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The job process

So, have you been there yet?

Those of you who are seeking a job probably know exactly what I’m asking. You see a position advertised. It is written to perfectly fit your background, experience, and resume. You e-mail a very classy letter to the human resources department – never directly to the person who is going to hire you – accompanied by your very professional resume, and you wait…and, you wait, and…you…wait. With any luck, you might…very iffy, but might…get a response indicating that ‘they’ have received your resume. Nah, I’ll go further than that…you probably won’t get any response that they’ve received your documentation. You have been put “in the cloud.” It’s a wonderful expression. Means absolutely nothing, but it sounds good.

Next, you look for friends, relatives, past bosses (who like you, of course), and acquaintances…you know, like the barista at Starbucks who gets you your mocha latte every morning…anyone who may have a nodding acquaintance with the company to which you sent your resume and classy letter – by e-mail, of course, and maybe, just maybe, with a little luck, you find somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who will call the somebody they know at the organization and give you a reference of some kind. Whew! And now you wait some more. You might hear directly from the company, although it’s doubtful, so you wait a week and call the HR department. They confirm or deny that they have received your resume, so, either “resend,” – they don’t even say “Please,” or they say that they have your resume on file, or…they say…”That position has been filled.” When it reaches that point, your first instinct is to crawl into the phone, through the ether, and through the phone at the other end, just to strangle the bitch – could be a bastard also – who told you the job wouldn’t be yours, even though you were the most qualified person in the world for the position.

Does any of this sound familiar…in any way, shape, or form? If you haven’t been there you haven’t lived a full and complete life. It isn’t really necessary for the average employer to post any job opening, either internally or externally (so why all the want ads in the paper). To quote the HR Daily Advisor, “…most employers are free to opt to post job openings when doing so is the best course of action for the situation and to refrain from doing so when they’re so inclined. If an organization is receiving any kind of federal monies, it is obligated, “…under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA), are required by regulation to post open positions.”

I well remember a situation in Pennsylvania. A friend of mine, working at a community college, was asked to take a candidate for lunch and an interview. When he asked, “Why?” he was told that even though they already knew who the new hire would be, they had to comply with federal regulations. “The man I took to lunch would have been ideal for the job,” he said, “but HR and the department head had already made up their minds. This guy would have been perfect. I wanted to scream that the job was gone, but, of course, I couldn’t do that. It was sinful that we should get this man’s hopes up like that.”

When I was searching for a new job, I learned very quickly to ask about internal candidates. On several occasions I was told that there were no internal candidates, only to find that was exactly who was hired to fill the position. In one case, I was told by the president of the university that he no longer wanted a woman in the slot for which I was applying. Perhaps he should have told his administrative assistant. They wound up hiring one of her lady friends!

All most job seekers want is a chance. If someone in the organization has a family member or a close friend, great, but don’t string along candidates for a position that is already closed. If it’s in the company contract that outside candidates will always be considered, be honest with those candidates who apply. They don’t have to be told that the COO’s nephew’s best friend from college’s roommate/son/grandnephew is going to fill the job but there are other ways to let the ‘we-can’t-hire-you-because’ candidate down easily.

As I write this, I have a friend who has been looking for a bit over two years. I know him to be a hard worker, a talented person with a great resume in the field of collegiate and professional athletics. His patience is remarkable, although I did mention that it took me three years to find my last job. Someone is going to realize just how great an addition he would be to their department. Until then, he’s working in several areas. After all, the rent still has to be paid, and eating is always a good thing!

The blessings we have

What do you do with a writerer when he stops being a writerer? Oh, what do you do with a writerer when he’s through? Those of you up on your songs of the season will immediately recognize the tune as well as the classic movie from which it is taken. For those of you still in the dark…well, that’s the way it goes!

It is true, however, because this particular “writerer” has really been drawing a blank. No, it’s not writer’s block or something like that. Heck, one could always find something about which to write, eg, President-elect Trump [Time magazine’s Person of the Year] or angry protests about this, that, or the other thing. It would be a simple matter to pompously discuss the shootings of people of color by those wearing the blue, but these things have been so ‘done’ that they’re rather played out, old hat, or whatever other cliché you’d like to tag them with. (I know…sentences shouldn’t end with prepositions…get over it!) It’s also the time of year when we should be counting our blessings, and believe me, we don’t really know what all of those blessings are.

I will tell you this…we went shopping this morning. Some Christmas gifts were sent on their way to California, the first of many such post office trips I’m certain we’ll make over the next week or so. Much of what was sent is hand made. And I will add that it is so skillfully and beautifully hand made that it will be doubly appreciated by the recipients. It’s really difficult for me to tell you just how skilled a craftsperson my partner is. She knits, crochet’s, makes jewelry, cross stitches, and bakes like a dream. She even talked me into making another gingerbread house this year, although I’m a bit concerned because she’s also go to make one, and I just know it will be so much better than my own. Damn right I’m already jealous.

Anyway, following the USPO, our next stop was Walmart. My needles were ready to be picked up. You know, the ones that I attach to my ‘pen’ for a little shot of insulin each evening…talk about a stomach that looks like a pin cushion…oy vey! Yeah, diabetes is also on the menu these days. As usual, we had to discuss what she saw while in the store and I had to remark on what I saw going into the store. Amazingly, we didn’t see the same “Walmart shoppers” (Look it up on You Tube sometime).

Wegman’s was the final stop on our morning agenda. While Juli was in the store, I watched a van pull in directly in front of us. It was here that I realized just how much I’m blessed. A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties climbed out of the driver’s side. From the sliding door on the passenger’s side, a ramp came down and a motorized wheelchair, driven by a man about the woman’s age, came soaring down. I may walk with a cane, but I walk. I go to the gym. I can pull a chair up to the kitchen or dining room table. I can climb into bed by myself and if I have to pee in the middle of the night, I can get up and do that. I can even walk up and down the stairs to watch Juli make jewelry if I so desire. I watched this couple go into the grocery store and thought to myself of all the things that I’m still able to do that this younger man can no longer do. It’s another of those many, many blessings that I have, but that too many people, older yes, but younger also, do not have.

It just seems to me that we’ve become a nation of complainers, that we prefer to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Maybe your job is a pain in the ass, but you have a job. Think of those who don’t. Maybe you’d like to buy more Christmas gifts this year, but can’t afford to do so. What about the people who can’t even put a meal on the table this Holiday Season. You may have a nasty cold that will go away in a week or so. Many people will spend this Christmas in hospitals or maybe even funeral homes. There are just so darn many things for which we have to be thankful, and we take so many of them for granted.

Here’s something I came across just recently. I reprint it here not knowing the author or where it was originally created, but it sure makes sense to me.

You can read…so you are luckier than over one billion people who cannot read at all.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness …then you are luckier than the million who will not survive this week…and even luckier because you probably have heath care insurance that guarantees you will have healthcare in case of illness.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation…then you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend any meeting you want—political, religious, social…then you are luckier than 3 billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep…then you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace…then you are among the top eight per cent of the world’s wealthy.

If you can read a list like this, then you don’t belong to the 1 billion people who CANNOT read.

At this time of year, maybe we should all be thinking more about the blessings we have rather than the things we don’t have.

Don’t let us forget

Unlike fine wine or a good brandy, I don’t really believe that man gets ‘better’ with age. Wiser, perhaps, more self-assured, of course, but ‘better,’ now there is a question? We tend to remember our youth with greater clarity, or is that called egocentricity and exaggeration? All too often, our feats of daring do are more likely, in recall, to match those of some of our comic book heroes and heroines. In reality, we weren’t a great deal different than those who grew up before us…but wait, that’s not quite accurate either.

The generation that grew up before my own has been called, and rightfully so, ‘The Greatest Generation.’ And, for my money, they were. In a time of unprecedented crisis, they responded in a manner that propelled the United States of America into a force to be reckoned with from December 7th, 1941, forward. That “…date that will live in infamy” turns 75 this year, and very few members of that generation are still around to remember the horrors of the succeeding four plus years. Oh, sure, there have been books written, documentaries generated, and movies produced, but the people, the actual men and women who served are now well into their nineties and, despite medical advances, are dying faster and faster.

I had turned seven years old three months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bluntly put, I really didn’t know my ass from my elbow. It happened on a Sunday, and I really can’t remember if we went to Mrs. Greenan’s second grade class the following day or not. However, I am willing to bet that every single soldier, sailor, and marine who is still living knows exactly what he did on that Monday. He probably ran like hell to the nearest recruiting office, swore an allegiance to the US of A and went off to face horrors he never could even begin to think of. He may have been only 16, 17, or 18, but, if he survived, saw carnage that he might never discuss with his family or closest friends. They went in, many of them, as boys, and they came back to us as extremely mature men. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am fully aware of the sacrifices made by women during the Second World War, including the 400 who were killed in combat areas.

In some ways, I am grateful to whoever did create the Internet, whether it was Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, or Al Gore. It doesn’t matter because the material available to anyone interested in WW2 or almost any war in which the world has been somewhat engaged is plentiful enough to satisfy the most avid history buff. The problem that I see is who is going to ask the uninitiated to look? Who will remind them that the Second World War is of equal importance to the Revolutionary War as far as the US is concerned? If they should ask why, one can always respond with a remark such as, “Do you speak Japanese or German?” The blank look on the face of the original questioner should allow a discussion to begin. Truly, the first couple of years of WW2 were not really the best for America, and the manner in which things were turned around is something of which every American should be proud.

I was in Mr. Metievier’s sixth grade class when victory in Europe was declared, and we were on summer vacation when the Japanese surrender was signed aboard the USS Missouri. How my hometown put together a parade that large and that fast still baffles me. Of course, at eleven years of age, a whole pile of things baffled me. It really wasn’t until many, many years later, that I became aware of why that generation didn’t want to talk about what “they did in the Army.” The branch of service didn’t matter, but the horrors of war certainly did.

So, I guess my message is this: “To those of you younger than I, don’t ever let those who are younger than you forget what changed America from an isolationist nation into a world power. Let them know that while Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and those Patriots of Revolutionary War days established the free nation that we now take for granted, 416,800 men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that those freedoms would endure 160 plus years after the nation’s founding.”

The great credit scam

I was a depression-era baby. My mother and father believed strongly that if you couldn’t pay for it, you didn’t need it. That included just about everything, including a can of baked beans to a new or used car. It’s just the way things were. Mom had a ‘Christmas Club’ whereby she would go to the bank each week and deposit five or ten dollars – sometimes as little as a couple of bucks – in order to buy presents for the kids in December. This was ingrained in us from our earliest years…”Don’t get into debt!”

When I went off to college, my folks had scraped enough money together to get me through my first year. My part-time job put money in the bank so that I could continue. Since I went to a university that offered the co-op plan, I was able to work a term to pay for a term…”But I didn’t go into debt!” Tuition and books were a lot less expensive then, and I most assuredly was not a residence hall student. One book that was a required text was “Advertising Production.” At the first meeting of the class, the instructor informed us that it was not his choice of a text, but the department chair insisted. He then said that it wouldn’t bother him in the least if we returned the text to the bookstore. That had been the most expensive text I had ever purchased and, suffice it to say, no one from the class came close to getting to the bookstore with the speed and exuberance of yours truly.

When it came time to purchase our first home, my wife and I were very concerned. We both held full-time jobs, but both were in education. Anyone who has worked in the field knows that the salaries are not exorbitant. My folks couldn’t help but my wife was the only child of a successful theater chain executive. He helped us with a ‘wink, wink loan,’ and our mortgage became something manageable.

By this time, credit cards were becoming a bigger and bigger business. “Buy now; get it now; pay later,” was the mantra and many people fell into the trap. Since she, too, was a depression baby, our philosophy was a bit different…”If you can’t pay for it, you don’t need it.” Gee, where had I heard that one before? Did we eventually build some credit card debt? Absolutely, but not to the point where we couldn’t pay the debt off in the short- rather than the long-term. We calculated annual rate percentages and couldn’t stand the thought of “them” taking all of our interest. Hell, it ticked me off that our mortgage payments were more interest than principal for a while.

The biggest drawback to this frugal behavior didn’t catch up with me until the other day. In order to get a substantial discount on a moderately expensive item, I agreed to apply for an Amazon credit card. In the turn down letter that I received, was written, “We used information from your credit report in making our decision. In whole or in part, from the credit reporting agency below (Experian, Inc). The agency won’t be able to provide the specific reasons for our decision. We’ve enclosed details about your right to know the information in your credit report at the end of this letter.” I was truly pissed! I called Experian to learn what was going on, only to be told after an hour and two minutes on the telephone, that I didn’t have a credit rating because, basically, I didn’t have any credit debt. Of the three people with whom I spoke, not one could speak the King’s English. I kept asking to speak to a supervisor which only got me transferred to another – be polite now – international speaker. After the first 26 minute wait, I asked how many people were working the phones in the office. This question at first stumped the person on the other end. Finally, she admitted that there were somewhere between 100 and 150. “Why then the long delay in answering your phones?” I asked. She just chuckled, yes, chuckled, and asked how she could help. She couldn’t and I was again transferred. After a similar wait, I reached Kadherin, who neither spoke English very well and either chose not to understand or didn’t understand my request. Here’s the topper: I am now being charged $39.95 for calling Experian plus a $1.00 charge for my credit report, which I will never see because it’s nonexistent!

Tomorrow I go to my bank and request a credit card from them. I will use that credit card, but only to the extent of receiving a monthly statement for the purpose of establishing some credit line. I should not have to do this because I pay my bills on time. This has been ingrained in me since birth. Thinking back on it, while mother was changing my diapers I do remember her singing a lullaby about “…the Joneses are in debt; we won’t keep up with them, etcetera, etcetera,” and the chorus was “…if you can buy it, you don’t need it,” or words to that effect. Yeah, yeah, I remember that (uh huh, sure you do)!

Birds and Geese

Have you ever watched a large flock of birds’ murmurate? Don’t bother, I had to look it up and be surprised too. In giant flocks they turn as one, swooping, diving, climbing, and banking, as choreographed movements as the best dance troupe in the world. How do they do that thing that can be so mesmerizing to the watcher? It happened to me again this morning. I was sitting in my car, waiting for the gym to open when this dark swarm flew over the parking lot, all but disappeared in the distance, came back again and performed several more of those we-move-as-one maneuvers before alighting on a long line of high tension wires across the street. I wanted to get out of my car and applaud, but there were other people waiting, and I didn’t want them to think that I’m any crazier than some of them already think.

Grainger Hunt, a senior scientist at the Peregrine Fund, calls these large flocks murmurations. They are “a dazzling cloud, swirling, pulsating, drawing together to the thinnest of waists, then wildly twisting in pulses of enlargement and diminution,” he writes. It’s certainly worth stopping your car for, or stopping to watch a video like the one recorded over the River Shannon in Ireland. It can be found on YouTube and it’s worth the watch.

The bigger question is, “Why don’t these birds smash into one another?” With flocks as large as the one I watched, it was as if everyone knew to change direction simultaneously. The flapping of their wings would make impossible for the lead bird to chirp out, “Swarm…to the left, or dive to the telephone pole.” I mean, c’mon, it doesn’t work that way. So, how does it work? In 2010, a group of researchers at the National Council of Research and the University of Rome found that, “Surprising as it may be flocks of birds are never led by a single individual. Even in the case of flocks of geese – more about them later – the movement of the flock is actually governed collectively by all of the flock members. But the remarkable thing about …flocks is their fluidity of motion.” The research team indicated that, “…the group responds as one and cannot be divided into independent subparts.” If this isn’t a prime example of teamwork, I really don’t know what is.

Ah, but since teamwork is the new subject at hand, let us talk about geese. Say what? Yes, I could hear you all the way over here. Now, geese are another example of perfect teamwork. The following is taken from A Gift of Inspiration:

“Lesson 1 – The Importance of Achieving Goals – As each goose flaps its wings it creates an UPLIFT for the birds that follow. By flying in a ‘V’ formation the whole flock adds 71 percent extra to the flying range. Outcome: When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our goals.

“Lesson 2 – The Importance of Team Work – When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front. Outcome: If we had as much sense as geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

“Lesson 3 – The Importance of Sharing – When a goose tires of flying up front it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position. Outcome: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other’s unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.

“Lesson 4 – The Importance of Empathy and Understanding – When a goose gets sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it. Outcome: If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.

“Lesson 5 – The Importance of Encouragement – Geese flying in formation ‘HONK’ to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed. Outcome: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. ‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’

“The original version of Lessons from Geese was written by Dr Robert McNeish in 1972”

Thus endeth the lesson regarding murmurations and the lessons taught to us by geese.

Do you remember those old Western ‘B’ movies, the ones where actors like Jeff Chandler, Burt Lancaster, and Rock Hudson played the Native Americans? There was always some line somewhere in the film where the Indians (oops, Native Americans) first saw the shooting of a gun and called it a “fire stick.” Those films were pretty bad, very insulting, and yep, I saw them all from one of the hidden nooks in the old Strand Theater in my hometown. Probably every theater had a couple of those secret places where you and your ‘gal’ could sit and make out…and to hell with the movie. In those days, making out meant something like putting your arm around her shoulder and perhaps sneaking a kiss or three.

Anyway, enough of the sentimentality and personal history. Juli just purchased a ‘fire stick.’ No, she didn’t buy a weapon to be used against the varmints in the yard or the neighbor’s bratty kids. This fire stick is all one word but the computer won’t let me do that so I’ll just stay with the old fashioned way. This particular fire stick is just about as terrifying as the first gun seen by Audrey Hepburn in her Native American role in “The Unforgiven.” This thing allows me to talk to my television set and it, in turn, responds by doing exactly what I ask. It even has a friggin’ name. It calls itself ‘Alexa.’ Now I don’t know if that’s supposed to have any deep hidden meaning or if someone at Amazon – oh, yeah, of course it comes from Amazon…doesn’t everything? Anyway, I can ask ‘Alexa’ what the weather is in my area or what movies I can watch, by title, by actor, director, or for all I know, even by key grip, whatever the hell a key grip is. Watch enough credits and you’ll always see a key grip somewhere. Now when I say ‘ask,’ I don’t mean that I type my question. I speak to this thing! And it responds by showing me the answer to my question. Of course, if I ask a question that requires a vocal response, it does that too…now that’s pretty scary! I fully expect that one of these days, Alexa is going to tell me to “…Go to hell; find it yourself,” just like any self-respecting robot will do to its owner someday.

After my first session with Alexa, which lasted darn near an hour, I turned to Juli and asked, “Where do we go from here?” Very nonchalantly she answered, “We’ll all have computer chips in our brains.” I’m certain she’s right. Last week, we watched a news story about a man having a chip inserted in the back of his hand in order to unlock the door to his very secure office. He just held the back of his hand against another gizmo outside the office door and, ‘zap,’ the door opened automatically. Of course, what made me chuckle was the fact that his door and the panels on either side were floor to ceiling glass. Who needs a computer chip when you’ve got a hammer, eh?

I come from a generation that saw pens with replaceable nibs. You dunked the nib in an inkwell and wrote that way. Yes, we had manual typewriters as well. My Dad had an old Royal and it was the machine on which he taught me the “right way” to type. Even in high school, we used Underwood manual typewriters. We’ve certainly come a long way, but dammit, I remember those days. As several friends have reminded me, “You’re so old you fart dust,” a comment that is most often greeted with a smile or chuckle, but which sometimes hurts. It seems that technology is outpacing the human mind, and yet, it’s the human mind that is creating this technology. It appears that we have the choice of accepting and embracing this technology or run the risk of becoming obsolete and put out to pasture somewhere.

In many ways, I consider myself fortunate to have seen and to have learned many of the exciting things that have happened over the past eight decades. Imagine going from nibbed pens to ballpoints, from manual typewriters to electric to Selectric to auto-spacing and auto-correcting. Imagine going from the first computers that required something the size of a large warehouse in which to operate to the mini-sized tablets of today. Imagine the old two piece, cord-connected, stand up telephones of yesteryear to the phones of today that have more power than the computers used to land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. What next? Will we actually see robots in the grocery store, doing the shopping for their owner families? Will driverless automobiles be so common that our grandchildren won’t have to take “Driver Ed” in order that we get a discount on our insurance? Will we become so lazy that doctors – robots, of course – will stop talking about obesity because it will be the norm. Maybe we’ll just go to a ‘place’ once a month to have all of our fat removed by liposuction or some advanced technique. Men then would all have six-packs and bulging biceps, and women would have any figure they choose. Ah, the advances in technology…where the hell does it all end? For me…well, I’m just fascinated by my little ‘firestick.’

(Aha, I got the computer to accept it!)

The Death Thing

There was a time when I could be as shocked as the next person over some well-known celebrity’s death, but if you think about it, what the hell, it’s going to come to everyone sooner or later. When your time is up, it’s up, and there’s really not much one can do about it. In the Bible it says, “Oh death where is thy sting; oh grave, where is thy victory.” This is told to us because the Bible says that something better is waiting on the other side of death. We don’t know that for certain because no one has come back and gone on the lecture circuit to tell us how great it is. Why would they? If it’s so great, heck, they’d stay there and soak it up…which is probably why no one has come back. My sister tells me that when she died and before she came back, she saw “sheer beauty,” but then the doctors’ reclaimed her so she’s no help…nah, she’s a good kid!

Many of us have experienced family death. The question is whether it’s been sudden and shocking or a lingering illness that steals the live of someone we loved. My father was rather young when, riding in an open touring car, he lost his biological mother to a train crash. My mother’s folks were not so lucky. They lingered in a hospice facility, side by side, as cancer wasted them away. You might raise the question, “Why were they ‘not so lucky’?” If you’ve ever watched cancer kill, you would have your answer right there.

When Florence Henderson died recently, it got me to thinking. Here was a woman born in the same year that I was hatched. I didn’t really think of her as the “Brady Mom,” but more for the musical shows in which I had heard her. She had a terrific voice, was the voice of the first ‘Fanny’ and, as I understand it, ‘Oklahoma’ was written with her in mind for the lead role. But now she’s gone, and it was just another reminder of my own mortality. She died of heart failure. I’ve had four heart attacks. Makes me sortta wonder.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really fear death itself. My life has been extremely full. I’ve traveled across America from east to west; been north and south and spent time in the places in which I wanted to spend time. Got married to a terrific lady and together we raised three pretty darn good kids. Got them educated, into adulthood, married, and now they each have three. Along the way, I’ve watched the kids set collegiate records, run their own businesses, coach Olympic athletes and, in many ways, do far better than I ever could have dreamed…or done myself. I guess we can all brag about our families in one way or another. I have been twice blessed by another woman whom I love and now, in my dotage, I can look back and say that there are very few things I haven’t done that I truly wish to have accomplished. So, bring it on. Death, you have no sting for me. My sins are many and I may wind up where the sun doesn’t shine and heat is pretty bad, but what the hell (so to speak), I’ll meet so many friends that at least I won’t be lonely. The single drawback will be that my wife won’t be there. She’s in a more heavenly place.

Dying, of course, is a different story. It’s rather like that interim step toward the completion of your goal. You’re born…you live your life…interim step…death. Those seem to be the stages. Perhaps that third step, because of its uncertainty, is the one that I fear. I’ve known several folks who have just gone to bed at night and didn’t bother to get up the next morning. That sounds all well and good but what the heck were they dreaming about when they passed. A former classmate was laying on the couch and didn’t say anything…just rolled off and was dead before he hit the floor. It doesn’t really matter what that interim step is because we will all take it in one way or another.

It might be wise for all of us to pay heed to the words of author Jordan Smith, “When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.”