‘TIS THE SEASON


Winter, spring, summer, autumn. Four seasons.

Would you believe there was the slightest “nip” in the air this morning? Wow, it’s definitely fall!   It’s not always easy to tell here in South Florida. The seasonal changes are subtle and this has a tremendous effect on your sense of timing and keeping track of when things happened.  I was about to tell you about it, at least those of you who don’t live in this neck of the tropics, when déjà vu set in.  Seems I had once posted about the subject three years ago. Well, I am sure there are many people who missed that posting and they are just dying to read it. I am here to please. Originally posted July 15, 2014

     Trust me, I am not complaining…just making an observation.  When you move from the northern regions of the United States to South Florida you lose some sense of timing since spring and fall are hardly noticeable here.  There is no exhilarating thrill each year when the first few warm days come along after a bitter cold winter.  There is an upside to this, of course: there is no bitter cold winter. South Floridians are also deprived of crocus or daffodils popping up out of the flowerbeds announcing spring.  Likewise, come autumn, there are no leaves to rake or a sudden rush to switch from shorts to long pants. Nope, there are none of these telltale signs of seasons changing.

Hence, once you’ve been living in South Florida for a few years you lose your sense of annual timing.  Trying to remember exactly when things took place in the past becomes a little blurry.  Up north it is easier to remember when things happened because they have the added element of season attached to them.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that this confusion about time has gotten even worse after I retired.  There is no alarm clock in my life anymore.  This alone has to be the grand prize you are awarded upon retirement.  But, as your days become less hectic and you have fewer things to do and appointments to meet, you begin to lose your sense of week.  It is not unusual for me to spend a long moment or two attempting to remember what day of the week it is.  Weekends, too, get lost since they’re now no different from the weekdays.

Thank goodness we still have night and day and I still know which is which.  I suppose that’s next to go given the fact I am sleeping less, awakening earlier and doing more things in the middle of the night…like writing this post at 2:30 in the morning.  The only saving grace is that night is dark and day is light.  When I can’t figure that out anymore I don’t suppose it will really matter.  At that point I probably won’t have a sense of anything.

*****

While I’m in the here & now, let me take a moment to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have many things for which to be thankful. I, for one, am grateful my wife and I will be cruising for the holiday. If the wifi gods are kind, I may report in here from the Caribbean and share some pictures.   Otherwise, I will carry on when I return in a week.

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UNBOXING DELAYED ‘TIL JANUARY


LoisCOVer Foiled Again!  I missed a deadline…a heinous crime I rarely commit.  Albeit this was a self-imposed deadline so maybe I should cut myself some slack.

The deadline?  Oh , it was the one I set for the publication of my late mother’s book.  That’s it on the left.  Actually, it is pretty much ready to go right now, thanks mainly to my niece, Zoe Kuhn Williams, who did the grunt work of prepping for publication some 46 pieces of her grandmother’s writings.

I  decided to wait until next year before birthing this project.  This decision is based on something I learned–eventually–after years of attempting promotional events once Thanksgiving hits.  It just does not work.  People’s minds at this time of the year are busy on the holidays, finishing up the year with any deadlines that were to be met (ahem!) and otherwise being distracted in one way or the other.  The result?   Most nonholiday-related promotions do not succeed nearly as well as they do during other times of the year.

So as soon as January arrives, I’ll be launching Lois Unboxed.  This is a selection of my mother’s writings that have been boxed and stored for a half-century.  My mother was not a best-seller author but she sure could pump out the material.  Within this  potpourri of observations of her time, readers will encounter a variety of styles and lengths.  There are pieces of pure fiction and others that are a mix of fact and imagination.

My mother arrived on the work scene in 1931 after a typical high school education that had her locked and loaded with secretarial skills.  She, however, had the abilities and brain power that far exceeded many of her bosses.  But these were different times and the era in which she lived precluded that she would rise to a certain level and from that point upward society’s elevator was reserved for men only.  While she was not a street-marching rebel, she refused to be a proper housewife who remained home raising the kids, keeping house and feeding her husband.   Here’s a quote:

“I will endure the bosses with the dispositions that give me the ulcers or what-have-you, all in exchange for a chance at a handbag sale at Wanamaker’s and an escape from a discussion of laundry soaps and lamb chop prices on the home front.

I am sure the neighbors gossiped and scorned her for leaving my brother and me to fend for ourselves in the 3-4 hour period between the end of school and when my parents arrived home (usually at 6:20pm if I remember correctly!)  We were latch key kids far before the term originated.  But I have never discovered any scars because of it and, in fact, it taught me independence and responsibility…and how to cook.  To this day I have the original house key I was given when I was eight.  Yeah, I know, pretty anal.

I was lucky. I had great parents who loved their children and did all they could to ensure they grew into decent human beings and prospered.  Like many working moms today, my mother worked it out with no loss to the family.  It’s a shame time and attitude blocked her from reaching her true capacity, but I was never made aware of it until I reached an age when you realize a lot more about your parents than you did as a kid.

“I believe in a double standard.  I even find it desirable.  It is still a man’s world. I’m still a woman and I don’t want to be a man’s equal if it means digging ditches or building roads or erecting subways.  I dote on lipstick and girdles and high heels and all the frou-frou a woman is supposed to like – and usually does.”                       — Lois Harris Kuhn

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SURVIVING THE CONFERENCE


Бизнес семинар. Business seminar.

As previously announced, I attended a conference this past weekend for independent authors…I being one of them. The conference focused on skills required to independently publish a book without the involvement of a professional, commercial publishing house. The conference did not, and was not meant to, feature help with the actual craft of writing.

There was a lot of time spent on the topic of marketing independently published books. It was these sessions that I was most interested in. While even a major publisher doesn’t provide salvo after salvo of publicity and marketing for its authors, it’s understood if you want to get the word out about your book, both the grunt and glory efforts are up to you.

After publishing seven books, I’ve committed just about every mistake a new author operating on his own can make. There are other errors I’ve had no choice but to make because of a limited budget. Professionals who proof and edit your material are as expensive as they are necessary if you want your book to be the best it can be. As a starving author, I’ve had to sacrifice these kinds of luxury items and hope that my work survives.

Overall, it was a pretty good conference. It was well organized and most of the speakers were top-notch. For a first-time event it drew some 400 people which I think was a great turnout even if every one of them represented competition.

Now, for those near and dear to me, I am sure you are awaiting the answer to the question posed in my last posting—specifically, whether or not my sleep disorder would come into play. I was worried about staying awake and alert while restrained in a hardback chair in a dark room for an hour or so. Well, I gotta tellyuh, it was quite a challenge for one who is prone to “drop out” for brief moments, often accompanied with snoring or a violent fall to the floor. The truth is, something was bound to happen one way or the other no matter how much I tried and no matter how much coffee I consumed. The good news is, I didn’t fall over into anybody or onto the floor for that matter. I do recall a few snappy self-rescue attempts as I felt my head caving toward a direct hit on my knees. I am sure there were one or two people (or many more–how would I know, I was asleep!) for whom I provided a few moments of humor as they watched me see-saw up and down in consciousness.

The bottom line….I survived, learn some new things and left motivated to keep on keepin’ on as far as attempting to write a best-seller.  That alone is a dream I won’t mind falling asleep for.

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CHASING SPACE


SPACEAVAIL

Microsoft Word has a list of options when you click on “File,” one of which is “New Blank Document.”   Since I have an “Old Blank Mind” I always find this selection to be appropriate. A blank document offers a blank mind equal terms, a mutual platform on which both have a clean slate and nowhere to go except out to the horizon and back. That’s just a bit short of infinity and beyond.

I have been suffering from blankness for several months now…that’s another way of saying there’s not much going on in my mind these days and, subsequently, so-called writer’s block has set in. This has happened in the past and it is a time of lethargy and waste. I do not like it because I am usually hyper and burden everyone around me with my compulsive behavior.

This weekend I am attending a writers’ conference of sorts. It’s actually a gathering designed for independent authors and deals more with the process of publishing and marketing one’s book than it does with the actual craft of writing it. Nonetheless, I am hoping I will walk away with some new ideas for promoting and marketing my books…and maybe, just maybe, some stimulation to get going on this project that’s stuck in the mud on my desktop.

There is a major challenge facing me as I attend the various sessions of the conference. It’s a bit laughable until you’re in my shoes and then the issue takes on a whole new footprint. Briefly, as many of you know, I suffer from various sleep disorders, all of which leave me deeply deprived of getting a good night’s chunk of snoring and dreams about winning lottery tickets. One consequence of not getting enough sleep at night, is that I “crash” throughout the day…and what better time for me to fall asleep than when I am confined to a seat in a conference room! This can be pretty embarrassing, especially if you are prone to snore or fall off the chair onto the floor…I have been known to do both.

Now, I do not know if I am protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act which would entitle me to special accommodations. These, I suppose could be things like a sensor in my chair that would know when I was getting sleepy and would vibrate or do something to awaken me. Or maybe someone would be assigned to sit next to me and jab me with their elbow when I needed a jab. I used to have a good buddy at work that always sat next to me at meetings for just such a purpose. Now there’s a good friend!

So I go to this two-day conference this weekend with full anticipation of who knows what! I could come back with great new marketing insights…or I will be told nothing that I already don’t know…or I will sleep though it all. WaddaUthink? Stay tuned to this blog!

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REMEMBERING GOOD TIMES


goodtimessong

 So there I was sitting in my thinking chair on the back patio, thinking about Alan Shepard.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

When I first sat down, it was to escape…escape the horrible mood I was in after watching the latest conglomeration of breaking news. There was the latest tedious Trump tweet, then a bunch of yapping congressmen pontificating their plans to reduce Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to help make up for the big tax break the rich will get.  Then there was the wall, OMG the wall!  And, yikes, North Korea!  Have times ever been more stressful and depressing than now?  That’s why I headed for my thinking chair.

As I sat down, suddenly, NASA and the space program entered my thoughts and right away, I had good memories that immediately spawned good feelings.  If you didn’t live through the peak years of the space program, it will be hard for you to “feel” all these good feelings it generated.  It started with Sputnik, the Russian satellite that was the first man-made piece of technology successfully launched into space…that was back in 1958.  Sputnik served as a wakeup call to America.  And, indeed, did we ever wake up.

Alan Shepard was among the group of our country’s first astronauts—The Mercury 7.  In fact, Shepard was the first among them to be shot off into space and returned safely.  It was high drama as we citizens watched the space program progress from a mere three orbits around earth (John Glenn achieved that) to the ultimate accomplishment of Neil Armstrong setting his one small step for mankind into the moon’s surface.

Over the next decade, every event between Shepard’s launch and Armstrong’s footprint would attract our immediate attention. We stopped whatever we were doing and gathered around television sets to watch every incredible moment—both successful and disastrous.  It was the ultimate must-see TV.  These were times of great, documentable achievement by the nation.  We, the people, soaked it all up—every ounce of its suspense, its spectacular visuals and the overwhelming sense of good feelings it gave us.

So that is what I was thinking as I sat in my thinking chair.  Despite some moments of deep tragedy which reminded us that space exploration was, indeed, the new frontier, the program, overall, was one big gulp of Dr. Feelgood.  I wish I had a bottle to pass around so we could all take a swig.

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HEY COACH, SEND ME IN!


879marctheory

Who’s counting?  Everyone…at least every Miami Dolphins football fan should be counting. There have been ten! Ten coaches since Coach God (Don Shula who became iconic over 26 seasons). Ten men have taken the head headset and put it on since Shula retired. Some were simply “iterim” coaches who got their chance between the firing and hiring of others.

Only two of the coaches are names most sports fans would recognize: Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban. Jimmy burned out, especially after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Dophins 62-7.  He retired from coaching.  Saban, meanwhile, left in the middle of the night to return to college ball. Given his success at Alabama, he made the right decision.

So go ahead, list the other head coaches who were handed the ball and failed to score. Hardcore DolFans would probably be able to do it. Skipping interim coaches, here’s the list: Jimmy Johnson (1996-1999), (Dave Wannstedt (2000-2004), Nick Saban (2005-2006), Cam Cameron (2007), Tony Saprano (2008-2011), Joe Philbin (2012-2015) and Adam Gase (2016-present).

coachesbannerNow here is where my theory comes in—note: it’s a hypothetical theory with holes in it and it does not apply to every Dolphins coach. But overall, I think it applies to why the Dolphins have had a tough time returning to the glory days. When you look at these coaches’ names and picture these coaches as they were game day on the sidelines from the vantage point of just an average fan, do any of the following words come to mind:

Dynamic….Exciting…..Emotional.…Vibrant….Forceful.…Memorable.…Passionate

Nope, I don’t think so. I don’t see any of those words applying to Miami’s recent history of coaches. For example, Tony Sparano, my least favorite, never even had the energy to remove his Sunglasses during the post-game press conferences. The current coach, Adam Gase, has the emotional extremes of a sloth.  Even today, after a come-from-behind win against the Jets featuring 3rd string QB Nat Moore, his demeanor was the same as if he had lost the game.

Fact is, all these Dolphins coaches needed coaching. No, not football coaching…management and relationship coaching. They don’t seem to acknowledge that football is a highly emotional game played by mostly hyper, super-emotional people. Maybe if these coaches had been better schooled in some areas in which good managers have invested significant time and effort, the performance of their staff (the players) may have been better. I’m referring to things like motivational techniques, sensitivity training, diversity and just plain old enthusiasm about your people and not being afraid to show it.  So, just maybe, if they practiced good management skills in addition to good coaching, they may have done better. All of them needed to get closer to their players and bring some excitability to the game. Okay, that’s my take on what’s wrong with the Miami Dolpins. They need more excitable, relatable coaches. True you can have a highly successful team with a dull personality leading it—New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick case in point. By contrast, check out Penn State Coach James Franklin.

psu

If you study successful organizations, both on the field and elsewhere, I am pretty sure you will find the majority are led by not only smart people who know their trade, but in addition, they are dynamic, exciting, emotional, vibrant, forceful, memorable, passionate leaders. If the Dolphins want to score more touchdowns, I suggest they hire more touchy coaches…but I don’t think they’ll really take me seriously.

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SPORTS…THE GREAT ESCAPE!


Sports Equipment

Only recently have I become a serious sports fan.  Mine is a low degree of “serious,” but I have to admit, my team does play a part in my life.

It is no wonder that sports occupies a major role in American culture.  Sports does, indeed, mirror much of the environment and tasks in which we engage on a daily basis.  As such, Americans are very competitive…and combative. Winning, of course, is the ultimate goal, whether it’s on the playing field, at the office, on the highway or even in the family room. We love to win. We love to collect trophies and platitudes, stand on the top tier and wave our over-sized foam fingers declaring we’re #1.  Then we build a highlight reel that shows others how good we are.

What’s cool is that anyone can play in the game of life and even score! But only a few make the cut to play for a professional sports team.  Such individuals are held at high levels and usually exceed all expectations us little folk may have to accurately kick, hit, throw or catch a ball.  Call it envy, hero-worshiping, or just plain admiration.  It’s what fills stadiums and arenas and sells millions of dollars in clothing and memorabilia.

True, some games can be very stressful to watch, but overall, sports is a great escape.  What’s troubling you?  Relationship woes, North Korea, the politics in Washington?  What better time to get lost in a sporting event than now?  If you’re not watching the baseball playoffs, it’s not too late.

I‘m in my third year of being a devoted follower of the Chicago Cubs. I have a Cubs cap and shirt plus all the angst that goes along with a team that has played well…off and on.  This year, getting to, and staying in, the Major League Baseball playoffs has proven a bit more difficult for the Cubs.  It seemed a little easier last year when the team went all the way and won the World Series.  But this isn’t last year’s team despite most of the key players still being accounted for.

Both the hitting and pitching are not at the same level as last year.  The team’s star performers, Anthony Rizzo (1st base) and Kris Bryant (3rd base) aren’t exactly in a hitting slump, but their success at bat is nowhere as exciting as last year.  Others have picked up the slack, like Javier Baez who hit two home runs to help salvage last night’s win-or-go-home contest.  Now, if the Cubs can pull off the miracle of winning the final three games against the Dodgers, they will advance once more to the World Series.  Three games in a row from a team that has manhandled them at will?  Yeah, that’s a stretch…and that’s also what makes the Cubs a little unusual.  They could, maybe, just say’n, on a good day, if the bases line up…do it!  And that’s what makes sports such a great in-the-moment escape.

These are the kinds of events that make sports so compelling to watch, even for a casual fan like me. But hey, it beats watching the news, doing laundry or paying bills.

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TIME FOR ANOTHER UPDATE!


newsanchorWell, it’s update time…time to fess up a little. I’ve sorta taken a time-out regarding my social media presence. Most of you would probably think this is a good thing but didn’t even notice I was gone.  I have some catching up to do, first of which is to thank all those who passed along good wishes as Rosemarie and I celebrated our 50th anniversary last month. We had a nice hotdog dinner, no candlelight. It wasn’t what I had intended. In fact I had booked a surprise trip for my bride.  I had reserved a swanky beachfront condo on Myrtle Beach but it had to be canceled at the  last minute partly because Hurricane Irma shut down the airport and we couldn’t walk that far.

The other part of the “partly” was that I couldn’t have gone anyway because I had just returned home from yet another surprise stay in the hospital and for the next eight weeks I would be tethered to an IV pump at home.  There would be accompanying daily visits from a nurse who changed the bag of goo that dripped into my veins three times a day.  All this in hopes of killing an infection that had invaded the knee replacement I had installed last March and then spread elsewhere throughout my operating system.  See, it all comes together.  Needless to say, I pretty much made a mess of our 50th.  I finally get “untethered” from the IV yesterday and it was fantastic taking a shower without half my body wrapped in Publix umbrella bags.LoisCOVer

Meanwhile I have been busy attempting to launch two book projects I’ve previously disclosed: first, a book that features a selection of writings by my mother. These have been in storage boxes for over 50 years, hence the book’s title, LOIS UNBOXED. Add .com to the title and it will land you on the book’s website which for now features just one page.  I have a few more items to take care of and then the book will be published, probably late October.

FIINGERSCOVSecond is a book titled STORIES MY FINGERS WROTE.  This is kind of a self-serving book that features the “best” of my blog.  Yeah, I  know, many of you are having a good laugh over the relative meaning of “best.”  Regardless,  I pulled from some 500+ postings those which I felt worthy of a second read. I hope a few other folks agree. If not, the book will be just thick enough to shove under the leg of a wobbly table.  If you think this is exciting, I’m also thinking about putting together a collection of my poems.  Robert Frost told me he’d consider coming back just long enough to write the forward.  I’m thinking Bullwinkle the Moose makes more sense.

Some of you have asked how goes my new sleep apnea implant that I’ve discussed several times here on Marc’s Blog.  Well, like Myrtle Beach, this whole project was put on hold while I dealt with the infection thingy.  I have learned that this gadget is so new that most doctors have not heard about  it.  All the new medical types taking care of me right now are fascinated when they discover the lump on my chest.  Meanwhile, I am using it nightly and it has resulted in raising the quality of my sleep, although not the length.  When it’s on, I am a lot less restless while asleep.   My not being restless is petty amazing in itself, awake or asleep.  Extending sleep time is the issue I will be working on when life returns to normal.

So there you have it—my up close and personal update, exclusive of any fake news. Sorry, no film at 11…maybe some ice cream instead.

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HURRICANE LEFTOVERS


chipper spewing out chips

If you think last month’s Hurricane Irma is long gone, think again.  I’ve lived in South Florida long enough to have survived several hurricanes.  One thing about the region’s mindset following a big storm is to hurry up and get the place fixed up, cleaned up and back to normal ASAP.  That’s always been the case.  It seemed within minutes of the all-clear sign people would be outside with rakes, shovels and chain saws.  Before you could say blow me down matey, things were lookin’ good again.

Debris1Now we have Irma…definitely not your father’s hurricane.  As usual, household cleanup crews we’re busy on the scene within moments of Irma’s goodbye. Damaged landscaping, blown trash and what you call your basic hurricane debris were quickly attended to and then stacked up along the front curb of each house where city trucks would drive up and make it all disappear.  That didn’t happen this time and here we are a month past Irma’s wrath and most of it still lines our streets.

Debris3So what’s the story?  Well, as usual it’s a matter of money. Seems, despite contracts many communities had secured with the cleanup trucks to be available immediately following the storm, many of the crews took off for the Keys and Miami-Dade County where the fees for their services were much higher.

Moral of the story….after a big storm if you’re talkin’ trash to a guy with an empty truck, best you up the  ante or your pile of debris will be left blown’ in the wind.

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The Sadness Among Us


Red, white, and blue American flag for Memorial day or Veteran's

Sadness creeps its way among us

Like an ivy it clings and spreads

We mourn once more, more than before.

And with all that we know, we really don’t know.

The politicians debate the issues but to no avail

They say the same things, things grown stale.

And we? We try to heal and carry on as best we can

Knowing full well it’s time to take our country back again.

 

Our leader meanders here and there but always out of step

His mind is unfit for the job he holds, his thoughts inept.

We live in fear of what he will do and what he will say.

He’s already managed to hold the entire world at bay.

How has this happened? What did we do, or not?

Is this picture true, does it really reflect our lot?

And we? We remain puzzled but carry on as best we can

Knowing full well it’s time to take our country back again.

 

What will it take, how much more will we have to endure?

There’s no predictability, no anticipation, it’s all so unsure.

We take what comes each day, not knowing what to expect

But accepting the sadness as we witness our country wrecked.

Is this really where we are, who we are and where we’ll be?

Are we prepared to give up our rights, our freedom and liberty?

Never before have I been so compelled to do whatever I can

Knowing time’s running out if we’re to take our country back again.

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