Tag Archives: Starbucks

The 5th Of July

The missus and I arose early this past Independence Day with jovial thoughts of our well-planned itinerary for celebrating our country’s birthday. We finished our tennis match (well, a set at least) and then visited one of our six nearby Starbucks for some coffee. (Well, I had coffee. My lovely wife had her usual “fivebucks” foo-foo drink: Venti nonfat White Chocolate Latte – extra hot, no foam, and light whip.) After an hour or so of stimulating conversation, and achieving our caffeine fix for the day, we headed home to continue our day’s agenda which included swimming, sipping adult beverages poolside, having a cookout, and then savoring some homemade ice cream for dessert. I had already watched my DVDs of Mel Gibson’s The Patriot and We Were Soldiers the day before in order to get in to the patriotic spirit of the holiday, so everything was going just as planned. Then the telephone rang.

My brother began leaving a message on our answering machine (yes, we still have one of those) in his best “old man” voice although he wasn’t fooling anyone. My younger sibling lives in Colorado and rarely calls, so my wife hurriedly picked up the phone. After a minute or two of my wife and my brother exchanging pleasantries, I got on the line with my kinfolk that I had not seen or heard from since Christmas. I was relieved to learn there wasn’t an emergency. My bro, six years my junior, basically just wanted to say hello to his dear, dear brother. We chatted about everything under the sun: the weather, family, the upcoming Fantasy Football season, real sports, childhood memories, adulthood, TV evangelists, and our Christian faith.

We then discussed current events which of course led to a political discussion and ultimately a debate. It’s quite interesting to me how my brother and I seem to disagree about EVERYTHING politically. We were reared by the same parents, in the same house, yet a majority of our perceptions and philosophical preferences are entirely out of sync. There was no yelling, no childish hang-ups, and very limited hurt feelings during our cordial debate. (What a completely different, wonderful world we’d live in if only our elected officials had the good sense to conduct themselves in such a manner.) By conversation’s end, my little brother and I were still able to profess our love for one another when saying goodbye.

Come to find out I had been on the telephone for nine hours. That’s not a typo, folks. 9 hours! No wonder I was left with a blister on my ear and a severely sprained elbow. Not really. But my elbow was a bit stiff and my throat a little sore. This from a guy who as a teenager in love had no patience whatsoever when talking on the phone even while courting his future bride. A good deal of our spats back then were due to my lack of enthusiasm when conversing on the phone. I don’t know why it is, but I’d much rather write a letter, send a telegram, or even try my hand at sending up smoke signals than communicate via telephone.

But I digress. Sometime before my conversation had ended with my brother, the missus had kissed me goodnight. After hanging up I spied a note from her which read, “The 4th of July has been postponed until Thursday, July 5th.” Until that note, I had actually forgotten it was Independence Day (well, evening at this point). I immediately felt horrible about neglecting my wife and missing out on our well-planned day together. However, I was thrilled she was willing to give our much anticipated agenda another chance the very next day.

The missus did have to work during the morning of the 5th of July, but shortly after arriving back home she had our ancient boom box plugged in and properly positioned on our patio, our two outdoor umbrellas completely opened and situated for maximum shade, and a variety pack of craft beer on ice awaiting us. In no time flat we were able to resume our fun-filled agenda from the day before. My lovely wife and I spent the afternoon enjoying the pool, conversation, and each other. We sampled our chilled Leinenkugel’s Explorer Pack consisting of Orange Shandy, Summer Shandy (lemony), Cherry Blonde Lager, and Canoe Paddler (a spicy domestic style brew). We had our “cookout” which consisted of pan-fried hotdogs (my little sister refers to as “tubes of death”) and all the customary side dishes. Our grill was never turned on, so technically it might not have been a true cookout, but we did at least eat outdoors.

We took full advantage of our fabulous one hundred and fifteen degree weather. That’s not a typo, folks. 115°! But it is a dry heat. Later on, we savored a bowl or two (or in my case, three) of delectable homemade ice cream – finally completing  our patriotic celebration. At some point during the day’s festivities the telephone rang. My wife and I instantaneously in unison looked at one another, but then we quickly went about our business. There was no way we were going to miss out on the 5th of July.

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Catching Up

We’ve got some catching up to do. Hopefully, we can effortlessly pick up from where we previously left off. Like catching up with an old high school chum you haven’t seen in ages. You know what I mean. The type of relationship where the conversation flows without missing a beat even when there’s been no contact with one another for up to years at a time. I haven’t written for a while because I’ve been a very busy guy these past several months. There were crossword puzzles to solve, craft beers to sample (so many brews, so little time), Netflix to watch, and then Christmas came along. Admittedly, those aren’t very convincing excuses for neglecting what I typically enjoy doing and am usually quite passionate about.

The truth is I needed a reprieve: some time away from the slew of partisan political talk consuming our nation’s media. I was exhausted from reading, watching, studying, and then painstakingly having to decipher the actual truth in what was being reported by our melodramatic media from the accusations, partial truths, and even a few bold faced lies. I hungered for a life void of daily negativity, disappointment and anger, and I realized I could no longer pen my thoughts on current topics and keep my sanity. I opted for the latter, and in doing so I found more peace, more contentment, and even a new hobby or two. Ignorance truly can be bliss. Not knowing about the daily exaggerated “firestorms” was utterly refreshing. However, I think I’m now ready to get back into the fray and rejoin society, regardless of how errant many of its members appear to be happily existing, but this time without any lofty expectations of the human race.

I have found that having a SENSIBLE political discussion is an anomaly. There are still only two major political parties in this country, but now there are factions within both the Republican and Democratic parties which only further complicates matters. These days hardly any member of Congress completely agrees with the other elected officials in their own coalition – which would probably be fine in some other existence except unfortunately that “independence” as of late has not led to compromise or making America an even greater place. I have also found that many of President Trump’s supporters are impassioned minions willing to follow their leader into the abyss if necessary. Meanwhile, a majority of Trump haters are going to continue to hate even if a few of the President’s policies happen to align with one of their own darlings (Bernie Sanders). By the way, I certainly hope the Democrats can do better than Oprah in 2020. (I suppose she’d be a bit better than Kanye though.)

What I’m trying my best to impart at this moment, and have been attempting to convey since the launch of my blog, is that we all should be open to the possibility that there could be some legitimate ideas and reasonable arguments coming from the other side. One party or person (except for Jesus, of course) does not have a monopoly on the perfect (or even best) solutions to EVERYTHING. For instance, I’ve never subscribed to the notion that the Republicans’ “trickle-down theory” works. That very belief appears to be the basis for the recently passed U.S. corporate tax cuts. However, CNBC reported last week (1/24/18) that Starbucks announced the company will use some of their savings (more than $250 million) from the aforementioned tax cuts for giving their employees raises, company stock, and expanded benefits. The renowned coffee chain joins Wal-Mart, Apple, Comcast, and American Airlines who’ve already made similar announcements regarding their newfound tax savings.

Therefore, I find the newly enacted U.S. corporate tax cuts to be at the very least beneficial to some working-class folks – not just the wealthy. There is one thing we now know for certain: by implementing the radical tax cuts, the Republican Party doesn’t seem too concerned about adding billions of dollars to our country’s national debt. The GOP can no longer claim with a straight face to be the “fiscally conservative” party. The Republicans’ tax reform plan is definitely far from perfect, but it’s surely not a complete disaster either. Nothing would please me more in this political climate than to hear both sides of the aisle admitting as much. Maybe then I won’t need another reprieve in the future. Well, until we meet again. It’s been nice catching up.


A Not So Holly Jolly Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder. My afternoons of sweating profusely, in the Arizona desert, have somewhat dissipated, and taking an evening dip in the swimming pool is no longer a sensible option. Starbucks is now serving up their popular Pumpkin Spice lattes, and department stores everywhere have swapped out their summer merchandise for shared shelf space between Halloween and “the other holiday.” I am a bit surprised I haven’t had any eggnog sightings as of yet. (Pumpkin eggnog does not count.)

However, last week I did see, for the first time this year, a Christmas commercial on TV. It just so happens I purchased my first Christmas present around that time as well. In barely over a month (Nov. 1st) I’ll be listening exclusively to the illustrious sounds of the season, at home and in my car, until midnight of December 25th. No wonder this is the time of year when I prematurely focus the majority of my attention on Christmas! Therefore, it’s time for another Christmas story, from yours truly, although this one is not nearly as cheery as my previous tales. The following story is about a not so holly jolly Christmas.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all was well. The year was 1998, and it had been a splendid holiday season leading up to the “big day.” The gifts were all wrapped, positioned neatly underneath the tree, and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. The list of Christmas Eve traditions, shared each year with my lovely wife’s extended family, had been completed: The Norwegian feast had been devoured (minus the lutefisk, of course – who wants to eat dried whitefish with a gelatinous texture?). Every song had been sung (some more than once) from the small, treasured hymnals used only on December 24th since probably the early 1900’s. The ice cream cake had been savored (one thin slice per person).

The only thing left to do this Christmas Eve, before trying to get some shut-eye, was to attend a candlelight church service with my side of the family. Almost immediately after cramming into a pew with my loved ones, I realized all was not well. As I was jubilantly singing “Joy to the World,” with the rest of the congregation, the joy inside of me was rapidly diminishing. I was overcome by maddening chills. Not only was Jack Frost nipping at my nose, but the icy villain was mauling my entire body. I’d never experienced anything like that before (nor have I since). As soon as I got home I took some Alka-Seltzer Plus (my usual cure-all) and burrowed into bed without even considering taking off my winter coat.

Christmas morning I awoke, and instantly I knew I was in trouble. I was still frigid, and now adding to my misery was a pounding headache – rhythmically pulsating as if keeping time with “The Little Drummer Boy.” (So much for the Alka-Seltzer Plus.) I was painfully aware what this meant, but I certainly wasn’t going down without a fight. I could not bear the thought of “missing” Christmas, so I brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, and tried to act normal (normal for me, anyway). I knew trying to disguise the fact that I felt much worse than the night before was selfish of me, but admittedly the well-being of others wasn’t my greatest concern at the time. Partaking in the day’s festivities was.

It really didn’t matter what my plan was because the missus was not fooled. She has an uncanny way of immediately detecting when a person is sick simply by looking at their eyes. My wife was not about to let me contaminate the rest of the family especially on such a glorious day. However, she did allow me to wander out into the living room to check out the goodies St. Nick had left for us underneath the Christmas tree. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Scooby-Doo cookie jar for the missus, a Super Nintendo for our son, and plenty of sports memorabilia for me. Santa did good. He always does.

Those few short minutes of excitement were almost more than I could handle in my delirious state. I knew I had reached my limit of exhilaration for the day. I also knew it was time for my wife and son to leave. They headed off to my parents’ house, for a fun-filled day, while I settled down for a long winter’s nap. As the rest of the world celebrated our Savior’s birth, or Santa Claus, or both, I laid there in bed thinking of all that I would be deprived of on this blessed day.

There were no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head – just nightmarish thoughts of what I was missing out on a mere mile or so down the road. There’d be no customary Christmas “breakfast” (usually served around noon) for me this year. None of my father’s famous fried eggs. No bacon, no sausage, and no biscuits and gravy. Gone was the anticipation and the delight of watching loved ones opening their gifts that were thoughtfully selected just for them. Lost forever was the cherished time spent with family – typically even more precious on December 25th.

I spent the entire day in bed…and in a desolate daze. At one point I attempted to get out of my lowly condition by turning on the television, but even the holiday classics emanating from the screen could not cure my sadness. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”? I don’t think so. Clement Clarke Moore’s ending line from his legendary holiday poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, did not ring true for me in 1998. That year was a not so holly jolly Christmas.


Pro-choice

As time goes by I realize I’m being discriminated against more and more often, and I’m certain it’s only going to get worse. I’m not being treated unjustly because of my race (that’s another story) or due to my religious beliefs. I suppose I could be considered a victim of age discrimination since I’m singled out and treated differently based on my fondness for “the good old days.” I’m mostly discriminated against though for maintaining a pro-choice attitude pertaining to advanced technology that is obviously running rampant in the world today. I’m not opposed to progress, but I am against forcing it on people.

“The man” (whoever he is) insists we blindly accept change, whether we like it or not, without even considering the consequences. He continuously and vigorously imposes his will on us until ultimately we are either too exhausted to continue resisting or else we’re left feeling inadequate when we don’t succumb. I often think the younger generation, who I’m beginning to suspect may be “the man” (in this instance), is eagerly waiting for those of us a bit leery, of their pursuit of never-ending advancements in technology, to expire. The reason being there would then no longer be any of us left, to challenge the only kind of life they’ve ever known, regardless of how well-intended we were with our warnings.

Fortunately, “the man” has failed a time or two in the past when attempting to get everyone on board with his agenda although not for his lack of trying. We currently continue to have the option of reading books, magazines, and newspapers without the aid of technology. However, I’m positive offering periodicals on-line and books via the Kindle was intended to replace all paper copies of those types of literature. Thank goodness that hasn’t happened (at least not yet). I reckon there is still enough of us on this earth, who prefer perusing a genuine newspaper on Sunday mornings, to halt any inclination publishers may have for offering on-line editions only. The day I lose that choice is the day I become an ignoramus because I refuse to read a book or a newspaper on a computer screen.

I thought compact discs were finally safe from extinction, but now I’m not so sure. I recently discovered, while vacationing in North Carolina with my family, that cd players are no longer prevalent in some of the newer vehicles. Our rented Chrysler 200 came equipped with extensive “bells and whistles,” almost to the point of being too confusing to drive, yet the mid-size car was void of a compact disc player. I can understand omitting the cassette tape player, as a standard feature in newer models, because that format of recorded music is no longer even produced. I can also understand why a manufacturer might provide a way to attach an iPod to the vehicle’s speakers since many people are entrenched in that sort of technology. What I can’t comprehend though is why the cd player is apparently being phased out when approximately 50% of the population continues to fancy purchasing CDs instead of downloading music off of the internet.

I figured the people had already spoken, in regards to preserving compact discs, and I no longer needed to worry, but I guess the verdict is still out. I have well over a thousand CDs in my collection, but my only alternative in North Carolina was listening to a lame radio station while cruising in the rented Chrysler. I experienced another unwanted encounter with advanced technology, during my outing in the Tar Heel State, and once again (as expected) I was not a fan. My family and I went out for an ordinary dinner, but the restaurant’s ordering process was anything but ordinary. We entered the establishment expecting the simplicity of good food and good conversation, but instead we were instantly forced to kowtow to a newly acquired piece of state-of-the-art-technology. We were informed the iPad setting on our table was actually our menu. The waitress explained how convenient the contraption was, for all concerned, but of course to my chagrin.

My anxiety level immediately rose like a launched rocket ship. The young lady tried teaching us (mostly me) how to use the gadget, but I probably would’ve been better off trying to learn Chinese. I did discover that successfully swiping a computer screen with my finger, navigating through numerous food items and over 150 beer options, was extremely difficult, confusing, and tiresome. The waitress’ proclaimed convenience, for using the iPad, was in actuality our inconvenience in disguise. If it weren’t for my tech-savvy son, sitting at our table, we might’ve died from starvation before the evening was through. I don’t think dining out should be that complicated; therefore, I can’t imagine ever going back there in spite of how tasty the food and beer might have been.

Once in a while we’re seemingly given a choice, but when a negative consequence accompanies one of the options, but not the other, is it then really a choice? For instance, some grocery stores now offer their customers additional savings if they download the week’s digital coupons onto their shoppers’ card. We all have a similar card, yet only those who go on-line before shopping gets the luxury of receiving more for their money. Not everyone has a smartphone, and not everyone owns a computer: whether due to modest finances or simply by choice. Regardless, penalizing people based solely on them not embracing technology seems unfair. I think it’s blatant discrimination.

Unfortunately, Starbucks has recently expanded their love of advanced technology as well by offering a new promotion deemed “Mobile order and pay.” Also a bit unfair. They are literally encouraging customers to “skip the line” by doing everything on their electronic devices. At Starbucks it’s no longer first-come, first-served…it’s first-texted, first-served. It pains me to know my favorite place to write is part of the problem although I’m not willing to sacrifice my grande, dark roast coffee (with free refill) for the sake of fairness. I’m a very weak man when it comes to my Starbucks fix.

I had my first inkling, approximately a dozen years ago, as to where our nation was most-likely headed concerning its admiration for advanced technology. My lovely wife and I were dining out one evening when I noticed a gentleman romancing his cellphone instead of his female companion. I vividly remember how engrossed the man was with his tiny object and how defeated the ignored woman, seated across from him, looked. I pointed out the awkward situation to my wife, and we both agreed it was truly a sad sight to behold. The clueless man continuously ogled and caressed his electronic date for the duration of their stay. Now, the previous scenario has become the rule, not the exception, in today’s society. Spying an assortment of electronics on nearly every table in a restaurant is commonplace nowadays. I assume if people are willing to forgo conversations with their loved ones, while out for dinner, then it’s fairly conceivable they’re probably not sufficiently interacting with one another at home either.

I’m troubled that droves of people have become so attached to their electronic devices even to the point of idolatry. I’m also concerned about what other types of technological discrimination is waiting for us just around the corner. Here’s where I’m suppose to say, “To each his own.” I’m not lobbying to thwart the advancement of technology, but I am adamantly opposed to being forced into a lifestyle I believe is detrimental to relationships. Just because it’s the norm that doesn’t make it right. I presume some of you are guilty of rolling your eyes, at some point while reading this, and mistakenly referring to me as a dinosaur or else making some sort of horse-and-buggy wisecrack. If so, I’m left wondering why. I assuredly have no desire to make the horse-and-buggy my main mode of transportation, but I hold no animosity towards anyone who does. I’m not anti-technology…I’m just pro-choice!


Whose Chair?

It’s my chair today. That’s definitely not always the case, and it’s all because of Richard. I’m only aware of Richard’s name because that’s what everyone (the staff and customers alike) calls him at the Starbucks I frequent in Sun City, Arizona. The scene there is reminiscent of the Norm from Cheers situation – cue the music- “where everybody knows your name.” I’m one of the few exceptions though; the folks at this particular Starbucks don’t know my name, and I truly hope it remains that way since I prefer to stay “off the grid” as much as possible. Even though Richard doesn’t know my name, or anything about me, I’m sure he thinks of me as “the guy who steals his chair.”

Therein lies the problem with my newfound nemesis. Once or twice a week, for approximately the past year, I’ve been patronizing the Sun City coffee shop mostly on days when I really need to focus on my writing. My words just have a tendency to flow from my pen a little better when seated at that location. However, I assume Richard has also been a faithful customer, of the same establishment, but for a much longer time than I have been. In addition, he visits the store at least 6 days a week (I’m never there on Sundays to know if it’s actually 7). Therefore, apparently Richard (and seemingly most everyone else) thinks he’s entitled to the chair of his choice, which happens to be the exact one I’ve grown fond of, whenever he walks through the front door.

The whole ordeal has added much undesired drama to my life. Whenever Richard shows up, and I have already established position, he’s visibly irritated with the situation. He rarely says anything (at least loud enough for me to hear) about the “injustice” I’ve supposedly done to him. He doesn’t have to because many customers, and even some of the staff, freely mention it nearly every time this scenario occurs. They never say anything to me directly, when relentlessly referring to the chair I’m occupying as being Richard’s, but they don’t lower their voices either when discussing the matter amongst themselves. I pretend not to notice their senseless dialogue.

The most absurd thing I’ve overheard thus far, regarding the seating arrangements, was when my archrival was away on vacation. One Starbucks’ employee was telling another that Richard had called and said he was going to be gone an extra day and to not let anyone take his chair while he was away. To my knowledge, neither Richard’s name nor mine is stitched into the chair’s dark brown leather to suggest any type of ownership. Neither of us purchased the piece of furniture as well, so I would assume becoming the chair’s occupant is on a first-come, first-served basis – as it should be. That is certainly not the case (at least at one time) with a booth located at a rib joint in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In the mid-eighties Rock and Funk legend, Prince, bought the rights to a specific booth, inside Rudolphs Bar-B-Que, during his reign over the music industry. Only the artist’s most devoted fans are aware of this little-known fact about him. Of course, that’s the reason why I know. No one was to ever inhabit his booth, regardless of how crowded the place might be, in case Prince had a sudden hankering for some ribs. His unconventional purchase guaranteed him a reservation at a moment’s notice. Aww…to be disgustingly rich. I still like the entertainer nonetheless.

The funny thing about the Richard saga is that there are three other identical chairs at the Sun City Starbucks, but apparently neither my nemesis nor myself fancies them as much as we fancy the one in the corner. That’s right. There are a total of four indistinguishable chairs, arranged in pairs, at my favorite Starbucks, yet obviously Richard and I are only content, for whatever reason, occupying the same one. I suspect it’s because our chair is snugly positioned, surrounded by windows, and is furthest away from the incoming traffic and all of the noisy regulars. In addition, there are two other Starbucks nearby; however, they have some challenges for a guy such as myself who depends on a little peace and quiet when attempting to write his next masterpiece.

The coffee shop to the east (in Glendale) opens a little later and is usually overrun by as many as seven construction workers. They invade the compact area, with the only comfortable chairs in the store, at the precise time I prefer to tackle my writing for the day. They’re predictably boisterous, and sometimes even obnoxious, while utilizing the stereotypical language of blue-collar workers. It’s no mystery why it’s difficult for me to concentrate in the midst of all of that. The main obstacle I encounter at the Starbucks up north (in Peoria), a mere mile from my home, is that I’m constantly interrupted by people who’ve come to know me there. I sometimes feel like Norm at that location because people tend to want to sit by me and carry on conversations. Not good if your main objective is to be productive. Besides, the chairs up north aren’t nearly as comfy as the one in Sun City.

The real problem, as I see it, is Richard has gone to great lengths recently in preventing me from claiming his chair. He used to mosey into Starbucks around 6:00am, and he’d stay for about an hour and a half. I normally was already there by that time, consistently arriving around 5:00am, since I’m an early riser and that particular store opens at 4:00am. Suddenly, Richard began coming to the coffee shop earlier and earlier until one day he was finally sitting in my chair when I showed up at my usual time. I can’t believe my adversary has decided to rearrange his entire life just for the sake of a piece of furniture.

On second thought, I can somewhat relate because I countered with a minor adjustment myself. I began setting my alarm clock instead of just waking up on my own, as was previously the case, so I’d have a better shot at seizing the all-too elusive chair. I’m fully aware the Bible says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” but my alpha dog mentality has been too strong for me to resist. Now when I pull into the Sun City Starbucks’ parking lot at 4:15am, many times Richard is there. I’ll be darned if I’m going to resort to standing at the front door of any establishment, waiting for the business to open, just to capture a desired chair.

Whenever I see Richard already relaxing in my chair I don’t even bother stopping anymore; I simply continue on to one of the other two aforementioned Starbucks. I’m positive Richard does the same thing, if I get there first, because we haven’t been inside the same coffee shop at the same time for quite a long while. I only wish to patronize the Starbucks in Sun City once or twice a week, as I mentioned before, so I’m astonished by Richard’s selfish shenanigans especially since he has easy access to our chair the rest of the week. I guess one Starbucks just isn’t big enough for the both of us.


Did You Miss Me?

I’m back from my sabbatical. Did you miss me? Actually, I wasn’t even aware I had taken a sabbatical until it occurred to me that two weeks had come and gone, since posting my last blog, and I hadn’t written a darn thing in my notebook since. Well, at least nothing that exciting or what I would deem as sufficient enough to write home about. I decided I’d better look up the exact meaning of the word, sabbatical, because suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, I began questioning whether or not I truly knew what it meant. Therefore, I got to thinking it was quite possible that I hadn’t been on a sabbatical after all. I wanted to be sure I had been using the funny-sounding word properly.

Wikipedia defines sabbatical as, “a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from 2 months to a year.” In more recent times it has been described as, “any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something.” Wikipedia then cites writing a book as an example of fulfilling one’s goal. That does sound rather appealing to me, but it does not accurately describe what I had done with my time the past couple of weeks. In actuality, I studied the Bible, played a lot of tennis, entertained my lovely wife, and took some naps. I also spent a few days filling out those dreaded state and federal income tax returns.

Maybe I finally had succumbed to the infamous writer’s block I’ve heard so much about but had not yet experienced for myself. I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my entrance into unchartered waters, by becoming a blogger, and my wife renewed my blog site for another year. She originally set up my site in February 2014, as a birthday gift, because she knew I had an opinion about everything, and she also knew how much I enjoyed writing. I happen to be one of those people who still sends birthday greetings and letters via “snail mail” instead of by the more socially acceptable (yet less personable) way of e-mail. Someone has to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

Maybe the self-imposed pressure of consistently writing something worthwhile, for another 365 days, was contributing to my possible writer’s block condition. Maybe my creativity had run its course, or maybe I simply had grown tired of all the recycled “hot topics” in the news of late: the threat of war, denying gay people wedding cakes, “racist cops,” the threat of war, politicians’ incessant but futile rhetoric concerning dismantling President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act legislation, and did I mention the threat of war. Regardless, this past year I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the “good old days,” and whatever else was on my mind, so I have no intention of abandoning ship at this time. Besides, I don’t want to disappoint any of my seven readers.

However, I feared precisely that, off and on for a few days, whenever I’d stare at the blank page in my college-ruled notebook. I found myself searching for a topic to write about in some unconventional places. I even perused an AARP (American Association of Retired People) magazine in hopes of finding anything that might spark my interest. I’m a long ways away from turning 50 (316 days), but I’ve been receiving the bi-monthly publication in the mail for at least a year now. I reckon I shouldn’t be all that traumatized, by being perceived as an elderly gentleman before my time, since around a decade ago some punk kid behind the counter at McDonald’s asked me if I qualified for the restaurant’s senior citizen discount.

I’m pretty sure I responded with, “only if being 40 years-old makes me a senior citizen.” He gave me the discount. Ouch! I suppose I shouldn’t have been so upset with the young employee’s nonsense because I too was once ignorant regarding the concept of age when I was a youngster. I recall such ignorance when I was in my early twenties, and I came across the obituary section of the local newspaper. After noticing a person had died at the age of 52, I remember thinking to myself, “well, at least he had a good, long life.” I no longer find that sentiment to be true especially since I’m approaching the Big 5-0 myself.

Anyway, I typically begin my writing process after either recalling something from my past or hearing about something interesting, controversial, or appalling in the news. I’ll usually jot down a sentence or two in my notebook, rarely an entire paragraph, and once in a while I’ll just write down a possible title for my blog. More often than not the title changes before the process is completed. I’m constantly trying to find the perfect sentence, so the pages in my spiral notebook contain more arrows than Cupid’s quiver, and they have more scratch marks than the cars entered in a demolition derby. Highlighting, arranging, researching, rearranging, and then tweaking is all part of my writing process. All of this, of course, is done while sipping coffee at Starbucks.

Then comes the hardest part of all. This one-finger typist transfers all of his written words onto the computer screen for anyone to see. My wife has offered (many times) to type my blogs for me. I did take her up on her generous offer in the beginning, but after my first two posts I felt as though the finished product wasn’t completely mine. I guess I’m willing to sacrifice, the couple of hours I’d save, for the satisfaction of seeing the entire project through from start to finish. My blogs definitely are a labor of love. Hopefully, I’m finally over my writer’s block, if indeed that’s what it was, so you won’t have to miss me again.