Streetwise

[A repeat from March 18, 2013 – and I continued to see Manuel standing there – every day – until I retired]

Every day when I walk to work, there is a gentleman standing in front of the Corner Bakery across from my building.  He sells Streetwise — a weekly publication.  Manuel struggles to walk – with crutches – but he stands guard outside the CB from early morning until about noon.    Rain or shine.  I usually stop to exchange a few words with him and ask him how he’s doing.  And I buy a copy of Streetwise once a week.  Streetwise sells for two dollars though my math is not always good.

Streetwise was started in Chicago in 1992 by Chicago lawyer Judd Lofchie   The mission of Streetwise is to assist Chicago area men and women, who are facing homelessness, to achieve personal stability by providing them with a combination of supportive social services and immediate access to gainful employment.  Streetwise vendors are usually trying to make a go of it.  They are not to be confused with panhandlers. 

In my post of July 11, 2012, I wrote about Henry Nouwen – the great religious/spiritual writer.  Henry Nouwen in his treatise Out of Solitude wrote “The temptation is that we use our expertise to keep a safe distance from that which really matters and forget that, in the long run, cure without care is more harmful than helpful.”   Streetwise seems to be on the right track — offering cure, the all-important care — and a strong dose of compassion.   

Having a good conversation

I watched a TED Talk the other day while pedaling furiously on a recumbent bike. It was an eleven minute offering by Celeste Headlee on how to be more engaging in conversation. The link is https://www.ted.com/talks/celeste_headlee_10_ways_to_have_a_better_conversation?language=en

Ms. Headlee is a radio journalist who has spent the last 20 years working with PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). Much of her job was to interview people. Do you want to be a better conversationalist? Ms. Headlee’s advice can be distilled into ten simple points.

Don’t Multitask – pay attention.

Don’t Pontificate – don’t start talking about your own experience when someone is sharing theirs

Ask Open-Ended Questions – who, what, where, why. . . .

Go With the Flow – be engaged

If You Don’t Know an Answer, Say So

Don’t Equate Your Experience to Theirs

Don’t Repeat Yourself

Stay “Out of the Weeds” – people don’t care about “details

Listen – Buddha said “if your mouth is open, you are not learning

Be Brief- FDR once said “Be sincere, be brief, be seated

Night

[Timely repeat of May 13, 2020] It’s a Wednesday evening.  You’re at home having dinner with your family.  Smiling.  Hearing stories from your children about their day.  And the doorbell rings.  Again.  Again.  Sharp banging on the door.  You put your napkin on your chair – get up and answer the door.   Seven hard-looking men in uniform, carrying guns, are there.  One, an officer, spits out the words “you have one hour to pack.   Be outside in one hour.”  He turns on his heel while the six men press into your home.  Guns leveled.  And your dinner begins to cool. . . . .

This scenario happened over.  And over.  And over again from 1939 to 1945 for those in Europe who were Jewish.  Once outside the door, often families were separated.  Sobbing children dragged away from hysterical parents.  Occasional shots rang out.  An infant might be tossed in the air and used for target practice.  Families stuffed into trucks or trains.  And transported to their death.  During the Holocaust, 6 million Jews – two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population – were murdered.  Elie Wiesel’s classic Night recounts a small chapter of the horror.  

The United Nations gives a smiling pass to China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other totalitarian governments.  The United Nations Human Rights Council includes Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and Venezuela.    Who do they condemn?  Israel.  A lone democracy in a troubled region.  A nation trying to survive despite the violent networks that surround them. 

Increasing numbers of people – even supposedly educated elites in academia – rise up and spew hatred at Israel and the Jewish community. I mean really?  

There are 2.1 billion Christians in the world.  1.8 billion Muslims.  One billion Hindus.  And 14 million Jews.   And who gets it in the neck – from increasing numbers of people in Europe, the Middle East and even America?  Read my post on anti-semitism (June 1, 2019). 

It’s a Wednesday evening.  You’re at home having dinner with your family.  And there’s a knock at the door. . . . . .  

Night. 

China – Part II

I had some pushback on my China post of October 16, 2021 – and my thoughts about twisting Xi Jinping’s nose. One comment was

I find Xi to be a typical Marxist cur.  He and the CCP are enslaving, sterilizing, raping and killing the Uighurs in his country; he has already violated the treaty under which he promised Hong Kong decades of home rule; he is building islands in the China Sea to expand his hold over trade routes; he is shooting missiles in the direction of Japan; and he is threatening the sovereignty of Taiwan.  Other than that he’s a model citizen. 

I’m sure that most Chinese will agree that Xi wants to be king of the world and he doesn’t care how many Chinese souls perish in the process. I mean – what’s ten or twenty million dead when you have so many? But then what? In that prior post, I suggested that I would (if given the chance) squeeze Xi’s nose. Very hard. And suggest he wake up. How about a swift kick in the caboose? Though that wouldn’t do much good either. Maybe talk further to Xi’s buddy General Wang Shaojun. Then again, maybe he too is busy entertaining Peng Shuai along with the noble Zhang Gaoli. By the way – the media has been silent on the whereabouts of Peng since December 20th. Not a whisper. I wonder why. . . . .

Run Over

[A repeat from December 11, 2014] I was taught early on – to keep my eyes open.  And to watch for coins on the street or sidewalk.  In my post of August 2, 2012, I spoke of picking up pennies, nickels, dimes, dollar bills — as well as cell phones, wallets, watches and fine jewelry (some mighty fine).   I still do. My eyes are glued to the ground.  And yes – I still pick up pennies.  And nails (see 1/8/17).  All monetary finds go into a bowl for a year-end charitable donation.  It’s really a game.  A personal challenge.  To see what I can find.         

During the week, I catch the train and go downtown to my office.  Each day as I walk across the train tracks, I slow. Looking. I have never put a coin on the railroad tracks (to do so would probably invite several years in the penitentiary). But I’m on the scout for those errant “run over” coins that have been placed on the tracks — and lost — by others. Over the years, I have acquired a nice collection.  Nineteen flattened coins to be precise.  A few quarters.  Dimes.  Nickels.  Pennies.  Each one I’m sure has a story.  Just as each lost coin has a story.  The good thing is that if I ever run low on cash, I can always take these run over coins to the bank and trade them in for unscathed versions.  One dollar and thirty-six cents by my count.     

Thump My What??

[A worthwhile repeat from August 27, 2017] We all know the value of humor (see July 29, 2011 and April 3, 2014). 

Humor can be so important in the healing process that Denise — a delightful oncology nurse in Lake County, Illinois, started a “Humor Exchange” for patients.   This monthly get together is designed to encourage people who have serious health issues — to start laughing.   And keep laughing.  More and more studies confirm that laughter provides a smorgasbord of physiological benefits:  increases the “Natural Killer” (NK) cell and lymphocyte count (important immune responses in the fight against cancer); decreases stress hormones; increases immune cells (“T” cells); lowers blood pressure; works your abs; release endorphins; and essentially makes you smile.  And snort. . . .

At a recent conference, Denise recently learned of another healthy technique (that sounds pretty funny).  It’s called “thumping the thymus.”  The thymus gland — which is responsible for “T” cells and immunity — lies beneath the sternum.  A person pats their sternum for a few minutes and feels better.  And enlists a potential for improving immunity.  Don’t take my word for it.  There are articles galore on this subject (see e.g. http://www.facebook.com/notes/karen-nauman-eft/eft-tapping-the-thymus-gland-8-interesting-factoids-about-the-thymus/198886030151782/ ).  So go ahead.  Thump your thymus.  What’ve you got to lose?  And while your at it . . . . laugh.   

Scott’s Knees

A good way to explain my experience with a personal trainer. Repeated from November 7, 2013.

“Scott’s Knees” — A Play in One Act

Right Knee:  What the heck is he doing to us?

Left Knee:  He’s a nut.  He’s pushing me to the limit.  I’ve had enough.  Enough!

Right Knee:  Who is it that’s pushing him? 

Left Knee:  It’s that “personal trainer”. . .

Heart:  (Enters)  Hey guys – cool it.  I’m okay with this.  I really feel for you but knock it off.  You’ve caused enough trouble.   

Left Knee:  But Boss (thinking) . . . . it’s the feet.  It’s their fault.

Feet:  (From offstage)  Huh?  Whuh?   

Heart:  Take it easy guys.  I’ll talk to . . .

BrainAhemmm . . . . Is there a problem here? 

Heart:  No – we’re just kinda talking, Sir.

Left Knee:  (Filling with fluid from fright)  Yeah . . . I mean yes.  I mean yes Sir.

Brain:  (Angrily)  I want him to exercise you two troublemakers.  And don’t give him any problems.  Remember – you can be replaced.Capisce?

Left Knee:  Okay okay. . . Sir.

Brain:  Right knee? 

Right Knee:  Yessir.  I’ll be good.  Promise. 

Brain:  Okay.  ‘Nuf said.  And Heart – you keep pumping and keep those two weaklings happy.

Heart:  (Pumping vigorously)  Will do.  Sir! 

Brain:  Thank you.  Now if you don’t mind, I have got work to do.  I have to help cook dinner (exits).

Curtain

New Year’s Resolutions

Do you have any? New Year’s resolutions that is?   To do, not do or to accomplish something?  New Year’s resolutions date back to Roman and even Babylonian times.   Early Christians would look back on the mistakes of the past year and resolve to omit them from the New Year. Nearly one third of all people make some personal commitment for the new year.  However, a University of Bristol study showed that of the people who make New Year’s resolutions, 88% fail.   Mine will not.

Here are a few that crossed my mind: Exercise more; Read more; Work less (wait. . . I’m retired); Play more golf (Senior Tour?); Travel more; Play my guitar more; Volunteer/be a better person; Eat healthier; But NEVER eat asparagus again . . . . . Best wishes to all for a wonderful, healthy and Happy New Year!!