Category Archives: Just for fun

The bear in me

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to sleep through the winter. When the air turns cold and the snow falls, I want to curl up and sleep until spring. I have also noticed that I have a craving for carbs during the cold. I think that, like a bear, my body wants to store up fat for the long sleep or at least insulate me from the surrounding cold. I am not sure, but it might be the decrease in serotonin that happens naturally in the winter months. Carbohydrate rich foods can increase serotonin production temporarily. But I am sticking with the bear analogy.

I am continually amazed at the separate intelligence that our body has. It’s incredible that our bodies regulate temperature, balance salt and water levels, and create cravings in an effort to get what it needs. Even when I sleep, my body continues its thousands, perhaps millions of functions. I don’t have to think about it, yet my brain is constantly busy. I wonder if bears dream. I hope so, sleeping all winter gives you lots of time.

I’ve been trying to combat my cravings for carbs with more protein. It’s working until the afternoon, then the compulsion for something sweet really kicks in. I will admit that I do sometimes succumb to the prodding. Now, how to I set my alarm for early spring?

Ceasless Wonderment

I have embarked on an online study program for nutrition and I signed up for a second class to learn about plant-based nutrition. I have always had an incredible thirst for learning. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more to learn. If God gives me 5,000 years to live on this earth, I still don’t think I would run out of things to learn about. In that time, there would be more discoveries, more understanding, rethinking things that were once thought to be understood as well as the social, civil and moral changes that would take place.

The universe is a ceaseless source of wonderment. Think back, if you will, to a time when you were just a child. Things were magic then. You could imagine anything at all. You could see castles, dragons, jungles and pirates on the sea. The magic was all around you and most importantly, the magic was in you. It was that wonderment that made you appreciate the most mundane thing. A cardboard box could magically become a boat, a car, a lion’s cage or a treasure chest.

We think that when we set aside those types of thoughts that we become more mature, a grown up. But really, you can bring that magic with you even today. It just takes being mindful of what is around you, paying attention to the moment, savoring the experience.

Since I started my grain free diet, I have a better appreciation for the food that I eat. I taste it. I experience the texture, the taste while it is in my mouth and the finish after I swallow. It is magical. That attention to the food helps me pay attention to other areas in my life. While I am hiking with my son, or walking through the parks with my dog, I am awed by the diversity the universe affords us. The vast number of plants, insects, wildlife that abounds. It makes each walk an incredible journey in the intelligence of nature, the infinite touch of God.

Even as we strive to understand quantum physics, genetic expression, and the human mind, each discovery leads to more questions and more opportunity to be in awe of what is around us. And just as we do understand some universal law, we can find exceptions. Everything in the universe expands when it is heated and contracts when it is cooled – everything that is except for water. Water expands when it is heated and when it freezes. The reason and mechanism is an understanding beyond me. It is magic.

Magic can be the awe of those things that are not yet understood. Rabbits come from magician hats and if you put two of them in a closet, you find 200 when you open the door 10 minutes later. That’s how it works in the cartoons. But really, the universe has such incredible diversity, that there is no one person that could possibly learn everything there is to learn. But, I promise, that as long as I am able and cognitively aware, I will wear myself out trying to learn more and more. Knowing that all that I learn will show me how much I have left to learn. In the global library of knowledge, I know next to nothing. But what I do know I hope will settle in my heart as wisdom.

Be in the moment, pay attention to what is around you and do forget the magic that fills every day. Heck, I think that just waking up in the morning is such a blessing. It means that I get to enjoy another day in God’s incredible creation and experience the ceaseless diversity and wonderment that waits for me.

Who am I?

In my workplace, they have announced that there will be layoffs soon. This will be the third time in 4 years. This time it is a little different, the previous layoffs were for staff reductions. The current layoff is due to outsourcing the department that I work in.

We still don’t know when, just why. As I try to uplift my fellow employees, as I was their supervisor until the last layoff, I try to focus on their talents and potential. During one very serious discussion, we spoke about who we were. There are lots of long term employees who are nervous about the upcoming cuts. I have 30 years in service. With so many years in service, many are unsure what they might do, or even can do. I reminded them that they are not what they do. Something I had to realize several years ago.

I shared with them that I once was very ill and that I felt that I could not continue working the position that I had. I told my manager at the time that I could not continue in that position and understood perfectly that he would need to replace me. I was ready to move on to whatever path awaited me, but my manager offered me another position that was less physically demanding and I remained with the company.

I came to grips that what we do isn’t necessarily what we are or who we are. Employers will find others to fill our positions. But the person we are cannot easily be replaced. I am a: father, son, brother, husband, friend, citizen, uncle, nephew, cousin, student, teacher, mentor, mentee, worshipper, and even a sinner. I am all these things. So even if I am chosen to leave my employ, I am still me. I will just have to seek other ways to use my energy and talents. I’m thinking about going back to school. But I will have to wait and see what will happen. Until then I will concentrate on who I am, my potential, my talents, my passions. I am me.

Is Messiness a Character Flaw?

Hi. My name is Harry and I am a slob. If you were to compare my life with the Odd Couple of years past, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, I am very much like Oscar. Also, like that same couple, the other side of the relationship, my wife, is neat and organized. I do not go out of my way to annoy her with my disorganization but it happens that way.

For some people, a bed freshly made in the morning is the perfect beginning of the day. It makes all things right in the world. Humanity can continue on its journey forward. But it really makes no difference to me if the bed is made or not. It doesn’t even occur to me that an unmade bed has any impact in my day.

Clutter does not bother me. I do not like filth, but I do not mind clutter. I have always been disorganized. I was always scolded by my teachers for being disorganized. I could never remember the combination to my locker (so I jammed the lock, so it wouldn’t fully lock). My desk at work is a mess, but I get my work done, meet deadlines and exceed expectations. Albert Einstein quipped, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

“We have a tendency to think of messiness as a character flaw, but these people are generally more productive than neat people since they spend more time getting things done than they do straightening up,” David H. Freedman explains. “Plus, they’re often more imaginative than neater folks, since creative people usually find a bit of clutter to be stimulating and expressive.” David Freedman and Eric Abrahamson were co-authors of the book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place

So, is messiness a character flaw? Maybe, but I do not think so. Are messy people immoral? You know, the whole cleanliness is next to godliness thing. I do not think that is the case either. I honestly think it is just how my brain works. It just may be that I am constantly distracted by more interesting things, at least more interesting than tidying up. Or, maybe, the cost of tidying up may be less than the potential benefits. On one occasion at work, an employee was filing daily order papers, in order, after entering them into the computer system. The organizing, sorting and filing took about an hour out of her day. Almost no one ever needed to see those papers. I changed the system to a 31 day file, where she simply stuck all the papers in the file, unsorted, by day. Searching once in a while took a few minutes to half an hour, but it saved 20 hours of filing each month.

Neat people are fine too. The organizations help them feel in control. I know I control very little and I am in no way interested in being the general manager of the universe. My wife has files and places and she likes to know that everything is where it should be. I depend on her organization skills and am very glad she has them. As a side note, almost everything I put in a place so it would not get lost ends up never found. I almost always forget where that perfect place was. Oh well, it certainly is safe from me.

I think the difference is personality and how our minds are wired. I have accepted that I am messy. I am happy to be me. If you are neat, then I am happy that you are. It would be really great if we were accepted as we are. Sure, we have flaws, we all need to improve. I do make the bed because it makes my wife happy, not because it means anything to me. Making the bed really is an act of love. Besides, I’m just going to mess it up again later when I crawl into it. Such is life. This is Oscar, signing off.

Endangered Cashieria Walmartii

I saw one, no, I take that back. I saw two specimens of the endangered Cashieria Walmartii. They were in their nests, but sadly, the nearly two dozen nests around them were empty. Some of the other seers were waiting their turn to feed them. I am sure that each of the seers were wishing there were more. They appear to be on the brink of extinction. I am not sure what can be done to increase their population. They seem to be driven out by the growing flocks of Selfus Registerii.

Near my sighting today, I saw a flock of the Selfus Registerii. They were much fewer in number several weeks ago. The management of the retail park placed a large box on one end of the Cashieria Walmartii nests. It sported signs announcing new construction and remodeling. But it was not to be the benefit of the Cashieria Walmartii. Inside that huge box, the Selfus Registerii were breeding. They are not without their fans. They beeped much like the Cashieria Walmartii. The seers rewarded them by feeding them cards, slips of colored paper and round pieces of metal which they eagerly consumed. Just as the Cashieria Walmartii, the Selfus Registerii thanked their feeders with bits of white paper.

I hope that the Cashieria Walmartii will find a way to survive in the wilds of the retail park.

Fear of the Water

I like water. I like water that is very warm, in a Jacuzzi tub, with relaxing music and candlelight. I also like cold water to drink. I don’t mind warmed swimming pools as long as I can touch the bottom. I am not a strong swimmer.
Very recently, my wife and I were invited to a cottage by the water. I thought it was the ocean but it was actually Long Island Sound. We were in southern Connecticut. I have not visited ocean like water many times before. I took my children to the Delaware state beaches about 3 times and maybe visited Maryland beaches a couple of times. Even though I was raised not that far from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, my family did not leave the farm very often. I have never been comfortable around water.
Our hosts at the cottage took us to a private beach. There was only one or two people in the water but lots of people sunning themselves. A child scooped up a jellyfish from the edge of the beach. A responsible adult from the child’s party, ran out to the girl and took the net from her, warning the girl of the danger the jellyfish might pose to her.
Our host dived in and announced that the water was perfect. I built up my courage to approach the shore and move into the water. The water was a bit cool, but what really prevented my entry was the presence of a jellyfish near me, and another about 6 feet beyond that one. A swimmer emerged from the water holding his elbow declaring that he was stung by a little jellyfish. Well, that was more than enough warning for me to stay away from the water.
Am I afraid of the water? Yes. Should I be afraid of the water? Probably not. But this experience certainly did not help me overcome my fears of drowning or injury in the water.
I am glad that so many receive so much enjoyment from frolicking in the water. I enjoy watching them have fun. But as for me, I think I’ll stay on the beach. At least until I build up enough courage to try again.
The cottage was wonderful. Our hosts were wonderful. It was a great weekend. I am thankful that we were invited.

Nature’s Splendor

I was on vacation from work last week. I took this opportunity to explore nature’s splendor. I did not visit my favorite botanical gardens this year as I have done the last 30-some years. That would be Longwood Gardens; in Kennett Square, PA. It is a beautiful expanse of gardens and conservatory in the Brandywine Valley.

I took a 7 mile hike with my son at Letchworth Park, the Grand Canyon of the East. We hiked the Gorge trail which followed the gorges carved out by ancient glaciers. We saw waterfalls, cliffs and some smaller forest animals. It was a wonderful way to connect to nature, the awe of creation and spend time with my son.

Next, my son and I drove several hours to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH. It is an incredibly beautiful conservatory, combining passionately designed floral exhibits accented with the glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. And if that were not enough, the conservatory also has a wonderful Butterfly area in the Pacific Island Water Garden. So we saw the splendor, beauty and diversity of both flowers and butterflies. It was truly a living rainbow of colors. The breezeway of the conservatory had a zen garden with koi pond and bonsai trays on placed tables.

Lastly, I visited the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Buffalo, NY. It has a three dome conservatory building holding 12 different areas. It has the largest collection of English Ivy in the US. I loved their Bonsai collection. They did have a rose garden but they were fading in the heat. Our own roses have come and gone as well.

I really enjoy botanical gardens. It just blows me away as to the incredible colors, shapes, and varieties. The diversity of the design contained in them is almost too awesome to comprehend.

In a world where we are reminded everyday of the gloominess, the darkness of humanity, it is so incredibly refreshing to see such splendor in colors and beauty. It is refreshing to know that there IS beauty in the world. You can see the passion put into the floral and artwork exhibits. You could feel the beauty of their souls and their vision. There is good in the world and it is all around us.

My trip allowed me to see very concrete examples of beauty but I know that beauty occurs every day, everywhere. It is not lost on me the beauty of a spouse when they make dinner for the family. The beauty of a parent cheering on their child. And let us not forget the beauty of those millions of random acts of kindness that occur every day.

Where’s my signal?

I was traveling with my wife over the past week. I was surprised of the disparity of cell phone and internet service that we experienced. I am accustomed to having quick internet and strong cell phone signals. At our last stop, we were very near the crown of a mountain top in Naples, NY, we were beyond cell phone signals unless we went to the apex of the hill. I am guessing that cell phone towers were on the north side of the mountain and we were shielded. The Inn owner had satellite service but the rain caused pictures to scramble and internet connections to drop. I was much more interested in the internet connection.

After visiting a winery, we stopped at a small café in Prattsburg, NY. The café was one store front along a long row of businesses on Main Street. My GPS announced that there was no data connection. The waitress of the café verified that this town had no cell phone service. I was amazed.

This is in stark contrast to Intercourse, PA in Lancaster County. This land was filled with Amish farms. Amish buggies and wagons were moving up and down the road regularly. We stayed next to a bank where we saw the Amish park their buggies and walk up to the drive up window. The driver held the horses while the female passenger safely climbed aboard. I found that akin to holding open the car door for my wife. We drove out to the country to see the sights. We were in the middle of Amish farmland. Surrounded by farms, we had 4G LTE signal.

I depend on my Android GPS when we travel away from home. I find it quite useful. It took me a while to move into the cellular age years ago. I was not an early adopter. I now find it a valuable tool. It is a great source of information. I feel safer with it as I can call for help wherever I am (as long as there is signal). I have used it to call in a downed power line that was lying across the road. I have used it to help others contact help. It definitely has its positive uses.

I arrived home today. I have lots of signal. I found my signal is where my heart and love is, in my home.

Healthy Laughter

You have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. There is truth in this statement. There are many benefits of laughter, and the best part is that it is mostly free. You might buy a movie ticket to a new comedy or pay to see a comedian, but mostly, you can harvest laughs around you. You might even laugh at yourself. I know that I sometimes laugh at myself.

You might know people who easily laugh, both at themselves and the absurdities of life. Spend time with them, their laughter is contagious. Count your blessings, it is easier to be positive and enjoy life when you don’t concentrate on what you don’t have. And if you are one of those who laughs easier, feel free to ‘infect’ others with smiles and laughter. You will be exercising their souls.

I find that laughing allows me to see situations more realistically. Often the crisis of the moment won’t matter at all months from now. Adding humor to the situation may help keep it from becoming overwhelming.

Sharing laughter helps us keep our relationships fresh. It usually strengthens the bonds that we have with others. It can help heal resentments and hurts. I enjoy laughing with Theresa. We watch romantic comedies, silly Bollywood movies and comedy shows. Sharing laughter helps us relax, attracts us to each other, and adds joy to our lives.

Trigger the release of endorphins often through laughter. Endorphins are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Their release promote an overall sense of well-being. This release of endorphins has also been known to reduce pain. Laugh every day and laugh often.

A turtle was walking down the street when he was mugged by a gang of snails. When the police officer asked him to explain what happened, the turtle admitted, “I’m not really sure, it all happened so fast.”

The Magic Isn’t Gone

I watched a movie last night called the Secret of the Wings. I wish I could have watched it with all the ones I love. Not because the movie was so wonderful, it was a good movie, but because it had magic. I am not talking about the kind of magic that witches have or the magicians want to trick us with, but the magic of the imagination.

Some would relegate this kind of movie to children. I believe that we should be reminded daily that the awe and wonder that we had as children is just as important and wonderful today as adults. We seem to be so busy and preoccupied that we miss out on the magic that happens all around us.

If we have young children or grandchildren or otherwise interact with small children, you will see that spark in their eyes as they explore the wonder around them. Think about the magic of the machine that dispenses frozen custard or the other machine that dispenses cash. As an adult you know that there is no magic but to a child, it is almost miraculous. And it is miraculous, these everyday occurrences started out as an idea in someone’s imagination. Through talent and perseverance, these things came into being. I think that is magic.

Every snowflake that falls is magic; the flowers that burst from the ground in spring fill the air and our views with magical splendor. The birds exercise their magic of flight and the children chasing butterflies exercising the magic of creation and beauty.

My children are grown. I may have grandchildren one day and if I do, I will enthusiastically explore all the wonder and magic with them. So many people complain about how the media is so wicked that all TV and movies should be done away with. Yet, I feel that there is some  good there. There are stories of love, family, courage and determination in all different forms if we care to look for them.

I enjoy “children’s” movies and programming. It reminds me to be childlike in my wonder and awe of everything around me. It reminds me to look for beauty and miracle. Yes, life is hard, it can be miserable. But life can also be filled with beauty, wonder and magic. So don’t be afraid to watch a “children’s” movie, even if you don’t have children or youngsters around. Have the attitude of looking for the magic that you once had or may still have from your childhood.

A life without magic, wonder and awe can be very dark indeed. To block out magic is to stifle the spirit. It has been said through the ages and in many ways to stop and smell the flowers. There is much for our senses to observe. Look for the magic there because the magic isn’t gone, just not always believed or remembered.