Rearview Mirrored Reflections: Infirmity

 

A life limiting, invisible infirmity can necessitate becoming a mere spectator when you’re aching to be back in the game.

To avoid making an already bad situation worse requires…

• Listening to your head and not your heart.

• Saying, “no” when you yearn to say, “yes”.

• Your endless, uttered in same breath, “I’m sorrys”.

One begins to wonder which pain is worse…

• The physical manifestations, themselves, or the awkward conversations regarding them?

• Disappointing others or feeling disappointed in oneself?

As tempting as it might be to present a brave front to the world… to lead as positive a life as is humanly possible… to perhaps even employ mind over matter tactics to deal with your disability… this can only act as a dual edged sword.

How will you reply when everyone expects you to say “yes”… when you must say, “no”?

 

 

 

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Hoping for a Hoopless Life

 

This past May, it suddenly dawned on me how… with ever increasing frequency and annoyance… I’ve been jumping through too damned many big biz, billing department “hoops”… my “gymnastics routine” starting even prior to sliding the opener under each snail mailed letter’s flap.

It’s the ever-present need to avoid the following problems and issues, which present the hoops.

Hoop #1

May I have the envelope please? Envelopes festooned with advertisements and barcodes can easily be mistaken for junk mail… worthy of tossing… unopened… into the nearest recycling bin. Ironically, even the reminder: “IMPORTANT: Your monthly statement is enclosed!” could get lost amidst such clutter. As for the barcoding, itself, what gives? Might these, essentially, be an open invitation to identity theft? Were a scammer to aim a scanner, might he score some sensitive customer data?

Hoop #2

Addressing more envelope issues: Due to dinky envelopes, scissors and openers can easily damage the enclosed statement… maybe even the return stub and envelope.

Hoop #3

Save it for a sunny day: During cloudbursts, return envelopes get wet and self-seal… rendering them dysfunctional. True, nobody can control the weather, but, considering our plasticized everything existence, why can’t USPS mailbags be designed with protective flaps and made of waterproofed fabrics?

Hoop #4

Two bad timing issues: [1] While Friday and Saturday USPS deliveries can mercifully coincide with a customer’s payday enriched checking account, try discussing… toot sweet… billing issues / errors when nobody will be back in the office until Monday. {2] Once a billing cycle ends, why do computer speed billing departments need 10+ days to get their bills into our hands? Getting our checks in the mail in a timely manner is a challenge when payment due dates only allow about a week… even less during December when the holiday glut of cards and gifts slow deliveries further. At risk, is being wrongfully socked with late payment penalties / interest fees and lowering one’s credit rating.

SIDEBAR #1: What’s a bill payer to do? Camp out at the mailbox, rudely snatch the envelope from the letter carrier’s hand and write out the check on the literal fly to the PO? To even attempt racing the four minute mile?

FYI FUN FACTS: As of 06/08/19, the World Records for the One Mile Race are held by male Hicham El Guerrouj (3:43.13) and female Svetlana Masterkova (4:12.56)
.

Hoop #5

Mad Madison Avenue: When advertising crap gets printed out on billing pages topped off with an account number, this requires wasting time to haul out the ol’ shredder.

Hoop #6

You do the math / phony phone charges: One needs to sift through the accountants’ fuzzy math, levied arcane fees / taxes and fine tooth comb the barristers’ fine print… as well as ensure there are no “accidentally” tacked on, never placed by you long distance phone calls.

SIDEBAR #2: Would it surprise anyone to even be charged for long distance calls to Mars… even though… to the best of our knowledge… it’s “ONLY US” in universe? Or is it?

Hoop #7

The numbers racket / writer’s cramp: Who cooks up those 16-digit customer / account numbers (oft loaded with a slew of place holding zeroes and ones)? Were a billing department to simply start account numbers at “1” and then go 2… 3… 4… etc., to get out to 16 digits, they’d need to have 1 Quadrillion customers… on a planet with “only” 7.7 Billion peeps!

The bill payers’ legitimate gripe: A 16-digit number handwritten on the face of a check requires a font so small, it’s nearly humanly impossible make it legible. Same problem re companies with names almost longer than the average length, pay-to-the-order-of line.

Hoop #8

I don’t do windows: Aligning the return stub so the company address fully appears in the return envelope’s window can be damn near impossible. Possessing Japanese Origami skills would be helpful when a too large pay stub needs a precision bottom fold… one measured in scant millimeters / sixteenths of inches. At the other extreme is the too small stub where the address insists on slipping beneath the window “sill”. Seeing how each billing department admonishes: “Don’t use tape, paper clips, staples, rubber bands” WTF other viable solution is there? Re-hydrated boogers? Uh… so sorry if I grossed anyone out.

Hoop #9

Addressing two return envelope issues: [1] Why should bill payers need to force feed a stub and check into a too dinky envelope? Why is flap glue so cheap it doesn’t assure a reliable seal? One can only hope that “no tape edict” is non-applicable under such circumstances. [2] Thinness of the paper is an identity thief’s dream come true. Not only does it tear open easily but a mere flashlight can render it see-thru.

Hoop #10

Filing cabinet paper glut: Ever notice how pay stubs are uncluttered, compact and thin, while the retained for our records portion of our bills are the exact opposite? To blame is the overabundance of advertisements intermingling with the account data. Such huckstering of exorbitantly priced devices / services is an ill-conceived, ill-timed business stratagem. I mean, psychologically speaking, who the hell is ever in the mood to take on additional debt on bill paying days?

Going Hoopless?

Checking account electronic debits do seem to be an obvious solution… BUT… even that can be fraught with woes. To e.g. that… what about criminal enterprises and clerical errors? In either eventuality, there are the prospects of tanked out bank balances, “rubberized” E-checks… and lest we forget… each bank shoveling on its own odious penalties.

Hoping for a Hoopless Life

Perhaps it’s time to pull up stakes? Head for the nearest wilderness refuge? Make a non utility metered cave this man’s castle? Under those circumstances, successfully placing a call would depend on only two things, [1] the sufficient decibel level of the sender and [2] being within earshot of the intended recipient… as humorously portrayed by the 97-year-young comedic genius / actor, Ms. Betty White, in the vid below…

The appropriate scene is cued to automatically PB at 11:55. Should that fail, merely FF to that point. BTW.. for those ISO plenty of LOL humor, rewind back to 0:00 and view this clip in its entirety… YES… it’s just that good!]

 

 

The Adventures of Harrison and Human (Chapter-1)

 

I could’ve sworn someone had just spoken to me in a near whisper…

“Pssst… hey human!”

Perhaps this was a mere figment of my imagination? Oh… say… my erroneously assigning human syntax and phonics to what was… in actuality… a mere, momentary wind gust rustling a nearby lilac thicket’s leaves? Well… I had no sooner summarily dismissed this as such a phenomenon than the unseen speaker spoke again… this time with added conviction and decibels…

“Hey! Over here!”

My ears now properly attuned, they advised a 180 spin. Pivoting on my heels… lo and behold… there he was! And most assuredly, this was no ordinary, up-at-the-crack-of-dawn passerby… no jogger or nature walker was he.

Indeed, amidst the stray sunbeam lit, verdant field of clover, sat an up on his haunches, uncharacteristically unskittish rabbit… sporting a dapper, multiple gradations of brown, furry coat and tails. Uh… correction… let’s make those “tails” one, fluffy, grayish-white cottontail.

Even though I could not immediately reconcile the contradictory aural / visual sensory input, at hand… there could be no denying his presence. But a talking rabbit? NO… I would not… could not… “go there!”

Was I actually starting to sense his amusement, too? I could not be certain. What was for fur sure? Being at a distinct psychological disadvantage.

Transfixed and momentarily speechless were we… he… casually chewing on the clover leaves within his twitching whiskered mouth… I… desperately ISO any signs of the human responsible for those uttered, two, brief sentences. But, with no such person in the vicinity, I began wondering if straitjackets are custom tailored or only a one size fits all / off the rack prospect.  Just when I thought my jaw could not drop any further… said he… omg… SAID HE?

“Yes… it really IS just you and me.”

Was his accompanying chortled chorus to mock or reassure me?

I could only hunker down with my mind’s “this cannot possibly be happening” utter disbelief. My mind? What mind?

There just had to be some logical explanation! At stake, was my very WordPress screen-name, CommonSenseTom… which I realized could soon be rendered nonsensical. It was then that… not unlike a TM mantra… I began recursively reminding myself…

“Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk!”

“Oh yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!”

… Mr. Rabbit’s reply clearly establishing that I had either, actually, vocalized my thoughts or he was a mind-reader, too. Quick as a bunny he added in a big voice inconsistent to his small, short stature… and with a New England accent, to boot…

“So sorry to get your wind up. Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Human. Allow me to introduce myself. Dr. Harrison Hare D-I-X. But do call me Harry… that sounds far less stuffy.”

“D-I-X? DIX as in Roman numerals? As in Harrison the 509th?”

“Hey… don’t look so shocked. A rabbit’s prolific nature is a fact of life… not some credulity contorting Urban Legend!”

Still doubting my sanity, while nonchalantly, softly humming the Jefferson Airplane’s classic rock tune, White Rabbit, I made a full 360 scan of the vicinity… this time ISO some cleverly hidden TV cameras. I was now actually entertaining the notion that I was EITHER getting punk’d OR some new network reality show had hired a dude to throw his voice rabbit-ward. Sensing that awkward silences could easily render the recorded “footage” unfit for cable, streaming, the airwaves, etc… that I could easily blow any chances for my big break into TV land fame and fortune… I decided to play along…

“Hey, Harry, has anybody ever told you your voice sounds just like John F. Kennedy’s?”

“No… but then again… I don’t normally talk with all that many humans. And speaking of talking… to whom do I have the pleasure of meeting on this balmy, late spring morn?”

“The name is Thomas BlogDonovich… no Roman numerals needed… and btw… Tom will suffice. I guess I’m glad to meet you, too.”

“Still unsure I’m really talking to you, huh?”

“Sure am… in fact your chosen word… balmy… likely better describes my mental state… uh… than this morn’s weather. I mean… a talking rabbit?”

“Not just A rabbit, friend Tom… ALL rabbits can talk!”

“So this is really happening and I’m not really losing it?”

“Tom… I assure you… this IS really happening! You must believe me, OK?

“I’m trying. I’m trying. But why… pray tell… have you chosen this particular time to break the ice? After all, we’ve been neighbors for nearly two decades.”

“The answer to your question IS you. You see, ever since late January`17 me and the Missus have found it damned near impossible to not overhear you constantly yelling back at your radio during NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered newscasts… namely… your name-calling and cussing… your calling out the deplorable words and deeds of THAT pathetic narcissistic horse’s ass.”

“Do you find that even remotely shocking?”

“No! Not at at all. It’s just that your excessively dwelling on that contemptible, corrupt creep is not healthy, my man. If you’d like, I do have my PhD in Psychology and am willing to talk you through these tough times… pro bono… you know… the same way liberal talk jockey Randi Rhodes counseled you, way back in 2004… the day after W got reelected.”

“You actually recall my long ago on air, nationwide conversation with Ms. Rhodes?”

“Sure do. And I really do want to help you.”

“But, not paying you just wouldn’t feel right.”

“Friend Tom, you haven’t been charging me… not even one penny… for the nearly 20 years my family and I have been grazing in your clover patch, either.”

“Touché… friend Harry… touché!”

Coming down from my momentary reverie about Ms. Rhodes… as well as still attempting to wrap my mind around this talking rabbit scenario did take a moment or two. And Harry did use that temporal opportunity to full advantage by chowing down another couple of mouthfuls of clover. Due to his nearly impeccable table manners he didn’t speak again until after his gulp and loud belch. Remember (ha ha) I did say, “nearly impeccable.”

“While rabbitkind is genuinely interested in your well-being, we must also keep our own best interests in mind. And, uppermost on the minds of every creature… great and small… is global environmental distress. It all boils down to this, Tom. Your survival in this hood IS our survival. Were you to ever leave us… perhaps even head for the hills ISO some hippie dippy commune… that’d mean a new property owner, here. And what would be the odds that he wouldn’t be a grass farmer who’s been brainwashed by the toxic chemicals spewing, lawn care industry?”

“And not even growing the type of grass he could harvest and hawk for profit.”

“Precisely!”

We both momentarily chuckled while slowly, horizontally swaying our heads in disbelief.

“Tom, the entire rabbit community deems your clover field a culinary sweet treat and rates your backyard a five star eatery. We would never, ever want some lawn farmer to poison it with weed killer.”

“The good news, Harry… I plan on staying put, right here, till fiscal / physical death do us part… whichever happens first. The bad news, naturally, is how our neighbors’ toxic “cocktails” of fertilizers / insecticides / herbicides / homicides respect neither my property lines nor anyone else’s. Worse yet, when they (ab)use products such as Roundup™ they may even be condemning both themselves and innocent bystanders to premature Cancerous DEATHS!

“Why oh why must so damned many humans be ISO the psychotically perfect, grass blades only lawn? And do take my word for it… such grass only biomes taste bad even before the nasty lawn chemical “salad dressing” gets poured on.”

“I know exactly what you’re talking about, too. Not too long ago, I purchased some broccoli, which tasted the way nasty lawn chemicals stink. With my first bite, I nearly puked.”

“TMI Tom… TMI!”

Just as another momentary wind gust rustles the nearby, lilac’s leaves, Harry looks at his tiny cell phone screen and exclaims…

‘To quote Alice’s white rabbit, ‘Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late!’ I gotta hurry home.”

“Me too. And albeit way too belated, I now officially and warmly welcome you to the neighborhood.”

“Thank you. Are you now a bit more convinced that we can really converse?”

“Well… friend Harry… it’s not my talking to you that’s unbelievable, it’s your talking to me. I mean… this REALLY DID happen, right?”

“Yes… friend Tom… this REALLY DID happen.”

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

Twinkle Twinkle Mega Star

Fancy experiencing a high tech, virtual encounter with a musical prodigy… courtesy of Al Gorithm and Otto Play… my humanizing nicknames for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm and autoplay tech.

Well, that’s precisely what had happened, recently, while viewing keyboardist extraordinaire Keith Emerson… best known for his legendary live and recorded performances with the rock ensemble ELP… an acronym representing the surnames of keyboardist Emerson, guitarist / vocalist Greg Lake and percussionist Carl Palmer.

On that fateful Friday evening, I had wandered off while this triumvirate was rapidly heading for yet another of their masterpiece concluding crescendos. It was while meandering back through the dimly lit corridor, that I could already hear the next video featuring a key, keyboard selection from yet another ELP classic… The Endless Enigma.

Imagine my jaw dropping, “Oh Wow” mouthed speechlessness upon re-seating myself at my computer and discovering that [1] Emerson was seated nowhere near his stock in trade, spectacular keyboard array and [2] this note for note perfection was being accomplished by a heretofore, unknown to me, keyboard virtuoso, Ms. Rachel Flowers…

Seeing this confident young woman’s nimble fingers so skillfully spanning the entire keyboard was as if she’d been possessed… in the very best of ways… by the spirit of the recently passed away Emerson…who just happens to be a hero of hers (and mine, too).

Imagine my teary eyed response upon later learning that Ms. Flowers had overcome some of life’s toughest challenges.

Those difficulties get backdated to December 21, 1993, the day she had made her grand entrance into our world… 15 weeks early and weighing a scant 0.595 kgs / 1 lb 5 oz. Then, 3 months later, yet another medical complication arose… Retinopathy of Prematurity… which denied Rachel her eyesight.

Her parents Dan and Jeanie did all they could to encourage their daughter to stay positive and make the most of her life. Her mom even introduced her (then) 2-year-old girl to the joys of music… seated her at their piano to teach her how to play her very first song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Rachel picked up on the melody quite quickly. Soon, her pitch perfect ear allowed her to recreate whatever songs she fancied. A keyboard star was born… and on the rise.

By age 4 1/2… younger than a kindergartner… Rachel began her formal training at Southern California Conservatory of Music where her studies included piano, music theory, ear training, music history, Braille music code, and adaptive computer music applications. [My thanks to Wikipedia for supplying Rachel’s biographical info]

And the rest… as they say… is Her-story. She’s accomplished so much in life that the easiest ways for us to learn more about her music, life and times is to type in her name to initiate both Internet and YouTube searches. BTW, do plan on finding veritable hours worth of inspirational reading and listening enjoyment.

The Rachel Flowers Story is all about the indomitable human spirit and living life to the fullest. She is the embodiment of those qualities. For proof, one look no further than seeing her ear to ear grin and jumping for joy while seated on the piano bench at the conclusion of many of her performances. Such reactions are as integral to her piano recitals as the music itself! Her happiness is our happiness!

One shudders upon the realization that, had she been born in an earlier era, she’d have been denied her chance at beating the nearly overwhelming medical odds… that we’d have been denied being eye and ear witnesses to the musical genius of Rachel Flowers… The Personification of Joy.

I cannot imagine a better way to wrap up this post than for us to express our appreciation…

Bravo Rachel! Encore! Encore! Encore!

 

 

 

Eschewing French Press Brewing

 

An Average Joe Jury-Rigs the Perfect Cup of Joe

 

Several mornings ago… for the 3rd time in 15 years… I broke my glass and metal framework French Press. Since it had been [1] far too early in the a.m. to hit my local mall ISO either an entirely new brewer (or… preferably… the replaceable, highly specialized glass beaker) and [2] this average joe’s breakfast could never be complete sans my usual cup of joe, I had to improvise.

My light bulb over the noggin moment… hauling out one of my 0.95 Liter / 1-Quart lidded saucepans, spooning out the coffee and then guesstimating (btw, correctly) how much boiling water to pour from my kettle, I was in biz.

15 minutes later… employing my rock steady hand and eagle eye, (ever so carefully) I poured…

Imagine my surprise when, by breakfast’s end, I discovered zero coffee grounds at the bottom of my mug! Indeed, in one mere morning, my jury-rigged java maker and cautiousness had succeeded where a poorly designed device had repeatedly failed for a decade and a half!

As is true for any run experiment… the question then became, was my success repeatable? Well… after many morns of groundless coffee, I know this to be grounds for eschewing French Press brewing.

Beyond that…

1. Is settling for / sticking with the unsatisfactory status quo… year in / year out… any way to go through life?

2. Considering how for eons, coffee consumers, worldwide, have been resorting to brewing methods involving methodologies and technologies even more complicated than that of a French Press, one has to wonder why we needlessly clutter our lives with contraptions and make so much extra work for ourselves?

3. Were we to truly apply ourselves, how many other areas of our lives could we successfully simplify?

 

 

 

Ashes to Ashes… StarDust to StarDust… May 21st BlogCast

My thoughts…

Ancient stardust are we, ashore oceans and shoals
Our love eternal, soars skyward, to departed souls
They live on in our hearts, we, too, feel their pure love
Interwoven with starlight, from the heavens above

 

PianistaItaliano covers Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust

Rob Steinberg covers Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

Ms. Mitchell’s lyrical thoughts…

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ill-Mannered Man ~ A Parable

 

Once upon a time… in the Land of Reality… there lived an ill-mannered man who was oblivious to the obvious… namely… that his overbearing, obnoxious, mean demeanor… the very boorish characteristics, which had impressed his equally boorish boss… were impressing nobody else!

Indeed… such dubious qualities were not even qualities at all. As such, his (so-called) profession’s service to society could only prove to be a disservice. Worse yet, he could not even begin to fathom how he had become his own worst enemy. Beyond a shadow of a doubt… his deplorable behavior was precisely the reason why few, if any, respectable folks ever wanted to do biz with him… why virtually nobody ever wanted to even welcome him into their lives.

He was the classic, textbook example of the peddling shoddy wares, door-to-door, high-pressure salesman. And… whenever he came a knockin’… that’s when the “fit” really hit the “shan”!

Anyone who had made the fatal error of ever opening their doors… even slightly… soon learned… the hard way… that he’d jam in his foot. Even when folks applied sufficient pressure to make him take one step backwards… long enough to moan out his, “OUCH!”… his role as a bad actor was far from over. He’d come back again and Again and AGAIN to camp out on their doorsteps for days, weeks… even months.

While the victimized folks could’ve… indeed should’ve… summoned the constable… well… since it was too easy to simply close their doors’ curtains… well… that’s as far as everything usually went. They figured this pest would eventually go away… after all… nobody could possibly be so dense… so insensitive… as to not realize that NO means NO!

Right?
Wrong!

One day… as a parade just happened to be marching down the street… with the flash of a thick wad of cash… the ill-mannered man managed to spirit away the living-on-a-shoestring, big bass drum player. At that point, both proceeded to shout inward to the tenants… in unison, repetitiously and at the top of their lungs… WE WON’T LEAVE! LET US INSIDE! He even pounded his clenched fist on the door to keep time with the banging away drummer… all of this attaining a decibel level that could’ve raised the dead.

Human nature being what it is… the ill-mannered man’s ill-conceived plot… his orchestrated, socially unacceptable taunts could only make this duo’s presence all the more unwelcome.

Soon the constant, cumulative vibrations began to severely rattle both the tenants’ nerves and their entire domicile… to the point where their heads exploded and their no longer happy home came crashing down. They could not possibly survive. And… not being able to step back in time… even the ill-mannered man met a similar fate.

However… the news wasn’t all bad. The big bass drum player wound up the sole survivor. And in a flash… he did feel remorse over his having ever become a party to such an ugly scene. In the days to come… having learned his lesson well… he even managed to track down and rejoin his marching band… to re-enter the parade of life… to once again… play joyous sounding music to the masses.

And with the ill-mannered man having been hoisted by his own petard… everybody within the Land of Reality lived happily ever after.

 

The morals to our story…

If you’re strapped for cash, don’t be tempted by the fast buck’s lure.

If you’re ill-mannered, don’t ever expect principled, civilized persons to cozy up to you.