Facing the impossible

cars parked too close in Catania, Italy

It was our last night visiting our son, Ben. He lives in a crowded, noisy, hot city in Sicily, Catania.

We decided to stay in an Airbnb together in the heart of downtown, to give him a break from his normal life.

Problem: there’s literally nowhere to park.

The main parking garage is blocked in by the outdoor market. You can only park there if you arrive before the market stalls are set up or after they are taken down – and the stalls are up for most waking hours.

We finally found a spot, after looking for 20 minutes. Ben stood in the opening so I could drive around the block to access the spot. But then my lack of directional sense meant I could not get back. (A maze of one-way streets conspired against me.)

Ben, who is totally used to living there, was almost as frustrated by the situation as I was.


The moral of the story is, how do I deal with frustration and disappointment?

In this case, things worked out, and afterward, our frustration eventually died down.

(Ben met me in a place I shared via a maps app and then navigated me back to the aforementioned slot, which quite miraculously was still open. )

But a better reaction would have been to just relax and not worry about how long it all was taking. After all, we were on vacation together!

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Parallel murder mysteries

knife and gun - collage

I read murder mysteries on my Kindle some nights, just before drifting off to sleep.

I listen to murder mysteries via CDs that I check out from the library during my car commute.

My problem is that those two running plotlines sometimes blend.

And then, if I add in two or three nights’ sessions of an episode of Midsommer Mysteries on Acorn TV, it gets even worse.

Definitely a first-world problem.


Collage created from two Unsplash images by Yaroslav Кorshikov and Alejo Reinoso. Copyright and used under Creative Commons license.

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Smaller in real life

mannekin pis sculpture

Reality has a way of messing with our preconceived notions.

Take Mannekin Pis, for example. This little guy is a famous landmark close to the center of Brussels, Belgium.

And he’s often thought of to be about 6 or 8 feet high. In reality, he’s just two feet tall.

Until we experience things for ourselves, we never know what’s real.


Apparently, some unknown group decorates little Mr. Mannekin for special occasions. The Tour de France was going through Brussels on the same day I took this pic. The unknown group had dressed him in a yellow jersey and a cycling cap.

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Happy Father

My dad died 30 years ago this month.

I miss him.

A few weeks back, I dreamed I was traveling home from somewhere, and my dad picked me up. I told him how great it was to see him.

I don’t put much stock in dreams, but that was a great dream – and a nice thought to wake up with, circling around the corners of my consciousness.

I miss sharing my kids with him. He loved kids, and I know he would have loved mine (as well as the kids of my sisters – and the dogs of my brother).

I am sad he never got to know my wife. She met him very briefly as a brain tumor was taking over his life.

I’m sorry I never got his advice on some of the more adulting things I’ve traveled through over the last 30 years.


If your dad is alive today, give him a hug. Tell him how much you love him.


My dad was about the age I am today in this photograph.

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It’s a matter of personal taste

kia telluride

kia telluride ad - modifiedThe 2020 Kia Telluride is ugly.

But you may like it.

I know it’s rugged looking. I know it carries visual themes from the Hummer and Jeep Wrangler. I know it can perform mild off-road tasks. And I know that Telluride is a beautiful town in my home state, Colorado.

But the design just does not appeal to me.

I realize that I’m hopelessly old-school, but I find the sedan and its wagon variant attractive. They are lower to the ground, corner better and have enough room for most daily uses.

For the same money, one could buy a really nice used Audi A4 wagon with all-weather capability but no off-road ground clearance.


The photo is courtesy of Kia USA.

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Design for humans.

skin creme container protective cover

Product designers forget their end users.

This tube of creme had a security seal that would only come off using a pair of vice grips. The manufacturer never tested that seal with human hands.

Poor design surrounds us.

Bathroom hand dryers… the popular Xlerator makes so much noise that hearing damage may result. Dyson’s Airblade dB pushes your hands toward the sides – thus negating some of the hygienic effects of touchless air drying.

And the list goes on.

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Body dyslexia

dance neon sign

My body works backwards.

During some winter months, Heather and I join a cross-fit exercise class at our local rec center. Most of the exercises are challenging because, well, if they weren’t, why would we want to do them?

But some of the exercises are challenging to me and not most of the other participants. When we’re supposed to take our right hands and touch our left feet, I typically take my right hand and touch my right foot. And similar things happen with other exercises.

I call it body dyslexia.

“Disabled” is not a good word, because it’s a label. A person living with a disability is a better way to describe those of us who are challenged in one or more areas because that’s only a part of who we are – not the whole.

I’m living with body dyslexia.


And dancing? Impossible for me.


The “DANCE” photo is courtesy of Georgia de Lotz via Unsplash. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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We love a happy ending

the movie Roma on Netflix

…but not TOO happy.

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I enjoy movies with realistic endings.

When I was a kid, I loved simple “happily ever after” endings.

Now I appreciate endings that have partial resolution with a glimmer of hope.

Maybe this is because I’ve experienced more and realize that “happily ever after” endings are rare in real life. Thus, they are just not believable. Suspension of Disbelief just doesn’t cut it for me like it used to.

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Preying on older adults

provocative junk mail

There’s a whole swath of companies that sell “health products” and quasi-political organizations that spend a lot of money making more money by targeting older adults in the USA.

I know this because my 87-year-old father-in-law gets approximately a pound of mail from these groups every day.

With few exceptions, his junk mail has these characteristics:

  • Most of the text is all caps.
  • The graphic design is poor or nonexistent.
  • The copywriting is done by someone who hasn’t quite finished high school.
  • The political organizations strongly emphasize the urgency of their cause – over and over and over within each piece.
  • The political organizations fan the flames on any fear that may be lurking in the back of the recipients’ minds.
  • The political organizations ask for money.
  • The health products are not scientifically proven.
  • The health products are not approved by the FDA.
  • Most of the health products promise to reverse the effects of aging.

The worst part of this is that many older adults living on their own do not have the discrimination to identify a scam. So they give – or buy.

The best tip I can provide to combat this scourge is that when there’s a post-paid envelope in their mailing, return the part of the mailing with the addressee’s info on it in the post-paid envelope with this message: “TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST.” That way, they will pay double to not get any business. (And they only understand text that’s in all caps.)

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