Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A penny for my thoughts...

Every Little Bit Helps 

I am a coin collector, and in my younger days, did so very actively.  I had the good fortune, as a very young boy, of working in my father's store when silver coins were still the norm until "clad" or copper filled coins arrived on the scene in 1965.  In any event, over the years, I had collected some $220 in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and even several real silver dollars.  When I was finally able to buy a home at the age of 32, I sold this collection of mostly worn pocket change for around $800 to help with down payment.  I still check my change all the time and still have a foreign coin collection.  To me every coin has a story and each serves an important purpose. 

I save pennies for a specific purpose these days, and when my old football, or basketball, or life in general injuries don't discourage me from doing so, I will bend over and pick up a penny from the ground.  I have that much respect for their value. 

The church I am affiliated with has an association with a church in Tanzania and its connected school.  We have raised money for such things as building supplies, water well drilling, electrical hook-ups, sending student teachers on internships, text books and most commonly continued school supplies.  A simple, but valuable thing like a pencil or a writing pad can be purchased for a U.S. single penny.   

This morning, feeling better than I did yesterday, I bent down to pick up a penny I had seen in the lobby several times yesterday.  I thought to myself, either this penny has a story or it will.  It turned out to be a rather nondescript 1989 penny with quite a bit of wear, but it's still a thing of value and beauty.  It went into my pocket.

Tonight it will go into a jar under my night stand.  Next Sunday it will be going into a large barrel at the church, marked "Pennies for Tanzania".  The following week it will go to a local bank to be converted with all the other pennies into dollars.  In its new from, it will then be deposited into an account and a check will be cut and sent to the church in Tanzania.  That check will be cashed and the money will use to run the school.  And pretty soon that penny will be used to buy a pencil to be used by a child who will write, and learn, and hopefully grow up to help make his community a better place.  All because of a that single penny. 

We should never take such things as a lost or discarded pennies for granted because every little bit helps! 

L. S. 

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sizzling on the Sidewalk vs. Evaporating in the Elevator

I just wanted to share a little of how my day began today.  First, I just want to remind everyone that we are experiencing the hottest summer on record.  Today was no different.  This morning around 9am it already felt like 95 degrees in the sun.  I rushed to work awaiting the glorious deep freeze created by the industrial AC's in the hospital I work in.  Strangely, there was a crowd outside of the entrance I normally take in the morning.  I brushed it off as a possible tour.  I squeezed myself through the bodies that were radiating tremendous heat.  "Excuse me. Excuse me."  They looked at me as if I were crazy but I didn't care.  I had to make it to the deep freeze. 

Then I saw a familiar face exiting that worked on the same floor I did.  By now I think I was stepping into delirium brought on by the heat. I asked him as he exited the door, "Is there something wrong with the door?"  Duhhhhh...he probably thought. I just came out the door.  But thank goodness he didn't voice those thoughts.  He explained that we were experiencing a Disaster Preparedness Exercise.  'How come I didn't hear about this?' I thought.  I stood for approximately 30 seconds with everyone banded together like asparagus in between the automatic sliding doors but I couldn't take the heat, so I braved the heat outside.  It seemed to be the lesser of two evils.  The sun was beating down on me furiously. 

Then I saw a patch of human bodies huddled in a piece of shade created by a wall.  I joined them, casually walking over as if my skin wasn't sizzling on the sidewalk.  The shade helped a little but I had to dial my trustee friend Epiphany who no doubt was comfortable in her ice box of an office.  I've never been so desperate to get to work!  While Epiphany told me more about this Disaster Prepardeness stunt, a host of fire engines came rushing down the street, stopping at this exit and the next.  All I wanted to know is which entrance was accessible.  When she told me to try the entrance on the other side of the hospital, I took a deep breath because I knew it would be a grueling trek in the sun.  Then I started down the road but something told me to try the exit that the fire men were at.  It couldn't hurt.  They looked like nice men and at that moment, I looked like a wet and tired damsel in distress.

I watched them cautiously as I inched my way towards the entrance and lo and behold, they didn't say anything.  I rushed in to a blast of artificial, toxic cool air.  "Ahhhhhh", I cried out loud.  I really didn't care who heard me at that moment.  I was in!  When I got to my desk, I heard the tail end of an employee who was on the verge of tears complaining to my supervisor.  She was stuck in an elevator the whole time I was outside complaining about the heat.  Then I wondered, What is worst?  Sizzling on the Sidewalk or Evaporating in an Elevator? 
Sometimes we think our situations are the worst but then we hear about someone elses.....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

...Our Home, Sweet Home...

New York  - America's Capital? 

I have a long commute to work each day.  I try to keep alert with news, music (especially music), an occasional book-on-tape and just by being observant.  Two years ago I started to notice how many out-of-state license plates there were on the cars of my fellow travelers.  I decided to record them with the goal of seeing a plate from every US state within one year.  I fell short of the goal by one plate; Hawaii. 

This is not entirely surprising.  After all, I would not expect to see that state represented on the roads of NY too easily.  Alaska, yes, I've seen that one several times.  Lots of kids from Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn are in the military and many spend time in Alaska.  But, Hawaii; that was a challenge. 

The way I played this grown up version of the I-Spy game, was to record only plates I saw on days I commuted and only on my hour and half route from Long Island to Brooklyn. 

Within one year I had seen plates from 49 US states, most of the Canadian Provinces, England, Germany, Diplomat and US Government plates, but no Hawaii. 

So I was very surprised this morning when, one year after my original goal expired, a Black Chevy pick-up with tinted windows pulled along side of me, and as it slowly passed I saw, under a rainbow design on an otherwise white, black-lettered license plate, the word "HAWAII". 

Wow, I thought.  Even though it took two years, just the idea that every state in this country was represented along a 45 mile stretch of road and only when I was looking says something about New York, the people of America, the freedoms we take for granted, the potential for a more unified society, the great privilege of diversity, and how oceans and mountains can't hold back the movement of people and culture. 

As for my own sanity or madness in seeking such a distraction, I'm glad I took the time and it was worth the wait.  And, it is kind of neat that it ended as we head into the 4th of July weekend. 

Have a wonderful, long holiday weekend, and  BBQ safely. Happy Birthday America!! 


Photos: Coney Island New York - Summer Fireworks Friday

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beyond the Paint

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Take a look at this picture. Do you see the blue scaffolding on the side of the house with the brown siding? Well, you can't see now but there was a man the day before painting the sides of those beautiful windows on the second floor of the house. At first glance I said, "It's about time." They have been peeling for years. But then I noticed something strange. The painter, standing on the narrow beige structure jutting out between the first floor and the second floor had a leg brace on his left leg that extended from his hip to his ankle. He couldn't even bend his leg. It had to be fractured somehow, yet he diligently painted. I didn't take a pic of him for obvious reasons but I thought to myself, 'Wow'. Is the economic crisis so bad that this man (who no doubt has a broken leg) must still climb houses in need of a paint job? I guess it really is.