MARTY

 

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MARTY 

This is my friend Marty. I have known Marty since 1971. At that time, I knew him as Mr. S., one of my new found friends’ parents.

You see I grew up in Teaneck, a town in New Jersey and went to a Junior High School on my side of town. The other side of town had their own Junior High School and there was not any mixing of the two. In fact, we had an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. That was until we got to High School. The High School is almost smack dab in the middle of our town. In September of 1971 we all got thrown into this mixing bowl of a school. Suddenly we met, and made friends, with people on, what could have been, the other side of the planet. In fact, they were literally on the ‘Other side of the Tracks’.

Now I don’t actually recall how our group on my side of town became friends with this group from the other side of town, but we did. Maybe it was because we were all members of the Audio Visual Aids Department. Something that does not exist with the invention of the PC, Windows, and the White board. (I have just lost all of my younger readers). In any event our group suddenly doubled in size and logistics. Just like the parents of our friends on our side of town, these new parents took us into their homes and made us feel like family. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. S. I suddenly had another Grandmother, and two ‘little’ sisters that came along with my new friend Jeff. This was repeated with all of the new friends that I made but that is a blog for a different day.

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MR. AND MRS. S. AROUND THE TIME THAT I MET THEM.

Over the years Jeff and I have kept in close contact, regardless of the fact that he is not on Facebook. And over the years, my ‘little’ sisters grew up and Mr. and Mrs. S. became Marty and Anita. At first I felt weird calling them by their first names but as time went by it became easier and our relationship morphed as well. Topics that used to be taboo with your friend’s parents were suddenly okay to discuss.

A little over a year ago Anita passed away. After her funeral, during a Shiva visit, Marty waved me over. He then asked me to teach him how to use Anita’s iPad, something that he had avoided, letting Anita, instead deal with technology. Of course I said yes. And so our true friendship began. All under the guise of the iPad.

I started visiting Marty weekly. We would sit in the kitchen and I would explain to Marty how to order from Shoprite, how to read emails, and how to surf the internet. Sometimes successful and others not. Marty reads his emails but is not fond of writing back. But I know that he loves to look at the pictures of his children, grandchildren and the grandchild of one of his daughter’s boyfriend.  And now I send him pictures of my family and grandchild to see as well.

Somewhere along the way, the iPad, still the excuse for the visits, took a lesser role. We still sit and work with it for a while. He shows me pictures, I show him pictures, his son got him a keyboard to type on and that is making it easier for him, but more and more our visits and just plain social. We discuss everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Marty and I confide in each other and you would never know that there are about 27 years separating us in age. Recently we were exchanging stories about getting drunk and our not so great experiences with it. I found myself telling Marty about a night that his son found me wandering the streets in a Tequila haze and brought me home. How I passed out on the front lawn and ultimately locked my father out of the house when I tried to sneak in after the sun came up and I was covered in dew. We had a good laugh on that one. I love to listen to Marty tell me about growing up in Brooklyn, his time courting Anita, the time spent in the National Guard, stories about the kids when they were just growing up, etc. We go story for story. We look forward to our weekly visits together and are disappointed when we have to miss one.

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MARTY AND I LAST WEEK

Currently, I am in Florida visiting my Mother and Marty is preparing to go out west to visit his son and daughter-in-law. As I was leaving last week we hugged like it would be our last visit together. In reality I will be picking him up at the airport upon his return (I hope that I recognize him as he just shaved off his signature mustache) and will will have a few weeks of visits before I get a knee replacement. We will resume where we left off and have more tales to tell each other. Oh and we will work on the iPad some more too. After all isn’t that the reason for these visits? Wink, wink.

 

 

 

BEAM ME UP SCOTTY.

Yesterday I thrilled you all with how my world tipped in 2015. Today my wife and I were out shopping and she made a remarkable observation concerning changes in our life.

Okay let me go back a bit and fill you in. I have been a hyper person for my whole life; a nervous person (although this doesn’t always shine through as I try to hide it). A person that is really a slob, but also someone who must have certain things neat and orderly. Everything must have its place or it screws up the Feng Shui of a room. On the other hand, I can lose something that is right in front of my face and blame it on the rest of the human race. I’m a person that has had ADHD before anyone had ever heard of it. It used to drive me nuts that while walking with my wife, in the woods, stores, beach, etc.,  I would have to slow down to her pace. She was the calming factor in my life. While the neurons in my brain were flashing here and there, setting off firework displays that would put Macy’s to shame, my wife worked for decades to slow me down so I could “smell the roses”.  Bless her for not leaving me for a Yoga instructor. I think that you have the picture.

 As I posted yesterday, our lives have changed drastically within the past year or so. It’s hard to believe that I am actually slowing down now to take in the world around me and watch the show. I don’t find it necessary to “be” the show all of the time anymore.  As John Lennon once said, “I’m just sittin’ here watching the wheels go round and round” and I find myself loving it. A work injury to my knee was the catalyst of all this change.  I see now that life is more then just working for the man to pay bills, sleeping, and starting all over again the next day.

 These days,  I  am the slow one, the one with the time to stand and figure out if an item in the grocery store really is the bargain that they want us to believe it is. I can sit on the gas line at Costco and not get aggravated at how long it is. Once the initial kick of my morning coffee wears off, I am content to lay in the hammock and read.  You can forget asking me a question, because you might just get an answer that you don’t have the time to listen to. One yarn leads to another and I am okay with this, and hopefully the feeling is mutual… In fact, regardless of what some people tell me, I am okay.  

This brings us back to today. My wife and I were shopping and suddenly she started to giggle. I asked her what she was laughing at and she replied  that she saw men following their wives around looking lost, beaten and downtrodden;  like they have just given up. She was laughing at the absurdity of it. I too used to laugh inwardly at these oppressed,retired men. Monday was dairy day, Tuesday was meat day, Wednesday was pasta day, Thursday might be frozen food day, and Friday, well who knows, maybe it was for things forgotten before the new circular even came out.

Many of these men looked so  miserable. Perhaps  it all started decades ago on a quiet night when the husband  announced that he was going out for a six pack and his wife asked those fateful words, “Honey, while you are out, would you please pick me up a box of tampons?”  He didn’t even realize it , but his transformation started at that very moment.

And today I saw them schlepping their wives pocketbooks around the store trying to be invisible, staring out into space, adding insult to injury.  Is this what I have to look forward to in my “Golden Years”?? Beam me up Scottie, for I am surely doomed.

AS THE LORD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL NOT, CARRY HER POCKETBOOK. A MAN HAS TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE!!!!!      deadhead1155

 

A MITZVAH, BUT FOR WHO?

Mitzvah: (Hebrew)-a meritorious or charitable act.

I am 60 years old. Last year I had to leave a profession that I worked in for 25 years for medical/physical reasons. So you can imagine that I have time on my hands. For a couple of decades, I have developed a passion for technology. Oh like most people of my generation, I started out reluctantly but have really been sucked into it. When Windows was going to hell I learned to use Linux. When phones became ‘smart’ I was drawn to the Android operating system. But for some reason the Apple, or Mac, OS never really caught on with me.  

Recently one of my High School friend’s Mother passed away. She and her husband were/are both 86 years old. My friend’s Mother really took to the iPad that was given to them but his father found it not as easy. After the funeral we started talking and he asked me if I would teach him how to use the iPad. In the course of the conversation he admitted that technology like that scared him a bit. I assured him that I would work with him and teach him how to get by and ‘be connected’.  Now remember that I have never used an iPad or iPhone and a Macbook only rarely. So I went out and bought a used iPad and a book on teaching Seniors how to use it.

Let me jump back here a moment and say that my own father passed away in 1986. He was just 59 and I was 30. My Mother is still alive and has been in Florida for 26 years. My wife’s Mother passed away when she was very young, I believe 5 or 6 and her father passed away when my oldest was 3. So my children grew up without having a close relationship with a Grandparent, and my wife and I raised our children without having the pleasure of sharing the experience with our parents, so to say. 

While growing up, I had a close relationship with a few of my friends parents. When at their homes I always felt like a member of the family.  My wife and I took this same route with our children’s friends. I always refer to them as my adopted children. To this day, we are in touch with them even though they live all around the Country. We get calls on Mother’s and Father’s Day, Birthdays, Christmas, New Years, etc. We Skype with a few and when asked offer advice.

Yesterday I went over to my friend’s Father’s house and spent the afternoon with him. We talked, a bit. We worked with the iPad for a while until he was getting overwhelmed and then put it away. Afterwards we had pie and sat and talked for about an hour. He told me stories of growing up in New York City, about some of the jobs he had to make money and then all about his courting the girl that became his wife. It was very emotional for both of us. We discussed many things but really just scratched the surface. Suddenly I realized that the afternoon had slipped away and that I had a meeting some distance away at my Boy Scout Council and had to leave. But not before setting a ‘play date’ for next week.  We hugged, kissed and were all smiles when I left. As I was getting off of the elevator I noticed a mirror opposite me. In it I saw myself smiling from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat. When I got into the car I couldn’t wait to call my wife and share my feelings with her.

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So really, which of us was performing a Mitzvah?

 

 

CHOOSE TO BE GRATEFUL. IT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER.

Many of my readers know that at times I will post things that I read that I feel need sharing. What follows is one such article. It appeared in the NY Times and was written by Arthur C. Brooks.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and never forget what you are Thankful For. deadhead1155

 

updated November 21, 2015

TWENTY-FOUR years ago this month, my wife and I married in Barcelona, Spain. Two weeks after our wedding, flush with international idealism, I had the bright idea of sharing a bit of American culture with my Spanish in-laws by cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Easier said than done. Turkeys are not common in Barcelona. The local butcher shop had to order the bird from a specialty farm in France, and it came only partially plucked. Our tiny oven was too small for the turkey. No one had ever heard of cranberries.

Over dinner, my new family had many queries. Some were practical, such as, “What does this beast eat to be so filled with bread?” But others were philosophical: “Should you celebrate this holiday even if you don’t feel grateful?”

I stumbled over this last question. At the time, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of bourgeois, saccharine insincerity that one should reject. It’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.

Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.

But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.

This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.

How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.

If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).

It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things. As my teenage kids would say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” In the slightly more elegant language of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.”

In addition to building our own happiness, choosing gratitude can also bring out the best in those around us. Researchers at the University of Southern California showed this in a 2011 study of people with high power but low emotional security (think of the worst boss you’ve ever had). The research demonstrated that when their competence was questioned, the subjects tended to lash out with aggression and personal denigration. When shown gratitude, however, they reduced the bad behavior. That is, the best way to disarm an angry interlocutor is with a warm “thank you.”

I learned this lesson 10 years ago. At the time, I was an academic social scientist toiling in professorial obscurity, writing technical articles and books that would be read by a few dozen people at most. Soon after securing tenure, however, I published a book about charitable giving that, to my utter befuddlement, gained a popular audience. Overnight, I started receiving feedback from total strangers who had seen me on television or heard me on the radio.

One afternoon, I received an unsolicited email. “Dear Professor Brooks,” it began, “You are a fraud.” That seemed pretty unpromising, but I read on anyway. My correspondent made, in brutal detail, a case against every chapter of my book. As I made my way through the long email, however, my dominant thought wasn’t resentment. It was, “He read my book!” And so I wrote him back — rebutting a few of his points, but mostly just expressing gratitude for his time and attention. I felt good writing it, and his near-immediate response came with a warm and friendly tone.

DOES expressing gratitude have any downside? Actually, it might: There is some research suggesting it could make you fat. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology finds evidence that people begin to crave sweets when they are asked to express gratitude. If this finding holds up, we might call it the Pumpkin Pie Paradox.

The costs to your weight notwithstanding, the prescription for all of us is clear: Make gratitude a routine, independent of how you feel — and not just once each November, but all year long.

There are concrete strategies that each of us can adopt. First, start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately. Having a job that involves giving frequent speeches — not always to friendly audiences — I have tried to adopt the mantra in my own work of being grateful to the people who come to see me.

 

Next, move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field known as “positive psychology,” gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. In his best seller “Authentic Happiness,” he recommends that readers systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.

Finally, be grateful for useless things. It s relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life- a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles. Ponder the impractical joy in  Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “Pied Beauty”:

Glory be to God for dappled things —

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

Be honest: When was the last time you were grateful for the spots on a trout? More seriously, think of the small, useless things you experience — the smell of fall in the air, the fragment of a song that reminds you of when you were a kid. Give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Rebel against the emotional “authenticity” that holds you back from your bliss. As for me, I am taking my own advice and updating my gratitude list. It includes my family, faith, friends and work. But also the dappled complexion of my bread-packed bird. And it includes you, for reading this column.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing opinion writer (to the New York Times).

THE TOP TEN LIST OF THINGS THAT I WISH I HAD INVENTED

10. DUCT TAPE-           During World War 2 , Revolite (then a division of Johnson and                                                  Johnson) developed and adhesive tape made from a rubber-based                                              adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing. This tape                                                          resisted water and was used as sealing tape on some ammunition                                                cases.

9. CRUISE CONTROL- Modern cruise control (also known as a speedostat or tempomat)                                              was invented in 1948 by the inventor and mechanical engineer                                                    Ralph Teetor

8. HAMMOCK-              Hammocks were introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus                                                when he brought several of them back to Spain from islands in the                                              present day Bahamas.

7. SURFBOARD-            Although there has been some debate as to the true birthplace of                                                the surfboard as there is documentation in surfboard history of                                                  Peruvian fishermen riding waves on primitive boats as far back as                                              3000BC, the surfboard concept as we know it was developed in                                                 Hawaii. As early as 1777, explorer Capt. James Cook recorded in his                                           journals the sight of native Hawaiians streaming across waves on                                              giant wooden boards.  In the 1920’s the solid design was improved                                            upon by Tom Blake who developed the modern day ‘hollow’                                                          surfboard.

6. TELEVISION-          Philo Farnsworth: Among many inventors in the field of technology                                          and broadcasting, Philo Farnsworth distinguished himself as a man                                          who revolutionized TV world by creating first fully electrical                                                        television recording and display devices. Find out more about him                                              here. Charles Francis Jenkins: Even though Charles Francis Jenkins                                          did not manage to earn billions with his television tech, he played                                              very important role in the history of the Television. As the first man                                          who obtained television license in the United States, he started the                                            era of television broadcast that continued to rise and expand even                                              today. John Logie Baird: He will forever remain remembered as one                                          of the most influential inventors of the early 20th century. His work                                         on mechanical television system amazed the crowds of London,                                                   showing them for the first time wonders of the technology and the                                             potential of instantaneous communication. Find out more about his                                           interesting life here.

5. THE INTERNET-   We all know that the internet was invented by Al Gore.  He famously                                          blundered his way through a CNN interview in which he stated,                                                 “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the                                                           initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving                                                 forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be                                                           important to our country’s economic growth and environmental                                                 protection, improvements in our educational system.”

4. AIR CONDITIONING-  Willis Haviland Carrier was an an American Engineer best                                                    known for inventing modern day air conditioning. In Buffalo, New                                            York, on July 17, 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced                                          at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of                                                Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became                                                      recognized as the world’s first modern air conditioning system. The                                            1902 installation marked the birth of air conditioning because of the                                          addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by                                                        authorities in the field that air conditioning must perform four basic                                          functions: 1.) control temperature; 2.) control humidity; 3.) control                                            air circulation and ventilation; 4.) cleanse the air.

3. Amazon.com-           The company was founded in 1994, spurred by what Jeff Bezos                                                    called his “regret minimization framework,” which described his                                                efforts to fend off any regrets for not participating sooner in the                                                  Internet business boom during that time. In 1994, Bezos left his                                                  employment as vice-president of D. E. Shaw & Co., a Wall Street                                               firm, and moved to Seattle. He began to work on a business plan for                                           what would eventually become Amazon.com.

2. DUAL CAMERAS ON CELL PHONES- The first camera phone was sold in 2000 in                                                  Japan, a J-Phone model, about a decade after the first digital camera                                        was sold in Japan in December 1989. On June 11, 1997, Philippe                                                 Kahn shared instantly the first pictures from the maternity ward                                                 where his daughter Sophie was born. He wirelessly transmitted his                                             cell phone pictures to more than 2,000 family, friends and                                                           associates around the world. Kahn’s wireless sharing software and                                             camera integrated into his cell phone augured the birth of instant                                               visual communications. Kahn’s cell phone transmission is the first                                             known publicly shared picture via a cell phone.                                                                                 I have been unable to dig up just who invented the cell phone with                                             two cameras but does it really matter? Only if I held the patent.

AND THE NUMBER 1 THING THAT I WISH THAT I HAD INVENTED:

  1. THE SELFIE STICK-   Wayne Fromm’s QuikPod was selling out on QVC in 2006, but it                                           took a new coinage to turn his simple product into a worldwide                                             phenomenon.

     

                                              It seems like you can’t visit a tourist trap nowadays without                                                   being whacked by some traveler’s selfie stick. But years before                                               the word “selfie” made its way into the dictionary, one                                                             entrepreneur saw opportunity where others saw just a camera                                               attached to a weird-looking ski pole.

    “When I first started selling these things, I got a lot of ridicule. It                                          was before the iPhone, and we didn’t have a phrase to describe                                              quick self-portraits with point-and-shoots back then,” Toronto-                                            based entrepreneur Wayne Fromm tells Inc. In 2006, Fromm                                                approached the Henry’s camera store chain in Canada and                                                      B&H’s SuperStore in New York City with his latest invention, the                                          QuikPod, an extendable monopod that photographers could                                                  hold with one hand to take a photo of themselves and their                                                    surroundings.

    Fromm’s original QuikPod eventually went on to be featured in                                            QVC, Oprah’s Favorite Things, and Dragon’s Den (the Canadian                                          version of Shark Tank). But it was just in the past two years,                                                  after smartphone cameras propelled mass selfie-taking, that the                                            Quik Pod and other similar selfie sticks surfaced as a hot item on                                          holiday gift lists, one that’s available at Target and Best Buy and                                            on Amazon.

    Selfie sticks continue to have their critics. South Korea has even                                           banned the ones equipped with Bluetooth capabilities. But                                                     Fromm believes the QuikPod’s utility will ensure it’s more than a                                         fad. “Just think of when sunglasses were invented. I’m sure a lot                                          of people thought they looked stupid at first,” he says.

    Along with critics, the QuikPod’s newfound popularity has                                                     attracted more than its fair share of competitors looking to profit                                         from the selfie phenomenon. Many knockoff selfie sticks have                                               come onto the market, especially in Asia, where tourists have been                                       far less self-conscious when wielding one of these products in                                               public.

    “There was a knockoff in a store once, and not only did they copy                                           my product but they even used my daughter’s photo in the                                                     packaging,” Fromm says. After obtaining the design and utility                                             patent for this type of monopod, Fromm spent seven years                                                    fighting copycats with legal notices and expensive lawyer fees.                                              Eventually he gave up and decided to focus instead on making the                                        QuikPod the highest-quality selfie stick on the market.

    “I don’t pay much attention to the low-end stuff,” Fromm says.                                             “Who’s going to want to mount their expensive camera or phone                                           with memories from their once-in-a-lifetime expedition on a cheap                                     stick?”

    Fromm is also banking on the fact that the QuikPod came first. He                                        says he first got the idea in 2002, when he was traveling in Europe                                     with his daughter and became concerned about asking strangers to                                     take a picture of them. It was a time before remote control shutters,                                     when taking a selfie took minutes of preparation and                                                               arrangements.

    HIGH NOTE!!

MENTAL HEALTH DAY

Today I decided to take a mental health day. Everyone should do this once in a while!

Now, in all actuality I have  not worked full-time since last November due to an injury that I received on the job in 2013. But it did not become official until April of this year. But that’s neither here nor there because the point of this is really to take a Mental Health Day. How can you take a Mental Health Day if you’re not working? Well that’s a good question actually I am working part time I’m driving for Uber and just finished a six week stand working at a Boy Scout camp. The camp was a lot harder than I expected many long hours but I was able to keep from walking a lot because they assigned me a fantastic group of merit badge counselors. The people that ran the camp knew about my knee injury and work very close to me with me.

After spending six weeks working at the camp I came home and found it impossible to sit still. Finally it all came crashing down yesterday. So today I’m taking a Mental Health Day.

Somewhere between getting injured on the job and leaving the job I came to the conclusion that we were not put on this planet to work 50 or 60 hours a week for 20 plus years. So I’ve developed a new attitude I’m going to work as much as I need to to pay bills. My goal is to figure out how to cut some expenses. That will not be easy considering I’m addicted to technology. I don’t watch much television but I do like to watch the Yankees play and therefore keep coming up with reasons as why not to drop DIRECTV. I’m formulating some plans to turn my technological addiction into some type of income. As my friend Marc tells me if you like what you’re doing then it’s not a job.

At the top of the page you’ll notice that I have changed the picture on my blog. This is where I’m sitting right now for my mental health day. We happen to be very fortunate because this is located in the town in which I live. I have lived in New Jersey now for way too many years now  (I know the joke which exit? Where we live there is no exit so the joke’s on you.) The town I live in has a county park in it that is very reminiscent of the Catskill Mountains without all the hills but while sitting here one could get lost and forget you’re in New Jersey. This park has hiking trails, biking trails, and this gorgeous pond that I’m sitting in front of. And of course bears.

Well I could go on writing about this beautiful spot but to tell the truth the scenery is too nice to continue to ignore and I also have a great book to read. So now I will take a break from my break (go figure that one out) and stare at the scenery and read my book while the rest of you go back to whatever it was you were doing.

Summer Love

This article I borrowed from the N.Y. Times.
Very touching and relevant.
Deadhead1155

3 Whirlwind Weeks to 10 Years Apart to Growing Old Together

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By WINNIE HU

JULY 4, 2015

Julio Rodriguez was a seasoned flirt. Tall and handsome, he persuaded women to call him just by handing them a card printed with “you’re beautiful” and his number on the back.

Then, one steamy summer night in 1988, Mr. Rodriguez found he was the one being flirted with. He was managing a supper club in the Bronx. She was one of the guests. “I’d like you to make me a drink,” she said. He offered to get a bartender. No, she insisted, she wanted him. Slipping a $20 tip on the bar, she asked what time he got off.

“That’s my line,” he said, pocketing the money.

The woman’s name was Dolores Batista. After work, he headed to her red brick rowhouse in Throgs Neck, where she was waiting with chicken fricassee. “Vavoom Mama,” he recalled thinking. “I like to eat and I like a good-looking babe.”

Twenty-seven years later, Mr. Rodriguez, now 71 and a chef and cookbook author, is the one who makes the chicken fricassee. On a recent summer night, he tended the fragrant stew as it simmered on the stovetop while Ms. Batista, now 68 and an insurance agent for Allstate, stayed out of his way.

She leaves the cooking to him. Whatever he makes for dinner, her response is always the same: “Oh, my favorite.”

“This is the meal that brought us together,” he said, scooping the fricassee onto piles of white rice.

Mr. Rodriguez, whose specialty is Caribbean cuisine, shows his love with food. The first time he picked up Ms. Batista at the airport, it was winter and he had flowers in one hand, and homemade chicken soup in the other. He dedicated his first cookbook, “Doll’s Kitchen: La Cocina De Dolly,” in 2007, to Ms. Batista, whom he calls Doll. The cover has a photo of her as a young girl.

Mr. Rodriguez, a chef and cookbook author, grows herbs and vegetables in pots on the front porch of the couple’s home.

DAMON WINTER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

They are not married, but might as well be. He refers to her as “my wife” and said he liked the way they fit together when they held hands. She wears a wedding ring he bought for her four years ago, even though she turned down his proposal.

“We’re so incompatible that I always thought, it’s not going to last,” she said. “But it has lasted, and now I think, ‘Why bother?’ What would change really?”

They were, and still are, an unlikely pair, like chocolate-covered bacon. She married young and raised a son, then divorced her husband of 16 years after they drifted apart. Mr. Rodriguez said he had never stayed with the same woman for more than six months. He had an ex-wife and dozens of ex-girlfriends, two of whom were the mothers of his three sons.

“Willie Nelson and him have the same song,” Ms. Batista said. “‘To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.’”

Interactive Map | Your Best or Worst Summer Dates in New York City This summer, we’re exploring love in the hot season, and love often starts with a date. We want to know about yours.

“That’s what bachelors do,” Mr. Rodriguez replied.

At first, Ms. Batista thought he was charming, but their differences gave her pause. She broke off the romance after a three-week whirlwind of barbecues, salsa dancing and what he called “hot fun in the summer.” She told him she did not date musicians or nightclub managers because they were unreliable.

He was not used to being rejected. “I actually wanted to stay,” he said. “I wanted to create roots with somebody I liked.”

It took 10 years for them to get back together. This time, he made the first move. He had just bought a car and needed insurance, so he called her. She asked what he was doing for work. He had switched from nightclubs to real estate, clearing the first hurdle.

Mr. Rodriguez spooning out a bit of broth from a chicken fricassee he prepared. Ms. Batista made him the same dish the night they met. He does the cooking now.

DAMON WINTER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

She stopped by his office. “When I saw him, I thought he’s really looking cute still and we did have a good time together,” she said. “But I felt this was going to be trouble.”

She had one nonnegotiable condition: no other women.

He gave them all up and has not looked back. The pickup cards, the one-night stands, “that was B.D. — before Doll,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “I’ve been very faithful to my honey.”

There have been no more breaks. He moved into her house a year later, around 1999, and made it his own. He painted over the plain beige walls in marigold yellow. Mr. Rodriguez, who is also an accomplished artist, hung up his paintings of lighthouses, roosters and Caribbean shorelines. He planted cilantro, basil, chili peppers and Roma tomatoes in flower boxes on the front porch.

Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Batista in their kitchen in the Bronx. Regardless of what he fixes for them to eat, her response is always the same: “Oh, my favorite.”

DAMON WINTER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

“They’re better together than apart, I think they both realize that,” said Ms. Batista’s son, Derek, 44, a personal trainer who lives with the couple. “It’s a union that just kind of works. Some people on the outside looking in would say, ‘I don’t know how they deal with each other.’ I see them every day. I see the little things — little things that Julio does or my mom does — little things that really are big.”

The differences are still there but not as sharp, dulled by years of give and take. He is a planner, she likes to be spontaneous. He has 36 friends saved in his phone contacts, she has more than that listed under the letter A alone. He can be too blunt, she said. She sugarcoats everything, he said.

At home, being tidy is important to him; to her not so much. They fuss over the refrigerator. For Mr. Rodriguez, who learned to cook while serving in the Navy, the water should always be in front of the milk because it gets used more often. The milk, in turn, goes in front of the juice. When Ms. Batista reaches in, he said, she messes up his order.

She rolled her eyes as he spoke. She brought up the time she had made hamburger patties for a barbecue. They were free-form and unacceptable to him.

“She made flowers, they were all different shapes and sizes,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who prefers to cut his patties with the rim of a water glass.

“Hamburger Nazi,” she said.

Underneath the daily annoyances is a bond that has grown stronger over time. Ms. Batista underwent treatment for breast cancer with Mr. Rodriguez at her side. Last year, when she moved to a new office in White Plains, he showed up to paint the basement and mow the lawn. And despite grumbling that she has too many friends, he makes a feast when they come over. He has been known to cover the kitchen table with 20 kinds of tapas.

Ms. Batista is quick to praise his cooking and his artwork. She helped him buy a used Jaguar sedan to replace his worn-out Lexus. He pays her back from his catering earnings, though she does not ask him to do so.

“I’m very spoiled,” she said, “but he’s spoiled too.”

Their friend, Carlos Aponte, 70, said he saw them as two strong personalities who clashed at times but who were willing to accommodate each other, even when it meant doing something that might not be comfortable.

“When Julio is frustrated and impatient, I see how tender and caring she is,” Mr. Aponte said. “And on his side, I see the love in the way he absolutely takes care of her.”

For Mr. Rodriquez, the home he has made with Ms. Batista has given him a stability he never had before. The youngest of 17 children of Puerto Rican farmers, he said his own parents split up when he was young. He treats Ms. Batista’s son as his own, cooking for him and once picking him up at 2 a.m. when his car had been towed. His three sons call Ms. Batista “Mom,” and pack into the house on holidays.

It is good they met when they did, both said, because they would not have been a couple when they were young. He was too flirtatious. She was not his type. He had a weakness then for women with long legs and black hair, he said, even if they were light on substance.

“She wasn’t the type of person I go after,” he said. “You don’t always get what you want. You get what you need.”

“And,” Ms. Batista reminded him, “I have other redeeming qualities.”

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