Disinterest With Kindness

I continue to be amazed what ChatGPT can do with just a little information. Today, I asked him/her about a problem. This was the solution offered.


It can be challenging to express disinterest without hurting someone’s feelings, but here are some tips that may help:

  1. Acknowledge their effort: Begin by acknowledging the effort the person has put into what they’re doing. For example, you can say, “I appreciate the work you put into this” or “I can see you’ve been working hard on this.”
  2. Be honest: You can then gently express that you’re not very interested in the topic without being dismissive. For example, you can say, “I’m not very familiar with this topic, but I’m curious to learn more” or “This isn’t really my area of expertise, but I’m interested in hearing more about it.”
  3. Redirect the conversation: If you really don’t want to discuss the topic, try to redirect the conversation to a topic you are interested in. For example, you can say, “That’s interesting, but have you heard about [insert topic of interest]?”

Remember to be respectful and polite when communicating your disinterest. It’s important to let the person know that you value their efforts and opinions, even if the topic isn’t something that excites you.

Neglected Baby?

When I walk, I see all manner of things. I have seen a heavily tattooed lady with a photographer getting glam shots with the train tracks as a backdrop. I have seen birds of prey along the train tracks who were apparently killed somehow during that interaction. And, when I see people pushing their dogs (either small or old) in “pet movers”, I still pinch myself. A few weeks ago, I think I saw a mother pushing a baby carriage (or a pram for those who watch streaming shows taking place in England).

As I was nearing the long stretch of path along the train tracks, I was certain I saw a mother with an old-fashion style baby carriage. It was not one of those that allowed mothers to walk/jog while the child faced forward and had no contact with the mother. (Yes, sometimes it is the father, but mothers (or nannies?) seem to get “child walking” duty most often than the men.) As they turned off the path, I thought, “Maybe I will see them again when I turn off on that same road.” Well, I didn’t. I did find the toy pictured above at the entrance to a neighborhood. It was not “dropped” on the rock. I set it there, hoping the “mystery mom” would find it and reclaim it. And, if it were too filthy to reclaim, maybe she would decide to remove the reminder of her previous carelessness. After a few weeks and being abused by the week of Texas winter, the toy remained unclaimed.

The bottle is another matter. Realizing the previous baby carriage may have been a pet mover with spa services (i.e. chew toys etc), I am not sure how to explain the bottle. The “mother who is staring at her phone and ignoring her child” is one possibility. My preferred theory is a weekend visitor who took a walk and failed to notice the bottle tumbling from the child. For this theory to hold true, a grandmother who may have been walking with the mother and child would have also ignored the child.

My parenting days were many years ago. I suppose I may have been too attentive to my kids. I can’t imagine being with my young kids and not noticing the loss of some dear toy or source of nourishment. This is not an indictment of parents today. It is a legitimate question. What is more important than keeping track of your kids? Based on the stories in the news, many parents today have a list longer than I did.

Good Morning…uh

Many days when I take my walk, I find I am the people I bump into are my first non-family contacts of the day. Today I was reassured when someone else confirmed this dilemma also poses problems for them.

Mid-afternoon today, I “shifted” (i.e. the left side of the sidewalk) into the passing lane as I prepared to pass a lady walking her dog. I gave the customary, “On your left” warning.

She responded back with the popular, “Good morning…uh, I mean, good afternoon.”

I replied, “Don’t worry. I do it too. Have a great day!”

Phone conversations don’t seem to clear the first “good morning” of the day. It seems many of us have a “good morning” queued up. If we don’t get the opportunity to use it in the morning, it is still lurking and waiting to come out. It matters not if it is morning, late afternoon or evening. It is waiting patiently for your first attempt at being social. Whether you consciously realize its presence or not, it is going to fight a battle with your lips to be the first social thing to emerge from your mouth.

This is a PSA. The problem is real. If you are fortunate enough to not lose control of your mouth with this greeting, you likely have other places where your body and mind are not in sync. You can expect the “good morning” crowd to show you grace at that time, too. Thank you.

You Light Up My Life

As we drove to church this morning, my wife noticed the light bulb in the center console. She asked what any curious wife would, “Where did that come from?”

Before I tell you how I answered, let me detail what I did the previous morning. I received a text from my son, “I know I should have contacted you Friday, but can you help me clear out my apartment today?” Since it was the proper dad thing to do and I already had my shorts on, I thought, why not? My wife said taking the smaller car was best because most of everything had already been cleaned out of his place. I left within an hour of the text to head to his old apartment.

Because the apartment had black mold, my son hadn’t been living there for a few weeks. The apartment complex “graciously” let him out of his lease early since they had no other open apartments to move him into. [They collected a couple extra months of rent while they weighed their options, and he continued to dutifully pay his rent.) This weekend was THE weekend he had to get a truck from his work to clean out the remaining big items and take them to a storage unit. Among the items, I helped him load were a comfy chair, a dining table and chairs, and a bed. We also donated a dresser and a futon to the dumpster. The dumpster also received additional knickknacks of diminishing functionality and worth. It was one of those items from a lamp recently demoted to “trash” that occupied my console.

As I mulled over my wife’s question, my immediate reply was, “I got it yesterday when I helped [our son’s name] move.” I quickly followed up with, “Dear, I keep it as a reminder of how you light up my life.” Obviously, both answers were true. 🙂

Since my wife was still drinking her coffee, her brain was not fully engaged. The number of points I lost because I led with an honest rather than flattering answer was minimal.

Sonic Talk

After deciding a “mall walk” was better than a walk where I would be forced to hold an umbrella over my head, I checked in with my wife. If she hadn’t already gotten our drinks at Sonic, I would pick them up on the way home.

With the drink ordered on the app at a stop light 3 miles from the location, I pulled into Sonic to get the Route 44 Coke Zero w/ easy ice and the Route 44 w/ a shot of blackberry flavoring and no ice. My weekday buddy Jordan brought the drinks out almost immediately after I checked in. (Georgia usually brings them out on Sunday. She is effective, but not as friendly as Jordan.)

Me: Just coming back from the mall. Boy, was it dead!

Jordan: With the weather, I would have thought it would have been busy.

Me: I don’t go to the mall very often, but in my opinion, there was almost no one there.

Jordan: When I grew up in Jersey, and it rained, we would go to the mall all of the time.

Me: The good thing was fewer people to share the samples with in the food court.

Jordan: Yes, I liked the samples. The problem was the people giving the food samples always wanted to talk your leg off.

Me: I know, just like my server at Sonic. [Delivered with a wink]

Jordan: Good enough. [Said with a smile]

I don’t bond with everyone, but when I do, it often involves humor. I enjoy having some non-family members in my life to tease. My wife and housemates often reach the saturation point before I am satirically spent.

A Eulogy For My Father

My father was a man of few words, but his influence on me was profound. He taught me the value of hard work and dedication and showed me how to be a kind and thoughtful person.

From him, I learned that no matter what life throws at you, it is important to stay positive and keep moving forward. He also showed me how important it is to be true to yourself and stay humble even in the face of success. His belief that we can always learn from our mistakes has been one of my guiding principles.

My dad was an amazing role model, teaching me about perseverance, fairness, and respect for others. Even when faced with adversity, he always managed to keep his head up, setting an example that I strive to follow every day. He also shared his love of gardening and plants, which I still enjoy.

I am grateful for all the lessons he taught me during our brief time together. It is hard to believe he has been gone for 37 years. As I have come into adulthood more fully and heard various stories about him from all across the spectrum, I hope the stories told about me when I am gone will paint a consistent picture.

His loss has left an emptiness in my life, but I take comfort in knowing that his legacy will live on through everything he passed down to me and my siblings — his values, strength, and unwavering sense of duty.

While my earthly father has been gone many years now (37 as of 2 days ago), I pretend he looks down on me occasionally and says, “There is my oldest son. He has done okay.” Since my religious beliefs don’t subscribe to “my earthly father” looking down on me, I hope my Heavenly Father knows me and that I seek his influence daily.

I am glad to have the father I did. Once he and my mother allowed me to pass into adulthood, the world attempted to claim me for its own. I am grateful my Heavenly Father did not allow that to be so. It is to Him I hope my life eulogizes.

Why Buzzards Are The Perfect Spies

Tree full of buzzards

As I came back from my walk today (actually a few days ago, but it sounds like I am more organized if I claim it as today), I saw the ominous tree full of buzzards. Besides these perching few, there was a handful circling above. I try not to get overly paranoid, but with the help of an AI app, I think my feelings are properly conveyed below…

Buzzards are nature’s most efficient hunters, but did you know they can also make great spies? With their remarkable vision and stealthy flying capabilities, buzzards can observe and gather information without being noticed.

One of the main reasons why buzzards are so good at spying is their incredible vision. Buzzards can see small objects from up to two miles away! This means they can easily watch a person or object from far away without being detected. Thanks to this sharp vision, buzzard spies can observe and watch without risking detection.

In addition to their impressive vision, buzzards have the perfect body for flying long distances without making any noise. They have large wingspans which allow them to hover in mid-air for a long time, allowing them to view the area below with ease. This also enables them to remain undetected while spying, as they blend in with the sky and never make a sound.

Finally, buzzards possess an innate intelligence that helps them assess situations quickly and react accordingly. They can understand their surroundings and make decisions based on what they observe. This makes them ideal for gathering information in difficult environments where it might be hard for a human spy to go undetected.

In conclusion, buzzards make perfect spies thanks to their incredible vision, silent flying capabilities, and ability to assess situations quickly. Their stealthy nature makes them ideal for gathering information without being detected, allowing them to serve as valuable assets in any espionage mission!

My Pretty Thumb Nail

I don’t like my nails too long, and I don’t like them gnawed back to the nub. I like them just right. My left thumbnail has not been just right for a long time. This is how I “think” it got that way…

It was somewhere just before COVID. I developed a passion for pistachios–specifically the shelled variety. I was never brave enough to take on my wife’s wrath by eating them while watching TV on the couch. But, lest we get distracted, it wasn’t a problem with where I ate the pistachios; it was how I ate them. The shells on most of these green nuts were anxious to give up their contents–the happier the shell, the easier the nut was removed. [see Happy Fruit] The problem was when the shell was not smiling at all.

Back in my early days of eating pistachios, my left thumbnail was the “wedge” of choice. I would lodge it between the barely smiling shells and try and pry the shell open. While I had a good deal of success, it slowly eroded the layers of my thumbnail. Over time, the central part of my thumbnail was depleted of a layer or two of its “naily-ness.” When I was made aware of the “use the shell from a pistachio to pry open your future pistachio” method, my thumbnail was spared any further shame.

The nail continued in this degraded state for many months. Even though my thumb was no longer a tool for snacking, the nail never recovered. It continued to peel back since it was not smooth. I would trim it hoping to fix the problem, but the nail was always peeling beyond my ability to comfortably trim it back. Then I saw my daughter’s clear fingernail polish…

I have never had my fingernails done. There is a vague memory of my mother twisting my arm and having my toenails done when I was very young…or maybe it was my brother. The clear polish provided a possible solution to my problem. First, it would provide a smooth coat on my nail. If the nail was smooth, the layers of the nail would not continue to wear away unevenly. And, the big one, the clear polish would go mostly unnoticed.

The longer the recovery takes the more selective I can be in helping with dinner. I have been known to say, “I can’t help cut potatoes now because I just did my nail.”

I am close to restoring my nails, but it has not been entirely smooth. I have had to do multiple coats to make the polish more durable. I have had to let my wife in on my project. As long as I stay with the clear polish, she tells me she won’t worry about me. If I am lucky and my daughter forgets to take her clear polish back to school with her, my thumb may return to its naturally handsome state by the end of the month…or later.

The Jambalaya Compromise

When you are billeting (they live with you) a house full of junior hockey players (3 of them are 18 and one of them is 19), you get the opportunity to eat with them on a regular basis. With their practices often being in the afternoon with minimal food consumed prior to practice, the call to “eat dinner together” has varying levels of enthusiasm. Depending on how long ago they ate their post-practice Chik-Fil-A or Chipotle, they may not be hunger. And, if they are hungry, there is the distinct possibility the meal won’t tickle all of their taste buds.

Over the past 4ish months they have been living with us, we have found a couple of meals that will reliably pull them away from their video games and voluntarily bring them downstairs to eat with us.

  • Pizza: I cannot lie. We make a pretty good pizza. My role is “dough maker” and sausage and bacon fryer. If we have the full crew on that night, we make at least one each of the following: pepperoni, sausage, and barbecue chicken.
  • Sliders: We will make 36-48 of these. Aldi’s has the best price on the bread, and the boys love them for warmups. Since “second dinner” is usually consumed by at least half of the boys, this is a big deal.

The rest of the things we make for them have less than full enthusiasm.

  • One of them doesn’t like gravy.
  • One of them didn’t think he liked meatloaf, but he is possibly the best eater now.
  • Only one of them likes roasted sweet potato cubes with rosemary. This is one of our favorites. It is unfortunate.
  • One of them (quite possibly one of those already referred to above) doesn’t like tomatoes in any form.
  • A random thing–one of them likes lots of whipped cream on his pancakes and some baked items.
  • They will all put roasted broccoli on their plate, and sometimes they will eat it.
  • After the boys were gone one night and found out there was Chinese in the refrigerator, two of the boys came down to claim it as their second dinner that night.
  • The visit to “flavor town” left the curry and gumbo out in the cold. The fried rice entered the semi-regular meal rotation.

With these facts in mind, I felt compelled to try something new with them. Unfortunately, the available protein was pointing me toward Jambalaya. How did I handle this? I made the jambalaya as an “optional” lunch item. My gut told me one of the boys would very likely enjoy it. Two of them might think it is okay. One of them would definitely find the tomatoes and the spice beyond his range. (It would be a street he would never visit in Flavor town.) This compromise – a meal for all but only if they wanted to try it without having it as their only dinner option- allowed everyone to participate as they chose.

In the end, I did get my jambalaya. The one who enjoyed it added hot sauce because he could. The other Chinese lover thought it was good. And, the other two didn’t even try any–no matter how hard we nudged them. It made plenty and and the “second dinner” stores were replenished for a couple of days. If I can find another rice-centric recipe, I am going to try it!

Country Code 60

As I was heading home from church today, I received this delightful text from “Maria.”

Hi, I’m Maria. I’m glad to see you here. I want to find my soul mate here.  I’m 29 years old and single. (don’t talk to me about sex or I’ll be mad, under 22 Do not disturb) Add my whatsapp: +16398541530   We can share our daily life together and get to know each other better

Interestingly, the phone number she texted me from is: +60 11 7227 6439. I don’t know much about international phone numbers, but what I do know leads me to believe dear Maria is from Malaysia. (Malaysia’s country code is 60)

I am sure Maria is a delightful young lady who has reached out to me alone to build this lasting relationship. For her sake, I wish she would have chosen better. The warning about “sex talk” is also greatly appreciated. It is clear she would be the type of person I would look for if I hadn’t already been married for over 3 decades.

Sharing my life with someone based on the information she provided is going to be difficult. Do I start texting her about COVID and see where that leads? Do we talk about books we both have read? It is perplexing what she would see in a guy like me…

The biggest concern is where this dear young lady got my cell phone number. Since I have not willingly registered on any sites that “Maria” would frequent, I can only guess my number was acquired in a dark or very shaded part of the internet. Alternatively, maybe poor Maria was supposed to meet her “dream guy”, but she typed the number in incorrectly and got me. The guilt will haunt me. Yet, I am going to wonder what could have been…