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Flat Frogs & Morning Walks

April 1, 2021

Morning walk with the pups is like striding through a minefield right now. It’s frog season, and not the fun Florida frogs but the illegal alien Cuban Frogs, which are an invasive species and have a knack for getting run over. Our street is a curious mash of creamed frog, which we find disgusting and the dogs find riveting, and flat frogs. Those are frogs run over so often, and ants or whatever having carted the juicy stuff away, that the frog skin completely merged with the concrete. There is no discernable edge. I haven’t tried, but I doubt I could peal it up, it seems to be a permanent feature of the road.

And the dogs couldn’t care less. The mangled they love and they don’t even notice the flat frogs.

Far too many people’s lives are flat frogs. They leave no discernable presence on the planet. In old photos, no one knows who they are.

FlatFrog | LinkedIn

Such people come in a couple varieties.

  1. People intentionally trying to go unnoticed. Typically related to fear, be that shyness, impostor syndrome, or lack of personal faith in themselves.
  2. People who intentionally want to be left alone. Typically rooted in selfishness, these people don’t recognize they are part of a society and want to be left alone. Forever. And they will be.

We don’t often think about the need to contribute. We have our own lives, and for some of us blessed to have family, investing in others is second nature, but after the kids have gone, after no one expects anything from you, it is so easy to sink into complacency. With Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, ESPN, and so many other entertainments, the couch can become our personal street that we flatten into.

I read an article written by a pastor asked to perform the funeral eulogy for a local man. The pastor asked his neighbors for stories. They had none. No one even knew his name. He talked to his co-workers. No one knew what department he worked in. He had no family. The person who asked for the eulogy was the delivery person who discovered he was dead. She called the police, followed up because she’s a caring person, and no one had claimed the body. No heirs, no family, no friends, no co-worker relationships. The guy was the flattest of frogs. The pastor considered having fun with it and making up daring stories about the man, but instead delivered a dour eulogy. There was only one person in attendance, the delivery woman. They cried together afterward not because he was dead, but because he had never truly lived.

What kind of person are you? Not to be morbid, but who would attend your funeral? Would anyone be willing to travel to make it? Or would your “friends” think, “looks like rain, we’ll pay our respects later”?

We shouldn’t live our lives for attention. We should live to care, to invest, to contribute, to make a difference in other people’s lives. What are you doing?

Don’t be a flat frog.

Seasonal Mood Disorder

March 20, 2021

I grew up just outside of Seattle. Spent 28 years there ( four of them in Bellingham, where the doom rooms always have condensation on the windows).

Seattle is a beautiful city, the suburbs weren’t bad either. With all that rain, green grass, green trees, green bushes, green slugs, all a assured. It can rain for months at a time, straight through. Except in the summer, the sky was almost always gray and gloomy. Summers could be magical with their blue skies and warmth, and therein should have been my first clue.

I have a bad hip, have since I was six, almost constant pain of some level since then. I hid it for the most part, and rainy days were the worst. But in summer… the soreness didn’t bother me. I could even *gasp* run! I loved summers. I think I smiled during the summer.

Could a Dose of Sunshine Make You Smarter? | The Scientist Magazine®
Almost heaven, sunshine and happiness.

When I was 28, we moved to Orlando, FL. Orlando can get the same rainfall amount as Seattle, but we get it all at once; 3 inches in a few minutes. To this day, on gray days I dress warm only to step outside and find sweltering heat.

I was happy! From the moment we arrived, my spirits soared. Crazy me, I thought it was because I loved my job. Then we had kids and I thought it was babies that cause my joy (they did and still do as adults).

Three years later we moved to Atlanta, and then back to Seattle. I eventually worked at Boeing in the world’s largest building. My office was a half mile in. I’d get there before the sun rose, and often left after the sun set, never seeing sunlight, which was funny, because even when I got out early, there was no sunshine.

My spirits slumped. I hated it there. My thoughts were darker than the sky, and if not for my kids and wonderful wife, I’d have had a bleak existence. For the first time, I realized the gray got me down–it wasn’t “just me.” Before it had been my normal, but now I knew the difference. Couldn’t handle it and moved back to the joy of Orlando.

I suffer from Seasonal Mood Disorder or Seasonal Depression Disorder. My spirits bubbled again! I may be a night person, but I love the sun and the blue! I do still have a laid back personality, and people here would be shocked I could get even lower back home (and it always will be home, even though I’ll never live there again).

What we grow up in is normal to us, even if it’s frightfully abnormal. I think about my friends back home who have never moved away. How many of them would find new flavor of life in the sun?

What do we accept as normal because we’ve never known different? Not just SMD, but life patterns, negative emotions, even abuse? I don’t think one must move away from home base–some should–but for those who stay, explore fresh perspectives. Watch how others live and look at yourself with new eyes. Maybe your normal… isn’t.

I have an amazing family. I’d guess at least one of my sisters struggle with SMD, maybe all of them. My wife and I? We’re moving to Colorado next year, closer to home, and hoping family and friends from both coasts will find time to visit. There’s a lot of fresh perspective out there.

You’ve Got Mail

November 28, 2020

My email is a lot like Covid stats. A hundred-thousand received, 12 that aren’t junk. There are filters and blocking features, but at least they make me feel wanted.

Standard mail is the same way. I get it every day, throw 99% away. My bills are all online, now, checks, while always welcome, are rare, and personal letters… it’s been decades of you don’t count birthday and holiday cards.

Zero junk mail in Europe! - Zero Waste Europe

Couldn’t we slash the Post Office budget by handling things the way garbage pickup handles it? Everyone gets 3 deliveries a week with the 3rd day being the only day with junk mail (which for me would mean the 1st and 2nd day are almost always nothing). My route might be Monday Wednesday Friday, the next-over route Tuesday Thursday Saturday. One carrier can handle both routes. This means half the carriers (Doug would have a job for life), and fewer processing people, because they’d have more time to sort or whatever they do now.

Post Offices could stay open 6 days a week if required, and I think there are package deliveries now whenever needed.

Would you have issues with getting mail every other day?

I’m Trying to Stay Away from Political Posts, but…

October 23, 2020

Watched the final debate today. Much more civil than the first one. And so much to kibitz over but for some reason this is the quote that stood out to me:

Biden: I didn’t have to tell my daughter when stopped by police to put her hands on the wheel and speak politely and quietly, complying with the the officer’s commands, yet black fathers have to tell their kids…

Um, no. All this tells me is that Joe Biden was a negligent father.

I am as white as they come. My skin can be mistaken for the underbelly of a fish. As a kid I got away with a lot. A simple expression and whatever I did would be blamed on my sister. I was a guilty soul with an innocent face.

Still, when I turned 15, my dad sat me down and explained how to act when stopped by the police. Roll down the window, license out, hands in sight, either on the steering wheel or on the ledge of the door, and speak respectfully. Apologize if I was wrong, accept the ticket and sign it without question. Know my rights, if absolutely necessary, in a respectful tone ask for clarification and express my rights.

Being respectful to those in authority is not a racial thing. I had that talk with my children, all of whom are white upon white. This is what good fathers/mothers do.

I’m sure there are things unique to the black experience. I’m not going to judge someone who doesn’t agree with me or expresses a different view. When a person of color has a grievance, I want to listen to them to understand their experiences and thought processes.

I find it stunning, however, when a man who has voted for every oppressive law against people of color tries to pass himself off as a friend to such people.

Four years ago we had a buffoon running against an (IMO) evil political operator. Didn’t vote for either of them. This year we have a buffoon running against a buffoon.

Sad times, America.

High Cuisine

September 8, 2020

My dog is a connoisseur of high French and Cajun cuisine.

She loves frog legs. And the rest of the frog.

Dog frog : PewdiepieSubmissions
You are what you eat.

This first came to my attention when she was in the backyard tossing something in the air and catching it again in her teeth only to throw it back into the air. It wasn’t until the legs fell out of her mouth that I realized it was a frog.

This is the season where frogs leap into the streets when it rains. And are promptly flattened by cars. After the flies have their fill and the sun dries it out, they become barely visible on the road, little more than a dark outline. So I can be forgive for not always seeing them. McKinley is part bloodhound and I’m pretty sure the part is her nose. Her head dips down and she brings up what she refers to as Frog Jerky firmly clenched between her teeth.

Tonight was the height of dining. On our wet evening walk around the neighborhood we unknowingly walked amidst a migration of frogs the size of pencil erasers. I should point out that we use a halter with the ring in the middle of her back and a leash that has bungee properties with plenty of stretch (to prevent our 35 pound dog from yanking my arm out of its socket when changes direction, which is often). All that to say I can’t immediately bring her head up. That fleet of 1000 micro-frogs was probably 900 strong once she got finished with them.

She looked at me in love, wanting to lick me in devotion.

No way, dog, not for a long time to come.

The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story

August 30, 2020

This might sound like a post on writing, but it’s not, unless it’s posting on Facebook.

So many times now, we’ve heard people being condemned for what eventually is justified behavior.

It happens on both “sides.” We hear a news report and instantly make a judgment. We then post our outrage on social media, or find our blood boiling and act out, some violently, other’s with verbal lashing.

Stop. Hear a story and ask, “Is that all of it?” Worry about unconscious bias. “That fits my narrative! Grab it!” Be patient and wait for the facts.

Police run afoul of this a lot lately. Perhaps some really are brutality. If you stop and get the rest of the story, it will still be brutality.

Email and Social Media Etiquette Tip - DON'T SHOUT! - Hoax-Slayer
Better late than wrong

Also, consider context. We expect perfect behavior under stress, and make no mistake, that’s what even peaceful protests are, stressful, because you don’t know who’s coming to the protest. Most are compassionate, peaceful folks, some are willing to take advantage of the situation and those bad actors will reflect on the protest.

I know I jumped on one such story, because, hey, it looked bad. My mistake. There was so much more to it.

Rather than being the first to shout out, get your facts straight. I guarantee that if you ask ten people about “hot story of the day” you will get ten different answers. Try to be the one who actually knows before you pop off. Or for that matter, what you support. You may firmly agree with the concept and then find out the organization you didn’t even know about preaches some awful things you don’t agree with.

Let’s be wise out there.

I include myself in that admonition.

LockDown Delight!

April 13, 2020

I get it, Lock Down can be challenging. What to do with all that time?

I’ve got a suggestion! It deals with two of my favorite past times, reading and writing, and maybe a love of tech. You have a Kindle right? Right?

This week, that one of kind publisher, Prevail Press is offering all Kindle Editions for 99 cents each. That’s a $3 savings for each book! Buy all for $9 and save $28! I guarantee, you’ll find delights for your whole family!

The are some great reads!

Go to this link: http://www.prevailpress.com/page17.html and click the book covers of your choice to take advantage of this offer. While some books don’t have Kindle versions, all physical books are available at their regular price.

There is something for everyone: Fiction for all ages, non-fiction that will illuminate and delight you, and especially now in this time of close confinement, a marriage book with daily tips for romance to make those days together sizzle!

Fear Not! It’s All Puffery or It’s Not!

February 26, 2020

Remember when it was a long pair of legs that sells? Now it’s “Fear Sells!”

Everywhere you turn it’s “be afraid of this!” “be afraid of that!”

See the source image
It’s Wayne Manor!

  • I don’t fear climate change. It’s been changing since the planet formed. I don’t think it was dinosaur farts that started the first Ice Age and I doubt any of them rendered their buddies down to drive around. Ice Age happened anyway. Takeaway: Use it as a prompt to be better stewards, not because the planet will die if you don’t but because it’s the right thing to do, darn it!
  • I don’t fear a virus. Fear isn’t going to prevent me from getting it. Takeaway: Improve your health because STEWARDSHIP!
  • I don’t fear Trump. Buffoons have been around forever, and we’ve had worse policy in the White House and maybe even bigger buffoons who didn’t have the benefit detriment of social media. Takeaway: Don’t vote for buffoons, so write someone in!
  • I don’t fear Democrats. Four or eight years of bad policy isn’t going to destroy the planet. Takeaway: Write someone in!
  • I don’t fear old age. I don’t look forward to it, but the alternative means not seeing grandkids someday. Takeaway: There’s that health stewardship thing again.
  • I don’t fear Russia or the Chinese. I’m quite capable of thinking for myself and rejecting falsehood. Besides, I’m writing in someone who won’t get elected… Takeaway: If I’m going to learn another language it will be Spanish and Sign Language (but don’t hold your breath).
  • I don’t fear the reaper. I don’t mind holding death off for a long time, but I intend to look at it as a thrill ride, a little scary but eventually terrific. Takeaway: Health. Stewardship. Again.

There are some things you should fear. Badgers for one. I hear they’re nasty. Ticking off Charli for another. See the description of badgers. (I’ll miss her anyway).

Recently I saw a thing about removing “sorry” from your vocabulary and replacing it with gratitude. “Thanks for waiting” instead of “Sorry I’m late” stuff like that, not for actual offenses. “I’m sorry I maimed your mother” is still appropriate.

I propose replacing fear with HOPE. I hope the planet sustains us. I hope a non-buffoon, good policymaker is elected, I hope our medical professionals can defeat the virus.

The world needs hope.

I hope you agree.

My Opinion of Mike Bloomberg

February 24, 2020

To be honest, I don’t know much about him. He outlawed Big Gulps, a nice over-reach but at least it was on the state level that allows such nonsense.

My first real exposure to him was at the last Democratic Debate. I found the first several unwatchable, feeling too much like a boring SNL sketch than a real political event.

This last one though! It was like a hilarious SNL sketch. Clearly inspired by Tulsi Gabbard’s amazing takedown of Kamila Harris, Elizabeth Warren gleefully dismembered Bloomberg with a relentless barrage. He gained a single point by not slinking off the stage with his tail between his legs.

Image result for bloomberg cartoon
Dave Whamond for President!

The gloves were off in this debate. Bernie pummeled Pete, Biden made a concerted effort not to pummel himself, I think there were a few others on the stage, but I honestly don’t remember.

As I understand it, Bloomberg is funding his own campaign, clearly a testament that he has way too much money.

A co-worker wonders if Bloomberg and Trump have a bet that his billions could buy him the vote, too. Maybe, maybe.

A lesser, wiser, more intelligent man would have immediately withdrawn from the race. Instead, Bloomberg has double downed on his ads.

Warren is right about him. He a gross, power-hungry, misogynistic billionaire. He’s spoken off color amongst other men (most of us have, though not to his or Trump’s degree, I hope), treated women both abominably and illegally, settling out many if not all(?) complaints.  Chances are pretty good that you can’t become a billionaire without an “I can get away with anything” view on life.

Please note, I’m not defending that when I say you can’t apply today’s sentiments to the past. Bloomberg is old, the rules of the game were different in that the reprehensible was part of the earn-fast and build-strong days. Right? NO. Moral? Not even a little bit.

I hope to God that not all business tycoons behaved that way (I can’t see my grandfather doing that, and if he did, I never want to know).

Sexism was definitely a thing back then. Men and women were treated differently, even with good intentions that were understood and welcomed by some women (ok, sexist language alert: I was going to say “professional women” or “working women” but that has a connotation I don’t intend, yet there it is, sexism encoded in the vernacular). I don’t mean they welcomed the inappropriate, just that they were likely fine with a respectful hand on the shoulder, or “sweetheart” – and some women weren’t.

Absolutely Bloomberg and Trump should know better. That was then, this is now; are they still doing it? Today is more relevant than years ago in that rarefied atmosphere. Personally, I can’t vote for people with blatant moral failings they don’t see them as moral failings. I can’t vote Republican for that reason. Nor can I vote for people whose policy I completely disagree with…. Almost. I may vote for Tulsi Gabbard as a write-in. I disagree with a lot of her policy, agree wholeheartedly with some, and I think she is a fundamentally honest person with greater-than-average intelligence (Bernie is honest… that’s all I’ve got to say about that). I would prefer she run as an independent.

Back to Bloomberg, or more accurately, the conservative response, which has been horribly hypocritical. If you don’t judge your own guy by the same standard as the other guy, then shut up about it. Apply the same rigor to Trump as you do to Bloomberg and then you can have your mic back.

Bonus content: Who will be the Democrat’s candidate?

I’m betting the DNC or someone will pull the rug out from under him again. The guy is old and batty. That may not be a bad thing.

Biden vs Trump. Not as fun as Biden vs Graham, but still a cage match worth watching. I’m guessing it would come to literal blows. But I don’t think Biden has a chance.

Warren. Had her takedown of Bloomberg been an original, I’d have been more impressed. She copied Gabbard’s approach (masterfully, but still not her idea). And her economic plan is suspiciously like Trump’s if she hasn’t changed it.

Mayo Pete (SNL’s best gag). Don’t count this guy out. Bernie can bang on him like a drum, but he’s still likeable in that fresh-faced, eager kind of way. I think it’s down between Pete and Bernie, the first-name boys. In my dream world, they’d all claw each other to mud, leaving Tulsi the victor, but that’s…. probably… not going to happen.

Mea Culpa this Introvert

February 21, 2020

I was wrong, let me put it right out there. All these threats of creating automated fast food places sounded good to me. Who needs people?

I do, to my surprise.

A quick stop at the McDonalds on 434 in front of the Walmart and across from the Costco for a hot fudge sundae turned into the Mecca of introverts. It’s been completely redesigned to be as inhospitable to human life as possible.

You walk in and immediately notice it’s completely different. The tables, all filthy, are new, newly soiled, white under the crumbs, and very open. What used to have a near-inviting design now looks like cafeteria. The floor, a nice tile, is muddy from the last mopping. Then it gets weirder. If, like me, you’re not going to sit at a table with crumbs all over it, you’ll go for napkins to clean it off.

There are no napkins.

No straws. No drink station. No McDonald’s employees.

Just a large bank of touch-screen kiosks.

Where before you could see into the kitchen, now there’s a single unmanned point-of-sales system, a small counter with a dead fly on it, and walls that block the view of the kitchen. And employees. Assuming there are more than two, and there may not be.

You cannot order from a person. There is no person EXCEPT for a sprinter who runs out, drops your food next to the dead fly, shouts your receipt number, and runs back behind the wall before anyone can point out that the kiosk printer is out of paper and no one knows their receipt number. So, the waiting people pillage through the bag to see if it’s theirs.

No one smiles here. Maybe they offer an unhappy meal.

See the source image
Too true

Customers are waiting too long and there’s no one to complain to.

Perhaps refills are a thing of the past. There’s no way to get refills.

Finally, a woman who left her people skills in the kitchen comes out with two slightly melted sundaes with a little smear of hot fudge on them. She clearly resented being forced to look at us.

We got a plastic-wrapped spoon, but no napkin and she was gone before we could ask for one.

Let me point out that though there were several families waiting for food, NO ONE sat at the tables.

Perhaps I need to send back my introvert card.

OK, I admit it, I’ve never actually liked using the kiosk. I want my fries blistering hot and the kiosks don’t give you that option. I prefer ordering from a person. I even felt guilty about those bright, shiny Mickey D employees eager to teach me how to use a kiosk that would soon be taking their jobs. Besides, it’s not complicated. I may be a boomer, but I can figure out technology.

All those threats of raising the minimum wage to $15 kicked McDonalds into high automation gear. I admit I’m torn. I don’t think the feds have any right to establish a federal minimum wage, but I also don’t like companies automating kids out of the workforce. But then again, I don’t want a $12 Big Mac (which I don’t eat anymore, so a $2 hamburger). At the same time, this opens up the entry-level job market to surly people with no social skills.

Hmmm, no more fast food. Problem solved.