A Change in Perspective

A Different Point of View

Have you ever taken a different route home from work, and drove past that amazing restaurant everyone’s been talking about? Or, maybe you parked in a different spot at work, and ran into an old friend? I like to call these events A Change in Perspective. Things we do in life that take deliberate action but can lead to serendipitous results. 

This morning I am writing from a new position. No, not Blogger-in-Chief, although I do like the sound of that. Recently, I moved our sofa in front of the living room window. It has created a completely different feel to the room. As I sit in my recliner this morning, I’m enjoying a beautiful sunrise through the picture window to my right. Since my chair was moved to the south wall, I can now write with the blinds open, without the morning sun bouncing off my screen. It occurred to me that I could have been enjoying this wonderful view every morning. 

When I take my morning walk, I usually turn left out of my driveway. No particular reason, it was just something I got used to doing when I walked my dog every morning. Since I no longer have my pup with me, this morning I decided to turn right as I reached the end of my driveway. Normally, I avoid this route because my neighbor is always smoking by his truck and I generally don’t care for the guy. However he wasn’t out today, so I decided to turn right. 

As a result, I ran into one of my other neighbors, and we had a pleasant conversation. It occurred to me as I continued walking down the street, had I turned left, I would have missed her completely. Sometimes, if you break out of your routine, you’re rewarded with a nice chat or a beautiful sunrise. I resolve to shake up my routine a little more often. Maybe a multi-million dollar Powerball ticket could blow across my path if only I had turned right. I’ll never know unless I give it a try.

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Saturdays at The Big House

Let’s Go Blue!

Have you ever been to a college football game on a crisp autumn day? Been packed cheek-to-cheek with over 100,000 crazed fans inside a packed coliseum? Seen a marching band take the field with practiced precision? If so, then you are one of the thousands of college football fans who pack stadiums every weekend across America. I did not attend Michigan, but I have been a fan since the seventies. When a crazy guy named Bo used to prowl the sidelines screaming at the players, coaches, and refs. Good times. While I have become ambivalent about the team lately, there are a few things I enjoy more than the atmosphere surrounding college football. And nobody does it better than The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

After many years of trial and error, my wife and I have refined our system. Leave two hours before game time, catch the shuttle bus from the Wyndham to the stadium, bypassing all the traffic and parking frustration. However, there are pros and cons to this approach. On the plus side, you get to chit-chat with fellow Wolverines along the way. The down-side is that we’re packed in as tight as a sardines and we all explode out of it at Gate 2, like a paper snake out of a can. It’s all part of the experience. Hey, at least I didn’t have to negotiate all that traffic. Those bus drivers have it down to a science.

A B-52 Bomber does a flyover, scaring the crap out of anyone who doesn’t see it coming. All part of the show. A quick walk to Section 8 and we’re ready for some football. Despite the section number, I don’t think these fans are any crazier than the rest of The Big House crowd. Since the line to get in is rather long, we stop for pop and pizza before joining the mob. Our friend John’s seats are in the corner of the end zone, and we’re fortunate enough to see Michigan score on their first drive against Iowa. The place goes nuts. However, on this Saturday, Iowa was the favorite, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did. UM wins 10-3! Go Blue!

Since it was Homecoming Weekend, the game had the added attraction of watching senior cheerleaders doing their thing. I’m not talking about the kids who are graduating this year, I’m referring to senior citizens in their seventies and eighties. They always do some sort of locomotive cheer I can never quite figure out. However, one old guy did a handstand and held it for what seemed like thirty seconds. Wow! After the game, the Iowa fans leave The Big House dejected, again. We hop on the bus Gus and head back to our car. All in all, it was another picture-perfect fall day, with another big win for the Wolverines. What could be better? Wait, is that some cider and donuts? 

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My Career as an Entrepreneur

Maybe It’s Something to Look Into

Have you ever thought about going it alone? Usually, on a Monday morning, after a way-too-short weekend? Or, maybe after the boss just tore you a new one in front of your co-workers? Recently, I read an article denouncing Multi-Level Marketing and other such companies as scams. While that may be true in some cases, I have always found that you get what you put into any opportunity. Often, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. That said, my experience with MLM and Entrepreneurship has been very hit or miss over the years. The biggest lures are time and money. Having more of each is something everyone dreams of. But is this the best way to get it?

Over the years, I have tried many businesses, from Government Auctions to Life Insurance. I wish I could say that each one was a success, but that would be a blatant lie. Most of the time, breaking even was cause for celebration. However, my motto has always been, “A dollar you earn working for yourself is worth a hundred dollars working for someone else!” I believed that, and I still do. However, it’s a tough road alone. These days, there are opportunities to “Partner” with existing businesses that can benefit you both. Keep an eye out for these, and you too might become a Partner-preneur

There’s a lot to be said for taking on a business associate, physical as well as virtual. During my stint with Government Auctions, I did all the transportation of inventory on my own. It’s a miracle I didn’t wind up flattened under a desk or filing cabinet. Having a beefy college kid to help me out might have been a smart move. Although, I have found you need to be careful who you partner with.

Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Shipt offer you the enticement of earning money on your own. However, the low pay and extra miles on your vehicle might derail your plans for financial independence. The one thing those companies do offer is the ability to set your own hours. That checks the time box mentioned earlier, however, the money factor is still lacking. Oh well, keep your eyes open and the right opportunity might find you. Stranger things have happened. 

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Night Walks

Is Someone Behind Me?

Do you get an uneasy feeling when you take an evening walk? Do you hear the opening bars of Thriller as you make your way down a darkened street? Yeah, me too. One of my favorite forms of exercise used to be taking a nightly stroll after I got home from work, when it’s deathly still and dark-dark outside. In the past, I’ve always enjoyed these walks. They would help me unwind and clear my head after a hectic night at work. However, recently walking at night freaks me out a little. Maybe it’s because I’ve just had another birthday, and I’m one year closer to that Social Security check. Who knows? 

The main reason I began night walks in the first place was to ensure my hound dog Skittles wouldn’t have another run-in with a skunk in our backyard. I figured that most skunks, opossums, and other nocturnal creatures would steer clear of our neighborhood sidewalks. Since our crazy dog is unfortunately no longer with us, I have found these night walks have taken on a decidedly creepy bent. As I round the school and head back home, I’m not sure who I’ll run into first. A maniac in a Scream mask, or one of our local boys in blue, asking why I’m hanging around a school at night. On second thought, maybe I’m the creepy one.

When I was a teenager, I never thought about the night as I headed out with my buddies. As we visited some cute girls or got into some good-natured trouble, the dark was our constant traveling companion. Nowadays, it seems like my night walks have taken on a certain menace that I can’t quite put my finger on. As I mentioned earlier, maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or it could be that I’ve watched one too many episodes of Supernatural. However, I think it’s mainly because I don’t have my crazy dog protecting me from things that go bump in the night anymore. I’ll keep up my nightly walks and pretend I’m still out with my dear old Skittles. She always had my back. Maybe she still does. 

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Taking Pictures

Getting Just the Right Shot

Probably like most dads, I’m only in a handful of our family photos. Although my wife has recently become a shutterbug with her Samsung Galaxy S9, about 99.9% of our family pictures have been taken with me behind the lens. That’s okay. I’ve come to accept my role as Family Archivist. It runs in my family. Dad was our Videographer and took his job very seriously. We have Super 8 footage of the Wiki-Wiki bus in Hawaii he was supposed to be on, as it made its way out to the plane without him.

Mom was our family Photographer. However, she was better known as The Decapitator. This was because she managed to chop off the tops of our heads in just about every picture. I recently came across a photo of me and my date from the Lakeview High Homecoming Dance in my senior year. Sure enough, scalped again. I like to think I do a better job than Mom did with her Instamatic. Because of all of the advances in digital photography, I’ve become pretty good at capturing just the right shot.

I take my role as archivist very seriously. If I’m not going to get these shots, who will? Recently, at my nephew Bret’s wedding, I was the only one who shot the pictures and video of the ceremony from the front. The rest of the guests were on either side of the gazebo. I stood for the whole ceremony, but it was worth it. This illustrates Jerry’s Photo Tip #1: Sometimes you gotta move your ass to get the shot! However, never insert yourself into the event, and always make sure to stay out of the way of the professionals. 

Anyway, I spent the morning after the wedding uploading all of the pictures to Amazon Prime Photos. It’s really amazing to use your HDTV as a giant photo album. One of my goals for next year is to upload ALL of our family pictures to Prime Photos. This means scanning and uploading a ton of snapshots that are still in CVS envelopes. It’s going to be a tedious task, but the end result will certainly be worth it.

Hey, it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful sunrise. Where did I leave my camera again?

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Let’s Go Ride a Bike

It’s Time to Get Out There

(Disclaimer: I can assure you that there is no link between the title of this article and a certain song from a certain movie about a flying nanny.) 

Early fall is my favorite time of year to dust off my bike, pump up the tires, and hit the road. After being coaxed into hot evening rides by my wife all summer, there is nothing better than a cool cruise around the neighborhood. Once the leaves start to turn and the temperatures drop, taking a ride in a light jacket and jeans is a refreshing change of pace. However, that was not the case today. Summer is hanging on by her fingernails, at least until somebody shows her the date on the calendar. The party’s over my dear, see you next year.

Anyway, whenever I ride my bike (a 29” monster from Walmart), I am transported back in time to riding the streets with my childhood friends. As I pointed out in another article when you’re a kid, you have a map of your neighborhood, and surrounding streets, downloaded into your brain’s GPS. This occurred to me today, as I pedaled my way around my neighborhood streets. Having lived here for 27 years, you’d think I’d have a better grasp of my subdivision by now. Nope. I wound up making a wrong turn and came across a garage sale. Since a squirrel had destroyed my bird feeder the previous winter, I had been on the lookout for a replacement at a good price. They happened to have a very stylish one, priced at only $2. What a deal!

Anyway, not all my bike memories as a kid are pleasant. I remember the time when I fell off the handlebars of my friend’s bike. Ouch. Then, to add insult to injury, my “friend” rode his bike over me. Good times. However, I do have a good handlebars memory. Back in the day, junior high boys rode bikes and the girls walked, everywhere. If you wanted to talk to a girl, your options were pretty limited. You either hopped off your bike and walked it, or rode alongside slowly, and hoped you didn’t keel over. However, if a young lady needed a lift, you were in heaven. 

I remember one time when I gave one of the cutest girls at Arthur Jr. High, a ride on my handlebars. I was literally riding on air, while making sure to avoid any potholes that might send my beautiful passenger face-first into the pavement. I managed to get to her destination without incident. This earned me a few bonus points among the cool kids. Good times.

So get out there! Before long, the leaves will be all over your lawn, and winter will be arriving with a vengeance. Take a ride while you can, and save some hot cider and donuts for me!  

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Old 98

There’s Nothing Like It

(Author’s Note: Since summer is officially drawing to a close, I thought I would post this story about sunshine and warm weather to tide us over until next year.)

My wife and I were just taking our last walk down Old 98 for the season. Old 98 is also known as Scenic Gulf Highway in Destin, Florida. It’s part of our daily routine down here, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world. Listening to the emerald green waves breaking on the sugar-white sand is a wonderful part of our Destin Soundtrack. Also, our morning walk is one way we burn off all of the delicious seafood we have been eating since we arrived. We’ve been to many beach towns over the years, but for me and my wife, nothing compares to Destin. 

It never ceases to amaze me that even though there are plenty of resorts and vacation rentals on Old 98, it still has a very laid back vibe. I think part of the reason is that there’s not much build-able waterfront real estate located right on the beach. This results in a great view, even if your condo is across the street from the gulf. Also, scattered among all of the resorts and hotels are some of our favorite restaurants. Places like Pompano Joe’s, the Surf Hut, and the Crab Trap. All of them are right on the beach, so you can enjoy warm gulf breezes as you savor some of the best seafood in town. There’s nothing like a wonderful meal, as you enjoy another spectacular Destin sunset.

Recently, we drove through Perdido Key, which straddles the Florida / Alabama line. We were on our way to see a Bryan Adams concert in Orange Beach, AL. There was absolutely no charm to the area at all. Just a long stretch of white sand dunes and a few gigantic hotels. It was about 5 p.m. on a Friday and there wasn’t a soul around. Contrast that with Destin, which has a all-day parade of families heading to the beach with chairs, coolers, and beach toys. There are also other folks who are constantly walking, running, or cycling by. Plus, an occasional gaggle of bikini-clad heartbreakers heading down to the beach, looking for some fresh victims. Yes, it’s quite a show on Old 98. Can’t wait till next year. 

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Locker Room Etiquette

Gross is Gross

(Warning: Extreme Content! Do not read during breakfast!) 

The other day at the gym, I was treated to a sight I could have done without. As I entered the men’s locker room, I saw an older gentleman standing there in his tennis shoes and nothing else. Most guys use a towel in the locker room or try to keep their nakedness to a minimum. Not this guy. He had one foot up on the bench, applying lotion to his aged body. It was as if he was preparing to swim the English Channel. I just about gagged, but I held it together long enough to find a locker far away from this exhibitionist. What is it with some people? Maybe this guy was a porn star back before television and doesn’t have any inhibitions left. All I know isit was a disgusting way to start my day. Hopefully, writing this article will somehow purge it from my memory.

Outside of catching that riveting documentary, Porky’s, it’s still unclear to me what really goes on inside a women’s locker room. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Most guys probably have no idea what goes on in there either. Although the porn industry has provided us with many detailed theories on the subject, I’m pretty sure they’ve exaggerated just a bit. Regardless, I have a hard time believing that some old ladies are stripping down in there and slathering themselves up with lotion. I mean gross is gross, regardless of gender. Also, it doesn’t matter if she’s a senior citizen or some hot young thing in her 20s. Now I’m getting off track. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, now I remember. Our community center has a wonderful pool area, with a sauna, and my personal favorite, the steam room. After a good workout, I love to enter my personal rainforest for a few minutes, just to relax and decompress. What I don’t need is a moron doing lunges or stretches in there. Some low-rent Richard Simmons, trying to finish his workout by ruining my quiet time. I haven’t taken a poll, but I’m sure most folks who use the steam room would agree with me on this one. In conclusion, if you use a locker room or steam room regularly, please be considerate of your fellow members. As for the rest of us, “Look Away!” If I’ve ruined your breakfast, I apologize.

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The Power of Napping

Catch One if You Can

Ask any new mom, and she’ll tell you that a good nap is almost a magical experience. When her little bundle of joy stops fussing and finally dozes off, she will instantly sack out on the nearest couch as well. A few days ago, we had another addition to our family. My cousin and his wife are the proud grandparents of a beautiful baby girl. I’m sure our new mom will figure out her little girl’s nap routine fairly quickly, and take advantage of it whenever possible. Catching a quick nap can be the difference between a good day and a miserable one.

Personally, I have always been a big fan of naps. My affection for a quick snooze began many years ago when I worked on the afternoon shift at my last job. After I got moved to days, I was missing my afternoon sleepy-bye time. Since I am no longer working there, I can reveal my lunchtime secret. I used to work on a floor full of conference rooms. I would take my lunch in one of these rooms, then set a wake-up timer on my phone and drift off to slumberland. I only got caught a couple of times, and thankfully, it was by friendly co-workers. I hate to think what would have happened if the CEO showed up early for a meeting!

Working on the afternoon shift, my mornings were spent getting the kids off to school. Hopefully on time, with everything they needed for the day. If you’re in a similar situation, I strongly caution you NOT to go back to bed. You’ll wake up in a few hours, and your whole day will be shot! Adios, yoga. I find it best to take my siestas after lunch, and then only for an hour maximum. Normally, I wake up after about forty-five minutes anyway. Also, you may find after a catnap (like Thomas Edison) you wake up with all sorts of great ideas for your goals. Take action on these immediately! If nothing else, write them down, so you can work on them later. So, hang in there new moms! Nap time is coming, then bliss.  

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School Clothes

The Annual Shopping Torture

Now that Labor Day has passed and all the little children are safely out of our hair for another school year, it made me think about buying school clothes. When I was a kid, there were few things that me, my brothers, and my sister hated more than that annual shopping torture.

My Mom would try in vain to find clothes that would hopefully make it to Thanksgiving, before we started to grow out of them. And don’t get me started on how stylish these threads were. Since my Dad was a detective with the Detroit Police Force, it seemed like Mom was trying to dress us boys like little versions of Dad. Minus the sideburns and wide ties.

I’m a big guy, and I currently measure six foot three inches tall. However, before gravity started yanking me back down to earth, I measured six foot three and a half inches. However, I have been seeing a chiropractor lately, so I may have gotten back that missing half inch.

Anyway, I remember one summer, when we went on our annual shopping excursion in late July. We probably had our vacation week in Irish Hills scheduled for August, so we had to get the shopping done before then. Coincidentally, that was the year I shot up six inches over the summer. You wouldn’t have thought it was possible,  but I pulled it off.

With four kids to keep track of, my Mom didn’t really notice I had grown half a foot in such a short amount of time. Then came, “try-on day”. We would get dressed up in all of our school clothes, just to make sure they still fit correctly, weren’t damaged, or needed to be exchanged. When I put on my stylish threads, my Mom just about had a heart attack. I looked like Frankenstein, in pants and a shirt borrowed from a third-grader.

What followed was a quick babysitter call, followed by a land-speed record trip to Federal’s to exchange my undersized clothing for something from the Men’s department. Hopefully, none of today’s moms had to go through that little episode, but you never know. Growth spurts do happen. Years later, the same thing happened with my son Kevin, so what goes around comes around. Hey moms, at least the little monsters are back in school. Enjoy it!   

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