John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sibling Rivalry

jyb_musingsSibling rivalry couldn’t possibly exist after 50, right?

Of course not.

Our mom has been under the weather the past few days but is now, thankfully, fully on the mend.

My sister, Sissy, in Lexington called me yesterday and asked for a progress report. I reassured her that Mom was doing great now and I copied and pasted a text our mom had just sent me.
(With one minor humorous edit I couldn’t resist adding.)

“Sis, Mom wrote this earlier today to me. Here it is …. ‘So happy to be feeling better today! Still tired & not a lot of stamina yet but feeling so much better. By the way, John, I always liked you more than Sandy and Sissy. Love to all Mom'”

Most importantly it got a good laugh out of Mom as well as all three of us.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Obvious Shortcuts

jyb_musingsAm I the only one who thinks of these obvious shortcuts?

In line boarding a flight and listening to a plastic surgeon boast about all his recent cosmetic surgery successes.

Um, OK. That’s great and all.

But wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just make glasses for everyone with lenses that makes everybody else look thin and hot?

Pretty obvious.

There is always an easier fix for those, like me, who are willing to think outside the box. Or see things through a slightly different lens. Sigh.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Flight Attendant Revenge

jyb_musingsI am on a flight right now and not speaking to my flight attendant. She asked me twice to turn off my “mobile device” and then checked to make sure I hadn’t turned it back on as she walked past me a third time before take off. And she said it to me in a really stern and authoritative way that made me feel like I was talking in class in 2nd grade, like the time Ms White at Wilder Elementary pulled me several feet out of my chair by my hair — in front of the whole class.

She doesn’t know I’m not speaking to her. She thinks I didn’t even notice her sassiness and that I was glad to have her remind me to turn off my cell phone before we start taxiing.

I would never want to do anything to endanger any flight I am on. I have volunteered many times to sit by the exit door in case of an emergency. She probably doesn’t even know that.

To get even with her, I am squinting my eyes at her while she isn’t looking. And thinking of the term “Stewardess” instead of “Flight Attendant.” But I know that is probably hitting below the belt, even though I am only saying it in my mind.

Oh brother! Now the guy two seats in front of me —who turned off his mobile device after she asked the first time —is joking around with the flight attendant and she is being all chummy with him. Teachers pet! And it is no accident he is just two seats away from me. She is trying to rub it in.

Here she comes with the beverage cart, I just shook my head “No thanks” when she asked if I wanted a beverage. Even though I am thirsty. I didn’t speak a single word. Silent treatment. I even let her look at my computer screen while I wrote this post. The font was too small to read but I think she knew she had crossed a line earlier with me by the way I gave such a pouty, wounded non-verbal “No thanks” to her free beverage offer.

And just because I am posting this on Facebook doesn’t make me petty. Seriously. I was already petty long before this. I just hope we both learned a useful lesson from this experience. Actually, I really hope only she did.

Put it this way, she’s just lucky they aren’t serving lunch on this flight for me to politely and non-verbally decline. Even though I am really hungry.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The New News Channel — A Proposal

jyb_musingsI am at a point in my life where I want a different kind of news station. One that currently doesn’t exist. One that is neither liberal nor conservative. One that is neither substantive nor opinionated. One that neither reports the real news nor comments on it. One that neither leaves me informed nor angry. One that has anchors and reporters that are neither beautiful nor all that interesting. Nor loud or charming.

I want a new news station that is presented by ordinary looking people who are slightly overweight, middle-aged and have kind yet forgettable facial features. And who don’t read the news but just talk to us the way we talk to each other when we aren’t on the news. Instead of reporting on emergencies or potential military or health crisis, I would prefer the new news channel focuses more on things like recipes and sales at local hardware stores and live coverage of people renovating a room in their house or washing their car (or hair). Maybe something about a couple divorcing in our community and what others are saying about them. Something on calories but not too much emphasis on health and none on beauty beyond stories of how limited cosmetic surgery can sometimes be successful but usually isn’t necessary. A nice regular feature story about some local business or organization that is doing better than expected and doing some good for the community too. Nothing about disease except how cures are progressing–and regular reports about people in our community who are feeling better than they were last week when they thought they were coming down with something. Nothing about war except noting we don’t have any near our neighborhood as of this afternoon. Not much on the weather except noting fair and mild days and maybe a brief comment about how it “could be worse” during a bad weather spell. Not many commercials unless they are really clever and not repeated over and over. You know the ones I am talking about –that are almost like an art form.

Not a lot of culture reporting but enough to be able to keep up in conversations with viewers’ younger bosses to let them know we know about the same cultural current events information that they do and a lot more history. A daily report on trends in meditation practices. Election results can be reported but only after 2am and at least a year after they occurred–and the reports have to have the German Chicken Song theme playing in the background to keep viewers from taking them too seriously and spending hours the next day writing about the elections on Facebook.

I would like for the news to start with someone who reminds us of Walter Cronkite meets Fred Rogers (of Mr Rogers Neighborhood). With about an 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And close with someone reminding us of a likable and sincere version of Martha Stewart (I like her voice) meets Fred Rogers –with a similar 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And in between a long list of nondescript female and male reporters who remind us of Fred Rogers meets Fred Rogers. And maybe opening with a song and partial undressing like in the original Mr Rogers Neighborhood. But nothing racy. Just shoes and a jacket. Just shoes if the guy looks a lot like Cronkite.

As for the close, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that it ends with the sense that nothing that happened that day in the news really matters that much—except what each of us did in our own lives. And that that is really the only “news” worth knowing or thinking about today. And pan to a miniature train choo-chooing as the credits roll.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Cancelling a Concert Tour

jyb_musingsI have some idea now what it feels like to cancel a concert tour.

The past week I have been listening to Pearl Jam every morning.

It has become too exhausting for me to tap into my inner Eddie Vedder every morning for an entire week.

This morning I decided I needed to take a break from listening to Pearl Jam due to exhaustion.

I am going to listen to Paul Simon instead. Who is smaller and has a much softer persona to tap into than Eddie Vedder. I am not cancelling the entire Pearl Jam tour, so to speak. I just need a few days of Paul Simon to rest and recuperate.

I may be ready to listen to Pearl Jam again as early as next week — especially if I focus on listening to Simon’s later works, which are akin to eating chicken soup. And may help restore my voice which has become a little scratchy from the Pearl Jam singing this past week.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: First Thoughts

jyb_musingsThey say go with your first thought on things.

I was never sure what that meant until this morning.

On my way to meet someone for an early morning business meeting, I got an email from someone else that he couldn’t make our meeting — a meeting I had set for the exact same time and completely forgotten about –because he had “something unexpected come up at work.”

1) My first thought was, “Oh wow! Thank you, God! That would have been humiliating. I wrote an email response telling him “No problem,” and that we could reschedule.

2) My second thought was I should put a little hint of disappointment in my response email to make him feel guilty for cancelling at the last minute.

3) My third thought was “Wonder who the heck he is meeting with who is so important that he had to cancel a meeting with me” –that I had admittedly forgotten and couldn’t make myself because I was meeting with someone else too.

4) My fourth thought was, “Maybe you should just email the response from your first thought and keep the rest to yourself.”

So, always go with your first thought. And if you can’t do that hold off until the fourth thought. And don’t dwell on the second and third.

A good rule of thumb is that genuine gratitude is always better than false indignation.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Better than Gingko!

jyb_musingsMemory supplements may or may not help improve mmemory. But I have discovered a way to make you feel again like your mind is a steel trap.

Going off a prescription medication that has listed as a side effect “Memory.” It wasn’t clear from the side effect list if “memory” was affected negatively or positively as a possible side effect. Turns out it is negative. Fortunately, however, “Not caring about having memory loss” was NOT another side effect. So, my doctor took me off it.

It’s nice having the memory again of a 51 year old rather than a 91 year old. Like taking off ankle weights after wearing them all day, I feel like I can mentally run and jump again like never before. I feel ready to re-memorize all the books of the Bible, memorize the alphabet backwards (just for the heck of it), and learn a new language on Rosetta Stone in one day (but probably not today).

I probably won’t do any of these things. In fact, I am sure I won’t. But it is nice to have the thought that I might and could. Even better than the results I had with Gingko which I bought several years ago but admittedly never gave a full chance. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t remember where I put the bottle.)

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Wise Things My Grandfather Said

jyb_musingsI was just reminded of an interview my grandfather Brown did with the wonderful Sue Wylie when he was 84 years old.

After explaining all of the political races he had lost, Sue tried to offer a softball question to distract from the awkwardness and wrap up everything on a pleasant and hopeful note.

Sue queried, “But Mr Brown if you could live your life over would you have done anything differently?”

After a confused pause my grandfather responded, “Well, Honey, of course I would. I would have done a whole lot of things differently. Look, it’s a little silly to get to the end of your life and say you wouldn’t have done anything differently …if you could do everything over again.”

And he stopped. I loved it. And I never forgot the leason that when you are asked a question and aren’t sure how to answer it, you can’t go wrong going with raw candor. And then stopping.

John Y.’s Video Flashback (1995):

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