Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Continues

When I was little Christmas lasted precisely one day.  December 25th.  That was it.  All that junk leading up to it, like the decorations in the stores, the tree in our house, Grandpa's elaborate model train platform were just so many torturous incidentals designed to make us kids suffer with hyper-anticipation as we waited for that all important morning when we'd run down the stairs to attack the bounty that Santa had provided.  Once midnight struck to usher in December 26th the big people might as well have packed away every last ornament and festive doo-dad back into its box and carted the whole mess back into the attic where it lived throughout the rest of the year.  Because Christmas, as it was to my small brain back then, was OVER!  Finis!  Kaput!  DONE!  Once the presents were out in the open, that was IT – all there was to it.

I’m not entirely sure when my childish somewhat Scrooge-like view of Christmas got turned upside down but it was sometime between when my daughters were born and now though I couldn’t put a year on it.  It was a gradual realization in spite of the, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” stuff that I’d known at least on a cerebral level since I was able to talk and repeat the Bible stories I’d been told over and over.  It was as if my Grinchy heart grew a little year after year somehow until it was so very easy to look beyond what was wrapped up in gaily decorated packages with my name on them to the joy of the season manifested in all different sorts of ways as it was radiated from the faces of those whom I love.

Now, thank God, when gifts are being exchanged and opened I’m so often beaming and enjoying taking pictures as I’m watching everybody opening their spoils that I have to be encouraged with a, “Dad!  Open something!” before pulling on the end of a bow of a present on my pile.  And, I suppose I thank God too that in some ways it took me so long to grow up (well, in most respects) on the inside even though there was some sacrifice to be made in experiencing the “magic” of Christmas along the way of becoming a grown-up.

Anyway, here I am on the 27th of December and it’s STILL Christmas!  It will be for as long as I want it to be – until I finally resign myself to admitting that it’s high time for the Christmas tree to come down.  It might have been in early March once, at my worst, but there isn’t a night while it’s up when I don’t spend a little time just staring at those lights and baubles with the same childlike wonder with which I studied them when I was four years old and nearly burst from the anticipation of the big day’s arrival.  And there isn't a year when I don't spill a tear or two on the final night of the tree being up when I light the lights for the last time and pray fervently as my Daddy did every year at our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, "Please, Lord, may we all be here again next year," knowing all too well that while all prayers are answered, the answer isn't always the one we want.

Okay, time for the scooter stuff...  I was out today riding around just for the fun of it because the air’s still relatively warm and I’m taking advantage of the chance to ride at every opportunity.  I headed to the county park where I sort of officially herald the arrival of spring each year when the gates which close off access to it are opened after being locked annually at the start of winter's fury.  Imagine my great delight when I discovered that the gates are still open!  They’re usually closed up tight in late October or sometime at the very latest in November most years, but there they were today just as open as the pearly gates are to the righteous!

And although I wore a jacket over my tee shirt and flannel while I was riding, it was perfectly comfortable to be without it as I posed beside the scooter near the tables from which I write to the blog outdoors at times when it’s suitable to do so.

On the way back to the house I passed by a Christmas (???) display for which I had to do a quick U-turn to get some pictures of it.  It’s exactly the sort of thing I would do if I had the resources for no other reason than to score the kind of reaction that I had to it in passers by.

A clearer view without me in the shot, followed by a detail portion.

And there it is, folks!  Christmas goes on whether in a traditional way or in the avant-garde.

Because of a death in a family amid my circle of friends I’ll be away from the 29th through New Year’s Day, only to get home in time to pack for a week long trip that will have me visiting friends and loved ones from the 3rd through the 10th of January.  If I don’t check in here till after then, I’ll see you when I get back no doubt with some pictures and tales to share.

Please accept my most heartfelt and sincere wishes for a blessed, happy, and healthy 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Still Winter Scootin'

Although I had envisioned a cozy table by the fireplace at Panera Bread for today's post writing, it wasn't meant to be.  The line was practically out the door when I got there which caused me to spin (and I use that verb loosely) on my heels and beat it back to the bike to head to the much less warm and inviting McDonald's across the mall parking lot.  With the all the ambiance of an operating room with fluorescent lights, cast photos of "Leave it to Beaver" and "I Love Lucy" on the wall, and fins on the booth tops that remind me of the ass end of my dad's Plymouth Savoy, to be sure it's appealing on some level, but a far cry from that nook by the fireplace I'd been hoping to get at Panera.

Lest I sound like an idiotic ingrate, I'm not really.  It's December 21st and while the sun isn't shining brightly I am out on the scooter with the temperature hovering near 50.  Okay, perhaps I should start building an ark with the current forecast for the coming week, but rain I'll live with gladly.  I don't have to shovel rain so for as miserable as it might be to have monsoon season here for Christmas, when I take pause to think about how much shoveling this expected rain would bring if it were snow I'm more thankful than I can express in writing, but then again He, to Whom I'm thankful, doesn't need my expression to be in writing.

Unfortunately, I'm a curmudgeonly fellow.  To me that part of my personality is charming.  To those who live with me and spend good chunks of time with me, that "charm" tends to wear off fast.  On today's cardiac walk I thought the word "Grump!" to myself with every step hoping that maybe focusing on my grumpiness like a mantra might somehow make me more aware of my tendency to complain about everything especially when I can see whomever I'm with rolling his or her eyes and waiting for me to shut up.  We'll see how that works. 

Looking my curmudgeonly best

I mention this because I'm watching a McD's tractor trailer parking outside in such a way that it blocks two full handicap spaces.  I think that sucks no matter how you slice it and that it's inexcusable, but it won't affect me because I'll easily be able to sneak the bike out of the handicap space in which I'm parked.  Nevertheless that old compulsion to tell the driver what an inconsiderate oaf he is remains strong.  I wish all delivery truck drivers had to park legally to make their deliveries instead of inconveniencing countless other with their double parking and not respecting parking ordinances.  I'll be doing my best to bite my tongue if this driver is still out there when I'm leaving.

Really?  Do you have to park THERE?

You can tell, perhaps, that when I got here I had no particular idea of what to write because I'm doing one of those slice of life, rambling posts.  While I like to write there isn't always sufficient inspiration, but what the hell?  It seems no worse to me that a builder spending some time playing with Tinker Toys on a day when the weather might keep him from plying his regular trade outdoors.

On a bright note, in the middle of that last paragraph I was visited here at my table by a retired assistant police chief whose daughter it was my pleasure to have had as a student years back.  He was recently ordained to the dioconate here in our diocese and I'd been reading about him in the papers over the course of the past few weeks and had been hoping to meet up with him sometime soon to offer my congratulations and support to his new endeavor.  It's always nice to spend a little time with one of the good guys and he sure is one of them.  Without my wanting to take the scooter out today there's no way that I'd have met up with him because it wouldn't be like me at all to be at a McDonald's in the middle of a day, so coming out was a good decision after all it seems.
The McCookies were very good, the coffee at the perfect sipping temperature, and the  lighting decent for the few selfies I took.  Sometimes when I find myself thankful for little things like these it seems easier to keep on going with an attitude of gratefulness for all the good things in life.  I do pity those with no faith in a supreme being of any sort (though they very well might feel sorry for me with my pie in the sky beliefs) because gratefulness and thankfulness are so often in my thoughts.  I'd find it very "empty" for want of a better term to have these feelings where thanks of some kind seem owed, but if there were nothing besides fate, kismet, and shit luck to say, "Thank You!" to, I know I'd feel sort of lost in the universe and awfully alone.  I try not to thump my Bible here, but it is difficult for me to write anything of length beyond the size of a grocery list without being aware of my belief that there is Somebody out there who might not zap me a miracle every time I want something but Who I believe is walking the walk along with me and at least listening when I feel the need to talk to Him.

Well, it would appear that I have enough paragraphs to put this post to rest with a picture here and there between them.  With Christmas just around the corner let me take this opportunity, in case I don't write again before the day itself, to wish all of you fellow believers a most Happy, Merry, and Blessed Christmas.  I know wishes don't go awfully far these days, but mine is sincere and deep and if the good Lord sees that you need one to make something good happen for you, I hope mine will be the prayer that's needed.

The rain would appear to be nearly imminent with how dark the sky has gotten since I took my first cookie bite so I'm heading out.  If you don't hear much from me after today it will because I'll be away from December 27th till the 3rd of the new year and while I'll most likely have the laptop with me I don't now how much opportunity I'll have to crank anything out.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2016 to all!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

God Bless Us! Everyone!

 It's two weeks and a day before Christmas Day and I'm out with the scooter once again, enjoying the warm temperatures which are very out of season but most welcome.  Today finds me at Panera Bread doing my thing with the tablet and Bluetooth keyboard which make writing here just as easy as at the old computer desk at home.

 I saw the cardiologist yesterday for the first time since being discharged from the hospital and going for a follow-up echo cardiogram, and to celebrate the news that I won't be needing a pacemaker I'm treating myself to a caramel scone and a hot cup of coffee.  There are people filling the place today and I find myself in an unusually great spirit feeling a kinship with them all though I don't know a one of them.  Whether each of them will celebrate Christmas I can't tell, but I wish for each person here with me in this place and time at least some of the wonderful things I've been feeling in the past few weeks as I anticipate the coming of Christmas.  I'm not expecting anything special or huge or noteworthy under the tree but I'm feeling many things inside of myself that I don't think I've felt since adolescence.

 I recall myself on a particular evening at my parents' house.  I was about 13 or so, sitting in front of the fake fireplace in the living room and enjoying the glow and atmosphere that the fake fire burning on the andirons provided.  It was as perfect a winter’s evening as any and I was nearly bursting with the same kinds of feelings I've been experiencing lately.  Although I was many decades from hearing about the concept of an "old soul," in retrospect the feeling of being an old soul was what I was struggling to understand on that evening so long ago.  It was as if I was reliving somehow Christmases that had come years, maybe centuries before I was even born, but of which I had been a part.  I was feeling a nostalgia for a period in history during which I’d not lived.  It wasn't a particular setting that I was remembering, but rather emotions and vague feelings that, although I knew I'd never experienced, were coming back to me as if through a stage scrim or fog.  These past few weeks I've been remembering that evening over and over again as once more in my life I'm sensing those same "memories" trying to come back to me in full measure as they did that night over 40 years ago.

I don't doubt that there's an element of having escaped from the frigid claws of the Grim Reaper in September when I was hospitalized and brought back from the brink of disaster that's at play here, making me appreciate not wholly unlike Ebenezer Scrooge the many things I have to live for and yet to experience.  There's a feeling as if I've been brought back from a purgatory of sorts, back to the land of the living with an appreciation for life that perhaps I'd never had before to this degree.  I suspect it's because of all that that I'm "reliving" memories that aren't really recollections but impressions of the best of what life has to offer.  Christmas has always been my favorite season and its being here now seems to have reawakened in me all of its old magic save for perhaps believing in Santa, though at times maybe I think I still believe.
To be sure, I feel a little crazy putting all of these nebulous but wonderful feelings into writing at age 57.  I should have felt and known these things about the gift of life all along, but like so many of us who become so accustomed to the running of the rat race, I lost sight all too easily of the so many things that make every season bright in its own way.

One of those Steve Williams type food shots that I'm always trying to emulate.

 This evening it will be my pleasure to join for dinner at the nursing home in which she is a guest an aunt who has been like a second mother to me all my life.  It is their annual Christmas party and I wouldn't miss it for anything.  Although my aunt no longer seems to be happy about anything most of the time, I pray that tonight she'll feel some of the sparkle that I can barely contain.  Although so many souls like her will be all around me, the same tired folks who litter the hallways of the place during my regular visits, I have no doubt that when I'm there tonight I'll feel like I'm with a bunch of kids waiting for Christmas to come.  Perhaps that's more wishful thinking than anything, but it's my prayer for them that they'll feel still some of the plentiful joy of Christmastime, and that I'll feel it all spilling from their hearts as we share the meal.

 I see that it's about time for me to pack up here and head back to the house to post this to the old blog before I get dressed for dinner.  Though it'll be a short scooter ride back, I'll enjoy every turn of the tires and wear more of a grin than a smile on my face because of the joy in which I'm wallowing.  Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, dear reader, I have to hope for you at least a small portion of all that I've been feeling as of late.  It's all too good not to have, so I pray that you have it too in some good measure!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Scooter Christmas Shopping!

While in past years there was an occasional December day when taking out the scooter wasn't something that made everybody think I'm nuts, I don't know if there's been another December like this one since I started riding when every day's been a scooterable one for over a week.  I've been enjoying the very unseasonably warm weather very much and getting in a ride just about every day even if it's just a short one to nowhere so I can experience the joy of being out on two wheels at a time when I could be more conceivably shoveling snow.

Although most of my Christmas shopping was done there were a few odds and ends that I still needed to pick up so after consulting the great seers I layered up and took the bike out.  What a wonderfully refreshing time it was being out and about, especially to my spirit which was already ramped up with Christmas cheer and merriness.  

I got my shopping done in record time 'cause it's so much easier getting to where I want to be on the Piaggio than in the car.  Sometimes when I'm zipping along from place to place I feel like a busy bee zipping along from flower to flower.  I love taking off at a green light and looking in the rear view mirror a few seconds later to see the car that was behind me at the red light just starting to move.  I'll take those little thrills wherever they might be found.

Okay, the chartreuse jacket doesn't quite complete the Santa ensemble that the hat begins, but my reasoning behind donning it was that drivers wouldn't anticipate seeing a bike in December as well as they might in the months that are typically conducive to enjoyable scooter rides, so being seen would be more likely I hoped.  I'm not sure if it worked, but it was better to be safer I reasoned, and I did make it back from my mission unscathed.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for my friend, Paul, who writes "Scootin' Fool."  From his Facebook post a few days ago: "So, dumped the scoot and broke my collarbone.  Helmet saved my life. Head bounced off pavement three times."  I haven't gotten wind of just what happened yet, but I'm hoping he'll be up and back on his scooter as soon as he can.  Unfortunately coincidental is that Paul just recently started taking classes on motorcycle repair so I don't know if he or his bike will get fixed first.

The extended forecasts being presented by weather services that don't mess with their predictions to try to create false hopes that there might be a white Christmas are indicating that this pleasant weather just might last through Christmas Day itself.  I'll be perfectly happy if my dormant lawn is clearly visible on December 25th and beyond rather than lying under that blanket of white that some starry eyed dreamers will be wishing for.  If I get in a nice ride on Christmas Day it'll be a great ending to a year that wasn't too bad.

And don't tell me when typical winter weather arrives that I won't have a right to complain because of how good I had it now.  I know that all things tend to even out so I decidedly reserve the right to belly-ache all I want when the cold, snow, and ice are keeping me in the house or on four wheels.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Scooters Do That to People

Scooters are like babies in strollers sometimes.  People see one coming and their faces light up with glee as if they want to reach out and give it a kitchy-kitchy-koo.  They often come closer to strike up a conversation and while they don't often ask how old it is, they're been known to inquire about its miles per gallon.

Take my mom, for example.  Whenever she sees one of us coming near her with a camera, her head turns, her hands go up, she moves out of the way if she can - anything to escape from being in a picture.  It doesn't matter if it's her birthday, just a candid moment, Christmas Eve dinner - Mom does NOT want her picture taken.  She's not Amish or anything like that.  I think she's just afraid that we'll get a goofy picture of her and put it up for the world to see.  (She knows us well.)

Toss my scooter into the picture, however, and look at her get all cute and smiley.  I was in the driveway dropping something off for my sister and it was she who called Mom over to get into a shot with me.  She laughed a little and came right over, without a grimace or a hand to obscure her pretty face.

Leave it to the scooter to make her beam!  Scooters are just like that.  They bring out the best and friendliest in people!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Finally Turning Heads

Moisties, my best friend in college and I used to call them.  Moisties, as in pre or young teen aged girls who exist for three basic reasons: playing with make-up so they look like harlots, traveling in packs, and giggling constantly whether they be at an amusement park or a funeral.  Moisties, as in the kinds of girls who'd never have given us the time of day when we were their ages because they would have been WAY too cool to have associated with clean-cut, well-behaved, young gentlemen such as we were when we'd have been their schoolmates.  Moisties, whose primary domain was the shopping mall, wherever it might have been back then when malls were all the rage, the places to be, and weren't closing their doors and becoming photographic features in "Abandoned America" left and right.

I knew that when I became a scooterist, finally I'd be cool.  Cool enough not only to turn the heads of moisties as I rode by who'd see me on that big, loud scooter and wish they were forty years older than they were, as well as to turn the heads of their grandmothers who'd wonder what it would be like to have their lady parts pressed tightly against the pillion seat of a Piaggio BV250 with their arms wrapped for dear life around the manly frame of the tough guy who'd be maneuvering a kick-ass scooter through the valley traffic.  And, believe, me, I knew that all just as well as I knew it when I was convinced that volunteering to play the tuba in the high school marching band would make me a babe magnet of neodymium strength.  Sure enough, back then I had to move through crowds of adoring women by swinging the bell of my Sousaphone back and forth in front of me to clear a path, just as I now have to do with the yoke of my scooter.

So it was today at the Wyoming Valley Mall as I cockily strolled down the concourse with my hands wrapped sturdily around the handles of my walker, and the bumble of my Santa hat flopping back and forth with each confident step I took.  From the corners of my eyes I saw women checking me out shamelessly as if my being a scooterist was in my very blood and somehow I was giving off the scent of rugged biker - as if I were exuding scooter exhaust from every pore!

What most caught their attention though, especially that of the two moisties who were passing by giggling, was my phone sounding the ring tone assigned to my younger daughter.  There I was mid-stride with that same full sense of manliness that Travolta had to have been feeling as he swung through downtown Brooklyn with that shit eating grin on his face while "Stayin' Alive" blared in the background.  I was passing by one of the three dozen or so cell phone kiosks when the moisties and I heard it - that high pitched, squeaky, little girl voice of Agnes from "Despicable Me" calling from my phone the inimitable words, "Look at that fluffy unicorn!  It's so fluffy, I'm gonna die!" and repeating until it registered in my nearly 60 year old brain that my phone was ringing.

In that moment as I pulled the phone from my pocket and slid the virtual marker to the right to take the call, I could feel a sense of finally having made it to the big leagues as a man hitting me over the head like a cave woman's club might have done were I just a little older.  Finally!  Forty some years too late a couple of young teen aged girls noticed me.  I mean, really noticed me.  And until the full picture came into focus of me in my Santa hat, guiding a walker across the tiled floor, and answering a phone that was screaming about a fluffy unicorn...  It felt good!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Real Scooter Post!

This is probably the most on target scooter post you'll see here, so if you're a visitor who doesn't give a rat's ass about my other brain rambling posts that might or might not have anything specific to do with scooters , I encourage you to savor it.

I noticed some time ago, on a day when I took a 102 mile ride up and down and across the valley, that there are three distinct positions in which I can sit on the scooter and that each of them more or less depends on where I choose to place my feet. 

By far the position in which I ride most often is this one.  My heels are firmly planted at the very front of the sideboards, with my toes and most of my feet extended off to the sides.  Sitting this way is most comfortable as it allows me to lean backward to some degree and I find that to be less tiring on my spine and butt.  I've noticed one other significant thing about this position.  In it, my knees bend out to the sides and into the wind, past the sides of the front fairing.  For some odd aerodynamic reason, this creates an airflow that bypasses my face which is especially good in both very hot and very cold weather.  If I could measure the difference in the flow of air that's going around my face rather than directly at it as it does in the other two positions, I would bet that the difference is significant.  It's odd to me that in spite of the high windshield on the bike, the placement of my knees seems more significant in keeping my face out of the wind.  If I were to replace the BV250, the ability to ride with my feet positioned like this would be a major requirement for a new bike.

It can be noted that an additional reason I prefer my feet out to the sides like this is that from the front it gives me the appearance of being on a cruiser style motorcycle so that oncoming bikers will return "the wave" rather than snub me while thinking, "Oh, look at the old man on the scooter, thinking that I'm going to return his bike wave."

I think of this second position is that of a more classic European scooter rider as I picture those continental chaps scootering about with their backs up ramrod straight as if they'd just come from the chiropractor's office.  My feet are flat on the sideboards causing me to sit most directly upright.  In this position, as in the first, my calves and upper legs are protected from the apparent wind created by the scooter's speed, but the trade-off is that the airflow to my face is increased.  Because I'd rather my face be least buffeted I tend to sit like this only when I'm giving my back a rest, or when I'm cruising along in leisurely fashion where I can cruise at a slower speed to savor the sights, smells, and sounds of my surroundings and when I don't have some other motorist hot on my tail because he's in a hurry.

I'm trying my best here not to go off on the tangent where I get all pissed off because most drivers seem to be okay with following a slow moving tractor trailer or piece of farm equipment, but want to run you off the road if you're on a scooter going just as slowly.

This third distinct position has the balls of my feet planted on the sideboard, with my heels free.  It's the one I use the least because it angles my upper body forward which I find to be comfortable only if my spine really needs a break because I've been riding for a significant amount of time.  Like the second position it tends to bring my knees behind the fairing which causes the airflow to come back at my face.  And, in my mind's eye it makes me look like a twenty-something on a crotch rocket which I definitely don't want to look like at any cost, so even if my back is aching you won't find me sitting like this anywhere except on the most remote back roads and byways.

There is, of course, this last position, but I only "ride" like this in the evening on chilly days.  It's totally comfortable, but least gratifying.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When the Place Becomes the Post

It took me a little while to get the screen brightness and the angle of the screen just right so I could write here, outdoors, under a full sun, but I'm finally fulfilling that urge from last week to write from a remote location.  I'm at a municipal park, by a picnic table alongside a baseball field, although I had pondered what might have transpired had I simply walked into someone's backyard where there was a table and chairs, and set up camp.  Seeing an old geezer sitting in one's yard typing might be less disturbing than other things said geezer might be found doing in one's yard, but while such thoughts come to me now and then, because as I'm often reminded  "normal" is just a setting on a washing machine, I don't usually act on them.  Well, unless sufficiently dared or given some other compelling impetus to do so.
The dot just beyond the first base line is where I set up camp to type today's blog entry.

There are times when I buy something on impulse and am barely back to the house when my brain starts yelling, "What the hell did you buy THAT for?  Such is not the case, though, with the Bluetooth keyboard which is interfaced with the tablet and upon which I am now typing.  The key spacing is nearly identical to that on a full sized keyboard so that I'm keying my thoughts just as quickly as I can do on the desktop PC keyboard.  Most crucial, that all important backspace key is right where my finger expects to find it, so all is good!

 The scooter barely fits through the opening beside the closed and locked gate to the fields.

The peacefulness out here is even deeper than by my desk at home where street noise is an ambient undercurrent to which one grows accustomed, but which is always somewhat distracting.  Admittedly there's a nearby crow that caws out a guttural hello now and then, but he's part of the overall scene here and very welcome as long as he doesn't fly overhead and feel the need to gift me.  I could get used to a place like this very quickly, but for the coming winter which my joints and other parts of me are already fearing.  

 How much happier I'd be overall if there were never the threat of snow, and I'll never understand in a million years the people who look forward to its coming.  For one who used to prefer the cold to the heat of summer, I'm starting to become one of those old people who bundle up in multiple layers just to watch the evening's offering on TV.  I'm finding my sitting here in a full sunbeam to be most pleasant, no doubt though because of low humidity, a gentle breeze, and not much heat being radiated back at me from surrounding objects.  

 What might it have been like had I been able to spend my career by teaching in an outdoor setting such as this one?  But, today's a relatively perfect day as far as days go with the sun and breeze so well balanced, and all without bugs except for the stray ant who was here on the table when I arrived.

I need to mention that without the scooter I couldn't be here.  The entrance to this area of the sports complex is gated to prevent vehicular access, but a small gap in the fencing allows the Piaggio and me to sneak though.  Oh, I suppose a desperate person might park in the parking lot at the other end and hike to where I am, but since any lengthy walking these days done by yours truly is with the aid of a wheeled walker, it would not be I walking from the lot to where I am now.


It shouldn't surprise me, I suppose, that the simple place from which I'm writing this has become the focus of the post.  I've done that before when writing from somewhere other than at my usual space by my desk.  It's so truly liberating this feeling of isolation and peacefulness, that it would be difficult to concentrate on other things if I needed to do so.  What I write here for the blog, while it will be read by a few others, is really for me as kind of an extension to the keen introspection that often occupies me when I'm on the scooter heading nowhere in particular.  I want to remember these most pleasant moments in the days ahead when the daylight will become shorter yet and the temperatures, even in full sunlight will confine me to the usual PC desk in a way that's nearly claustrophobic.  I want to fill up on times like this to sustain me during winter’s grip of the cold and the darkness that will virtually enshroud my spirit for weeks on end.


Part of why I take so many pictures, on and off the scooter, is to catalog and store up memories for when I need to return to them to help me move myself beyond a stronghold of negative things, be they weather phenomena, health issues, general doldrums, or other items of mental rubbish that need to be purged.  Blog entries, too, can take me back when I need them to, to easier, simpler, more joyful times than the ones in which I’m facing some forms of unpleasant reality.  I can easily envision this post to be one that I’ll revisit more than once during the winter months, not only to savor the memories of what is, at the moment, a delicious day all around, but to give me something to look forward to when the double whammy of cold and dark creeps into my bones and does its best to make me sigh, “Meh,” as my daughters would grunt in less than ideal times and circumstances.


In just a little while I’ll put the finishing touches on this piece of writing, pack up my things, and head out of this wonderful bit of time in which I’m wallowing.  Back at the house I’ll put this together with the pictures I’ve taken while pausing between paragraphs and sentences, no doubt by then with some supper in me and my evening lounging clothes on me.  After that it will be time to read a few friends’ two-wheel blogs, savor something warm - something Sonja M. might refer to as a “cuppa” – and pull in the sidewalk for another long (almost winter’s) nap.  Life is good today.  Here’s a prayer that tomorrow will be too, for all of us.  God bless us, everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Weighing in on the Red Cup

I was talking recently about the walking I've been doing since the cardiac issues and noted that I was walking at the local mall the past few days because the weather's been crappy.  I was pointing out that with Radio Shack now gone from there, there's NOTHING left for a guy my age to enjoy shopping for.  Clothes, shoes, jewelry, and cell phones.  That's about it.  We used to have two book stores, the Shack, and Spencer's for me to look around in while the rest of the family went about spending our money on clothes and shoes and jewelry.  The horror of the story was when I pointed out that there's nothing left in Spencer's for me any more either which led the person to whom I was talking to suggest that maybe I'd finally grown up.  God forbid!  

Could it really be that the Offical Fart Joke Book, and the tongue depressor and adhesive tape gift box for guys with E.D. are no longer funny?  Am I so far beyond the psychedelic flashing lights and wall sized posters of glamor girls that there's nothing left for me but a nursing home?  Suddenly feeling all adult like would demand that I take on serious pursuits like digging back into Kant's Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, or taking on the current Starbucks' Red Cup Controversy?  I chose the latter.  It allowed me to take the scooter up to Starbucks just in time for their two-for-the-price-of-one special on holiday drinks.  I actually sat on the scooter in their parking lot for five minutes before venturing in because I was early for the offer that didn't start till 2 PM.  If that wasn't adult behavior, I don' know what is.

Just in case you missed the longer yellow bus, the red cup thing has to do with Starbucks issuing a holiday cup this year that's red, but devoid of the secular Christmas/holiday decorations their holiday cups featured in the past.  Now, I don't drink Starbucks coffee.  Ever.  It's overpriced and tastes like mule piss.  But I had to get me one of those nefarious red cups just to post pictures here.  Who says that blogging isn't serious journalism?

Here I am with my "Satan Sipper" as Ellen Degeneres called it in her recent tongue-in-cheek take on the issue.  For years Ellen was on my idiot list because of the sitcom she had years ago in which she played a self deprecating buffoon of sorts.  I didn't like her because she was always putting herself down.  Hearing what she had to say about the red cup, though, gave me somewhat of an appreciation for her wit.  Even if a staff writer came up with what she had to say, she executed it very nicely.  The quote that hit me was this, "The old cups had snow flakes, and Santa's sleigh, and elves.  You know - all the things you find in the Bible."  This in no way pokes fun at Scripture, but it does put into perspective how the religious/secular natures of Christmas have gotten all messed up and have become blurred.  Yes, Christmas began with the celebration of Christ's birth, but it's also celebrated as a secular holiday by many folks who aren't Christian and I do not begrudge them that. 

For many centuries we, Christians, have co-existed relatively peacefully with other religions.  Oh, yes.  Let there be no doubt that we acted shamefully at times throughout history.  We led violent purges against others, and acted complacently when others were being persecuted while we sat back and watched, but eventually we came to our senses.  We had our Christmas and nobody seemed to think we were somehow being out of line with all of our celebrating.  For a long time others tolerated, dare I even suggest enjoyed the festive nature of our wreaths, our trees, our creches even on "public" lands, our Santa traditions, our holly, and ivy, and carols, and I don't think we were bringing Western civilization to its knees.

Then, along came one particular religion that shall remain nameless here, which for some reason all the others felt a need to defer to.  The die-hard liberals made it such that we found it necessary to step back, bow down, and kow-tow to its adherents in spite of their holy book being full of hatred and urgings toward violence until every one of us becomes one of them.  Yeah, that pisses me off.  Should we really abandon Christmas and the way of life that believing the birth of Christ was something special demands because somebody might be "offended" by it?  Hell, no!  But I don't think that's what Starbucks is suggesting we do.

One Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of Design and Content has this to say.  "In the past we have told stories with our holiday cup designs.  This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.  Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays.  We're embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it.  It's (a) more open way to usher in the holiday."

Really?  A sanctuary?  Starbucks?  That's the kind of bullshit writing I should have majored in.  Marketing, do they call that?  Public relations?  It's like lawyer-speak, but even more blatantly dishonest.

I have long said that if the mission statement (And I'd dearly love to strangle the jackass who invented the useless mission statement in the first place.) of any company doesn't start with, "To make as much money as possible by...," then it's dishonest.  If the big wigs at Starbucks think that using this plain red cup will increase their holiday sales, God bless them.  It's not their business to honor, respect, promote or otherwise acknowledge in a positive light any particular religious tradition.  It's their business to fatten the pots of their stockholders.  But...  If the red cup either positively or negatively impacts their sales, we're in a sorrier state as a species than I'd ever have believed.