You can never have enough cups of coffee with people

Happy Valentine’s Day. To honor the day, let’s invite a friend, acquaintance, colleague or even adversary for a cup of coffee. An old friend told me once “You can never have enough cups of coffee with people.”

Note, having coffee is a metaphor for getting together. When I was working, getting a cup of coffee was a smaller investment of time and expense than lunch. As a result, it is less threatening. Having to stand in line affords the opportunity to go Dutch and take care of your own cost. And, if one buys, it is not that expensive a gesture, so no one feels beholden.

So, invest a little time to catch up or get better acquainted. I am reminded of how the city of Charlotte broke down some racial barriers after the Woolworth sit-ins and Civil Rights Act. White and Black business and religious leaders went to lunch together. This made a huge statement.

Having a cup of Joe need not be groundbreaking. But, if you are having an email, text or social media tussle with someone, invite them for a cup of coffee.

Face to face in a one to one setting will grease the skids for better dialogue. Decaf works as well.

Those preciously funny memories

You will never truly know how much your parents love you until you have children. But, with families come family memories, some of them are preciously funny. Here are a few to mull over:

– My sons could recite verbatim lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” complete with accents. It made for interesting car trips.
– When smaller, these same boys mistook the word “sassy” for “sexy” and took delight in using it as such. After we finally figured it out, I felt obligated to inform of the more apt word.
– My daughter would hold her own with her older brothers. When our younger son became a Pescatarian, meaning he ate fish, but no other meats, she would teasingly tell him and his friends, he was an “Episcopalian.”
– My daughter had dozens of stuffed animals when she was little, but they all had female names. Yet, she was old enough to know, when I asked her the name of a very red cardinal and she gave me a female name, that she messed up. “I thought the red cardinals were boys,” I teasingly queried. She started laughing.
– In our first house, our kitchen table was my parents old contemporary dining table and reupholstered chairs. When another couple came for dinner, the chair our male guest was sitting in just collapsed. Fortunately, he was not hurt.
– Speaking of collapsing, our oldest son was sitting in a small garden area in the woods behind our house. My wife and I joined him and sat down on a wooden bench that had deteriorated with the weather. It came down like a house of cards.
– Our kids shared their friends and we would often have kids, even as they came back from college, in our upstairs game room. Our kids wondered why we knew so much about their friends, but it was a simple exercise of chatting with them before they headed upstairs.

These memories make me smile. I am sure you have a few in your families. Please feel free to share.

Gumpish questions

I have written a few posts on asking more why questions, but let me define a few dumb questions, in the spirit of a fictitious chatacter, Forrest, Forrest Gump. It is amazing how these questions don’t leap off the news pages or out of cyberspace.

In know particular order…

Help me understand how the president can cause a problem, then get kudos (or claim such), when he solves (or lessens) his own problem?

Forrest Gump answered his drill sergeant’s question of his purpose? “To do exactly what you tell me to do, drill sergeant!” The drill sergeant called Gump a “genius” for his answer.

Help me understand how one of the largest US Christian denominations cannot resolve conflict and will be splitting in two? What message does that send?

Forrest Gump’s girl Jenny gave Forrest the best answer to danger. What should he do? “Run, Forrest, run.”

Help me understand how legislators, presidential candidates and current president don’t seem to care that our annual deficit and debt are exploding?

Forrest’s mama answered her son’s question of what is his destiny? “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.”

How can people not see the intense and elongated forest fires in Australia, Brazil and California and not think we have a new paradigm with our heating planet?

Forrest got a Purple Heart. When asked where he was shot, he said “I got shot in the buttocks. They said it was a million dollar wound, but I haven’t seen any of that money.”

How can people feel that putting a face on an opposing argument, then beating on that person can pass for reasoned counter argument (think Al Gore and Greta Thunberg)?

Lieutenant Dan showed up at dockside to honor his promise that he would be Forrest’s first mate if he got a shrimp boat. He told Forrest he wanted to get his “sea legs.” Forrest said, “But, you don’t have no legs.” “Yes, I know this,” Lt. Dan replied.

Help me understand why important people are so cavalier with their reputations by spending time with Jeffrey Epstein and underage girls (think Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton)?

Forrest answered Bubba’s mother when she asked “if he was crazy or just plain stupid?” Forrest uttered his classic line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” That is a profound statement.

Have a safe and enjoyable holidays

For those who celebrate, please have a Merry Christmas. For those who do not (and those who do), please have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Christianity is an important religion, but it is only one of several, so a blanket Merry Christmas statement may or may not be well received, even if well-intended.

Either way, time away from work should be spent with friends and family. Yet, the holiday season is a time when those who do not have others will be even more despondent or depressed. Even more so, the holidays will be a time when loved ones who have passed (or left or are in harm’s way) are missed. So, please share your home or celebration with others.

My mother passed away early Christmas morning in 2016. To me, as devout a woman as she was, it was fitting for her to pass away when Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth. My wife, brother, sister and I will always remember her passing this day. Not ironically, my mother-in-law passed away just after Christmas. Like my mother, she was a devout woman. So, we will remember her well this season.

Let me close out with a bit of humor, which is indicative of non-Christians remembering the holiday in their own way. When Elena Kagan was being vetted by the Senate for the Supreme Court, she handled a question meant to highlight that she was Jewish. Its purpose was unclear, but the following was asked in a mid-December hearing. “Judge Kagan, how will you be celebrating Christmas this week?”

Her response was priceless. “Senator, I will be eating at a Chinese restaurant like all Jewish people do.” It received a laugh even from the asker and diffused its uncertain intent with aplomb.

Being with family and friends. Sharing a meal. Remembering those not with us. Happy holidays everyone. And, travel safely. Following distance is our friend.

End of week wanderings

With multiple topics rolling around in this older brain, here are a few end of week wanderings (or wonderings as the case may be). In no particular order:

It still amazes me that people in leadership still don’t know people record things. Congressman Anthony Weiner sends pictures of his Johnson to a teen girl and then is surprised when it goes public. Justin Trudeau talks in public about “he who shall not be named” and it goes viral. Boris Johnson denies being in the conversation, when we can see him in the conversation. And, “he who shall not be named” makes the same mistake later. Let’s face it, people talk about dealing with Trump as he is like trying to hold mercury in your hands. Just don’t play your hand where we can see (or hear) the cards.

I feel sorry for my friends in the UK as they have a choice between the same Boris above and Jeremy Corbyn. Neither person is a day at the beach, but Johnson has a Trump like propensity to be untruthful. He is just more glib than the US president. Brexit will likely occur and it won’t be pretty. The UK will be in the doldrums for several years as a result. In some respects it will be poetic justice if the folks who misled the public are in charge when the you-know-what hits the fan. I fully understand the Brexiters point of view, but the financials will not be pretty as forecasted by smarter people than me.

I am not sure if the Democrats will help or harm themselves by impeaching the president in the House. It is probably both. But, they still must do it. The US president is a national security risk with his modus operandi that has become apparent on Ukraine. Using shadow diplomacy to exploit a country for personal gain, not briefing the real diplomats on all the issues, covering-up a phone call and other key emails and obstructing justice (as also evident in the Mueller Report) and the US has a president that can be used for nefarious purposes. He would detest this word, but I feel he is a “stooge” for Vladimir Putin. The question is he an active participant in that role or is so uninformed, he will believe Putin if he gives Trump perceived victories. Yet, the other key reason for the impeachment is the president thinks he is a “king.”

By the way, the US president wants Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi and the Bidens to testify in the Senate. OK. If they do, I want Donald J. Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pence to testify. I would like also to hear from Dan Coates and Sue Gordon as to why they were asked to leave the National Intelligence leadership. Trump will never testify as he has so much difficulty with the truth.

The Global Climate Summit is going on in Madrid. Progress must be made. Several US states and business are likely present, making up for the Trump stance. Good things are happening, they just need to happen faster and with the US leadership a part of the equation rather than what they are getting now.

A few funnies

Comedian Tom Arnold was asked a question on “The View” that was personal and evolved out of the table conversation. “How long does it take for sex at your house?” He responded to the surprise of others, “Thirty minutes.” When questioned, he said “Yea, 5 minutes for foreplay, 5 minutes for sex and twenty minutes to get the pillows off the bed.”

On the CBS TV show “Mom,” the mother and daughter were sharing a bedroom. The daughter got up, went to urinate and came back to bed. The mother said “You didn’t wash your hands.” The daughter replied testily “I didn’t touch anything!”

One of the funniest, recurring lines was provided by the oldest of three brothers when they arrived at the inn on The Bob Newhart Show. Larry would say “This is my brother Daryl and this is my other brother Daryl.” The two Daryl’s never spoke on the show. Newhart often let his ensemble cast get the limelight on his two long-running shows.

A real life funny happened to one of my close friends and his wife. He got a call from his mother-in-law who was very worried about his wife. Mom had been talking to daughter and the phone went silent. My friend rushed home to see if there was a problem. He walked in and found his wife on the couch taking a nap. Waking her, she saw the phone on her chest and exclaimed, “Oh my God, I fell asleep on Mom!”

The funniest movie line was saved by Rob Reiner for his mother in “When Harry met Sally.” After Sally vividly and audibly demonstrates to Harry in a cafe how a woman can fake an orgasm, Reiner’s mother who observed all of this responded to a waiter “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Please feel free to add any funny stories or jokes from real life or TV, movie or theater performances.

Travel safely and sanely

As we head into my favorite holiday week, the weather is starting out on a less than friendly basis. So, please take extra care to travel safely and reach your family destinations. I can assure you the interstates and airports will be crowded and at a standstill at times. If you look in the dictionary I-95 is code for stationary and an airport is a gathering place.

So, to manage expectations consider the following. First for flyers:

– you will wait in airports and have a hard time finding a parking space,
– your plane will be delayed and may be canceled, and
– your plane will be crowded.

How you let this affect you is your ball to play. You can let it bother the heck out of you or you can take it in stride. As I waited for my checked bags once, a woman commented on how calm and relaxed I was. I was sitting with a book and was waiting for the bags to come in. My standing up at the carrousel was not going to make them come faster.

Now for the drivers:

– you will be accompanied by many drivers on the road,
– you will come to a halt due to accidents and rubberneckers, and
– you will get irritated on occasion with fellow passengers.

How you let this affect you is your ball to play. Following distance is our friend. Rest areas break the monotony. Listen to your kids play lists – I had a ball with my kids doing this as they take pride in sharing. Find those side roads to avoid only interstate driving.

Please travel safely (and sanely). Giver everyone a hug for me when you get there. Happy Thanksgiving.