Disneyland or Mayberry?

by Bob Sparrow

One claims to be “The Happiest Place on Earth” while the other just may have actually been.

Only read if you have nothing else to do.

(Cue the whistling of the Mayberry theme song)

Yes, I’m writing about Mayberry this week, or rather something I heard about Mayberry while eating in some international airport during my recent travels. I apologize if you may have heard what I’m about to write, as this kind of thing travels very fast, especially when it’s using international airports.

Let’s first examine the bios of the main characters from that nostalgic television program, The Andy Griffith Show, which took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.

Andrew Jackson “Andy” Taylor: A pragmatic and genial sheriff and justice of the peace, who never wore a gun or a tie and didn’t have too much trouble keeping peace in this bucolic southern town. He was a widower, who had a son, Opie and a paternal aunt named Aunt Bea.  He had a polite charm and  generally keeps the peace with common sense.

Beatrice “Aunt Bea” Taylor: Aunt Bea was a spinster who raised Andy. She was living alone in West Virginia when Andy asked her to come and live with Opie and him when their current housekeeper, Rose, married and moved out of Mayberry.

Bernard (? middle name) “Barney” Fife: This wiry, high-strung deputy was a comic genius, who played the bumbling sidekick to perfection. He was single, but was seriously dating Thelma Lou. He did wear a gun and a tie, but the gun was never loaded. However he kept a bullet in his shirt pocket for emergencies. Most of the time when he pulled it out he ended up nearly shooting himself in the foot. Although Mayberry had little crime, Barney refers to the town as ‘The Gateway to Danger’.  Not as part of any plot line, there was some controversy over Barney’s middle name. In Season 2 he says his middle name is ‘Oliver’. In Season 4, his high school yearbook shows his middle name as ‘Milton’. In Season 5 he states his full name as Barney P. Fife. Sadly this is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

Gomer Pyle: Well Gollll-ly! Gomer is the dim-witted, sleepy-eyed, single, mechanic at Wally’s Filling Station with a toothy grin and a southern accent. He is sometimes deputized when Barney needs a hand at screwing up a case. Gomer leaves the show after Season 4 to start a new series, Gomer Pyle, USMC

Goober Pyle: When Gomer signs up for the Marines, he recruits his long lost single cousin, Goober to replace him as the mechanic at Wally’s Filling Station. Both were very good-natured and always willing to help, sometimes to a fault. The actors who played Gomer and Goober where both from Alabama, so the southern accents were real.

Helen Crump: Helen is single and from Kansas and moves to Mayberry for a teaching assignment. She is Opie’s teacher (he calls her ‘old lady Crump’).  When Opie asks his dad for help on a history assignment, Andy’s advice is misunderstood by Opie which leads to Helen marching down to Andy’s office and giving him a piece of her mind. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know Andy’s walking her home and they become ‘an item’.

Floyd Lawson: The fastidious, slow-paced, often absent-minded local barber who dispensed advice along with his haircuts. Floyd is single and his character is said to be based on Andy’s real barber from his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, (sounds oddly similar to Mount Pilot the fictional neighboring town to Mayberry) where he owned ‘Floyd’s City Barber Shop’. Howard McNear, who played the character Floyd, had a stroke midway through the third season and could not stand for any length of time or move very well. But he returned to play Floyd as the writers kept his character sitting down most of the time.

Howard Sprague: The milquetoast county clerk with mustache and bow ties had a penchants for philosophy and culture, but was a repressed ‘mama’s boy’ who lived with his overbearing and manipulative mother. Due to is upbringing, he was socially stymied especially when it came to dating. In one episode Howard tries to be a stand-up comic, unfortunately people laughed at him and not with him.

Otis Campbell: The town drunk who was also sometimes deputized so he could let himself in and out of jail. Viewers meet Otis’ wife in an episode where Otis is jailed for assault, the first time he’s jailed for something other than drunkenness, because he threw a leg of lamb at his wife, missed and hit his mother-in-law. Otis stopped appearing toward the end of the series because sponsors raised concerns over the portrayal of excessive drinking. (Perhaps the beginning of political correctness??)

So what we’ve discovered, if you haven’t already realized it, it’s that all the characters, except Otis, who was always drunk, were not married. Perhaps this is why Mayberry was considered by many as The Happiest Place on Earth.

Hey, I didn’t make this up; I just heard it at the airport and am passing it along for your perusal and consideration.

 

Blurred Horizons

by Bob Sparrow

We’ve had our share of rain this year, thank God! On one of those cold, rainy February mornings here in southern California I headed to the coast, thinking it would be a great place to get perspective. It was. So I jotted down a few thoughts . . .

The contrast in my mind was stark

On this brisk, rainy February morning at the beach

By summer Frisbees will be flying

Music playing under colorful umbrellas

The smell of Coppertone

Kids splashing in the surf

A seaside calliope

But here and now the beach is empty

Save for an occasional walker and his dog

And a lonely surfer in a wet suit

A light rain drips off my wide brim hat

As I look for a place to take refuge

In the solitude of this chilly ashen day

I walk down a deserted beach

A leaden sky hangs over a steel gray ocean

Making it difficult to tell where the water stops

And the sky begins

A blurred horizon

My nostrils widen as the scent of salt rents the air

I pull my collar up against the morning chill

And affix my hat securely

Against the off-shore breeze

The smell of coffee

Draws me to a beachside café

I find comfort on a sheltered bench

And gaze pensively at the horizon

I am drawn to the mercurial surf

Rushing in with such urgency

Then thunderously breaking on shore

Only to retreat in an easy measured cadence

Natures melody of moving water

Music to my ears

The cup of coffee warms my hands

As I listen to the steady pattern of the surf

Hypnotic in its redundant rhythm

I fix my stare on that blurred horizon

The vastness of the ocean gives me pause

I feel at once tiny and inconsequential

And yet significant enough to be connected

To all of this in some universal way

As the leading player in my own life

In spite of pounding surf and an occasional squawking seagull

There is a quiet serenity pervading the coast

Alone and uninterrupted

It feels good to be here

I solemnly contemplate those resolutions

I made just over a month ago

And affirm that they’ll find purchase in this new year

I turn and walk back to the busy street

Cars rushing by and people hustling to work

Punctuate the pleasure of my time alone

It’s was good to get away even for a little while

To think, to get perspective

To recharge batteries

It’s going to be a good year

If I make it so

 

Hip, Hip Away!

by Bob Sparrow

breath

I thought it was a Hookah Pipe

My research has turned up the fact that the very first successful hip replacement surgery was performed in 1960 and today, just in the United States, over 300,00 of them are done each year and there are over twice as many knee replacement surgeries. So a good number of my friends have had hip or knee replacements in the last few years and they have welcomed me into the ‘replacement club’; brother Jack has had both hips replaced. Others have asked me about my recent experience with my surgery because they see themselves as ‘replacement club’ candidates in the not-too-distant future. So I thought since the only place I’ll be visiting in the next month or two is my own house, on a walker, I don’t have a lot to write about other than my initiation into the ‘replacement club’.

At the pre-surgery meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Patel, I was told to have a restful weekend and be ready for surgery Monday morning. My snappy rejoinder was that I’d probably be sleeping through the whole process and suggested that he was the one who needed to have a restful weekend.  He wasn’t amused. Dr. Jay Patel received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his Medical Doctorate from Stanford University. So I was naturally concerned that my surgeon was a slacker.

drill

Black & Decker

I arrived at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine at 5:30 Monday morning; my pre-op routine included Dr. Patel scribbling his initials on my right hip with a Sharpie to insure they don’t replace the wrong one, which has happened, more than once!   Mine would be the first of 6 hip replacement surgeries that Dr. Patel would perform that day; each surgery taking about 60-90 minutes. I barely remember meeting the anesthesiologist and the next thing I knew I was waking up in post-op.  I did take the opportunity, or make the mistake, of watching a YouTube video on hip replacement. It looked like a construction site, with people wielding crowbars, ball pein hammers, jigsaws and power drills (Black & Decker I believe); I was surprised that everyone wasn’t wearing hard hats. The video is not for the squeamish.

After the surgery Dr. Patel came in to let me know that everything had gone very well and I asked him if I could see the piece of hip that he took out. He said that it had lots of bone spurs on it and he threw it in the ‘bone yard’. My request came from a suggestion from a friend and fellow golfer, Tom Metz, who has a great sense of humor and suggested I ask for a ‘doggie bag’ and bring the bone home for my dog to gnaw on. Yeah, he’s a little sick too.

butt

Margaritaville: “No, Mr. Sparrow you can’t go home that way!”

I must say that the staff at Hoag was unbelievable; not just professional, but I really got the sense that they enjoyed their work and did whatever it took to make my one-night stay there as comfortable as possible. They always had a smile on their face and enjoyed a good laugh. For example, I asked one of the attending nurses, Margarita Avalos (I called her ‘Margaritaville’ for ‘short’) when my catheter would be taken out. She looked at me with a very serious face and said, “Oh, it not so much when it will come out as how.” I asked what she meant, she said, “We take the end of the catheter and tie it to the door, then just slam the door.” Ouch!!!

Unlike the operation itself, I don’t get to sleep through the rehab, which is the not-so-fun part. Managing the pain is important along with doing the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist. The hardest part of rehab may be not drinking while on pain medication – and here I thought drinking was pain medication.

As part of my ‘exit interview’ they asked me when I get released was I going back to an abusive home. I didn’t think this was the time to bring up Linda’s and my heated discussion about who should take out the garbage. I will happily do it . . . now without a limp.

 

 

A Car Dealer’s Worst Nightmare

by Bob Sparrow

negotiating

Negotiation with car dealers is child’s play for Linda

I bought a new car a while back; well I should say my wife bought a new car for me, well, not exactly for me, but instead of me. Let me explain. It was time for me to get a new car and I hate the car-buying process.  Left to my own devices, I would go to the nearest BMW dealer, find the model and color I like and buy it. I’d trade in my old car – no, I’d never try to sell it myself and maximize my profit, I would take it to the dealer and have him tell me all the things that are wrong with it and generally what a piece of crap it is, so I would feel like he’s doing me a favor when he takes it off my hands for about half of its Blue Book value. So I end up paying top dollar for my new car and get bottom dollar for my old car. No muss, no fuss, no haggling. I’m a car dealer’s dream. That’s why I am no longer left to my own devices when it comes to buying a car, but it is right in Linda’s wheelhouse.

While I’m ecstatic about not having to deal with ‘those car dealers’, there is one major drawback: the black 740iL BMW that I wanted turned into a champagne 460 Lexus, but I guess non-negotiators can’t be choosy. She got a good deal on it and got top dollar for my old Lexus.

Reynolds

Reynolds Buick in West Covina

Linda has driven a GMC Yukon for the past seven years and it was still in very good shape, but it was definitely starting to show its age, a feeling I could relate to, so it was actually me who suggested that it was time for her to buy a new car. I don’t know whether she was more excited about, getting a new car or getting another opportunity to chew up and spit out a few car dealers. She is a super shopper when it comes to buying anything, but she is Wonder Woman when it comes to buying a car.

She decided she wanted another Yukon, so went on line and searched the 11 western states for the model and color she wanted, a champagne silver metallic, SLT – I’m wondering if she has a champagne addiction. Just so you know, if you spend more than a nanosecond on any dealers website, they will track you down and make you believe that you have committed to purchasing your new car from them. You will be bombarded with phone calls and emails, so much so that you actually start wondering if something happened to them if a couple of hours go by without hearing from them.

Hardin

Anaheim GM dealer

Linda had found 1 (one!) champagne silver metallic SLT in southern California, it was in possession of a dealer in West Covina, who Linda had previously talked to (of course), but the dealer she was presently grinding into fine powder and was ready to strike a deal with, was in Anaheim. It is customary for dealers to ‘swap’ cars with one another if a dealer feels confident he can sell it. The Anaheim dealer, who now figuratively looked like he’s just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, tells Linda that the car she wants is in West Covina and he’s going to get it from them so he can sell it to her. But when he calls them, they tell him that they think it’s sold, so he can’t have it. When the Anaheim dealer tells Linda this, she calls the West Covina dealer and asks if they have ‘her’ car. They say yes, but that another dealer wants it. Linda asks if it’s the Anaheim dealer that wants it and they says yes it is. Linda tells them that the Anaheim dealer wants the car for her and that if they want her to buy it from them, they’ll have to accept the same terms she’s already negotiated. When the West Covina dealer hears the terms, he groans, then is silent (he’s thinking, “A very little commission or no commission?”) and finally says OK. This all may sound confusing to you, but just understand that the bottom line here is that Linda now has the two car dealers trying to screw over each other, while Linda gets the keys to the car.

2014-GMC-Yukon

2015 GMC Yukon SLT Champagne Silver Metallic

As we were heading home in Linda’s new car, I started recounting the savings: a rather large GM Family discount for me being a retired GMAC employee, a rebate from our insurance company, USAA as well as a less-than 2% auto loan and top dollar for her old Yukon. Linda interjects, “Add another $100, I’ve got a full tank of gas here and there’s not enough gas in my old car to drive it off the lot.”

Maybe that black BMW isn’t that far in the future; when I get it, I’ll buy Linda an nice bottle of champagne.

 

In Search of the ‘t’ in Mortgage

by Bob Sparrow

Mortgage: a French law term meaning ‘death pledge’.  For me it must be a ‘death wish’.

peter principleThere’s a phrase in the mortgage industry that describes someone who is either new to the business and doesn’t know anything or someone who has been in the business a while and is still clueless.  That phrase is, “He doesn’t even know where the ‘t’ goes in mortgage”.  After a 27-year career in the business, I once again find myself wondering if I remember where the ‘t’ goes, as I was recently presented with an opportunity to get back in the business.  As I considered this prospect, I reflected on my nearly three decades in the business and concluded that I could have been a poster child for the ‘Peter Principle’.  For those unfamiliar with Peter Laurence’s 1969 book, The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, it goes like this: if someone is good at something, they get promoted, and if they’re good at that job, they get promoted again, and that keeps happening until they are elevated to a job and stay there because they’re not good enough at it to get promoted.  More simply put, it says that people are promoted to their level of incompetence.   In 1983 I started in the business as a loan originator and was pretty good at it, so was promoted to branch manager and continued through the management ranks until I ended my career as president of a joint venture.  No matter what your political bias, we know that we’ve all seen our share of incompetent presidents.  I was no exception.

If you’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, why are you telling me about the mortgage business, you’re suppose to take us on a journey to some off-the-beaten-path place?’  Hey, if I’m going back to work, you’re coming with me!

My reasons for contemplating a return to a business that was a major player in bringing our economy to a screeching halt inMHM 2008 are two fold: 1) I don’t seem to be adjusting very well to a life of retirement, and 2) perhaps I wanted to end my mortgage career doing something that I was good at.  So after twenty hours of on-line course work and hours of studying and passing both a state and a national exam, I received my mortgage license and last week started working as a loan originator for Metropolitan Home Mortgage, a mortgage banker based out of Irvine, CA. (949) 428-0134.

It’s bad enough that I’m getting back into a business that doesn’t enjoy the best of reputations, but to put some whip cream on this mortgage meadow muffin I’ll be specializing in reverse mortgages.  Reverse mortgages or as fredthey’re know in some quarters, Perverse Mortgages, have a rather sullied reputation in spite of the efforts of Fred Thompson, Robert Wagner and ‘The Fonz’ – all espousing the benefits of the loan that pays you.  I call it the ‘Hollywood Loan’, not because of the celebrity pitchmen, but because every loan requires the applicants to go to counseling, which is code in Hollywood for therapy.  I’ve learned that it’s a very complex loan that has changed dramatically since its inception in 1990 and that it’s not for everyone, but it’s a great loan for the right people.

So sister Suzanne and I have sort of switched rolls with me staying close to home and she off cavorting in Washington DC – a trip that you’ll hear about next week.  In the mean time, if I work hard and use spellcheck I may once again find the ‘t’.

 

 

 

Cinderella’s ‘Big Dance’

by Bob Sparrow

CinderellaThis week I found myself in a bar (What?!) trying to explain to a Brit, who was now working here in the U.S. and who apparently has been in a cave for the last 30 years, the excitement around all the college basketball on TV. I explained that this is the N.C.A.A. College Basketball National Championship Tournament; more succinctly referred to as ‘March Madness’ or ‘The Big Dance’.  He asked if this was the finals of Dancing With The Stars. I patiently explained that it is a 64-team, single elimination college basketball tournament for the national championship.  I wondered if I was going too fast for him.

Jwooden

“The Wizard”

 I proceeded to tell him that for the seeding of this tournament, he’d have to throw out where he thinks regions are in the United States.  There are four 16-team brackets, South, East, West and Midwest (I said I think the North is still playing hockey), but this year Milwaukee, a Midwest team, is seeded in the East, Louisiana-Lafayette, a southern team, in the West, Manhattan College, in New York, is in the Midwest and UCLA, is seeded in the South.  UCLA however, has no one to blame but themselves for this.  The tournament used to be seeded by region, so there would always be a team from each region in the Final Four.  Until from 1964 to 1975 ‘The Wizard of Westwood’, John Wooden’s UCLA teams won 10 of 12 championships and the other coaches in the west argued that they never got to go to the Final Four because they were always eliminated by UCLA in the regionals.  While geography still plays a small role, it’s more about seeding teams according to ability.  My new European friend only perked up when I said the word ‘Wizard’.

billion bracket

Win $1,000,000,000

I asked him if there was a lot of buzz at work about the ‘office pool’ and then disappointed him by telling him that there is not a new aquatic center being built at the home office, that the pool is merely the 64-bracket seeding sheet that allows folks who think they know basketball to prove that they don’t.  I told him Vegas gets more bets during this tournament than at any other time of the year, including the Super Bowl.  Super Bowl, he asked?  Never mind.  There are all kinds of ways to bet this tournament and this year, for the first time, billionaire Warren Buffett has offered $1,000,000,000 (yes, that’s with a B) to the person who picks every winner of every game – that’s picking all 62 winners without a mistake.  Actually there are 4 ‘play-in’ games making it 66 winners.   The odds?  One in 9 with 18 zeros behind it! (Update: after two days and only 25 games everyone who entered for a chance at the billion was eliminated)

I told him that he’ll hear some alliterative terms being bantered about this week, ‘Final Four’, Elite Eight’ and bet him that he’ll never hear the word ‘sixteen’ without the word ‘sweet’ in front of it.  At the risk of confusing him even more I mentioned that he’ll also hear the term ‘Cinderella’ quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.

I continued by telling him that the term has nothing to do with wicked stepmothers, glass slippers or getting home before your horses turn into mice.  Rather, it’s a term for the ‘long shots’ in the tournament. It is usually a small college, seeded 10th or below in their bracket, with a charismatic coach, who, after his team loses in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’, will dump that school and accept a pumpkin chariot full of money to go to a non-Cinderella school.  It usually doesn’t work out and he ends up scrubbing gym floors for a wicked Athletic Director in Podunk Hollow, Mississippi.  There have however, been ‘Cinderella exceptions’ in recent years; Wichita State, Butler and George Mason all made it to the Final Four.  Coach Brad Stevens, who took Butler to two Final Fours, skipped going to a non-Cinderella school and signed a contract to coach the Boston Celtics, where his team has a .329 winning percentage this season.  I think he left his pair of glass slippers back at Butler.  Who are this year’s Cinderella teams?  Stephen F. Austin, Oregon, Harvard (yes, that Harvard), Virginia Commonwealth, Nebraska and Mercer.  If none of these teams are still in the tournament as you’re reading this, you’ll understand why Buffet’s money was so safe!

Cinderella schools can also have unusual mascots.  This year we have the Manhattan College Jaspers (a long story), the St. Louis University Billikens (an even longer story) and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

                 Jaspers                   billiken                Chants

Upon hearing this last name, my new acquaintance lit up and told me that Chanticleer is the rooster in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (which is exactly where Coastal Carolina got the name!). He was now interested in ‘The Big Dance’ and has a ‘Cinderella’ team for which to root.  He thanked me as he left and I thought I saw him doing the ‘Chicken Dance’ on the way out the door.  Brits!

(Update: Coastal Carolina lost it’s first game and is out of the tournament)

 

Hoax, Conspiracy Theories and the Truth!

by Bob Sparrow

“The great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

shower

The recent fiasco surrounding Manti Te’o’s non-existent girlfriend (photo at left shows her in the shower) and things like the 11 million views on YouTube showing how the federal government and the Screen Actors Guild conspired to create the ‘Sandy Hook Hoax’, have me convinced that our culture will not let the facts stand in the way of a good conspiracy theory.  Not that people haven’t been lied to by their government, or the Screen Actors Guild for that matter, but as a public service I’d like to put forth the real truth about some of our most popular conspiracies.

 

If you think that there is a possibility that Michael and Janet Jackson were actually the same person or that the ‘grassy knoll’ was never michael jacksonjanet jacksonreally examined as thoroughly as it could have been, then you need to read on.

global warmingConspiracy: global warming is a real threat

Supported by: Al Gore, who told us so

Anti-Conspiracy: Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by Carrier, the air conditioning people and a few awning and umbrella companies.

The Truth: My anecdotal findings are that the globe seems to be warmer in the summer, so I lean toward the global warming theory, but it seems to cool down in the winter, so I can’t be sure. I’m going to read Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth – it’s on the Internet, which he invented.

 

 abby roadConspiracy: Paul McCartney walking barefoot on the Abby Road album cover proves that he was actually dead.

Supported by: Those who had high-tech record players back in the day that could play Beatles records backwards and hear Paul actually say that he was dead at the time.

Anti-Conspiracy: Paul was late for the album photo shoot and forgot to put on his shoes.  What amazingly has gone unnoticed over the years is that Ringo is not wearing any underwear in the photo – he is not dead either.

The Truth: Paul is alive and actually came closer to death when a judge told him he had to pay Heather Mill $235 million in his divorce settlement.

 

elvisConspiracy: Elvis faked his death

Supported by: Elvis weighed approximately 275 pounds at the time of his ‘supposed’ death, yet the casket ‘they’ say he was buried in weighed only 210 pounds.

Anti-Conspiracy: The king didn’t fake his death, but actually died three days later after finishing second in a chili dog eating contest at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Truth: Elvis’ death has never been certified and rumors fly around this time of year when an elderly duet that looks an awful lot like an aging, 65 pound lighter Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa, appear for their dinner show in Sun City, Las Vegas.

shakespeare_winkConspiracy: Shakespeare didn’t write his plays

Supported by: All those who claim to have written them

Anti-Conspiracy: Shakespeare actually wrote the plays, but in a hurry to get to the airport one morning, left them at a table at Starbuck’s where they were ultimately picked up by Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe and Woody Allen.

The Truth: Who cares?

 

mood landing fakeConspiracy: We never landed on the moon

Supported by:  A ‘moon set’ was found inside an old cheese warehouse in the New Mexico desert; they also found a man in the warehouse with a large, round, glowing, orange face.

Anti-Conspiracy: No New Mexico license plates were found on the lunar lander.

The Truth: We of course landed on the moon and ended up bringing back some aliens and weather balloons and accidentally left them just outside a warehouse in Roswell, New Mexico.

 

I may be a little confused about that moon landing thing, but hopefully I’ve cleared up a lot of conspiracies for you theorists out there; although things like, ‘Is wedding cake really a birth control method?’ still remains a mystery to us.

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LOOKING BACK FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

by Bob Sparrow

Happy new year 2013 Thank you to my sister, Suzanne for introducing me to the idea of the ‘upside down bucket list’, for it was that concept that has inspired me to look at New Year’s resolutions differently.  Like many, I typically resolve to be a better spouse, parent, friend . . . person and include the requisite increase in exercise and consumption of much healthier food resulting in a painfully slow, if ever, decrease in weight.  Like many, I also have a bucket list of places I want to visit and things I want to do and resolutions always include checking off a few of those items during the ensuing year.  While resolutions and bucket lists look great in late December, reality seems to find its way into the new year and render many, if not most, of our resolutions unattainable.

 So this year, rather than ‘dream’ about the places I’d like to go in 2013, I thought I’d do the ‘upside down thing’ and look back at 2012 and review what I’d done and where I’d actually been.  Then, rather than be disappointed at not doing or getting to the places I resolved to get to, I’d be able to just ‘grade’ myself based on what I’d done and where I’d gone and hopefully put a few checks on that big bucket list.

Twenty-twelve will not be marked in my memory by the many places I visited or the life I led, but rather by the life I lost – the passing inscan0041 February of my best friend, Don Klapperich.  For more than 50 years he was a best friend, a mentor, a singing partner, a moral compass, a confidant, the little voice in my head and so much more.  He was a most talented, intelligent, entertaining and complex man.  He knew me better than anyone and I knew him as much as anyone could.  I miss him dearly.  I regret not spending more time with him, not talking to him more on the phone, not emailing as often as I could have, not going to visit more often.  I suppose it’s natural to now have a better understanding of the tenuousness of life; to better appreciate each day we’re given and to not take those around us for granted.  I don’t know if it’s a resolution, but I will try harder to remember these things – they have become more important to me.

Those who have followed our blog know that I’ve had the privilege of going to some wonderful places this year.  In January I was in Hawaii, on the Big Island to watch the PGA Senior’s golf tournament at Hualalai and then on to Maui to play golf and just watch some sunsets at Wailea.  I had a much too up-close and personal look at ‘senior living’ at my mom’s facility in Sonoma and while I was in the area I hiked through historical Jack London State Park in the rolling hills of Glen Ellen.  I traveled across country on business to Sunriver, Oregon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Holyoke, Massachusetts and I HAD to return to the island of Kauai to attend a conference.  I lived on a boat in the harbor in Cabo San Lucas for three days while not photo (77)catching a single fish, but I did get to hang upside down at the Giggling Marlin.  I spent a week in our timeshare in Palm Desert for the 18th year in a row and hope I can play another 18.  I revisited the differences between northern and photo (74)southern California as I returned to the palm and pine trees on Highway 99 out of Fresno, and I spent several days not quite 26 miles across the sea on Catalina Island.  I thought I saw John Lennon at the Laguna Sawdust Festival, twice!  I stood at the lowest point on the North American continent in surprisingly stunning Death Valley, and I stood on top of Half Dome in not-so-surprisingly stunning Yosemite National Park.  And I had my annual martini with my Dad in his final resting place at Lake Tahoe.

That’s an upside down list that I may have a hard time topping in 2013.  I feel so very privileged to be afforded the opportunities to experience all that I have in 2012 and I know I was privileged to have such a great best friend for over 50 years.  It was a memorable year in so many ways. I recommend looking back at your year and the only resolution I would make is that in a year from now you’re going to look back at 2013 – make it memorable.

I know I speak for my dear friend and wonderfully talented sister, which she doesn’t often let me do because she can speak so well for herself, in thanking all of you who read our blog and especially those who send us back comments to let us know our words don’t all end up in cyber space.  May you all have an extraordinary 2013.

 

And now a word from our sponsor

Most of you know I’m now working for Zipz Gear, a unique shoe company, but may not know that I am now writing a ‘shoe blog’ called ‘From the Lipz of Zipz’.  You can find the blog by going to our website at www.zipzgear.com.  Feel free to check out the shoes while you’re there.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

holiday carWe here at “A Bird’s Eye View” are taking a break for Christmas.  Actually, we consumed too much egg nog and can’t string two sentences together.  But fear not, we’ll be back next week with some inspiring drivel for the new year.

Merry Christmas to everyone and thank you so much for reading our blog each week.  We appreciate your “views” and comments.

Bob and Suzanne

HOLIDAY TRAVEL

by Bob Sparrow

holiday car    No, this isn’t the counterpoint to my last post on all that is good about air travel.  In fact one of the reasons I have such a positive attitude towards air travel is that I don’t travel during the holidays.  Whoever created the phrase, ‘holiday travel’ took the fun out of two of my favorite words.  I love the holidays and I love to travel, but together you’ve got the beginnings of ‘the nightmare before Christmas’.  If you’re trying to fly somewhere the nightmares feature things like delayed flight, missed connections, lost luggage, sitting on an airplane next to a guy with reindeer breath and practicing your ‘Just what I wanted’ expression when you get that battery operated recycled toilet paper dispenser.  If you’re driving, the nightmares are about jammed freeways, road rage, kids screaming “Are-we-there-yet?” and the practicing of, “They just fit” when trying on those new glow-in-the-dark plastic socks.

     Gone are the days when we could just go over the river and through the woods toover the river grandmother’s house and enjoy some of her homemade Chocolate Chip cookies.  Today grandma lives in a downtown, high-rise condo, six hours away where parking is limited and expensive – and the cookies are gluten-free.

     Holiday travel, indeed.  Shouldn’t there be a term for ruining two perfectly good words by juxtaposing them?  I’m sure there are lots of similar two-word combinations that shouldn’t be joined.  Here’s one that immediately comes to mind; the word ‘love’ is one of the best words around and ‘child’ is also a great word, but put them together and you’ve got . . . a bastard!  Shouldn’t there be a name for these kinds of words, I mean paired words like ‘Civil war’ or ‘jumbo shrimp’ are oxymorons, so maybe we name words like ‘love child’ and ‘holiday travel’ oxybastards.

     How could they do that to two such beautiful words?  Etymologically speaking, the word holiday is derived from the words ‘Holy Day’, so the term originally had religious connotations, but today it seems that the closest any holiday comes to religion is when Travelersomeone says, ‘Thank God I don’t have to go to work today” or “Can you believe this god-awful traffic?.”  Holiday actually is a . . . never mind, what I really wanted to talk about was ‘travel’, because today in the mail I received the National Geographic Traveler magazine featuring their 2nd Annual Best of the World – 20 Must-See Places for 2013 – great reading for a raining Sunday afternoon where I can reverse the aforementioned oxybastard and dream about and plan a ‘travel holiday’.  There now, doesn’t that sound much better?

     I rarely think of those two words, no matter what the order, and not think of Bob Hope traveling half way around the world every Christmas to entertain our troops.  He started during World War II when he island-hopped throughout the south Pacific in 1944 to the tune of some 30,000 miles while performing over 150 USO shows.  He travel to KoreaBob Hope troops during that war (Sorry, conflict) and did shows in Viet Nam every Christmas from 1964 to 1972.  He also did Christmas performances during Desert Storm (1990-91) for the troops in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.  Bob Hope was a ‘holiday traveler’ for 50 years, going wherever our troops were stationed.  Now it wasn’t all toil and drudgery, he typically traveled in a troupe that included the likes of Ursula Andress, Anne Margaret, Carroll Baker and Raquel Welch, which for those too young to remember those beauties, today it would be like  having to spend Christmas with Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek.  Hope was known to crack, “I bring them along to remind the boys what they’re fighting for.”

 christmas-afghanistan-2011    There is no place like home for the holidays, but those who will travel and perhaps experience ‘holiday travel’ nightmares before Christmas, might be well-served to remember when you’re flight is delayed or the traffic is backed up and even when you receive that re-gifted fruit cake, Bob Hope’s amazing sacrifice during a time when he most wanted to be home and today’s service men and women all over the world who will be home for the holiday only in their dreams.