My Worst Thanksgiving

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in 2018’s “The Green Book”

My worst Thanksgiving was in 1972. All things considered, my “worst” wasn’t so bad*. Still, I remember that Thanksgiving like no other.

A college student, I voted for the first time in 1972. It was also when I worked at Sears—then still a retail giant—in Fresno, California. Once Sears hired me, I figured I was fixed for a paycheck until graduation. Clueless about a store’s need to boost its staffing around the holidays, I was out of a job when Santa’s view of chimneys was in his sleigh’s side mirrors.

All I knew was that I wanted a job. Give me any hours!

How about working on the day before and the day after Thanksgiving? Give ‘em to me! In 1972, the minimum hourly wage was $1.60. More on holidays. Whoa!

And so, with the cost of college textbooks and paying my apartment’s heating bill, I hunkered down in Fresno to work. My family gathered up yonder in Sacramento—a three-hour drive from Fresno—for their Thanksgiving feast. I greedily punched the time clock. On the long, lonely Thursday, I prepared a Swanson’s frozen TV dinner for my, er, feast. Poor me. Continue reading →

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On Being Curious

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Alice of Alice In Wonderland exclaimed.

Well, me too, though my curiosity had less to do with Lewis Carroll’s literary Wonderland and more with . . . wine tasting.

For a number of years my wife and I and several friends have traveled in the autumn to a nearby wine country. A little over two hours of driving transports us to a variation of “wonderland.” Paso Robles is a place of winding roads, oak-dappled hills, cool mornings, and warm afternoons. There are hundreds of large and small, new and well-established wineries in the region.

A tasting we shall go!

The trip provides opportunities to talk and share and rest. Good friends. Good times. On a prior adventure, I told one friend—he was my roommate in college way back in the day—that he was a snoopy kind of fellow. Not snoopy like Charlie Brown’s beloved beagle, but snoopy as in “snooping around,” or inquisitive, or even curious.

He denied it, demanding examples. I immediately provided one. With a harrump sound, he gave a half-hearted excuse as a way of undermining my brilliant example, continued to deny his snoopy-ness, and then tried to turn the tables and accuse me of being the snoopiest of all.

I wouldn’t deny that label for a moment! Continue reading →

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I’ll Tell Ya How to Cast Your Ballot!

On November’s first Tuesday after the first Monday in the United States, people will vote.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. Some voted days and weeks ago through the mail. Some in the military voted with ballots marked in countries thousands of miles from their closest “home town” polling site. Some needed help to place an “x” by a candidate’s name. On my California ballot, a witness aiding a voter must also sign their name on the document.

Isn’t it easy to vote?

And yet so many don’t.

According to the United States Election Project, the results for President in 2016 (with 231,556,622 eligible voters) were:

  1. 6% Didn’t Vote
  2. 6% voted for Hillary Clinton
  3. 5% voted for Donald Trump
  4. 7% voted for Gary Johnson

So, it could be said that the third pace finisher won. But the popular count doesn’t count, since the Electoral College decides the winner and loser in the presidential contest.

But come on!

In a nation with the freedom to vote, barely half take the time to complete a ballot?

Shame on us!

Voting matters, right? Continue reading →

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