Get off the phone!

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Maybe it’s because I took a 4.5 mile walk yesterday, partially on a busy connector road, but over the past two days I can’t help noticing all the people talking on their phones while driving in the middle of a beautiful day.  I work from home so sometimes I take a break by running errands or exercising when the rest of the world is at “work.”  But I’ve come to notice that a lot of people must be in the same situation as I since there is so much traffic on the road.

And yesterday right around noon as I used my lunch hour for a long walk, I noticed these people (and I’m not being sexist here when I tell you that they were all women..it’s just a fact of yesterday’s observance) – were all driving with the phone shoved on their ears.  Three of them nearly hit me because they were also fiddling with the radio or somehow just not paying attention.  The favorite moment was the woman who passed me (and almost hit me going one way) yakking away…and then passed me 45 minutes later going the other way – yes, yakking still.  I only noticed because she was driving an orange SUV.  Not too many of those around.

I realize that I am not completely innocent of this as I do talk on my handsfree in the car on occasion.  But not constantly.  And not  for 45 minutes (like the almost hitting me lady).  What in the world do you have to talk about for that long that is so important that it can’t wait.

I’m not a huge fan of the phone call.  Love face-to-face meetings.  Love email because it’s so efficient.  But the phone call is nothing more than a necessary evil.  Too much phone tag.  Too many messages left back and forth.  Too many times you want to say what you want to say when you want to say it and can’t because you can’t reach your party.  You can always reach your party in a face-t0-face – and in an email.

But I digress.  I am not so stupid to not think that people talk on their cell phones – a LOT.  But it just struck me when I counted 14 cars that passed me at one point yesterday and all 14 women were on their phones.  Am I the only one with a hands free option?  Or do these folks really just like having that electronic device shoved inside their ears?

So my advice to all of you is this. Turn on the radio. Listen to some music. Listen to the news.  Open the window and get some fresh air.  Take some quiet time to just think. Sing at the top of your lungs. Meditate.  Just get off the phone.

The friends I met on the Internet

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Yes if my kids came to me and said they made a new friend on the Internet, I’d be freaked beyond belief.  But that’s exactly what I did a few years ago when I started chatting with a group of people on a cruise board regarding our upcoming Disney Cruise.  A “cruise meet” was arranged for the first day and I reluctantly went – mostly out of curiousity to put a face to a screen name.  And throughout the cruise, we were pleasant but probably a little distant.  Then we decided to do the same sailing the next year – as did many of these folks. A full year of chatting and a great cruise where we really got to know this folks has grown into six years with this group of people whom I now count as friends. Some of this group has come to our home for pool parties and we meet those close by for dinner when we can.  We also recently met a few of these friends at WDW and had a great day.  Our kids have become friends and we look forward to more get togethers in the years to come.

Now I will never be a supporter of kids making friends online nor am I really all that enamored of doing this all over again with another group of folks. We’ve gone to other cruise meets on later sailings but the dynamic of this group just can’t be duplicated – it was a once in a lifetime kind of coming together of folks.

But it also just goes to show you that you never know where your friends will come from and it doesn’t hurt to open up a bit in a situation like this where you have common interests like travel, our kids, Disney, even our businesses) – and just be pleasant.

And Facebook came along at just the right time to allow us to all stay connected even though we live in places as far flung as Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina, Missouri, California, New York, Louisiana and at least two Canadian locations. Now I’m not going to say that I am BFFs with everyone I met on that first cruise.  But it’s pretty astounding how many of these people have become important parts of my life.  One even does freelance work for me on a regular basis.

So while I love my vacations more than anything because of the time I get to spend with my family, it’s also fun to connect with my Internet friends when I can to catch up in real-life.

Random Thoughts for a Friday

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Just some random thoughts for a sunny Friday……

*In writing a group of stories about faculty members from various colleges, I am finding that the people who gravitate to these jobs are largely inspirational human beings.Though there may be faculty members out there who don’t care, I am thankfully able to write about only those who truly put the needs and dreams of students first. Bravo to all of you.

*Since the TSA came into existence, I have always been a great supporter.  Whatever it takes to keep us safe.  However, I really wish there was some consistency to the “little” rules.  Do you want me to hold all of my family’s boarding passes or should everyone have their own? Different even at the same airport (MCO) depending on what line you are in. In one airport kids under 12 should leave their shoes on – in another people over 75 should.  Huh? Just a little consistency on these little things would be nice.

*What is up with the new creepy “trend” of real-lifelike baby dolls being purchased and used as substitute babies by people all over the world?  For the most part, I have seen folks with other kids, grandmas, etc. as the big collectors. Between this and the story I saw about people who collect Cabbage Patch dolls and arrange playdates for them, I have to ask: What is wrong with these people?  I just want to tell them to get a job because they clearly have too much time on their hands.

*It’s been a busy week of work along with family activities after a great trip to Disney. I’ve been doing a lot of writing since my return which always makes me happy.

*Happy Easter to all of my Orthodox friends.

The Disney Dichotomy

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We love Disney.  I know it may be cheesy but the complete suspension of reality and entrance into the Fantasy World of Walt Disney World is one of our favorite things.  A number of years ago we bought into the Disney Vacation Club timeshare program and it has been a great decision considering how often we like to vacation.  While you can use DVC for a myriad of vacations, right now we mostly use it to go to WDW.  And just bask in the Disney difference.

We just returned from a short Spring Break trip and had one of the best times ever – despite the big crowds.  I continue to be struck by how well done everything is – and we discover something new every trip – this time the big one was Typhoon Lagoon – a great waterpark where we had great fun.  But I’m also struck by how the cast members (what Disney calls its workers) keep up the happy attitude (but generally not over the top) and helpfulness no matter what is happening around them.  We had countless encounters this trip with great cast members – from the waiter at a high-end restaurant to the people at the waterpark pushing our tubes into the entrance of a water slide.  From the housekeeping staff admiring the redo of the Ariel statue on their way into work to the bus driver schlepping us back from the Magic Kingdom at 1 a.m.

Now, we have been to Disney more times than I am willing to admit and we really have come to expect this type of service attitude.  But I guess what made it more noticeable this time was what I will call the Disney Dichotomy – the absolute rudeness and misery of so many of the park goers.  How many times did I get hit by someone pushing a wheelchair or in one of those electric carts?  How many times did my 8 year old get knocked into by someone pushing a stroller or trying to run past us on a mad race to a ride line?  How many people stood blocking the entrance to the Fast Pass line (Disney’s system that allows you to skip a line) waiting for the clock to tick to the minute they were allowed in and preventing the entrance of guests whose time had already come?  And my favorite.  The family waiting in the quick service line at Via Napoli in Epcot for pizza and the guy who said..in order:  How long is this going to take?  Is the pizza any good?  How big is it because I’m hungry?  and then when his lunch arrived within a few seconds – “this is not good but I’ll eat it because I’m starving.”  How’d you like to be on vacation with that guy?

Now not everyone is like that but I saw too many on this trip.  I really enjoyed chatting with the family from Buffalo on the bus the last night and am forever in debt to the guy who we asked to take our picture at Narcoossees that same night who happened to be a professional photographer and took the two best pictures my camera has ever taken.

No Disney isn’t perfect. But if you have spent any money to get there why can’t you try to figure out how to make the best of it? And why can’t you step back and take a long look around at the people who are killing themselves in low wage jobs to make you happy – and just give a little of that back.  It goes a long way toward making your trip – and everyone around you – much happier.

Now to take all that fun and translate into an uber productive short week – which I think I can do if I can stop looking at the snow that just fell on the pool furniture outside.

Simple Pleasures

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I have found myself thinking more and more about appreciating the little things.  I am not one who has ever gone by the motto “don’t sweat the small stuff” although I wish I were.  So I’m consciously taking moments in my day to step back and try to do just that.  It’s like a little time out for myself without having to sit in the corner or go to my room.

And it’s true that you can alter your behavior or your thinking if you actively work to retrain yourself on something like this. I don’t know this because I studied it or read an article but because I find it is working in my real life. With kids there is always a lot of small stuff (and some medium sized stuff too). But there are also small GREAT moments that sometimes just pass us all by without a thought.  More than stopping my bad behavior in sweating the small stuff, I am working to better appreciate the good small stuff. Like the time when your kids are laughing naturally at something silly and just being able to appreciate that joy.  Or the time when one of them says something so unbelievably funny, cute or off base that instead of ignoring or correcting, just appreciating the innocence of the moment.

As I admitted in my very first blog, I am a vacation addict.  And we are headed off for spring/Easter break to one of our many trips to the craziness of Orlando and the fantasy world of Walt Disney World.  We almost always have another trip to Disney planned in the not-so-distant future, but this time we don’t due to some other plans we have in the next year or two.  So I have focused on making sure that I better appreciate everything that I love about Disney – AND about being away from the grind with my family and the way that they all enjoy the suspension of reality that Disney is.  And I am probably trying a little too hard to get the rest of the crew to do the same.  I think I’ll stop that for now and just focus on me appreciating all those little moments that make up a day.

And for my fellow Disney fans, have a magical day!