By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Well, by now I’m assuming everyone has not only heard about the food shortages and supply line problems but has experienced them first-hand.  We’ve seen empty shelves since the pandemic started, but I sensed it was easing a bit until a few weeks ago.  Now, once again, going to the grocery store has all the certainty of placing a bet on the crap table.  Pundits on TV have blamed the war in Ukraine, but it seems to have started long before that.  This morning when I perused the pasta aisle I was met with a lot of blank space.  I grabbed the last bag of sweet potato fries and cinnamon graham crackers from their respective shelves.  I secretly applauded myself as if I had won the lottery.  But still, I haven’t been able to get the sugar-free wafer cookies that my husband loves in almost a year.  I think they are imported from Canada so I’m sure there is a customs problem at the border.  Too bad they don’t come from Mexico so they could sail right through.

In any event, the other item that has been very hit and I miss are Lay’s Baked potato chips. They are the brand that my husband’s cardiologist recommends (well, to the extent he recommends potato chips at all) but they have been impossible to find.  Obviously, I scour the shelves at our local Safeway once or twice a week, but I’ve been skunked at all of the other local markets as well. I’ve tried Target and CVS pharmacy – no dice.  Finally, last week I was in Walgreen’s when the Lay’s rep had just been there.  There were four bags on the shelf.  I furtively looked around, hoping no one was watching, and put all four bags in my cart.  I normally would never take the last of something.  Our mother always taught us that you never take the last cookie or the last piece of cake.  Advice which seems ridiculous.  Of course we wanted the last piece of cake! She never said, “Don’t take that last Brussel’s sprout!”.  Upon reflection, I realize that there was never just one sprout left.

Anyway, as I walked around Walgreen’s picking up the rest of my necessities, I ran through what excuses I might offer the check-out guy as to why I was depleting their entire stock of Baked Lays.  A graduation party?  Or, more appropriate for my age, a celebration of life? In the end, I just put my goods on the counter and proceeded to check out.  I didn’t look the check-out guy in the eye, lest he pose the dreaded “why?” question.  I felt guilty as I drove home, certain that a seven-year-old somewhere is Scottsdale was going to be deprived of potato chips in his lunch pail.  But when I walked in the house with my ill-gotten gains my greediness was rewarded.  My husband looked at me like I was Olivia Newton-John (his girl crush).  I can’t remember the last time he looked at me that way.

I’ve heard that we’re in for even more food shortages this summer.  What’s more, because fertilizer may be in short supply, they are going to spray manure on the crops, including potatoes.  Perhaps I need to tell my husband that, thus reducing his desire for the chips.  And, unfortunately, me.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In 1962 I remember my parents and siblings being obsessed with “the draft”.  This was well before Vietnam, which turned the word “draft” into something to be feared.  No, my family was excited for the NFL draft, in hopes that my brother, Jack, would be selected.  He wasn’t.  Although he did sign as a free agent with the 49ers, who released him once they discovered he had broken his neck in college.  Even then, before the plethora of personal injury attorneys, the team knew better than to take that risk.

So, at a fairly young age I was made aware of the NFL draft and have had a waxing and waning interest in it ever since.  As a college football fan, I love to watch the draft when a player that I have followed is eligible to take part in the selection process.  It used to be that a player had to attend four years of college to be drafted, but now the superstars can be picked up after they are three years removed from their high school graduating class – so after their college junior year or their ‘redshirt’ sophomore year.  I used to have a problem with that, as I felt it discouraged the players from completing their education.  But I’ve come to realize that many of the superstar athletes are simply marking time in school and want to capitalize on their abilities as quickly as possible.  And no wonder.  The first-round picks in 2021 averaged $18.4 million, and even the players who fell to the seventh round eked out a paltry $2.7 million.

The draft, and the money, has come a long way from its humble beginnings.  According to the NFL, the first draft was held on Feb. 8, 1936, in a smoky conference room at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel.  There were only 90 players in the selection pool.  The Eagles had the first pick and chose Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago. Rather than play pro football, Berwanger, a star halfback, opted for a career as a foam rubber salesman. Berwanger’s choice wasn’t unusual — only 24 of the 81 players chosen in the first draft went on to play in the NFL. Most opted for more secure and stable professions, many of which paid better.

The draft, and the money, evolved in the face of competition — specifically the emergence of the upstart American Football League (AFL) in 1959. The competition between the new league and the NFL for draft picks was fierce.  Soon, the clubs employed “babysitters”, team operatives who were charged with developing relationships with college prospects, even before they were drafted, to make them more likely to sign with their club.  Teams from both leagues battled with each other for the star players, resulting in skyrocketing salaries for the rookies.  This competition continued until the two leagues agreed to merge following the 1969 season, leading to a common draft.

In 1980, the NFL Draft took its largest step forward when it was televised live. Commissioner Pete Rozelle was skeptical that the event would be a draw for fans but agreed that it could be broadcast on a new all-sports cable network, ESPN. Turns out, there was indeed an audience for the NFL Draft. The event has grown each year, eventually moving from that smoky hotel conference room in Philidelphia to the stage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.  Last year more than six million people watched the draft on television.

This week the NFL will hold the first in-person draft since 2019.  It’s an understatement to say it will be an extravaganza.  For the first time the festivities will be held in Las Vegas, a town known for understatement and class.  Or not.  There will be an NFL Red Carpet Stage built on the Fountains of Bellagio, where the media will interview NFL Draft prospects during the event.  The stage will also host special performances by various Las Vegas entertainers and the players are slated to take a boat on the lake at Bellagio to the stage.

I’ll tune in this year, if for no other reason than to watch just how self-aggrandizing the NFL can be.  I’ll be hoping that we don’t have another moment like the 2007 draft.  That year Notre Dame’s star quarterback, Brady Quinn, was one of the few elite players invited to attend the draft in person, as it was expected he would be selected in the first or second round.  As the rounds went by, Brady was not selected.  When the tenth round was completed, and he was the only player left sitting in the waiting area, even the TV commentators were calling for mercy.  It became almost unbearable to watch, but as with a train wreck, it was hard to look away.  Finally, some sympathetic soul moved Brady away from the cameras.  He was eventually selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 22nd round.

One can only marvel at the money made by today’s players and the spectacle the draft has become.  We’ve come a long way from Berwanger choosing to become a foam rubber salesman.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In the classic movie, Sunset Boulevard, a screenwriter meets an aging move star and says, “You’re Norma Desmond.  Once, you were big.” To which she replies, “I AM big, it’s the pictures that got small.”  Never has a more prescient comment been uttered, although I’m not sure Ms. Desmond or anyone else could have predicted just how small they would get.  Sunset Boulevard was filmed in 1950, when everyone went to movie theaters and movie stars were idolized.  Fast forward to 2017, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that movie attendance in North America was at a 27-year low.  And then 2020 hit.  No one went anywhere, much less to crowded movie theaters.  People stayed home, snuggled up in their jammies, baking bread and watched a streaming service.  Netflix alone added more than ten million subscribers in the second quarter of that year.

Movies, and network television, has been on a downward spiral ever since.  I’ll save my critique and frustration with television for another day, but the movies have been front of mind ever since the Oscar nominations were announced in February.  I recall a time, not that long ago, when everyone raced to the movie theaters to see all of the movies before the Oscars were awarded.  It was a communal way to connect – people predicting who would win the major categories, who would look the most glamorous, and who was snubbed.  Like March Madness or the Super Bowl, office pools and viewing parties were established so everyone who wished could be in on the fun.  But this year, when the nominations were announced, I lamented that I’d seen very few of the Best Picture nominees.  Worse, I wasn’t able to watch some of them because I don’t subscribe to the right streaming services.

Ten pictures were nominated this year and in order to see all of them you would need subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix, You Tube, Vudu, HBO Max and Disney+.  Those subscriptions would cost you $115 per month.  What average family can afford that?  Apparently not many, because the viewership for the Oscar-nominated films is down again this year.  Partly because people don’t have every streaming service and partly because the movies are, well, terrible.  One Hollywood insider said that the movie studios are no longer making movies for American audiences because they make much more from international ticket sales, specifically in Asia.  Thus, the glut of Marvel action films.

Somehow, watching a movie from the comfort of my sofa is not as much fun as going to the theater, where everyone laughs, or cries, or screams in a shared experience.  Sure, it’s great to watch at home, close to Dash the Wonder Dog and my refrigerator, but watching on the small screen is not the same.  As Norma Desmond said, the pictures are getting small.  Little did she know in 1950 that they literally would go from a gigantic movie theater screen, averaging between 45-50 feet wide, to a 60″ television set (if you’re lucky).

It feels like we’re breaking up with the movies, or at least going out to the movies.  Like a lot of experiences from our youth, going to the movies is passe.  But looking on the bright side, there are a lot of good series to stream, and my sweatpants wardrobe is always in fashion in my living room.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I recently played in our club’s big invitational golf tournament.  My partner and I won our flight and came in third overall.  But that doesn’t really tell the story.  She played brilliantly and I played like the dog’s dinner.  In fact, that may be an insult to canine fare.  My crowning achievement was picking the right partner.  I was despondent about my play and, having to participate in the “shoot out” in front of 100+ people to determine the overall winner, was horrifying.  But then a good friend sidled up to me and said, “Get a grip.  Think about the people in Ukraine.  This is a first-world problem.”

Of course, she was right.  Bad play in a golf tournament on a beautiful blue-sky day, surrounded by friends, is not something to complain about.  Most of us have lives that are filled with first-world problems.  I’ve heard people complain that their Wi-fi connection at the Ritz was too slow or the roast on their Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans was overdone. The term “first world” is actually an anachronism, since we no longer talk about the “third world”. We have shifted to the more optimistic phrase “developing world”.  Still, the idea of ridiculous first world complaints persist, and they seem particularly trivial in contrast to the horrors we’re seeing in Ukraine on the nightly news.

But for your amusement this Monday morning, and as some relief from the constant bad news, here are some of the first world problems I have heard lately:

  1.  My new iPhone 13 Pro Max doesn’t filter out spam calls
  2.  I can’t remember the password to my American Express Platinum card account
  3.  Neiman’s didn’t have the Christian Louboutin shoes in my size
  4.  I had to open a can that didn’t have a pull ring
  5.  My two-hour Amazon delivery was thirty minutes late
  6.  Why didn’t Amazon release the whole season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel” at once?
  7.  My hotel in the Maldives didn’t have enough outlets in the room
  8.  I chipped my $80 ombre nail gel on the first day
  9.  My personal trainer took the week off to be with his kids on spring break
  10.  We had to fly to L.A. three times to get both of my mother-of-the-bride gowns fitted by Monique Lhuillier

Then there are the “complaints” that are really something else: the humblebrag.  A humblebrag is defined as “an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud.”  I think Facebook and Instagram have built their business models around humblebragging.  Parents of school-aged children are particularly good at it. Their posts usually go something like this: “I am so clumsy. I spilled Opus One all over the papers I need to sign to get Missy into the gifted program.”

Whether it’s just complaining about trivial problems or true humblebragging, we could all stand to put things into perspective.  That is easier said than done on the golf course, but it’s worth a try.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Two years ago, on March 17th, 2020, I was at a dinner party with five friends.  COVID, or as we said at the time, “a new flu”, had just started to take hold in the U.S.  One friend asked, “What do you think we’ll be saying about this flu in two weeks?”  We all agreed that it would peak and that by the end of the month things would be back to normal.  Turns out that we were only off by two years.  It’s been a stressful two years: important family gatherings were missed, friends died, and, in general, people became crabbier.  A couple of weeks ago, just when life seemed to be back to normal, Putin decided to invade Ukraine.  So now we wake each day wondering if World War III started while we slumbered. The images and stories coming out of Ukraine are horrifying.

We’ve all been through a lot, so I thought this week I would offer some stress management advice and, hopefully, bring you a chuckle or two.  God knows we need it.

Stress Management Tips for 2022:

Stop being on time.  The more you care about being late, the more you stress.  So stop caring.  If you lose your job, so much the better.  Jobs are stressful.

Drink alcohol.  You can’t stress about stuff if you’re drunk.  So go ahead and grab that bottle of tequila and drink away.  Aim for being inebriated 60% of your waking hours.

Yell at people who don’t deserve it.  If you have followed step 2, this should come pretty easily.  Never take responsibility for being a jerk.  Accountability only makes you more anxious.

Pare down your possessions. This is essential.  You no longer have a job and you have an alcohol addiction to support.  See if you can fit all of your belongings in a backpack.

Spend more time outdoors.  Without any means of income, this is good preparation for your future living arrangement.  You are mere steps away from living under an overpass.  You will alleviate any pressure to work or pay rent.

Make new friends.  Ask strangers for their spare change.  By now you have no job, no house and your tequila is running low.  You’d be surprised how many people will throw a dollar bill your way.  Hold up a sign that says, “Need money for gas” and you might double your income.

Finally, if all else fails, I have two tips.  First, eat cake.  Yes, that is my remedy for every problem, but there is nothing like a good sugar high to make you feel better.  Second, learn to handle stress like a dog: if you can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away.

My prediction is that in two weeks the world will have calmed a bit.  I hope I’m a lot more accurate this time.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In 2004 I was watching Hardball, the show formerly hosted by Chris Matthews, when his guest for the evening was Donna Brazile.   Ms. Brazile was coming off an unsuccessful stint as Al Gore’s campaign manager and at that time was the chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute.  On that episode of Hardball, she was asked about Tom DeLay, who was the House Majority Leader.  DeLay had made millions in the pest control business before entering politics (where he no doubt made millions more).  She made a derogatory comment about DeLay being “just a pest exterminator”, which in her estimation made him unequal to his task.  Matthews stopped the interview and told Brazile that being an exterminator was honest work and that in his religion “to work was to pray”. Matthews also noted that DeLay had been a successful exterminator while she was a failed presidential campaign manager.  He finished by saying, “There is honor in all work.”

I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment, which is why I am a bit befuddled by the high number of job openings in this country.  Work is good, and there is nothing like the satisfaction of doing a job well.  There are innumerable articles that have been published over the years about the benefits of working and they mostly boil down to a few things.  Work provides structure.  When all else is falling apart, it is good to have a place to go every day that provides stability.  A workplace can also provide friendship.  Sometimes it’s our friends at work that make a job bearable, especially when the boss is a jerk.  Nothing better than having a common enemy to bring people closer.  Work also provides money.  This seems obvious, but for anyone who has ever wondered how they are going to pay rent or buy food, a good job is invaluable.  When basic needs are taken care of a job can provide the cash to do fun things, like planning a vacation away from work.

If you are fortunate to find a job that you love, and that gives you opportunity to expand your horizon, work can go a long way toward a positive sense of self and becoming expert in your field.  Personally, I love watching people who are good at their jobs, whether it’s the street cleaner or a mechanic.  There is a poetry in watching skilled hands do what they’ve been trained to do.

So why are so many people choosing to stay home?  And how in the heck are they supporting themselves?  I’ve been told it’s the “gig economy”, where people pick up jobs as they feel like it and jump from place to place.  While the freedom that provides sounds enticing, I question how satisfying that is in the long run.  In my father’s generation people worked for the same company until they were ushered out with a gold watch.  My generation was influenced by the “Me, Inc.” philosophy, where people divorced themselves from lifetime employment and took more control of their careers.  These days it seems like it’s a free for all.

Of course, COVID has not helped the situation.  There has been a great, and unfair, divide between people who could easily work from home in their pajamas and those essential workers who were asked to show up regardless of how rampant the virus was in their community.  And then, of course, those people were subjected to some customers who treated them poorly.  That might explain why people are reluctant to return to work – who needs the abuse?

I recall my own experience with a bad customer.  After I retired from banking, I took a job one day a week in a yarn store.  One day a woman came in.  I didn’t know her but was aware that she lived in my community.  Without preamble she began to make demands, messed up the inventory and generally treated me as her personal servant.  Twenty minutes into her visit a mutual acquaintance walked in who commented to the nasty woman, “You know, Suzanne also lives in our community.”  The customer’s jaw dropped to the floor, as she said rather incredulously, “You do??!!!”  After that she bent over backwards to be nice to me.  But it was too late.  I knew who she was.  She was a nasty person, one who treated those she deemed beneath her in a despicable way.  As it turned out, she was later brought up on charges at our club TWICE for berating our employees.

So maybe we all have a part to play in getting people back to work.  We should honor all work…and be nice!


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Confession:  I am a life-long 49er’s fan.  My husband is a life-long Rams fan.  It has made for some interesting (and heated) discussions over the years.  Although I’d love to see him happy about his team winning the Super Bowl today, I just can’t bring myself to root for our arch enemy.  Besides, I am an enthusiastic fan of Joe Burrow.  If you’re looking for a reason to care about the outcome of today’s game, I am re-posting my 2020 blog about Joe Burrow, with a wonderful update to the story.  

30 million Americans will be watching the College Football Championship game tonight between LSU and Clemson.  It is slated to be one of the most exciting playoff games in recent history – both teams are undefeated and have stand out quarterbacks.  Hopefully it will live up to the expectations.  But aside from the thrill of who will win the Championship, many people have found a different reason to take interest in the game – LSU’s quarterback, Joe Burrow.  In this age of bad-boy athletes where the headlines shout of domestic violence, gun shots, and cheating scandals, Joe Burrow is the soothing balm that reminds us of just how good college sports can be.  This one person, in one night, brought dignity, kindness and generosity to the forefront.  His story bears telling and re-telling.

Joe Burrow hails from one of the most impoverished areas in the United States – southeast Ohio.  His hometown is Athens, a part of Appalachia that has yet to see significant benefit from the soaring stock market and lower unemployment rate.  Joe is a product of the local high school and was heavily recruited upon graduation.  He attended Ohio State, where he red-shirted, obtained his BA in Family Resource Management, and then with two years eligibility remaining, decided to transfer to a school where he could get more playing time.  In May 2018 he signed on with LSU and their charismatic coach, Ed Orgeron.  The rest is history.

Fast forward to December 14, 2019.  Burrow was one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy and, in a surprise to no one, he not only took home the trophy but did so by a wider margin than any winner in history, securing 93.8 percent of the possible points.   That alone would make him stand out in anyone’s book.  But it’s what he did next that swayed hearts and minds.  In his acceptance speech he not only thanked the usual people – his teammates, parents and coaches (including those from Ohio State), he took the opportunity of being on the big stage to remember those who have not been as fortunate as he.  Mid-way through his speech he said the following: “Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area. The poverty rate is almost two times the national average. There are so many people there that don’t have a lot. I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home—not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here too.” He was crying, and I’m guessing anyone watching cried right along with him. It was a thoughtful moment – surely one to make everyone who ever had anything to do with this young man feel proud.  His dad commented the next morning that he received over 500 texts and the overwhelming majority of them congratulated him on Joe’s thoughtfulness, not the piece of hardware he’d won.  But it’s what happened next that highlights the positive impact just one high-profile athlete can have.

The following morning, Sunday, December 15th, Athens High and Ohio grad, Will Drabold, was so moved by Joe’s speech that he decided to set up a fundraiser on Facebook for the all-volunteer Athens County Food Pantry with a goal of $1,000.  By the end of that first day, he had collected more than $50,000.  Major media outlets picked up on the story and by Monday morning, the total donations surged to $80,000, which happens to be the annual budget the Food Pantry.  By Tuesday, December 17th, the fund had collected more than $350,000.  Drabold raised the goal to $500,000 – why not shoot for the stars?

On Wednesday, at a local middle school, a teacher played Burrow’s Heisman speech for her students. When they finished watching the speech, she said she saw “a lot of bug eyes, like, “Wow, he’s talking about us.” They sat down to write letters to Burrow. One of the boys in the class turned this in:
Dear Joe Burrow,
Thank you for showing me and other children that no matter where you’re from or your life story, if you work hard, you can achieve greatness. Also, thank you for giving back to your community. You have inspired me to not be embarrassed by my life story and work hard to achieve my goals. Again, thank you very much.
The student signed his name, and under it wrote: “Just a kid from Southeast Ohio.”

On Friday, December 20th, donations to the food bank were close to $450,000.  Joe Burrow, meanwhile, accepted another token of his hard work and dedication that day – his master’s degree in Liberal Arts from LSU.    By Sunday the total for the Food Bank topped out at more than $475,00. Karin Bright, president of the food bank’s board, was asked about the effect of the fundraising on the organization – “I truly hope this opens a conversation across the country and we finally address the issues of hunger and food insecurity in this country. We’re better than this. People in this great country should not be going to bed hungry. And for Joe Burrow to put such a personal face on it—his classmates at Athens, he knew, were going hungry. And he remembered that at this momentous time in his life.”  She said the funds that have been raised are a sacred trust and will ensure that it is allocated with utmost respect for those who gave it.

As of this morning, game day, the total donations are $503,211.  I don’t know who will win the game tonight, but I do know that Joe Burrow has already made more of an impact off the field than on it.  Yes, thousands of people in Athens County will be less hungry this year, but really, all of us have been given a gift from this upstanding young man.  He has lifted our spirits, caused us to remember that the American people are generous and kind.  He provided a shining example of what college athletes can be.  Joe Burrow is not just a kid from southeast Ohio – he is an inspiration to us all.

So, for tonight’s game I say, Geaux, Joe!

2022 Update:  Joe Burrow won the National Championship game.  He also lent his name to the Athens County Food Pantry, so one can directly donate to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund.  It has been so successful that the organization has an endowment of $1.5 million dollars and provides food for over 400 families each month.  With the success of the Bengals this season, and specifically with their rather miraculous accent to the Super Bowl, donations have been pouring in.  The fund has received 1,272 gifts totaling $89,571 since the AFC Championship game Jan. 30.  The grassroots campaign has seen a majority of the gifts (more than 330) at $9 in tribute to Burrow’s jersey number.  Corporations are now chipping in and if the Bengals win the Super Bowl today who knows how many families will end up benefiting?  So, for me, I know the answer to Who Dey?  It’s Joe Burrow.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

By the time you read this on Monday morning, Scottsdale will have hosted an extravaganza known as the Barrett-Jackson car auction.  In case you aren’t familiar with it, B-J is the largest car auction company in the world and each January they host one of their premier events in Arizona.  The auction attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators, or “motorheads” as they are known.  You read that right – hundreds of thousands.  Most people have some passing interest in the cars up for auction (this year there were over 1850 special cars) but most people I know go to people watch.  There is perhaps no finer place to see a cross-section of high rollers and wannbe high rollers than Barrett-Jackson.  We have not attended the auction for several years, being neither car aficionados or in need of seeing blondes with boob jobs, but the atmosphere is the same, year in and year out.

        Bret and his Bentley

This year there were several celebrity cars up for sale.  David Spade, the comedian, sold his 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle.  Gosh, I remember when one of the popular boys at school got a Chevelle and rumor has it that the back seat is not all that comfortable.  That said, unlike the average teenage boy, I don’t think the people bidding on it are contemplating spending much time back there.  The auction also featured a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit that was once the property of Burt Reynolds. Not only can you get a famous car, but they are throwing in an autographed copy of the late actor’s autobiography.  What a deal! The front man for the rock band Poison, Bret Michaels, appeared to sell his 2007 Bentley Continental GT.  Just as with Reynold’s car, there is a gift with purchase – a custom “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” guitar autographed by Michaels.  And rap star Pitbull made an appearance to oversee the auction of his 2022 Karma GS-6 EV 305 Edition.  Whatever that is.  Obviously, I am not a motorhead.

As I mentioned, most people I know go to people watch.  There are more than three dozen bars and restaurants at the venue, and they are all packed.  It’s a little like Vegas, where there are VIP suites and special bidder’s areas, but you can still run into the rich and famous out on the floor.  One of the most fun activities is watching the women who accompany the high rollers to the auction.  They wear so much jewelry and shiny clothing that you can see them from Mars.  Sometimes the ratio of jewelry to clothing tips well into the jewelry side of the ledger.  There is so much bleach and silicone in the building I’m surprised it isn’t declared a hazmat area.  Still, it makes for fun watching.

One of the benefits of the auction is the money donated to charity.  Each year Barrett-Jackson gives the profits from several of its car sales to local charities.  Since its inception at a dirt lot in Scottsdale 50 years ago, the company has donated more than $133 million to local and national charities.  So, even if you aren’t a motorhead, you can appreciate their gesture.  If you’re anywhere close to Scottsdale next January, you might want to give the Barrett-Jackson event a try.  I promise it will open up a whole world of beautiful cars, beautiful people and, who knows, maybe a gift with purchase!


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


Over Christmas I spent some time with family – family that I adore and, apparently, the feeling is mutual.  So, theoretically we should be able to spend endless hours together catching up and socializing.  But as it happened, after about three hours together it was clear we were all ready for a break.  Or, as my college-age great-niece put it:  our social batteries were depleted.  I had never heard that expression but definitely could relate to it.  We concluded that we are all introverts at heart and enjoy time alone.  I got to wondering whether this is a Covid-related issue or something more universal.  Turns out, this phenomenon has been around a while; Covid just made it more apparent.

First, according to the Urban Dictionary (the term hasn’t made it to Webster’s yet), “social battery” is defined as a metaphor for a person’s capacity to intermingle with groups of people in one setting.  If you love having a day to yourself or are relieved when someone calls to cancel plans, it could be because you are an introvert with a low social battery. Being around people – friends, colleagues or family – is a challenging task that takes energy.  If you start the day with a low amount of social battery it doesn’t take much to drain it.  Spending time alone, being creative, is one of the ways that introverts re-charge.

As it turns out, our family was about average in terms of our battery capacity.  According to a 2016 study published in The Journal of Personality, introverts experience fatigue after three hours of socialization. If we exceed the capacity of our social battery, we tend to become irritable, inattentive and mentally and physically exhausted.  Boy, that goes a long way toward explaining why I’m grouchy at a long cocktail party!

Extroverts, on the other hand, need to be with people to charge their social battery.  They start the day like a phone that hasn’t been charged: they need some juice to get going.  They revel in a full calendar of events and meetings, and often volunteer their time in order to create more interaction with people.  Extroverts will keep in touch with friends and family on a frequent basis to share the stories that they need to get out of their systems.  We all know some of these people – the ones that call just as you’re getting dinner on the table and talk for 30 minutes about their round of golf.  Extroverts seldom like to do anything alone, whether it’s going to the grocery store or grabbing a cup of coffee.

But the world isn’t so simple that we can just be introverts or extroverts, there are also ambiverts and omniverts.  As you might guess, these are people that float between being an introvert and extrovert.  Ambiverts will change according to the external situation they are in, while omniverts will change depending on how they feel that day.  Researchers say that most of us fall into the ambivert or omnivert spectrum because we have learned over time what different social situations require.

So, now that I’ve probably depleted your social battery by droning on about this, I’ll conclude by observing that whatever your personality type, Covid has had an effect.  Numerous studies have been done over the past two years about how people have handled isolation during the pandemic.  Not surprisingly, extroverts have suffered more acutely from the lack of activities and interaction with others.  And while some social scientists called the Covid lockdowns “Springtime for Introverts”, that isn’t accurate either.  While lockdowns were more bearable for people with low social batteries, even introverts feel frustrated because their choice to isolate was made for them, and not by them.

Let’s face it, regardless of your type, we’re all tired of this damn virus.  At least now you may have a better understanding of why you’ve been grumpy.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

We are a divided country.  I’m not talking about politics, but over something much more important: when to take down the Christmas decorations.  On one side there are the people who put up the decorations minutes after they finish Thanksgiving dinner and leave them up until the first week of January.  On the other side, are people who wait until mid-December to decorate and then whisk everything away on December 26th.  Like much else in our culture, there is no correct answer as to when Christmas decorations should be taken down, but there are a lot of firm opinions in both camps.  But surely there is reasoning on both sides, so for our readers’ edification, I present both arguments.

          Beautiful…and a lot of work

The Christian calendar is the original source for dictating the putting up – and taking down – of holiday decor.  According to religious experts, the beginning of Advent is the correct time to start trimming the tree.  Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which coincidentally in the U.S., is usually around Thanksgiving.  So, for those of you who scoff at people who put their tree up “early”, they are actually following centuries-old tradition.  The Christian calendar also dictates that the decorations stay up until January 6th, or as it is known, the Epiphany. The day celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and the arrival of the Three Wise Men.  It is also known as “Twelfth Night”, counting the days between Christmas and Epiphany.  Most of us recognize those twelve days because of the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, known for its milking maids and leaping lords and the annual newspaper article of that year’s financial tally for all those gifts.  So, we can conclude that people who put up their tree early and take it down late are not being influenced by Target and Macy’s, but by long-held religious convictions.  Or not.

        Christmas is Over

On the other side of the equation are the “when it’s over, it’s over” group.  Try as I might, I could not find one reputable article arguing for the early demise of Christmas decor. However, being a member of that camp, I am going to put forth my own reasoning.  First, I was greatly influenced by an old neighbor, who I watched drag his Christmas tree to the end of the driveway for garbage pick-up the day after Christmas.  He noticed my horrified reaction, and shouted, “Hey, when it’s over, it’s over.”  I was appalled that he could be so cavalier about the sanctity of the Christmas tree.  But as I came back into our house all of my decorations suddenly reminded me of the person who stays too long at the party.  Right then I had, if you will, my own epiphany.  Each year I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off work.  It is commonly known as “dead week” and for good reason – it’s a great time to relax.  Each Christmas my mother-in-law would give me several books by my favorite authors, and “dead week” was my time to snuggle up on the couch and read to my heart’s content.

So that fateful morning of December 26th, I began to re-think how I wanted to spend my week.  My personality is such that I could not relax on the couch and read, knowing that I had hours of work ahead of me taking down all the decorations.  I looked around the room and felt as if the tree, the stockings, the garlands and the fifteen Santa Claus statues were mocking me.  So, I began to take everything down and by the end of the day the house was back to normal.  I spent the rest of the week blissfully reading and relaxing.  Each year since then, my goal is to have all of the Christmas decor down by noon on December 26th.  I have never regretted it and only smile a bit smugly as my friends lament the chore in front of them in the days after Christmas.  Like a lot of things in life, it’s a lot more fun going up than it is coming down.

But there is another reason I move on so quickly after Christmas is over.  I think that Christmas is a time for reflection and looking back with great sentiment.  New Year’s Day, on the other hand, is a time to look forward and anticipate great things for the upcoming year.  I have found that once I have put away the Christmas decor it allows me to focus on the future.  I know that past couple of years have not panned out the way any of us would have wanted, but still, I have great hope for 2022.  Maybe I’m naïve, or overly optimistic, but I think it will be a good year ahead.

My brother and I wish all of our readers the very best for the new year and once again, we thank you for continuing to read our blog.