Monday, November 28, 2011

Many More Miles Than Steps

During the past week I have traveled over six thousand miles taking no more than five thousand steps.  Travel these days is interesting in more ways than that bit of mundane information.  We are a people on the go and will put up with practically any inconvenience or humiliation to get to wherever it is we need or want to go.  Today I flew with several screaming babies.  Perhaps it was the free Scotch but I didn't find them irritating.  Instead, I wanted to comfort their parent(s) who must have felt quite tense about the whole thing.  As for me, I simply turned up the volume on my iPod and enjoyed the flight.  And the Scotch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miracles Still Happen

So there I was in my aisle seat on the Jet Blue flight boarding at Burbank about to head to New York.  The passengers filed in and the cabin filled.  The guy taking the window seat in my row settled in and fell immediately to sleep.  And still passengers searched for over head space and still the cabin filled until finally the door closed and the cell phones became silent.  Only then did I allow that big exhale because finally I knew that the middle seat was empty.  All the way across the country just me and the snoring guy next to the window.  You see?  Jet Blue is one amazing airline!

He's Eleven Now

When he was ten Joey Fisher told his parents he wanted to buy a car.  Their answer was that he should start saving his money.  And so Joey started his business -- Kookies by Kidz.

I'm Joey and I am the owner of Kookies by Kidz!
I started Kookies by Kidz when I was 10.  Now my friends and I bake all sorts of things and ship them all over the United States!
I started out with everything costing $5.  Now I have expanded the choices so prices vary a little bit. 
Also, since everyone has been so nice and bought my stuff I have decided that I am going to start giving some money to charity.  I haven't figured out which one yet but when I do, I will post it.
Check out Joey's business at
 and discover this amazing young man for yourself.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Appeal from AARP

This from AARP:

Do you know where you'll be eating your Thanksgiving dinner? Chances are, there's a senior in Los Angeles who doesn't know if they'll be eating dinner at all on Thanksgiving – or the days that follow.
There are nearly 9 million older Americans who wake up in the morning and don't know if they'll get enough to eat. You can change that.
This Thanksgiving, help a senior in Los Angeles who's struggling to find their next meal. Every penny you give will go directly to hunger relief organizations in Los Angeles.
Thank you for helping seniors facing hunger, and standing with us as we help seniors facing other challenges, such as housing, income and isolation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Trucks Are Back

I've been noticing a lot more trucks on the freeway both going to work and coming home from work.  At first I was irritated.  There is nothing fun about feeling stuck between two eighteen wheelers -- one on my right and one on my left.  It's hard to get around these trucks and often they can't keep up with the pace of traffic.
Today, though, I think I got it.
There are more trucks on the freeway because the country is coming back to life.  People are being paid to drive those trucks and the trucks are hauling stuff to grocery or furniture or clothing stores.  Or they are moving people from one place to another and if a person or family can afford a moving van then they are probably moving because of work.
I still don't like feeling stuck between big trucks but I've changed the way I'm thinking about the whole thing and I've decided that this is wonderful.
See, it's all in our heads to begin with so we may as well make it wonderful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Never Doubt That You Can Change The World

When Margaret Mead died on November 15 in 1978, she was the most famous anthropologist in the world. Indeed, it was through her work that many people learned about anthropology and its holistic vision of the human species.
Mead was born in Philadelphia on December 16, 1901 in a household of social scientists with roots in the Midwest. Her major at Barnard was psychology, but she went on to earn a doctorate at Columbia, studying with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. For her, anthropology was an urgent calling, a way to bring new understandings of human behavior to bear on the future. In 1925 she set out for American Samoa, where she did her first field work, focusing on adolescent girls, and in 1929 she went, accompanied by her second husband, Reo Fortune, to Manus Island in New Guinea, where she studied the play and imaginations of younger children and the way they were shaped by adult society. 

-- The words above are from The Institute for Intercultural Studies

We need role models now more than ever.  For most of my life, Dr. Mead - even though I never met her -  has filled that role for me.  The night before she died, I have read, she acknowledged to an attending nurse that she (Mead) was dying.  To the nurse's comment that death is a natural part of life, Dr. Mead replied, "But this is different."

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"I feel like I'm in a box, like the walls are closing in."
She was near tears while talking to me, this coming from a person who has done amazing things in her career including saving lives. A few days earlier she was provided with, for the first time that she could remember, a verbal reprimand. Her comments were consistent with this recent stress, which is currently causing her to feel a sense of claustrophobia.  Yet it did not stop there. She described her concerns about "the other shoe dropping." The other shoe being her termination or worse...or neither... but surely it is going to happen. I mean, she is positive of it.
"My back hurts.  I'm exhausted.  I don't even want to go anywhere.  I have been crying and and I know I'm irritable, but I can't let them get the best of me."
Not only do they have her best, they have her worst and everything in between. Clearly the other shoe has taken up an address in her future and she is already reaping the benefits...err... the stress of it now -- physically, emotionally and behaviorally. I clarified "them" to be her supervisors. I asked her directly how much she thinks these people really think about her in any given day at any given time. ...pause...then "not much."
I validated (for the purposes of this conversation, I am "allowed" to validate) this. Then I dropped the shoe, not quite the one she was expecting.  I asked her how much time she spends thinking about them.
"A lot."
Heck. I dug deeper and I asked what the price tag is for the rental space they are taking up in her head.
Well, yes.  They are sitting on your couch, watching your TV and enjoying various snacks and beverages from your kitchen in your head... oh they don't pay rent? Confused look.
"Oh my god! You're right!!"
Insert eviction process.
"I don't know how to get them out of my head".
I suggested the same way she let them in, through the door, right?
Okay, fair enough easier said than done. But I suggested that while she has no control of the actual "other shoe" dropping, she has control of her responsibilities and carrying them out at work and then doing a mental purge as it were to get through the rest of the day. Because she has sole ownership of her time away from "the place."
"Go out and do something fun," I suggested.
"I don't even want to go to my friend's 50th birthday party tomorrow."
I pointed out what a great opportunity it will be for her superiors to soil her couch, you know, the rent free one they occupy in her head because clearly they don't want her to go.  Stay hone and let them win.
Another epiphany -- this time with a pronounced smile.
Her tune changed.
"I'm going to the party."
Suddenly she returned to the present and dismissed her unwanted guests because she realized that the shoe is going to drop on all of us in one way or another.  How much time we spend abusing ourselves waiting for it is completely optional.

Not Quite There Yet!

After careful assessment and some fairly complicated calculations, I've come to the conclusion that I am at my wit's middle, which should mean nothing much can bother me, today. (However, on a side note, am I the only one who thinks that the word "assessment" is using more than it's share of S's? I'm going to look into this and get back to you. PS: This observation just elevated my "Wit Level" to "orange.")

Friday, November 11, 2011

Now, who's really suffering?

Today's L.A. Times sports section reported that the NBA player/owner talks are at an impasse. The players are very, very unhappy about the fact that they are being asked to share their outsize salaries with the owners of their teams.

A few weeks ago, we traveled to New Jersey. On the way to the airport, we had a conversation with our car-service driver. He was upset about the NBA lockout, then only a few days old. "Think about it", he said "I usually get a lot of business driving customers to Lakers games at Staples Center. People don't want to worry about parking, or about having a few drinks at the game. I'm going to lose all that business. But that's not all. What about all the bars and restaurants near Staples Center? What about the hotels for the visiting teams and tourists who come to games? What about the maintenance men, and the people who wash the team's uniforms? What about the souvenir shops and concession stands? Now, multiply that by how many cities have NBA teams, and how many people are hurting for work? Is this what we need in the middle of a recession?"

Wise words, and ones that I think of every time I read about this ridiculous lockout. Gentlemen of the NBA, if you didn't have your athletic talents, you'd be the ones tending bar and driving limos. Remember that when you're negotiating for another slice of the billions.

He Didn't Make It Back

Sgt. Jerry Walker died in the South Pacific at the age of nineteen years when World War II was almost over.  I never met him and yet how could I or anyone forget that face now faded inside its frame and refusing to be mocked by the continued insanity of war.
Hate the horror of war.  Honor the brave young warriors.

11 11 11

It won't happen again for another hundred years.  Neither will 1 1 1 or 2 2 2 or 3 3 3 or 4 4 4 or 5 5 5 or 6 6 6 or 7 7 7 or 8 8 8 or 9 9 9 or 10 10 10.  Of course this month we already had a 11 1 11.  That won't happen for another hundred years either.
On the other hand the moment of insight I witnessed with the client sitting across the office from me can never be repeated.  Not even in a hundred years.  Or for that matter neither can the smell of the rain coming our way.  Every rain has its own smell and that, also, can never be repeated.
Therefore, might we assume that every moment of every day is a once in a life time event?
I'm thinking YES!
So enjoy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Basset Blues

After about a million dollars worth of medications and testings, we now know that our Basset Hound is allergic to dust mites.  What, you say?  Yeah, dust mites.  Apparently he is not alone in his allergy.  Dust mites, it seems, are the most common type of allergy and, in fact, about 70% of all allergies are caused by dust mites.  I'm not sure if that percentage includes Basset Hounds but I do get the picture that dust mites account for a lot of scratching and sneezing.
Dust mites are microscipic, eight-legged, wingless bugs.  They are related to spiders and scorpions.  I'm hoping that the relationship to scorpions is just by marriage and that the marriage ended in divorce eons ago.
At any rate, Bradford is allergic to these creatures.
Apparently dust mites are all over the place.  However, their very favorite places to hang out are wherever humans hang out.  They like our homes and especially they like our furniture, our carpeting, our beds (dog beds included), and even our flaky, dead skin that we shed by the ton as we walk blissfully through our homes.
Possible solutions to the dust mite allergy?
Well, Bradford will be getting injections to help him battle his own dust mite demons.  We will be buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner.  What better reason than an allergic Basset Hound?  We will also be hiring some service to clean our heating/air conditioning ducts.  And if all of that fails we will be moving to an igloo in Alaska just across the street from the Palin mansion.  Then we will really have vermin to talk about.
Details later.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank You Mississippi

It's easy to joke about an embryo working at McDonalds or voting in the election for school board because at the heart of the Mississippi ballot measure was the absurd notion that a fertilized egg is a person.  And hopefully all get it that a fertilized egg is not a viable life.  Not in any species.  The fact that this measure even made it to an election, however, is terrifying.  Even more terrifying is the fact that people -- some but not enough people to pass it -- voted in favor of the measure.
Had it by some fluke of all that is sane passed, the death knoll for legalized abortion, for the right of a woman to choose what does or doesn't grow inside of her would have begun sounding.
I grew up in the era of coat hanger, back alley illegal abortions.  They weren't pretty and a lot of young women and older women died because of those procedures.
We can define life as beginning at any moment we choose.  That doesn't mean that our definition will be accurate or even sane.  It might mean, though, that we are driven my some self righteous sense or moral entitlement to decide that we should be able to control the right of a woman to choose.
Thank you, Mississippi, for refusing to take away that right at least for now.

This from the Washington Post --
Amendment 26, the anti-abortion “personhood’ measure on the ballot in Mississippi failed to win enough votes for adoption on Tuesday. As Aaron Blake reported:
A constitutional amendment that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person failed on the ballot in Mississippi on Tuesday, dealing the so-called “personhood” movement another blow.
The state votes on the "personhood" amendment, which would designate a fertilized egg as a person.
Mississippi would have become the first state to define a fertilized egg as a person, a measure which was aimed at outlawing abortion in the state but, opponents contended, would have led to all kinds of unintended consequences.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let's Have Some Quiet

When did everyone start playing music everywhere?
I figure someone must have done a study that showed that people are more relaxed, more friendly or more willing to buy things when they are hearing music. As a result, you can't walk into a coffee shop or a department store without music playing. At the Americana at Brand, a large shopping area in Glendale California which is designed to look like a (phony) village square, they have loudspeakers set up in the outdoor areas which carry the sound to nearby Brand Boulevard so that when you drive by you get a blast of music to take with you, whether you wanted it or not.
Yesterday, I was in a nursing home and tried to take a phone call. I realized that I could not hear the caller because there was music playing on the overhead speakers. Loud music. In a nursing home. You'd think that the elderly people in there had heard enough noise in their lives, and could use a little quiet for a change. I certainly could.

This Just In - People Should Be Treated With Respect Regardless Of ...

Seriously, should this be new information?  Shouldn't hospitals have been treating everyone with equal respect and dignity all along?  Perhaps I am just a naive idealist after all.

Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community

A Field Guide

November 8, 2011
LGBT_imageA new field guide from the Joint Commission urges US hospitals to create a more welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment that contributes to improved health care quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients and their families.  The field guide features a compilation of strategies, practice examples, resources, and testimonials designed to help hospitals in their efforts to improve communication and provide more patient-centered care to their LGBT patients.  The guide, Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community, was developed with support from the California Endowment and is available for free download.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It Just Gets More Different

My father would have been 99 years old today had he not died 41 years ago.  Each year I imagine what he would be like if he were still alive.  This is the first year I've really considered that, were he still alive, he would be old enough to die at an old age.  Of course, he didn't die at an old age but, instead, at a remarkably young age.  He didn't die with his boots on nor did he die wearing his hat.  Nevertheless, at the moment of his death I know that he tipped his hat back on his head, smiled his eye twinkling smile, and turned his horse toward the horizon.
After all, Daddy was a cowboy.

His memory is a blessing.

Basset Hound Picnic In The Park

Now That I've Gotten It Back

What will it do with it?
In the middle of last night I got that hour back I was forced to give up last Spring.  So today I've got twenty-five hours in my day.  One hour more to live?  Or is it just a wash because of, you know. last Spring.
I really admire Arizona and Hawaii.  They leave their clocks alone.
I've forgotten why we don't do the same.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Before And After 1957

'In God We Trust' was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956.  The phrase first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864 and on U.S. currency in 1957.
The phrase was placed on coins because of heightened religious fervor during the Civil War.  On July 11, 1954, just a month after the phrase 'under God' was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, the U. S. Congress enacted Public Law 84-140 which required the motto to be placed on all coins and currency.  The law was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money.  The phrase was, by law, declared the national motto.

So there goes any semblance that there will ever again if there ever was to begin with separation between church and state.
I get that.  What I don't get is why Congress wasted time voting to reemphasize that this motto appears on all United States coins and currency after all of that was said and done in the 1950s.  Why indeed when our bridges are collapsing, our roads are crumbling, and the hope for better times crumbling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Like a Thief in the Night

The Chick-fil-A restaurant in Anderson, South Carolina, is offering a reward for its stolen cow.  I fear the cow will be dead by the time someone returns it.  You see, it's a topiary cow.  At any rate, the reward is free Chick-fil-A sandwiches for a year.
Only the feet, the restaurant says, were left.
Several things about this caper trouble me.  The least troubling aspect is that cows don't have feet but, then, how could we expect a restaurant selling chicken to know that a cow has hoofs.
Here's the next troubling thing.  Take a look at one of the restaurant's many logos:
Cows don't really wear slippers and can spell much better than this logo would indicate.  They do, however, curl their hair.
Neither of those items bothers me nearly as much as the fact that someone stole my idea of starting the Topiary Liberation Society.  Clearly the topiary was liberated and not stolen.  The only thing here that was stolen was, obviously, my idea.
I hate topiary.  It is a completely useless thing to do with a plant and a totally insulating thing to force a plant to look like something it isn't.  Don't we get too much of that just getting through the day?  I mean, we are forced to act like we care when we don't.  We're forced to pretend we're reading importing messages during the dull meeting instead of playing Angry Birds.
So my idea was to form the Topiary Liberation Society and go around liberating those imprisoned plants.  Because we, too, are like topiary forced to be what we aren't.  Or something like that.  I'm still working that part out but now why bother?  Huh?
Because someone stole my idea.
To hell with the missing cow.  Give me back my idea.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Her Bridge Is Fixed

Okay.  I get it that I did not create a woman named Amelia Earhart.  She existed long before I wrote my novel But This Is Different.  I did, however, create a fascinating possibility.
And lately it seems that her name is cropping up more than ever before.  I'm thinking its because my novel is stirring the waters of time and history is making room in itself for a woman named Mere who chose to keep a commitment made forty years before But This Is Different begins.
Read the book and decide for yourself.
This from the St. Joseph, Missouri, News-Press:
ATCHISON, Kan. — Several weeks of complete and partial closings of the Amelia Earhart Bridge in northeast Kansas are over.
The bridge carries U.S. 59 over the Missouri River between Atchison, Kan., and Winthrop, Mo., about 20 miles south of St. Joseph.Heavy flooding on the Missouri closed the bridge for part of the summer. That was followed by a major repair project that began in late September, reducing traffic to a single lane.The work was expected to take until mid-December, but the Kansas Department of Transportation says the project has been completed and all lanes were back open on Tuesday.