Archive for October, 2020

Service of Voting for One Issue: What’s the Thinking Behind it?

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

If I insisted on having to agree 100 percent with friends, and if each one needed to act the way I would in every instance, I’d have none.

My parents didn’t always agree about politics, how strict to be with me, what film to see or event to attend, so there was plenty of lively conversation in my childhood home. This, I suspect, is why I am unlike some friends who say “If a person felt this way about __________ [name the subject such as global warming, religion or a political figure] I couldn’t be friends with them.” [There are obvious exceptions of extreme nature: If someone tortured people or animals for example that would be a deal breaker.]

Early voters NYC, October 2020

On the other hand, if most everything about a person is abhorrent to me–their behavior, beliefs, lifestyle, actions and ethics–we wouldn’t be pals even if we share one passion or background.

This is why I don’t understand how people support a politician when they agree with him or her about only one issue when the person otherwise exemplifies everything else they oppose.

For example, on social media, @americamag, The Jesuit Review, asked: “Do we have to ignore the fact that Mr. Trump sometimes behaves in a manner unworthy of a president of the United States, and ignore the damage that he inflicts on the rule of law in our body politic, just because of his good pro-life policies?”  America Media describes itself  asthe leading provider of editorial content for thinking Catholics and those who want to know what Catholics are thinking.”

Pro-life initiatives are left in the dust by traditional “pro-lifers” who vote that issue alone such as health care for all, food for the hungry, clean water, keeping immigrant children with their parents, simple attempts–enforcing masks and social distancing–to control Covid-19 and the like. The irony is that you don’t have to partake in gambling or ingesting marijuana or taking prescription drugs or drinking alcohol if you disagree. What’s the difference?

Have you voted for someone for a single issue?  If people don’t see eye to eye on most everything else about a candidate, how do they justify their decision to vote for her/him? Are you inflexible in your friendships, refusing to see someone based on disagreement over one issue when you like most everything else?

Photo: ny1.com

Service of Surprises that Cost Little and Make a Day

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Photo: twitter.com

A small gesture or effort, an unexpected tweak, can make a person’s day. I’ve written about these often. It’s fun to be on either side–recipient or donor.

In Vino Veritas

Since March I’ve bought wine at a local store rather than at the discounted Trader Joe’s that’s 25 blocks away. Each time I visit there are different clerks, all nice, mostly men. I buy inexpensive wine–two bottles at a time–as the store is my last stop on my way home. I’m already loaded up with groceries and still have four blocks to go.

On my last visit Sussex Wine [photo above] was empty and the clerk and I chatted. She could tell that this was not my first visit. She asked me if I was in their system: by sharing my phone number and name I’d be registered in their awards plan. After 300 points a customer gets a $10 discount. They’d never call me, she promised. The men hadn’t told me of this benefit before. I “enrolled.” As I left she told me she’d started me off with 200 points. Wow!

Milking It

There wasn’t a quart of fat free or 1 percent milk in Gristedes, the local grocery store. I walked to the front–milk seems to be as far from the door as possible in every store–and found a clerk sitting on a box restocking the lowest shelf. I asked if they expected a delivery later in the day. He jumped up, said he thought the truck had just arrived, dashed outside and came back with a quart of skim. Golden service! As I left I saw that they hadn’t yet brought out a hand truck to unload the order.

When Everything Goes Wrong

There were two clerks at CVS drugstore both of whom were having time-consuming problems checking out their customers. The manager came, spoke with each and just before he opened a third cash register to alleviate the growing checkout line a floor clerk said she also needed him.

He started to enter my order at the third register–we too ran into a hitch–when he left to again help the two cashiers whose customers had already been there for far too long. I didn’t see him again for quite a while. When he came back to me he apologized profusely and often and looked gloomy. He expected to hear me rant about the delay.

I smiled, said I saw that he was stretched beyond reason and not to worry. His relief and gratitude was palpable. It was a joy to see his mood change to cheerful. As he handed me my receipt he was overjoyed to tell me that I had a $6.00 rewards coupon.

Have you received a happy surprise or been able to please someone unexpectedly, at little cost? Does the stress over the pandemic and/or the election have something to do with some people-helping-people in important small ways?

Photo: myanxiousworld.com

Service of A Name III

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Photo: startsat60.com

It is objectionable when a person uses a name to demean or to signal something supposedly nefarious or suspicious about someone of when they deliberately mispronounce a name.

Do you know who these middle names belong to: Diane, Walker, Earl, Jefferson and Hussein? The answers: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, George Walker Bush, James Earl Carter, Jr., William Jefferson Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama II.

Photo: pinterest.com

How many times did you hear someone use the middle names of the Clintons, Presidents Bush or Carter?  Don’t many of those who include “Hussein” when referencing President Obama have a reason that has nothing to do with being accurate because these folks never include the II?  They want you to think he’s Muslim, “not that,” as Jerry Seinfeld would have said in his TV show, “anything’s wrong with that.”

For a public figure to deliberately mispronounce an unusual name, such as Kamala–which Kamala Harris says should be “‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark,” is offensive. Every neophyte speechwriter spells out phonetically an unusual word or name. When president Trump mispronounces Kamala, for example, he signals its foreignness and makes fun, implying that the person isn’t “one of us–a real American.”  He did so three times in a row at a recent rally to the mirth of the audience.

Good for Kamala: She didn’t succumb to the Americanization of her name–she might have been Kam for example. [To her stepchildren she answers to Momala.] President Obama, like his father, was known as Barry. He reverted to his given names in college.

I deep sixed Jeanne-Marie in first grade. Nobody pronounced the first half the way my parents or a French person did–“jhanne”–and anyway it was too long compared to most others–Mary, Liz, Ann, Polly etc.

Can you share examples of attempts to deliberately disparage or imply something about a person simply because of their names? Isn’t it a relief that increasing numbers of Americans stand by their foreign names?

 

Photo: englishlanguagethoughts.com

 

 

Service of Fixing a Glitch: Here’s to the USPS in Manhattan!

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Photo: usps.com

I moved my office home in June. I let the United States Postal Service [USPS] know the new address and promptly received a confirmation. I sent myself a letter to check that all was well and forgot about it.

I suddenly realized that I’d  never received that letter.

So I sent myself another letter at my former office with my home return address. I got it back only because it was sent to my return address. The yellow self-stick post office label said “Return to Sender Attempted–Not Known Unable to Forward.” The sticker made no sense but worse, it meant that the USPS wasn’t forwarding my first class mail.

Photo: hprgraphics.net

I brought that envelope and USPS change of address confirmation to the Grand Central post office. A customer service clerk told me that my former office address was a “Drop House,” which, she explained, means that the USPS drops off the mail at the building and that building distributes the mail.

Turns out that this wasn’t quite accurate. Clarification in a moment.

I went to the office building immediately and the doorman said that nobody  distributes mail for the USPS.

So I wrote to the District Manager, Postmaster New York District who forwarded my dilemma to a super problem solver, Michelle Linton in the district consumer affairs department. She called me, explained what the “drop house” concept meant in my case and sent a test letter which I’ve yet to receive. The “drop house” referred to our office, the section of the 11th floor where seven businesses shared space. The postal delivery staff dropped off one package of mail to 11-South and one of us distributed the mail. None of us are there anymore; the office is closed.

Linton and I stayed in touch. She sent  a second letter, this time with a tracking number, which she again called me to share.

Saturday I received the letter I’d sent myself on October 8th and was thrilled. Linton had unclogged the glitch in the system. The address on the yellow forwarding sticker was correct. [I’d put a friend’s return address on the letter this time.]

I haven’t yet received Linton’s first letter or the one with the tracking number, which is troublesome [what else might I be missing?], but I have every confidence that if I never get it she will iron things out.

Can you share examples of other customer service or consumer affairs staffers who are dedicated to solving glitches in their systems and have helped you out?

Photo: medium.com

 

Service of Fast Food Tips for Dinner

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

I admire Facebook postings of images of elaborate dishes and desserts for one or two lovingly assembled and photographed by friends but I am not tempted to imitate any of them. I look for something quick and easy. [While I’m sure all are delicious, some don’t translate well on camera and look alarmingly unappetizing, reminding me of the old saw “only a face a mother could love.”]

As the weather cools off I might make a boeuf bourguignon or a quiche Lorraine with the idea of freezing leftovers for future meals but I’m not in a rush. I use every pot in the apartment for the former, [I cook each vegetable separately], and make the crust for the quiche. Counter space for rolling out the dough is in short supply in my kitchen and I’m off-put by also having to dig out my food processor.

If it’s suddenly 7:30 pm I am grateful if I have an Amy’s Pizza in the freezer. I break it in two, put the other half back in the freezer, toss a simple salad while it heats in a toaster-oven and voila!

Speaking of salad, it takes minutes to make a spectacular and filling chef one.  I buy real baked ham from a local vendor–it’s sliced off a majestic bone by hand and doesn’t resemble the slimy packaged or compressed variety. To slices of ham I add what’s in the house such as Swiss cheese, tomato, mozzarella, all sliced, and top it off with a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Cold chicken works too. A few frozen peas or corn kernels heated in a bit of water until just hot is a toothsome and pretty addition.

A beautiful, wonderful country bread for one that costs $5-$8–much that I love it–doesn’t make sense. Trader Joe’s sells ciabatta rolls that I immediately put in small baggies and freeze. I warm a roll in the toaster oven at 350° for seven minutes. The crust is crisp and wonderful and the warm inside welcomes a little olive oil and slices of cheese and tomato.

I also like fettuccine Alfredo or vegetable fried rice from Trader Joe’s, a hot meal in minutes. I add pepper and a few peas to the former and if I have cold chicken, a few small pieces to the latter.

This is apple season. I like Honey Crisp best but try a new variety each week at the farmer’s market. I just bought firecracker apples. I slice the fruit thin–like potato chips.

Do you have quick meal ideas or do you or your mate make elaborate dinners for you and your family? When thinking of food can you erase from your mind all the hungry in this country and the world?

 

Service of When You Lose, Let Go

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Photo: yoursalesplaybook.com

I’ve been on the losing side of a board vote. It’s not easy to let go, especially if you spent hours researching the argument for “your side.” The immediate choice: support the majority’s decision or leave the board.

The country did that in 2000 after the Bush vs. Gore election. A large percentage of the population gritted its teeth and moved on when Gore won the national popular vote but lost the electoral college according to the Florida vote recounting.

I am concerned that there are too many militia groups prepared to show their displeasure in violent ways should this president not win a second term.

On Friday Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning on WOR 710 radio, a station with largely a conservative Republican point of view, interviewed Brad Garrett, ABC News Crime & Terrorism Analyst, former FBI agent, media consultant on crime & terrorism and private investigator. He shared his thoughts about the arrested plot by a militia group to kidnap, try for treason and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and to overthrow the Michigan Statehouse.

Michigan Statehouse Photo: michiganradio.com

Garrett said that the hate groups were “serious and were really going to try it.” Berman asked him “are there lots of kooks and groups like this around the country?” Garrett replied “Yes.” He said it is a locally-driven phenomenon and that he is concerned because “they really like President Trump” and “feel that he is in their corner.” My concern, said Garrett, is that if he loses they must “take care of their guy.”

Mary B. McCord in a New York Times opinion piece, “The plot against Gretchen Whitmer shows the danger of private militias,” identified a range of laws that “point to a single conclusion: there is no right in any state for groups of individuals to arm themselves and organize either to oppose or augment the government”

Three Percenters Photo: adl.org

The former acting assistant attorney general for national security wrote: “now, more than ever, state and local officials must enforce these statutes.” And “Those groups, like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and others they claim to be ‘patriots’ but answer to their own interpretation of the Constitution, are likely to hear the presidents unsupported claims about election fraud as their license to deploy to the polls to ‘protect’ or ‘patrol’ the vote.”

The president didn’t contact the Governor to see if she was OK after the foiled attempt on her life. Instead he wrote three  tweets, [excerpts follow], in which he claimed the Governor “has done a terrible job,” and he commended the Federal Government’s “tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan.” He added “…. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist–while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burned down democrat run cities…” In the third tweet he wrote “Governor Whitmer – – open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Craig Mauger in The Detroit News wrote: “Along with federal authorities, state and local law enforcement officials were also involved in uncovering the plot against Whitmer.”

In addition Mauger  reported: “Trump also falsely tied school and church closures to Whitmer. Schools decide for themselves whether to have in-person instruction in Michigan. Churches have been exempt from many COVID-19 restrictions in the state, and many have been holding worship services.”

Have you lived with a decision or vote you disagreed with? How have you handled the disappointment and frustration? Do you think all will be hunky dory after the election if Donald Trump loses? Are you planning to stay home the day the winner is announced in case there is violence?

Photo: boardmember.com

Service of Dreading the End of a Beloved Book or Series

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Belgian Neuhaus chocolates

As I reach the end of a much-loved book or Netflix series I dread the anticipated feeling of loss. I’ll miss the characters I’ve befriended, fiction or non. With options to mingle and in-person entertainment cut off–especially for the covid-cautious–it helps to have something to look forward to if there isn’t a good movie on Turner Classic, a scheduled live online concert or event or reruns of a favorite series like “Blue Bloods” or “Law & Order.” [I miss Jerry Orbach.]

The only reason I dislike e-books is because I can’t gauge when the end will happen–how many pages or chapters I have left. So how can I slow down so the book lasts longer? I want to pace my reading as I do consumption of fancy chocolates. I try to eat only one a day.

I borrowed Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile” from the New York Public Library at a busy time and hardly started it when the library took it back. I’m now #195 in line for 255 copies. I haven’t mastered the pace and timing of borrowing. When I select a few books they all seem to arrive in my virtual book box at once.

I try not to binge watch episodes on Netflix of “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” “Broadchurch,” and “The Crown” that I save for late night. I even split into two nights a good flick “The Half of It.”

E-books at the NY Public Library

I was disappointed by the first episodes of Darren Star’s new series, “Emily in Paris.” Maybe I’ll become fonder of the characters as I continue to watch.  He also created the iconic and fun “Sex and the City” among others. While the City of Lights never looked better and the fashions are terrific, so far the dialogue is predictable and characterization of the Americans and French clichéd, the former optimistic, friendly and creative, the latter luddite, unsociable and grumpy. Paris is also a highlight of  the “Call My Agent” series but the characters and situations are quirky and funny. [One of the actors called her agent because the director insisted she lie nude in a casket. The nude part was OK but being depicted dead in the altogether not so much.]

What entertainments do you look forward to during the pandemic? If you borrow e-books from a library how do you time your reservations so you don’t end up with either none for days or too many at once? Can you recommend some books–e, audio or traditional–TV series, movie or programs on a subscription-based streaming service? How many services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, or Disney do you subscribe to? Which is the best? How do you find time for more than one?

Emily in Paris. Photo: netflixlife.com

Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Photo: drivesmartgeorgia.cm

Why does someone charged with upholding rules cave?

Most people follow the rules. You brake at red lights, stay within the speed limit [pretty much], especially at school crossings and in bad weather, wear a seat belt and don’t smoke in public places. If stopped you apologize to the authorities who catch you and do what they say.

There would be chaos if most didn’t react to warnings and requests to comply. Yet some act as though they are exempt and unstoppable regardless of the stakes.

Chris Wallace Photo: foxnews.com

Jason Abbruzzese, a blogger for nbcnews.com, wrote that the moderator of the presidential debate last week, Chris Wallace, “noted that Trump’s family members present at the debate did not abide by the mask mandates put in place by the Cleveland Clinic.  ‘The interesting thing was that the Cleveland Clinic said that everybody in the hall with the exception of the president the vice president and myself had to wear a mask,’ Wallace said.”

The Center for Disease Control [CDC] is clear: it “calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread.” In a July 14 CDC press release: “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”

Abbruzzese continued “Trump’s group wore masks as they entered the hall but took them off when they sat down. According to NBC News reporters who attended the debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic tried to offer some of the group masks but was waived away.” In addition, this group had arrived late to the debate and were not tested as was the rest of the audience.

Photo: businessinsider.com

On Sunday, Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace grilled Trump Senior Advisor Steve Cortes asking, about the Trump family, “why didn’t the rules apply to them?” Cortes accused Wallace of haranguing him as he did the president during the debate. Wallace said that the Commission on Presidential Debates revised its rules: anyone without a mask will be kicked out, ejected next time.

Clearly nobody followed CDC guidelines in the Rose Garden at the White House regarding social distancing at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony on September 26 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Hugging and handshaking happened as though it was 2019. Reckless gathering happened at a reception indoors as well, mid-pandemic, where few masks were worn. Video clips of the garden show none who have subsequently tested positive wore a mask: Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, Republican Senators Thom Tillis, N.C., Mile Lee, Utah, Ron Johnson, Wis. and Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. president of Notre Dame. Who knows where the first lady and Donald Trump were exposed.

At least Rev. Jenkins apologized. According to a Facebook posting by America Magazine: “‘I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,'” Jenkins wrote in a Monday letter to students, faculty and staff. ‘I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.'”

Anyone else? Yesterday, on Face the Nation, Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller complained “Biden uses masks as a prop.”

The mountain of doctors on the steps of Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday, some of the best minds in the world watching over the president’s every breath and course of illness, show that they are turning their attention and expertise to cure a sick chief of state. However I thought of the 208,000+ dead citizens who didn’t enjoy such care during the months the administration downplayed the severity of coronavirus and scoffed at the protocols and measures science claims will help stop it. Will Congress take a second look, before it takes further steps in November to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so during the crisis, if not the future, millions maintain insurance stability for the little care they currently get?

When compliance can mean life or death, should the Cleveland Clinic doctor have insisted–or someone come on a loudspeaker to announce–that those who refuse to wear masks please leave the auditorium? Why didn’t this happen? What are people afraid of? What are the rules for if anyone is exempt?

How come the White House ignores CDC protocols and guidelines for its guests and visitors and why do the latter play along? Who do they think masks and social distancing are meant for? Do you think those who before didn’t believe they served a purpose will do so now? Can we expect enforcers to put more muscle behind mask wearing and social distancing no matter who refuses them?  Have you witnessed other examples of people who think they are above the rules and of someone who stood up to them? What is the worst that can happen to the person who does?

No masks at 2020 presidential debate Photo: news.yahoo.com

 

Service of the Similar Reaction to Temper and Humor

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Photo: guystuffcounseling.com

I know about temper. Mine is the worst. Batten down the hatches when I blow up. Nothing funny about me.

I think reactions to some humor and temper are similar in their disparity. The way the same words and tone are interpreted in a range of ways–as nasty by some, humorous by others–works for both comedy and anger.

In vintage slapstick movies, when a character slips on a banana peel, I wonder, “Did he hurt himself?” I never chuckle while many think such scenes are hilarious.

Photo: menshealth.com

Does anyone remember the 1980s Broadway audience participation smash comedy in which the actors ridiculed participants mostly for things they couldn’t change? I don’t recall its title. The audience doubled over as I sat stone-faced when actors ridiculed an older man sitting next to an attractive much younger woman. They brought on stage the nerdiest looking short man to stand by one of the actresses, a 6-foot beauty and kept returning to a bald man in the audience to make a hat slip off his head [and bald pates were not in fashion]. Sidesplitting for most but not for me.

The day after the presidential debate Michael Riedel and newsman Joe Bartlett, on WOR Radio’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning, thought what the president had said was “funny.” I love to laugh but I reacted to his barbs, fierce faces, incessant, uncontrolled interruptions by pacing my bedroom and shaking in dread. I felt no connection to the laughter they mustered while producing sound bytes of his performance.

A friend worked for a man who terrified the office by screaming at his employees. She said she’d freeze at her desk when she heard him even though the verbal arrows, at top volume, weren’t directed at her and never had been. I suspect the man thought he was garnering respect. Maybe this is what the president had in mind.

Sometimes when an angry person feels cornered, outmatched or out of control, he’ll say things he doesn’t mean, that make little sense, are not true and are uttered only to hurt. Has anyone ever said to you, “I was just joking” after such an encounter?

The inspiration for humor that makes fun of others–especially about physical things they cannot change such as age, height and lack of comeliness–may be different from what sparks anger but the impact strikes viewers/listeners in two ways: they think the words are funny or not.

Do you see a resemblance between people’s contrasting reactions to temper and some humor? Have you found words of an angry person funny? Is mocking a person’s physical deficiencies or trip-ups a source of amusement for you?

Photo: newsroom.niu.edu

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