Archives for January 2013

In Sandy’s Wake

How prepared are you for an unexpected natural disaster?

Of course people shouldn’t need to live in fear of when a natural disaster might hit their town.  The odds are against it.  But it doesn’t hurt to be a little proactive and prepared just in case. 

So what do you do when the worst of the worst happens where you live?

  • For one thing, make sure you know, and get along with, your neighbors.  There’s no time like a crisis for people to pull together and help each other out.

 

  • Find out now, what your employers expectations are on situations where you may not have ability to get to work, and look at what your alternatives might be if the need arose.

 

  • Keep a well-stocked cabinet with canned essentials to wait out the worst of things. Canned tuna fish and beans are high protein foods that keep for a long time.  Keep bottled water, candles, kerosene, and perhaps even a Coleman cook stove for those emergencies where power is out for days.  Make sure you have medical supplies on hand as well.

 

  • If you cannot afford owning a generator, a chainsaw, a wet/dry shop vac, or other large “only need once in a lifetime” items, make sure you are connected to people who are accessible, and able to share theirs with you.  Again, in times of crisis, people tend to pull together and help each other out.

 

  • Think about this now:  If you could only bring what you could carry on your back, what would you take?  How much time do you need to gather it up and go?  Grab the family and hit the road!

 

  • Always be prepared to let go.  In the end, a lot of the trauma is about the “things.  We tend to collect and want and need and covet our “things”.  Yes, things are nice, but they can be replaced.  Take pictures of them all and put them on a flash drive, and call it insurance planning.  Things can be replaced.  People can’t.

 

  • With the really serious “storm of the century” events, trust the warnings, and don’t wait—get out of town. 

Hurricane Pick and Pack

People out east found out how life can change in the face of a storm very quickly.  Sometimes, to say “we’re far enough inland it won’t affect us” just doesn’t fly.  “That kind of weather doesn’t happen here.” just doesn’t fly.  Three “storms of the century” in three consecutive years, deserves some respect and attention, to be sure!

My thoughts kept gravitating to the victims of Hurricane Sandy the whole drive out to the east coast.  I wanted to help.  I wasn’t sure how.  So after doing some research on line, I found an opportunity.  Lynn and I spent the morning in North Brunswick NJ helping out at Feed The Children.  The project of the morning was building Hurricane Relief Boxes.  Our jobs were to build the personal hygiene packets being distributed in each box.  We heard stories about how things are going, now weeks after the Hurricane disaster.  There are still hundreds of people without potable water, not much relief has been brought to the shoreline victims, and many are still unable to get to their jobs because transportation is still down. 

The truth is, most of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Sandy lost everything.  Even their tooth brush.  Even their deodorant.  Even a change of clothes.  Just think about it.  What does it mean to loose everything?  As I stood bagging common necessities into zip lock baggies, I hear the sad details.  According to the program coordinator, many people not only lost their homes and everything in them, but also have no fall back support from insurance because of loopholes in the coverage, or outright refusal to address hurricanes as a cause for claim. On top of that, the transit system is still not up. The priority of dollars and efforts is being focused on bringing in new sand for the beaches instead of getting transportation back up. New Jersey transit is not getting better any time soon. They are being left to twist in the wind, so to speak.

Even in Lynns neighborhood, trees remain down across yards, and tarps are covering portions of roofs or sides of homes that trees busted across.  There is a fine line between when the city will assist with tree removal and when it becomes home owner responsibility.  Some of the trees that fell are 70 plus years old, with trunks as big around as a golf cart.  On top of that, her husband and hundreds of others spend hours commuting from NJ to NY for their jobs every day with no end in sight. 

I’m hoping we do more volunteering while I’m here.  Never underestimate the importance of helping out in troubled times.  Often, its volunteers that do the most in in disaster relief situations like these.  Every gesture is needed and appreciated, whether it’s shoveling debris, reframing a broken home, or putting tooth paste and deodorant in baggies.  Someone in need is grateful to volunteers.

So as I’ve been bagging the goodies, I’ve been thinking; “hmmm, I’ve got a nice little set up going on as I travel.  Maybe I’ll not unpack my “home on wheels” after my trip is over.  You never know.

 

Hanging Out In Harleysville

After spending a week or so in New Jersey with my best bud from school, I find myself back in PA, visiting my friend and business mentor, Jim.  I hadn’t been to Harleysville since the Celebration of Life the family held when his precious wife of 50 years, Murial, passed. 

I love Jim.

Whatta guy.  When we first met some 20 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I should slap him, simply walk away from him, or stand there and give it shot.  I’m so glad I chose the third option.  He quickly became my best client, my business mentor, and my second dad.  Despite his short stature, there’s nothing small about Jim.  His stocky build and gruff mannerisms make him a serious force to be reckoned with.   Many of his sentences start with a low, throaty, cigarette worn “listen….” or with “here’s what you do…”  And what would come after that, well, I’m not at liberty to share those confidential details.  You know, trade secrets and all that. 

Jim’s first impressions are so strong, you just don’t know if he is messing with you, hates you, or is actually serious. He challenged me in ways that truly helped me become the person I am today.  Heck, it was Jim who helped me to “get a set” and survive being in the sporting industry at all.  His antics and stories and vast experience are priceless. What Jim didn’t know is that Murial was right there to chime in and take care of any damage control that needed to be done with the “not so thick skinned” folks he encountered.  My heart is heavy with the loss of Murial.

And we are sitting around now, Jim and I, drinking beers and talking about back in the day when the industry was strong.

Reminiscing, and hitting his favorite hot spots for dinner.  I gotta say, Pennsylvania is NUTS in regards to driving anywhere.  I cannot believe the crazy winding curving meandering (not to mention crap-ily paved) road systems to get anywhere out here in God’s Country PA.  Thank the Gods Jim drives us everywhere.  The roads are barely wide enough for two cars to pass, and OMG if you had to swerve, even for a pothole in the road you’d hit an electric pole or tree that’s 4 inches from the actual road.  There are no shoulders out here.  Simply crazy. So we drive for miles and miles and what seems like an eternity and at least half an hour to end up at sweet little place like  A&N Family Restaurant in Sellersville, or Country Place in Perkasie, where the food is real down home cooked and dinner for two is less than $20.00. But as the crow flies, if we left his place and headed there it would be maybe 5 minutes straight shot.  Why, why, why are their roads so screwed?  And then of course there’s the whole element of the roads that simply end.  You head down a road, and it just ends.  No warning, it just ends.  WTF?  And just don’t get me started on the tolls in PA!

Ok, I’m done ranting….

The upside is despite the dense population of Pennsylvania, you get the feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere so quickly, within a few turns in the road.  The rolling hills, the quaint little towns that are full of rich history and the rural landscapes make South Eastern PA almost magical, and able to transcend you to a time of long ago.  Imagine, the foundation of our country all started out here. 

One night I cooked a meal for us.  I brought with and prepared for Jim a Minnesota shot pheasant. What a treat, for both of us.   A good place, and a good time, to count ones blessings.  Jim is definitely a blessing in my life.

It’s Beginning To Look Alot Like…

Wait a minute….now, WAIT A MINUTE….what’s this coming down from the sky in New Jersey, only 15 minutes from the East Coast shoreline?  I drove many, many miles to escape the Minnesota winter blues.  Apparently it has followed me?

Yes, as Lynn and I are preparing for a big day in the Big Apple, the snow started flying hard and heavy.  Unbelievable.

So, we pack up everything we need for the day.  It’s important to plan ahead, since you can’t run back out to your car and get something.  Camera, check.  Bags for purchases, check, money, tickets, check.  Warm clothes, check.  Umbrellas, what?  We walk 5 blocks to the train station.  With umbrellas.  Up the stairs.  Wait for the Rariton Valley train. It seems so weird to stand there with an umbrella.  I close mine up.  Off in the distance, a faint glow of a headlight in the heavy snow as the train approaches.  We board the train.  It’s a long haul down the tracks to New York.  With not all of the trains running, we need to take a longer and more time consuming route, so we made a transfer in Newark.  Another run across a station to get on another train.  We arrive 45 minutes later to New York Penn Station at 34th street.  Now we are underground and need to be heading over to the subway to get to 59th street.  That’s another jaunt of about 100 yards.

We get on the subway.  It’s standing room only. Dozens of people are standing, pushing, bumping.  Guess what, we aren’t the only ones with umbrellas.  I’m standing there hanging onto the overhead rail and thinking;

“For all the fear people have about crime, guns, and concern about more gun control…..well what the hell about umbrella control?  I know I, for one, could do some serious damage with this umbrella, and I’m sure others could too.  All it would take is one person having a bad day.  We are all armed.  Just someone start.  Just start…..it’s that first poke….omg.”

Anyway, it’s time to get off the sub way. 

We exit the subway, run up a flight of stairs and YES, it is still snowing like mad! Lynn announces we are going to Central Park.  Great.  My makeup is running down my face, we can’t just go to the car and clean up and go back out.  No, we are hearty NY travelers today.  This is how they do it. It’ll be just fine.

A walk in Central Park in the snow is actually very pretty. Funny how few people were there.  Lynn has a Dentist appointment so she leaves me to find a comfy place to grab a hot drink and wait for her.  After much exploring on foot I find The Coliseum Bar and Restaurant on West 58th Street.  What a great little Irish establishment!  Top of the noon to ya!  I belly up to the bar in all my dampness and streaked face.  A Guinness Stout and some wings, and a couple from Connecticut up for some conversation. I was set for hours.

By 4:00 Lynn was finally done and ready to meet me at the bar, her crown repaired.  After more visiting with my new CT friends, we were ready to brave the weather once more. Now its just sleeting, but the streets are 2 inches deep with slush snow and water.  We walked over to 5th, Rockefeller Center, looked at all the storefronts like Macys and Tiffanies, checked on the progress of  the big Christmas tree lighting and submerged ourselves into the notorious Times Square.  Talk about Christmas on steroids!  The lights are so overwhelming that eventually it’s simply visual overload.  How many pictures can a girl take of the M-n-M’s in a gi-nor-mous billboard?  Quite a few.   Everything is bigger than life.  Too bad we are too early for the big tree, it’s clear that is the biggest of the big events in the city.  We walked and walked, and I got my fill of the amazement of it all, and then we decided we were wet and tired and it was time for dinner.

We were encouraged to try Dafni Greek Taverna, which turned out to be an amazing greek venue. Our waiter was fun, flirty, and brought us fabulous food.  We started with an order of Spanakopita that I could have kept eating all night long.  Our waiter suggested a Greek wine, Dimitra, a Cab/Merlot blend that was melt in your mouth delicious.  My Pastichio, (layers of pasta and ground sirloin with béchamel sauce) was simply to die for.  Lynn’s Moussaka was equally fabulous.  The Dimitra wine was the perfect paring for this scratch cooked heavy ethnic meal. 

Thank goodness we were right across the street from the Port Authority.  Our clothes were dry, our eyes heavy, our tummies full, and our feet killing us.  It’s a long day to run around New York City in the snow and sleet, and now it’s 10 pm.  How people do it every day I’ll never know.  We completed our dinner and took a bus back to Lynn’s, another 45 minutes. Going home by bus was not the same kind of ride as into NY by train.  But the bus is less expensive.    

The night skies are clear.  It’ll be 50 or more degrees tomorrow. I imagined having to do this type of travel every day.  Quite a different lifestyle.  Not my lifestyle.  But indeed an exciting one to experience for a day!

Turkey Toss

What to do with that left over Thanksgiving bird?  Fret not, this is an easy and yummy use of the grand gobbler.

 

Turkey Toss

2 1/2 cups cooked Turkey

1 cup of seedless grapes

2 avocados

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 T lemon juice

¼ t cayenne pepper

¼ c slivered almonds

Fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Cut the grapes in half, dice the avocados, and cube the turkey, all into one big bowl.  Add the almonds, and toss together.  In another bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and peppers and mix together well.  Pour over the turkey mixture and toss again.  Chill until ready to eat.  This can be served as a “salad” or on thin sliced whole wheat toast or your favorite bread.  Makes 6 servings.

All Good Kids Like Milk

Traveling across country is an exciting adventure, but if you think about it, it’s also a perilous one. Unless you consciously focus on road safety the entire time you’re on the road, you’re putting yourself at risk every tire rotation down the highway. The truth is, 90% of crashes aren’t random occurrences, they are the result of poor driving habits.

It is simply amazing to see how many people are looking at just about anything but the road while they are on it.  And it is simply amazing to see how many people are doing just about anything but focusing on driving while they are driving. 

One place where it doesn’t seem to be so widespread is New Jersey.  I appreciate getting onto the roads to see people looking ahead and paying attention.  No texting, no cell phones, they are just plain driving.  Wow. 

But it certainly isn’t like that everywhere.  We’ve all seen those people.  Distracted, defiant, and downright dangerous.  Somehow, the roads were made just for them to take chances on at everyone else’s expense. 

Fortunately for me, I’ve been engrained with defensive driving habits that have saved me from dangerous motorists more times than I can count.  I was exposed to the UPS Space and Visibility Program.  Those habits are simply “All Good Kids Like Milk” and they go like this

Aim High In Steering

We do this so we can always see far ahead and plan out a safe path.  We do this so that the car centers on the lane instead of hugging one side or the other, and corners aren’t cut sharp.  We do this by picturing a target out far ahead you are trying to bullseye.

Get The Big Picture

We do this so we can see everything we are approaching and access it.  We do this to buy time and be able to react safely.  We do this to avoid slamming the breaks, and instead having smooth stops and turns.  We do this by staying back, and looking ahead to determine, how wide, how deep, what’s ahead, with both objects and the ground.

Keep Your Eyes Moving

We do this so we can see everything going on around us, especially crossing intersections, or anywhere there is traffic entering.  We do this by checking front view every 2 seconds, rear view every 5 – 8 seconds.  We do this to keep alive at intersections and keep our eyes ahead of the car.  Scan, don’t stare, things can change in a blink of the eye.

Leave Yourself An Out

We do this so we are prepared, because anything can happen at any moment. We expect the unexpected. We ensure we have space on all four sides, but always space in front.  We do this by identifying an ongoing escape route.  We identify the path of least resistance and stay with it.

Make Sure They See You

We do this so there is no second guessing what our intentions are.  We don’t gamble or assume other motorists know what our next step is, we use our horn, lights and signals.  We do this by communicating in traffic, honking, signaling, and establishing eye contact.

Bottom line, you need to be constantly aware of space for your vehicle and clear visibility to get around.

All Good Kids Like Milk is pretty simple to remember.  It’s a World Class Driving System created by UPS.  Their drivers have a long history of being among the safest in the entire transportation industry.  That’s good enough for me.  I hope you find it useful as well.

And for anyone who is in such a hurry that they are riding bumpers, talking or sending messages, not allowing others to merge in, or cutting across lanes of heavy traffic with no regard, I have to ask:

Who will you be leaving behind?

When that accident finally occurs, who will you be leaving behind? And, is your situation so important you will risk taking someone from their family?

All Good Kids Like Milk.

Safe travels this holiday season, and always.