Flying Over I-95 N. In Magic Kingdom.

Is that Magic Kingdom? Disney? Yes. Were you there? No. But Yes, in gusts of memories as I sat in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott in Orlando, listening to a speaker discuss “Cybersecurity in the Modern World.” Fastpasses. Teacup. Turkey legs. Splash Mountain. The monorail train ride to the park, Eric’s favorite part of the trip. The body aches, as I carry him on my shoulders along the parade route so he can see over the crowds. It’s a Small World (afterall).

It’s the late afternoon flight departing from Orlando — the 5:41 p.m. on jetBlue #1694.  “We will be boarding in a few minutes. This is a full flight. We are oversold and looking for volunteers to take the next flight.”  A morning flight was canceled “due to inclement weather in New York.” Why ‘inclement?’ Why not ‘bad’? Or ‘stormy.’ Or ‘wintry.’

A large crowd mills around the gate, impatient. “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time I finish this song.”

Mom’s, exhausted, shoulders slumped, have large bags slung over their shoulders. They watch their children run around the waiting area, others are consumed on their handhelds. Dad’s sit and watch loops of CNN on the overhead TVs.  Moms, Dads, kids, holiday, Disney and then me — the Suit, work.

We board.

We lift off. [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. With Fitbit Step Challenge.

3:45 a.m. Alarm. Whoa. Laying flat on my back in darkness. Where am I? Not in my house. Not in my bed. Not on my pillows. Get a grip.

3:50 a.m. Grab iPhone. Check my position in the Fitbit Work-Week Step Challenge. On top at bedtime, slipping to 6,250 steps behind overnight. Irritating. Damn it.

4:45 a.m. Arrive at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Check in. TSA line. Security check. All uneventful. Check boarding pass: Gate C-14. Boarding, 6:15 a.m.

5:05 a.m. I walk. I step. American Airlines Admirals Club 100 feet ahead…soft seats, coffee, a Continental breakfast and 20 minutes of shut-eye. Stupid Challenge. Getting dragged into this stupid step contest by Rachel (daughter) a month ago, and I just can’t seem to Release. Three millennials and me, the Middle Aged Man who’s forgotten that he’s lost most of it. Release, Dummy. Eject. Three of the most difficult words for an Addict: Just let it go. I pass the Admirals Club, stepping heavily down the concourse, dragging my bloody luggage, wheels turning and with every fifth turn an irritating squeal. Gotta get my steps in.

In Week 1 (Oct 23-27), I fell behind the three young ladies, way behind – a whopping 42,228 steps behind on the final day – @ 2,000 steps per mile, do the Math. At 11:50 pm on Friday night, 10 minutes before the expiry of the last day of Week 1, I took my 42,228th step of the day to become the Week 1 Winner of the Fitbit Workweek Challenge – leaving the Millennials in silence, and me on the couch the entire weekend. But the message was sent, don’t be messing with Goomba, the Step-King.

(As to Week 2 and 3, we’re not talking about that. Let’s move on to Week 4.) [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 S. With Pema & Lav Doors.

3:25 a.m.  Alarm. Whoa.
4:00 a.m.  In the car to LaGuardia.
5:30 a.m.  Boarding AA #0125 to DFW.
8:12 a.m.  Sitting and thinkin’.

I look up from my e-reader, and there’s the lavatory, one seat over and across the aisle.  Its folding door is open, its spring faulty and not permitting the door to auto-close.

Passenger traffic.  In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out…door stays open. Disinfectant mix leaks out, both nostrils instinctively fire a gag reflex to block.

In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out…door open.

You get the idea.

Should we discuss toilet-door etiquette here? Have a training session perhaps?  Or does it fall in the common human decency category?  You go, do your business, you leave, you shut the bloody door. Could it be clearer?

But I’m trying here. Pema (my inspiration in the notes below) tells me that I need to be liberated from my suffering. This flying off the handle and going mental over things I can’t and will never, ever control isn’t healthy.  She tells me to pause. To breathe. To slow down.

So I do that. For a moment. But now I find that I can’t break my engagement.  I monitor the foot traffic in/out. I watch the body language of those that close the door (Human) vs. those that don’t (Savage).

[Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. Apple-Pie-In-A-Jar and Ordinary Moments of Kindness.

It worked.

For four consecutive nights, two baby blue Advil PM pills worked their magic.  7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours of deep, dreamy sleep. Wake fresh, and refreshed.

And then, it didn’t.

Last night.

6:00 p.m.

Early dinner at Hotel restaurant. Delicious pan seared halibut, its light, ivory flesh falling away from the buttery crusted filet with the touch of my fork. Creamy Mac & Cheese as a side. Two cocktails to chase it down. And, a deconstructed “apple-pie-in-a-jar” for a night cap. Spoon to jar to mouth, a pendulum, without pause, a sugar addict’s fix. God, I love dessert.  Delectable in the moment. Regrettable the moment I set the spoon down, scraping the last of the thick sugary cream from the jar. And I thought of grabbing this jar in a vice grip with two hands, lifting it to my face and licking it clean with my tongue. Oh, yes I did.

I sat, restless, waiting for the check – – and tucked my thumb down the front of my pants to let some air in.

8:45 p.m.

Cued up Michael Barbaro’s Podcast The Daily.

And it was lights out.

12:30 a.m.

Overheated. Turning, and turning, and turning. I jerk the covers off. 

[Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. With Manners. With None.

Friday morning, 7:30 a.m.
DFW to Laguardia
American Flight 1140
Aisle Seat 12D.
All events real (not enacted) and on same flight.

The Good:

  • One row back and across to my left.
    • Three children ages 5-12 quietly eating pancakes with plastic forks and knives. Napkins draped on laps.
  • One row back and across to my right.
    • Single Mother breast feeds infant while occupying another toddler with crayons and coloring book. 3 hour flight, both children occupied and quiet.
  • To my right.
    • 6’3″ seat mate, draws unlucky middle seat, respects shared armrest for entire flight.

The Bad:

  • At gate waiting to board.
    • Man (~30) pulls roller board over my shoe, oblivious to infraction, and then stands directly in front of me waiting for his Zone to be called.
  • Boarding Plane.
    • Man in aisle jams his oversized roller board into the overhead. It won’t fit, no chance, no how. He keeps jamming. Long line builds behind him. “Sir, you’ll need to check that bag, please.
  • One row up, in middle seat.
    • A Pilot (in uniform) is catching this flight home for the weekend. He presses the recline button on his seat, leans back heavily, slamming his seat into the knees of the tall, young lady. She grimaces, rubs her knee, adjusts her skirt and simmers in silence.

[Read more…]

Truth

thank-you

Excerpts from wsj.com: Six luminaries to weigh in on a single topic. This month: Manners:

“When you speak to people of my generation, you’ll find that our parents didn’t talk to us about things; they just told us what to do. From morning until night, you were issued instructions. Seventy-five percent of those instructions had to do with manners—don’t reach in front of another person, elbows off the table. As a result, you had a certain way of seeing the world. I went to the Nobel Prize ceremony with Toni Morrison the year she won. I got up at one point during the dinner to talk with the wife of an editor at Knopf. But when I got to her, she practically shoved me to the ground and said, ‘Don’t you know you can’t stand up when the king is sitting down?’ Well, no, I didn’t know that. How would I know that? Of all the things my mother told me, that is one thing she missed. But other than that I pretty much know everything!”

— Fran Lebowitz is a writer and social commentator.

“When I was a child, my parents used to take me out to a restaurant once a week, even though they didn’t necessarily have the means. Restaurants are a wonderful space for a child to learn the value of good behavior because, in dining, the rules of etiquette are built on respect….

— Charles Masson is a restaurateur. His latest project, Majorelle, opens in December at the Lowell Hotel in New York City.

“My husband and I have four sons and two grown grandchildren. Good manners were as important to their education as their schooling. When our grandchildren came to our house, their parents would say, ‘Mind your Mimi’s manners!’ It’s all about treating people with courtesy and kindness. […] If ever I’m asked an ill-mannered question, I just say, ‘I’ll forgive you for asking me that question if you’ll forgive me for not answering it…’

—Lynn Wyatt is a philanthropist and socialite.


Image: kate spade new york

He’s playing the long game

15well-timberlake-tmagArticle

“Justin Timberlake, 32, is playing the long game. He’s the Kasparov of showbiz. He has survived far longer than most artists, tracing an arc from pop-culture absurd — first appearing on the Mickey Mouse Club at age 11 — to pop-culture sublime, a solo career that has triumphed at a time when entertainment, and celebrity, have become more disposable than ever…

Timberlake, it has been said, has gone far on likability, which is also a way of mildly patronizing him…But what has let him bridge over multiple iterations and now three generations of fans has been a certain kind of generationally specific decorum: gracious, polite, patient, deferential. He may have you naked by the end of this song, but he will do so using Antioch rules.”

(Timberlake) ‘Y’know, life doesn’t happen in black and white.’ The gray area is where you become an adult . . . the medium temperature, the gray area, the place between black and white. That’s the place where life happens.”

~ The New York Times Style Magazine: The Enduring, Multigenerational Appeal of Justin Timberlake


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Chekhov on the 8 Qualities of Cultured People

Anton-Chekhov

It was 127 years ago.  Chekhov was 26 years old when he wrote a letter to his 28-year old brother outlining the eight qualities that must be satisfied for people to be cultured.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov  (1860-1904) was a Russian physician and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history.  He practiced as a doctor throughout most of his literary career stating: ‘Medicine is my lawful wife.  And, literature is my mistress.'”

A excellent post by Brain Pickings shares excerpts from Chekhov’s letter to his brother.  The post is worth reading in its entirety.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“Cultured people must, in my opinion, satisfy the following conditions:

1) They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others…

2) They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone…They sit up at night in order to help to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother. [Read more…]

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