Saturday, March 04, 2006


Ever pondered the concept of forever? I mean, really thought about it. It's difficult to wrap your mind around, isn't it? Everything we know about is finite: we finish a race, we complete projects, our pets die, we die. You can take off in any direction on our planet and eventually get right back where you started. Your journey ends.

But cast your eyes to the heavens on any clear night and realize that you could travel as far as you want and never reach the end of the line. Even trips to stopping points in your galactic adventure would take what we finite creatures consider enternities. If you started at one end of our galaxy - the Milky Way - and you could travel as fast as light, 100,000 years would elapse before you reached the other end. Then it would be on to the next galaxy, Andromeda. Of course, you'd have to allow another 2.9 million years at the speed of light before you got there, so be sure to fuel up and let the kids go to the bathroom first. You could skip along the universe hopping from one galaxy to another without ever reaching the point where you began your journey. Forever. Not finite, not ending. Forever.

To ponder this beyond what you see when you look up, check out the Hubble site when you get a chance. Lots of amazing photos of the world beyond our own. One in particular, of the Tadpole Galaxy, I set as the background on my computer. In that photo, at least a dozen other galaxies are visible. And that's just a very small section of a very large space. We have no idea how many galaxies could be out there. We could not even estimate because the universe expands forever.

Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Some would probably contemplate the concept of forever and the immensity of the universe thinking it makes them small and insignificant in the scheme of things. But when I take a look at the heavens above I think that, with all the stuff God has to worry about, He still has time for me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Left Lane / Right Lane

I wonder what makes cell phone users drive in the left lane of a four lane highway. Is the reception that much better eight feet left? And here's some breaking news - you really don't have to drive that slow to maintain reception. Your phone really will continue to pick up cellular signals at or above the posted speed limit.

Today, while waiting at stop lights on my way home, I made a very casual survey of cars going by to see how many drivers were talking on their cell phones. Fully 1/2 of the twenty-two vehicles I observed were piloted by cell phone users. Ten of those were lumbering along in - that's right - the left lane.

I suppose it's more convenient to occupy the "passing" lane than to deal with all the right turns other drivers are making, but if you are paying so little attention to the road ahead, shouldn't you make your calls while stopped? It's just a little scary to come up behind someone driving (I use the term loosely) in the left lane, cell phone in one hand, smoking a cigarette, shifting a manual transmission and attempting to steer the vehicle while travelling between five and fifteen (it varies wildly) miles per hour below the posted limit. All at the same time. Help me out here, but that's using more hands than most of us have been equipped with.

Cell phone users expand your horizons! Don't just be left laners. Use your right lane once in a while, too. The change will do you and the rest of us a lot of good. Who knows? The slight shift in lane occupation could allow you to see life from an entirely different perspective. It could cheer a dour disposition or relieve boredom, maybe it could even fire some brand new synapses for you and reduce your chances of developing dementia later in life.

The point is, you need not feel the urge to identify yourself as simply left laned or right laned. Balance, my friends. Balance is the key.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Unusual Discipline

I was a human resources manager for many years, working for several well known manufacturing companies. In that capacity, I interviewed a lot of people and read countless scores of resumes and applications. By far and away my favorite was the guy who answered why he had left his previous position by stating, "My boss shot me."

Now, in my experience, I had taken some creative and sometimes some drastic measures when employees failed to follow work rules. But I never shot anyone. Nor has any supervisor I ever worked with or ever knew shot an employee. My curiousity got the best of me and I knew we had to interview this guy to get the rest of the story.

Turns out his boss at the previous job was his father-in-law. They were putting down flooring in a client's home when, apparently, an argument ensued between them. Things got hot and the father-in-law grabbed a nail gun and fired at his son-in-law, our interviewee. Got him in the head, which left only a red mark that eventually disappeared but the real damage was already done. How could you ever again trust a boss that shoots you? I couldn't blame this guy for quitting his job, but I just couldn't hire him either. Too hard headed.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Chocolaty Keen

"Chocolaty keen with cream in between." That's how it was billed and when I was a kid, and that was all it took for my mouth to ache with desire for a Lucky Cake. Tip Top bakery was responsible for the confection and my quarters helped fill that company's coffers. The old black and white television commercial featured a childlike figure, with a flute if I recall correctly. But it was a long time ago. I doubt Lucky Cakes are even made anymore. Which is too bad because writing that first sentence puts the taste back in my mouth.

For those unaffected by Lucky Cake fever, the snack/dessert/breakfast food was simply a moist, round chocolate cake cut in half sandwich style and layered with the finest white cream filling imaginable. That was it. No icing, no fancy swirled white frosting across the top - just plain cake and filling that you were lucky to discover and even luckier to consume.

I remember bugging my parents to buy one (or several if I played my cards right) on every grocery trip. And when the day finally arrived that I was old enough to hike the full city block to the corner store to buy one myself, why it was a Kodak moment indeed. The Price's house was the halfway point in my trek and the point at which it felt I had escaped the gravity of my small house on Mulberry Street and had stepped into the "real world." Across the street from the Price house was a duplex, then an open lot that would soon become a construction site, a battlefield, an alien planet and a fierce jungle in the imaginations of my brother and me.

Across the street from that, on the corner of Mulberry and Columbia, was the market - a butcher shop that also sold a few grocery items like milk, bread and snack items. John was my favorite butcher. He was thick chested, tall (or so it seemed from my vantage point at that time) with light colored horn-rimmed glasses and short cropped dark hair. John was cool. His starched white shirt and crisp apron was always neat and clean despite his profession. He treated me like his best customer and later, after I began frequenting his establishment, John would greet me with a slight grin and point to the shelf where the Lucky Cakes were proudly displayed. Yeah, old John knew his customers all right. I'd plunk down my quarter, John would thank me for my patronage and I'd be on my way.

I must have run all the way home because the return trip always seemed much shorter. And when I got there, it was me, an ice cold glass of milk and my Lucky Cake. Man, life didn't get much better than that for a kid.