Rambling Over Coffee: Viewings and Funeral Services are For the Living That Need that Closure - Not the Dead

I don't often read Dear Abby or other 'dear' anyone in the morning news but if I happen to see a link to it while I'm reading other news, I'll click.  This one is my "rambling over morning coffee" post for today.  First, I'll let you read it.

DEAR ABBY: I recently went to a funeral viewing for a friend’s adult child whom I had never met. After entering the funeral home, I saw a computer-generated sign stating, “Please understand that we (mom, dad, brother and daughter) just couldn’t be here.”

Abby, I wasn’t there to see the deceased; I was there to express my sympathy to the family. Why bother to have a viewing? All I wanted to say was how sorry I am for their loss. — KAREN IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR KAREN: Please have a little less judgment and a little more compassion. Remember that not everyone deals with death in the same way.

The viewing was for family members, friends and acquaintances of the deceased who COULD bear to be there. You can still express your sympathy to the grieving family by writing them a condolence letter. 

We had a little different but somewhat similar issue just come up 2 weeks ago in our family.

My Godmother/Aunt just passed away this month, after a lengthy battle with cancer.  Everyone has known the time was near; and has known and has been somewhat expecting it, as she was very, very near death last October ( a year ago) and had a very odd but wonderful 'bounce back' that gave her another year with family before she passed this month.

She lives 2000 miles from all her extended family (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.) and although her family (husband & adult children) made phone calls to everyone letting them know a day or two ahead of time that she would be passing (no longer eating or drinking, not waking from sleep) they opted for text messages when she finally passed away quietly, in her sleep, in her home.

They (the immediate family; husband, adult children) followed my Aunt's directive and wishes that immediately after being declared dead, she was to be transported to the funeral home where she would be cremated.  She wished no viewing, no memorials and no services.


And apparently, this upset her siblings.  (All aged 60 - 80).

My Dad called to let me know my Aunt had passed and he was rather upset.  He and his sisters are all upset that there is no viewing, service or funeral to attend.  I told Dad I thought that was fine.... that's how me and my husband want it as well!  He was very upset and said the sibling consensus (gossip among themselves) is that it's fine if the family didn't want to hold it for them, but what about everyone else?  They wanted there to be a service.

And so, this morning over morning coffee, I ponder.

I can see both sides.

Funeral services are not for the dead.
They are for the living.

Some people need that closure in order to come to terms with the death of a family member or friend.
I understand my Aunts siblings would have wanted a viewing, memorial service and full church funeral.
Not only because it's what they wanted, but it's what they have come to expect as 'normal'.  A cultural thing. A part of their religion as well.  As a matter of fact, the entire process has become very 'cookie cutter'.  I suspect part of the anger and hurt feelings they are having is because they expected the same steps to be taken they all have come to expect.  You do 1. 2. 3. and 4. in that order.  Really, the entire schedule is fairly cookie-cutter except the name of the deceased changes and perhaps the color of the flowers and casket. 

My Aunt and her husband and her adult children spoke at length about what she wanted.  They followed her wishes.

My father and his siblings side of it is that if they didn't need a funeral service for themselves, that's fine, but what about all her siblings and other relatives.  They should have had one for them.

Uhhh.  Hmmm.
See?  Gray area.

So the Dear Abby column that day made me think of my own family's situation.

HAD THEY OPTED TO HAVE A SERVICE, my Uncle and my cousins would not have been there.  Heck, my Aunts body wouldn't have been there either.  It would have been some sort of memorial service for everyone else.  And I'm sure that like the person who wrote Dear Abby, there would be people upset and complaining and gossiping that her own family wasn't even there!

But they weren't there because the service wasn't for THEM.  It was for those who needed it.  Needed that closure. That goodbye.

My last thought to ponder about this topic over my morning coffee is that my Aunt and her family in part, probably opted for these decisions because it's been a year long "goodbye" process already.  She literally was at deaths door last October 2015. The calls were made.  Hospice was at the home.  When she made a recovery of sorts, it gave everyone an entire year to come to terms with her eventual passing that was inevitable.  Had she passed quickly, without warning, I suspect there might have been a large gathering and services of some sort maybe. 

In the end, this is what she and her family wanted.
And extended family and friends need to respect their wishes.

And so... Dear Abby reader, I don't often agree with Abby but I do on this one.

The viewing was for family members, friends and acquaintances of the deceased who wished to, or 'needed' to be there in their own.  And judgement upon the deceased family is unwarranted.  This goodbye viewing wasn't for them... it wasn't for the deceased... it was for those who wanted to be there, or needed to be there.

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How to store coffee - Bags, Beans, Ground...

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required

Heat Sealed Valve Bags

When coffee is fresh roasted it needs to de-gas. Coffee roasters commonly use heat sealed valve bags that have a one-way valve to allow the gases to escape without allowing any air or odors to get in. As long as the valve bag remains sealed it is "vacuum" packed and will remain as fresh as the day it was roasted until the heat sealed valve bag is opened. Purchasing your coffee in heat-sealed valve bags and keeping them sealed until needed is the best way to store both whole bean coffee and ground coffee for the long term.

Store Coffee in a Cool Dry Place

Once the heat sealed valve bag is opened, the proper way to store all coffee according to the coffee experts is to keep your coffee in a cool dry place. Heat, cold, moisture, oxygen and generally any kind of outside odors are all enemies of fresh coffee so caution should be taken to reduce or eliminate these. Keep in mind that fresh roasted gourmet coffee is porous so it will absorb outside influences. Whole bean coffee is a lot more dense than ground coffee so ground coffee is more susceptible to outside influences that destroy coffee freshness. Storing your coffee in a cool dry place preferably in an air tight sealed container is the best way to keep your coffee fresh for as long as possible.

Avoid Storing Coffee in a Fridge or Freezer

Many coffee drinkers are surprised to learn that freezing coffee or storing coffee in the refrigerator is actually detrimental to keeping your coffee fresh and should be avoided. Freezing coffee affects the chemical characteristics of the coffee bean or ground coffee. Storing coffee in the refrigerator is not recommended because as mentioned, coffee is very porous and will absorb other food odors that are present.

Green Bean and Roasted Whole Bean Verses Ground Coffee

The taste of coffee will vary depending on the type of coffee, the coarseness of the grind, the type of coffee brewing equipment used and of course, the age of the stored coffee.

Green Coffee Beans have the longest shelf life over roasted whole bean or ground coffee. If stored in a cool, dry place green coffee beans can last more than a year and still retain much of its flavor and aroma. The primary drawback with storing green coffee beans is that they still have to undergo a lengthier process from roasting to brewing. Very few people have their own coffee roasting equipment and green coffee beans are not as readily available on the market.

Roasted Whole Bean Coffee has a longer shelf life than ground coffee and is readily available on the market. When stored in a cool, dry place fresh roasted whole bean coffee will last for a number of weeks without losing too much flavor and aroma. It is preferable to store whole bean coffee in air sealed containers. Ceramic storage containers are recommended since plastic or metal containers can sometimes affect the flavor of the coffee over time. Glass containers are acceptable provided these are stored in cool dark cabinets. Whole bean gourmet coffee is recommended for home use for a number of reasons. As stated, whole bean coffee has a longer shelf life and provides a better, more flavorful cup of coffee, especially if brewed immediately after being ground.

Ground Coffee has the shortest shelf life of all and is best brewed right after being ground. Ground coffee is the most porous form of coffee and can loose its flavor and aroma in a matter of days. It's best to try and keep ground coffee stored for as short a time as possible prior to brewing.

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A California man is in the midst of a lengthy legal battle following a driving under the influence charge for operating a car while under the influence of caffeine

Source:   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/24/california-dui-caffeine-lawsuit-solano-county

 Heeelllllooooo?  As a (obviously) big time coffee drinker, THIS little news article caught my eye... so a guy is getting a DUI for driving under the influence of.. COFFEE?


 So here is the deal....

A California man is in the midst of a lengthy legal battle following a driving under the influence charge that was issued almost 18 months ago for operating a car while under the influence of caffeine, reports said. I'm sorry, did we miss something? When did it become illegal to drive after consuming some espresso?

Joseph Schwab, 36, was pulled over on August 5, 2015, by a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agent in an unmarked car who claimed the 36-year-old had cut her off and was driving erratically, The Guardian reported. The agent administered a breathalyzer test which displayed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, according to Schwab's lawyer. After that test, Schwab was put into county jail and had his blood taken for an addition toxicology test. The following report concluded that he had no illegal drugs in his system.

It wasn't until samples were sent to an outside testing facility in Pennsylvania that caffeine showed up as the only drug in Schwab's system when he was arrested, The Guardian reported. Now, just about 18 months later, Schwab and his attorney are gearing up for trial.

Schwab's lawyer, defense attorney Stacey Barrett, has filed a motion for the case to be dropped because no charges were actually filed until almost 10 months following the arrest. If that doesn't go through, the case will be brought in front of a jury in January.

The chief deputy district attorney in the county where Schwab was held, Sharon Henry said her office was “conducting further investigation in this matter," The Guardian reported. “The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system."

According to California law, a drug is any substance that isn't alcohol that might “impair, to an appreciable degree” a driver's capability behind the wheel. How the state might attempt to argue caffeine did that to Schwab, we are not sure.

“No one believed me that I only had caffeine in my system until I showed them the lab results,” said Schwab, according to The Guardian. “I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared.”


THIS is the part that jumped out at me:   California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agent in an unmarked car who claimed the 36-year-old had cut her off and was driving erratically

Hmmm.  He 'cut her off' ...  which makes me start to think "Was this just a case of a pissed off woman because he cut her off in traffic and she just happened to have the 'power' behind her career to get back at him for it?  We ALL KNOW THIS HAPPENS so it's completely understandable to wonder....

So I looked up the whole story and I am just shaking my head at this.  So wrong.. and on so many levels.


Caffeine may be the “nootropic” brain drug of choice in Silicon Valley, but an hour’s drive north in Solano County, California, the stimulant could get you charged with driving under the influence.

That is according to defense attorney Stacey Barrett, speaking on behalf of her client, Joseph Schwab.

After being pulled over on 5 August 2015, Schwab was charged by the Solano County district attorney with misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug.

Almost 18 months later, Schwab is preparing to go to trial. The only evidence the DA has provided of his intoxication is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine.

Shcwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.
The 36-year-old union glazier was given a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, his attorney said. He was booked into county jail and had his blood drawn, but the resulting toxicology report came back negative for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, THC, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem.

The sample was screened a second time by a laboratory in Pennsylvania, according to documents provided to the Guardian, where the sole positive result was for caffeine – a substance likely coursing through the veins of many drivers on the road at any given time.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Barrett. “I’ve never even heard of it.”

Barrett has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed because the charges were not brought until June 2016 – nearly 10 months after incident. If that motion is denied, Schwab will take his case to a jury on 11 January.

Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, said in a statement that her office was “conducting further investigation in this matter”.

“The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system,” she added.
Barrett counters that if the prosecution has evidence of a different drug in her client’s system, it should have to provided that to her, based on the rules governing criminal procedings.

“I have not been provided with any evidence to support a theory of prosecution for a substance other than caffeine at this time,” she said. “Nor I have received any statements, reports, etc documenting any ongoing investigation since the [toxicology report] dated 18 November 2015.”

Henry declined to comment further, citing the right to a fair trial.

“It’s really stupid,” said Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist who frequently testifies in court cases. Over 41 years, Zehnder said, he had never seen a prosecution for driving under the influence of caffeine. 

“If that’s the case, then they better come and arrest me,” he joked.

Zehnder was informed about the case by Barrett, but has not been contracted to testify on either side.

California vehicle code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree” his ability to drive normally.

Making that case with caffeine would be difficult, Zehnder said, because the prosecutor would have to show that impaired driving was specifically caused by the caffeine and not any other circumstances.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” he said.

As for Schwab, he just wants this ordeal to be over. In a statement provided to the Guardian by his attorney, he said his reputation had been damaged.

“No one believed me that I only had caffeine in my system until I showed them the lab results,” he said. “I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared.”

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Sears and Kmart closing MORE stores in early 2017... See the List

 Source:  http://www.businessinsider.com/list-of-sears-and-kmart-stores-closing-2016-12

Yesterday Sears/Kmart announced the list of store closures set for early 2017.  Most of the stores will start liquidation sales on January 6 and go out of business between late March and mid-April.  This caught my attention because although I've not regularly shopped Sears or Kmart in years, I felt bad for them this holiday season (2016) and gave them a chance by ordering some of my Christmas gifts through them online.  Although Kmart performed just fine, Sears pretty much did a sh*t job and screwed me over; not letting me know an order that showed "IN STOCK" was in fact NOT in stock until December 20th.  So, 5 days before Christmas I had to scramble to find a replacement gift - and it was being shipped to an elderly relative - not to my home.  (I found the same/similar item through JCPenney, ordered it, and the relative received it this morning, the 28th) which is why this particular news article caught my idea.

Sears failed me...  and ironically the item STILL SHOWED AVAILABLE ON THEIR WEBSITE even after they emailed me to say they were canceling my order as the item was unavailable.  (UPDATE YOUR SITE THEN!!!!).  So as much as I wanted to help them out by giving them business because I felt bad they were going out of business and had to close so many stores in 2016... they blew it and I'm not feeling much sympathy for them after leaving me scrambling just a few days before Christmas with a 'gee, sucks to be you but we are canceling your order' email.

Sears announced the closures internally on Tuesday but did not publicly release a comprehensive list of the stores that would close.

"Business Insider confirmed most of the closures with store employees at each location. We will add to this list as we confirm additional closures."

Kmart stores closing:

Jasper Mall, Jasper, Alabama
2003 US-280, Phenix City, Alabama
3001 Iowa Ave., Riverside, California
501 N. Beneva Road, Sarasota, Florida
19400 Cochran Blvd., Port Charlotte, Florida
2111 S. Federal Highway, Ft. Pierce, Florida
1501 Normandy Village Parkway, Jacksonville, Florida
2211 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida
4955 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, Florida
111 Town and Country Dr., Palatka, Florida
2815 West Parrish Ave., Owensboro, Kentucky
1501 Paris Pike, Georgetown, Kentucky
14662 N. US Highway 25 E, Corbin, Kentucky
1710 W. Highway 192, London, Kentucky
3010 Fort Campbell Blvd., Hopkinsville, Kentucky
2945 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky
9 Plaza Way, Fairhaven, Massachusetts
4645 Commercial Dr., New Hartford, New York
250 Three Springs Dr., Weirton, West Virginia
731 Beverly Pike, Elkins, West Virginia
5132 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, Washington
1050 Division St., Parkersburg, West Virginia

Sears stores closing:

Kentucky Oaks Mall, Paducah, Kentucky
1901 S. Yale Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
Town Center Mall, Charleston, West Virginia
Meadowbrook Mall, Bridgeport, West Virginia
Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga, New York
Boulevard Mall, Amherst, New York

"This latest round of closures will bring the total number of stores that Sears has closed this fiscal year to more than 200.

That means the retailer will have fewer than 1,500 stores left by early 2017. That's down nearly 60% from 2011, when Sears had more than 3,500 stores."

Paqui chips has made a chip so spicy, they're selling it as an individual chip

 Sources listed below

I was reading random news articles this weekend and came across an interesting little 'foodie' tidbit.   Tortilla chip maker Paqui chips has made a chip so spicy, they're selling it as an individual chip.

It's called the Carolina Reaper Madness chip because it's made with the Carolina Reaper pepper, often listed as the hottest variety on Earth. 

Since it's made with the hottest chili in the world, it's sold as a single chip.  Yes, a single, solitary chip.  The solo chip comes in its own wrapper, placed inside a coffin-shaped box featuring a drawing of the Grim Reaper on the package, and across the top, it reads, "Inside: One deadly chip."

In an interview with Mashable the brand manager for Paqui, Jeff Day, said, "The reason that we're selling this as one chip is because quite honestly, that's all that you need. That's all that anyone needs.""It's the hottest chip you'll ever have, I can guarantee you that," "After you eat that one chip, trust me, you're not looking to dig back into the bag and have a second one. So, one chip is what we created to have the experience."

Priced at $4.99 a chip, you can check out their website to see if they sell at a location near you:  http://paqui.com/

You might also be interested in these related products available through Amazon;

Carolina Reapers Dry Whole Pepper Pods Hottest Peppers in the World | Free First Class Shipping in USA |
Carolina Reaper Powder
Ghost chili pepper - The hottest pepper in the world!!! 1,000,000 Heat Laval
Paqui Tortilla Chips Haunted Ghost Pepper, 5.5 Oz (Pack of 12)



Rambling over Coffee: The Christmas that Stopped a War (literally)

As a child I used to read everything I could get my hands on.  I always had a book with me and I was far happier reading than doing anything else. 'Voracious reader' would have described me perfectly.  Almost never without my nose in a book, magazine... anything and everything I could read, I would.

As a teen my reading did not slow down.  Even dating my now-husband, we would spend hours together at his home out in the country, miles from town; where he would do homework, play guitar or mow the lawn... and I would happily immerse myself into the piles of Christian magazines and Reader's Digest's his Dad had.  It was there I first read a true account recollection written by a man who had been in WWI and reminisced about how the fighting and shooting came to cease one Christmas as out of the darkness, a Christmas carol was heard being sung.  And how slowly, other soldiers had joined in.  The silence of the night was filled with Silent Night sung by German soldiers.  How the young men who were engaged in battle all stopped and spend the night singing Christmas carols and later, traded cigarettes and other goods.... 

I had hear or read about this off and on a few times over the next twenty years or so but hadn't thought about it in ages, when I remembered it again yesterday (Christmas Day) after seeing a short blurb about it online from the History Channel;

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. In 1915, the bloody conflict of World War I erupted in all its technological fury, and the concept of another Christmas Truce became unthinkable.


If you are interested in knowing a little more of the story, Time Magazine did a special article on it 2 years ago, in 2014, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Christmas that stopped the war - if only for a day.


Exactly a century ago, the men in the trenches heard something unusual: singing

On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?

Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.

Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, in a document later rounded up by the New York Times. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.

The phenomenon took different forms across the Western front. One account mentions a British soldier having his hair cut by his pre-war German barber; another talks of a pig-roast. Several mention impromptu kick-abouts with makeshift soccer balls, although, contrary to popular legend, it seems unlikely that there were any organized matches.

The truce was widespread but not universal. Evidence suggests that in many places firing continued — and in at least two a truce was attempted but soldiers attempting to fraternize were shot by opposing forces.

And of course, it was only ever a truce, not peace. Hostilities returned, in some places later that day and in others not until after New Year’s Day. “I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” one veteran from the Fifth Batallion the Black Watch, Alfred Anderson, later recalled to The Observer. “It was a short peace in a terrible war.” As the Great War resumed, it wreaked such destruction and devastation that soldiers became hardened to the brutality of the war. While there were occasional moments of peace throughout the rest of World War I, they never again came on the scale of the Christmas truce in 1914.

Yet for many at the time, the story of the Christmas truce was not an example of chivalry in the depths of war, but rather a tale of subversion: when the men on the ground decided they were not fighting the same war as their superiors. With no man’s land sometimes spanning just 100 feet, enemy troops were so close that they could hear each other and even smell their cooking. The commander of the British Second Corps, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, believed this proximity posed “the greatest danger” to the morale of soldiers and told Divisional Commanders to explicitly prohibit any “friendly intercourse with the enemy.” In a memo issued on Dec. 5, he warned that: “troops in trenches in close proximity to the enemy slide very easily, if permitted to do so, into a ‘live and let live’ theory of life.”

Indeed, one British soldier, Murdoch M. Wood, speaking in 1930, said: “I then came to the conclusion that I have held very firmly ever since, that if we had been left to ourselves there would never have been another shot fired.” Adolf Hitler, then a Corporal of the 16th Bavarians, saw it differently: “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” he is said to have remarked. “Have you no German sense of honor?”

Still, a century later, the truce has been remembered as a testament to the power of hope and humanity in a truly dark hour of history.It has been immortalized and fictionalized in children’s novels like Michael Foreman’s War Game, in films such as Joyeux Noel and Oh, What a Lovely War! and even in a controversial Christmas ad this year from Sainsbury’s, a British supermarket chain. To mark the centenary this year, Prince William unveiled a memorial on Dec. 12: a metal frame representing a soccer ball, with two hands clasped inside it, and a week later, inspired by the events of the truce, the British and German army soccer teams played a friendly match. And though the Christmas Truce may have been a one-off in the conflict, the fact that it remains so widely commemorated speaks to the fact that at its heart it symbolizes a very human desire for peace, no matter how fleeting.

From the news: A heart wrenchingly sad, yet sweet story. Santa holds a dying little boy in his arms; granting his last wish to meet Santa.

I had a few minutes break so I jumped online to read the news.
Bypassing the regular 'crap' I had no interest in muddying my happy brain with, I saw a Santa story that piqued my interest.
Oh my goodness!  Heartbreaking yet sweet at the same time.

I cried.

There are many sources for the story - I actually read it in 4 places (because all media outlets spoon-feed the story to you differently and include different details).

This 'Santa' is actually named  Eric Schmitt Matzen (who looks every bit the Santa Claus)  normally dons a red suit and makes appearances during the holidays playing the jolly old elf.  He’s professionally trained and wears a custom-tailored Santa suit - but his white beard and hair is all his.  He was born on Dec. 6 which is pretty cool considering that’s Saint Nicholas Day.

Although he regularly visits up to 80 different events as Santa Claus every year, he had to play a different role this year. A heart wrenching role when he was called to the hospital to visit a dying little boy.

 “I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ 
She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. 
Your Santa suspenders are good enough. 
Come right now.’ ”

“I’d just gotten home from work that day.”

“The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.

“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’ ”

Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital in 15 minutes. He met the lad’s mother and several family members.

“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him,” he said, voice growing husky. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’ ”

Nobody entered with him. They watched, sobbing, from a hallway window in the Intensive Care Unit.

“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!

“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’

“I said, ‘Sure!’

“I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.

‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’

“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’

“He said, ‘Sure!’

“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.

“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.

“Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.

“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.’”

In despair, Schmitt-Matzen was ready to hang up his suit. “I’m just not cut out for this,” he reasoned.

But he mustered the strength to work one more show.

“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play.

“For them and for me.”

Many sources:

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Rambling over coffee.... 3 random news articles from today: Difficult Co-workers, AL botching a death on death row and a 20 year old who leaves her two babies home alone for 9 days and one dies....

Coffee break!

So, I'm reading the news and although there are probably 10 different stories I initially wanted to comment on, I grabbed 3 of them at random as I have a serious lack of time here.  It's a QUICK coffee break.

First off - I skimmed through this one quickly.  (Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/e61d62b2-d07e-3910-9de5-33dd20874a3a/4-types-of-difficult.html)  It's about the 4 most difficult types of personalities of co-workers and how to deal with them....

"Everyone wants to work in a friendly and productive environment, 
but sometimes even one bad co-worker can make getting your job done 
seem near impossible."

Ahhh. Coworkers.
Since I'm now in my 40's and no longer a know-it-all 20-something with like, 5 years experience to build on; boy have I seen a plethora of personalities.  And another facet of that thought is that with age, came maturity and wisdom - and I can see now that the personalities that drove me crazy as a working 16 year old, a 20 year old, or a 35 year old are different.  To put it simply:  What I considered a difficult co-worker at 16, isn't necessarily as awful as I would have found them at 25.

One of the co-workers I've always considered awful to work with are the lazy ones.  The ones that try to 'look' busy but accomplish nothing. Sometimes our jobs haven't overlapped so it didn't directly reflect on me or effect me but other jobs I've had to take on their tasks to pull off the final project or the project would fail, I would have looked bad, or the company would have lost face in one way or another.  The frustrating thing about those people is when you don't really have recourse to TELL anyone that person is a complete fake, phony and loser.  Luckily they often dig themselves into a hole, the truth comes out and they are fired... but this is real life.  We all know that sometimes they manage to kiss butt, skate by or you have a blind boss who doesn't see it and promotes them.  Ah life... it can suck sometimes.

One of the co-workers that stands out in my mind that dug her own 'hole' and got fired wasn't actually fired for being lazy, shirking her duties or anything remotely related to the piss-poor job she did.  Instead, she was stealing from the company and got caught.  I guess that's karma for you in a weird way.


Another story from today was this one:  (Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/alabama-inmate-coughs-heaves-during-execution-injection-122007733.html) - An Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states.

"Robert Dunham is executive director of the Death Penalty 
Information Center, a nonprofit that does not take an official stance
on capital punishment  but is critical of its application. 
He said Smith's execution reinforces the argument that 
midazolam shouldn't be used in executions.

"What occurred during the execution itself is exactly 
what the medical experts have been saying is likely to occur 
when midazolam is asked to do something 
that drug is not designed to do," he said. 
"It is not designed to render somebody unconscious and insensate."

Seriously people?  YOU HAD ONE JOB.........
I'm not going to take 15 minutes or so to google this topic, but the first thing that came to mind was this...  why not overdose them with morphine?  Wouldn't that work?
When my Mother was hospitalized for a minor surgery, the inept nursing staff overdosed her with morphine and another pain medication given at the same time.  She slowly went 'out of it' although her eyes remained open.  Her breathing slowed. As she was dying (an alarm was raised by my father, nursing and then doctors rushed to her room and quickly worked to bring her back from the brink - and yes, later they actually admitted they screwed up but that's a whole other story)... where was I?  OH.  So when she was overdosed with pain meds and was dying, she said later it was perfectly simple.  She said she just "went to sleep".  No pain, no knowledge of what was happening to her or even when her body was shutting down.
So every time I see news articles of inmates on death row dying horrible deaths because people are using a bunch of different drugs that aren't working... I can't help but think;  "Why aren't you just overdosing them with pain meds?"

There might be a good reason - but like I said, I am not going to look it up or study it.  Just not that interested.


Another piss poor parent: (Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38248836) -Ukrainian prosecutors are questioning a 20-year-old mother after she allegedly left two toddlers in her flat for nine days, and one starved to death.

"The mother, Vladislava Podchapko, had gone to her partner's flat, 
without leaving food at home, reports say.
Her son Daniil, aged one year and 11 months, died  
and his sister Anya, nearly three, remained in the Kiev flat 
with the dead body for three more days, until the mother returned."

Ok so... I actually don't have words for this one.


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