So, You Say You’re Irish …

Reposting my story from a year ago. Happy St. Patrick’s Day (2019) to all you who are Irish, even if it’s just for a day…

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
(Irish blessing)

So, you say you’re Irish, at least today you say it. And why not, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, everyone can be Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun day for all, Irish or not. The ‘wearing of the green’ announces to everyone that you’re either real Irish, or just Irish for the day. You’re showin’ the spirit.

Irish Me

I’ve a little bit of ‘the green’ both in and on me, and enjoying it. The day seems to lift spirits a bit, makes us happy. The bright sunshine adds to the gaiety of parades and parties. Irish music fills the airwaves and Irish dancers jig their way around town, exhibiting the fast moving feet of Irish dance steps.

mother

Foremost, it reminds me of my mother who boasted proudly of her Irish roots. Her mother, my grandmother, emigrated to the States from Ireland in the early 1900’s, no doubt looking for a better life, like many immigrants at that time. The world passed our Statue of Liberty, stopped on our doorstep, asked to come in and were welcomed to be part of the American community.

St. Patrick’s Day brings out a potpourri of politicians to be Irish for the day, maybe hoping it’ll win another voting block to their side. ‘Pols’ are the best chameleons when looking for support, aren’t they?

Bar Night 2

I will toast St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish stout, a Guinness, maybe two, but no more, no corn beef nor cabbage, but, yes, some potatoes, a food staple that’s has a major chapter in Irish history.

“The significance of St. Patrick’s Day is the introduction of Christianity to Ireland” * hundreds of years ago.  Irish history, like most cultures, is replete with times of joy, sadness, struggles and triumphs.  It’s more than just a party day as we celebrate our Irish here in the States and around the world. However, the celebration factor is significant which contributes to the heavy consumption of alcohol and that brings us back to the reveling, doesn’t it.

The White House fountain is spewing green, the Chicago River is dyed green and other celebrations will take place. But, a word of caution. If you must celebrate tonight, take care not to overdo it. When you start to see ‘Irish dogs’, then you’ll know you’ve had too much. And they’re out there, ‘cause everyone can be Irish today.

Irish Dog

(‘Bud’, photo by Diana on Instagram @didimac211)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Steve
Srbottch.Com

To the Irish and everyone who wishes they were…

*Wickipedia: Saint Patrick’s Day

PLeasant 48756…

Do you remember those phone calls home, the ones you made after ‘leaving the nest’ for the first time? I do, and from a pay phone.  My sister remembers, too, offering sentiments recently that it would be nice to make those calls, again. But, we can’t, of course.

I remember the calls and can ‘see’ it in my mind’s eye. Mother would answer, as the official ‘answerer’, and in a soft voice, I’d hear, “Hello?”, in a questioning way.

“Mother, it’s me, Stephen!”

“Oh, Stephen, hello!”

The uncertainty was gone and the enthusiasm returned, once she knew who it was.

We’d talk and she would hand the phone to my father, nearby, and we’d talk some more, often repeating myself, a bit louder each time. I could sense the ‘changes’.

Remember asking to reverse the charges? She always accepted them. Long distance calls weren’t cheap so we limited the frequency and duration.

Over time, the phones changed, cords went away and buttons replaced dials. The nature of the calls changed, too, from ‘just called to talk’ to ‘how are you feeling’. Eventually, with time passing, so do the people you love…the calls stopped.

Yesterday, the old family telephone number flashed into my memory, Pleasant-48756.  Don’t know why, but it did, and it opened a floodgate of memories, good memories.

Initially, our number was just five digit characters, 48756, but as telephone service demand grew, so did the creativity of assigning numbers, longer numbers, with letters.

The phone was ‘anchored’ on a small living room table, the ‘phone table’.  It was a cumbersome black unit with a circular number scheme in a dial fôrmat, corded to the wall. More importantly, the mouth/ear piece was corded to the base, and cradled on it when not in use. You never lost the phone because it was ‘anchored’ in the same spot for years.

The telephone kept families connected. Every bit of emotion could be sensed over the lines.  Good news and bad news was delivered over the telephone, by voice. We made plans and had private rendezvous with special friends. Of course, with the phone anchored to a spot, that privacy was problematic.

We all have mobile phones now, several to a family. No need to remember the numbers, just ask the phone to call by name. You can send text messages and avoid speaking to the other party.  Play games and music and get easily distracted by the new phone capabilities.  You can even wear the phone like a watch, well, it is a watch, too.  Yes, we’ve come that far.  Progress, I guess.

But it sure would be nice to make those old calls, again. We can’t, of course…

“Hey, Siri, dial Pleasant 48756….. for the Hell of it!”

Steve (srbottch.com)

For my sister, June

I Drink My Coffee Black…Hair or No Hair

After high school graduation and between college semester breaks, summertime found me working for my dad’s painting company. Truth be told, I did little actual painting. But there were plenty of other tasks to support the real journeymen painters, low skilled tasks that a ‘college kid’ could easily master; scraping, sanding, dusting and hauling, to name a few. I abhorred it.

However, I did get an ‘education’ on hard work and found one task that was simple and perfectly suited to my teenage laziness, the ‘runner’.

When it was mid morning break time, I collected the painters’ money and went for their food and drink, generally coffee and a sweet roll, or donut. The workers’ break was 10 minutes by union rules, but for me, it was a good 30 to 45 minutes, because I was the ‘runner’.

I became familiar with the likes and dislikes of the men on the jobs, and listened attentively to their ‘sage’ advice. Naturally, I ignored it, I was a ‘college kid’.

“Drink coffee, and drink it black, it’ll put hair on your chest!”

Coffee was not part of my regimen, then, and I already had some hair on my chest, at least it was starting, so the suggestion didn’t sway me.

I often heard the same admonition from my ‘old school’ father when I was a kid; “eat it (drink it, take it), it’s good for you, and it’ll put hair on your chest”, my father would urge. Why would a ten year old kid want hair on his chest?

Eventually, I joined the throng of coffee drinkers. It wasn’t the macho world of laboring men who got me started, however. My caffeine fix began with ‘Gussie’, my future mother-in-law, who always had a pot of coffee brewing in her kitchen.

The aroma of percolating coffee, aaahhhh, it was addicting and ‘Gussie’ drank it black.

There’s a certain intoxication in that very aroma, isn’t there? And, if it could only taste as good as it smelled, with no additives, then black would be my choice, as well.

Years later, my sales job reinforced the black option. On the road several days a week, coffee became a staple of my morning routine and a stimulant during day time drive times. Who has time to mix in a creamer or sugar packet when you’re hustling to an appointment? Pull in to the fast food drive-thru, order, pay, then grab ‘n go.

I still drink coffee, black. And, yes, I have hair on my chest. ‘Gussie ‘ is gone for many years, now. And, if your wondering, I never asked…and she never mentioned ‘it’.

Steve

To coffee drinkers everywhere…especially, ‘Gussie’

March 2019

Take The Quiz…

“Double your pleasure, Double your fun, ………..

Do you remember this rhyme from an old television commercial?  Usually, there were a couple of twin girls who sang the jingle.  If you can finish it, then you’re of a certain generation.

Many people watched the Super Bowl for the entertainment pleasure of the ads as much as the actual game. Over the years, the Super Bowl has rewarded us with some of the best advertising money can buy, as millions of dollars were spent on brief but entertaining commercials.

This year’s Super Bowl ads, for the most part, were disappointing for message and humor. The Doritos ad with Chance the Rapper and The Backstreet Boys was pretty good, but other than that, ‘Meh’!

However, outside the Super Bowl, there have been some catchy ads over the years that are seared in our memories for both content and entertainment. Let’s have some fun, see if you can fill in the blanks of some of the old time ads. I’m sure you can do it…before looking at the answers.

1. Winston taste good ………

2. Please don’t ………. the Charmin

3. Fill it to the rim ………

4. Go Greyhound, and ……….

5. You’re in good hands ……….

6. Lucky Strike means ……….

7. Brylcreem, a little dab will do ya, ……….

8. See the USA ……….

9. Maxwell House coffee, Good ……….

10. Takes a lickin’ and ……….

Coffee commercials were very popular years ago and cigarette ads dominated the airwaves until they were banned.

Remember Wendy Hamburger’s line and the Little old lady who shouted, “Where’s the beef?” Everyone was saying it. Miller beer advertised their lite beer with a theme, ‘less filling, tastes great’. Celebrities would humorously debate which it was.

Can you think of some old time goodies? Sure you can, give us one or two and your score.

ANSWERS:

1. like a cigarette should! (cigarettes)

2. squeeze (toilet paper)

3. With Brim (decaffeinated coffee)

4 and leave the driving to us (bus company)

5. with Allstate (insurance)

6. Fine Tobacco (cigarettes)

7. Use more only if you dare (watch out, the gals will all persue ya, they love to get their fingers in your hair) (men’s hair cream)

8. In your Chevrolet (General Motors)

9. to the last drop!

10. keeps on tickin’ (Time watch)

How did you do?

srbottch.com (Feb 2019)

PS. ‘…Chew Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum!’

What Was Your ‘Playing Weight’?

Briefcase n Scale

If you watched the Super Bowl, then you couldn’t help hearing some players described by their size, not just big and bigger, but by their weight. This is often referred to as a ‘playing weight’ because these behemoths are on rigid eating plans to maintain weight within certain ranges to make them more effective at their particular job, playing football (American).

Did you have a ‘playing weight’ when you were ‘in the game’? A self imposed ‘playing weight’?

Moreover, did you ever think of your job that way, as a game, a performance, a contest? Every day, when you went to work, you stepped into your particular ‘arena’ to earn a living and the resulting rewards.

Maybe it was was an office, a factory floor, classroom or stage. A desk, car and other people’s offices was my ‘arena’. I was in sales, and ‘on the road’, to where ‘wins’ could be had, at the customer’s places of business.

In sales, there actually is competition, making the ‘game’ more real, the ‘victories’ more invigorating, and, conversely, the ‘losses’ more upsetting.

And like a performer or athlete, maintaining a ‘playing weight’ and good health was important to a successful job. For a salesperson, living out of a suitcase, eating restaurant or fast food meals while ‘on the run’, or having drinks with a client, weight issues were problematic. Proper diet, exercise and rest was always a challenge, and important to successes or failures. At least, it was to me.

In his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Dr. Franklin Covey referred to keeping oneself physically, mentally and socially fit, as ‘sharpening the saw’. And it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Hence, the ‘playing weight’. At some point, we realize that healthy habits contribute to more wins than losses. No matter our game, there has to be time set aside to practice sensible health habits. Maintaining a smart ‘playing weight’ is an important component of those plans.

When the game is over and we hang up our ‘uniforms’, whatever it was we wore, when we get out of the game, so to speak, it’s important to be cognizant, then, of our retirement weight, as well. We want to still be healthy enough to enjoy the rewards that were won earlier.

So, what was your ‘playing weight’ when you were ‘in the game’?

Steve (srbottch.com)

The ‘Morning Star’

Photo of planet Venus (tiny spec) above town high school 12/20/18

The students and I have been fortunate to have the planet Venus looking down at us as we make our way to school, or, as in my case, do my school crossing duties.

It’s dark enough in the morning to easily see this planet, the second in our Solar System and about 50,000,000 miles from earth at this time.

It’s presence offered us an opportunity to talk about the planets, the 8 major ones, and we listed them. Of course, these kids generally knew about poor Pluto being downgraded from a major to a sub planet because of its size.

The exciting part of working with kids is their genuine interest in the world around them because they’re discovering new things that we adults often take for granted. Also, it reminds us of what it was like to be a kid at one time.

Wherever you are, look up, down and around your own environment. Then, share your discoveries with others and get them excited, too.

Steve

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The Bar Chronicles: #21, ‘Lighting’ the Christmas Tree…

Bar Night 2

Evenings with friends for small talk is one of Life’s enduring pleasures. Add some beer and holiday revelers at a local pub, and the gathering gets even more festive.

Tonight, our favorite watering hole, Caverly’s Irish Pub, was no exception. The pub was packed. Not a seat at the bar, full tables and the darts were flying. We smartly took the solitude of the back room and huddled there, six of us around a wobbly table. It was quieter, but not by much, after all, it’s the holiday season.

Tonight’s toast seemed a bit more special with Christmas and year’s end upon us. I watched reflectively while glasses clinked, friends smiled and well wishes were spoken. It was a nice moment.

As is always the case on Bar Night, there was something new to learn. Tonight, appropriately, it pertained to Christmas and the traditional Christmas tree lighting. Not just any lighting, mind you, but one that involved real candles.

Tree With Candles

Some of us spoke woefully of lights not working, trees too tall and tree allergies but lighting a tree with real candles, now that was something worthy of our attention. At least it was for me, as one who is clueless on traditions around the world.

Apparently, in German homes, lighting real candles on a tree is a time honored Christmas tradition. One of us spoke excitedly about doing it on his tree for his wife who is a bona fide German, and we always try to make wives happy, don’t we? So, candle up the tree.

It seems risky, but then with risk comes reward and the result is a stunningly beautiful tree. Here is the pictures to prove it, not of our friend’s tree but that of a German family, in Germany.

Lighted Tree

One beer seems to be our limit lately but we do make that one last a couple of hours, long enough to talk ourselves tired. It was time to go but not until I recited a favorite holiday poem, ‘The Night Before Christmas’.  The group ‘demanded’ it and after some arm twisting (I made up that part), I delivered it ‘flawingly’. A dart thrower snapped the group picture and we headed home, remarking on an enjoyable evening, steady on our feet and yawning a bit. The 21st is in the books…

BN 21

‘Happy Christmas to all…’

Steve

srbottch.com