Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Travel

For at least the last 12 years or more, Thanksgiving and Christmas have meant traveling home. Home being wherever my parents are living at the time. Currently, North Carolina, but soon that will be changing, which brings me to the reason for this blog entry.

Now there are certain things that people consider to be a part of their holiday routine, or remind them of the holidays. Maybe it’s shopping on black Friday, or maybe it’s waiting until Christmas Eve to do their shopping, or maybe it’s even the smell of scotch tape, which, to me, means wrapping presents. Another thing that means the holidays for me is traveling home. By traveling I mean by air, certainly not taking a road trip. I hate road trips. Yup, hate is a strong word, but take one with me and you probably won’t forget it. Are we there yet? No, seriously, are we there yet?

As much as I stress out about missing a flight, driving 100mph to the airport, delays, cancelled flights, snow, ice, lost luggage and missing connections, flying home is part of the holidays for me. Maybe you could call it a bitter sweet. There are the occasional Starbucks coffee drinks that cost a small fortune, the Fiji water that costs me almost $5.00 a bottle and that doesn’t even begin to cover the food, or drink prices in the restaurants. Does that stop me from indulging? Nope, it’s just all part of it for me. Heck, this trip is only a quarter of the way complete and I am at $31.00. All food and drinks. This doesn’t include the airline ticket, the price of checking a bag, parking and even the dog sitting fee.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, my life is changing and this will be the last time I travel home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? My parents just put their house on the market to move back to Kansas City. Yes, I have mixed feelings about it. Obviously I will miss traveling home, but more importantly, I will get to see them more on a regular basis soon. After all, they are approaching 65 and both have had a bout or two of health issues in the last three years, so soon I will be able to better keep my eye on them.

As I get off the airplane here in the next hour, it will be one that I relish, because soon it will be gone. Not quite gone for good, but close, I still have my Christmas trip. Now I know we will start new traditions that replace our current ones, but sometimes change is not always something you want to embrace. I will miss the Christmas Eve service that I look forward to, our Scrabble games, the pool games, the darts and holding down the couch for days on end.

Though this Thanksgiving is not even here until tomorrow, I already have plans for our next Thanksgiving with my best friend, his wife and their families. Heck, they have been my surrogate family for many, many years while my parents have been away and I am lucky to have them and will be even luckier to get to spend Thanksgiving next year with them, my mom and my dad.

So, with all this, I am happy to say, over the river and through the air, to my parent’s house I go. And until next year, I will savor the memories I have left until they are gone. Gone for good, but never be forgotten and I look forward to the new memories and traditions to replace those left behind.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guess who's back?

Guess who’s back, back again, Glenn is back, tell a friend.

Yup, I have decided to come back to the blog. After my first series of blogs, it became a bit overwhelming thinking that I could, or should blog every single day. After all, I am no inspiring writer and this is supposed to be something I want to do, not something I have to do. So, I am back. With my own new set of rules to play by. When the mood or idea strikes me I will write, but until then, you will just have to read something else if you need entertained.

Today I received a package in the mail. Yes, I was expecting the package, but not everything that came with it. Upon opening the package it was filled with bubble wrap, a smaller box with a cute red ribbon and a card under the ribbon. Inside that box were several small sandwich bags that were perfectly proportioned of my favorite homemade cookies. Lying in the bottom of the original box, I found a book and inside the cover it was personally signed by the author to my attention. The title of the book is, “Cooked in LA” and for some reason I can’t wait to read it. Maybe I’ll enjoy it with some homemade cookies and milk?

The packaged reminded me today that life is all about the little things. In this day & age of technology, it’s easy to get pulled in a million different directions while moving at the speed of light. It’s the thoughts, the packaging, the gestures, the gifts, the smiles, the kinds words, but most of all your actions that all add up to something bigger. Tonight, I will embrace the moment, relax and stop to smell the flowers. No, I will not start the book tonight, because I have other plans, but soon, real soon.

Thank you for such a great gift that reminded me to slow down and enjoy the little things.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I told myself for days that I would blog today. So, here I am. Yes, you might recognize the title from just a few short weeks ago. Wait. How can you use the same title twice? Not sure, but since it’s my blog, I can and will. I used the number for the first one, so today I will use the word for this one.

Defining moments.
Stop. Think about them for a second. Defining moments are those moments in our lives that define who we are as individuals. There are those that we can control and then there are those that happen with absolutely no control that are just thrust upon us. When we are born, our parents make all of our defining moments for us. Then, as we age, we have much more control in how or what defines us. Our relationships, college, having a baby, your job choice… those are just a few. How about the ones we can’t control? How someone treats us, an accident, a sickness, the outcome of a game, a death. All of those things easily play a vital role in who we are as individuals.

So here I sit. Reflecting on one of the biggest defining moments in my life that I had no control over. It changed who I am forever. No, I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey, I am going to change who I am today.” It just happened. Don’t ask me how; I can’t even begin to explain it. Fortunately, it was for the positive.

What is it you probably wondering. The death of my brother. Five years ago today. We were night and day, but had that bond you can only have as immediate family. One only brothers and sisters can share. You know, even though we didn’t talk on a regular basis, we had that connection. We had lived through many of the same experiences growing up as kids. We shared a few of the same friends. There were the tough times and there were the great times. Gosh, we fought like, well, only as brothers could fight. Today, I’d do anything to have just one more fight, one more moment, good or bad. Just one more moment.

Speed of life.
Someone told me just the other day, “Slow down and enjoy life. Its not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” In this day and age, we are constantly on the go. Technology allows us to live our lives at world record speed, never slowing down for a moment to embrace things. Where does this fit into today’s blog. It’s easy. Think about it. We sit at work, count down the seconds until 5:00 or the number of days until the weekend. Or, how about hoping the days go by quickly until you get to a day where you have something exciting planned. What about all that time in between? You know; the time you’re wishing away so quickly. I think about this often and would do anything to have some of those days, minutes, or even seconds back that I had wished away so quickly. Though I think about it, I still wish time away; time that I can never get back.

The Question
I have finally learned in life that there are some things that I will never understand, but I will still wonder anyways. I think its human nature to always try and understand. To figure things out. Here is one of the questions I ask often ask myself and I know that I will never have the answer. Actually, it’s a question I ask, but prompted by lyrics to a song. Dr. Dre – The Message.

A message to God.
Since you finishin em early, what possessed you to start him?

Well, my thoughts seem scattered today and my flow weak, so I will just leave you with this.

I would give up anything in this world to have a few seconds left with my brother, just to tell him I loved him.

R.I.P. Bruce.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Always Give People More Than What They Expect To Get.

Thank goodness for the weekend! There were two things about my week that stood out for some reason and I thought I would share them. Lucky you, right?

First, at the beginning of last week, my Admin came to me in haste and said she needed to leave, that her dad was just rushed to the emergency room. I immediately said, “Bye, let me know if there is anything you would like me to do.”

Not even two hours later she was standing at my desk telling me she was back. I did a double take, not thinking she could possibly be back already. Of course I asked if he was ok and why was she back. She ventured to tell me what was wrong, but was worried for her job and felt like she needed to be at work. I was in shock. Yes, we did just experience some layoffs, but under no circumstance should work ever come before comforting family and being with a sick loved one. Yes, I can be quite blunt, and I told her that if she didn’t leave, I would be sending her home for the day. Fortunately, I didn’t have to figure out how I would send her home, she just left.

The good thing is after about four days, her dad is at home, well, and out and about.

On Tuesday, I received a thank you card from someone that I have never even met. Weird, huh? When I read it, it was one of those feelings that gave me goose bumps. It was from my Admin’s Mom, thanking me. Here is what she wrote: “I appreciate it so much you let (Admin name here) come to be with me on Tuesday, to be with her Father. She has an awesome boss.” I had done something for someone that had impacted their life and they took the time to tell me they appreciated it. Here is what is funny. I didn’t even think twice about what I had done, I just did it. I did it, well, because that is what I would have wanted someone to do for me.

Second, was on my drive to work today. There is road construction on my usual route, so I took a way that I had never been before. Yes, some of the roads were familiar, but most I had never traveled. My mood this morning was somewhat somber, especially for a Friday, but the small, simple act that happened on my way to work changed that. I pulled up to a stoplight and diagonally to my right was a school, with a Crossing Guard. At first glance, she appeared to be waving all the traffic to hurry along. Then, as I sat there for a moment, I realized that she wasn’t hurrying traffic along, she was merely waving to every single car that went by. The longer I sat there, the happier it made me for some reason. Here was a complete stranger, trying to be friendly to as many people as she could while she did her job. You might not think it’s a big deal, or you might even question how it improved my mood, but it did. I would wager to guess that for the most part, her wave impacted few, but for those like me, it altered my entire day, in a positive manner. So to her, the Crossing Guard I will never know or meet, thank you.

Oh, and yes, as the light turned green, I found myself waving back at her, and because I wasn’t sure she saw it, I gave her a quick ‘beep, beep’ of my horn to make sure.

Here is a simple, but powerful rule: Always give people more than what they expect to get.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Friends, A Longer Life?

As if I needed another reason to make more friends. Heck, it even mentions social networks. Can you say, Facebook? Like I need to spend more time there.

What Are Friends for? A Longer Life


In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.

Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

In a new book, “The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a 40-Year Friendship” (Gotham), Jeffrey Zaslow tells the story of 11 childhood friends who scattered from Iowa to eight different states. Despite the distance, their friendships endured through college and marriage, divorce and other crises, including the death of one of the women in her 20s.

Using scrapbooks, photo albums and the women’s own memories, Mr. Zaslow chronicles how their close friendships have shaped their lives and continue to sustain them. The role of friendship in their health and well-being is evident in almost every chapter.

Two of the friends have recently learned they have breast cancer. Kelly Zwagerman, now a high school teacher who lives in Northfield, Minn., said that when she got her diagnosis in September 2007, her doctor told her to surround herself with loved ones. Instead, she reached out to her childhood friends, even though they lived far away.

“The first people I told were the women from Ames,” she said in an interview. “I e-mailed them. I immediately had e-mails and phone calls and messages of support. It was instant that the love poured in from all of them.”

When she complained that her treatment led to painful sores in her throat, an Ames girl sent a smoothie maker and recipes. Another, who had lost a daughter to leukemia, sent Ms. Zwagerman a hand-knitted hat, knowing her head would be cold without hair; still another sent pajamas made of special fabric to help cope with night sweats.

Ms. Zwagerman said she was often more comfortable discussing her illness with her girlfriends than with her doctor. “We go so far back that these women will talk about anything,” she said.
Ms. Zwagerman says her friends from Ames have been an essential factor in her treatment and recovery, and research bears her out. In 2006, a study of nearly 3,000 nurses with breast cancer found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective.

Bella DePaulo, a visiting psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose work focuses on single people and friendships, notes that in many studies, friendship has an even greater effect on health than a spouse or family member. In the study of nurses with breast cancer, having a spouse wasn’t associated with survival.

While many friendship studies focus on the intense relationships of women, some research shows that men can benefit, too. In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, attachment to a single person didn’t appear to affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support.

Exactly why friendship has such a big effect isn’t entirely clear. While friends can run errands and pick up medicine for a sick person, the benefits go well beyond physical assistance; indeed, proximity does not seem to be a factor.

It may be that people with strong social ties also have better access to health services and care. Beyond that, however, friendship clearly has a profound psychological effect. People with strong friendships are less likely than others to get colds, perhaps because they have lower stress levels.

Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

French Press

Up until this weekend I had considered myself a coffee snob for a long time. Why? I refuse to drink cheap coffee. There is nothing worse than a weak cup of bitter, over extracted coffee, with beans that have not be well handled or properly grown. We all have our quirks, and not drinking some blended, cheap coffee is one of mine. Well, one of many quirks if you want to get down to it.
I have recently had some brief conversations on Facebook, about how good French press coffee really tastes. I was not discounting that; I just couldn’t help but to question how much of a difference it would be from my Krupp’s coffee maker. On Saturday morning, I was determined to find out. I got up (about 11 am, yes the life of a bachelor) and went over to a friend’s house who had said I could borrow hers to give it a test drive. Funny thing, she has owned hers for well over a year and has never used it. As you read about my experience, this is one of those things I am going to borrow and purposely not return. I am certain she will call me out on it though, but I’m going ride it on out until she does. Oh, and since she doesn’t read my blog, I won’t have to worry about her asking for it back just for spite.

For those of you unsure, a French press consists of a narrow glass carafe, which is equipped with a lid and a "plunger", made of metal, which fits tightly in the top of the carafe and has a fine wire mesh acting as a filter on the bottom. The coffee is brewed by placing the coarsely ground coffee in the bottom (approximately one rounded tablespoon of coffee per 4 oz of water), adding water, that is just short of boiling, leaving it to brew for at least four minutes, then pressing the plunger down slowly to trap the coffee grinds at the bottom of the carafe. Serve in your favorite mug and enjoy. It is important to make sure the coffee is ground coarsely, as this ensures that none of the coffee works it way through the wire mesh and into your mug.

Here is the exact one I used this weekend.

You might be thinking, what’s the big deal. Well, the coffee is thicker and extracts more of the rich flavor and essential oils that can often be left behind in your regular coffee filter. It was without a doubt by far the best cup of coffee I have ever enjoyed.

Now, excuse me while this snob goes and makes another cup.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You have the power to donate life.

I am not sure when or why I decided to become an organ donor, but I am. I actually did a persuasive speech on it in college and wish I could find the video to post that I used. Nothing like doing a speech and using a video to help take up some of the five minutes I was required to speak. Yeah, I got an ‘A’ in the class. What did you expect? Wait, don’t answer that.

About 14 or 15 years ago, my father was told that he was born with only one kidney. Imagine being in your mid-forties, and come to find out that you are missing a vital organ.

It was late October last year, when I received a call from my Mom that my Dad was going to have emergency surgery. Not the news you want to ever hear, let alone when they are 15 hours away by car. Apparently he hadn’t felt well for a day or so and went in to see the doctor. Being a man, it must have gotten bad, because you know we only go to the doctor under dire emergencies. Well, to the ER they sent him. Tests came back that he had kidney stones that had blocked his kidney and his body was starting to shut down from the poison. Yeah, don’t ask me all the specifcs, I just know it was close enough where dialysis came into the conversation. After the surgery, the doctor told him he was extremely lucky. Nothing wrong with a little luck every now and then. In my own mind, I call it an act of God.

The surgery was a temporary fix, and then a few weeks later he would have to have undergo procedure where they ‘blast’ the stones in hopes that they pass. There are risks and one of the risks it that it could’ve ruined the kidney all together. Using the word, ‘could’ve,’ should give you every indication that it turned out alright.

However, it got me thinking. My dad and I both have the same rare blood type, so would there be a chance that he might need one of my own kidneys? Wow. I had never given a thought of being a living donor, but would certainly do it in a heart beat. I worried for several days, but it never surfaced with my parents in conversation, only in my head and with my best friend.

If you are wondering where I am going with all of this, April is National Donate Life Month. I am purposing that you give some thought to organ donation. If you have, great, if not, please do so. I would also encourage you to make sure that those closest to you, know EXACTLY how you feel about it, or go as far as to have something written. No one wants those types of pressures of deciding what to do, if you are already in a state of denial over losing a loved one. Imagine… you have the power to donate life. Contrary to belief, just signing a donor card or drivers license does not guarantee your organs will be donated.

Will you take control of your power?


Although there have been advances in medical technology and donation, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors. For more information, read the summary below or create a detailed data report on the UNOS Web site.
• Almost 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.
• Every 12 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
• An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.
• In 2005, there were 7,593 deceased organ donors and 6,895 living organ donors resulting in 28,108 organ transplants.
• In 2005, 44,000 grafts were made available for transplant by eye banks within the United States.
• Approximately 1,000,000 tissue transplants are performed annually.
• According to research, 98% of all adults have heard about organ donation and 86% have heard of tissue donation.
• 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.

Organ donation: Don't let these 10 myths confuse you

Myth No. 1. If I agree to donate my organs, my doctor or the emergency room staff won't work as hard to save my life. They'll remove my organs as soon as possible to save somebody else.
Reality. When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a doctor whose specialty most closely matches your particular emergency. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.

Myth No. 2. Maybe I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate. It'll be too late for me if they've taken my organs for transplantation. I might have otherwise recovered.
Reality. Although it's a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don't start to wiggle a toe after they're declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests to determine that they are truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.

Myth No. 3. Organ donation is against my religion.
Reality. Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy. Another option is to check the federal Web site OrganDonor.gov, which provides religious views on organ donation and transplantation by denomination.

Myth No. 4. I'm under age 18. I'm too young to make this decision.
Reality. That's true, in a legal sense. But your parents can authorize this decision. You can express to your parents your wish to donate, and your parents can give their consent knowing that it's what you wanted. Children, too, are in need of organ transplants, and they usually need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.

Myth No. 5. I want my loved one to have an open-casket funeral. That can't happen if his or her organs or tissues have been donated.
Reality. Organ and tissue donation doesn't interfere with having an open-casket funeral. The donor's body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. For eye donation, an artificial eye is inserted, the lids are closed, and no one can tell any difference. For bone donation, a rod is inserted where bone is removed. With skin donation, a very thin layer of skin similar to a sunburn peel is taken from the donor's back. Because the donor is clothed and lying on his or her back in the casket, no one can see any difference.

Myth No. 6. I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Reality. There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.

Myth No. 7. I'm not in the greatest health, and my eyesight is poor. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.
Reality. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.

Myth No. 8. I would like to donate one of my kidneys now, rather than wait until my death. But I hear you can't do that unless you're a close family member of someone in need.
Reality. While that used to be the case, it isn't any longer. Whether it's a distant family member, friend or complete stranger you want to help, you can donate a kidney through certain transplant centers.
If you decide to become a living donor, you will undergo extensive questioning to ensure that you are aware of the risks and make sure you're giving away your kidney out of pure goodwill and not in return for financial gain. You will also undergo testing to determine that your kidneys are in good shape and that you can live a healthy life with just one kidney.
You can also donate blood or bone marrow during your lifetime. Contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross for details on where you can donate or sign up.

Myth No. 9. Rich, famous and powerful people always seem to move to the front of the line when they need a donor organ. There's no way to ensure that my organs will go to those who've waited the longest or are the neediest.
Reality. The rich and famous aren't given priority when it comes to allocating organs. It may seem that way because of the amount of publicity generated when celebrities receive a transplant, but they are treated no differently from anyone else. In fact, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization responsible for maintaining the national organ transplant network, subjects all celebrity transplants to an internal audit to make sure the organ allocation was appropriate.

Myth No. 10. My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Reality. The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.