Tag Archives: story telling

Waste Not, Want Not ©

Malati Marlene Shinazy on Waste

wasteEven as I wrote the title to this story, Waste Not, Want Not, I wasn’t sure what it meant.  It was one of those wise sayings my mother’s generation used in an attempt to control my behavior… I think she meant, “If I eat all of my food (waste not), I’ll never go hungry (want not).”   Sounds good on the surface, but the logic is off.  I digest every morsel I eat; it becomes waste; and then I want more.

In a previous story, Recycling in the Days of Old ©  I wrote about the delight my children took throwing and crashing glass bottles into recycling igloos in the days before curb-side recycling.

These days, we can recycle nearly everything we use.  We just throw the item into the appropriate colored canister if we live in a municipality that has pre-sorted waste.  Or, we throw every darn thing that might be recyclable into a single canister.  The separating of paper from newsprint and glass from plastic occurs somewhere else, by some magic patented separator.

Despite wasting even less than I did before, I still want more, of something else of course, because I am a member of the Tribe of Wanters.

But wait. I may have found a solution for my shame for being a Wanter.  It’s all about balance: Want Less and Waste Less.

I want chocolate, all the time:

  • I want a chocolate mocha for breakfast.
  • I want chocolate fudge after lunch.
  • I want chocolate chip cookies and milk before I go to sleep.

The chocolate itself never goes to waste; it just makes me fat.  If I want to eat a lot then I’d better want to exercise a lot, too – again, balance.  Working out at the gym and yoga recycles the chocolate from my waistline into the great unknown.

But the wrapping?  Mostly, that’s just considered trash.  Although my recycling bin is filled with newspapers and office paper, my trash bin is filled with wrappers that covered some kind of chocolate.

The curbside recycling company wants me to turn my wants into waste.  But my new balanced solution has found an operational component: Terracycle.com.  Terracyclea company started by a couple of smart college kids, will take those wrappers of wants and turn them into something useful I also want, like park benches.

So I’ve joined 30 million other people who are now recycling all kinds of waste from what we want.  We just print a mailing label and Terrracycle pays for shipping the box of empty wrappers.

I’m a member of these Recycling Brigades:

  • Candy Wrapper Brigade
  • Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade
  • Coffee Bag Brigade

There are a total of 48 Brigades at this writing, including a Paired Shoe Brigade and a Flip-Flop Brigade, for footwear Wanters.

This form of “Waste Not, Want Not” may be unfamiliar to my mother, but 2,421,760,561 items of non-trash converted into $4,457,039 of money for charity would certainly be a program she would want.

photo from www.terracycle.com 

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Weary Wonder Woman Withers ©

Wonder Woman, aka, Malati Marlene Shinazy 
wonder woman
Last week, BOBB’s publisher, my sister, wrote about our family’s long line of Wonder Women. She started with our great great grandmother who emigrated from Paris to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
When Sister acknowledged she couldn’t juggle everything on her over-full plate, I was not unhappy.  Why?  I’ve always seen her as perfect and me as… well, not.
For background on this sibling-disorder, read my “Botox© To The Rescue” story:
I tentatively decided to take this opportunity to gloat a bit.
Here’s a partial history of this Wonder Woman’s accomplishments:
After college, I worked as my husband’s research assistant while he obtained his Ph.D. “So what’s the big deal?  Women do this all the time.”
Here’s the Big Deal: This 5th generation San Franciscan had to move to Philadelphia, schlepping my first-born.  Besides helping my husband, I found and furnished a home for us.  I sourced, purchased and renovated houses for a fledgling rental portfolio.  And, every winter I slipped and fell, sending my first-born air bound. Did the same when baby #2 arrived.
Just before Dad completed his degree, I began working full time and started grad school.  Picture this:
·         Working full time
·         Raising two smart, articulate, wild kids
·         Being a great business partner to my husband
·         Acting as general contractor for our rentals
·         Totally renovating our new home: built in 1911, 4,000 square feet, 3-stories
·         Staying up until 4:00 am to write research papers.  And…pregnant with baby #3!
Flash Forward
Returning to CA, Wonder Woman started a successful consulting and training company so she could be Super Mom.  I worked client meetings around driving kids to three different schools, ballet lessons, violin lessons, guitar lessons, soccer practice, soccer games, and camp.
When I wasn’t being taxi-mother, I was flying to client sites like Panama, as the US Government was turning over the canal to the Panamanian Government.
Flash Forward to Now
After a few years of working 13-hour days in corporate America, I am currently:
·         Re-launching the consulting business in another part of the state
·         Treasurer of the local Lions Club (service club)
·         Dating 25% of the non-incarcerated single men within a 50-mile radius…not as much fun as it sounds.
·         Working out regularly to keep myself fit and vain
·         Writing clever stories for BOBB
·         Administering thyroid medication to the cat twice daily
·         Conducting seasonal maintenance on my rental in the mountains
·         Skype-ing my “almost launched kids” at all hours
Yes, Sister, this Wonder Woman is on a roll.    
Until Yesterday:  I missed my Lion’s Club Treasurer Report deadline.  I slept straight through the morning alarm and was embarrassing late for a breakfast date.  And my right wrist started aching.
YIKES!
·         I seem to be unable to meet my commitments
·         I seem to be overly tired
·         I seem to be developing repetitive motion disorder

It seems this Wonder Woman is weary, too.
I take it all back, Sister.  We need a vacation and cortisone shot for my wrist.
photo by Arne Hendriks
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Half Dome Reality ©

Bobbi Rankin at Half Dome

half domeHalf Dome became a reality to me this summer.  That awemanousness  (my new word) of a mountain is indescribable.  Or I could say a mastodon of a mountain.  That giant rock that sits among the clouds 8’000 feet above sea level and 4’000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, the distance I climbed.  This hike was on my bucket list and the reality is I can now cross it off.

This was nothing I had ever experienced before.  The training was necessary to make this climb and have the feel of fulfillment and not the anguish of defeat.  I say that because being prepared elevates the anxiety, fear and problems that can occur if you aren’t in shape for this “ mother of all hikes”.  And that’s the reality of this hike.

We started early and got back late.  We had plenty of energy bars and electrolytes to drink.  The energy needed for this hike is the most important ingredient along with physical training.

Nature at its best is how many describe Yosemite.  The wonder and majesty of the granite mountains are breath taking.  The trail to Half Dome is sprinkled throughout with winding tree covered trails, many stairs that are chipped into the granite and beautiful waterfalls.  The Merced River pushes it roaring waters over the cliffs at Vernal and Nevada Falls – such a sight to behold.

When I finally arrived at the base of Sub Dome I’m not sure I’m ready for this untethered climb of over 800 granite cut stairs.   As I have come to realize, not much is said about the Sub Dome.  I now know it is harder to climb than the cables of the Half Dome.  I climb the Sub and get to the base of Half Dome.  I pause to take in the enormity of this next phase of the trip and reflect on how far I have come.   As I look around, I realize that this vast wilderness is there for my pleasure, I respect that and I’m grateful for the experience so far.

What lay ahead is my goal.  Where I’ve come from, is my journey.  Along with me on this journey was Rick, or more fondly referred to as “Mr. Half Dome”. This trip was his 32 in ten years and I felt the privilege of him sharing the stories and folk lore of the trail, the mountain and giving me the grand tour.

The cables were the next adventure waiting for me to grab hold of.  And grab I did climbing almost straight up 800 feet to the top.  I felt the reality of my journey the minute my feet touched the top of the Dome.  At the top, I’d come 4’000 feet to be part of and experience something that was so much bigger than I could have imagined when I had looked up at it from the Valley floor.  There I was eye to eye with the tops of the neighboring mountains taking in that mystical, majestic and spiritual moment.  One I’ll never forget.

In my world this was a reality that was so tangible and mystical that it took my breath away.  In my world this was the hike legends are made of.   In my world I am preparing to do this again next summer.

The reality is…I can.

photo by Mr. Half Dome

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Observations On Gender Communication ©

Michael Bell on communication

communicationI do a lot of listening to women talking in the gender language of the female, and I’m amazed as I observe how much access they have to their feelings.  How do they know so much about themselves I wonder as I listen with interest and admiration and  sometimes envy as these women soak their words in the inner worlds of their beings and speak them with fluidity and ease and confidence. I don’t know what my feelings are half the time, and if I did I wouldn’t bet a dime I’d be able to express them. Women seem to have an ability to communicate feelings with all their various gradations of nuance. Like in the picture above, women seem to know what they are about in ways I venture to say men just don’t know.

My observation is men are inexperienced when it comes to talking with feeling and about feelings. Men obeyed the social rules growing up as boys and never learned how to exhibit empathy or access the more gentle feelings. Men sit silent about how they feel. I’m a man and I don’t often feel exactly what’s going on inside. I feel anger, impatience and frustration too often, but those are not feelings. They’re automatic responses. I don’t know my inner world. I was never taught how to access my inner world. I remember this little league baseball game that happened when I was a kid. The game would decide which team won the pennant. I was pitching, and I was among the top pitchers, but we lost the game. I felt devastated and cried. Another baseball player saw my crying and yelled at me to stop, and that’s what I did, instantly, feeling embarrassed in front of everybody watching.  I broke a social rule that boys don’t cry, and that’s an example of how social environments mold people into what they become.  Boys are taught not to express feelings.  If the male gender doesn’t get family and social permission in childhood to express feelings they don’t learn how to express feelings.  I’m not a social scientist. I’m a gentleman with my own perspective making observations about the world the way he sees it. What I observe is that women live inside and share inner worlds with other women. Men live in the outside world of making mechanical adjustments to the environment. The landscape of creating and implementing blue prints for exterior projects is where men feel at home.  I recall a woman telling me her husband plays cards with his friends from time to time. She told me if she asks afterwards how they were feeling he says he doesn’t know. That’s the point. Men don’t talk about their feelings.

When I was in 6th and 7th grades, the girls sat on one side of the classroom and the boys on the other. The teacher would ask a question and almost every time the hands that shot up rose from the female side. I felt a little ticked. I knew my friends were smart and had good answers to these questions. I wanted the teacher and the class to know I had an answer but if I raised my hand I’d get colored by the boys with the subtle tint of appearing too feminine. I was aware of this but I’d raise my hand.  I wanted recognition for intelligence more than I feared being labeled a sissy.

Women are so much better at knowing and expressing their feelings than men that this divides the genders.  Women share feelings with other women while men gravitate towards comfortable discussions about outside events in politics or what’s in the news. When women gather informally they don’t talk about politics or history. They talk about the people in their lives and share sentiment about how they feel affected. Men are mostly only able to talk about the outside world. They don’t speak the language of women. Since the women’s movement began four decades ago, women have become engineers, attorneys, scientists and politicians. They know how to speak the language of men. It’s not their native tongue, but it is a second language. So women can talk about the outside world with both women and men and share their inner feelings with both genders. Men can talk scientific theory with both genders but they don’t know how to share feelings with either gender. I’m painting with loud colors and broad strokes, I know, but to me it’s like an elephant in the room. Women are entering combat units while men don’t know how to express tender feelings and empathy.

How and when are men going to learn to speak in at least a rudimentary way the language of women?  How are men going to acquire the nurturing and empathy characteristics women have that allow them to feel and share who they are. How are men going to deepen communication with women if the feminine aspect is so thwarted it doesn’t gets discovered in the first place.   

Men are starting to learn. I think it’s helping that homosexuality isn’t hidden in our society like it was in the heyday of the Greatest Generation. There’s less peer pressure to act in the Marlboro man way that blocks access to feelings. Men are starting to learn by osmosis because they are realizing they need to know. The women in their lives are making a demand of it.

  photo by shinazy

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Bastille Day ©

Bastille Day is important to Shinazy

bastille dayJuly 14th is Bastille Day, a day I’ve been planning for, well, for years. I waited because I needed Bastille Day to land on a Saturday. The previous two times it did, I was unable to organize the family reunion I desired – I thought our family was too big for me to track down and arrange a gathering.

But this year, is the year!  Because, I learned, I knew every member of my family – it was just us. No unknown relative living in a town I had to research to know what state it was in. No long lost anyone.

The planning started when I was into genealogy and uncovered some facts about my great great grandparents, who came to San Francisco from France.  Julie Robinet arrived first, in 1866. She emigrated from Paris. I am unable to image how she felt. She was young, single, and unemployed; a city girl, speaking a language different than everyone else, arriving in a lawless, dirt street, frontier town. She was a brave babe.

Jean Jacque Chaine arrived later that year from Lyon. He came with buddies, this had to help him transition into his new life. He was a farmer; she owned a laundry (but that’s another story). He bought land in what is now Colma, CA, then deeded it to her 5 months later (I bet there’s another story here, too.)  My family still lives on that property – the seventh generations to do so.

I also discovered the location where they were buried. On a Bastille Day years ago, I decided to visit them. The old parts of cemeteries are difficult to navigate. I found where I thought they should be, but there was no marker, just crabgrass. I felt sad. This is all there was to commemorate the lives of two courageous people. Something had to be done and I am, after all her intrepid great great granddaughter; I can do this. And, so the idea of a family reunion on Bastille Day was formed.

I designed a stone for them. It has a french cross, called the Cross of Lorraine. I wanted a modest marker because I think they were unpretentious people, at least their daughters and granddaughters were – I knew them and that is why I decided my assessment was correct.  I put their full names, dates, and the city from where they came.  I had it made from California Granite because they choose California and it felt right.

So, now, forever after, when anyone wanders through this old part of this cemetery they will see that Julie and Jean were important and loved. I may never have met them, but I know who they were because they are me. On this Bastille Day their descendants will gather and celebrate them; I am grateful I am one of them.

photo by shinazy

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Love and Happiness Recipe ©

A love story by Will Jones

loveMy wife and I celebrated our thirty-first anniversary this month. Recently, our oldest son, our daughter-in-law and our one and only granddaughter visited from Boston. The whole family gathered for four joyous days. If there is a recipe for love and happiness, from July 7th to July 11th it looked like this:

Take one beautiful wife and add three handsome, healthy loving sons. Stir in one beautiful daughter-in-law, one beautiful fiancé and one beautiful girlfriend. Season with one beautiful, heart-melting granddaughter and two loyal, affectionate grandogs. Add one proud and grateful husband-father-grandfather. Blend all together for a long weekend of food, friends and fun at the beach. Serves nine to your heart’s delight.

Feeling love and seeing it in action is a grand feast of heart and soul. The recipe isn’t the same for everyone, but it tastes so good when you get it right.

Bon appetit! 

photo by woodleywonderworks

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Free at Last: Adults at Play ©

Adults play around near Malati Marlene Shinazy

adults playI was suppose to be working … sort of.  I wanted to observe TheGoGame    a unique team building game, so I was tagging along with the CEO as he played with a group of professionals.

As I donned the orange jump suit that signaled I was part of TheGoGame staff, I suddenly realized: These office workers were going to be Free at Last: Adults at Play!  And, so was I.

TheGoGame has all manner of high tech urban adventure games for different clients.  The most salient common denominator though is: FUN.

The afternoon started with each team opening a super-hero themed lunch box and giving the team a name.

Inside, were the tools needed to accomplish each “mission” of the game:

  • Web enabled cell phone
  • Initial instructions
  • Camera

Missions contained components of planning, stealth and play.  The game was two hours long and each mission garnered a certain number of points.  Each team had to decide whether to complete more missions or focus on the creative ones.

All of these elements were exactly what adults at play need:

  • Strategy
  • Luck
  • A bit of confusion to overcome

… … just like at work!  No wonder, TheGoGame’s tag line is, “Play Like It’s Your Job.”

A small sampling of the missions:

  • Driving a remote-controlled car around an obstacle course, while blindfolded and coached by teammates.
  • Videotape your team disco dancing behind an unaware stranger.
  • Trying to calm and then catch a sobbing, then dashing away bride, who had just left her fiancé at the alter.
    • After you catch her, you have to convince her to tell your team where to go next … BTW: the bride is an actress.

Video taping successful missions is where Adults at Play is really displayed. Adults at Play = Taping the company VP being eaten by a zombie!

At the end of two hours, the teams gathered, their mission video clips were downloaded, and music selected for each one.  As each team’s mission video was revealed to the entire group, the other groups used the web enabled phones to cast their votes.

The voting scale, like everything else, had an element of humor in it.  Who knows for sure, I was having too much fun to remember the details… but I think the lowest score was something like, ”That video sucked.”  The highest score, “That video rocked.”

Watching the videos, everyone laughed, applauded, and continued to play.  After the final scores were tabulated (mission accomplished scores + the video voting scores), prizes were given out:

  • Lowest Scoring Team > Rubber Chicken
  • Next Team Higher > Sigmund Freud Action Figure
  • Highest Scoring Team > Well… you can only guess  🙂

This was truly an afternoon where fun reigned and the employees were given the chance to be Free at Last: Adults at Play… me too!

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Saxophone Jones ©

Will Jones plays the saxophone

saxophoneMONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) — Music lessons may help keep the brain healthy as people grow older, a new study suggests.

I’ve been noodling around on the guitar since the 60’s, and while I can competently strum some chords and sing a few songs without disturbing the neighborhood cats, I’m not a musician. But, by degrees, I’m moving in that direction.

A long time jazz fan, years ago I bought a tenor saxophone at a local pawn shop and swore I’d learn to play. From time-to-time I’d take it out of its tattered case and work my way through some of the exercises in the Belwin Saxophone Method book I purchased, but soon I’d run out of motivation and go back to plunking the guitar. I’d blame it on being too busy with work, children, lack of natural talent, or just plain laziness.

All that changed when I retired.  I decided it was now or never. I hired a teacher, started taking lessons, practicing daily and learning to read music. A few months ago I played “Happy Birthday” at a friend’s party and recently I played “Summer Time” at a going away party for friends leaving on a one year, round-the-world adventure. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a threat to Stan Getz or Lester Young, two of my tenor sax heroes, but I’m improving all the time.

I’ve told my three adult sons that I plan to live and torment them until I’m at least ninety. I want to know how it’s all going to turn out for them. I figure playing the saxophone will keep my brain healthy and help me achieve my goal. My teacher says I’m almost ready to play in the back row of the County Band. I think I get to wear a royal blue blazer and maybe a funny hat. Does it get any better than that?

photo by Fred Jala

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The Smart Phone Saga ©

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

Chapter One:

My cell phone is an important tool.  When cell phone developers became smart enough to develop smart phones, I jumped at the first fiscally responsible opportunity to own one (I.e., I didn’t break my zillion year contract and pay my provider a million dollar fee for the opportunity).

Finally, I had a smart phone.  My son and I upgraded at the same time, so were on the same steep learning curve.  It was his suggestion that developers refer to these devices as smart phones because learning to use them makes us feel… well, rather dumb for awhile.

It took about two weeks to learn the basic functionalities of my smart phone… Then, it started calling people without me touching it.  I returned to the reseller store.  The smart phone had a problem. They ordered me a new one.

Chapter Two:

It took an evening to establish settings for Device #2.  All was right with the world…. for about two weeks… Suddenly Device #2 got so smart it not only called random numbers, it went on and off by itself.  Surely, this one was possessed.  Back to the store, whose manger assured me of the rarity of my experience and graciously ordered Device #3.

I got Device #3 functioning quickly.  A month passed, then two months…  I finally had a Device that worked… Until I dropped my laptop on it and shattered the screen.  Device #3 still worked, I just couldn’t see the buttons or keys.

Quite embarrassed, I returned to the store and activated my insurance for Device #4… This operated like a pro — for about two months… It then stopped working altogether: nothing, nada, nullité.

By now, my original smart phone was no longer available. Device #5 was an upgrade.  “Not so bad,” I thought, “At least I secured an out-of-cycle upgrade without paying a million dollars.”

How naïve to think Device #5 would last longer than it’s predecessors.

  • Bigger? Check.
  • Faster? Check.
  • Stronger? Check.
  • Reliable?  Ahh, that would be a loud, NO!

Unceremoniously, I went through Device #6.  Its death didn’t even surprise me.

What did surprise me was the scolding I received from the provider when I called to question why Device #7’s charging port wouldn’t hold onto my chargers.

“Silly woman,” chided the customer service rep. “Why’d you wait so long? It’s now out of warranty.  You’ll have to return to the store where you purchased the original phone.”

I imagined the voice of Hal, the super computer who takes over the spaceship in the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I can see you’re really upset about this.

I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.”

Upset?  Try… Livid!

Device #8 arrived last night.  It took 1.3 minutes to get it running.

Eight smart phone devices in 14 months!!  

And now we wait for …

Chapter Three

=  =  =  =  =  =

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photo by shinazy

Freedom Fighters ©

4th of July

A Story by Will Jones

 By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

~ From “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

On April 19, 1775, 500 militia and minutemen defeated 700 regular British troops at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Forty-nine Americans and seventy-three British soldiers died, and the Americans harassed the British along the Battle Road all the way back to Charlestown. So began the American Revolution and the eventual establishment of one of the world’s greatest democracies.

On May 17th of this year, during a trip to Boston to visit my son, my daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, my wife and I walked part of the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord and spent over an hour at the area around North Bridge in Minuteman Park.  Although I grew up in Philadelphia and visited its historic sites, including Valley Forge, many times, never before did I feel the powerful spirit of the Revolution that I felt on the battlefield of Concord. Never before did I fully understand the great gift those brave men gave us on that unforgettable day two-hundred-and-thirty-six years ago.

Maybe it was because my granddaughter was with me, or maybe because it was a pristinely beautiful spring day, but I was completely alive to the heroics that took place on that field, able almost to see the troops, hear the shouts and musket fire, and smell the smoke rising from the hollow along the Concord River.  It seemed miraculous to me that the farmers who took up arms to defend their freedom were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, as if they somehow knew the historic importance of what they were doing.

America is not right now experiencing one of its greatest eras, and it is easy to become cynical and pessimistic about the future. But on this 4th of July, I am going to remember the feeling I had at Concord, the pride I felt in being an American, and the debt of gratitude I owe to the nameless heroes who fought for the freedom my family enjoys today.

 photo by Will Jones

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