Tuesday, October 30, 2012
My thoughts go out to those that have been deeply affected by this hurricane, or superstorm, as they are now calling it. Sandy, as she became to be named, devastated large areas of the Jersey coast, New York City, and the two tristate areas. Raging blizzards pummeled parts of west Maryland and West Virginia. Those of us who survived this storm need to take count of our friends and family and consider ourselves lucky we made it through. Houses can be repaired, cars can be replaced. Human life cannot. 33 people so far have lost their lives in the US due to the storm. 33 families have lost love ones. Last night, as the storm hit my area, I was scared to death. The winds howled, rain pelted, branches crashed around the house, and trees fell in the woods behind. With every gust, I stiffened up waiting for the subsequent crash of something falling to the ground or being thrown against the house. I am angry at certain people that thought this storm would be nothing. Get a clue. You prepare and if nothing comes your way, consider yourself lucky. Others were not. What about the 1000's that lost their homes at the Shore less than an hour from Philly? What about the 80 or so homes devastated by fire on Long Island? To those who bitched that Philly got nothing after they prepared, you should just consider yourselves very lucky! I prepared by stocking up on cat food, people food, water, flashlights, and batteries. I filled the tub for extra water if needed to flush the toilets. I was on constant watch for any leaks in the our roof repairs. I made several meals which could be eaten cold if the power went down for a week. I got the box of MRE's out just in case it would be longer. I tied down everything I could so it would not become a projectile and damage my home or someone else's. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN FACED WITH A POSSIBLE HIT FROM A HURRICANE. It wasn't above and beyond. Lastly, one more thought to those that complained about having to prepare: just remember, that one time you don't prepare, you could live or possibly NOT live ... to regret it. I spent a day preparing and it was worth it.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
One of the things which I have noticed while traveling across the great US of A is what I have come to see as the cultural sterilization of suburban and urban areas in America. Large swaths of our great country are developing a blandness to them which threatens the uniqueness which separates each regional area from the next. It could be considered a epidemic driven by corporate greed to spread mass consumerism to each and every corner of the United States. Walmart of course comes to mind, but this can be substituted with any large corporation which is opening up a location in the most desolate parts of the country. Replace it with McDonalds, Hair Cuttery, The Home Depot, or Autozone and you have the same scenario. Small town America is dying and mass consumerism is fueling its death. When John and I travel, we actively search out small restaurants, bars, stores, and other local businesses to patronize. I feel it is important to support these small businesses as they are part of the backbone of America and its economy. In my opinion, the small business owner is one of the foundations of our great country. While in Arizona visiting his brother, we went to Reds Lobby Bar at the Sedona Rouge Hotel, Plaza Bonita Mexican Restaurant, Mooney’s Irish Pub, the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill and the Grasshopper Grill. Each was filled with the locals who provided a colorful cross-section of this part of the country: Native Americans, Mexicans, local cowboy types, artsy and intellectual folk from the Sedona Arts Scene, farmers, crazy locals who preached the word of God, laborers from the local cement factory, the local law enforcement, retirees, service and tourist industry folk, and other travelers from all over the world. What better way to experience the landscape than by experiencing and conversing with the locals? John and I didn’t just do this in Sedona, we do it wherever we travel to. We aren’t the type that spend our time at the most posh restaurants or just shop in the most sophisticated stores. And on the other end of the spectrum, we don’t just spend our time at the most common chain restaurants or stores. We like to fully experience the people and places which makes a community tick, which makes it thrive! It is a great experience to hear the locals talk about their work, their lives, their pride in the town or city that they live. Or to speak with an art gallery owner about last week’s En Plein Air Festival. Or to commiserate with someone who just got off work and had a bad day at the local cement factory. OK, OK, I don’t know what a day at the cement factory is like, but I can commiserate with a Mexican cerveza over a bad day at work! I guess my point is that you can have the “endless bowl of salad” at Olive Gardens anywhere. You can shop at a Walmart from Florida to Alaska. How about checking out the local luncheonette or diner and find out what their regional specialty is? We ate some incredible BBQ and Mexican in Sedona! Shop the local boutiques down in Old Town, USA or support the local thrift or consignment store and see what they have available instead of shopping for something that you can get in any large chain store. If we don’t support these small businesses in our cities and towns, a little piece of small town America will die when these businesses shutter up.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
On a long plane flight, nothing is dreaded more than the fear of being stuck to someone who you don’t like, get along with, or find disagreeable. John and I travel very well together. We know each other’s quirks and travel eccentricities. When I travel with John, he likes the window seat and I am fine with that but it invariably means that I will be the one stuck sitting next to the stranger. Luckily for this past trip to Arizona, I was pretty lucky with the two individuals who sat next to me on the way out and returning from Phoenix. The first was a very lovely young Italian beauty named Isabella who was about 10 years younger than me. She had dark long brown curly hair with large expressive eyes who was deep into the popular women’s erotic novel, “50 Shades of Grey”. When we did start conversing the last 1/3 of the plane flight, I found out she was a high school counselor heading out to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party. Hmmm. Imagine that. She was meeting friends for a long weekend of partying and drinking. You know what they say, “What happens in Vegas …” I had a fun time talking with her. We connected on a lot of different levels and not just about the partying in Vegas thing. LOL. My travel mate on the plane flight back was a young woman as well. She was 20 something, quiet, mousey, bookish, and thoroughly into her novel of choice, “The Hobbit”. Completely different from the woman on the trip out, this one would probably be happier at a Sci-Fi Convention in Vegas rather than a Chippendales Revue show. She is quietly snoring next to me as a write this. On the return trip home, we were waiting for 10 minutes on the plane for takeoff and an older business man across the aisle was still on his cell phone. The stewardess (yes, I know it’s supposed to be flight attendant, but stewardess reminds me of the heyday of flight travel, when it was so much more glamorous, exciting, and fun to travel) passed by and said to him in a stern tone, “Sir, I told you five minutes ago to put that cell phone out and I’m not going to tell you again.” The stewardess gave him a “Don’t fuck with me fella” look and he withered in his seat. He replied, “Oh, OK I’m sorry, I’m, I’m done, I will shut it off now.” I turned and said to John, “That SENIOR CITIZEN over there wouldn’t turn off his cell phone! And then the stewardess got all upset and … blah blah blah.” John just looked at me as I trailed on and on, took out his ear plugs and said, “What?” I shook my head and left out a loud sigh and exclaimed “Never mind!” The hobbit woman, who had heard my one-sided exchange with John, turned to me and said matter of factly, “You know he’s old. And old people forget to do things. He probably heard her but then forgot about it a minute later. It happens you know … when you’re old.” I just stared at her thinking, Yeah, that’s it hobbit woman. And then I didn’t feel so bad for silently calling her a hobbit woman.