Archive for the ‘My Everyday’ Category

Our Rivers Through Life

Friday, January 15th, 2016

From the interstate the houses appear clean and well kept. Perfect, like miniature homes set up beside a model railroad track. From this distance you can’t see the dirt, chipped paint or fading siding.

Passing by at 70 miles an hour the guardrail and roadside grass blur, but distant proper looking homes and farm houses drift by slowly.

Horses graze, goats romp. Little white and tan dots moving around must be chickens, pecking at feed in the barnyard.

And then the raging river.

After exiting the interstate we drove onto winding, back country roads through rural Pennsylvania, in the northern counties of the Susquehanna River Valley. Beautiful country for sure.

The high river raced along beside us, swollen with recent rains. My wife was driving so I had the opportunity to watch the river rage and roll over what must be large stones and boulders beneath the surface. I gazed up beyond the churning, frothing rapids to watch the river bank beyond.

The river was coursing by the same old homes and farms we were passing, and I thought, “if the river could talk.”

Rivers have been flowing since the begining of time on Earth. The ripples and currents hold stories from before the rise of mankind.

Water witnessed the birth of life. Water witnessed the first lobe-finned fish waddle out of its wet world onto dry land.

Water has provided a refreshing, nourishing drink for dinosaurs and every thirsty creature that has since roamed the planet.

If the river could talk.

Just like neural pathways in the brain the river has dark recesses, tunnels, dams and falls, that hold it up or cause it to diverge from the original course.

Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and realize half way through that I’ve seen it before. This has only happened in the past for or five years, but there is a specific period of time effected. I blame too much alcohol consumption directly after the divorce from my first wife, while I was stuck in limbo, with all the memories I’m happy to forget now.

The drinking was a natural response. For sure it was intentional. It helped to blur that period of my life so I could move on with it and off-load the bullshit into some dark part of my brain to gather well deserved dust. That part of the brain psychologists are always telling people they need to peek into.

The dark recesses of the brain are there for a reason, to hold all the crud that would otherwise mess up our dirty up our windshield. Like debris on the surface of a river will collect in certain recesses of the riverbank, allowing clean water to continue flowing. We don’t need to be looking at that stuff. In my opinion, some things are just better left alone.

Canoeing on Chazy LakeIf the river could talk it might reveal things that are better left hidden by time and silence. But there are some things in history that we would love to ask the river. The river might whisper tales of trappers, fishermen, timber mills, battles, riverboat travels, good fortune and love.

As we drive by and I gaze out the window of the car to the river, the trees, towns and people we pass, my brain siezes the opportunity to imagination adventures, amazing things that could be, or may have been. I wonder and dream. And that’s a good thing.

Our lives are like rivers in that sense. If we spend time in the shallows digging through the garbage we don’t get anywhere. There is a bigger, wider lake or ocean that the river, or life, is trying to lead us too.

I say paddle on. Point your canoe downstream and paddle. Find someone to paddle with and it’s even better.


Make Time to Skip Stones

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Lodi Point State Park, Seneca LakeDuring a recent trip to Watkins Glen for an annual family reunion, on my wife’s side, we decided to spend some time exploring the area instead of just sitting around the campground

We usually take in some sights and visit the wineries, breweries and other nearby places, but this time we wanted to get off the beaten path.

While driving northward up the east shore of Seneca Lake, we made a left. I forget the name of the road. Cindy had been perusing the map on her iPhone and said, “take the next left, it will bring us closer to the lake shore.”

We meandered down a gravel road for a few miles, then turned right and drove along a peaceful lane by the shore of the lake. To the right were small homes, bungalos and getaways. To the left their associated docks and and boat launches.

The day was clear, bright and beautiful. Soft white clouds dotted a pure blue sky, and the slight breeze russled through the draping branchlets of Old Weeping Willow trees. We drove slowly beneath them, so calmed by their soft shade and enchanted by their beauty that I had to back up and do it again.

Farther along we arrived at the Lodi Point State Park. We strolled through the grounds, taking pics with our smart phones, “checking-in” on Facebook, you know how it goes. But then we pocketed our phones and stepped up to the rocky shore. Countless colorful flat rocks dotted the shoreline, smoothed by years of being caressed by the water.

I picked one up and skipped it on the water. Cindy would argue that it happens all the time, but suddenly I was a kid again. I knelt down to pick up another rock, skipped it. Then another, and another. I couldn’t get enough. Cindy tried her skill, plunked a few, and then made some skip.

The simple joy of skipping some rocks rekindled fond memories of being young, and made me feel very alive that day. We are lucky people, alive on a very rare and beautiful planet.

I have decided that nothing is greater than living life and making adventures. Nothing is better than connecting with, understanding and appreciating our world, especially if we have connected with someone who shares that same idea.

Live, learn, wonder, wander, and love. Make life an adventure. Take some time to glance up from your smart phone, and put it away. Get off the beaten path and skip some stones.


Facebook Techno-Zombies of the 21st Century

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Buster Crabbe as Buck RogersBuck Rogers would have been pissed. Well, we’re only in the 21st Century — Buck wakes up in the 25th, so he wouldn’t be pissed yet — but when we get there we may just be the dumbest civilization in history. Even though our road was paved by genius.

Brilliant progressive thinkers of the 20th Century have brought us amazing technological advances. The late Steve Jobs will come to mind as one of the most recent and influential, having significantly changed the face of personal computing with Apple Macs, iPads and iPhones, branding our civilization with the tempting fruit of Eden. Some Christians will enjoy putting devil horns on him for that… as if.

With over 116 million iPhones and more than 56 million iPads sold by Q3 of 2013, Apple has truly empowered humankind with amazing technology. Powerful tools for communication, productivity, art and expression. And what do we do with it? We Facebook.

It can be used as a verb now you know, not as often as, but similar to “text, tweet, pm,” and the older tech-comm verb “email.” Each has a past participle form as well, “texted, tweeted, pm’ed, and emailed.” Think back too, the original tech-com verbs were words like “penned,” “phoned” and “radioed,” when we first began to use those technologies.

To get back to it… I guess it falls into the “expression” category. Facebook is an amazing technology in that it made one man stupidly filthy rich (Mark Zuckerberg is worth about 18 billion as of September 2013), like many marketable technology fads, and it functions great as a networking tool, but it also enables us to waste huge amounts of time.

Wasted Time, Money and other Woes of Social Media
We’ve become Facebook Zombies! Active users spend an average of about 8 hours monthly on Facebook. I’m one of them, so this isn’t some fringe commentary against the masses. That said I will state that I try to limit my time, only post when I have something worthwhile or incredibly funny to say, and don’t play any of the games. Sorry, but I’ve got better ways to waste my time than virtual “farming” or playing pretend on a computer.

Why is it so easy for us to get caught up in pretend worlds when there is a truly remarkable real world right outside the door?

In the past — as in, the “olden days” — to kill some time around the house we’d play cards, Scrabble, or watch TV. Many of us spent a hell of a lot of time outside riding our bikes and climbing trees too, but yes, we wasted time watching TV. What I think makes it a little worse today is that we’re doing more of both. We’re watching as much or more TV, and Facebooking, texting, tweeting, whatever-else-ing on the internet.

It gets worse when you consider how much money businesses are throwing away because a larger percentage of their employees are incredibly sidetracked by social media and text messaging. One estimate is that companies surveyed were losing $10 million each year through decreased productivity. Consider this article on the subject.

Should those companies sue Zuckerberg for lost revenue? Of course not, but the impact is real and significant.

Is the technology also “dumming us down?” Will we have generations with fewer bright thinkers or leaders than today? Can our civilization survive? Consider not just the waste of time that Facebook and other social networks contribute to, but the massive spreading of misinformation which in some cases threatens to undermine the science that has helped eradicate disease over the last several decades.

Case in point: Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccine movement. Stupid on a level beyond comprehension, but it has grown and proliferated with the help of social media. Why? Because people spread hype and hysteria without first find the facts for themselves. These social networking sites help facilitate the spread of this damaging nonsense. The damage is ongoing.

Night of the Living Dead or People of Walmart?
If you have to herd the human race like a bunch of dumb bovines through a field in order to get them to be more productive something is wrong. It brings to mind the wandering hoard of Walmart Zombies encountered by focused shoppers armed with a concise list who wish to keep their shopping trip brief so they can get back to life outside.

It can be a mind-numbing sideshow. A number of people actually spend hours of their day just walking around the store like the living dead, and some of them dress that way too! George Romero could have saved thousands of dollars on zombie extras if Walmart existed in 1968.

Night of the Living Dead zombies or People of Walmart

We need to self check
Here’s a test: Look in the mirror (in your bathroom or you can find one in the health and beauty aisle of the store, if that’s where you are)… if you look gaunt and pale, mouth hanging agape, eyes droopy, and you spend either too much time in front of your computer on Facebook, or too much time in Walmart, time to get the hell outside and get some fresh air!

Read a book, play a guitar, take a walk or kiss your spouse. Get the hell up and get with life.


One Foot out of the Covers

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

A friend posted this on Facebook:

Covers on, too hot. Covers off, too cold. One foot out, just right!

After reading that I felt a slight sense of relief, and somehow felt a connection to the other people who had read the post and responded that they do the same thing sometimes. I thought, “I’m not the only one.”

Over time I’ve also learned that I’m not the only one who sleeps with bare feet that roam around under the sheets looking for the cool spots, though I’m sure there are those who prefer socks.

I’m not the only person who has, at least once, repeated a word to himself until it seems foreign, or who, as a kid, thought that a watermelon would grow in my stomach if I swallowed a seed. And sometimes I still use my fingers to count.

Knowing we share these silly quirks of the human experience can help us feel less alone, existentially speaking of course. With more than 7 billion people on this planet we’re hardly alone, but as individuals we can feel that way sometimes.

Despite all of our differences; all of our attitudes, games, dramas and beliefs, we still have quite a bit in common as human beings. Indeed, we share even those quirky traits, however pleasant, annoying or destructive they may tend to be.

Just as I am not the only one who has kept one leg out of the covers during sleep, or worried about a watermelon seed, I am also not the only person who has voiced a choice word to someone who has cut me off on the highway.

Good or bad, quirky and fun, or jerky and mean, we share these qualities and traits. We are not alone in our human experience, and that can be a comforting thought. We are simply humans, as unsimple as it may seem at times.


The Rewards of Labor – Lunch!

Friday, April 27th, 2012

It’s the simple things, you know? Making lunch. The simple, personal rewards we kinda look forward to that make us happy. But how does it feel to make lunch if you weren’t looking forward to it? I mean, if you were just sitting around waiting to make lunch that lunch might not be as rewarding than if you were busy all morning, accomplishing things, and then took a break to make lunch. You follow me?

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “There is no substitute for hard work.” And Voltaire is quoted as saying, “The biggest reward for a thing well done is to have done it.”

Yeah, but then we can still have lunch! This veers slightly off topic, but one of my favorite quotes is this from biologist —Dr. James Watson:

I don’t think we’re here for anything, we’re just products of evolution. You can say ‘Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose’ but I’m anticipating a good lunch.

I like making lunch.
I don’t do it everyday, but there is something to be said for routine. A routine gives us a regular schedule of things we can look forward to.

Typically we look forward to things we enjoy, so it stands to reason that our routines also include periods of work; chores or tasks we must do to earn a living or keep the house and our lives in order. Face it, what the hell have we got to look forward to if we do nothing with our time?

During our routine, on a daily level, we look forward to lunch after cranking on stuff for the first half of the work day. The second half of the day we keep busy until it’s time to head home. On a weekly level we might look forward to happy hour on Friday, or make plans for dinner out with friends.

Idle hands are the Devil’s tools…
The things we look forward to are like bonuses for a job well done, an earned reward. In order to reap these simple bonuses in life we must be productive. Sit around like a lump and you’ll have nothing to look forward to, except maybe getting off your ass to go sit somewhere else.

I don’t believe in the Devil, but I do believe that a busy mind, and the connected busy hands, are more likely to keep themselves out of trouble and less likely to get caught up in petty dramas and nonsense. There’s also more potential for success for the busy person.

Why lunch?
My father has a routine, even in his retired years he has a routine, and he looks forward to making his lunch, at a specific time. My parents are, even in their retirement, busy, productive people, reaping the rewards of productive professional lives, and now reaping the rewards of retirement. They diligently pursue their daily routines and looking forward to those little things that make them happy.

Flying by the ass of your pants, as I’ve heard it said, being spontaneous, can have its rewards but I find that there is a kind of security in routine. Use a routine to stay on track and let the spontaneity occur as a bonus.

We kinda need a plan. A completely spontaneous life would have no bounds, no control. A graceful, routine flight, with some fun, can seem boundless. Just watch the birds play, between nest building…