All posts by Brad

Don’t Save it for Good

Years ago, a wise family friend shared with me the phrase, save it for good. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. But I knew from the tone of her voice and facial expression, that saving it for good was not a great idea.

Life is short

Perhaps there are clothes hanging in the closet that you’ve never worn. Or unplanned vacations that you hope to take one day. Or friends you’d like to visit—but have yet to find the right time. Then you know all about saving for good. Waiting for that perfect moment to savor life’s pleasures.

Control is an illusion

It’s often said that life is what happens as we’re busy making other plans. John Lennon sang about it in Beautiful Boy. And so, my wise family friend was trying to convey to me that it’s a mistake to save it for good. We truly only have this moment. Not yesterday…and no promises of tomorrow.

Take it to heart

I’ve tried to be mindful of that counsel, even though I often fall short. I tend to save it for good, anticipating something better is coming. It’s like being an inverted optimist. Never quite satisfied with today and ever hopeful that tomorrow will be brighter. I sometimes wonder if I occupy that quadrant alone.

Now take a few moments to enjoy John Lennon’s beautiful rendition. http://bit.ly/2usLFUQ

 

 

Does Anyone Know a Good Handyman?

Gee, it’s awfully hard to find a handyman or handywoman these days. Someone affordable, who can provide electrical, carpentry and plumbing services. I’ve searched, asked neighbors and friends. No one seems to have a recommendation. How can that be? Meanwhile, doctors, lawyers, and financial planners seem to be everywhere. Always advertising their services. You can hardly turn around without tripping over them.

American Airlines

On a recent trip to San Francisco, the in-flight magazine profiled The Top Doctors in America. I’d never considered flying to Nashville to meet an orthopedic surgeon. Or to Los Angeles for a plastic surgery consultation. Or to Baltimore to visit an Ob/Gyn (but then that would be just silly). Pages and pages of physicians reaching out across the country. Each one guaranteed to be the best in his/her field.

DUI?  

And relaxing in front of the television watching Judge Judy (I’m a sucker for a woman who says kerfuffle), the commercials begin for lawyers. Lots of catchy tunes. One rides a motorcycle without a helmet and sports an extremely tight tee-shirt displaying a buff physique (I’m just saying). Another pair is a husband and wife team. They seem happily married, smiling for the camera (but who can really tell?). Then, there’s this huge office staff, one after another claiming to represent the law firm. That explains why, if you call,  you’re guaranteed to never speak to the two lawyers they’re actually promoting. That seems odd.Continue reading . . .    

Wouldn’t You Really Rather … ?

I finally bought a new car. It nearly killed me. I know that for many people purchasing a new car is a thrill, but to me, it’s a journey to the land of confusion. Too many models….too many choices. And to be honest, if you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m not a car person. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not much for hitchhiking or taking mass transit. You really can’t do either living in Phoenix. But today’s cars all seem to look alike. I guess I’m what you might call car blind.

Do I need to pick a color too? 

I test drove a lot of vehicles over a number of months (please don’t gasp—I already admitted I don’t know what I’m doing). It was an odd experience. Mostly because the person sitting next to me (the salesman/woman) was a total stranger. Someone whose very livelihood depended on my decision. And being a sensitive guy, I had a gnawing feeling that if I didn’t buy the car, their job might be on the line.  So, I made nervous small talk and hoped against hope that I would like the car. But I mostly didn’t.

I’m a throw back

I guess I’m really not much for the 2017 models. I like old things. Turner Classic Movies, pies made from scratch, antiques, and yes … car museums with Studebakers and Packards. For some reason, I have a yen to own a big, shiny, gas guzzler from the 30s and 40s. I get that they weren’t good for the environment, lacked safety features, and probably drove like tanks. But anything less seems to be—well—less. That’s how you see the world when you’re car blind.Continue reading . . .    

Summer Movies: Or How to Survive Phoenix in July

Everyone knows Phoenix is hot in the summer. That’s when most Phoenicians plan their vacations. But for those who stay and want to leave the house in the afternoon, there’s the air-conditioned restaurant, a trip to the supermarket, or a walk through a shopping mall. And yes. There’s the movie theater.

Senior discount

I admit it. I love the matinee show as much as I love my senior discount. I know. It’s not a huge saving. But to me, it’s a big deal. For years I stayed away from the movie theater because it was so darn expensive. Call it price sensitivity or consumer activism, either way, I opted instead for Netflix. But watching a movie at home pales to the experience in a darkened theater. Who wants to sit in their living room when you can view a film on a large screen with those great theater acoustics?

Dine-in option

Unlike my friends, I dislike the dine-in option. I like to see my food. I’m visual that way. I want to make sure everything looks okay before I put it in my mouth. In the dark, that becomes a challenge. Besides, I’m a man of limited focus. I can either enjoy my food or the movie. Not both. And based on the amount of stain remover used in our house—I’m also a messy eater. And that’s when I can see what I’m doing.

Fortunes are built on meager savings

I’m often astonished by those patrons who buy out the concession stands. You’ve seen them. Popcorn and drinks and nacho chips with queso. Balancing all that food on their lap as they munch away. Forget all the calories they’re consuming, the cost of those snacks dwarf the ticket price. I often think they need an intervention by a good money manager. Where’s Charles Schwab when you need him? But to be truthful, I hate sitting in a darkened theater listening to other people slurping their drinks or munching on popcorn. When I’m watching a movie, I want to be engrossed in the film, not what the person next to me is eating.

Crabby old fart

Yes, I know. That’s how it sounds. And perhaps, that’s who I am. But I think movie theaters are for being transported to another world, not stuffing your face. There. I said it. Go eat lunch somewhere else. And while I’m at it, stop all that gosh darn coughing and sneezing. If you’re sick, please stay home. I’m trying to watch a movie!

And the Password is …

In this age of the Internet, I have more passwords then I can possibly remember. Six pages to be precise. Many of the new accounts came with the publication of my debut novel, The Intersect. Goodreads, Kindle, Apple ibooks and WordPress—to name but a few. The rest are what I refer to as passwords for living. Amazon, American Airlines, Southwest, Safeway, Culligan, Netflix, countless hotel chains and travel sites. The list has exploded. It seems you can’t do anything today without the Internet and creating a password.

Mix it up

I’ve taken the advice of the tech industry and changed it up when creating my passwords. It makes sense that no two accounts should ever have the same one. If they hack into your bank, you certainly don’t want them to have access to your electronic medical record. Though if they hack into your bank account, who really cares if they know you were at the doctor twice in April due to a nagging case of bronchitis? I’d prefer they just not touch my money. Cough be damned, I’m funny that way.

Creating a password

We’ve been told to avoid names or birth dates and to combine numbers and letters along with symbols ($#&!) to the string. The days of using a simple 123456 are over. Phrases aren’t a bad idea, but then, you have to be able to remember them. Any chance of a simple, easy to remember password, has been shot to hell. Check out this video and you’ll never do a simple password again. http://bit.ly/2uqPHM8

Ignorance is no excuse

There are fee-based password management services ready to coordinate all of this for you. Of course, they require that you create a master password. That made me laugh. And I know I should have more confidence, but with so many places being hacked—why wouldn’t a company that secures passwords be a prime target?Continue reading . . .    

Mahjong Anyone?

On July 4th, friends invited us over to learn how to play Mahjong.

Mahjong!

The game my mother and her girlfriends played when I was growing up. I remember those ladies laughing and calling out tiles as I passed through the kitchen on my way to the refrigerator. I’d hear “two crack,” “three bam,” “five dot,” as they rapidly went around the table. They’d smoke cigarettes, sip refreshments and talk endlessly. Often their voices would rise in excitement, rolling into laughter. I never knew what they were talking about—and if I happened to linger too long—I was told to keep moving.

My turn

So, it was with great interest that I accepted the invitation to join a group of friends learning the game. After all, I thought rather arrogantly, how hard can it really be?

It was hard. Very hard.

And as I played, trying to figure out what the hell was going on, I couldn’t help but think of my mother. How did she ever carry on a conversation and play this game? How many rounds did she endure before she no longer needed to concentrate? And why is this game so much harder than poker? 

American version

It seems that there are two versions of Mahjong. The American—which I was learning—and the Chinese—which was being played by a group of men seated behind me. I’m guessing the American version is easier—but being new to it—it was like learning Hebrew (and that’s hard). The other guys kept saying it’s like playing gin rummy. I know gin rummy. I get the comparison. But this was beyond gin rummy. If you don’t believe me, check out the video explaining the basics. http://bit.ly/2uuMSqYContinue reading . . .    

Sleeping Beauty: Wake-up!

I’ve discovered a new talent. I’m able to fall asleep in public sitting straight up. That’s right. Put me in a chair, lower the lights, and I’m out, often sleeping through the first five minutes of a movie or a play. No matter how loud the volume or interested I might be in the subject matter, I drift off. Regardless of the time of day, I snooze.

Sleeping well at home?

Yes, I’m getting enough rest at night. There’s no problem in that department. And I don’t have narcolepsy. I’m not falling asleep anytime or anywhere. Just when the setting seems to call for it. Otherwise, I’m perfectly alert. Mostly. Unless the story you’re telling me is going on too long, or the jokes aren’t funny, or I’ve heard it all before. In that case, I might suppress a yawn. But only to be polite.

Catnaps

I’m not a big fan of napping in general. I never have been. It leaves me feeling groggy. But now I’m beginning to wonder if a catnap—defined as short, light sleep—is required as we age. Does it just come with the territory? If that’s true, I can accept it. I just wish I wasn’t doing it in public. Especially when I’ve spent money to be entertained.

Jet lag

Now I get being sleepy if you’re suffering from jet lag.

On our first day in Australia, we met mutual friends at a lovely restaurant for dinner. They invited us back to their home for dessert. The strawberry short cake was amazing. The sugar content alone should have kept me alert for hours. But after I put the cake plate down, I fell asleep. I next opened my eyes to see the host staring at me. “Are you okay?” he asked. I was fine. Certainly a bit better rested.Continue reading . . .    

The World’s Oldest Fly: Where Did It Come From?

Did you ever notice that you can’t seem to go to a deli without running into a fly circling your pastrami sandwich? It drives me nuts. Instead of enjoying my meal, I spend my time guarding my plate, swatting at the air, hoping the filthy creature doesn’t land in my coleslaw.

Other restaurants too

To be fair, it’s not just delicatessens. Many restaurants seem to have the same problem. If there’s an open patio—I completely understand. It’s just part of the dining experience. Nature will exist where man chooses to sit. You can quote me. But when you’re inside and flies are swarming, isn’t it the staff’s responsibility to eliminate the infestation? Is that really too much to ask?

Greek with a twist

A few months ago Jeff and I ate at a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs. White table clothes, soft music, and a price point that was amazing. And though the food was delicious, no one on Yelp had bothered to mention the infestation. Upon my first taste of eggplant, the flies appeared. Scarfing down the moussaka, I watched them line up on the window sill. Alfred Hitchcock could have directed the scene. The flies were soon everywhere. Did we leave? Hell no. The food was too good. Instead, we hunkered down, gobbling up our meal as we swatted away.

What are we willing to do?

And so I wonder, does anyone ever complain about restaurant flies? Is it rude to tell the management you’re leaving even after you’ve just ordered? Are we just willing to put up with the onslaught if the food exceeds expectations? And what do you do when they land on your food? Do you continue to eat?

Buck up, man

I know there are some people who think it’s no big deal. I live with one of them. So I guess I will continue to duck and dodge as I cover my food. But I still think the staff should be trained on how to use a fly swatter. Aim high, swing hard, and splat. Dessert anyone?

Breaking News: Man Discovers Pedicures

Toenails are God’s little joke on men.

Unlike women who luxuriate in pedicures, men are tough. We manage our own nail care. Bending and straining to clip them until something bad happens. An ingrown toenail. Foot fungus. Falling arches. And then we rush to the podiatrist. Because that’s where men go to manage issues with their feet. Toenails eventually get clipped—but by a professional with a degree.

Nails like Howard Hughes

For men who live mostly in colder climates, and therefore rarely expose their feet, there’s little hope. If you check out those toenails, and I have seen a few, they’re in horrible shape. Too long, too dark and too crusty. I won’t go on—but trust me—it’s disgusting.

I used to live in Michigan so I know all about hiding your feet. Wearing socks to bed isn’t always about staying warm. But living in Phoenix, a hot weather climate, toes are on display much of the year. In the summer, everyone wears flip-flops and sandals. We walk around barefoot. We go swimming.

You are the toes that cling to you.Continue reading . . .    

Where’s the Shift?

I’ve been driving Jeff’s new car. A Lincoln MKC. And much to my surprise, the whole thing is push button. The entire shift mechanism is gone. You have to literally point and touch your way to park, reverse and drive. Great for keeping your mind agile.

Change for changes sake

Every now and then, there’s an older person who plows through a crowd. That’s due to confusion between the gas pedal and the brake. And yet, with the graying of America, cars continue to change. Haven’t we learned anything? Fortunately, Ford has modified the once complicated My Ford Touch. They’ve gone back to the manual radio and temperature control system. Thank goodness. Traveling at 75 mph on the highway and trying to figure out how to make those changes was a death defying feat. Common sense has prevailed.Continue reading . . .