👀 My wife and I have attended the Christmas party of a good friend for many years and it’s always an enjoyable evening. Her home and yard are always abundantly decorated and a warm feeling always surrounds you when you enter. This year many of her friends did not attend because of sickness, travel, etc., but we had a great time nevertheless. We left her home around 10 pm with our stomachs full of food/cookies and our minds filled with lots of good conversation. As we drove home, my wife and I were surrounded with the feeling of good cheer that only a Christmas Party at Joann’s can provide. Hopefully,all the people that missed it this year will be there next year. I miss our yearly visit with all of them. To this day, I still remember my best Christmas as a young boy and the sacrifice my mother and father made to ensure that I got what I wanted. As a father, I remember the Christmas that I was able to convince my two small children that there was a Santa Claus. I also remember the one when my 9-year-old daughter asked me if there was a Santa and I assured her there was. “Daddy, my friends at school are making fun of me for believing in Santa, so tell me the truth!” I looked at her perfectly formed face, long blonde hair, and gently said, “No, there isn’t a Santa”. A look of total shock covered her face, and it felt like I had totally destroyed the truth in her world. If there was not a Santa, was there a Fairy Godmother? As tears welled up in her eyes, I knew I had made a serious mistake. Her older brother had been telling her for several years that Santa didn’t exist, but because her mother and I kept reinforcing his existence, she believed us. I remember exactly where we were and what time it was when I uttered those dastardly words. I remember getting down on my knees and pulling her close to me as she cried, and trying desperately to comfort her. But there was no comfort for her on that day, and I suspect Christmas was never the same afterwards. There have been many special Christmas’ for me during my 77 spins around the sun and lately they have become special just because I’m still here to celebrate each one.
👀 A few days ago, I had my annual physical, and as I sat in the chair beside my doctor, he counseled me on fitness. “You need to lose some weight, stop smoking those awful cigars, and keep doing your daily exercises”, he said patiently. Then he asked, “How many alcoholic drinks do you have weekly?” I replied that, “Dr Mom (my wife) says I must drink 4 ounces of red wine each day, eat some peanuts,and I will live to be 100”, and so, that’s exactly what I do. “That’s an old wives’ tale, so stop doing it”, he responded. I sat silently and listened without responding, knowing Dr. Mom rules my universe. Then he gave me a bunch of papers to read that would insure I live a happy, healthy life. As I prepared to leave his office he said, “You are the healthiest patient I have, I think you are probably a health nut.” I smiled, wondering how that could be possible when I’m 15 lbs overweight. A few days later, as I was reading thru the handouts, he gave me, one of the articles informed me that 80% of all Americans do not live a life that provides optimum health. That statement left me a little confused, and I’m left wondering, ok, how many of us live a little less than optimum health but still live well enough to have a happy, healthy life? A little farther on in the article it says health authorities have determined that 5 ounces of red wine each day helps promote good health. Whaaat! Does he read the stuff he passes out to his patients? Don’t get me wrong, I like my family health care physician, I’m just a little disappointed in him. Dr. Mom keeps telling me to follow her advice. Maybe I should, but I’m still trying to figure out which medical school she attended 😊. Sam Coleridge said, “Advice is like snow; the softer it falls the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” I kinda like that idea.
👀 I read the following in a magazine: “It began three and a half billion years ago in a pool of muck, when a molecule made a copy of itself and so became the ultimate ancestor of all earthly life. It began four million years ago when brain volumes climbed rapidly in the hominid line. Fifty thousand years ago with the rise of homo sapiens. Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization. Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press. Fifty years ago, with the invention of the computer. In less than thirty years, it will end”. The author of that proclamation is suggesting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will end human existence within the next 30 years. I will not be here to find out if that statement is true, but I strongly disagree with it. Let’s see, if I train my dog to attack other people, then it stands to reason that somewhere in the process he will turn on me? I don’t think so! I believe the people developing AI will never allow that to happen. Why would they? The people writing the code for AI are very smart, don’t ya think they know in the back of their minds that if their gadget ever becomes smarter than they are it could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E? I think it’s a little far-fetched to believe something like that could happen. It’s far likelier that the world, as we know it, will cease to exist because we ignored climate change. Nicholas Berdyaev said, “Fear is never a good counselor and victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of man.”
👀 Recently I decided the windshield wipers on our truck needed to be replaced. They were a year old and made annoying noises as they moved back and forth. Also, they weren’t cleaning all the rain off as they should in order for me to see clearly where I was headed. I walked into the auto parts store, told them what I wanted, paid $50, and headed home in the rain. The one thing I know is that replacing windshield wipers is a difficult task. I have witnessed the auto parts employees having a difficult time doing that task for their customers. As I was driving home and thinking about the task ahead of me, I wondered why someone hasn’t devised a simpler way? I pulled into the driveway, got a small ladder (our truck is very high off the ground), and stared at the blades on the truck, trying to figure out how the darn things come off. I looked at the new package of wipers and there was a note that said, “Scan this bar code to get a video on how to install these wipers”. Hot diggity dog! I immediately got my cellphone, scanned the bar code and a video popped up showing me how to remove the old blades and install the new ones. I struggled to get the old ones off, but after a lot of effort I finally got them removed. I then popped open the new ones and voila! There in my crusty old hands are two new blades with a new way to install them! Just unsnap the enclosure flap on the new wiper, slide it on the control wiper control arm, snap the enclosure closed,and everything is operational and ready to wipe away. When those wipers need replacing, the job is just a snap away (pun intended). In case you’re wondering about the brand name of the new wipers, it’s Rain-X. Thomas Merton said, “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” I’m not so sure I agree with him.
👀 The dreaded day finally arrived, I needed to replace my computer chair and I had become very attached to it. I say that literally because I spend a lot of time in it each day. It’s sorta like dreading to get a new pair of shoes, they take a while to break in, and you have aching feet for a period of time. Well, the same thing applies to anew chair, but it was time for a replacement. A lot of the bonded leather was flaking off and falling to the floor and the chair looked miserable. I went to my workshop, brought back some clear packing tape and stopped the flaking, but the chair looked like it was a homeless guy’s prized possession. So, my wife told me one morning that it was time to go to OfficeMax and select a new chair. Boy, do they have a lot of office chairs to choose from. Nothing to do but sit in each chair and ponder if it’s the one I want? I was more inclined to be affected by price ($450+ for some) and leaned more towards the $135 range. My wife kept encouraging me to ignore the price and select the one that was most comfortable. Finally, I pointed a crooked finger at my selection and told her,with firmness in my voice, “that’s the one I want”. I looked at the price tag ($338) and flinched. I immediately reached for my cellphone, scanned the bar code and observed that I could get it for $238 at the same store if I ordered it online and could pick it up in an hour. A lot of things can bring a smile to my face,but saving $100 can slide one on there just about as quick as sliding a spoonful of pecan pie into my pie hole. I had the chair home (in a box) within a few hours and started assembling it. An hour later it was sitting behind my desk, inviting me to give it a spin. I am slowly coming around to liking the chair, but it will take time. I took the old one to the city dump a few days ago, and as I tossed it into the garbage heap,I waved a sad goodbye. Lots of my DNA on that old chair. Ellen Glasgow said, “The hardest thing for me is the sense of impermanence. All passes; nothing returns.” I kinda think that is true.
I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet, you are enjoying the ride. May those that love you show up at your door for a long visit during this wonderful month of celebration. I am eager to greet the New Year and continue my journey. If you have access to the internet, please visit my website: www.tommyhale.net