Bananas Over Bananas

As the kids worked their way through breakfast this morning, the last banana was eaten. I mumbled a phrase that included “Sam’s” and “restocking” to appease those who felt cheated of their full banana breakfast quota.

While at Sam’s along with the two bunches of bananas, I had a variety of snack bars, salads, and the ever-necessary package of toilet paper. (Some members of our household just love the stuff.). The self-checkout lane was open. I was happy to forego building a relationship with a cashier. Unfortunately, I had to meet a team of employees floating around helping those who were challenged by the self-scanner. In my case, it was necessary. When I attempted to scan my bananas, the screen displayed a “RETRY” prompt. I attempted to scan both bunches of bananas before the “team” told me, “Someone else had problems with this register earlier. I guess we are going to have to shut it down now.” They continued talking. I heard words like, “cancel transaction” and “so sorry.”, but I was moving on to a new lane by then.

After letting a couple people ahead of me and attempting to jump in quicker moving lanes, I eventually had the opportunity to scan my cart of groceries again. After scanning my proteins, I went after my bananas again. Immediately after scanning one of the bunches, the “RETRY” came up on the screen again. I dropped the scanner into the basket and gave the “team” the evil eye. The team lead punched in her code and circumvented the scanner with the bananas. My question of, “Shouldn’t you check to see if there is a problem with that SKU?” was met with a stare and assurance that it would take care of itself, eventually.

As I was finishing my transaction, the person next to me also paralyzed the self-checkout while scanning bananas. The reassuring team calmed her by saying, “We had two other customers who had the same problem this morning.” I am pretty sure they knew it was me both times, but did they?

Not Living In a Monastery

As I gave a friend a rather complete text of what has happened the past couple of days, he reminded me we don’t live in a monastery. What has happened at our house to make our lives less than tranquil? Hmmm…what could it be?

Could it be the hockey players?

  • It could. One of them knew he was injured, but didn’t know the extent of it. After getting an x-ray yesterday, he found out his hip is fractured. There is more information to gather, but it certainly does keep it from being boring around her.
  • The other hockey player is quiet, and we are never sure what he is plotting. The mere mention of “Cheese Cake Factory” will bring a Door Dash delivery immediately following dinner. And, when he is not eating cheesecake, he is indulging in “hockey-ish” activities.

Maybe it is the exchange students?

  • Between their eating (or not eating), and their social media-ing (they are never NOT doing this). they squeeze in ice skating or other forms of “chilling”.
  • Now that they are at the halfway point, we will observe whether their clothes purchases decrease and whether they pick up an extra suitcase…or two.

What about for my wife and I?

  • My wife is working again after her Christmas vacation. I won’t say it was hard, but she needed 2 Coke Zeroes from Sonic to get her through.
  • I got to talk to the IRS and seethe, as they told me for the second time, the form was completed incorrectly. “We want to help you, but your paperwork is wrong!! And, have you had the booster vaccine? You have not? Then we definitely cannot help you.” So, that is how my day went.

As is often the case when making a blog entry where the subjects have names, it is better to avoid specifics. Assume everything stated above is a sanitized, non-specific version of the truth. If you can’t do that, just picture 6 adults and two teenagers sharing a house where no more than 3 people enjoy the same menu for dinner. And those who don’t like it can’t wait for the meal to be over before grabbing snacks in the pantry and disappearing for the rest of the night.

Sermon Resolution

Today’s sermon reminded me how important it is to have a minimum weekly dose of straight-talk preaching. At times in my spiritual past, I inhaled multiple sermons daily over the internet. Of late, I have either decided I don’t need that much, or I have allowed my worldly priorities to shove the sermons down the list far too many notches.  I need to do better. I need to listen to less Spotify playlist and more Christ-focused sermons.

This may not qualify as a “resolution”, but it certainly should be a STRONG encouragement for me to trend in a more God-centered direction. Wherever Flight #2022 takes us, I want to end the flight, quoting more scripture and reciting less from the news networks. Our “Pilot” doesn’t need a co-pilot. I need to do a better job letting my life reflect that. 

The Shirt Made Me Do It

As I was at Sam’s today buying chicken, I was fighting with the plastic bags you are advised to use when putting the chicken into your cart. The first bag was coaxed into separating, so I could bag the chicken breast. The bag for the thigh was given a great deal of difficulty. After giving up on the first bag, I was presented with an opportunity. The woman walking toward me was not wearing a mask. She was wearing a t-shirt that stated, “Be A Nice Human.”

I thought to myself, “Nice humans would want me to bag my chicken thighs and not be frustrated.” My question to her as she approached was, “Are you a nice human? Could you help me get this bag open?” She may have paused slightly, but she extended her hands to try the “slippy-slidey” technique that I had been using on the bag. She tried to pull some moisture from the meat case to help her fingers better grip the bag. When this failed, she said, “Lick your fingers and you will be able to do it.”

Of course, I could. I thanked her. She told me, “I would have licked my fingers and done it, but it was your bag.” So, whether I had germs or she had germs or whether my licked fingers were covered in salmonella, I now had a bag to deposit the thighs into.

Just another life experience complicated by a post-COVID set of glasses.

Getting A Clean Floor

Our house is heavily used. With our kids out of the house, we have resorted to exchange students and billeting hockey players to maintain an adequate level of chaos within the house. To make sure we are on the same page, we need to agree on the definition of chaos. If you think chaos is something to be avoided and something unworthy of friendship, let me illustrate how piggy-backing chaos can be an advantage. Or, to say another way, we like to schedule our related unscheduled chaoses so they maximize their synergistic potential.

How do we do this? Let me relate three events obviously related, but not immediately noticed.

  1. Yesterday, our exchange students needed to do laundry. They had a very small load, but the items they wanting to have washed were of very high emotional value. I did not ask lots of questions or take particular notice of what was in the washer. My wife, however, decided the load was a little light. She chose to grab some our laundry to add to the mix. In most cases, this would be the end of the story. The clothes would have been clean, and everyone would have given thanks for the wonders of an automatic clothes washer. (We are ungrateful lot. We take nearly everything for granted. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.) When the girls (i.e. the exchange students) got their clothes out of the washer to put on the drying rack (Our previous exchange students were also afraid of the dryer’s hoarding and/or its shrinking qualities. The number of clothes washings greatly exceeds the number of tumbles the dryer dispenses.), they noticed many little pieces of paper all over the clothes. After quickly sending the paper off to a lab and getting a rapid test result, the paper was determined to be facial tissue. The guilty party apologized profusely for forgetting to check her pockets. Many pieces of tissue were scattered on the floor between the laundry room and the drying racks.
  2. As flowers are delivered to our house, the arrangements are enjoyed until they are no longer capable of bringing any more joy. When the flowers have expired, the vases are washed and placed on top of the refrigerator. (With a son working at Teleflora, his discount allowed the vases to grow at a quicker rate more recently.) Prior to yesterday, the top of the refrigerator was thought to be a safe place. Unfortunately, the loud crash we heard after the ice cream was put away last night removed this confidence. After hearing the crash, a quick glance showed big, small and very small pieces of glass spreading out from ground zero. We announced the imminent danger to anyone crazy enough to walk barefoot in the kitchen. My wife jumped into action with the broom and the dust pan. The previously unclaimed bowl of ice cream went into the trash in case some of the glass chose to land there. After 10 minutes of careful cleanup, my wife committed to a more thorough cleaning on the morrow.
  3. Unfortunately, the coordinated attacks on the floor had one plague yet to release. Having finished my coffee creamer the previous day, I opened my new one. Opening and pouring into my coffee cup were the easy part. The difficulty came when I had to place the very full container of Snickers creamer into the refrigerator. As many times as I had done this in the past, the containers on the top shelf of the frig seemed to be a maze I was unable to navigate. As I moved the black mango tea to checkmate, all of the pieces on the checkboard moved to their own positions via the quickest path available. The creamer was vengefully thrown from the board. It fell to the floor where the lid promptly snapped open. As it rolled toward the dining room table, it left a path of coffee-flavoring deliciousness in its wake. After rescuing the remaining half of the creamer, I pulled out the paper towels and had a party.

If it were only tissues scattered over the floor, a broom would have gotten it done. As this is written, the mop has not visited the sticky and glass-shard laden kitchen floor. A broom and mop will need to caress the tiles that cover the kitchen floor. Once that is completed, the full impact of these synchronized events will be appreciated.

Horn-Whooping

When driving, I am known to talk to the other drivers I share the road with. While I often say things as innocent as, “Come on, sport.” to encourage the drivers to fully embrace the speed limit available to them, I have been known to use words that rhyme with “blidiot” and “blummy”. I have never been one to use hand gestures to convey my frustration. But, if shrugging counts, then I plead guilty.

Today’s entry was prompted by a driver who failed to notice my turn signal. He nearly turned into path before catching himself. I wagged my finger at him (the POINTER finger) and continued my turn into our subdivision. Using this driver’s actions as an opportunity to prepare for any similar future situations, my mind went quickly to my horn.

What is the horn but an extension of myself? What can it say? A light tap says, “Excuse me. Could you please stop texting and pay attention to the road?” Multiple light taps say, “If you don’t go quickly we are both going to have to wait until the next turn light to get out of this intersection.” A horn held for a couple seconds is less subtle. It is speaking in its outdoor voice. It is speaking truth and not trying to disguise its purpose or protect the other drivers feelings. And, finally, there is the multi-second horn. This is the noise a car would make if it were Tarzan. As the car stands over its defeated prey, it would hold the horn down to remind the other driver he was about to complete a very stupid act. The extended horn is nothing personal. The driver blowing the horn hopes the “accused” driver will feel so guilty they will think twice or more before making the “near-mistake” again.

If only more driver’s would embrace the benefits of “horn-whooping” another driver. Your driver’s education teacher would be disappointed, but someone else cares enough to try and help you out. It is great to care for others so much that you see a horn-whooping of an ignorant driver as a community service. I know I will.

CHEATING FOR GOOD Mental Health

Since the 2nd week of the year, possible longer, I have done 10,000 steps or more per day. I. Am proud of this feat. There are days that were almost 30000, and there were many days, especially of late, that were just barely 10,000. How ever many steps there were, I earned them all. During rainy days, I put my old shoes on and carried the umbrella. I allowed for great flexibility in my walk times just so I could fit them in. If I needed to take 2 short walks to cover my steps, I kept the carrot dangling until I captured it every day..

This held true until today. Today, while we were still on our vacation, was supposed to be a day spent at my mother’s house. When circumstance changed and my wife suggested a chance to our schedule, I agreed. I knew it would make walking 10,000 steps very difficult today. And, with nearly every vacation day being a “just barely”, I knew 8-10 hours of driving would make maintaining that goal very difficult. And, with the expected rain, it was just not going to be a thing I wanted to save for the end of the day.

Fortunately, I was able to get a short walk in before we left. And, we stopped in the small town of Casey, IL. We walked around and took pictures of all the BIG things. My favorite was the pitchfork. After this stop, it was about 4:00 in the afternoon. I knew my record was on the line. So, did I panic? No, I cheated.

Cheating with steps is something my mother described at breakfast today. The correct arm motion makes your phone think you are stepping. After experimenting with up and down and side to side, side to side was the winner. While feeling guilty during each “step”, I put about 2 miles on my phone while my wife drove across Missouri. When I checked my step counter and realized I only had 70 steps to go, I decided to be done. The remaining steps would get added “the old fashion way” when we walked into our hotel.

I can either claim to have 10,000 steps every day this year with an asterisk, or I can amend my statement to, “My phone says I have done 10,000 steps every day this year.” Since no one is likely to care or ask, I will make what claims I must and keep trying to fit those steps in.

Last night, I had COVID again…

As I got up out of my chair after finishing my book at 11:30, my head was spinning. Not being prone to many headaches, my first thoughts are, “I must be sick.” And, when you are sick during a pandemic, it doesn’t take long to think you have COVID. But, this isn’t the first time I have had “COVID”. I believe it was the 4th or 5th time since the pandemic started.

With my next stop being bed, it is little wonder I didn’t fall asleep immediately.

  • I thought of the irony of the wedding reception we didn’t go to that day. I thought it was people like me who caused me to be concerned about attending the reception. However, sitting in the balcony does give you a view of the wedding not available to those below. It went through my mind how many people I might have exposed if we attended the non-socially distanced wedding reception. Then I flipped over in bed and tried to think about something else.
  • I tried to think, “Who could I have gotten it from? Could I get it from my kids? They have been asymptomatic, but one of the boys gave it to us?” I was at a complete loss of any other way I could have gotten it. I play the mask game as well as anyone. I remove my mask just after exiting, and I put it on just before entering. I am an unwilling participant in an apparently losing effort to reduce the spread.
  • After I woke the first time, I flipped over and I was still slightly dizzy. And, I think I had a fever. I thought about our plans for the next few days. I thought, “Oh, no, I have exposed my mother to COVID.” And, I thought, “I won’t be able to go to breakfast this morning and say goodbye to everyone before we leave.” And, “Will we still be able to go on our vacation? Will we have to drive straight home now? Have I ruined everything?”
  • At best, half-asleep thoughts are not very coherent. When a rational thought hits my brain, it is not after I just woke up and it is still dark out. I wish I could flip a switch and just turn off the thoughts. Once they start pouring in, I am at their mercy. I tried to cut them off, but acknowledging them only makes them think they are worthy of greater attention.
  • The only way to defeat them is to outlast them. When I wake in the morning, I again do my search on COVID symptoms. When I am reminded I also have allergies, the COVID virus recesses again for a few weeks. When I travel, I never seem to drink enough water? Could any of this be dehydration? With a blood donation scheduled for after the election, I will get the bonus of a COVID test. This should set my mind at ease for another few months…or weeks…or days.

The Runaway Truck Ramp Theory

They make you safe. That is what we are led to believe. What are they? If you have never seen one, they are an unpaved lane that runs along the right side of the road in mountainous/hilly areas. As we recently drove US 40 through eastern Tennessee, numerous of these ramps appeared after we crested the top of the various mountains along the road.

If I dig back into the archives of my memories, I believe I can recall at least one time when a truck has had to use these innovations. I didn’t see the impact with the many sand bags or barrels of sand or progressively bigger dirt piles. I just saw that a truck had lost access to its brakes (I am assuming) and plowed into the obstacles designed to slow its forward progress.

Possible the truck I witnessed was just a token runaway truck. Its purpose was to reassure all of those motorist who had even once awoken from a nightmare where they and their car were about to get ran over by a truck as it flew down the road toward them in their rearview mirror. Maybe that is a good thing. People need to sometimes see the things that are there to protect them actually protecting them. If they don’t, they are just a theoretical creation to provide engineers an additional inclusion in any roads built in mountainous terrain. The ramps don’t save anybody physically. Emotionally is another matter. And, if this theory is not a theory even once every few years, then a bunch of somebodies will be grateful it is there. Just like child safety caps…

Hurricane Headache

I woke dark o’clock that morning with a headache pounding the middle of my forehead. Was it low-pressure induced? Was it lack of adequate hydration? Were we in the path of the hurricane and the cone was projecting out its mayhem?

As we traveled across the country, another 36 hours in Nashville would have put us firmly in Delta’s path. If we would have taken the southern route (taking US 20) to the east coast, We have no idea what type of traffic and rain we would have encountered. As we were driving along US 40, we saw multiple convoys of electric trucks driving toward the hurricane in anticipation of the chaos it was going to leave behind.

Even though our race to get ahead of the cone seemed successful, as we continued to journey east of Nashville, the rain increased. Coupled with the construction, the fewer miles to travel on our second day was ultimately more painful. Rain, construction, fog and mountains are some of the siblings hated by all distance drivers. Would we have left a day earlier, the southern path to the east coast may have been more available. Having made the northern choice, we are taking credit for being good citizens. We left the southern path open for our rain deluged brothers in the bayou.

If the percentage of driving done by me is factored in, I have no room to whine. My biggest valid complaint is, “I find it very difficult to read on a winding, foggy road when it is raining.” Just me and my 1st world problems!!