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!

What Else is There to Do in the Desert?

by Bob Sparrow

Marriott Desert Springs Hotel

As you read this, I’m in ‘The Desert’.  No, my worlds travels have not taken me to the Gobi or the Sahara Desert, but rather the Colorado Desert, more specifically, Palm Desert.  Yes, this week I’m at our timeshare at the beautiful Marriott Desert Springs.  Those who have been following us here for a while, have read about some of our exploits at this timeshare that we have never traded away and never missed spending a week, or two, every year.  It’s a place that is only an hour and a half’s drive from our home, but that drive takes you into a whole different world.

After nearly 30 years of enjoying many of the things that the desert has to offer, I thought it would be interesting to try and discover some things that we have never seen or done.  My search of the Internet provided me with this list of the following attraction options:

Inside Ruddy’s General Store

Ruddy’s General Store

This store is a recreation of a 1930s general store, where proprietor, Jim Ruddy has assembled a collection of nearly a century of Americana.  Items that he’s collected are in their original packaging and a majority of them hold their original contents.  I already hate shopping, but shopping for things you can’t actually buy or use is out of my ‘fun zone’.

Volkswagen Spider

This former auto repair shop has a 28-foot tall, metal spider, made from old Volkswagen Beetle parts.  The property was once the Hole in the Wall Welding Shop, and now is just called the Hole in the Wall.  The structure is adorned with cacti and metal spider webs.  If this is as bad as it looks, I’d have to have a ‘Hole in my Head’ to spend any time looking at a giant, metal Volkswagen spider.


The Naked Bridge

Also known as the ‘Bridge of Thighs’, it is a 140-foot overpass created in 2003 at a cost of $500,000, so people could walk naked across this bridge.  There are five-foot canvas panels along the bridge to ensure that only the heads of crossing nudists are seen and thus prevent fender benders from happening on the street below.  Yeah, that’s what I really go to the desert for, to see senior citizens walking across a bridge naked!

The Babies

These 10 sculptures of babies appearing to crawl in a sand pit are found in the Palm Springs Museum courtyard.  They are intended to be a statement on the negative influence of big tech and data in our lives.  These babies have no faces, rather a ‘bar code’ appears in place of their face.  With any luck, my GPS won’t be able to find this creepy place.


Where’s the Spanish galleon?

According to tourist information, “Shiprock gained its name from its uncanny resemblance to a Spanish galleon, but no matter what photo I pulled up, and there are plenty, I never saw any resemblance to a Spanish galleon.  It sits at the bottom of a prehistoric tropical sea that existed over 250 million years ago.   ‘Uncanny resemblance’???  No matter how I looked at this heap of rock, I just couldn’t ‘see’ the ship, maybe it’s better in real life – I’ll never know!  What I do know about Spanish galleons, is that when Columbus discovered America, he got over 3,000 miles to the galleon!  Rim shot!!

Romance Theater

Shield’s Date Knight

Floyd and Bess Shields opened the Shields Date Garden in 1924; finding that date competition was very strong in the Coachella Valley, they created a slide show with a recorded sound track and called it, The Romance and Sex Life of a Date’ and put a mammoth Knight in Armor just off Highway 111 to direct people to their date farm.  It’s open all year – don’t miss it!  Sorry, not my idea of a ‘date night’!

So, if this is what I’ve been missing for the past 29 years, I think I’ll continue to play golf, enjoy fine dining and have a rum and coke while I watch the sun sink behind Mt. San Jacinto from the deck of our condo.  But perhaps you’ve found something here to make your next trip to the desert a unique one.

You’re welcome!



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.


News or Walk, News or Walk?

by Bob Sparrow

“News may be sign of depression”

Early last week, I got my cup of coffee and sat down with the morning paper; yes, they still publish a morning paper and I still read it . . . every morning.  Although I must admit, it’s getting harder and harder to read.  Not that my reading skills have diminished . . . that much, but rather the content seems to get more and more depressing every day.  I typically start my morning, in beautiful southern California with a pretty good attitude, but I’m finding that reading the morning paper can change all that.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter where you get your news, online, TV, newspaper, radio, or the neighborhood hairstylist, it’s mostly the same, bad.  I like what comedian, Demetri Martin had to say on the subject.  He said, “Instead of calling it ‘News’, why don’t they just call it ‘What’s Wrong’”(If you’ve never heard of Demetri Martin, look him up online, he’s pretty funny).

Just in case you missed it, here’s a short summary of last week’s edition of ‘What’s Wrong’:

  • Tension mounting between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine
  • National debt tops $30 trillion milestone
  • Politicians busy ‘redistricting’
  • China . . . (fill in the blank)
  • Death Row ponders ‘Open Door’ policy
  • Hate Crime up 71%
  • Various political stories on:
    • Biden’s lost it
    • Trump’s an ass
  • Vaccines are good, Covid down. Vaccines are bad, Covid up.
  • Test tampering at the Olympics

As I’m sure you know, I could go on . . . and on . . . and on, but you’re depressed enough already.  So, we here at From a Birdseye View are not going to write about depressing stuff unless we have some solutions.

Here’s two ideas for taking the place of that ‘daily depressor’:

  1. The Squirrel News

Here, in their own words is what they sell:

Are you also frustrated by the fact that mainstream news consists almost entirely of conflicts, scandals, wars and disasters?

Then you’ve come to the right place. At Squirrel News, we provide you with the solution-oriented stories and articles which are otherwise neglected: stories covering original ideas, innovative approaches, and solutions to the social challenges we face.

Who publishes The Squirrel News you ask?  It comes out of Berlin, Germany.  Yes, the same people that brought us the Nazis, World War II and the Holocaust, now, seem to be looking at the bright side of things.

Here’s their url:    Its’ free

  1. Morning Brew

Also online, Morning Brew calls themselves a ‘business newsletter’, but they consider everything somebody’s business, and they do it in a light, humorous way.  There’s also always a game, a test or some other interactive activity.

Here’s their url:     It’s free

OK, we’ve taken care of the mental side of things, now let’s look at the physical.  As fitness guru, Nancy Sinatra said in the song, These Boots Were Made for Walkin, “Start walking!”  Again, we here at From A Birdseye View, are just here to help, so here’s what the experts have to say about just taking a daily walk.

The New York Times recently stated that “walking just 10 minutes a day leads to a longer life” (So, walk only if you want to live longer).  Helen Dennis, nationally recognized expert on aging, suggests the following ways to get in that daily10-minute walk (with a few of my edits):

  • Walk with a friend or a dog (or a friend’s dog)
  • Make it a meditation walk, focusing on what you see, smell, observe or hear and or just focus on your breathing
  • Explore your neighborhood as though it were a first-time visit
  • Note the number of different trees and flowers
  • Think about being grateful for something . . . anything!

In summary, less ‘what’s wrong’, more ‘let’s walk’.

You’re welcome!