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Friday, February 5, 2016

Today's FedEx Service Alert

"We have no reason for any delays today. We have tried to come up with some basis, some excuse not to get your overnight package to its destination overnight, but we were unable to locate any local, regional or national disasters. There are no Mardi Gras road closings in Alabama (?), no tornadoes, no blizzards, no earthquakes. No terrorist alerts, no power outages, no catastrophes known or contemplated"

"That is not to say that we are definitely delivering your most important package when and where you think. There is the possibility of a SARS outbreak, or even a new case of Ebola that will require a quarantine exactly in the locale where you desperately need your most critical document to arrive. There is also the chance that the airplane may have a mechanical problem, the truck could break down, the driver could have a stomach ache or an endangered species could plant itself in the middle of the roadway and refuse to be relocated without an order of the court. Or maybe we are just a little slower because that is how we are feeling today."

"We are committed to providing you with the best and most reliable service in the industry.. We don't like to bad mouth our competitors but my Aunt Joan shipped a package by UPS and it was 30 minutes late in arriving. Just saying"
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"We thank you in advance for your continued loyalty and we welcome your feedback (as long as it is positive). Again, we apologize if you are at all inconvenienced by matters outside of our control, but you should get used to it."

OK, you got me. That was not a real message from the company that notifies me, seemingly on a daily basis, why they may be experiencing problems in performing their agreed upon duties. Unlike the post office, where neither rain, sleet nor snow will keep those people from their appointed rounds, there are a myriad of issues that you and I would never imagine that could lead to your mother's special delivery of your favorite cookies arriving the day after your Super Bowl party.

Not all of the consequences are insignificant. When I googled "Fed Ex Service Alerts" this appeared on my screen; "FedEx is no longer experiencing national service disruptions. Any specimens that were recently delayed will be processed and reviewed as soon as possible." 

And when I focused my attention on FedEx International Mail Service for the last month I was alerted of "global hot spots"  including Rwanda where the constitutional referendum in that country resulted in no postal service on that day.

Speaking of the Super Bowl (which I did above, if you were paying attention) there is the following notice: "Operations During Super Bowl 50"- February 2-7, 2016 - "Some customers in Santa Clara and San Francisco, CA areas may experience service delays or disruptions during this time because of governmental of security measures in place for Super Bowl 50." 

You see, FedEx is a mirror for what is transpiring in the world in this most turbulent of times. Our environment is globally heated up and the plagues seem always to be at our doorstep (or at least at the doorstep of where our package is intended).  Political and social unrest and upheaval mean that we are on universal alert, a kind of perpetual lock-down and that we must be forever vigilant to the threat of attack. If caution dictates that we not rush headlong into potential disaster, if mother nature or ISIS is sending out messages of warning, then FedEx must heed its call.

But rather than contemplate tragedies and tribulations, I would rather just poke a little fun. I thought of sending my fictional message with which I began this piece to the company. I would then suggest that they run this as their service notice on April 1, 2016. Yet while I understand that my submission to them would most likely find the appropriate receptacle (that is the sound of a toilet flushing) my real fear is that my thoughts would fall into the wrong hands. And that my favorite cookies from my mother would somehow never find their way to my home, or my stomach. 

Or that FedEx would be compelled to respond in kind:

"Be aware of possible false notices. There is a rogue out there, perpetrating his own brand of mischief. He is conniving, clever and cunning. He will lull you into believing his fictions, but don't be fooled. There is no truth to the assertion that "my Aunt Joan shipped a package by UPS and it was 30 minutes late in arriving". The truth is that it was 45 minutes late."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Night Before Caucus

Twas the day before Caucus and all over town politicians were roaming, each seeking a crown

Come Donald, come Jeb, come Marco and more, come Carly and Ted, no Bobby for sure 

There's Chris and Mike, but no longer George, now Rick, here's Ben and John's at the door

They all have a message, they all have a plan, they all come with smiles and a shake of the hand 

And while old Sanders is filling his sleigh, getting prepared for a very long day

We are greeted at home with presents a plenty, with hats and pens but never a twenty 

With promises of sugarplums and stockings all filled, with a chicken in each pot and Obamacare killed

With talk of white Christians and dreams all come true, with fairy tales and heroes and things each would do 

With terror to beat back and guns everywhere, with promises on promises and plenty to share

With reindeer, religion for God's in the mix, with passion and caring and things each would fix 

With truth in hiding and fiction as true, with rhythm and rhyme and old sold as new

With laughter and tears and all in between, with corn dogs and beer and meat that is lean 

They come like a locust, they stay half a day, then off to the next town they all slink away

They say that they love us and they will be back, and then they are off with their goody sack 

And each as they leave us and fade from our sight, wish all Merry Caucus and to all a good night.

Monday, February 1, 2016

I'm Dreaming of a Warm Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through our state not a snowflake had fallen, not ever this late

The grass was still green, it should have been dead and thoughts of the golf course danced in my head

El Nino they said was the true reason that we have forgotten about winter season

So Santa sat with reindeer in tow and wondered if ever he'd put on his show

We're hurting our planet little by little, who ever thought with Christmas we'd fiddle

And Santa just waited and thought of his firing, and wondered at his age if anyone's hiring.

It was much too hot for reindeer to play and only seemed to get hotter each day

The weather forecast was surely not  pretty, said it would  reach 65 in the city

Oh I long for days of blizzards and storms not of a world dialed forever to warm

And for all the children who lay in their beds with thoughts of Santa stuck in their heads

How can we tell them what we had done, that we are the ones who ruined their fun

And if you were waiting for happy endings, with sugarplums dancing and Claus descending.

Then you must believe in fairy tales like, global warming's not due to man's oversight

The truth is we are treating our planet so poorly it needs a complete overhaul shortly

So for all the babies and Santa too, for white blankets that cover our landscape anew

For all of the Christmas dreams to come true, for sleigh bells and stockings and Dancer too

For the sake of our future and those we love most, let's try not to turn this planet to toast

If we heed these words Santa will soon be in sight, with Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Poets in Residence


Is Donald Trump's a campaign in poetry? Is Bernie Sanders'? The answer to these questions is an unequivocal yes.

For all of the teeth grating, mind numbing language of the gutter from Mr. Trump, there is his underlying (overriding) message that we can, we will, be great again.  Forget the path, just know the result. And Mr. Sanders provides a vision, even if economically and politically unattainable of an America that is different and better tomorrow.

These candidates do not dwell on the realities of building the Great Wall or keeping all Syrian refugees in harm's way, of the costs of single payer healthcare or bringing Wall Street to its knees. Those are worries for another day, for the time when one must govern in prose.

For those like Hillary Clinton, or even a John Kasich, who speak of the political process, of the small steps and the hard climbs, there is detriment and deficit in trying to compete with those who dream the impossible dreams. 

From both ends of the political spectrum and with nothing like the soaring rhetoric and vision of Barack Obama,  Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders  share the title of this season's poets in residence.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

We Are Gathered Here Together

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR ON FEBRUARY 2, 2016 IN THE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SECTION OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

("How to Speak of the Dead")

Immediately before reading this piece, I was reviewing the second eulogy I have written this month.
While the public-private distinction is considered in your article, the private world is where the grieving and the comments reside for most of us.

And in that world we should airbrush out the foibles and inadequacies that exist in those who have left us to consider their former being. It is one thing to kick a man when he is down and wholly another to do so when he is forever out. 

There will be time in later days and years to paint a fuller image, to bring back in the warts and the scars on the  face of our departed friend or relative. But there is that moment where they deserve their peace, not a piece of your mind.

So, my words are of the best I can offer of each of those I speak. And for you who find Glenn Frey unworthy of your praise, take a few days off and consider the possibility that silence is sometimes golden.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New York, New York

("For Bloomberg, Ambition Vies with Caution")

For a country which seems so disenchanted with New York and all its implications from Wall Street abuses to enormous income disparity to cultural snobbishness it is more than a little ironic that this election could be a contest among three New Yorkers of great (Clinton) or enormous (Trump and Bloomberg) wealth and a gaping chasm of distance in so many ways from so many voters.

While the attempt of Mr. Cruz to disparage Mr. Trump with his "New York" comment fared poorly due to Mr. Trump's Rudy Guiliani like response, there is indeed a wide held perception that this city is at the heart of what ails this nation. And should Mr. Bloomberg throw his large, three termed ego into the ring, we would face a choice of former senator, former mayor or once and forever self proclaimed real estate king of this city and of this state.

It would be the clash of the titans of industry and politics, the largest of the large figures to emerge from within the boiling cauldron that is New York. While nothing is clear at present, as Ms. Clinton tries to fend off Mr. Sanders, Mr. Trump and his empty chair battle Mr. Cruz, and Mr. Bloomberg does a Bill Clinton like triangulation, there is the delicious possibility of a New York centric summer in this nation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Empty Chair

("Donald Trump's Campaign Says He'll Skip Debate")

Is this like a very extended version of Hillary spending too much time doing you know what in the you know where? An empty podium in the center of the Republican wrestling match would actually be a most refreshing change.

If Mr. Trump were running for President of his high school class, such shenanigans would not be tolerated. The "I am only doing this if I get the respect I deserve" mantra is better served in pre- K.

He has seemed from day one like a person secretly plotting his exit, as his outrageous remarks directed at Mexicans, a war hero, women, the disabled, beleaguered refugees and befuddled opponents, would, in a saner world, long ago have relegated him to the status of builder, golf course owner, television personality and world class egomaniac.

Is Mr. Trump unable to find the proper strategy to get the hell out of Dodge, or is he simply a genius at making counter-intuitive moves which raise his omnipresent poll numbers ever higher?

Is Mr. Cruz, much like Clint Eastwood, going to be having a conversation with an empty chair?

Since virtually all of what Mr. Trump says and does seems a spur of the moment outburst, there is a significant likelihood that he will tomorrow announce yet another reconciliation with Fox, and we will have the misfortune of being subjected to more "great" remarks from the great and wonderful Oz of the Republicans.

Mr. Trump is a train wreck waiting to happen, but somehow, no matter how twisted the track, he manages to remain on his own bewildering course.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hillary's Fault Line

("Hillary Clinton Stumbles")

"You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." The problem for Hillary Clinton is that there is no poetry in her words. Everything she says seems dictated not by the heart but by the head. 

Bernie Sanders exudes the energy and passion so sorely lacking in Ms. Clinton. She is thoroughly well versed and undoubtedly able but that is not what captures the attention of voters.

Barack Obama spoke in lofty goals and aspirational tones. In "yes we can" and in the language of hope. Bernie Sanders universal health care plan may be DOA but that does not mean he is. 

Ms. Clinton could well learn from the thoughts of Governor Cuomo, before she is once more on the outside looking in. Stop attacking Bernie's "faults" and instead start attacking your own.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Make America Grate Again


("Donald Trump or Ted Cruz: Republicans Argue Over Who Is Greater Threat")

Dear Mr. Trump: 

Remember when you said you would run as an independent, before you said you wouldn't? Remember you talked about respect from your party?

Well, now is the time to make a preemptive strike. We know your pledge of unfettered loyalty was only made under duress, when they held a second Amendment gun to your head. Now, some "true conservatives" are plotting against you, like so many Brutus to your Caesar. They want to make you look dangerous to the future of the party.

Now is the time to run, not for the Republican nomination but for the exit. Build that Mexican wall between you and those who would plot your demise. Embrace the independents, for what are you in truth but your own man not fealty bound to frenemies, not tied to party platform but only to the world according to Trump. Not now, or ever, compelled to be politically correct.

Donald Trump, a very independent candidate for President. It is who you are.

Sincerely,
Your true friends (the Democrats)

PS - I have the perfect campaign slogan for you already : "Make America Grate Again"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Fiction of Nikki Haley


Nikki Haley as the voice of reason for the Republican party: whoever suggests the same may have listened to her speech but ignored her record. 

This Sarah Palin Tea Party pick, this anti Medicaid expansion Obamacare hater, this anti-immigration leader who signed into legislation the equivalent of stop and frisk deportation, this Governor who found no fault in the waving Confederate flag on state grounds until it became politically expedient, politically necessary to champion its removal. This Nikki Haley is the one who masqueraded as someone who believed in tolerance and inclusion, who found grave fault in the extreme views of her party and its leaders.

Nikki Haley gave a wonderful speech in response to the State of the Union but while the words may have come from her mouth, the sentiments belonged to someone else, someone far better, far more reasonable in tone and practice than the person who governs South Carolina. She was a wolf in sheep's clothing for the evening and her star should not be illuminated by virtue of her one act play.