Monthly Archives: November 2009

Left, Right and then Left again.

    By now, most of us know that the highest price items in the market are usually at eye and chest level.  Our eyes just naturally look ahead.  Therefore, we have trained ourselves to scan the other shelves.  We learn to read from left to right.  We naturally scan the shelves from left to right and rest at the right side.  This is a perfect place to put the higher priced items of the less premium brands.  Before deciding on the product on the right, scan again to the left side to get a truer picture of the pricing.  Marketing science exploits natural behaviors.  It is best to be aware of the tactics so that you can be an informed consumer.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.



I am thankful for everything that My Creator has provided.

I am thankful for all the caring shown by those who love me.

I am thankful for income tax because it means that I’ve made money.

I am thankful for my retirement account for it is a cushion for my future.

I am thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes because it meant that I had food to eat.

I am thankful for a hamper full of dirty clothes because it means that I have clothes to wear.

I am thankful for my mortgage because it means I have a home.

I am thankful for my pets and friends who always make me feel accepted.

I am thankful to my enemies because it gives me greater appreciation for my friends and loved ones.

I am thankful for my medicine because God gave some the talent to heal.

I am thankful for my job because it allows me to provide for my family.

I am thankful for you because you are a special person and the world deserves to know you as you are truly meant to be.


When 20+20=36

   No, I didn’t fail math and the marketers hope you didn’t either.  This  works when you approach  a sale sign that says, “Save 20% on this item! Today only, take another 20% off the discounted price!”

   “Wow,” you think to yourself, “I’ll save 40% if I buy this today.”

   So, you purchase this fantastic deal.  You check your receipt and find that it just doesn’t seem right.  But alas, it is.  You just didn’t realize that 20+20=36.  Our primo product here costs $100.  After the initial 20% discount, you pay $80.  This is simple and straightforward.  However, today, you get 20% additional discount “off the discounted price.”  That is the kicker.  You save 20% of $80, which is an additional $16 discount.  Your total discount is 36%.  The final cost of your primo product is $64, not the $60 you had expected.

   There is no deceit here; it’s just that you added the two numbers together in your head immediately, which is exactly what the marketers wanted you to do.

   This is not wrong, nor is it a bad deal.  Just be aware of the tactics that marketers use to separate you from your money.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.


Lessons from Death – Conclusion?

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   Unlike my mother’s sudden departure where I had difficulty accepting her death, I had let go of my father.  I was at peace with his passing.  I do miss him of course.  I also miss my mother.

   Some families truly come together during funerals.  There is an urge to reconnect to family in the view of the loss.  It represents changes in relationships and family dynamics.  Funerals can remind us of our own inevitable fate and the preciousness of those left alive.  For most of us, the death of someone close causes us to reflect on their lives as well as our own.  Our minds sort through the memories and amplify the attached emotions.  We remember the good in them.  The recollections give us comfort.  Missing my parents is a reminder of how much they meant to me. 

   Life is precious and fragile.  Life can begin and end in moments.  Death is not just for the aged.  Accidents, violence, and disease can take us from the world at any age.  Life IS a precious thing.  Those we love are precious, precious enough to warrant our time and presence.  The little things that really don’t matter fill our lives until we are too busy for anyone, including ourselves.  Watching life slowly losing its grip on my father made many things seem very unimportant.  This is a lesson I am still learning.  It takes practice.  It takes time.  Each of us is allotted just 24 hours each day.  Decide who and what are important and then pay attention.

   I watched my father seek moments that were filled with life, while his own was slipping away.  Add to the lives of those you care about.  Take time to let people know you care.  Life is to be shared; live it.  Life is finite; share it now.  Life is precious; appreciate it.  What is most important is that we live life so that we are fulfilled so that we can help others live until they just can’t live anymore.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.


Lessons from Death – Part Five

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   The older of my sisters (they are both younger than me) drove to Upstate NY to be with her father. My younger sister refused to come, her pain and anger kept her from her father’s side.

   On my father’s last day among us, he seemed to perk up just a bit. He held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “Don’t worry, Harry, I’m going to be all right.” I was so relieved. He made it through another storm. He laid back and smiled. He died just a few hours later in my arms.

   Just minutes before his death, my sister had gone to my home to rest from her long trip. After saying “I love you, Dad; I’ll miss you,” into his ear as he passed. I felt his body collapse. I thought about my older sister. I ran to the lobby and frantically called her on my cell phone. I was so afraid she would be upset. I was wrong. She WAS upset that he passed but not upset that she wasn’t there. She told me that Dad knew she wouldn’t want to watch him die so he waited until she left. I am not sure if that was true but I accepted it as so.

   The nurses did some quick paperwork. They called a grief counselor for me. We hugged and cried. I went to the hospital chapel, still in tears, and prayed. God answered, “Don’t worry, Harry, he’s going to be all right.” I let go of my selfish desire to keep my father here on earth and gladly gave him over to my God. I hope God puts him in a garden. He was always happy in a garden.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Conclusion?


Lessons from Death – Part Four

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   Just before my father’s final ambulance ride, I woke up and made my way to the kitchen as I did every morning. I was startled to find my father, folded against his bed face down. I immediately went to him, dropping to my knees. I shook him. He responded with a weak moan. I thanked God he was alive. How long had he been like that? Minutes? Hours? I had no idea. I called 9-1-1. They asked how long he had been down. I could only answer that I didn’t know.

   Within a few hours, my father was alert. By that time, he was getting IV fluids and a blood transfusion. He kept asking me what had happened. I had no answers for him. He could not recollect anything that had happened. As far as he knew, he just woke up in the hospital.

   He was admitted to the hospital for observation. This began his final week among us. My father actually seemed to be doing well. Phew! We thought, another crisis over. It seemed as though we had just breathed a sigh of relief when my father developed a high fever. The doctors and nurses worked hard to control his raging infection. His immune system had already been compromised. He just couldn’t fight it.

   A health proxy, completed much earlier, stated his wishes against feeding tubes and artificial ventilation in favor of a natural passing. A “do not resuscitate” order was already in place. I tell you this because he refused to eat. I agonized between letting him refuse nutrition or forcing him to eat. I tried to feed him fortified pudding but he begged me to stop. I felt helpless. He told me, “Harry, I just can’t do this anymore.” Now, I really felt helpless.

   His doctor held a conference with my girlfriend, my sons, and me. He explained that all they were doing was not affecting the outcome. I made the very difficult decision to honor my father’s wishes and allow him a natural death. He would be made as comfortable as possible until the end. I was letting him go. I desired to and hated to. The anguish of it all stunned me. I would learn later that my youngest sister considered my decision “the killing of her father.” She no longer talks to me.

   The next contribution to this series describes the final letting go and my initial misunderstanding of my father’s last words to me.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Five


Lessons from Death – Part Three

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   The sudden request from my father to move in with us caught me off guard. He was to be released from the rehabilitation center two days after he asked to live with me. My sister packed some of his things. She put together his finances so that I could take those with me. He had only been to Upstate NY once before. He always thought it was too far to drive. Somehow, it was much closer for me to drive to Maryland with my car packed with luggage, wife, and kids. In his mind, I’m sure I did live closer to him than he did to me.

   He enjoyed the trip. I believe he saw it as a new adventure. He seemed more energetic and excited as we drew near to our destination. After an eight-hour ride, we arrived at my home, a home my father had never seen before. He seemed pleased with his new surroundings. The very next day he was planning to turn my back yard into a garden. I had to explain to him that the park that I live in had certain restrictions concerning gardens. I told him that I would think of something.

   My father loved western shows and movies. Luckily, our cable company had a channel dedicated to such a genre. The livingroom TV was set to that station for him. He never did get the hang of the remote. I went to the library and signed out large print books for him to read. I spent most of my time that week preparing our livingroom to be a proper place for my father to stay. He had much more energy than I had expected. His spirits were greatly lifted. He begged to help with the cooking. I was very pleased to witness what I thought was a recovery. I assembled a team of doctors for his care.

   A newsletter was designed and published so that it could be sent to his friends (they weren’t all dead afterall) and family so everyone could be informed as to his progress. A new edition of the newsletter went out every two or three weeks. I purchased an amplified phone so that loved ones could call. He was very hard of hearing and did not have much luck with those “fangled” hearing aids.

   He did surprisingly well until Spring, his favorite time of year. That is when the planting begins. He had supported himself with a cane, but the cane no longer proved sufficient. We borrowed a wheelchair for him. He was so disappointed. He wanted to be in the garden, any garden. My neighbor told me about square foot gardening as an alternative. It was a great idea. Then God improved on the idea – He inspired me to think garden tables! Take the square foot garden idea and elevate it to a level that would accept a wheelchair. My father was so happy. He brightened up again. He was just like a child with a brand new toy.

   He didn’t see much of the harvest from those tables. He grew ever tired and more ill shortly after working on the garden tables. I realize now that his excitement and energy was much like a bulb that burns ever brighter before going dim. His illness finally caught up with him. Soon he would have his last ride in an ambulance.

   Doing all this for my Dad was a wonderful task and a loving struggle. The most profound lesson I learned from this is that you don’t help people die, you help them live until they just can’t live any more.

   The next contribution will explore his last days and the incredible preciousness of life and letting go. Until next time, take care, stay well and be safe.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Four