Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Day My Boss's Wife Sent me to Go Pick up Her Pot

I was 19 years old and working as the executive secretary to the president of a small, family-run HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) contractor.

The company was building a kind of co-op city in Tehran, Iran. This was about 5 years before the Iranian hostage crisis, back in the late seventies.

My boss, the president, had been in Tehran for 3 months and was expected to be home over the weekend.

On Friday morning, his wife calls. She asks me to pick up a package for her that was coming in from her father-in-law's Brooklyn office at a construction site in New Rochelle. Since it was a small company, it was very common for me to make deliveries for them. I drove into New York City about once a month to deliver paychecks and other packages to construction sites. So the request wasn't unusual.

So she gives me the directions and tells me who to see. Now one of the employees had previously told me that the boss smoked pot and that they get it from this guy who works in the Brooklyn office. So right away I'm thinking, a special reunion weekend for the hubby and wifey? Hmmm.

Of course, I didn't say anything. I went down to the construction site as was requested and I was handed a plain yellow envelope. So plain it was ominous. And this envelope was covered in more tape than an entire hockey's team's ankles. That, of course, only strengthened my suspicions.

So I exited the construction site and drove down about two blocks, making sure I wasn't visible from the site, and pulled over. My curiosity was killing me. I just had to know. So I looked the envelope over front to back, trying to find the best corner of the tape that I could gently peel back without ripping it. I very carefully removed it, and had to remove a couple more pieces before I could get the envelope open. Thankfully, there were no rips.

Finally, I opened the envelope and there it was: an ounce of pot rolled up in a baggy. I smelled it for a moment before sealing it back up. But my boss and his wife were none the wiser. They never knew that I knew.

Just one of those funny little memories in life that you look back on and laugh!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Four Ways We Should Be Maximizing Our Planet's Resources Right Now

The sun is free and there's plenty of it. So why wouldn't we take advantage of it?

In the summer, there are always power surges from all the air conditioners on at the same time, and some communities even organize rolling brownouts to make sure there is enough electricity for everyone.

So here's a way to make sure we always have enough electricity, and that we're not paying an arm and a leg for it either: every electric company building should have a solar farm on its roof. And every piece of property owned by any electric company should have solar panels on it.

Of course, not every part of the country gets the same amount of sunshine. But why not take advantage of the sunshine we do get? It's not like we're going to use it all up.

If they do that, solar energy would become so advanced and the price would become so affordable that more and more homes would be able to incorporate solar panels on their roofs as well.

Tesla Solar is even making roofs out of solar material. That's the way to go with every house. I hope I live long enough to see a day when every roof is made of solar material and actually serves as an energy producer, relieving our dependence on the energy grid.

That's my first idea. My second idea is this about water. Think about all the purified water that is sold today. Millions of bottles a year. Eventually -- and probably in the not too distant future -- we're going to run out of fresh water! We need to do two things and do them well.

1) We need to start collecting rainwater in a more strategic way. That means the plumbing systems for every building and home should have an automatic rain collection system that sends filtered rainwater to nonpotable sources -- such as in toilets, and for watering lawns and gardens, so that it becomes a process that residents aren't required to proactively manage. This way, there's 100% buy-in instead, of, say, 20% buy-in.

2) We need to put some serious energy into learning how to desalinate salt water. If we could do this well and do it all around the coastline, we would virtually eliminate droughts. Then we could teach other countries to do it too. Or maybe other countries are already doing it better and we should be looking to them for lessons in doing this well.

My third idea is converting all landfills to energy. In 2010, Americans made 250 million short tons of trash, according to Wikipedia. That's just one year! It would be great if we cultivated all the methane gas that emanates from decomposing landfills and used it to create energy. Good news: we're actually doing a lot of that now, according to Forbes. But I'd also like to see us get better at burning garbage and turning all that elimination into energy as well. I think it would great if, someday, we were so good as recycling our waste that there was no such thing as a landfill.

Finally, my fourth idea is complete commercial and government commitment. I think reuse, recycling and composting should be big business. I would love to see the top 10 on the Fortune 500 include the number one recycling company in the country. And it would be great if the recycling industry was so large and so well run that it was a top 10 job producer in America.

There are pockets of these ideas everywhere. I think it would be great if these ideas simply became the way the country -- and the planet -- were run.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Right Way to Accept Refugees, in my Opinion

According to the Hartford Institute, there are approximately 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. What if, say 10% of these -- that would be 35,000 -- each sponsored one refugee family?

Suppose it would work like this. Each religious institution and its congregation would be responsible for adopting one family. They would find that family a place to live in their community. Church donations would help with the first month's rent and the security. They would help the parents write resumes and find jobs, show them how to get around the neighborhood, teach them English, help them enroll the children in school, show them where the grocery store is, teach them about American culture, give them names and phone numbers of doctors, and basically be there for them every step of the way for a year or more.

If just 10% of all the congregations in the whole United States did this, that would be 35,000 refugees. These people would become easily and well integrated into society without the need for state or federal funding.

They would be spread out in communities all across America rather than in one community or one state. They would not live off of American taxpayer dollars and at the rate of, say, two per neighborhood or even one family per town/city, they wouldn't be taking jobs away from existing Americans.

Does this kind of plan make sense to anyone other me? It's sort of like the expression "it takes a village". Well maybe it really does take a village.

Some people get really upset when there is talk about tens of thousands of refugees being taken in by the United States. I get it. I understand their concerns. But if we did it in a way where we didn't just throw open the doors and said here you go! Knock yourself out! And leave them to their own devices with no help and no support -- if we integrated them into society one family at a time, and gave each individual family the help they needed through volunteers, wouldn't we all -- not just the refugees, but everyone -- be in a better place?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

With Today's Traffic Levels, All Left Hand Turns Should Have a Turning Arrow

No matter where you live or work today, traffic is a problem. A big problem.

And one of the biggest problems with traffic is trying to make a left hand turn. There's nothing more frustrating than sitting at a light and watching all the traffic go by while the light goes from green to yellow to red, and you didn't move.

There's a simple solution, and frankly, I can't believe that city traffic managers and mayors haven't already realized this: Every light where there is a left hand turn should have a turning arrow.

Ironically, left hand turning arrows are not as common as you might think. If every city made them standard procedure for every left turn, then traffic would flow more smoothly and stress levels among people everywhere would be reduced.

This is not a joke. I am not kidding. In the town where I work, it's a chronic problem. I hope that all city traffic managers are listening and will do something about this annoying situation.

Thank you.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"A Woman of Substance" is a Book of Substance: A Great Read

A Woman of Substance is the best book I have read in years and I highly recommend it to any woman who loves a great love story. Barbara Taylor Bradford's epic tome kept me on the edge of my seat for all 868 pages.

For the first few chapters, I will admit I was a little bored. But the quote on the front cover kept drawing me back: "A might saga. Little has been so riveting since Gone with the Wind." Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I was glad it did. 

A Woman of Substance is the story of Emma Harte, a poor maid in 1904 England who rises up above her station to become one of the wealthiest women in Great Britain. Her determination and perseverance are intoxicating, as are the men in her life. 

Barbara Taylor Bradford is masterful at love scenes, and as a Brit herself, she certainly knows her British history. I loved the accents and smiled at the sweet endearments such as when Blackie said "mavourneen" or Frankie said "our Em". 

One thing that makes a good book is when it leaves you wanting more. I found myself questioning throughout, what if she had married so and so? Her life would have been so different. 

In addition to love, heartache, determination, success, pain, romance, etc., the book has a strong element of revenge in it, and I happen to love revenge stories!

I don't want to give away any of the best parts so I'll leave it there. But please make A Woman of Substance your next book today. Trust me, you won't want to put it down.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Hail Mary: It's Nice Having a Woman to Pray to Sometimes

Catholics pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not all Christians do. I'm Methodist now and Mary is nowhere to be found in the Methodist church except in the Bible. 

But growing up, I liked having a woman to pray to in addition to God. Sometimes there were things that I felt a woman would be more compassionate about. Sometimes I just felt she understood.

I remember when I first learned how to say the prayer, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of my death, Amen. 

My mother taught me the Hail Mary when I was six or seven years old. It was evening, and she was down on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. I don't know why she didn't just use a mop, but my mother was a perfectionist when it came to cleanliness. 

So here I was standing in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen. I wasn't allowed to step on the kitchen floor. So as she crawled around with wet rag in hand, she would recite a line, and I would repeat, and we did this over and over until I got the whole prayer down. 

To this day, every time I recite the Hail Mary, or even think about it, I think about my mom down on her knees scrubbing the kitchen floor and me trying to be careful not to cross over the line and step on her wet floor. I can picture it clear as day, as if it was yesterday.

Since my mom is gone now, I cherish memories like these. And since Mary is a mom too, I know she understands my sense of loss. Sometimes, it's just nice to have a woman to pray to.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bravo to Vanderbilt University for Taking a Big Step and a Big Risk

Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN is removing an inscription on one of its residence halls, according to The inscription, "Confederate Hall," was a name given in 1933 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

All these years, Vanderbilt has wanted to remove the name but the UDC wouldn't let them. After having their day in Tennessee Appeals Court, it was determined that they had to repay the gift given them in 1933 at today's value, which equals $1.2 million.

Vanderbilt stuck to their integrity and came up with the money. So, the name will be coming down. Bravo to the students of Vanderbilt for continually applying pressure and to the administrators and board of directors at Vanderbilt for making it happen.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, June 24, 2016

We Need to Stop Using the Word ‘Hate’

How did we get here? We use the word hate like it’s a candy we pop into our mouth every 30 seconds.

“I hate the color green.”

“I hate when public garbage cans are filled to the brim and you can’t squeeze another thing in it, or when you try to and some other garbage falls over and spills onto the ground.”

“I hate when you reach for your phone and you say ‘hello?’ ‘hello?’ and you miss the call by a split second.”

Perhaps hate is a little strong for the way I feel about small things like these. All week, I’ve been trying to train myself to substitute words like ‘dislike’ and ‘annoyed by’.

Amazingly, it’s a habit that is hard, though not impossible, to break.

If I hate the taste of tequila, particularly Yegermeister, does that make me a hater? I hope not.

It makes me wonder tho, if we’re willing to toss around this 4-letter word for average everyday things that annoy us, how can we expect to change real hate and get people who really are haters to become more understanding and thoughtful and to get along with each other? The end goal seems so far away.

So, let’s try this: “Don’t you just dislike it when … [fill in the blank.]

“I sometimes get annoyed when … [fill in the blank.]

Hmmm, I feel calmer already.

And what if we actually took the H word out of the dictionary altogether. Would the real hate stop if there was nothing to call it? Would people downgrade how they feel because they can’t explain their feelings, and be less angry or upset, sometimes for no reason?

I’d like to think yes, but I’m probably being too na├»ve. In reality, they would probably just choose another word and toss it around like a ragdoll.

But not this gal. This gal is quitting the H word. From now on, the color green only mildly annoys me, and full garbage cans? Well, they make me feel ‘Rrrgggghhh’.

That’s it. I’m not longer using the you-know-what word. The … what word was that? Hmmm, I forgot already! Good. Gone.

Now you try it.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Revelation! I Just Found the Real Highway 65!

I was just Mapquest surfing in the Nashville area and guess what I found -- Highway 65!

Turns out Highway 65 is the freeway that takes you into Nashville. I know it's hard to see in this graphic but it's the one on the left with the little blue badge down near the bottom.

For those of you who don't watch "Nashville" the ABC TV show, Highway 65 is the name of the record label run by famous (on the show) country singer Reina James.

I had never given any thought to how she came by that name. Even this last Wednesday, when Layla was doing her 3-song showcase for the radio attendees, she was standing in front of a label. Although it was white and not blue and red, I never even picked up that it was the same shape as this badge.

I feel like a Nashville insider. Like anybody who's anybody in Nashville knows this. Well, now "I" know where Reina's Highway 65 reference comes from! Yey!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.