Sunday, December 22, 2013

hoping to God

After a stretch of time, when commitments in my business and personal life keep me away from posting I sometimes feel like catching up by integrating various topics into one piece.

A few days ago I was pondering how I might be able to roll Duck Dynasty, winter weather anxiety and Christmas into one viewpoint.

Then on Friday morning I walked upon a scene that eerily resembled a sad memory from thirty five years ago involving a lunch hour tragedy, a diesel truck and a young woman.

On this day it was mid-morning.  I had just dropped off my son, a ten year old fifth grader, at his school and I was driving on my way to a business appointment in Queens.  The destination was Northern Blvd in Woodside, to be exact, for those of you who are familiar with NYC.  As I exited the ramp from the Brooklyn-Queens Expwy several police cars and caution cones were in place and traffic was being re-directed.  There was no obvious sign of trouble and at first I thought that this might be part of a systematic shut down of ramps and roadways by the NYPD, which is routinely done when a dignitary is escorted through the city. 

I was directed to the right when I actually needed to go straight and so I chose to keep going right for a few avenues so I could get clear of all the snarled traffic.  Then I looped left and back across Northern Blvd to a metered parking spot on a side street within a couple of blocks of my meeting place.

As I gathered my materials and headed for the office building I was immediately struck by the vast silence.  I turned the corner onto the Boulevard and tip-toed along a city block that was entirely squared off by a police line except for a small path of sidewalk.  A large tractor-trailer truck sat dormant on the asphalt pavement.  There were a few dozen police officers, some crossing guards, many local residents, business owners and a news crew present.  But most notably there was stillness. 

Remembering back to college and a similar scene in lower Manhattan during a coffee break when I worked at Barnes & Noble I did not need to ask anyone what happened. 

But before being admitted into my meeting on the second floor of the company two blocks away I asked the receptionist if she knew exactly what had happened.  A young boy, a third grader, was run over and killed as he was heading to school.  “I feel bad for everyone”, she said.  Speechless and knowing this was the last day of school before the Christmas break I nodded and thought how sometimes I wish we could just turn back time.

After the appointment I had to walk back past the same route.  It looked as if everyone had been stopped in time for the entire hour and no one had moved. Few words were being spoken.  On the periphery, by a 7 Eleven, I could see some folks using hand gestures to explain where the vehicle came from and how the dreadful accident occurred.  The truck’s bulky engine, cab and container were shrouded in yellow tape and it loomed ghostly and mummified in the center of the street.

I was thinking about how it is typically challenging enough to sense and feel the wonder and beauty of the world amid all the dangers and heartache that abound.  Gut wrenching events like these would seem to move the challenging to the impossible for the families involved.

This is the season of joy and merriment.  But it’s a man-made season.  The seasons of life and nature work beyond our control and don’t always allow for concurrence. 

In times of despair some people turn closer toward faith.  Others turn full steam away from conviction.

The longing for a higher power is clearly understandable, especially in the face of the incomprehensible.  And the dismissal of any possibility of a Godly being is equally understood. 

In my speechlessness, as I looked around, I can only reflect upon the two thoughts in my head.  Eight year old boys go directly to heaven and I hope to God that it exists.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Sunday, November 24, 2013

hitting my stride instead

Before the sanitation collectors toss the lids off my garbage pails in the early morning and ahead of the New York Times delivery person’s schedule for hurling all the news that’s fit to print midway beneath the rear axle of my car I am usually fast afoot and running a route towards the high school track a mile and a half away.  A few loops around and several on the weekends helps me to clear my head and provide prep for the day to come.
It’s therapeutic for me and is akin to being in a special place.  But lately I have encountered a high frequency of negative interference during these runs. 

For as dangerous as using handheld phones or texting while driving may be, the crack of dawn hours are full of the worst drivers known to man.  Perhaps they assume that no one else is on the road as they blow through STOP signs as I approach the intersections.  Evidently their spouses, friends and children run chronically late for the morning trains, in that I have nearly been run over on two occasions recently while driver and passenger alike focus only on the station 500 yards forward as they vie for the shortcut to the platform and seemingly pretend to miss me by feet instead of inches.

My grandmother used to have an apt expression.  Racing to their graves, she would say, racing to their graves.  And wise as that was, the flip side that focuses on me, is what instinctively and gladly took over causing me to comply with a simple hands held wide apart gesture and mouthing, “Are you kidding me”, instead of punching the rear window of the latest car to screech around a FULL STOP sign and ignore my existence. 
Confirmed to me instantaneously is why I am out there in the first place.  I’m out there for pleasure, for peace and a little bit of paradise each day.

Just like many of us I’m fighting the stress of a long day, traffic snarls, building back up my 401k, emotional scars, grief, finding the right babysitter, weaning off sugar and carbs, caretaking, and societal group depression as I marvel at the incompetence of government.  (PS…why couldn’t the NSA just take a few extra minutes and set up  We probably could have signed up for health insurance faster if we accessed it through Angela Merkel’s cell phone.
So yes…I understand the world is a stressful environment.

But as miles and minutes gave way to seconds my frosty nose met the warm air of freshly brewing coffee as I habitually entered the luncheonette at the end of my run so I could chug down a water and pick up my customary lottery ticket.
And so, as the scents flowed, I sneezed.  And four regulars harmoniously rang out…”God Bless”. 

Politeness and awareness aren’t totally withered away I thought. 
Maybe the Thanksgiving and holiday season will polish it up and dust it off a bit…well…perhaps. 

In either case I will keep on attending to my daily morning paradise, regardless of the obstacles.  And if my lottery ticket ever scores I will stick to the same route.  But I will be temporarily relocated to Nirvana.
© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Monday, September 30, 2013

common sense 101 vs. convolution 99.9

The health care system in the United States had been broken and bleeding money for a long time.  The Affordable Care Act makes an attempt to change that scenario. 

On June 28th of last year the U.S Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s provision that individuals may pay a penalty for not obtaining health insurance, as that may be reasonably characterized as a tax.

The only way to get a different result is to make a change.  Granted, the new system with insurance exchanges will likely not solve all the issues.  It will likely make insurance much more affordable and accessible for many people though.

People with health insurance don’t wait as long to see doctors and so get care when conditions are preventable, more treatable and less costly. 

People without health coverage wait longer to see doctors and so get care when conditions are advanced, less treatable and more costly.  And who picks up those increased costs? 

Well…there is no free ride…on anything.  Uninsured people in any system do not get free health care.  The costs are simply spread among everyone by the way of higher fees, higher premiums and an erosion of benefits.

Insurance 101 means gathering as large a pool of people as you can in order to collect the lowest premiums possible to be able to cover the anticipated claims of the community.  Having more people in the pool is better.  Except regarding adverse selection, and this can be avoided if younger and generally healthier people are incorporated.

But instead of trying to work from simplicity and common sense there are too many people trying to add complexity and nonsense into the equation.

If the Affordable Care Act were to fail, that’s okay.  Another change can begin. 

Doing nothing….well that’s a failure from the get go.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let freedom….

A few weeks ago a great old friend from my childhood traveled up from Florida to NY with his family and together we barbequed with my family in the backyard.  Talk of Independence Day reminded me of how my friend was a fireworks aficionado.  When we were kids, in the late sixties, he would often remind me that 1976 was gonna be the big one.  I remember him foretelling of an all night celebration with crazy amounts of rockets everywhere.

My father was a fireworks heckler.  One year when I was a teenager, perhaps it was 1976 (though full clarity escapes me on this), my father remarkably agreed to let me shoot off some firecrackers in front of our house.  But there were rules.  I could only do one at a time—and what fun was that?  

Well…he devised some sort of pipe that he angled into our front garden.  Again, like the single at a time rule, he was opting for maximum control.  Oddly enough, each crack was magnified and sounded like a mini cannon.  If I sit quietly I can still hear the ringing in my left ear.  I’m sure the resulting effect was not what my father had planned. 

Over planning has its own set of pitfalls.  When overdoing something, I sometimes think about Isaac Newton and what he said about every action having an equal and opposite reaction.  Then I begin to think of moderating the course of action a bit.  Not that I can promote moderation as having any glitz or special attraction, I can’t.  But when thinking about equal and opposite reactions, and without knowing a time frame, avoiding the outlying choice of gluttony and the opposing choice of deprivation seems to be wise.  Gluttony let to run amuck can be about as devastating as deprivation winding up to backfire.  

When a government feels entitled to gather all the metadata it wants and the people just shrug their shoulders I see both gluttony and deprivation in play.

When not enough people favor closing the loophole on background checks and too many people think the second amendment simply grants hunters the right to own a gun I see gluttony and deprivation in play. 

When the NYPD thinks there is no need to independently monitor their stop and frisk tactics and some people get detained on a regular basis I see gluttony and deprivation in play.

When one day, instead of a salad, I may want to order bacon, egg and cheese on something hydrogenated and I might not be able to wash it all down with a Big Gulp….I will think of gluttony verse deprivation.

Prohibition didn’t work for good reason.  We need to learn for ourselves.    

Is that easy?  Of course it is not.  And as a society it requires great cooperation because we need to balance my freedoms, his freedoms, her freedoms and their freedoms.

Perfect and pure can be thrown out the window.  They will never reign. 

It is disappointing though to see how often we work to chip away and gnaw off one another’s freedom.  Especially for a nation that tops off a building’s spire at the 1776 foot mark to celebrate its freedom.  

Someday it may be hard to read the whittled away bottom line.  Perhaps as difficult as it would be to read the bottom of the bent and battered license plate of an old pick-up truck driven through the dirt back roads and rugged terrain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for several years.  

We may have to get down on our hands and knees with a magnifying glass in hand in order to read about what we build towers to proclaim ….”Live Free or Die”.

I hope that never happens.  If it does, then all those grand pyrotechnic shows will ring out just about as loud as a single dud.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Friday, May 31, 2013

NY Interleague Play…just can’t beat it down

Of course many of my postings revolve around political issues, hot topics and current follies.  Though, perhaps as a surprise, a worthy blog trivia question might be to ask: what was the topic of the first post in Christopher’s Views?

Hint: When driving in my car, besides occasionally flipping back and forth between right and left wing talk radio for a few chuckles, I tune in to WFAN NY.  

Tomorrow will be fun.  I actually got through to the prime time afternoon program once, back in the Mike and the Mad Dog days.  I was the first caller into the show that day and got in some of my thoughts on Darryl Strawberry.

Anyway…without digression…the lines will be fully lit as fans of the hapless Mets will not be able to get the thoughts out of their heads fast enough to quell their exuberance since just completing a 4 game regular season series sweep of the 27 time World Series Champion NY Yankees.  

Displaced fans will be calling from everywhere.  So much so that if the Mars One project had been in place already I’m sure the afternoon drive spot would take a call on the cell from Mike from Mars.

And it would probably go something like this:

The baseball God’s were NY Mets fans this week.  Sure we know that the Yankees had key players still out rehabbing injuries.  And yes three of the four games were close scores and could have gone the other way except for a play or an at-bat or two.

But three consecutive hits off the great Mariano in the ninth?

Could the mortal Terry Collins, all on his own, channel Ruben Tejada’s pick off blunder into the resolute turning point of the series by kicking around some bases and being thrown out of a game? 

12 strikeouts recorded by Dillon Gee?

Events such as these are not possible without big-time spiritual intervention.  

And what about the slow grounder by John Buck that rolled down the line to hit the exact center of third base?  Spirits…Spirits…Spirits.  

And they were just having some fun while giving payback for the ball they popped out of Luis Castillo’s glove a few years back.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Besides some digression I apologize for the loose references that only fanatics may get.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering…because they can’t forget

I could skip into my garage, pirouette with my arms fully extended and not risk the domino effect of tumbling bikes, beach chairs and shovels.  And I have not been able to say or do that since 1999.  

This long Memorial Day weekend has been a success.  I cleared out behind the garage, thinned out the rafters above and delivered many items of no useful value to the curb.  Some of these objects were big and heavy and some were dated remnants of the previous owner.  I fear that the sanitation collectors will not be happy tomorrow.  My own exuberance is set to grow even greater though when the last of three window air conditioners and the carefully packed area rugs are soon hauled off to their new homes.

It rained hard in the early part of this 72-hour unofficial entrance to summer.  On Saturday morning our thermostat even began to call the boiler for heat before I shut it down.

So we took shelter through indoor visits, IHOP pancakes and fully engaging my fav bud as we watched ‘42’ on the big screen with Doritos and Arizona iced teas in hand.

And given that I have no musical ability I was then fully engaged watching MFB playing with kids mostly two grades older as the school band joined the VFW to honor the fallen along our finally sun soaked local streets this morning.

I never served in the military and I usually don’t pay attention to the various Memorial Day parades.  Ballgames, trail runs, golf and BBQ’s usually steal the time away.   

I know only of second hand stories.  And my father use to well up into too many tears to amply convey the tremendous amount of death, carnage and suffering the world endured to bring forth a change of directions during World War II.

But in a different business and a different time I was in my mid thirties when I helped impart some sales skills to a twenty-something year old veteran of Desert Storm.  

I remember one lunch break in particular.  We stopped at a Deli or CafĂ© of sorts with outside tables and chairs.  He took out some photos he had taken while the tanks had stopped.  The pictures were like no others I had ever seen.  They were images that would never make it to news reports, documentaries or even the most notable and honored films.  They were painfully harsh, unforgiving and merciless.  I was in shock upon viewing.  He was seemingly proud and excited.

We started back to my car and to our next scheduled appointment of the day.  Halfway there this young and strong man started to breathe oddly.  He then started to complain about palpitations and chest pain.  I rushed him to a nearby doctor I knew in the area.  The doctor took him in immediately and spent at least 45 minutes or perhaps an hour by his side in the examination room.  Luckily for him, this physician was experienced in treating PTSD.

An hour or two later we quietly left.  We quit work early; we had enough action for the day.  I never heard about those pictures again.  

I am confident, however, that the real reel still haunts and replay’s the gory camera roll in the mind of that former Marine each and every day.

Yes, a day to remember indeed.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views

Saturday, May 11, 2013

first to follow

There is a person among us with an unbeatable resume
She’s a nurse, a doctor, a vet and a shrink
I often see her coach, teach, chauffeur and cheer

She is a fortune teller
And a professor of history

She can play a good cop or a bad cop
And not be seen as taking sides
She is your most worthy critic
And your staunchest advocate

If you could find someone you could trust more
You have spanned the threshold to Nirvana

Her simple sandwich cannot be duplicated
And her kitchen dually serves as a confessional

You will never find a better guide
A more welcoming lighthouse
Or a better pillow

She could requisition a fortune
Yet she lives only for love

And from atop the mountain
She thinks that you are the best

Happy Mother’s Day

© 2013 Christopher’s Views