m sure it causes stress and rising blood pressure levels among the original members of the tank.

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He looks pretty but his personality soon detracts from his looks. Although his looks may be  pleasing, his destructive eating habits start exhibiting themselves. He immediately starts nibbling the coral. Not the algae on the coral, the way the other fish do, but the actual coral. Given the opportunity he will decimate the coral structures within a matter of weeks. The tank will resemble the sad dying coral structures of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

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In the name of peace we make the decision to send him back to the store he came from. The Angelfish is unceremoniously scooped out of the tank and placed on a holding tank, where the owner of the fish store will pick him up and sell him another hobbyist with fewer underwater real estate issues.

We wish him well in his new home, but are grateful that harmony is restored to the peaceful, established tank that was there before the invader came along, and will hopefully remain that way for a long time.

 

 

 It was a Monday. I was at the Short Hills Mall, looking forward to my computer class at the Apple Store. The Apple Store is located inside the mall, somewhere between Papyrus Paper and Macy’s. My class was about using the iPhone’s camera. Just in time for the holidays; one of the rare times everyone would be together in one place at the same time. I was not going to miss the photo opportunity I expected to have.
As I walked through the mall I had an uncomfortable feeling: the memory of a horrific crime that took place right here in December, 2013: close to this time of year.

‘Stay with me!’: New Jersey widow recalls husband’s murder amid Short Hills mall carjacking

People living in gated communities may feel safe and think they actually are. But do they ever consider the number of maintenance workers with access to those communities? Are the workers all screened? Does anybody know who they are? There is no lack of people who commit crimes. And no shortage of easily purchased guns.
Too many killings have taken place recently. Gun violence is no longer a new concept, or a concept that existed only back in the days of the Wild West. The world has become a frightening place to navigate.
I offer no brilliant solutions to the many problems our society faces. But I can hope that you and everyone you love and care about have safe comings and goings this holiday season and forever after.

ITALIAN SPEAK

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We were vacationing in Italy one glorious spring. We gazed in awe at the magnificent scenery of Tuscany and marveled at the art masterpieces in the Uffizi.

This was our first trip, and I took it very seriously I wanted to enjoy every bit of the Italian experience, including speaking Italian. To advance my goal I found a young Italian woman, an exchange student at our local college, Drew University. Francesca was delighted to earn a little extra spending money, and I was excited to study her language in the exact manner that she spoke it, so I hired her as my tutor. I pictured myself speaking to native Italians as if I were one of them, and with a perfect accent. I also imagined the fun I’d have being able to eavesdrop on their conversations, since they would assume an American tourist wouldn’t understand what they were saying.

I very much enjoyed the lessons with Francesca as much as I loved her stories of life in Italy.

When the time came for the trip I approached it with the air of a person setting out to speak Italian with Italians, despite my limited vocabulary. They would be so impressed with an American making the effort to communicate with them in their own language.

One of the first chores I had set for myself was sending post cards back home. Buying stamps would be a great way start speaking to an Italian!

Francesca had taught me counting, so I knew how to say the numbers.
The word for stamps is Francobolli. I was prepared for my first encounter.

Off I went to the first post office I saw. I stood in line and when my turn came, confidently walked up to the man behind the counter and said, “Due Francobolli, per favore.”

But he was not to be fooled by my bravado. He answered in perfect English, with a perfect accent, “Oh, so you would like two stamps, right?”

‘Talk about bursting someone’s balloon…

RUSH, RUSH,RUSH

What does Walt Disney’s animated film, Cinderella, have in common with every frantic, rushing modern day person? Here’s a clue:

It starts with a scene in which a group showing the cute little mice working to sew a beautiful gown for Cinderella As they sew they sing they sing, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry ‘got to help our Cinderelly.” Thanks to the group effort they finish their seamstress skills, completing the gown in time for our heroine to wear to the prince’s ball.

And we all have been hurrying ever since! Can it be that our rush started with a film about Cinderella? I believe it started way before that time.

My midwestern friend says I rush too much because I am an easterner and don’t know how to relax. I haven’t learned the technique of moving with moderation. Why can’t I proceed slowly? Is what I am hurrying to complete really a task that couldn’t wait until another time, like tomorrow? These are questions she throws at me.

Easterners who visit the south return with tales of the beautiful countryside, friendly people and great food but the complain about the incredibly slow way Southerners move. “Why, just going into a diner for breakfast could take a whole hour!” It’s hard to gobble down a hearty breakfast in that amount of time, especially if you’re accustomed to wolfing down a cup of coffee and piece of toast on your way out the door.

I am what I am used to; the way I think, the way I accomplish things and the way I move:
FAST. I can’t dawdle. It’s impossible to slow down. Concentrate on one thing at a time? No; I must multitask; I can’t understand how anyone could simply sit and do nothing but speak on the telephone. At least empty the dishwasher while you talk; check the mail while you’re chatting, confer with your calendar about the week’s appointments. How can you simply sit and speak on the phone without doing anything else? Single tasking is a concept that I cannot understand or abide by.

The medical field has interfered with how we move. Evidence shows that moving rapidly raises the heart rate. This is a good thing. Raised heart rates rush blood to the brain. It creates more Energy. Confers clear thinking. Improves memory. All of these wonderful attributes are brought to you by the rushing of blood to the brain, they tell us. I hope that in its rush to the brain no blood gets waylaid and gets diverted somewhere else. I don’t know where else it could go, but I am not a scientist and am not conversant in those issues.

I was recently informed by an unnamed person from a later generation that the act of speaking itself is a terrible waste of time. Emailing used to be a more sensible way to communicate. I felt very modern and sophisticated when I learned to email. Typing quick answers to a question, rather than wasting time calling, waiting for someone to answer the phone and speaking to the person. And then waiting for an answer.

But now it turns out that email is far too slow. The current way to communicate is by texting. Texting is faster. Pretty soon texting will be obsolete, and we’ll be able to read minds. Then we can communicate without bothering to speak, write or text. Hmm; I can hardly wait. How about you?

Looking far into the future, my vision is clear. It has to do with our last day on earth. The day St.Peter comes to call and collect his human followers, what do you suppose will happen?

Will there be chaos in the clouds? I can see it all now; a large unruly group will be standing in line, impatiently rushing and pushing. What is their rush? Each soul is frantically trying to be the first to get through those pearly gates.

 

FROM WHAT I READ IN THE SOCIAL PAGES OF NEWSPAPERS WE MUST LIVE IN A WORLD FULL OF GOOD SPIRITED, EVER SMILING, GENEROUS PEOPLE. THEY HAVE WONDERFUL DISPOSITIONS, AMAZING SENSES OF HUMOR, AND ARE PATIENT AND KIND.

IT MUST BE SO, BECAUSE EVERY WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT SAYS THE SAMEGLOWING THING ABOUT EACH INTENDED SPOUSE-TO-BE. THOSE WONDERFULATTRIBUTES IN A PERSON ARE WHAT THE WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS WOULDHAVE US BELIEVE. BUT THEY SPEAK OF PEOPLE WHO, AFTER THE WEDDING,WILL JOIN THE GENERAL POPULATION AND BE ORDINARY PEOPLE LIKE THE ONES AROUND US THAT WE SEE, SPEAK TO AND WORK WITH EVERY DAY.

 

I LEARNED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, “DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READBECAUSE THERE’S A ‘LIE’ IN BELIEVE,” SO I MUST QUESTION THE ARTICLES.

 

WOULD YOU EVER KNOW ABOUT A CHARACTER FLAW OR TRUE PERSONALITY TRAIT FROM THE STORIES IN NEWSPAPERS’ WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS EVERY SUNDAY?

 

IN THE NEW YORK TIMES’ SECTION CALLED, “VOWS” THE WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS SEEM TO BE WRITTEN IN A FLUTTERY, EXCITED AND ENTHUSIASTIC VOICE. A TYPICAL TALE OF INTRODUCTION TO A COUPLE’S FIRST MEETING MAY TYPICALLY READ:

 

“WE SPOKE FOR HOURS ON OUR FIRST DATE AND DISCOVERED THAT WE HADSO MANY INTERESTS IN COMMON. IT WAS AMAZING; I NEVER MET SOMEBODY  FUNNY AND CHARMING; HE KEPT ME ENTHRALLED. I FELT AN INSTANT CONNECTION BETWEEN US.”

I LONG TO READ AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT PROCLAIMS THE FUTURE SPOUSE INA TRUE AND PERHAPS MORE REALISTIC WAY. WHEN WOULD THESE IMPRESSIONS CHANGE?

 

IS LOVE TRULY BLIND, OR IS THE FUTURE COUPLE DESPERATE ENOUGH NOT TOSEE THE REAL CHARACTER DEFICITS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE BELOVEDS?

I REMEMBER AN EXPERIENCE I HAD AT MY OWN WEDDING. I OVERHEARD TWO EMBITTERED PHOTOGRAPHERS SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER, UNAWARE THAT ICOULD HEAR THEM, OR THAT I EVEN EXISTED.

“THESE WEDDINGS ARE PIE INTHE SKY EVENTS,” SAID THE FIRST MAN.

“DON’T YOU KNOW IT? IT’S ALL STARS IN YOUR EYES FAIRY TALE TIME FOR A WHILE, AND THEN REALITY STRIKES ANDIT’S “DON’T FORGET TO TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE,” COMPLAINED THE SECOND.

A NEW COLUMN IS BEING PLANNED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES THAT WILL APPEAR AFTER THE “VOWS” SECTION. IT ASKS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED BY THE NEWSPAPER FOR A COLUMN WHICH WILL BE CALLED “UNHITCHED.”

 

PERHAPS REALITY IS OVER-RATED, OR PERHAPS SOME OF US HAVE STARS INOUR EYES. BUT TRUTH IN LIFE’S IMPORTANT MOMENTS IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT WE’RE TOLD, WHAT WE EXPECT OR WHAT WE WISH THEY WOULD BE.

“But Mom, we can’t stop at the Ladies’ Room now; we’ll be late for the train.”
“No, Jasper. We have twenty minutes before we have to get to the platform. There’s enough time for grandma, your sister and I to make a short stop first.”

“But Mom, I can’t go into the Ladies Room!”

“Of course you can. You’re with us,” she said impatiently.

“Mom, this is so embarrassing. I’m not a little kid; I’m eight years old. I can’t go into a Ladies’ room.”

“Jasper, you’re trying my patience.  If your dad were here you’d go into the Men’s room with him. But he’s not here so you’ll have to come with us.”

Now the boy was crying. “You don’t understand. I would die if one of my friends saw me going into the Ladies’ room. It’s not fair.”

“Jasper, if I hear another word from you I’ll smack you. I didn’t have to drag myself into New York to take you kids to a Broadway show. You’d better stop complaining.”

“I don’t even want to go to the stupid show.”

The line to the Ladies’ room moved quickly and it was time for the party of mother, grandmother, son and daughter to claim a stall.

“I’m not going in there with you!”

“Then stand right there, where I could see your feet from under the door,” said mother. “Right there!”she screeched.

So I wondered. The mother had a point. She could not in good conscience, allow an eight year old boy go unaccompanied into the huge men’s room of New York City’s Pennsylvania Station’s restroom. But was there a better way of handling the situation to avoid the ugly scene her family was creating in the equally huge Ladies’ room of same train station?

On one hand she didn’t want to frighten the child by telling him about the perverts that can hang around large, anonymous venues, or how a young child could easily fall prey to sick minds. On the other hand the child had to obey his mother’s guidance in certain situations.

I welcome you, my smart blogging friends, to intervene in this situation. What would be a better way to handle this problem?

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