Acquaintancegiving

Sing along with me… It’s the most confusing time of the year! 
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The week before Thanksgiving – ugh. (Non-American residents please hang in there, next week we’ll be back to more universal topics.) This week the food related sites and emails are torn between last minute meal prep tips, what to do with leftover turkey tips, and Christmas cookie freezing tips. Home decor posts are split between the Thanksgiving tablescape to die for and how to make this year’s Christmas wreath out of empty aluminum soft drink cans (the new skinny 8oz. models). And editorial writers aren’t sure if they should sharpen their quills for the annual “1001 Things to Be Thankful For” column or “It’s Time to Apologize to Displaced Native Americans” missive. The only ones who seem to have a handle on the week are the merchants who will be switching headers on the sales catalogs from “Black Friday Sale!” to “Holiday Sale Spectacular!!!” (Same ad, just a different name.) 
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A new confusion, one even I missed the early signs of, are what we call this upcoming holiday. Although there had been “Days of Thanksgiving” in what would become these United States since the early 1600s, it was by a proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that the holiday we celebrate today was established. For years thereafter the President would proclaim one of the last Thursdays in November to be a “Day of Thanksgiving.” In 1941, Congress finally got around to formalizing the holiday with a resolution permanently stamping the fourth Thursday in November on future calendars as Thanksgiving Day. 
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And so it was for going on 80 years that about this time each year, people would greet one another with a jaunty “Happy Thanksgiving!” Sometime in my life, which admittedly spans more than 3/4 of those 80 years but a far smaller portion of the 300+ years since the Pilgrims made up the silent majority, people began to augment Happy Thanksgiving with phrases like Happy Turkey Day or Good Harvesting. Then in 2007 Friendsgiving reared its ugly head.
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“Thanksgiving is for families,” the argument went. “I want to celebrate my gratitude for my closest friends with my friends.” Sometimes people would actually verbalize that they liked their friends better than their families anyway. Now I am not against friends and friendship nor do I feel friends should be excluded from our celebrations, our gratitude, or our celebrations of our gratitude. In my world when we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends we invited those friends to Thanksgiving dinner. The house was more crowded, table was a lot fuller, and not all the plates matched but we all squeezed in, gave our thanks, and proceeded to devour many pounds of food apiece. A couple of years we even tried a buffet style dinner and one particularly warm year we extended the festivities onto the back yard deck. What was important was that we all shared the wish for family and friends with the same expression of gratitude.
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By a totally unscientific review, this year that great marker of contemporary social acceptance, the Television Sitcom Holiday Special, featured more Friendsgiving celebrations than family Thanksgiving meals. I know next month the airways will be full of “Happy Holidays!” taking the place of yesteryear’s “Merry Christmas” and I’ve learned to accept that. I suffer through the growing number of Indigenous Persons Day recognitions where Columbus Day used to be and I am willing to concede Presidents Day actually exists even without ever having been recognized by any governing body outside of Madison Avenue. Valentine’s Day is for more than lovers and St. Patrick’s Day really is a test of who can drink the most green beer in a single seating. Can’t we leave just one holiday alone?
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If you’ll excuse me now, I have to make room in the refrigerator for some turkey hash, sweet potato pancakes, and green bean casserole soup. I want to be able to properly give thanks well into next week too!
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Happy Thanksgiving!
Turkey

Come Here Often?

I had a most unusual dream last night. I met a female hockey referee after a concert and we went out for the “best cup of coffee we ever had.” I was certain I would not have ever picked up a random person at a concert but since she was a hockey referee I knew she had to be a good person. I’m not sure why she was wearing her black and white stripe shirt with the red arm band but fortunately she was so I knew what I was getting into.

In my half-awake state I tried analyzing this one of so very few dreams I ever remembered. I couldn’t make any sense of it so instead I started wondering how people meet others today. Television commercials and on-line pop-up ads and promoted posts would have you believe dating services are the way to go.

Of course dating services are not new ideas. They’ve been around for most of my entire life and we all know that’s a lot of years. Match is probably the most recognized on-line service but it goes back to only 1995. Date Mate might be the earliest recognized computer assisted service but it dates to just 1965. You have to go into the 50s, 1959 actually, to find the first documented dating service when the Happy Families Planning Service matched 59 men and 59 women in a Stanford University class project.

So how did the ancients (you know, those who matched up before Sputnik) find their mates? Even some of us who connected in the age of enlightenment (or during the cold war depending on how you want to remember time) managed to do so without handing over 3 bucks to find the perfect mate. How did we ever do that?

Dating

(All Things Clipart)

That gave me the idea to post a survey asking how you connected with your spouse, significant other, life partner, person of interest, paramour, special friend, companion, steady, beau, boo, or better half. But…I don’t know how to add a survey to a post and I really don’t feel like looking it up. And a survey only lets you answer once. You might have had more than one one-and-only over your lifetime. Who am I to deny you the opportunity to remember fondly all your initial hearts aflutter moments? And no matter how many choices I could come up with I’d certainly miss something and be forced to include the dreaded “other” catchall.

So I invite you to tell me what service led you to your match. The ways I thought of might include:

  • One of the aforementioned dating services either modern online or classic computer assisted
  • A personal professional matchmaker ala Dolly Levi
  • A personal amateur matchmaker ala parents, siblings, or exceptionally nebby friends, relatives, or coworkers
  • A specific matchmaking activity ala speed dating, singles’ dance, or similar
  • Social media typically not affiliated with matchmaking (Twitter following, Facebook groups, old timey chat rooms)
  • At school (any level, from nursery school to community college adult education classes)
  • At work (while not impeding your ability to provide superior customer service, of course)
  • At church, hopefully not during actual services but perhaps after or at a social affair or sponsored activity
  • At a bar, tavern, pub, party, or other alcohol fueled social gathering
  • At a non-alcohol fueled social activity (there must be something that qualifies)
  • On vacation (That could be a non-alcoholic fueled social activity depending on your definition of holiday.)
  • At a sporting or athletic event including that Wednesday morning Tai Chi class
  • Some random meeting (I met who would become a close companion and still great friend standing in line at an ATM machine.)
  • In the produce section at the local grocery store (It’s happened in books, movies, and television shows so it must have happened sometime in real life, no?)
  • And the infamous “other”

 

How did you meet, or would like to meet, or are trying to meet your companion for all your days or a significant portion thereof? Feel free to comment away!

 

Every Day Is a Great Day

Hockey season started yesterday. I was there for it. In my seat, the one I’ve occupied for the past couple of years. It’s not a bad seat. Over the years I’ve sat in several spots around the arena. Lower bowl, upper bowl, center ice, behind the net, on the dots. In the old arena. In the new arena. None are bad seats. Amidst a handful of people in my little section amidst the 19,000 or so seats all occupied by people in their little sections we sat in not bad seats there just to see a hockey game. No other agenda, hidden, assumed, obvious, or imagined. Just hockey.
But before the game we stopped to pay respects to those who lost lives and loved ones in Las Vegas and all 19,000 were silent. Every one. Silent. Then we paid respects to the flag and all 19,000 sang. Every one. Singing. And I thought how once again all I know about being a gentleman I learned from hockey and how I was once so moved by that realization that I posted my thoughts on it right here. And I thought, just as “Badger” Bob Johnson knew every day is a great day for hockey, that every day is a great day to learn from hockey.
So I’m doing today something I’ve never done before. I’m reprinting “Everything I Know About Being a Gentleman I Learned From Hockey.”

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EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT BEING A GENTLEMAN I LEARNED FROM HOCKEY

Originally posted November 26, 2016

When I was at the hockey game this weekend I got to thinking how much as a society we can learn from hockey. Yes, the sport that is the butt of the joke “I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out,” is the same sport that can be our pattern for good behavior.

Stay with me for a minute or two and think about this. It started at the singing of the national anthem. I’ve been to many hockey, baseball, football, and soccer games. Only at the hockey games have I ever been in an arena filled with people actually singing along. Only at the hockey games are all of the players reverent to the tradition of honoring the country where they just happen to be playing even though they come from around the world – Canada, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, even a few Americans.

A decent dose of nationalism notwithstanding, hockey has much to offer the gentility. Even those fights. Or rather any infraction. If a player breaks the rules he is personally penalized for it. Ground isn’t given or relinquished like on a battlefield, free throws or kicks aren’t awarded to the aggrieved party like victors in a tort battle. Nope, if you do something wrong you pay the consequences and are removed from play for a specified period in segregation from the rest of your teammates. No challenges, no arguments, no time off for good behavior. Do the crime. Pay the time. In the penalty box. Try doing that to a school child who bullies and you’ll have some civil liberty group claiming you’re hurting the bully by singling him out.

Hockey is good at singling out people but in a good way. At last Saturday’s game the opposing team has two members who had previously played for the home team. During a short break in the action a short montage of those two players was shown on the scoreboard screens and they were welcomed back by the PA announcer. And were cheered and applauded by the fans in attendance. There weren’t seen as “the enemy.” Rather they were friends who had moved away to take another job and were greeted as friends back for a day.

While play is going on in a hockey game play goes on in a hockey game. Only if the puck is shot outside the playing ice, at a rules infraction, or after a goal is scored does play stop. Otherwise, the clock keeps moving and play continues. Much like life. If you’re lucky you might get to ask for one time out but mostly you’re at the mercy of the march of time. Play begins. After a while play ends. If you play well between them, you’ll be ok.

The point of hockey is to score goals. Sometimes goals are scored ridiculously easily, sometimes goals seem to be scored only because of divine intervention. Most times, goals are a result of working together, paying attention to details, and wanting to score more than the opposing team wants to stop you from scoring. There is no rule that says after one team scores the other team gets to try. It all goes back to center ice and starts out with a new drop of the puck. If the team that just scored controls the puck and immediately scores again, oh well.

Since we’re talking about scoring, the rules of hockey recognize that it takes more than an individual to score goals. Hockey is the only sport where players are equally recognized not just for scoring goals but for assisting others who score goals. Maybe you should remember that the next time someone at work says you’ve done a good job.

handshakeThe ultimate good job is winning the championship. The NHL hockey championship tournament is a grueling event. After an 82 game regular season, the top 16 teams (8 from each conference) play a four round best of seven elimination tournament. It takes twenty winning games to win the championship. That’s nearly 25% as long as the regular season. It could take as long as 28 games to play to the finish. That’s like playing another third of a season. After each round only one team moves on. And for each round, every year, for as many years as the tournament has ever been played, and for as many years as the tournament will ever be played, when that one team wins that fourth game and is ready to move on, they and the team whose season has ended meet at center ice and every player on each team shakes the hand of his opponent player and coach, wishing them well as they move on and thanking them for a game well played. No gloating. No whining. No whimpering. Only accepting.

So you go to a fight and a hockey game breaks out. It could be a lot worse.

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So there you go. Everything you need to know about being a gentleman, or a lady. Courtesy of the folks who brought you hockey. They’re not bad lessons if I say so myself. And I think even Badger Bob would agree.

 

Look Who’s Talking

Use or lose it. Who hasn’t heard that at least with respect to vacation days or abdominal muscles?  I guess the same goes for voices. Since I retired there are precious few opportunities to replace the sheer amount of talking I once did. I guess it has taken its toll. Or more accurately, the non-it has.

When you stop exercising those abs you don’t notice an immediate loss of shape and tone. By eighths, maybe even sixteenths of inches you start a slow expansion from six pack to quarter keg. Someone who sees you daily or weekly may not even notice the transformation but run into somebody you haven’t seen in 3 years and you’ll probably hear, “Hey, you look great. Aw, no you don’t. You’re fat now. Just like the rest of us.” Or at least I imagine that’s what you might hear. Not ever having abs to die for I never had to worry about an unplanned belt explosion.

But not talking has resulted in somewhat similar observations. Apparently those I share my few words with hadn’t suspected an impending failure to communicate on my part. That makes some sense. Even the most common of my common conversationalists don’t hear much from me. Most of my chit chat revolves around a phone call or two to my daughter or sisters and much of my end consists of “mmm,” “uhhhh,” and “ok, talk to you soon.”

What got me thinking about any of this was the phone call equivalent of the friend who hadn’t seen you in 3 years, only this time played by the friend who you usually converse with via email or text messages but might actually speak with only once or twice a year. That call came last week and before I barely had “hello” out of my mouth I heard, “Oh my God, are you ok? If you’re sick, go back to bed or wherever you were resting and I’ll call back some other time.”

It was then that I realized I need a vocal version of the Ab Roller.

 

Looking Good

I’m going to do something today that I usually don’t. I’m ranting. Well…not exactly ranting. A rant implies wild and impassioned speech. I may be passionate about a bunch of stuff but I’m not wild. I’m not even undomesticated. So I’m not exactly ranting but I am upset. Maybe even a little annoyed.

I just read a post – no, that’s not true either – I just read two-thirds of a post, supposedly to make me, as one with a chronic illness, feel magnanimous towards those who have the nerve to say to me,  “You look good.”  Apparently before I had the benefit of the sensitivity of whoever wrote that drivel, err…. that post, I was supposed to be bothered, irked, and/or insulted by that comment. Really?!?

Yes, I have a chronic condition. Three actually. If you’ve read this for a time you know I have kidney disease and am on dialysis (and the specific target of the aforementioned post). I am also told that I am a cancer survivor though one really never survives as much as finds a way to eliminate its immediate danger. For me that meant the physical removal of the cancer and along with it two and parts of third internal organ while now still learning how to live without otherwise vital body parts. The third is a one of those rare diseases that is so rare you don’t even get to see commercials on TV for drugs that might or not might not improve my chance at a normal life. Instead that one has been kept at bay for 15 years or so by a relatively dangerous drug regimen that probably helped me join the ranks of the first two chronic conditions that I mentioned but at least it kept me alive long enough to develop them. Anyway, when someone tells me that I look good I say thank you. Apparently I’ve been doing that wrong.

If I read the part of the article that I read correctly, I read that first I should consider that the person who is telling me how wonderful I appear doesn’t mean anything insensitive by it. He or she probably doesn’t know how painful and depressing my ailment is. Ailments are. Next I should consider exactly how well I know this person. Perhaps some people are mistaking my healthy appearance for a healthy appearance because they don’t know the full extent of my painful and depressing ailment. Or ailments. Then I should thank them for their thoughtfulness but gently remind them how painful and depressing my ailment really is. Are. Is. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do after that because that’s when I threw my tablet across the room. (After making sure I was aiming it at a very soft pillow. I might have been annoyed but I’m not crazy.) (Not even wild.)

So, since I was unable to finish that drivel, err…. that post, let me tell you how to respond when someone comes up to you, whether or not you have a chronic condition, and whether or not he or she does, and says, “You look good.”  Say thank you and repay the compliment.

By that way, you’re looking pretty good. Have a nice day.

The Hi Guys

“’S’up.” “Hey” A nod up. Then another. One went east, one west. And the world kept turning. Thanks in part to the Hi Guys.

The Hi Guys are those guys (generically speaking of course – guys, gals, hims, hers, undecideds, too young to tell, too old to matter, too desperate to care – all of those) those guys are the guys that nod a “hello” to a perfect stranger one meets walking down the road, crossing a lobby, waiting for an elevator, or standing in front of or behind in a really long, really slow line – or on the line if that’s your geographic preference.

HiGuys

Drawing by me. Can’t you tell?

It’s just a nod, a recognition that says “Hey, you too are human and we are all part of a team and I recognize your contribution even if I don’t know you, don’t care if I ever know you, might never see you again, and will be just as happy if I do or if I don’t.” Sometimes that’s really hard to do. It’s easy to give that little finger wave over the steering wheel when you see a neighbor taking the dog for a walk along your own street on your way to work in the morning. But to acknowledge a total stranger, no, more than that, to show value to a total stranger is quite another.

Think of the number of times you run across somebody you don’t know versus the number you do of the number you do. (It might be awkward but if you parse that sentence you’ll see it works. Just like the Hi Guys!) An Oxford University study (Oxford, really) confirmed that the human brain can manage only 150 friendships. A simple “Hey, how ya doin’?” can expand your circle to unknown numbers. And make you smile at the same time.

Remember when you were a baby – probably not but you probably have seen babies. When a baby smiles at someone and makes that baby gurgle that only babies can make, everybody smiles back. Even me, and I’m usually fairly grouchy. So if a baby, who probably doesn’t understand that the world needs a little help to keep turning, can make a total stranger smile and feel good even for just a second or two, you can do it also.

So, keep the world turning. Become a Hi Guy*!

That’s what I think. Really. How ’bout you?

*I thought of this a couple of days ago when I was running into the store and stopped at the entrance to let a fellow carrying a double armload of grocery bags come out of the doorway before I went in. I didn’t expect a thank you for anything since I didn’t do anything. The door was automatic and wide enough for both of us.  As I passed him on my way through I did my usual nod and said something like hi or h’lo (the local equivalent of hello). He paused and sort of half-turned and said back to me, “Hey. Thanks.” And smiled. A real smile. I thought to myself, wow, somebody really does pay attention to that half-grunt I make now and then. That could be blog-worthy. Well, after I wrote this I thought I’d do a quick search for “Hi Guy.” I don’t know why, I just did. Maybe because I’m getting sort of up there in years and things sometime mean different things now than then. And sure enough I found something. My go to for stuff like this, the Urban Dictionary, defines “Hi Guy” pretty succinctly as a salutation to a man or woman. Clean enough for my purpose. Then I went one step further and plugged it into Google. There I found a link to “Lingomash” pronouncing that my Hi Guy in slang means “(1)Excl. When something outrages (sic) or unusual occurs. (2)Excl. When you don’t agree with one’s actions.“ Well that’s not right at all. Since I don’t have anything else to write about I’m going to ask that if you know “Hi Guy” as this completely antithetical twist to what I just wrote, could you please not tell anybody else. Thanks.

Oh, and one more thing. Some of you might remember “Hi, guy!” from the Right Guard commercials of the 1970s when two guys share a medicine cabinet and every morning they “bump into” each other in the bathroom. They were great. One guy would open the cabinet on his side of the wall and the other would be there and he bursts out with “Hi, guy!” It went on for years and the actor (Chuck McCann, an already well established actor) became known as the Right Guard Hi Guy. Except that in the very first commercial of the series he never said “Hi, guy.” If you should be wondering, here’s a link to it. Hi Guy.  (by Genius via YouTube)

I just realized my “post script” is longer than “letter.” I should stop now. In fact, I will. Really.

Looking Back

Sometime toward the end of last year I mentioned the Real Reality Show Blog turned five years old. That happened on November 7 but I didn’t get around to mentioning it until much later that month. Shortly after that it became December and life got turned upside down for me. Again. I ended 2016 two days shy of actually being home from three separate hospital stays during the last month of last year. Hanging around for so many days in a hospital bed leaves one with only so many things to do. Read. Watch TV. Work a crossword puzzle or two. Roll over on top of the nurse call button. Think about life.

I hate thinking about life. Here’s why. Why is because thinking about life interferes with life. While I was lying about wondering “what had I done to deserve this” I got to thinking of life and the life I specifically had last year.

It started celebrating the end of the holiday season in a strange place. For the first time in 29 years I wasn’t in my old, wonderful house with a Christmas tree in every room highlighted by the 12 foot job under the cathedral ceiling of the natural wood finished sun room. And worst of all, I didn’t have all 37 of my nativities displayed. That’s because for the first Christmas after 29 years I was celebrating it in a miniscule one bedroom apartment so I could move about and function better in my new “challenged,” – screw that, make it disabled! – state. But then but the end of the year I got used to those not that miniscule quarters, I got used to working around the complex, I got used to hanging out at the pool, I got used to my new neighbors, and I missed those, that, and them when I wasn’t there in December.

In April I turned 60. I didn’t think anything of it. But for some reason my sisters thought I should have a party to celebrate that milestone. I look at milestones for birthdays years like 16, 21, 30, maybe 50, definitely 75, and by all means every year from 80 on. But I figured, why not. At least I knew I’d get a more extravagant meal than I was planning for myself and maybe even cake. Now, it happened that the last party I had thrown for me to celebrate a birthday was indeed at 30. (Hold that thought.) The selected venue for last year’s event had a guest limit of 25.I got to thinking how I was going to limit a guest list to 25. I pulled out my address book and mentally started drafting explanations to those who wouldn’t make the cut. After much serious review, and even more serious reflection, I handed my sister a list of 22 names. Thirty years previous there were three times that many people on hand to commemorate my becoming a thirtysomething. Had I or anyone got around to hosting a 50 year party I could imagine at least one guest for each lived year. Now, I couldn’t scrape up two dozen friends to watch me move another year closer to Medicare. And then the day came and those few all showed up and I realized these were mostly the same people who were around to see me turn 16 and a few years later, 21, and would have been among the crowd at 50. Friends. Old friends, close friends, real friends. Friends who saw me move not only from year to year but from trials to successes to failures to challenges to successes to every high, low, dull, and exciting phase of life. My life. And I hope they’ll all be there for 75, 80, and every one from then on.

Sometime in August I was at a routine doctor appointment. One of those that you get ready for a week before by going from lab to x-ray to CT to have as much of your insides available for the doctor to review as your outsides when you get there. She looked at the numbers and then at me and then back at the numbers and declared that I had a year, maybe, before my kidneys would go the way of so much else in my insides and I’d need the use of a dialysis machine to do what comes naturally to most others after a couple of cups of coffee. She was off by just a little. About 8 months. It was, in fact, while I was thinking all this in the hospital sometime in early December after I had been transported back to my hospital room from the dialysis unit after the second or maybe third of what would become a new thrice weekly event for me. But it wasn’t that much later that I reminded myself that the reason any doctors were even looking at lab and x-ray and CT scan results for the state my kidneys was that 15 years ago I was diagnosed with a pretty rare, chronic condition that feeds of internal organs like kidneys and if they found just the right treatment for me I had a 37% chance of living longer than three years. Somehow they hit it right and I was one of the lucky ones who got at least 12 more years so I could have a birthday party in a non-milestone year and all I had to do now was give up a dozen hours a week that I wasn’t doing anything with anyway and maybe make it to 75, 80, and a few more after that.

See, those are just a few reasons why I hate all this “looking back.” It just ends up finding the silver lining instead of dwelling on the uncontrollable like human beings are supposed to do. And it means I spent the entire 500th post of the RRSB talking about me. Instead of talking about the me you got to see in the past 500 posts. I guess I’ll do that next time.

Hmm. Five hundred. Not as compelling as 75, or 80, or all the numbers that come after that. But I bet somewhere there’s a word for that.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

 

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Dog gone it if it isn’t the most useful day of the year. Today, the third Monday of July, in the midst of the dog days of summer, is … hold that thought for a minute.

I have spent no telling how many electrons celebrating useful, special days that only a special interest group could dream up. There are days that deserve to be recognized and often get left in the shadows, like Groundhog Day (Feb. 2). There are days to honor those who truly should be but the governments of the world collectively have dismissed them, like First Responders (there are First Responders Appreciation Days and they vary by state and whether it’s an election year but Sept. 27 seems to be a popular choice). There are days to honor people you’d think could do with just their salaries as honor enough like Talk Show Host Day (Oct. 23). There are so many special days that 365 calendar days aren’t nearly enough so just about every day has multiple recognitions although sometimes you wonder if whoever assembled them had really wanted a special day to commemorate irony (like April 7 which combines National Beer Day with National Alcohol Screening Day (technically the first Thursday in the first full week of April, and isn’t that a designation that only the collective governments could come up with, which this year happened also to be April 7).

All of them worthy of being called special – if for nothing else than their dog and pony show aspects – but certainly not all commendable for their usefulness. So what about today would make one jump up and shout “Hot Diggity Dog!” It is in the recognition that even though you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, you can make sure that every dog has its day. And today that lucky dog is the one that is up to his neck in doggie doo.

The one in your dog house is today’s luckiest dog because today is Get Out of the Doghouse Day. For today to work the one who done the wrong has to do the heavy lifting. You know who you are. Put down the bone and apologize. While you’re at it, put down your cell phone unless you are going to use it to actually make a call. You don’t want to trust a chance to get back in somebody’s good graces to an e-mail, a text, or (Heavens, don’t even think about it) a tweet. You need a personal touch.

It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Let sleeping dogs lie and get back in the fight. You might have to work like a dog today but if you end up being man’s – or woman’s best friend again, it’s all worth it!

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

Fishing For Memories

Trout season begins this week. Saturday specifically. In my state. I’ve never fished for trout. I’ve fished for walleye, I’ve fished for bass, I’ve fished for compliments. But I’ve never fished for trout. And that’s unusual for around here because there is a lot of trout around here. Of course, to catch trout around here you have to fish around here and I’ve never done that either.

Around here is huge on fishing. The county I live in issues more fishing licenses than anywhere else in the state, odd for an urban area but the numbers don’t lie. Even though the county sports only 10 percent of the state’s population it has ranked number 1 in fish licenses since 1919. Probably before that but that’s as far back as I could find records. For most of those years there were more fishing licenses issued in this one county than in the rest of the state combined.

I’m not a real fisherman – or fisherperson as the TV reporter reminded the viewing public of the start of trout season put it. I fish, or fished, once or twice a year and at what could at best be called sporadically over 40 years or so.

My first fishing memory was of my father taking me up into the mountains for an overnight trip with two friends of his and their sons. I didn’t catch anything. I’m not sure that anybody caught anything. I remember cooking something outside for dinner but it was probably hamburgers. After dark we piled into someone’s station wagon and went deer spotting and that night slept in someone else’s hunting cabin. That was the first fishing memory I have. It is also the first memory I have of doing something special with my father.

My second fishing memory came 20 years later and 20 states away. Floating in the middle of some lake in the middle of Texas were me and an Army friend in a rented bass boat. It had all that was required for fishing for bass. We had the trolling motor attached to the bow, the big Merc mounted on the stern, the electronic fish finder, the funny chairs that looked like bar stools. We got just far enough out to finish our to-go coffees and were when his pager went off. Return to base. His unit was being mobilized. In less time to write about it we were back at the dock, secured the boat, gotten to the car, and were two-thirds of the 15 minute drive to base. That’s when my pager went off.  Later that day we found ourselves as parts of one of the largest training exercises our base had mounted in years. We ate in the field that night but it wasn’t fish.

Another 20 years and in the middle of another lake, this one called Erie, I was one of a group of five pulling in our 30th, and last, walleye. After years of doing so, my friend had the planning down pat for this trip. We left the day before for the drive north, now mostly highway making it a relatively quick trip. Quick enough that we got there hours before anyone else. We picked up our licenses, checked into the hotel, and asked for wake up calls for 4 the next morning. That gave us twelve hours to meet the rest of the gang, have a few beers, have dinner, retell our lies from previous years’ trips, make our ways back to the hotel, and turn in for the night. What was much more than but felt much less than a couple of hours later we were back in the lobby with our coffees and headed for the dock. Our hired captain and his boat were waiting in the dark and we clambered in for the ride to where the fish waited in the dark. The lines weren’t all in yet when the first walleye struck. As he was being brought in another line was hit. The first fish was landed, pictured, and chucked into the well when number three hooked on. And so it went. Nobody remembered a year when the fish came so willingly to us. We had reached our limit and turned back to the docks before some other boats had begun their day. The picture of us with our racks straining under the morning take was on the captain’s charter company’s website the following day. A copy of it is still on one of my walls. A week later we reassembled in my friend’s back yard to fry fish and tell lies. That was the last fishing memory I’ve had. Three weeks later I was in the hospital where a surgeon took longer than we did to fish for his limit.

Trout season starts this Saturday. I’ve never fished for trout.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

 

Let’s Stay In Touch

It’s much too early to make any New Year’s resolutions.  (If you haven’t already, you can see our thoughts on New Year’s resolutions at “Revolving Resolutions (Dec. 30, 2013), Resolving to Keep It Real (Dec. 31, 2012), Be It Resolved (Jan. 2, 2012), and/or Be It Further Resolved (March 22, 2012).)  However, it might be just the right time to make a New Year’s Eve resolution.

It was sometime last week when there were five people and four oh-so-smart phones at the table all at the same time.  This was He’s extended family and usually that group can never find any of their phones.  But for some reason, on that day everybody but one (and oddly enough that was the youngest of the group and a true card carrying member of the “Don’t Leave Home Without It As Long As It Is a Phone Brigade”) had his or her cell phone strapped, perched, or holstered onto his or her body or close by.  Miraculously, nobody’s phone made a peep during the meal which is why all of them were at the table at the same time.  But the site of all that electronic wizardry did start a story.  And so it went.

Once upon a time, staying in touch was easy.  If you wanted to speak with someone you called that someone.  Landline and then cell phone calls were an easy push button distance to just about anyone.  If nobody answered there was usually an answering machine or voice mail willing to take a message.  Even as home computing became the norm, e-mail was available and handy for sending large amounts of information or even sharing files.  And thus we managed quite well getting our lunches planned, our rides scheduled, and our points across.

And then the madness struck!

It was even before the smart phone revolution.  Texting.  At first, only the 13-18 demographic texted.  It made perfect sense.  Texts were free.  Calls were still charged by the minute.  Parents knew about every call made.  Parents cared less about texts.  They showed up on bills as numbers of but followed by NC – No Charge.  HW!  (How Wonderful).  As the 13-18 year olds aged, their favored means of communication improved.  Texts became faster and clearer.  And as the texting became easier, the parents and other fogies suddenly realized they too could be saving time and money.  What two better things are there to save.

With the time saved they all became users of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In, Skype, YouTube, and YouNameIt.  Many, many ways to stay in touch.  Then problems started arising when people started realizing they were on too many services to stay on all of them as much as they wanted.  And thus, each picked a favorite.  All different favorites!  But they rarely shared which was their favored favorite.  So if you want to reach your best friend you have call, leave a message, then text, then private message on Facebook.  At least one of those will be ringing, humming, or vibrating your recipient’s phone.  If all else fails, there’s always e-mail and maybe a landline phone call, possibly to the work number.

So what’s the resolution?  For the callee, everybody should resolve to tell everybody they really want to hear from how to reach them.  And don’t get miffed if someone picks the wrong means.  Stuff happens you know.  And for the caller, make certain you listen to all your contacts and somewhere mark their preferred means of…. No, how about once you send out the message you give your intended recipient enough time to get back before you…. No, make sure you’re using the right platform for the right…. No, how about don’t assume that your favorite means of being gotten hold of is everybody’s favorite…. Oh heck, was it really that important anyway?

Tell you what, have your people get hold of our people and we’ll do lunch.

Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?