Thursday, December 25, 2008

Random Articles Found In My Desk Drawer

I don't know if it is true that you can tell alot about someone by what you find in their desk drawer. I know my desk at work has some rather disparate objects however nothing overly embarrassing in case someone else had to access my desk for some unknown reason, maybe looking for something important.

I have a junk drawer in my top left drawer where unusual things tend to collect. Sometimes things just get shoved in there when there is no place else to put them at the time. I also put things in there that I might need during the day. There is always a piece or two of candy preferably Reece's P'nut Butter Cups, breath mints; hey you never know when you're going to do some close talking. Chapstick and also lipstick which is sometimes applied when the lips get dry or on special occasions that added little smudge of color to the lips. A pair of dominoes left over from a board game I no longer know which one. A small measuring tape which actually has been used at times to measure the space on my desk so that I could buy a file organizer which is also a catch all now for memos I have read that might (or not) be important. Extra paper clips; the big kind and also the small kind. Extra eraser heads for my pencils. Rubber caps that are colored which you put over the tops of keys to distinguish which ones open your desk and office door, etc. A stick pin of a Husky dog which I wore on my blazer lapel one day. Extra ID "chains" to hang my official work ID on. (As if someone in my office doesn't know who I am) An electronic dictionary - word speller to help me with my atrocious spelling, I use it daily. It also has a calculator button so I can add up my comp time hours earned or taken. Birthday candles in case it is some one's birthday and on short notice you can stick a candle in "something". Tylenol, doesn't everyone have it nearby? An extra pair of eye glasses, disposable eye glass cleaning wipes. An electronic dictaphone which is used to dictate reports and spare mini tapes. A comb and small pocket sized mirror. Rubber bands, not too many though because you don't want it to look like you obsessively collect such things. White out which is out dated in our world of computers, just hit the delete button. Hand cream and also hand sanitizer. Small broken pieces of things I no longer remember what they are a part of. A nail file which I never have time to use. The directions on how to program my telephone. Spare change for the vending machine.

My right hand top drawer is more serious containing writing implements, some of which no longer have any ink, including dried up Sharpies. I confess that I have quite a collection of various sized blocks of post it notes. The smaller post its are plastered all over my appointment book of things to remember. Scissors that are not pointy on the ends in case I have to use them around a kid. More lists of projects and things I'm trying to do.

While I'm at it I might as well describe the articles hanging on the bulletin board over my desk. I like to stick things up there that are pleasant reminders of fun things I have done so when I'm having a bad day I can glance up there and adjust my mood. Sometimes people will lean over when they see something of interest. I have concert tickets from the Almond Bros.,Steve Miller and Neil Young, a picture of Steven Tyler in the "got milk" advertisement. Baseball tickets when the Red Sox played Toronto (date unknown), Hockey tickets Clarkson Univeresity ECAC Playoff games. Various cartoons that are innocuous however twisted. Thank you cards regarding various occasions, pictures of my daughters doing interesting things (not overly personal), staff extension numbers, billing codes. If you think about it you spend approximately seven or eight hours per day at your desk so it is kind of nice to have pleasant remembrances to gaze at. Someone once told me we tend to erect "shrines" and that is likely accurate at least in my case.

What this is all about is the random stuff that tends to migrate into our drawers when we don't know where else to put things. You have to be careful as mentioned earlier because if for some unknown reason someone has to unlock your desk you don't want to appear too weird but I forgot they probably already know that about me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Questioning Our Own Mortality

It's a fact we are all aging and eventually we die; Eros and Thanatos. People with whom I am acquainted have been discussing their aging and ill parents. Been there done that. Quite a few years ago my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and slowly deteriorated into dementia. Eventually he had to be put in a nursing home in Florida after it began to have an effect on my mother's health and well being. When parents retire there are choices they make about moving to Florida for the good weather and the positive effects on their health. Someone once said "Florida is where old people go to die". I cannot credit anyone specific with this quote but unfortunately it is true.

When a couple has been married for fifty years or so it is an awful sense of loneliness when the partner dies and leaves the other to somehow carry on. I have heard many anecdotal stories how one will pass on and the other is soon to follow. ( Some people have actually found someone else to be with but this can be a mixed blessing if health problems in the new partner begin to surface and it can get very complicated between family members on both sides; who owns what.)

My mother tried for awhile to live on her own in Florida without my father but even with the help of a close family friend the situation began to unravel. The adult children who live "somewhere else" are then faced with what to do with the surviving parent. It is often left to the daughter to pick up the responsibility and take care of Mom. So the condo is sold at a very modest price and Mom is moved up to be near the daughter. Adjustments are made and accommodations pondered.

My mother stayed with us for about 2 or 3 months and then announced she felt ready again to live independently in a nearby senior citizen's complex. Reluctantly daughter agrees to this but within a very short period of time Mom cannot seem to manage and there is growing concern she isn't eating properly and this necessitates frequent- multiple daily visits to check on her well being. Soon after she develops pneumonia and is hospitalized. While in the hospital she takes a fall and the Doctor advises she needs daily care. Now comes the difficult decision of whether to place dear Mom in a nursing home or bring her back to the family home and quit the job to take care of mother. Hey, didn't she do this for me when I was a child and now the tables are turned.

Society has evolved from the days when relatives stayed in one place and did not move too far. Children become adults, follow their own lives, and often times live a great distance apart. In the "old days" elderly were taken care of in the home. When I was growing up my grandfather lived with us and so did my uncle for awhile. My mother took care of them and also worked the night shift as a nurse. I don't know how she did it, she just did. I have feelings of guilt that I wasn't able to do that for my mother but I had a professional job that paid well. A significant number of families have both partners working in order to maintain adequate finances in the family.

I have heard variations of this story over and over. No one tells us this is going to happen. It seems to be one of those topics that is avoided. I think part of the reason is that it is hard for each one of us to accept our own mortality. As we begin to age and our parents age it begins to dawn on us who is going to take responsibility for caring for the aging/ill parent and who is going to take care of us when it's our turn? Are our children going to be willing to alter their lives and help take care of us when we become elderly and infirm?

Friday, December 5, 2008

License Plate Slogans

When driving on the various highways it is interesting to notice the slogans on various state license plates. Some of them are intriguing and others are plain hilarious. Recently on a road trip while at a rest stop I encountered a New Hampshire state license plate;"Live Free or Die". I think that is my all time favorite because it is so declarative. Yes, it is certainly meant to display patriotism which I have no problem with however it is rather reminiscent of the cold war era when America felt threatened by Russia and the phrase "better red than dead" was popularized. Maybe an updated state license plate should declare "beware of terrorism". Would that maybe make a reflective patriotic statement?

South Carolina and South Dakota may be mad at each other or someone is being a copy cat."Smiling Faces.Beautiful Places." is on the S.Carolina state plate and a similar expression on the S.Dakota state plate reads "Great Faces.Great Places". Wasn't there a popular song at one time about smiling faces telling lies? Alabama also used a song quote on their license plate slogan "Sweet Home Alabama".

There are quite a few state plates that appear to reflect an appeal towards tourism as Florida has "The Sunshine State" and Maine has "Vacation Land". I think some of the smart people from Maine might migrate to the Sunshine State in the dead of winter for their vacation.... Of course if you are a sportsman you might travel to Louisiana ,their license plate is sure to attract people who enjoy sports, "Sportsman's Paradise".

Why would Tennessee feel compelled to put a slogan on their state license plate that says "The Volunteer State"? That is really not too different than Indiana's slogan of "In God We Trust". I imagine their are residents of both these states who do not share or endorse those particular beliefs.

Massachusetts' state plates display" The Spirit of America" probably because they still hold on to their pride of being the origin of the American Revolution. Maybe it's time to change that to "The Best Sports Town" (go Red Sox). North Dakota apparently feels the same way because their license plate reads "Discover the Spirit". I don't think N.Dakota has a sports team to cheer for but they definitely have discovered the spirit.

Shall I go on or am I beginning to bore people? New Mexico does not think they are boring they live in the" Land of Enchantment". Illinois declares they are the "Land of Lincoln". If Lincoln gets lost somewhere he can go to Missouri the "Show Me State". That could also be interpreted as a rather provocative statement as is West Virginia who wants to be known as "Wild and Wonderful".

I think I have pretty well exhausted this subject but at the very least I need to mention that there are several states who refer to their topography as being special "The Green Mountain State" of Vermont, the "Big Sky Country of Montana, and Utah "Life Elevated".

I'm really not making any of this up you can go look it up and depending what state you reside in you might nominate a slogan "Land of Google".