Holy Moley, 200!

Time Flies!

While posting my latest article, Divine Inspiration, I happened to notice the number of stories that have been published on this website. I was astonished to see the number 199 staring back at me. I knew I was in the 190s, but realizing that my next article would be a major milestone, really threw me for a loop. It seems like only yesterday I was having lunch with my friend Larry to discuss setting up this website. Now, issue number 200 is hitting the digital newsstands. Wow!

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Never in a million years did I think I would be able to write this many articles. This February will be six years since I left my full-time job, and started writing. Angrily at first. However, when I eventually realized how many people were in the same boat, The Brown Parachute Club was born. It was created to help other folks who had been laid off as well, in addition to being an online resource library for my job search. Then one day, during a glorious autumn stroll, inspiration struck for Become Nostalgic About Today. This blog contains the bulk of my postings. Well over 160, as a matter of fact. Wow, again!

Along with a handful of friends on Facebook, my buddy Don has been one of my biggest supporters. He has constantly been after me to contact a newspaper or magazine about my articles. I’ve never felt that my writing was good enough, but I figure now is as good a time as any. So, I’m in the process of putting together a portfolio of some of my most-viewed articles on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ll be sending these around to some local publications, and we’ll see what happens.

I would have thought my well of words would have dried up by now. However, it seems like the opposite is happening. I’m excited by the continuous flood of story ideas. At the current rate of two articles per week, I should be closing in on number 300 just under a year from now. It boggles the mind.

As a budding writer, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing your articles are being read and enjoyed. I want to thank you, my readers, who continue to take time out of your busy day to spend a few minutes with me.

So, please continue to follow this blog, and share these stories with your friends. With all my heart, thank you! 

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Divine Inspiration

I Can Hear Angels

Have you ever had a watch party planned for a big sporting event and your cable went out? Did you feel that sense of panic, when you wondered what the heck you were gonna do now? Did you move the party elsewhere, or did you use some good old American Ingenuity to find a workaround? This happened to me yesterday, and I was quite proud of the solution I implemented. Divine Inspiration hit me just as I was getting ready for church. After Mass, I hurried home to see if it would work.

About six months ago, I had picked up a tiny HD Antenna because I was toying with the idea of cutting the cord with cable. I wanted to have access to our local channels and I figured an HD Antenna would be an inexpensive way to do that. But, I digress. For the past few years, I have hosted a small NFL Championship Sunday party in my basement. It starts at halftime of the AFC Championship Game, then continues with the NFC Game. It’s a pre-Superbowl get together for myself, my two brothers and our buddy Dave. We have been watching the Superbowl at his house since 1980.

When I awoke yesterday morning, I found that there was no cable and no internet. A quick call to AT&T confirmed that they wouldn’t be out until Monday afternoon. So no help there. I was toying with the idea of letting the guys know about my technical difficulties and seeing if one of them could host instead. Then, lightning struck my brain. I remembered the High-Def Antenna, and after some technical finagling, I was able to get a very good signal for both FOX and CBS. The day was saved! Alleluia!

Since we would be watching the games in my basement, I was especially impressed with the picture quality and assortment of channels that came with this little wonder. I even decided to leave it hooked up after the cable miraculously started working just before the guys arrived. I told them the story of why the antenna was hooked up and like me, they were all very impressed with the picture. All three of them have cottages and are looking for alternatives to cable.

I give credit for this party-saving idea to God, who is of course, the source of all inspiration. This proves once and for all that God is indeed a football fan. Bring on the Superbowl!!

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Grinding the Gears


Well, we’re a couple of weeks into the New Year. Have you dropped those ten pounds yet? Is your gym bag looking at you with undisguised disdain? Do you have your runaway holiday debt under control? For me, this year started like a two-year-old trying to drive a stick shift. The sound of grinding gears filled the air. Unfortunately, it’s always the same old story. We start with a list of goals and changes we’re going to make in the coming year. Then after two or three weeks, poof! What happens? Life.

Instead of being in-tune with the universe, it seems like the universe is actively conspiring to flatten us with a steamroller. I think it’s a test. The universe is saying, “How bad do you want it?” Plans to hit the gym three days a week are derailed by car trouble. Or maybe, you wind up getting stuck with jury duty, and poof, there goes another two weeks. In the past, I haven’t called these events excuses. In my mind, they are reasons. Two completely different things, right? Procrastinating, with style!

Whatever you choose to call them, the result is the same. Your dreams and goals for the New Year run out of gas before getting any traction. In the past, I’ve avoided the gym in early January for that very reason. Resolutioners hog up all of the machines in hopes of reaching their fitness goals by the end of the month. However, I just need to wait them out for a couple of weeks, then they’ll be gone until 2021. When the cycle begins all over again.

The good news is that you can always hit the reset button. No matter how many false starts you have had this year, you can overcome them one by one, and refocus on your goals. So let’s stop grinding the gears and throw this baby into drive! Whaddaya say?  

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The Lonely Train

Can You Hear It?

Sitting in my leather recliner in the wee small hours of the morning, I hear it. The Lonely Train. Where I live, there are train tracks a few miles to the east and to the west. Because of all the midday traffic noise, most of the time you can’t hear a train passing through town. However, when you’re up before the birds like I usually am, you can clearly hear the whistle blow, and the wheels rolling on the tracks. In the past, this has always been a comforting, small-town kind of sound. One I always loved hearing as I wrote my latest blog post, and enjoyed my morning coffee.

Since I’m one of the few people awake at this hour, I’ve always felt like that sound was just for me. Now, however, hearing that whistle creates a wave of crushing loneliness, that stays with me for the rest of the day. Since losing our beloved hound dog, that lonely feeling in the morning has really started to weigh on me. When Skittles and I used to hear a train whistle, she would raise her head, let out a huge sigh, and then go back to sleep. Now, it’s just me sighing. 

Hearing a train at this hour reminds me of the Hank Williams’ song, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. However, there’s a certain feeling you get when the rest of the world is still fast asleep. It’s lonely, but special at the same time. I guess it’s all in how you look at it. There goes another whistle now. I try to smile, remembering how much we loved and miss our crazy dog. Then I finish up my latest journal entry and start the day. With a sigh.

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E.T. Comes Home

I’ll Be Right Here

Well, it finally happened. My friends Larry, Renate, and I had tossed the idea around many years ago. E.T. and Elliot are finally reunited! As I recall, we had a pretty good plot all worked out. It’s Halloween. Elliot opens the door to find a squashy kid in a ghost costume on his porch. When the ghost asks, “Elliot?” Elliot passes out. The story takes off from there, reuniting many of the original cast members from the Spielberg classic. It seemed like a sure-fire moneymaker to us. However, time went by and nothing happened. It didn’t help that we never sent our blockbuster idea to Steven Spielberg.

However, over the holiday season, Xfinity made our dream come true. Well, at least four minutes and eighteen seconds of it. They put together a short film to be used in their holiday spots. Like Apple’s Share Your Gifts commercial from last year (which was also a short film) this little E.T. movie pulls at your heart-strings. Although, I’m sure many Millennials were wondering who that squashy little alien dude was, and why the father of the family welcomed him into their home. Mom and Dad, please explain this to your kids. Better yet, sit down and watch the original film with them.

I have had a host of problems with Comcast (Xfinity) over the years, both as a customer and in general. I’m not a fan of monopolies, and it seems like they are doing everything within their power, to become the Big Brother of entertainment. Trying to control everything we see and hear. I guess Big Brother didn’t test well with the baby boomer demographic, so they brought back E.T. instead. Putting all of my feelings about Comcast aside, it’s an excellent short film. The scene of E.T. wearing virtual reality goggles is priceless! So, welcome back E.T., we hope to see more of you and Elliot in the future. As E.T., always says, “I’ll be right here.” Major throat lump.

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Lights Out

The Time Has Come

Now that Santa has made his yearly trip down our chimney, and the ball has dropped in Times Square, I turn to the unpleasant task of taking down Christmas. Most of the time, I dread this chore and put it off as long as possible. For some reason, this year it’s a little different. I’m more than ready to pack up everything and store it away ’til next year. Maybe it’s because the New Year is so full of possibilities. It’s like an overlooked present you find behind the tree, waiting to be unwrapped. Or maybe, I’m getting a little tired of watering our tree and ducking every time I go downstairs, so I don’t get clotheslined by low-hanging Christmas lights.

As I detailed in my article, The Christmas Clip, there is nothing more depressing than taking down Christmas. When you realize that the view outside your window isn’t going to change until the grass turns green in April, ugh. Until then, our Michigan world is brown and gray, with just a little sunshine thrown in to give us the strength to make it through another winter. Putting up all that Christmas stuff can be exhausting. However, I do love that it’s the one time of year when most of the houses on our block look brighter and cheerier than usual.

Once summer comes, with green grass, trees full of leaves, and yards full of flowers, the memory of spring wind and rain is washed away. However, during that time, I always like to think back on our tree, lights, and decorations that brightened our Christmas season. So, as you store away Christmas for another year, don’t let it get you down. Do what I do, listen to Bing Crosby crooning I’ll Be Home For Christmas as you pack away all of your decorations. After all, Christmas will be here again before you know it.   

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Merry New Year!

Better Late Than Never

Have you ever noticed that here in the Detroit area, we may not always have a White Christmas, but we ALWAYS have a White New Year? Just like clockwork, it happened again. About two inches of pre-shoveled beauty landed on New Year’s Eve morning. I didn’t think it was going to happen again this year, because we’ve had temperatures in the mid-50s as recently as Boxing Day. After last year’s Polar Vortex and corresponding subzero temperatures, we’ve earned a break. 

Then Mother Nature came through, again. As I have shared in previous articles, I’m a bit of a snow junkie. However, I fully understand the traffic headaches and shoveling backaches the white stuff can bring. Winter in Southeast Michigan is no picnic. Generally, we suffer through months of brown grass and gray skies, hoping for an occasional glimpse of the sun. That said, there’s nothing like a sunny, 25-degree day, with four inches of fresh powder covering the ground. Nothing can lift your spirits after months of gray, like Mr. Sunshine bouncing off of all of that snow.

I know what you’re thinking. Is this guy crazy? I would kill for 50-degree temperatures in December. However, around here, that kind of warm-up is generally accompanied by wind and sideways rain, like we had yesterday. Heavy-duty, city-supplied garbage cans were tossed around like rag dolls. Compared to that mess, I’ll take a sunny day and a blanket of white anytime. Thank you very much.

Regardless of how you feel on the topic of the white stuff, I hope you have a happy, safe, and prosperous new year!  

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