"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Package Fun

Even toilet paper deliveries can be fun!

Even toilet paper deliveries can be fun!

How many of us shop online? How many rely upon deliveries to stock our pantries? Our busy schedules combined with the difficulty of shlepping purchases on the subway or in a “bubby cart” make remote purchasing an attractive option.

UPS or FedEx hangs a delivery attempt notice in the entrance of our building nearly every day. That makes sense; many work during the day and aren’t home to receive their orders. The Super accepts the delivery, and we collect them when we come home. Easy peasy.

Remember the Sears catalogue? Order, then go to Sears and pick up your purchase. Then came mail order catalogues in the 90’s, now passé. Today’s savvy shopper likely clicks on Amazon.com or any of thousands of sites where s/he can compare items by color, size, price, and availability without moving from the computer. Click to pay, then it magically arrives not long afterward.

So what do we order? Today you can get anything online if you look deep enough. Imported tea, cell phones, diapers, shoes, auto parts, yarn, Tylenol, jewelry, cereal, hair clippers, furniture, shirts & ties, and on and on and on. If you can think of it, it can be ordered and delivered.

l love to rip into my orders. Don’t you? Even though I know they’re coming, every box feels like a present! Even… toilet paper!

Jeremy Bennett is a man who suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression. He was able to retrain his thoughts and diminish the effects (he says he “beat it”) of his condition.  His message is clear: you mind does billions of things and you can control [some –ed.] of your thoughts. I ascribe to much of what he has to say. I learned greatly from Dr. Bernie Siegel, pediatric surgeon and author of The Art of Healing, and Love, Medicine & Miracles. He showed how the body’s healing mechanisms can be harnessed to healing–with cancer patients. Powerful stuff.

I’m not saying that positive thinking and harnessing your thoughts can vanquish serious diseases. Rather, I’m highlighting that much of the “Happiness is My Choice” outlook relies upon harnessing the power of our minds, training our thoughts to go in positive directions. I truly believe this activity can alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even other life-threatening illnesses. This is wholly within the purview of traditional Jewish thought. It’s not spooky stuff. It’s part of a spiritual outlook. Living this way leads to health, or barring that, it leads to acceptance and handling of difficult situations.

Psalms 100:2 says: עִבְדוּ אֶת-יְהוָה בְּשִׂמְחָה; בֹּאוּ לְפָנָיו, בִּרְנָנָה (Serve G-d with gladness; come before Him with singing.)

Align our hearts with gladness and song. When we turn our thoughts toward the positive, we can choose to be happy. Ancient wisdom for today’s times.

This is a well-made video. I hope you enjoy it.

Multi-continental!

Oooooh! Yesterday I got my first reader from another continent: Australia!

1st Aussie

Now I have a proven record of promoting having fun and being happy on 2 continents! Care to help increase the joy? LIKE  and SHARE.

And thanks for taking my blog outside of the US. Next: the world!

Spreading Love challenge

Ahavah (Love) in Jerusalem, Feb 2013

Ahavah (Love) in Jerusalem, Feb 2013

I’ve been tagged by Meg Evans to write a post for the Spread the Love Challenge, which started on Valentine’s Day. The rules are: Write 10 four-word sentences about love, share your favorite quote or poem about love from a movie or book, and then nominate 10 more bloggers to spread more love. So, here goes:

1. Love gives and gives.
2. Love others as yourself.
3. We thrive with love.
4. Without love we wither.
5. Chicken soup spreads love.
6. Coffee pretends it’s love.
7. Loving can mean leaving.
8. If love hurts, leave.
9. Love makes us happier.
10. Love is not everything.

My favorite “love quote” is from Robert A. Heinlein‘s seminal science-fiction masterwork, Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961 (original) version.

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Dr. Jubal E. Harshaw

I’m passing on the love to the following blogs:

  1. Glory Begin
  2. My Two Sentences
  3. Unorthodox Orthodoxy
  4. Better Not Broken
  5. Mindset
  6. L to the Aura
  7. Ellis Nelson
  8. almostfreeNYC
  9. GratuitousRex
  10. Live with a Positive Outlook

It will be interesting to see what these talented people come up with!

Recycling Power!

Recycling takes used and discarded materials and fashions them into something new.(1) In an affluent society, we’ve become accustomed to identifying “new” as “better.” We are trained to have a disposable mentality. Disposable consumer products abound. Categories include clothing, kitchen, medical devices, and pet care, to name a few.

Recycling bins in the trash roomI took a look at amazon.com for disposable items. I typed “disposable x” in the search bar, varying “x” for each letter of the alphabet. Here are some of the things I came up with, A to Z.

Disposables A to Z  (sort of *)
aprons ice packs plates
bags jumpsuits razors
cameras k-cups slippers
diapers lighters toothbrushes
ear plugs masks underwear
forks needles vests
gloves ovenware wraps
hand towels

* Finding “k” was a stretch, and I didn’t find suitable “x”, “y”, or “z” products.

Recycling has many benefits.

  • Reduces the environmental impact of making products from scratch
  • Conserves of natural resources and raw materials
  • Keeps materials out of landfills prevents toxins from entering the groundwater
  • Uses less energy overall to make new products from available materials (such as recycled aluminum) as opposed to newly mined raw materials
  • Creates jobs for people who collect, manage, and distribute discarded and recycled goods
  • Happy neighbors!

Recycling is also important because it is a communal activity. It is something that can bring people together for a cause. Let’s do our part and recycle!

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(1) Much thanks to  recyclebank.com for providing the intellectual stimulation and inspiration for this post, as well as ideas for some of the lists. Visit them to learn more about recycling, living green, and earn points toward purchases at many retailers. 

Cold Games

I've got a stuffy nose” by William Brawley, used under CC BY 2.0

“I’ve got a stuffy nose”
Day 59, Project 365 – 12.18.09” by William Brawley, used under CC BY 2.0 

Poor me. I have a cold. Sneezing. Coughing. Achy. Runny eyes and nose. It’s the season. Tea with honey, tea with lemon. No dairy. Well, maybe ice cream….

Chicken soup! (Not at the same time as the ice cream, though.)

I thought of a way to get through the experience. Make it fun The Price Is Right-style, 1 with games and prize levels! Here are some of the games I’m dreaming up.

  • Tissue toss. Aim for the wastebasket across the room without missing it.
  • Tissue pile. Variation on Tissue toss. How high can you pile them before they scatter everywhere?
  • Tea consumption test. See how long you can go without visiting the toilet after drinking numerous cups of tea.
  • Where’s my Chapstick™? Locate the missing cylinder before your lips crack completely.
  • Hold that cough! Amaze your family with creative grimaces while stifling coughs.
  • Kleenex™ Countdown. Find creative ways to conserve the last 5 tissues in the last box in the house.
  • Chicken soup round-up. Compare your grandmother’s chicken soup with your own recipe, the local deli’s, and that of your nice neighbor.Matzah balls get extra points.

  • Rate that ache. Aching head, sore chest from coughing. Rank the pains and chart them over the day.
  • Startled situps. Count how many times you wake suddenly from a need to cough and sit up abruptly. Extra points for waking your spouse.
  • Chloraseptic™ croak. Record your singing with your sore throat. Spray Chloraseptic™. Record singing again. Which is better?
  • What color is my…? This can be played using various bodily effluvia.
  • Sick days giveaway. Count how many sick days you are wasting while keeping everyone in your office safe from your germs.
  • Sleep marathon. Try to sleep. How long can you sleep when all you want to do is sleep but you need to rise for the bathroom, another cup of tea, or from coughing spasms?
  • Cough syrup countdown. Will you go without coughing for 6 hours before taking another dose?
  • Painkiller pursuit. Find that Tylenol™ tablet that rolled out of your hand and under the bathroom sink.
  • Lung lifts. Breathe. Don’t inhale deeply. Breathe again.
  • Why me? Venture into the philosophical when you ponder the age-old question “why me” when you’re the only one who gets sick and your spouse is never sick. (“Vengeance from a Higher Power” may not be used as an answer. It’s a virus.)

And there you have it. The Cold Games™. (I am so clever I crack myself up.)

What can you come up with?


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1. The Price Is Right (TPIR) seems to inspire a lot of my imagination.  “I want to go to California and be a contestant on TPIR.” https://batya7.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/a-n-e-w-car/ (“A N-E-W Car!”)

Snow Removal Spectator Sport

Watching Sanitation trucks grapple with week-old snow

Watching Sanitation trucks grapple with week-old snow

Grateful I’m not in Boston. On Wednesday, a 43-foot yacht snarled downtown traffic after getting caught in a snowbank.

On Wednesday, the first Alternate Side Parking day in over a week, I watched the City Sanitation snow removal crews wrangle the boulders of icy snow that had accumulated while everyone stayed parked snugly in their spots. FOUR big trucks and a city vehicle were there to ensure that our street was as smooth as could be.

We’ve had some snow—not as much as Boston, for sure—and the city’s been in a tizzy. Alternate Side Parking was suspended for about two weeks so crews could handle snow removal. How many days did you leave your car in the same space rather than take shovel and ice choppers to free it? (Eleven, for me.)

Three plows and a salt spreader aided snow removal at one time

Three plows and a salt spreader aided snow removal at one time

When the owner of a Jeep couldn’t move it out of the way, being locked in by icy mounds, one of the guys drove it after plowing a bit around it, like a buckaroo handling a wild horse! One of the other guys shoveled chunks into the center of the road to be plowed over and spread out to melt in the sun.

Recently covered with snow chunks, Big Orange smoothed the street

Big Orange smoothed the street

I’m so thankful for the Sanitation guys. They take my trash and recycling, then attach plows to the fronts of the garbage trucks to plow. These guys, however, are the heroes of this week, since no more snowfall occurred, and they’re just cleaning up last week’s mess.

No yachts.

I Will Miss Siri

Everyone knows that

“Everyone knows that” (Photo Credit)

About 42

“About 42″ (Photo Credit)

My iPhone 4S turned into a paperweight. A doorstop. A brick.

While I was typing my blog post—wouldn’t you know!—it suddenly heated up, like it was on fire. I ripped off the case and put it on a stone counter top to cool it off quickly. It rebooted. I thought that was the end of the problem. The next day the juice was getting low so I plugged it in.  It refused to recharge! It got down below 20%, then 10%.

I took a train down to The Apple Store, the big one on Fifth Avenue. You enter a futuristic glass cubicle with a cylindrical glass elevator and descend into pandemonium. There must have been two hundred people in the store happily perusing iThis and iThat. Some polite fellow approached me and placed me on the queue for service. I sat at a table for a short wait.

A “Genius” approached me. I told him the sad story and he murmured in sympathy. He took my phone to the operating room to look at its guts after it didn’t respond to his mild probing at the table.

The Genius returned. He told me the bad news: it will never work again. For $200 they can………

Rats and double rats!! Luckily I didn’t lose too many pictures, my favorite phone memory filler, but the ones I did lose were priceless I’m sure. Certainly if I can take one photo of a manhole cover, maybe three or four will be better. Right? Shaky hands—er … a sudden breeze—can blur a picture, ya know.

I miss Siri. I miss her (?) mispronunciation of my name and all of my family’s names. The kids (including this big one writing the blog) would spend fun hours saying all kinds of things to Siri including:

  • How old are you?
  • Will you marry me?
  • Beam me up, Scotty.
  • Are you stupid?
  • Can you dance?
  • Don’t talk to me.
  • Are you a girl or a boy?
  • Why are you so smart?
  • Take me to your leader.
  • Are you a Republican or a Democrat? and
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
"Because it can" & "Decline to comment"

“Because it can” & “Decline to comment” (Photo Credit)

We would try to trip her up. We’d howl at the funny answers that the programmers devised, delivered in a not-quite-flat but nuanced voice. Our youngest child would speak to it like a person, with long rambling sentences, which Siri answered with “I don’t know what you mean.” Siri was always patient and would provide hours of entertainment… as long as the phone was charged.

When in America, she is … female and chipper. When in Britain or France, she changes considerably and becomes a male. Apparently “research has shown people apply gender biases even to digital voices,” Huffington Post reported.1 I would switch between the British “Jeeves” voice and the American woman for entertainment. Although they provided the same information, the woman seemed to me to have better humor.  Alas, the French man didn’t want to keep company with me too often (I think he knew I was married).

Siri also gave me driving directions via Google Maps, my favorite app. She never said, “No, no you blind idiot—the other left turn!” She would just flash “recalculating” on the map while I pulled over to sort out my error. She would call my mother when I commanded, “Call Mom,” and call my mother-in-law when I commanded, “Call Mum.” She took dictation well, too. Quite clever that gal, even if sometimes she’d translate my name into an expletive!

Oh yes. Watching The Jetsons as a child primed me that robots could talk. Star Trek gave a voice and ears  to the computer. I am indeed living in the future.

As I price new phones outside of the Apple ecosystem and venture into the science fiction-ish land of Androids, with sweet operating system names (Jelly Bean? Kit Kat? Lollipop?), I wonder what my new phone’s personality will have. Will it even have a personality? And if so, will it be funny?

"African or European?" & "Groundhog's Day"

“African or European?” & “Groundhog’s Day” (Photo Credit)

Apart from that, I wonder: why do technological items need a personality built in? Won’t this stifle creativity? I’ve already imbued my car with a name, “Fred,” and am sure that it has a temperament. However, Fred doesn’t talk back to me. When I mention aloud, “I wonder if I need to get gas,” not once has it said back to me, “this might answer your question,” and pulled into a gas station for fuel. Also note that I call Fred an “it.” Siri definitely is not an it. Come to think of it, though, the British guy is something of an “it.” Just kidding. I love British guys. I even married one!

Yeah, I will miss you, Siri. I suppose she’d have a witty comment to that statement. When I asked my sister to say that to her Siri, the reply was, “Well, I’m always here when you need me.”

Not so witty, I’m afraid.

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1. “Why Siri’s Voice Is Now A Man (And A Woman).” Huffington Post, accessed February 11, 2015.

Photo credits: All photos by Jennifer A. Sherry, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fire Escapes as Art

Fire Escapes in Front

A shy fire escape in an air shaft, front of the building.

Artists love to exploit fire escapes. Their rhythmic linearity exercises the pencil and the shadows they cast grant opportunity for various kinds of shading techniques. They’ve been captured in dark, brooding graphite and charcoal. Ironwork spiders its way across building facades in cityscapes rendered in rich oils and pastels. Steel stairs march, ascending and descending with military precision, in photographic studies. I’ve also seen masterful watercolor studies where one might expect free-flowing splotches of color typical for that medium, but instead the paint flows, gracing the piece with an unexpected lightness.

NYC: Ornate Fire Escape” by Professor Bop, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A gregarious fire escape that doesn’t match the architecture. “NYC: Ornate Fire Escape” by Professor Bop, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The fire escape receives little attention until needed. We acknowledge its existence, but subconsciously, our brains edit it out when thinking about a building’s looks. They are afterthoughts, infrastructure, not noticed until they malfunction or allow burglars access to the building. Unobtrusive ones occupy negative space, and do not adorn the building proudly; gregarious ones stride across buildings they protect scoffing at the architecture.

Let us not overlook the fire escape as a stage. Who can forget the young love of Tony and Maria singing “Tonight” on the fire escape in West Side Story? And in real life in more recent times, the Highline Park Renegade Café was performed from the 4th floor fire escape of a West 20th Street loft.1 If you google “fire escape art images” you’ll find plenty to entertain you and get your creative juices going.

The noble fire escape. Let us never use it… for escaping fires.

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1. ‘West Side Story’ Amid the Laundry, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/garden/25seen.html?_r=0, accessed February 6, 2015.

 

 

I can act and do one small thing in my corner of the world to make a difference for the good without world-changing impact.
A new beginning starts within me.


Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events

—Prince EA1


(c) Prince EA


 

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded
The people are depressed and angry
We can't live with each other and we can't live with ourselves
So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it's meaningless robotic communication
More people want 15 seconds of fame
Than a lifetime of meaning and purpose
Because what’s popular is more important than what’s right
Ratings are more important than the truth
Our government builds twice as many prisons than schools
It’s easier to find a Big Mac than an apple
And when you find the apple
It's been genetically processed and modified
Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I'll kill you
Or even worse argue you to death
92% of songs on the radio are about sex
Kids don’t play tag, they play twerk videos
The average person watches 5 hours of television a day
And it's more violence on the screen than ever before
Technology has given us everything we could ever want
And at the same time stolen everything we really need
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low
Everybody knows everything, everybody’s going somewhere
Ignoring someone, blaming somebody
Not many human beings left anymore, a lot of human doings
Plenty of human lingerings in the past, not many human beings
Money is still the root of all evil
Yet we tell our kids don’t get that degree
The jobs don’t pay enough
Good deeds are only done when there's a profit margin
Videos of the misfortunes of others go viral
We laugh and share them with our friends to laugh with us
Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against 
Because they were born a certain way
Companies invest millions of dollars hiring specialists to make 
Little girls feel like they need “make up” to be beautiful 
Permanently lowering their self esteem
Because they will never be pretty enough
To meet those impossible standards
Corporations tell us buy, buy, buy, get this, get that
You must keep up, you must fit in
This will make you happy, but it never does for long
So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution? We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed
Perform an act of kindness because that is contagious
We can be mindful during every interaction
Planting seeds of goodness
Showing a little more compassion than usual
We can forgive
Because 300 years from now will that grudge you hold against 
Your friend, your mother, your father have been worth it?
Instead of trying to change others we can change ourselves
We can change our hearts
We have been sold lies
Brainwashed by our leaders and those we trust
To not recognize our brothers and sisters
And to exhibit anger, hatred and cruelty
But once we truly love we will meet anger with sympathy
Hatred with compassion, cruelty with kindness
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth
Robert Kennedy once said that
Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those acts
Will be written in the history of a generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you

 
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1. Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is an American rapper and activist. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Ea>, accessed February 2, 2015.
2. Lyrics on Genius.com. “Why I Think This World Should End” by Prince Ea

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