Tuesday, March 6, 2012

At the End of the Day, Coming Up Empty

I mentioned to a co-worker and friend a few days ago that this blog is where I come to talk to myself. When my brain churns a million times a minute in a million different directions, this is where I come. So, here I am.

"At the End of the Day" is a fairly popular and frequently used phrase. I have heard it used by politicians, television and radio hosts, and the President himself. In a restaurant yesterday, I heard a lady one table over, in her strongest voice, use it at least 20 times; she was doing her best to entertain us all.

For some reason, I cringe when I hear this phrase. To me, it makes our time sound presumptuous and in a way, trivial and empty. A softer, more respectful choice of words, may be "by the day's end", giving a feeling of having, at least, been there as the time ticked away.

But, how is time spent? Yesterday, while in our front yard, I saw a man, woman, and their dog walk by. The dog was doing what dogs usually do when unleashed and running loose, everything had to be sniffed at least five times. In spite of  the bright glare from the sun, the man was squinting into his "Smart Phone" screen, texting, emailing, tweeting, facebooking, or something. The woman was staring into the sky, and sometimes minding the dog. (...I know I am making some assumptions here, no doubt, but please bear with me...) In any case, the man was "in-touch" with someone somewhere else, more than likely reveling in how much fun was being had in his real place with his friend and dog. Never mind that his friend and dog were having a pretty good time without him. But, there he was, making up stories, and after a while, probably believing them himself.

As you might be able to tell, I am not a big fan of the more popular social media sites. Mainly, because I just don't understand them. "Friends", "Friends-of-friends", "Close Friends", "Family", "Public", I mean it really confuses me after a while. How do you keep them separated? There must be a way, because millions of people like it, and have hundreds of "friends" and then exponentially thousands of "friends-of-friends", not to mention "family" and those others tossed into the "Public" digital dustbin.

But, there are only 1,440 minutes in a day. If one has so many "friends" and then "friends-of-friends", and you are constantly tweeting, facebooking, and otherwise becoming their digital reality, then how is one to become real friends with anyone? By the day's end, is there true comfort in the number of "friends";  or a constant turmoil in the brain, along with an empty feeling, yet to be recognized?

Wendell Berry, an author-farmer from Kentucky, wrote a book of essays entitled "What are People Far?" In one of his essays, he simply states that he would not buy a computer because having one would not help him write better...maybe write more, but not write better.

So, by becoming addicted to social media, using this same logic, one can have more "friends", but not necessarily better friends. I opt for better friends. For, now, I am going to stay away from the tweets and facebook. And, by the day's end,  have less chance of coming up empty.

Monday, February 13, 2012


 (ten·der, adj  \ˈten-dər\. Definitions include delicate, succulent, easily chewed)  But, first, let's back up a little. I have a hard time keeping up with all the changes in daily living. I don't listen to satellite radio or watch "30-Rock". I don't use "Blue Tooth", or have a Facebook account. I don't have a "4-wheeler" or a "Rolex" watch. And, I don't read "USA Today", even though the weather map is in color. So, it comes to no surprise when I eventually see something I didn't see coming.

For example, going to the supermarket makes me nervous. It can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of cereals, candies, juices, Gold Fish etc. But, Saturday, I saw a "new" supermarket item where I had to ask myself, why is this happening, where did this come from?

We now have a new variety of popcorn. We now have "Tender" popcorn; the type that is delicate and easily chewed. It hurts me to think that all these years I have been eating "un-tender" popcorn. How can that be? But, wait, now that I think about it, when I was a kid, we did have "tender" popcorn once ot twice. It was left overnight in an open bowl, and survived the dog. The texture was a little less "un-tender".

I would give anything to have been a fly-on-the-wall during the company meetings when the decision was made to market "Tender" as a variety.

The discussion could have gone like this:

CEO: "I hear we have a new variety of popcorn called "Tender". Do we see any increase in costs when we roll out?

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): "No, only a slight increase in storage, our inventory hold-time will increase by one day, but this will be off-set by the new variety that will give us an immediate edge over the competition."

CEO: "What do you mean by "slight increase in storage"?

CMO: "The last station in production will be a new and patentable process called "Green Aire" whereby we just leave the popcorn exposed overnight before bagging. It then becomes more "tender" without any additional increase in costs. And, the sales are forecast to skyrocket!"

CEO: "Brilliant. Let's get a TV spot and tell the world about our new "Tender" popcorn. We can even sell "Green Aire" re-usable bags as an accessory.

For me, I just can't wait. At my next movie, I am going to ask the popcorn stand server for "Tender" Popcorn; with a few grains of salt, and 1.2 oz of butter, and of course served in the bag with a "Green Aire" logo. It will bring back memories of my days when the popcorn was left out, and survived the dog.

PS: (Maybe it didn't "survive" the dog, maybe that's why it was sooo "tender").


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Divorce Cake

(I think I've gone off my rocker...)

But I was thinking...

those companies in the Wedding Reception market are missing out on a serious business opportunity. Think about it, why not offer Divorce Parties, let's refer to them as Divorce Deceptions. At one time, we had a Wedding Reception, now, at this stage, only fitting to call it a Divorce Deception, don't you think? These could be a family and friend "affair" to honor the attempt, the "best shot", so to speak of trying to make a sacred tradition work.

Imagine the possibilities. There could be a Deception Line, you and your former could stand back-to-back, and grab and greet to your hearts' desire. You could also get some serious hugging in. Your lawyers could also be there, and remind you of your need to remain silent as the big questions linger, and the why's are whispered through out the mingle. If you desire, your religious representative (Pastor, Bishop, Priest, Imam, etc) could also be there, and may even preside over the proceedings. No need to leave them out at a time like this.

For entertainment, we could smash two Pintas, one for each. Inside could be a some of your "junk drawer" collection, bill receipts, or what's in the shoe box under your bed. Plus, for more fun, we could hear recordings of the yelling and screaming between the two of you, set to music. (It would probably sound familiar to everyone, it's all been heard before, believe me--sort of like a top-ten hit from the back of everyone's mind)

For refreshments, I see a little BitterRoot Tea, or Love Potion #9, and the cake, let's not forget the cake. Instead of one large sheet cake, it could be split down the middle, forming two smaller ones each with icing the color of Weeping Willow bark. Served while listening to the song "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by the group Blood, Sweat and Tears. Enjoy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Phone Booths and the Nobel Peace Prize

I saw an old re-run movie the other night that made me think about the invention of the ordinary phone booth. In the movie, the actor needed to make a private call, so what did he do? He stepped into another world, inside the quiet offered by the phone booth. But, why the need for the phone booth. I mean, all you need to make a call is the telephone, right. The early telephones could have been hung from wooden posts, making it possible to make the call regardless, right? Was there a need for a booth?

But, a thinking person invented the phone booth. Back when, it was not enough to just to be able to talk on the telephone, some thinking person thought it would be best to be able to have an environment for talking; a quiet place that was yours and not everyone's; a place that shielded you from everyone else, and everyone else from you. Think of all the lives that have been changed, ever so slightly, by not feeling the strain of others' private conversations that just so happened to be held inside of phone booths.

Today, we have no phone booths. My conversation is your conversation and your conversation is my conversation. We know of no bounds for talking to anyone; anywhere; in any tone; and at any volume. We have lost the phone booth and the feeling that went with it. We have lost our peace. Lives have changed because of it. 

Willaim Gray, my hat is off too you. I recommend you receive the Nobel Peace prize for the countless lives that have been left un-tainted by conversations not meant to be overheard.

Monday, January 9, 2012

They are in a cage.....

Our 3-year old grandson, Benson, loves cars, fire trucks, tanks, and Spider Man. I thought he might also like airplanes. So, off we go to the Air Force Base for a day of holiday fun (2nd of January 2012).

We arrive at the base and crawl under and around a F-105. It was huge. I asked Benson if he knew what kind of plane it was, and he told me "it is a fast one, papa." He got that question correct.

Next we drive by the flight line and parking ramp. There's always something going on at the ramp. Lo and behold about 20 or so F-16 fighters were parked under canopies. I pointed, "Look, Benson, there are a bunch of airplanes over there."

His eyes got big, and he said, "Papa, can we take one"?

(No, we can't just take one, there are practical issues like how are we going to get it home, and then what are we going to do with it. I am sure your mom and dad would like it in the front yard...)

Then we pressed our noses to the flight-line fence, getting as close to the sheet-metal, gray machines as we could, when he said, "But, papa, they are in a cage. They are in a cage, papa, ...... do you have a key?  But, papa, where is the door, maybe we can walk through the door, and take one."

(After all, there were twenty or so of the things, it wouldn't hurt for a 3-year old to take one, just one, now would it....similar to how we take just one gummy bear, or one potato chip, just one.......)

Anyway, next time, maybe at an air show, we will get closer, and be in the cage with them.