How men treat my wife when I’m not around

My wife pulled into a gas station talking on the vehicle’s hands-free phone system. She parked at the far pump, turned off the engine, and transferred the call to her handset. She had just come from the hospital where her mother had spent the night with chest pains and was talking to her sister about how they would support her in her golden years.

What if I showed up in dressed like the Captain and delivered some bone crunching pain?

The gas station wasn’t crowded and a man in his 40s driving a red BMW convertible pulled up behind her. While she was on the phone in the car, the man came over and looked in the driver’s side window and gave her a disapproving look. She got out and pumped her gas and spoke on the phone while Mr. Bimmer gave her more of the looks you’d expect from someone with the job of policing the use of cellular phones in a restricted area.

He finished pumping his gas, got back in his BMW, backed up and as he drove away in the safety and comfort of the Bimmer’s leather cockpit, he yelled, “get off the f***ing phone” and continued driving. If only my wife ran as fast as the Flash and carried a machete.

Now wherever my wife and I drive in the general area where we live, I look for this man. And whenever I see a red 3-series BMW convertible, I ask my wife “Is that the guy?”

And one day she is going to say “yes, that’s the guy” and I’m going to etch, “She’s off the phone, knucklehead,” on the hood of his car.

This story is one of dozens my wife has of angry men who feel compelled to unleash some of that anger on my wife .

There was the aging rock star at the grocery store who used his cart to block her from passing in the aisles and laughed about it as he followed her around the store, and the grocery worker who gave her a hard time about getting past him while he was stocking shelves, and numerous other guys flipping her off while driving when they were the one in the wrong.

And there are the men in cars who expose themselves to her when she runs in the morning, which is an odd but true fact of L.A. that there are naked guys driving around in the wee hours of the morning enjoying the feel of cloth seats on their bare bottoms.

This is my favorite cereal. Oddly, I couldn’t find it on the General Mills web site. Are they not proud of creating and selling the world’s greatest cereal? Or, it is really bad for me, which may explain a lot?

And they’re all on my list. And one day, I’m going to find them and hope it’s in the last hours of my life and I can use the gun I finally broke down and bought to shoot them in the knee caps, an injury they’ll remember every time they take a step for the rest of their lives.

My wife once asked: “why doesn’t this stuff happen when you’re around?”

Hmm, let me guess. It doesn’t because these guys wouldn’t say anything like that with another man around.

One day, I dream I will be with her at the grocery store – though I hate going there – and I’ll be out of sight when some a-hole blocks her way with a shopping cart in the cereal aisle. And I will walk around and witness it.

And you, my dear friends, will get to see the black & white security-camera footage on youtube.com with the title, “Man forced to eat 5 boxes of Captain Crunch in grocery store brawl.”

And to think he ate them box and all without the aid of milk. Amazing.

Dear Blog, not tonight. I have a headache.

The long week caught up to me tonight. Everything is due yesterday at work and today’s rush project replaced yesterday’s rush project which replaced the day before’s rush project.

Here's a picture of the pup for my friend Just Ramblin' and other dog lovers, but not @onlyz

To fulfill my post-a day duty, here are my two favorite links from the day, each with enough facts to make those who worship the rich cry – or not, if they refuse to believe the numbers.

I’ll be back Saturday.

Oh, and one more thing. My apologies to everyone who wrote comments this week. I’ll reply in the morning. I’m thankful and humbled you left me feedback – even you @seanset.

More Americans than Chinese can’t put food on the table

CHARTS: Here’s What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About… (Make sure you click the link at the bottom to look at the charts. Scary, unless you’re a one-percenter)

Are people in Los Angeles getting angrier? (A non-political post for Margie)

One of my neighbors “displayed” his gun to another neighbor’s gardener the other day. I was on a conference call and missed the fun that ensued when my two neighbors got into a heated argument about it (my wife’s description, as she caught the last two minutes). It’s a good thing I missed it because I would have called the police. When a gun comes out, that’s process step 1 for me.

If cannons, not guns, were legal, we'd have a fewer killings and more people going to chiropractors instead of prison

Today I saw the good neighbor, who is a friend and the one who didn’t brandish a gun in the light of day, and he filled me in.

Turns out his large tree overhangs Dirty Harry’s property. And as an act of kindness, his gardener went to the front door of Mr. Harry to ask permission to move something on the property to access the tree and to make sure his cars weren’t damaged from falling debris. But no one answered the door.

When the gardener tried again, he was confronted by Mr. Harry who had a shotgun or machine gun – some kind of big gun. Then the argument started about it not being a polite gesture to greet a gardener with a weapon of death instead of a rake or hoe.

Now I know most of my neighbors probably own guns. This is Los Angeles where it’s almost mandatory, though I’ve managed to resist the impulse, thinking that I’d probably use it on myself in those dark moments of blood clots and hemoptysis. But here’s a neighbor who feels like we’re living on the open range and he’s protecting his property from cattle rustlers.

What do I do? Or don’t do?

This is the kind of photograph that lures people to California. It's all Hollywood magic. The bird is fake and the beach is a painted backdrop.

Move? I don’t know, but it was the first thought that crossed my mind.

It does make me wonder if my unscientific theory that people are growing angrier is true.

I don’t have any facts to back this up.

It’s the feeling I get when I see how people treat each other in public, how they drive, how certain neighbors could give a flying fudge bar if they return a “hello” while I’m walking in the neighborhood – to the point I feel like flipping them the bird when I see them – a pre-emptive strike – which would illicit a response from them or a comment like, “you’re the worst neighbor ever and I wish you’d f’ing move.” Hello to you, too, neighbor, glad you finally acknowledged my presence. 

I experience this hostility in the way men treat my wife when I’m not with her (another post coming soon).

I wonder if this city is suffering from traumatic or post-traumatic stress syndrome. We’re going through our days carrying so much stress and tension that we’re ready to snap at anyone, and are too burned out to be courteous.

It’s a just a hunch, but I feel it in my bones.

Unemployment is high in California; illegal drugs are popular; foreclosures with For Sale signs in the front yard and near-foreclosures with brown lawns, broken picket fences and half-finished additions lace neighborhoods. Do these daily images impact our sub-conscious?

Worry. Overrated and un-fun. (Creative Commons: Photo by Steve Snodgrass)

And then there is the constant worry we’re not working hard enough at our jobs and could be laid off at anytime to save the company money. And we’re working longer hours to make up for the whole “do more with less” mentality of companies during the recession. And there are the bills.

If we lose our jobs, where would we be? Brandishing a gun at a hard-working gardener? Walking into a beauty salon in Seal Beach to kill eight innocent people in an unspeakable, tragic act of violence?

I don’t know anymore. The older I get, the less I know.

Maybe I should have taken the advice of the first bumper sticker I saw when I moved to L.A.: Welcome to California, now go home. 

Occupy Wall Street and the lesson I learned from Stella Liebeck

Do you remember the case of the woman who spilled hot McDonald’s coffee in her lap and was awarded close to 3 million dollars by a jury?

What do you remember about it?

Do you remember everyone talking about what a scam it was and how this was the shining example of tort reform and legal system abuse?

I thought that to be accurate because everything I saw or heard about it backed up that opinion. Major media even reported on it but with incorrect facts.

This movie is an eye-opener, but also one that shows how the deck is stacked against us. http://hotcoffeethemovie.com/

Then I started watching the documentary Hot Coffee, a must-see, which reviews and analyzes the facts of the case. The key word here being “facts.”

Remember, truth does not equal fact. And in this case there is what people perceive to be the “truth” and there are the facts.

Some of the facts: Stella Liebeck, 79, wasn’t driving the car – she was in the passenger seat, parked, when she opened the lid of her coffee and spilled it in her lap, suffering burns so severe that even I, a long-time guest of hospitals, couldn’t look at them when I replayed the segment on HBO GO. Burns so severe Mrs. Liebeck needed skin grafts.

How could I have been so wrong? How could I have joked that the case represented the evils of large jury awards?

And it made me wonder what else I think I know now to be “true,” but is not “factual.”

And the movie in its entirety reminded me that there is a large group of powerful people, media outlet owners, businesses, organizations, and the government officials they promote and purchase, who will stop at nothing to strip away the rights of the common man and woman in this country while they tap our wallets and fatten theirs.

I know I may sound like a conspiracy nut, but if it feels like it’s harder to get by these days because we’re paying for more of everything and wondering why our taxes don’t cover the expenses of this country. Well, it’s not our imagination. Big business continues to manipulate the system to pay less.

These powerful people have done a masterful job of imposing their will on us while we work our asses off to earn a living because companies won’t hire more people, telling us we have to “do more with less” during these tough times. And we do it because we have no choice. There are fewer jobs, which helps keep productivity high.

And that’s why the Occupy Wall Street movement is so important. It’s not about money, it’s about exposing corrupt power – the powerful who set a direction for the country that favors the rich and big business.

But the power-hungry have pushed people too far, grabbed too much of the pie and imposed their will to the point we finally looked up from our iPads to realize we had fewer rights than we did yesterday and the truth they promised was best for us, was not best for us. It was best for them.

Which brings me back to Liebeck v. McDonalds Restaurants. How is it possible any of us condemned and made fun of a 79-year-old woman with disfiguring burns and backed a large corporation that heated its coffee water to 180 to 190 degrees and could have settled for pennies before going to trial?

Was it by accident that the facts of the case got twisted and communicated to portray an elderly woman as the villain and a corporation as the victim? Or was there a greater force at work dropping incorrect facts in the wind?

It makes me wonder what other truths are getting distorted in this country by those in power and those who control the media.

I’ll remember the lesson I learned from the case of Stella Liebeck when I hear and read the truth the rich and powerful feed us as to why they are the victims, and how unions and the poor, the tired, the hungry and the sick are really at fault.

My new Australian friend gives me the night off: Guest post by Karyn Pyle

[I’ve often said the best thing about my blog is what my friends and readers say in the comments section. Tonight I’m putting my money where my mouth is and sharing a comment a new friend from Australia wrote in response to my post, \”I should be deported\”

For years now, I’ve struggled with my lack of success in the USA. I live in Los Angeles surrounded by million-dollar-plus homes and 100K automobiles, all daily reminders of a wasted youth and the catch up I’ve had to play. And it has rained on my happiness, as it has for many Americans since the mid-1950s: consumerism has gone up, happiness has gone down (Story of Stuff). This is no surprise as we’re bombarded daily by advertising for the newest latest product with the message: you suck if you don’t own this.

My sincere thanks to Karyn for the comment below, which made me feel better and hopeful there is a place I might feel satisfied not keeping up with my neighbors, and where I don’t have to be a 1-percenter to be happy. It’s a magical place called Australia. I’ll let her tell you about it. Oh, btw, I added the pictures and captions myself.]

In response to “I should be deported.”

As well written and provocative as this was – for me at least – you were preaching to the converted!

I wonder how many people end up taking trips to Austria because they can't spell Australia?

I spent my formative years in Australia. In my mid twenties, I moved to the UK for a year, and then to the USA for 10 years where I got married and had our son. I’m now back in Australia, (as you know). But I feel if nothing else, the travel has given me enough credibility to comment with some element of knowledge on this subject.

America, for all the positive things it has going for it (and as an outsider, let me say that I truly believe it does), what is so sad to me, is that the ‘middle class’ (or upper middle class) will always – as you so eloquently described – feel like failures. For me, what I noticed was a prevalent sense that everyone is trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (whoever they are).

People bought new cars every few years (even though it came with a large and often stressful car payment), because driving an old car told a story – a story that no one wants to be associated with –  “I must be poor and thus unsuccessful!”

They bought bigger homes, or renovated. They vacationed in luxury resorts, wore designer clothes (as did their kids), paid for nails and pedicures every two weeks and hair coloring every month. They purchased the latest electronics, the furniture and decor in the homes are truly a sight to behold – it all coordinated perfectly – and looked like an (Australian) ‘Home Beautiful’ magazine cover! There was a LOT of pressure to be perceived as someone successful.

I understand that this probably isn’t the case everywhere, but in the circles we traveled it was universally the case. Yet, when you came to know someone on an intimate level – more often than not – they were unhappy. They were in debt, feeling overwhelmed, like failures, tired of working their fingers to the bone just to stay afloat, and the “stuff” wasn’t providing them the life they hoped it would, and it wasn’t making them happy either.

I'm not sure if you can eat these or not. Or, if they are poisonous and deadly and can chase you down and eat you? I think I read this in an Australian tourism booklet. I may be wrong. Creative Commons: Mollycat

Here in Aus, and in the UK where I was living (though my time there was brief), people often drive 10 and 15-year-old cars – people with well-paying jobs – and, (gasp!) money in the bank! If the car works, is in good condition, and isn’t causing problems, they don’t replace it. “Why would you?” they ask. “Why would you take on car payment when you own a car outright, that works perfectly and is comfortable for all who need it?”

Why, indeed.

Homes are not as large, decor is not as elaborate and doesn’t coordinate as well… ‘kids clothes do the same job if they are purchased at Target’ I hear the mothers reason. My son attends the best private school in our area – few cars are new, even fewer would be considered “luxury”. Most kids don’t have the latest iPod and iPad. (I hear parents tell them; “Get a job and save up for one yourself!”)

The one difference I have noticed where we Aussies DO spend more, is on vacations. Australia offers all full-time workers 4 weeks paid vacation a year – standard. If you work for a government or large corporation you get an EXTRA 17.5% “loading” on top of your regular salary amount when you take holidays…I have no idea why, but its an awesome rule! (My husband has deemed it the  “vacation-spending-money-fund.” He is in awe of this lottery-like law!)

We know how to relax and do it well, and apparently, often. Most middle class families take overseas vacations every few years. Almost all go away on vacation for at least a few weeks domestically, and do so without financial strain. Granted things cost more here, but salaries are markedly higher, which helps to compensate. We do cut corners to help ourselves along though – on the smaller stuff.

Its rare people pay for cable TV (we have about 12 free channels that include most popular US shows including those seen on cable like Weeds or Californication – we’re liberal like that!). Men mow their own yards as a general rule, and clean their own pools. Women iron the clothes and don’t often use the dry cleaner, and they clean their own homes. (Oh how I miss my American house cleaner!!) But, given the homes are smaller,  the cleaning is not a large or laborious job.

There isn’t a Starbucks on every corner, so we’re not spending on daily coffee – we make it at home. (Most Australian houses have commercial-style coffee machines in the kitchen, something that has changed since I lived here a decade ago, they love their coffee!) When we do go out, cafes are for coffee AND cake (if you’re going out, dammit we may as well celebrate!) Beaches, rainforests, hiking, lakes are all free. There are a lot of community-type places that are family-friendly and free, that I didn’t really see in the US (though that may have been representative of where I lived, not the country as a whole).

Every Australian has one of these in their pool. It's why the country down under has a great Olympic swimming team. Creative Commons: Stormy Dog

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a lover of the USA, and I myself miss the positive influences the USA ingrained in me, and am grateful for the many opportunities the country provided me. However, being ‘home’ now for just on a year,  I realize that without our car payment (we bought our cars for cash when we got here), and all those extras, we are a lot happier. We don’t check the bank account as often, asking ourselves “where did all the money go?” And we don’t bicker over how someone could possibly spend almost $200 a month on Starbucks. (Yes, I never said that I didn’t jump right on the bandwagon once I was there, did I? Its hard not too – it’s the culture of the place – and after 10 years you integrate with the culture, whether you realize it or not!)

Here, we don’t care about the Joneses (I still haven’t figured out who they are) – and our friends here don’t either. People are judged much more on WHO they are, rather than WHAT they are. If you’re a rich asshole, no one will kiss your butt, I promise! If you are a genuinely nice, kind and respectful person, we don’t care what you drive or where you live (as long as you have beer).

For me, this move was a good choice. I am happy to raise my son with these stands and ethics, I hope that someday the corruption of big business and politics – and the hopelessness of middle America that seems so rife – ends, and that a more attainable lifestyle becomes the norm. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could universally see how “stuff” and “impressions” are just that – nothing that will matter when you are 90 years old, and have only your memories and relationships for company.

As for the politicians and the banks…oh don’t get me started on those bailouts! Doesn’t it seem so ass-backwards when a hard-working family can lose their home over a layoff (that they have no control over), but a law-breaking CEO can get a bonus and his bank bailed out, for their failures and poor decision-making?

Now this is the animal most Australians fear the most. Has six-inch fangs and at night it hunts cats and dogs and eats them whole. Creative Commons: Mollycat

As for all the killer animals here, we’ve been here a year, live on the coast in the country, and haven’t seen anything that will kill you yet! As grandpa used to say all those years ago “he’s more scared of you than you are of him” – they would prefer to be away from you, just as you would prefer to be away from them. Come on over for a visit, Australia will welcome you, and the water is fine!

Cheers!

Karyn A Pyle

Social Media Management & Copy Writing Services

karyn_@me.com

www.KarynPyle.com

Should we occupy Wall St. or Washington? Or does it matter?

I’m fighting a cold tonight, which followed the usual course of starting with my daughter, then my wife, then me. So, just a short post and a link.

I read this excellent piece on how the rich get rich and take advantage of our government’s generosity.

When Being Rich Makes Us Poor, People Should Occupy Wall Street

I don’t fault anyone for making money. Hell, I wish I knew the secret and have only myself to blame for failure. Unfortunately, this country doesn’t function as well when wealth is disproportionately distributed and the top one percent horde the majority of the cash. And until the situation is fixed, expect more “American against American” occupations and battles.

“Class Wars 2011” will be the title of chapter in a history book one day.

The view from the Reagan Library. (I can't find the photos I took of the plane.) Check out the web site: http://www.reaganfoundation.org/

All of this relates to my epiphany that one cannot hate the government and love capitalism. They are lovers entwined, and one without the other wouldn’t provide the great opportunities to make cash these days. (Think Iraq War, the moneymaker of all moneymakers for movers and shakers.)

I’ll leave you with this final thought before I go flush my sinuses.

A couple of years ago, we went to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. Regardless of politics, Ronald Reagan lived an impressive life. And the library matched the man’s incredible journey with its own impressiveness. Heck, Air Force One is inside the building if that gives you a sense of its scope and size.

But one of the most telling moments I’ll never forget was coming to the end of the tour, walking out of the gift shop and seeing the list of those who donated and made the library possible.

It wasn’t the poor.

My good deed – or the bad deed I didn’t do

My wife and I went to a charity event tonight, which included a silent auction. I don’t buy very much, but I like pumping up the prices on undervalued items, and sometimes winning one.

As the clock ticked down on the auction and people stood guard, protecting potential purchases like vultures guarding their meal, I noticed a neighbor hovering over a bid sheet for two tickets to an upcoming concert.

Bid on this and I'll tear the flesh from your bones. Creative Commons: Photo by Kevin Walsh

Now she and her husband and I had a difference of opinion a few years ago involving money and their not wanting to do the neighborly thing and pay for half of a repair. And though we speak to each other, no one is going to the other’s house for dinner, dessert and a game of strip Uno.

Here was my chance for mischief and mayhem and a little neighborly payback.

The concert tickets she wanted were at $150 and I could tell she was excited about her chances of winning them.

I spent 10 minutes thinking about what to do, fighting back my inner desire to walk over and bid up the tickets by at least $100. Or, bid it up by $200 and make her outbid me or walk away angry, leaving me with the tickets to use or sell, and a $350 tax deduction.

How high would I go just to mess with them?

But I didn’t. I did a good deed (my definition), and gave her a pass by not bumping up the tickets.

She and her husband will never know I tossed them a bone of kindness and let them go to the concert for the low, low price of $150, which is a better experience than going when the tickets cost you $255 or $355, or more, because your asshole neighbor bid up the price.

It was a hard decision not to start a bidding game of chicken, with the winner being me and the charity. But I’m getting soft and doughy in the head as I get older.

I haven’t even felt like arguing with people online these days. Very odd. Have I lost my edge?

I try to do the right thing each day – say the right thing – and be a good person. But it’s not easy. Sometimes I’d just like to let it rip – unleash the conflict hounds – feel fearless, and not be satisfied with the taste of shit.

I should be deported

Creative Commons: zazor

I’m feeling un-American today because I don’t believe in unlimited and unchecked capitalism.

I fully expect the government will break down my door at any moment and deport me to Mexico, Canada or Australia, the latter being warmer and my first choice. Australia has a beautiful ocean to swim in, though it’s filled with American-eating sharks and Californian-hating jellyfish.

But every location has something that will kill you. We have gangs, wildfires, bad drivers and earthquakes here in L.A.

I don’t believe when banks and other financial institutions gamble their customers’ money on risky schemes – so complicated that their top executives can’t explain them – the government should bail them out – an action some might call temporary (and convenient) socialism.

I also don’t believe these executives should avoid jail time for shady investment and loan practices and for robbing us of our tax dollars.

Hold it, now I’m confused. Does that make me a capitalist and true American because I’ll let the free market play out? Businesses that go broke, like Bank of America, would fail?

Can I stay in the USA now?

Hold on, Unknown Idiot, here’s an even more confusing thought: How can anyone hate the government and love capitalism when they’re almost the same these days?

Democrats and Republicans continue to strip mine regulations to encourage capitalism at any cost – don’t forget what allowed banks to go to Vegas with your money. But the icing on the money cake is that many of the banking and Wall St. scoundrels are working in the Obama administration right now or are still in congress.

I feel like a man alone rowing his boat in the middle of an ocean full of dollar-worshipping hogs.

I don’t believe companies will do the right thing with zero regulation. Most of them will always choose profit at any cost over the welfare of their human capital and health of U.S citizens (fracking anyone?). And I understand that’s blasphemy to point out. (Fox says not to mention my respect for unions right now.)

But here’s the real reason I’ll be deported to a shark-infested beach in the South Pacific Ocean: I suck at getting rich.

Despite our income being in the top 5 percent of earners, I have failed at every attempt to get rich.

Creative Commons: AKphotos

You see, anyone can become a millionaire in this country, they say, especially millionaires who started with a million dollars.

And though I feel like I’ve worked hard and invested, and my wife and I have been frugal by not buying many new clothes, or living in a large house beyond our means, or freeing our kitchen of its shabby Home Depot cabinets and crumbling grout, I am a failure at getting rich.

And that’s not to be tolerated in this country where anyone can be part of the elite one percent of earners if they work hard. It bothers me every day of my life and I feel like a loser.

I should tattoo a big “$” and “L” on my forehead.

Or I could paint “I sold my Apple stock at $40” on my chest and ask Congress if they’d let me have a do-over. Something tells me that’s not going to happen.

Immigration Department, I’m ready. Come get me. Take me away. Feed me to the jellyfish down under. At least, they’re transparent.

******

[Here’s a great movie on the subject discussed: Inside Job, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Job_(film)%5D

[A great essay on one percenters in NYC. Long but great. http://www.truth-out.org/reign-one-percenters/1317665855]

Derailed by autumn bleeding

I’ve felt off this week, not 100%. The weather flipped from hot to cold in one day and with it my equilibrium. Today the autumn bleeding arrived.

The good news is the bleeding isn’t bad – yet. But it’s there and I’m now I’m on cipro. And I get to skip a Lovenox shot tonight.

Creative Commons: Lucretious

The bad news is that I took 5 mg of vitamin K when I meant to take 1 mg and the clot in my neck bubbled. I need to get another scan this week. After two months of shots, a little vitamin K shouldn’t rock my clot. My gut tells me the port-line is out of position and won’t let the clot go away. It needs a doctor’s attention, me thinks.

I did force myself to go out in public tonight, but it is an odd feeling to be in a crowd when you have hemoptysis. It’s surreal, like I’m watching life through a movie lens instead of my own eyes. I feel jealously when I see other fathers and their families and think how nice it would be not to be thinking about my lungs and the hospital. I’m sure they have their worries too.

An extra punch to the gut came when my supervisor told me he was changing positions Monday. I had a good relationship with him and he knew my situation. Now I get to explain it to someone else. It would be nice not to have conversations like the one I’m going to have. It’s embarrassing.

That’s it for tonight. Post a day 2011 checked off but not with the post I had planned.

What’s the right thing to do when old friends resurface?

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I'm tired and accidentally hit Publish. I like this photo because it looks like Cali is an android dog and ready to shoot her laser eyes. That's the best I have tonight. Why did I sign up for post a day 2011?

Everything happens in threes doesn’t it? Even when friends pop up after disappearing for a decade. For me, three did just this recently, in the span of a couple of months.

Before I married my wife, while I was in college, I rented a room from a very nice, highly intelligent woman who didn’t like living alone. We were friends and then I moved in. When I got hitched, I moved out, of course. And I haven’t spoked to her in . . . 11 years?

I picked up a message on our machine six weeks ago. So, I called her and we had a great conversation. She was glad I was still alive and surprised to find out we had a daughter and that I had something to do with it. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

So, we ended the conversation with her promising to call me back in a few weeks after she returned from a business trip to New York, and we’d all get together and she’d meet my daughter.

I haven’t heard back. I guess I satisfied her curiosity that I was still alive. Yes, even I’m surprised I’m alive but I’m not going to call her. It was clear she would contact me.

Experience grade: C-

A woman I worked with years ago – 10, 11 years ago – emailed me and said she’d be in town and asked if she could buy me dinner. Sure, though I hesitated because it meant leaving the house and wearing normal business clothes. But as it got closer, I looked forward to it.

We met for dinner. And it was nice. She’s doing work for the company I work for and I provided her with three pages of notes of ideas. And we relived war stories when we were on the road doing events and the long days standing on our feet.

Experience grade: A

My wife handed me a lime green envelope Monday. A male friend I haven’t seen for about, yes, wait for it, 10 or 11 years, sent me a snail-mail card with his contact information. And inside it he included a photo of an attractive asian woman standing next to him in a casino. I had to open it away from my wife’s curious eyes to make sure it wasn’t something R rated. It wasn’t.

So, what do I do? Do I contact my old friend? I like him. But he kind of disappeared. Why did he pop up now? Curiosity about what?

There are times when I search old friends online, which I did over the years for the friend who mailed me. However, I didn’t reach out to him. And I don’t know if I will now. It’s hard enough to see the friends we have.

I haven’t replied and I’m not sure I will.

Experience grade: TBD