Back in the old days (like, 2 years ago), I could conduct a team meeting and be completely certain that no one was listening to me. They'd be talking amongst themselves, surreptitiously passing love notes to one another, launching spitballs at the crown of my head when I would look down at my notes, and so forth. This would leave me with no choice but to clear my throat and bang my gavel, shouting, "there will be order in this meeting room!"
Now, with only the sounds of Jeb from communications munching on potato chips and Gail from finance trying but failing to squelch nervous laughter, I'd return to the topic of whether the annual employee summer outing should be held at a newly established ax-throwing pavilion, or instead at a beer garden. Or both (ax throwing first, needless to say).
But now, over Zoom, I get silence, even though there is collectively more noise surrounding my team members than ever: dogs are barking, kids are screaming, spouses are running the blender in the next room over to make smoothies. I hear none of it because everyone's audio is muted. Which means I also get zero reaction to anything I say. "Any questions? Thoughts? Opinions? How are things going? Does the lack of any discernable reaction indicate that everyone's doing OK? Is that a yes? Would you please raise your hand to indicate that you're alive?"
Hands go up. People are still alive, if maybe not entirely well.
When you encounter an advertisement of smiling people handing varieties of Yoplait yogurt to one another other, you probably think, "Hey, gee, those people are passing along a healthy, fermented dairy product, packed with hundreds of millions of good bacteria that aid in digestion."
What do I see when I view the same advertisement? I see a lot of single-use plastic.
I am almost 100% certain that one cannot buy yogurt in any form in my local supermarket without it being packaged in plastic.
Wait! That is unless my supermarket happens to offer one of the Yoplait brands that appears in that same commercial, which turns out to be a French variety of yogurt called Oui. The process for this variety may be a little different than others, but I care less about that than the fact that Oui comes in a "glass pot" with a foil top. When packaged as a 4-pack, cardboard is added. Ergo, no plastic at all.
Yeah, I know, you don't really care. Because "plastic is recyclable." Oh is it? Maybe sometimes. But just because you throw your waste into single stream recycling bins doesn't mean it will ever get recycled, at least according to this scary Frontline report, with horrifying images of the oceans and beaches awash in unrecycled plastic.
Anyway, you might not think or care about it and keep on buying your yogurt in plastic packaging. Meanwhile, I am going to start shopping for yogurt the way I shop for eggs: avoid the plastic packaging.
(Since when I have ever gotten environmental on you in these pages, anyway?)
It seems like just yesterday – ok, maybe two or three days ago – that the Red Sox were disencumbering the 2004 Yankees of yet more American League Championship hardware by winning the final four games of that seven-game series to cap the most excruciating and scintillating era of sports of my lifetime. The series included Dave Roberts' stolen base and tying run, an 11-inning game, a 14-inning game, a bloody sock, and the absolute pummeling of the despised (by me) Yanks in the Bronx. My life was changed forever!
Prior to that moment, everything was shit. I had nothing to live for. Sure, I had a wife who loved me (well, liked me – I think) and a dog who loved me as well (well, appreciated that I fed her), a house, a good job, and bike. But I also had one hell of an attitude and clothing that fit poorly.
After the Sox took the series and finally won a World Series after 86 years of frustration, avenues of hope opened for me. I became the head of a large corporation and everyone, even my dog, became effusive with adoration. (You can fact check that; I'll give you some highly reliable sources.) People threw jobs at me for which I was completely unqualified. To show my appreciation I rose to the occasion, mostly by taking night classes. I became famous in the quiet sort of way that humble people like myself become famous, which is to say not terribly famous at all. Still, people looked at me differently. They said that I had a bounce in my step, which people had formerly misinterpreted as a limp. Ha, me, limp. Not a chance!
Anyway, today those same Red Sox (sort of) will be playing those same Yankees (kind of, ish,) to determine who has the right to lose to the Rays in the divisional series. (Why does the world have to have Rays anyway!). A one-game long series in which you win or go home. No six-game lead-up to the final chapter or any of that other nonsense!
I'll be watching. Will you?
If you've never driven to Long Island from New England, you might be surprised to find that there is a large body of water between Connecticut and New York that you cannot cross via a bridge. Google Maps makes it look like an undisturbed road gets you from your home in Massachusetts to your cousin's wedding in Montauk, but the inch or so width of Long Island Sound on a map turns out to be almost 18 miles in "real life." That's a bridge too far.
Thankfully, Ferry service exists, shuttling you and your vehicles (I brought a bike as well as a car) across the choppy waters, with views of sailboards and waterfront homes, and evidence that you don't have COVID (the ship's exhaust affirming that I haven't lost my sense of smell). Now on Empire State soil, I am mystified when I see that the last 30 miles of the trip will take nearly two hours, even with little indication that traffic jams are causing delays.
And then I'm in a line of cars being directed onto another ferry – a small barge-like thing. I am unprepared for this second boat, with no reservation in hand. "You pay on the ferry" I'm told by one of the guys directing me onward. "Cash only." This ferry takes 10 minutes to get us onto Shelter Island, and soon I'm on at another dock, and now on my third ferry, another little puddle-jumper, which puts me on solid Long Island terra firma, with lots of towns that have "Hampton" in their name.The two-hours was diminished to just a little over an hour thanks to timing – the second and third ferries that I was entirely unprepared for both left the dock just moments after I drove aboard.
The return trip was managed by avoiding the two smaller ferries and taking a circuitous route back to Orient Point, as I worried that on Sundays the ferry service wouldn't run. Not a chance! What would become of Shelter Island residents who accidently find themselves choking on their brunch? It can't be that paramedics can't ford the waters (note the double negative), just because it's the Lord's day. (Or is the Lord's Day Saturday? I lost track of the Lord's Day many score moons ago).
Turns out that ferry service is essential, just like pharmacies, hardware stores, and cannabis shops (in California). Of course, if you're choking on your wedding steak, a ferry bringing Heimlich experts or this device that I'd like to buy won't help much.
Those Shelter Island residents have a great deal of guts.