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Category: Just Sayin’ (Page 1 of 3)

New Year Intentions

To see the world more clearly.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are too harsh, and they lead to frustration and despair and a sense of failure…because, of course, few resolutions make it past the first week or month of the New Year.

I do New Year’s Intentions. Every year I intend to be a better person, eat better, get more exercise, stay in closer touch with my loved ones…and you know, just be kinder and gentler.

There is a lot less pressure with intentions, and you can start over if you fail early in the year. In June, when you take stock of how your year has gone so far, you can still revisit the “intention” to be a better person, but resolutions are gone until the next New Year’s Eve.

This year, I have a couple of more specific intentions, though; intentions that relate to my personal goals. Goals are another way of setting one up for failure, but they aren’t so rigid as resolutions. One of my personal, all-time goals is never to stop learning, never stop searching, so I’m building that into my New Year’s Intentions for 2021.

My main intention for 2021, though, relates to my problems with seeing.  Quickly, I will point out that I’m not talking about physical vision. My eyesight literally (and I can say that because it is true) has never been better since cataract and lens replacement surgery. I no longer rely on glasses to navigate my world as I have since I was nine years old. Oh, I use reading glasses, but that’s pretty normal at my age. The fact is, I see at a distance better than 20/20, and I never, ever thought that would be possible.

So, my eyesight isn’t the problem. It’s more…how can I put this…heart sight or, here’s a good word…insight.

Back when I was doing a lot of newspaper photography, I saw things others did not see. When you’re a photographer, you have to see the whole picture before pressing the button. You don’t want a tree in the background that looks like it’s growing out of your subject’s head. You do want their classic car in the background if that’s all they can talk about as you interview them. You do want to catch the quick look a bystander is giving to a subject with blue hair. You do want the subject’s shadow pointing to the car crash they walked out of unharmed.

Over the years, I’ve lost some of my ability to see. My intention for 2021 is to see the world around me. I don’t want to just look over things; I want to take them in, all the things before me.

This year has been a challenge; a year we have been very focused on keeping ourselves safe and healthy, a year we found we have very little control over that. 2020 has been a year that something outside of us, something outside of our control, something we can’t see or touch, can take our lives or the lives of those around us.

As this year winds to a close, I find that people I have never seen have gone and, in a sense, a way of life we never fully appreciated is gone as well. Some things will never be the same; some families will never again be complete; some things that could have been will never be.

So in 2021, I intend to look and not just look, but see life around me. I want to see each day, not only with my eyes but with my heart and mind.

That’s my New Year’s Intention. Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions…I think my way is better!

Happy New Year.

The Story of the Manger

First of all, I just want to say that I cannot take credit for the story I am about to tell you. It is not even a story. This is a tradition based on legend…or a legend based on tradition and I think it has no real beginning. It is a story told by many, attributed to none, but it is so close to home there must be some truth.

We all know that early religions used sacrificial animals to offer to God or the gods for the forgiveness of sins. And we all know that this Christmas Day that we Christians everywhere celebrate is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to be sacrificed for the sins of all.

There is a lot of symbolism in every religion, but I recently heard of the symbol of the manger, where Jesus was laid after his birth, awaiting the visit of the shepherds and the wise men of the East.

Shepherds were people whose job it was to watch over and care for the sheep of a community. As the keepers of the sheep, it was also their job to choose and protect specific lambs to be used as sacrifices in the temple.

A sacrificial lamb was to have lived to adulthood and have no faults or blemishes. As lambs were born in early winter, it was a sacred duty for the shepherds to choose the finest, strongest lambs to be groomed for the temple ritual of sacrifice. To protect those lambs from birth, they gently carried them to the stables, wrapped them in cloth to keep them warm …and they further protected them by placing them in the stone mangers in the cave that served as a stable, the safest place they knew for a baby meant to become a holy sacrifice.

That’s why the shepherds were called by the angels to be the first to meet the baby Jesus. Of all people, shepherds would understand the significance of a baby announced by angels and lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Not my story, but a good one you have to admit. Something to think about.

Merry Christmas to all.

Rambling

My weighted blanket…”in” before weighted blankets were “in.”

My thoughts are sort of jumbled today, but I wanted to get a post ready, so …

~~

Nobody has to sell me (or give me for Christmas) one of those weighted blankets. I see ads for them everywhere. They’re supposed to put you into a deep and satisfying sleep whether you use them for naps or a full night’s rest.

This is not one of those elegantly designed quilts with tiny, artistic stitches, either. The beautiful quilts you see in museums and antique stores are works of art, the only way early housewives had to express their love of design and beauty.

I don’t need one because I have one. It’s not the new, silky, advertised version. Mine is soft like a flannel shirt you’ve had for years…as a matter of fact, I think it IS made from old flannel shirts.

Mine is an old-style patchwork quilt made of leftover and recovered scraps of cloth from no longer functional clothing. The front or patchwork part of my blanket is secured to the lining and the backing with yarn knots at regular intervals.

My blanket is what I grew up calling a comforter, which efficiently says exactly what those wordy ads are claiming about weighted blankets “…shown to produce a soothing effect that reduces anxiety.”

I don’t know what lining is in my comforter. The outside is soft, yet the blanket is sort of heavy in warm and comforting way. Bringing it out of the closet in September or October is as heartwarming as that first bowl of winter chili or the sound of a crackling fireplace.

So, if I’m on your Christmas list for a weighted blanket…you can cross me off as DONE.

~~

A couple of years ago, on the second day of classes at the college where I work, I found a spiral notebook in a classroom; one of those cheap, one-subject notebooks moms always buy the week before school starts. I opened it to see if there was a name or some identification so I could return it to the owner. All I found was a list on the first page. It read:

Things I Forgot Today

  • USB
  • How to use Mac
  • Jaket
  • The date
  • My C number

After I finished laughing, I added “my notebook” to the list and set the thing aside to wait for the hapless student to come looking for it.

It is still laying on my desk. Two years later.

~~

And then there are my own notes. I’ve been cleaning off my desk the last couple of days and I keep coming across cryptic notes I’ve written to myself. For instance:

  • 00357626
  • Legacy = Cisco
  • 12 x 10 x 7.5
  • August 4th (with an exclamation point…if that was an appointment, I missed it)
  • A lot of phone numbers with no names
  • A lot of passwords with no subject…I don’t know what these passwords open

A lot of my time today has been spent with the age old question: throw away something I no longer recognize or keep…just in case? Maybe I’ll create a folder of Notes I No Longer Need.

So goes my desk cleaning.

~~

Finally, I’ve been fending off a lot of unknown and slightly shady characters from my blog and have become fascinated by the user names. Most hat frankly are so ridiculous they immediately stand out as fake).

Today, someone actually signed up as JonathanHacker. Another one, which I am convinced is the same jerk, has signed up numerous times using the word “scuby” (as in Scooby Doo?) in the fake name, for instance “pbyeiScuby.”

One of the most “normal” users was one called DavidDat. I have a bit of an inferiority complex and find it difficult to believe that a person I don’t know would want to be notified every time I post an article. I don’t know a DavidDat or any name remotely like that, so after much consideration, I deleted him:

“David, if you are reading this, email me and introduce yourself.”

You might be wondering why I don’t want all these followers. Most people who blog count their success by the number of subscribers they have. Not me. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that bad characters want the right to post unfettered comments on my page, comments that refer to products they are selling or to post trash talk or to lure my readers to their websites (for questionable reasons, I might add).

So, if you’re serious about being a subscriber and receiving notifications when I post, then you are reading this even now and you should know that an email request will quickly get you added to my subscriber list.

Seasons

September = soups and other comfort foods.

There shouldn’t be a difference between August 31 and September 1, but there definitely is. For some reason, September 1 has become a sort of milestone for the progress of a year. It can be 85° on the last day of August and 87° on the first day of September yet something seems changed, something has come to an end (or a beginning). I begin to think of soups and stews instead of fresh vegetables; blankets and long pants in place of shorts; books instead of bike rides.

I thought my feelings on this might be colored by the fact that I have a birthday in September, but I’ve been asking other people about this and many agreed that September just feels different. The day’s heat seems to vanish at sundown, mornings are a little crisper. And of course, there is a noticeable difference in the length of the days. It’s almost as if the sun is sliding away from us, the nights of winter are looming.

The fact is I love September. It has nothing to do with my “special” day and everything to do with this sense of change, this return to the inside life as opposed to the outdoors. Even in this time of Covid-19 and social distancing and self-isolation, I’ve been living my life “outside.” Sitting on my deck has become a morning habit. A walk to the mailbox feels like an adventure. Visits with my family all take place outside, 6 to 10 feet apart.

But now…September. I’ve already made a pot of Taco Soup, dug out my long-sleeved blouses and washed up my sweatshirts. I’ve started working to restock my “to read” bookshelf that I keep for weeks I can’t make it to the library. And of course I’ve checked my jigsaw puzzle stash…there are 5 on the stack that I haven’t yet worked.

In the spring you throw things off, open things up, spread your arms to welcome everything.

In the fall you pull yourself in, feather your nest, prepare to hunker down.

With no apology to those who have seasonal affective disorder (which I too begin to experience about March 1)…I really love September.

Why I Wear a Mask

The sign of the times in the 1920s and 30s.

See if these phrases sound familiar:

  • “There is no vaccine. Prevention is by frequent handwashing, not sharing personal items and staying away from other people when sick.”
  • “It was thought that the disease could be spread through the innocent kiss between a mother and child, neither showing symptoms more serious than a sore throat, yet a “kiss of death” harbouring and unknowingly spreading “the strangler.”

You might think these are unique times, that we are in a “special” place in history, that we must learn lessons from this current pandemic of Corona virus to protect ourselves and our families in the future.

Trust me: anything we are learning today will more than likely be lost over the years as we return to what we think is normal. I say that because the phrases I opened with pertain to two previous episodes in history that affected my own family. And no, I’m not talking about the Spanish Flu of 1918.

The first phrase, the one about frequent handwashing was used to educate people to avoid spreading a disease called Scarlet Fever. In about 1954, my little brother developed this disease and I can remember the ominous red quarantine sign that was affixed to our house, barring anyone from entering or leaving. I was too young to calculate how long we were quarantined, but I know I was not allowed to go to school, and I had a very real sense of how worried my mother seemed. She was pregnant with her third child and cooped up with a sick toddler and a bored 8-year-old in a single car garage tricked out as a temporary living space while my father built our house.

Fun times no doubt, but an interesting illustration of how our current situation is not so unique.

But wait…there’s more. Scarlet Fever wasn’t usually fatal, just highly contagious. The second phrase in my opening describes one possible transmission method of a disease that caused many deaths up until the mid to late 1930’s.

In 1932 one of the most dramatic events of my mother’s life was the death of her older sister, Melvina Wells at the age of 11. Melvina contracted diphtheria, a truly frightening and highly contagious disease. Diphtheria was the third leading cause of death in children in the 1920s and 1930s.

Diphtheria was called “the Strangler” or “the Strangling Angel of Children.” It began with a sore throat, aches and fever, but the fatal effects of the disease as it progressed was a thick membrane that coated throat, nasal passages and organs such as the lungs and heart. Death was often the result of heart failure or suffocation due to this membrane. One physician described it this way:

 “I recall the case of a beautiful girl of five or six years, the fourth child in a farmer’s family to become the victim of diphtheria. She literally choked to death, remaining conscious till the last moment of life. Knowing the utter futility of the various methods which had been tried to get rid of the membrane in diphtheria or to combat the morbid condition, due, as we know now to the toxin, I felt as did every physician of that day, as if my hands were literally tied and I watched the death of that beautiful child feeling absolutely helpless to be of any assistance.” (“Diphtheria: A Popular Health Article,” The Public Health Journal 18 (Dec. 1927): 574)

Diphtheria is transmitted from person to person, usually via respiratory droplets. And to avoid the spread…quarantine is most effective. Sound familiar?

Mom told about how their family was quarantined and how due to that fact, when Melvina died, they were unable to have a normal funeral. Her body was prepared for burial and displayed in the front window of the home for relatives and mourners to come pay their respects. According to the death certificate I found, she was attended by a doctor from February 2 to February 8 when she died and was buried on February 9, 1932.

A vaccine was developed and tested in Canada in the 1920s but was not well known or accepted in the US until the mid-1930s…too late for my young Aunt Melvina.

In my genealogy studies, I also discovered that two of my father’s uncles died in July 1916 within days of each other. I found no record of their deaths that would tell me how or why they died, but I did find that there was a huge outbreak of polio in 1916 that killed many children in the United States and I can only surmise that this was possibly the cause of death of 8 year old Max Donahue and his 1 1/2 year old baby brother Craig that summer long ago.

As far as I can tell, no other members of my family contracted either Scarlet fever or diphtheria or polio. My mother said that she and her siblings were not permitted to enter Melvina’s room after she got sick. Neither my parents nor I got sick with Scarlet Fever. I don’t know about the other children in my father’s family…or even if polio was the cause of those boys’ deaths in 1916.

What I do know is that communicable diseases are nothing new and we should have learned something over the years. So, what have we learned? Scarlet Fever, diphtheria and polio are examples I can relate to because they are family history, and what I believe to be true is that quarantine is not imprisonment, and distancing, washing of hands. and wearing of masks is not an infringement on my freedom. These acts are simple and sensible practices to help save not only my life, but the lives of those I care about.

Sorry for the cliché, but this is literally not rocket science. None of the procedures we are being urged to practice are new or revolutionary. Stay home if you are sick, don’t get close to others if there is even a possibility they are sick, wear a mask in public, wash your hands a lot.

Get with the program, people! Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, but we can do our part as well with the most elementary practices we (should) have learned from the past.

There is another cliché that is proven time after time: if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Living History

Our new look for an uncertain future.

I know I haven’t written for a while. With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, in times of trouble I am not a rock, not a bridge over troubled waters. I tend more towards the philosophy of the turtle: I pull in my legs and head and make myself as small as I can (metaphorically speaking, of course), then I just plod through one day at a time. It’s how I survived cancer in 2000, it’s how I got through 2008, the year of the flood. It appears to be how I am coping with Covid-19, the Pandemic of 2019-20.

Still, since I have been doing so much research on my ancestors, I am aware of the historical aspect of these times. At some point in the future, as someone is reading the stories I have collected, they may want to hear about this event as well.

The numbers will be recorded in books. The dates will also be recorded. Even the events leading up to it and the various good and bad responses to the pleadings of the medical professionals will be analyzed. No doubt there will be countless investigations into why this viral infection went so horribly wrong.

I don’t need to record any of those things.

I do want to write about heart, the life lessons, the emotions, the things we have discovered about ourselves.

After future searchers have read the facts, the thing that will really tell the story is how we acted and how we survived. They need to know about the humor. They need to know about the dedication of the “little guys.” They need to know about a robust, supposedly well-adjusted country/world that was stopped dead (excuse the bad and unintended pun) by a tiny virus that relied on human interaction to survive…a hug, a handshake, a shared water bottle, a pickup game of ball, a grocery cart….all the ways that little virus could move from one to another of us.

Suddenly the much-maligned cell phone, the internet and social media sites became part of our survival packages. We longed for the people in our lives that we always meant to go visit when we had the time. We missed jobs and classrooms that we used to dread. And for some reason, toilet paper and bottled water became the currency we desired most. Gasoline fell to its lowest price in decades as our cars sat abandoned and dusty in the driveways and garages.

Strangely enough, we became just a little closer in our isolation. We learned how very important low-level, low paid workers were to our daily existence. Grocery clerks and shelf stockers and delivery drivers became our heroes. Nurses and aides and doctors and cleaners were applauded when they finally came out of the hospital for a breath of fresh air or pulled into their driveways at home for a rare day off.

People who worked since they were kids, now drove through long lines to have masked and gloved soldiers place boxes of food in their cars.

It has become a different world…scarier, more personal, and somehow kinder. I choke up every night when the news programs close their broadcasts with just a few photos and names of some of the people who have died. I don’t know them, but I am their family and I mourn them.

When this is over (and it will be over someday), if we can remember a little of the humility and the humanity we have learned in this we might just be a better world…for a while.

Just a PSA

For those of you who expect that I will post every week…sorry. I didn’t post last week because I ran into a sort of figurative (and possibly literal) roadblock as I attempted to move William Edward and Anne Collings and their two young sons Zebulon and Spencer from New Jersey to southwestern Pennsylvania.

In my defense, I ran into a war about which I knew very little. That would be the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Year war which took place from 1756-1763. This war took place in the very area where I was sending the young Collings family in the early 1750s and I decided I’d better do some more research. Would a savvy head of family pack everyone he cared about and all their belongings to move into the center of a war with another country?

Clearly, I’m doing more digging.

However, I also wanted to address with you a small housekeeping problem I’m having. Since I began this blog, I have had to delete over 200 “fake” subscribers, I don’t know who these people are, but they provide ridiculous user names and emails…very obvious fakes…I think.

I would never delete anyone who is seriously interested in following my posts, but I only want people who are serious…not followers who wish to use my blog as a platform for promoting their own sites.

So, here’s the thing. If you are not already a subscriber you should email me and I will be glad to add you. The benefits of subscribing are two fold: 1) you are (hopefully, there have been some problems) notified  by email when a new post is added and 2) you have my eternal gratitude for being a real person, interested in my story!

You do have to submit an email address to be a subscriber, but that email is not visible to anyone else other that my administrator (me) and is never used for any sales, advertising, or other correspondence. I don’t even use it to write to you unless you write to me first.

So, just this little bit of a rant will serve as my late entry for last week. Hopefully I will post again late this week, but I will be teaching a class for the next few weeks and may run a little late.

Bear with me!!! And thank you for your interest in my stories.

Old Love

New love, old love…it’s all good when it’s real.

Author’s Note: This is a little something for Valentine’s Day, traditionally a day to celebrate young love. But old love is important and we should celebrate that as well.

The old man sat rocking, clutching his cup of tea. He stared into the fire, glancing from time to time at the old woman who sat next to him. He tried to see the young girl in her, the young girl he’d fallen in love with, the young girl who had made him feel strong and fierce and brave.

He tried to see her dark brown hair that had brushed his cheek when he could get close to her. He tried to remember the bright brown eyes that looked deep into his own eyes as she told him what she wished for their future. He tried to remember how soft and smooth her skin was at night in the firelight.

But that girl wasn’t there. She wasn’t there because the boy who had seen her that way wasn’t there. He was old now, and all he could see was the old woman beside him. The woman who had been there for so many years. The woman who stood and sat and lay beside him for almost as long as he could remember.

He couldn’t remember before her because the time before her didn’t exist. He could only see everything she was, all the years of her, all the pain and joy and anger of her. He couldn’t strip away the days of their lives together to see what she had been before him because all he could see now was all she was to him.

He sighed, sat his tea mug down carefully, and closed his eyes. Suddenly, briefly, as he breathed his last breath, he saw her, the young girl, the woman, the old woman, all the same, all there beside him as she had always been, and he smiled.

 

Christmas, 2019

A couple of weeks ago my friend Eli explained the difference between happiness and joy and helped me better understand the very mixed feelings I get at Christmas.

Happiness is event driven and joy is a feeling that exists in spite of everything external. Joy is an emotion that comes from anticipation or expectation.

Christmas, said Eli, is not a happy time for some people. There is illness and loss and families that are far way or separated by anger. Christmas is a time when all that we do not have in our lives becomes painfully evident.

It’s not a happy time for everyone, but out of all the frustration and ordinary day to day struggles, out of the awe and fear of the responsibilities there is the anticipation of a fulfilled promise… joy.

There’s a real and human side to Christmas and we shouldn’t lose sight of that because it only makes the miracle of the season that much more joyful. That’s what I was trying to get at when I wrote the following, several years ago.

Every year I try to think what it must have been like that night.

Some say it was cold, maybe so. Since the country of Israel is subtropical, it wouldn’t have been cold as we in the Midwest know cold, maybe in the 40’s or 50’s. But of course, cold is relative, so it probably did seem cold to them, that young couple on that ill-timed journey long ago.

More than likely the weather was damp, and rain had been falling most of the day. That’s typical winter weather around that time, around that place. When you are road weary and wet, 50° would be cold…bone-chilling cold.

And they surely would have been weary. Twenty-five miles doesn’t seem far in a car, but try walking it…or worse yet, riding on the back of a donkey with your own back aching from a nine month pregnancy.

Of course, they were tired, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Young and newly married, they must have been a little dazed by the turn their lives had taken.

We all know the story. When the betrothed, yet unmarried Mary learned she was to bear a Child of God, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, also miraculously pregnant. She may have been seeking some solace or trying to put some distance between herself and her well-meaning but skeptical family. The Gospels tell us she stayed with Elizabeth for three months. One can only wonder what those two women talked about late at night. There must have been some doubts and fears about how this could possibly work out.

While Mary was gone, Joseph must have wrestled with his own problems. Being betrothed to Mary was much more serious than merely being engaged. It meant Joseph had agreed to be responsible for Mary. The couple had already taken a sort of pre-marriage vow, and to learn that Mary was carrying a child must have been a tremendous blow to a man who knew he had honored his vows to her.

Joseph would have been perfectly justified in publicly denouncing Mary, yet after much consideration, he decided to very quietly divorce or step away from her with no public shaming.

I’m sure his family had a lot to say about that decision. I’m sure he had a cousin or a friend or someone who made sure to tell him just how foolish he would look by treating Mary with compassion. Still he stood his ground. He would not be cruel to this young woman he had known all his life, this young woman he cared for and had planned to marry.

Only after Joseph made this decision to quietly put Mary away from him, did God send an angel to explain everything. I wonder how long the angel had to talk. How quickly did Joseph grasp the significance? And did he do so with relief, or with some skepticism, or with patient resignation. Did he realize the responsibility of becoming the stepfather to the Child of God?

I bet his family had a lot to say about that, too, about the marriage proceeding as planned in spite of all appearances.

So, you see, the young couple had to be emotionally drained as well as physically exhausted when they got into Bethlehem. Newlyweds…Mary nine months pregnant…Joseph concerned for his young wife, worried and frustrated that on top of everything they had been through, he was expected to drag her out in this condition to fulfill the government requirement for a stupid census.

Imagine how frustrated, how angry, how helpless this young husband must have felt when he began to realize that there was not one room left in Bethlehem where they could relax.

Was the stable where they finally settled offered to them by some kindhearted soul who saw Mary’s condition or Joseph’s frustration? Or did a greedy innkeeper see a chance to make some pocket money by charging a desperate man for the only space available where a tired couple could pass the night relatively dry and safe?

We’ll never know for sure. All we know now, some two thousand years later, is that God’s Plan would happen. For in the night, in the stable, in the little town of Bethlehem, to an ordinary couple, road weary and far from home, a Child was born.

Every year I try to think how it must have been that night.  All the frustrations and human failures and problems, all the hurt and the sorrow and the pain, everything that was ordinary fell away, paled in the face of the miracle not just of birth, but Birth.

And if ever there was a time when the earth stood poised with all of eternity within our grasp, it must have been that night, when the angels sang to shepherds and a young mother cradled the Son of God in the form of a baby.

Every year, I try desperately to think how the world must have felt that night.

Rants

Sometimes I just wonder what’s really going on?

I’ve been hearing a lot about the opioid court cases lately what with the decision in Oklahoma imposing a fine of 500 million-plus dollars against just a couple of the drug companies, as well as speculation that a major manufacturer is considering settling claims amounting in the billions by declaring bankruptcy.

This is going to go on for a long time…court cases, appeals, opinions, and yes, there will be ruined lives at the top of that food chain, but they will never quite mirror the ruined lives at the bottom.

I want to say here and now I have some experience with Oxycontin. I was not mindlessly prescribed the drug, nor was I ever addicted. I was prescribed the drug by a caring doctor back in 2000 before the drug dam broke and flooded the country. I had excruciating pain following surgery. Other medications did not even dull that pain, so my doctor prescribed one pill a day of Oxycontin.

I was skeptical. I doubted that one pill of any drug could possibly help, but desperate for any relief at all, I took AS DIRECTED.

Let me make this clear, taken as directed, under the care of an ethical doctor, opioids are a miracle drug. My pain never returned. After about three weeks as I slowly recovered from all the other effects of the surgery, I voluntarily quit the oxy before I had even taken the entire prescription.

There is great tragedy in the uncontrolled sale and prescribing of this drug, yet I can’t help but think of the people with chronic pain who are now unable to receive a drug that was, for me, an important aid to my recovery.

Five hundred million dollars doesn’t sound like enough money to penalize a company who coldly, knowingly shipped thousands, even millions of pills to tiny communities of only hundreds of residents. As the facts of this case come out, the numbers add up and up: the numbers of pills, the numbers of the addicted, the numbers of dead, the numbers of families affected. The number of dollars assigned to punish the guilty just don’t seem like enough.

Dollars alone will never offset the pain and loss.

Just sayin’…

I regularly read a magazine which is not targeted to me as a demographic. It has excellent, in-depth reporting on some subjects, and it amuses me to see how the “other half” lives.

Well, sometimes it amuses me. Today, it just annoyed me, so I’m sharing.

The magazine had two small “shorts,” one about a guy who collects sneakers (yes, sneakers) and another about a company making dog food from human-grade food, meaning food for dogs that probably appeals to the owners more than to the dogs. Have you seen what a dog will eat?

Actually, the company would be offended by what I just wrote because they market their product as “food for dogs, not dog food.” Whatever that means.

I love dogs. I’ve owned dogs much of my life (though not currently), and they are great companions. Dogs can be comforters, they are not judgemental, they can lift you up when you are having a bad day, they love you no matter what you do or say to them, and they never tell your secrets.

However, I just have to draw the line at spending more per week on a dog’s food than I do on my own. Seriously.

Now, let’s talk about the guy who collects sneakers. He used to collect vintage cars, but for whatever reason, that just wasn’t fun anymore. He spotted an article about an upcoming sale of sneakers at Sotheby’s. They had 100 pairs to be auctioned off, and something about that just woke this guy up, so he contacted Sotheby’s and arranged to purchase 99 pairs prior to that aucton. He snapped up the lot for a mere $850,000.

You can do the math.

He couldn’t buy the 100th pair of sneakers because the owner wanted it to be auctioned off, which was a good call on the owner’s part…final price for that one pair: $437,500.

I’m not even going to apologize for thinking it is obscene to pay those kinds of prices for shoes. It doesn’t matter who designed them, who made them, whose name is on them, or what they look like. You can argue that they are works of art, but seriously people …they’re shoes. I know I sound like a whiney, ordinary upper-lower-class, lower-middle-class person who works for a living, but here’s the thing—I pay my bills and if I’m lucky, have a little left over each month for a nice meal out, a movie, a decent car. I can’t understand the appeal of $400,000 sneakers.

It makes the world just seem a little wobbly on its axis.

I’m just sayin’.

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