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Monday, February 17, 2020

IKEA Smell

I make no secret of the fact that I really like IKEA.  In fact, it's about the only retail experience these days that I find the least bit interesting.  Simply put, IKEA turns shopping for things into an event.  In my case, that would be an event that is worth driving 90 or so minutes to experience two or three times a year.  Among the many reasons I enjoy about IKEA?  The smell.

The Internet tells me that IKEA smells like cinnamon buns (reference HERE), but I don't buy it.  I know the smell of cinnamon buns.  I like the smell of cinnamon buns.  IKEA does not smell like cinnamon buns.

If I had to describe the smell, it would be something that's a combination of:
  • A light cleaning solution/disinfectant of some type
  • 3,000 tons of laminate
  • The cafeteria, although not a particular food
  • Something sweet
  • Slightly herbal
  • Slightly floral
Maybe this is part of some greater Swedish conspiracy to get folks like me to buy more reasonably priced but yet stylish self-assembled furniture*.  Maybe it's all in my head.  But the smell is there, I swear it is.

I could rant on and on about how much I enjoy going to IKEA and why it's a terrific business (including their composting of cafeteria scraps).  In fact, over the course of the 11+ years of the blog I probably already have, but I am too un-motivated to check at the moment.  I will note though that I do have one IKEA complaint:  The don't sell ribs in the cafeteria anymore.  When I first went to IKEA, something like a dozen years ago, the cafeteria had ribs that were among the best I have ever had in my entire life.  Bar none, I swear.  Alas, the ribs are gone, and I have to make do with the Swedish meatballs (which are pretty good).

To end on a high note, some IKEA humor.

(*) All of the furniture in my home office is from IKEA, including two work surfaces, a bookcase, a dresser, a cube unit, a rolling file storage unit, and a Symfonisk speaker lamp.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day

"Let us be lovers, 
we'll marry our fortunes together"

(Paul Simon, "America")

I was trying to ponder the best way to describe a sentiment suitable for Valentine's Day, and for some reason the Simon & Garfunkel song "America" came to mind.  In particular, the line "Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together" stands out as one of those deceptively simple but yet incredibly poignant thoughts that I think requires a genius to come up with.  Put another way, I could probably write 600 words that wouldn't mean a tenth of what Paul Simon wrote in 9.  

In the old days...and I mean really old days...people would literally marry their fortunes together, putting all they had into something else, something bigger, something important and worthy.  It's not necessarily a romantic or love inspired thought, but when you think about it, that does almost perfectly describe the meaning of true love.  I mean what is true love if it isn't putting all you have into something greater, something where two become one?

Here's to everyone who has managed to find someone to marry their fortunes with on this Valentine's Day.  And if you're still looking, well, keep at it.  There is always something bigger on the horizon.

PS - The best version, ever, of this song was performed by David Bowie during the Concert for New York.  Just Bowie sitting on a stage with a small keyboard.  Another example of genius wrapped in a deceptively simple package.  

Sunday, February 9, 2020

In the Living Years

I have a posting on a relevant, timely topic all ready to go, but I'm not going to do it.  I'm just not feeling it.  Instead, this feels more important.

This was at my brother Rich's wedding, probably 1988 or so.  In case you can't tell, I'm the one wearing the stylish hot pink tie.  That seems like it was a lifetime ago.  Or longer.  And so very, very much has changed since then.  

Time, it seems, is a funny thing.  We measure time in terms of our planet's rotation on its axis and rotation around the sun.  Those would seem to be relatively constant things.  In reality, though, they are not.  In fact, they seem relative.  

When I was a child, time passed incredibly slowly.

Now, at age 55, time seems to fly by.  Except for the fact that, for example, it seems like only yesterday when my brother Chris (first on the left in the picture above) passed away in January 2017. Conversely, looking forward, my plan is to work until about age 65 and then retire.  That, in spite of how time at age 55 seems to pass by quickly, seems so very far away.

Maybe time isn't so constant at all.  Or more precisely, maybe the thing being measured is constant, but the person doing the measuring isn't.  Regardless, these are heady questions that far exceed my pay-grade.

What does seem abundantly true, but yet hard to fully appreciate, is that regardless of how fast (or slow) time passes by, it's probably most important (and for me, the most difficult) to appreciate the moment that we are in, not dwelling on the past or worried about the future.  I know this intellectually (I've pretty much read every book written by Eckhart Tolle), but actually practicing it is a different story.  I'd like to say that "I've got time to learn that", but who knows if that's actually true.  Unlike half-gallon jugs of milk, our expiration dates aren't printed on our side.  

In any event, here's to the living years.

Monday, February 3, 2020

What the Leadership of the Scranton School District Fails to Grasp

The screen grab, above, comes from a Tweet regarding this evening's Scranton School District (SSD) board meeting.  You can follow the reporter's Twitter feed HERE.  This is another chapter in the story of buried and ignored lead and asbestos findings in district buildings.  By way of backstory, click on THIS link.  Here's one key point of that article:

"Scranton first tested its water in 2016, after the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, drew national attention to the issue. That June, the district announced it had shut off eight water fountains and 11 sinks after test results revealed elevated lead levels in the water. Officials had planned to replace the brass or bronze fittings in the affected places that summer, but the district has been unable to find any proof the issues were addressed."

What Superintendent McTiernan fails to grasp by her comment is the perception that things are never actually taken care of in the SSD.  No one is held accountable.  The examples are legion, and some have been chronicled in this blog over the years, from an egregiously ridiculous no-bid busing contract that was actually renewed with no objections, to school board directors failing to attend meetings, to nepotism so bad that it boarders on shameful. 

Case in point:  The felon former business administrator of the SSD, who pleaded guilty to getting free auto repairs from the district for himself and his "family", and received probation for his efforts.  Oh, and his wife (a.k.a. his "family") still works for the SSD.  Reference HERE and HERE.  You can't make this up.

As someone who attended the SSD myself and who had children attend as well, I have to ask if I was exposed to lead and asbestos.  The harmful effects of these things have been known for decades, so why it even took until 2016 for this to come to light escapes me.  It should be shocking to no one that, for example, a 114 or so year old building might have asbestos issues.  In fact, the truly shocking part is the fact that no one bothered to look into it until 2016...and then they did nothing about it.

The people involved in hiding the  2016 testing results should be held criminally responsible for their actions.  They intentionally put children and staff in SSD buildings in harm's way.  Scranton residents, current and past (including me) will have to make due with the heaping of shame upon prior administrations for yet another example of their gross incompetence.