Monday, September 28, 2015

Adding Some Spice to Life

This article is a little different than most of my posts.  I want to share with you a recent experience.  Four adventurers, Debbie, myself and another couple, set out for an excursion this past weekend.  We had heard about a Garlic Festival, it was a nice day to be out and we like cooking with a little garlic powder, roasting garlic for bread or sprinkling some granulated garlic on pizza.  We figured a chance to get some fresh air and hang out, eat a little, sounds simple.  OK, expectations were not set to high.
I guess this falls under the do not judge a book by its cover.  We do this when we meet people.  Sometimes, we have preconceived notions before we step into a situation.  How often do we take the time to learn before we do something?  The festival could have been a handful of booths, a tiny stage for speakers and music and a couple of food trucks.  Boy, were we WAY OFF!  This was a huge event with LOTS of vendors. By stopping and paying attention, we learned that there are over 350+ named garlics, categorized into 10 varieties that were determined via a Federal grant of $65K.  In case of a garlic disaster, the government has four locations where they store seeds to replenish the garlic population.  And there are endless ways to use garlic (think usages like the peanut).

There was no need to look for food trucks (plenty of food vendors).  The best part was all of the samples.  Who would have known?  Some of the things we tasted:

  • Garlic Powder
  • Garlic Jelly
  • Garlic Honey
  • Garlic Sauces
  • Garlic Knots
  • Garlic Fudge
  • Garlic Dips
  • Garlic Ice Cream
  • Garlic Popcorn
  • Garlic Drinks
  • Raw Garlic on a Cracker
  • Garlic on a Stick
  • Garlic Pickle
  • Pickled Garlic
  • Garlic Vinegar
  • Garlic Pesto
  • Garlic Cookies
  • Garlic and Herb Bread
  • Garlic Shots

Four and a half hours later, we were well educated, quite full and surrounded by the aura (OK, probably more like aroma) of garlic.  It was great to be doing something different, having a fun afternoon and an opportunity to learn more about the Allium Sativum.  Here’s to garlic!

Monday, September 21, 2015

I Can Hire A Monkey to do That!

“I can hire a monkey to do that!”  How often have we heard that comment, or thought it?  Usually, it is in reference to an action, or work, that is mundane, repetitive and boring (and not an insult to monkeys).  Recently, I was engaged in some repetitive work, something that we have all done.  Get some information, cut and paste into a spreadsheet, filter or create a pivot table, cut and paste into another tab, copy other information, cut and paste.  Take the same information, cut and paste somewhere else…you get the picture.  After a day or so, my eyeballs are drooping out of my head.  I knew there had to be a better way of doing this, but was it worth the effort?
Generally, I find myself and other people, when faced with this situation, have three possible solutions:
1.       If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – This always seems to be the “default” answer.  I understand that using an ice pick to chop off the pieces of ice you want to put into a drink works, but reaching your hand into the freezer for pre-made ice is easier.  What works, might have made sense at the time, however, new methods / approaches to things can make them easier, quicker to accomplish and be more efficient.
2.       Someone else can fix it – This way of thinking at least recognizes that there must be a better way to achieve the outcomes.  Standing around waiting for someone else to make things easier for you, however, leaves you exactly where you are today.  This is still not making a difference.
3.       I benefit, I do it – If I am the one that is using the process, and I know that there is a better way, then I need to take the appropriate action.  I know, sometimes the process to improve takes valuable time.  But, the time taken away from something else today to improve things, make them more efficient and ultimately gives me more time in the near future (i.e., quick return on my time invested), means the action was worth the effort.

I chose to go what is behind curtain number 3.  It ended up being a wise choice for me.  Thinking time, putting the action in place, and automating the processing the data took less time than the repetitive process that I was using.  The time that I gained back meant I did not have to work late (as originally planned), provided answers quicker and gave me time to work on something else.  While it is hard to project an outcome and we are sometimes deterred by focusing on the worst-case scenario (in this example, wasting our time).  I almost went with curtain number 1, but took the step back to figure out the correct solution.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Spiritual Renew

Gab started her junior year at the University of Hartford. 
Bec started her freshman year at JWU. 
Fall is about to start. 
We started a new phase of a project at work. 
We are starting budget season / planning for 2016 at work. 

We are starting the celebration of Rosh Hashanah – start of the spiritual New Year.

We all know that on January 1st, we will be ringing in the New Year, tossing out personal goals that we may or may not follow through on and hanging up new calendars to tick off the days of the year.  That date has a significant physical aspect and is celebrated very much in the public’s eye.  By contrast, Rosh Hashanah is primarily spent in religious services.  As part of the liturgy, we liken this season to opening up the book of life on Rosh Hashanah, atone for our sins, then on Yom Kippur, the book is sealed with our fate for the upcoming year (“…who shall live and who shall die…”).  That is some serious stuff, and that is why for the one time of the year, more Jews go to services than any other time of the year. This New Year’s holiday is not celebrated the same as the one where we change our calendars.

Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich”, spends time talking about the importance of faith in the 500+ successful people he interviewed before he wrote the book.  He does not, in particular, prescribe following any one religion, but instead refers to an Infinite Intelligence and as the reader, you can interpret as you wish.  His point is that success has a component of faith, or simply put, a spiritual aspect.  Affirmations and meditation, along with prayer, are ways to tap into this higher, cosmic power.  There are many religious beliefs that teach, via meditation, you can reach into yourself to find this source.  Eckhart Toll, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and many other spiritual leaders and writers, while belonging to organized religions, believed in this approach to spirituality flavored by the faiths they follow.

Rosh Hashanah, for me, is a chance to seek some spiritual renewal, to reach inside myself, to meditate and to pray.  We tend to the outside of our bodies, maintaining our appearances and working towards making our outer shell last for as long as possible.  This is the time of year to focus on what is inside.  Just like the outside, we should tend to our insides every day and live our lives with more internal reflection and a sense of spirituality.  Maybe, that is the lesson I will take away this holiday season.

For all those celebrating Rosh Hashanah – May you be inscribed in the book of life and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Monday, September 7, 2015

I Cannot Believe This Day Is Here!

You know, there are points in one’s life where we know that the day is going to come.  It is inevitable; it is the way of things.  Still…we close our eyes and remember the time before, the time when this day was in the future.  Sometimes we push off the future.  As humans, we are good at reveling in the moment.  We are also good at worrying, about the future – apprehensive about what it holds, nervous about what can come to pass and yet, remain expectant of the good that can happen.  Yet, this morning I sit on the side of my bed and still cannot believe that today has come and the void that I feel.

I remember when Debbie and I were going out.  I was not that outwardly emotional, as I consciously did not want to be ruled by emotions.  It seems that it is a bit of a Zeiler trait, to not seem too emotional.  Like a certain Vulcan character, outward appearances can be misleading, because inside, especially as I get older, I feel that I am becoming more emotional.  Let us not get crazy, this does not mean that I have become some weeping, weak person that cries at the drop of a hat.  OK, Debbie, Bec and our niece Ruby did go to the movies earlier in the summer, and there was not a dry eye between the four us.  Then there was that time on the plane…but I am digressing.

Today is different… 
Today, we have to get used to the change. 
Today, this becomes the first of many days without our baby.  When Gab went to school, we still had Bec.  We had two years having a chance to get to know just Bec. 
Today, she is a freshman, with a grand adventure ahead.  We are happy and proud of Bec (as we are of Gab).
Today, I am sad.  We love our girls and been blessed to spend great times together.
Today, it is the start of just Debbie and I being together, to renew what we found in each other, oh, those many years ago.
Today, I am happy, to have my best friend with me…it will make this transition that much easier…