Dreams are as personal as anything gets. Normal dreams are some kind of weird, twisted personal experience, set in a hazy backdrop of ordinary things turned upside down or sideways. This particular dream was unique because it wasn’t personal.
It was a real dream — I’m not making this up — which wasn’t about me and mine, except tangentially. It was the “all of us,” the giant “we” of the world. I didn’t like it. It made me angry. Sad. I don’t know which emotion was stronger or more painful, but probably the sadness which I am still feeling.
Last night I dreamed about the world. Not our personal, individual world. It was about the “real world” of politics and malaise. I dreamed about migrant workers who pick grapes and were starving because the pay they got was not enough to live on. I dreamed about a bunch of people I was supposed to be caring for. For whom I had been preparing special food, but when I went to eat something, they snatched the food off the plate and ate it before I could. And laughed because they thought it was hilarious.
I thought: “I’ve been spending my days trying to make their lives better, yet when I want something, they take it and laugh.” Not a happy moment.
I woke up twice. Tried to shake the dream. It was not exactly a nightmare, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant.
I remember at one point, my guests in this big hazy house in which I was living were throwing food away … and the migrant workers were starving. When I suggested we give them the food, they laughed again.
And I woke up thinking: “Why, in this country, is waste acceptable … but charity is scorned?”
Why are we so uncharitable? Why are we so uncaring, so unloving, so cruel? What is wrong with us? How did I stumble into this place I do not understand?
Why did I have that particular, strangely impersonal dream? It is hours later. I’m still wondering.
One of the many things that has surprised me about education in the twenty-first century is the absence of Geography in grade school and high school curriculum. When I have asked any young people in the last two decades if they have taken geography in school, the answer is usually the same. “Geography? What’s that?”
When I was in elementary school, we took Geography. We had Geography books. The class room had Geography maps so we could understand where in the world our place of study was located. They were the kind of maps that rolled up like your window shades. There were pictures pinned to a bulletin board of various places we might study. The geography course was our window to other locations in the world. It was an introduction to other people and cultures. I always found it an interesting class, although I did not know at the time just how useful it would be.
There were many things about geography that I did not find so interesting. The topography was lost on someone who lived in an area that is completely flat. Information about crops and commerce held no delight at the grade school level. The local currency meant nothing to a boy with a tiny allowance.
Climate was interesting, however, to someone who had experienced the severity of all four seasons. I could not imagine living somewhere that had a colder climate then we have in winter. I did imagine that places with warmer weather throughout the year would be great to visit, especially in winter. Pictures of green mountains or long, sandy beaches fueled my imagination. I did not think I would ever get to travel much, but the views of great scenery and different types of structures were the joys of my young fantasy vacations.
With the news of the world more available than ever, you would think that geography would be an important field of study to more than the CIA. Perhaps those in charge of various school boards around the country do not think so. Can you match these cities recently in the news with their countries?
City ——————————- Country Mogadishu————————United States Castañer ————————– Israel Bishkek —————————-Turkey Ankara —————————- Kyrgyzstan Tel Aviv —————————- Somalia
When I was first working in freight forwarding, a young person was trying to pronounce the name written on one of the folders. She may have been filing items by destination. To just look at it, you would not think it a mystery, but the uneducated person was lost. “Tell a, Tayla, tellavi…” At that, a very annoyed supervisor in another group yelled over to our area, “Tel Aviv! Tel Aviv! It’s in the news sometimes.” It was the capital of Israel at the time, and it is the only international airport in the country. I guess we are always stunned by people who do not know the capital cities or the largest airports of any country. By the way, the supervisor shouting the name of the city across the office remains one of our favorite air freight stories. It also points to the deficiency in our education on geography.
When I got a job in air freight, I think I already had a good idea of the capitals and major cities of most countries, and now I have come to learn their airport codes as well. The locations of major hubs of commerce and the airlines that fly there are key to our success. You could put Asian freight on Lufthansa, who makes its first stop in Frankfurt, but it may make more sense to put it on a carrier going west to Asia. It really depends where you are. If you are on the east coast, for example, it may make a bit of sense to go east. Lufthansa does go most places in the world. If you are in Chicago, it may be better to go west.
We can send your Shanghai freight from Chicago on a European carrier, but the distance will be greater to fly east, the cost will likely be more and the time of travel will be greater. No plane would have the range to go nonstop. However, there are Chinese carriers, as well as American Airlines, who fly non stop from ORD (Chicago, O’Hare) to PVG (Shanghai, China). Because of competition, you are likely to get a good rate for the faster transit. In freight forwarding, it is important to have an idea where everything is located in order to make the best routing decisions.
This is true for your vacation trip as well. When I tell people I have gone to Alsace, France, they usually conclude I must have flown to Paris. The truth is, I usually fly to Frankfurt, Germany which is about the same distance from Strasbourg and usually cheaper. I have also considered the Euro-Airport at Mulhouse, France which is closer, and the airport at Zürich, Switzerland.
Grab a map and discover the world. OK, here are the answers, although I am tempted to tell you to grab a Geography book or just Google it.
1 – Mogadishu is the capital of war-torn Somalia.
2 – Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
3 – Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey. You probably thought it was Istanbul.
4 – You can fly to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, which is a major international city, but no longer a capital.
5 – Castaner is a mountain community in Puerto Rico that was devastated by the hurricane. Yes, it is part of the US. And one more just for fun.
When someone new comes into your life, the whole family dynamic can change. The vibe in the household can also change. This is true even if the new family member is not human, but canine.
We are approaching the one year anniversary of adopting our dog Remy. She has enhanced our lives in ways I never would have imagined. She has palpably lightened our moods and dramatically increased our daily quota of smiles and laughs. We are thrilled to greet each new day with this happy goofball.
Before Remy, we had two dogs, Lexi and Lucky. Lexi was a seven-year old, (she’s now eight) 40 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and Lucky was a sixteen year old, 50 pound Chow/Siba Inu mix. We adored them both but Lucky was getting old and had some serious medical problems. He hadn’t really played with Lexi for years.
When Lucky died, we were devastated. We mourned for a month and then we were ready to adopt another rescue dog. Enter Remy.
Remy was eight months old when we got her and is twenty months old now. She’s a 45 pound hound mix with a magnificent reddish-brown coat and glorious hazel eyes. She’s beautiful, elegant and sleek-looking. And she exudes sweetness.
Remy was very anxious and fearful when we got her. She was too terrified to go anywhere near our doggie door for three months. We weren’t sure how much she would open up with love and time. But since then, the transformation has been miraculous.
Now this dog is pure sunshine! She is the happiest dog I’ve ever had. She literally bounces and bounds up to us every morning for her ritual happy dance and love fest. She seems to be greeting us every day thinking, “Oh boy! Oh boy! I get another wonderful day with my loving humans in my terrific home! I’m so lucky!”
Remy loves people and everyone loves Remy. She has a magnetic personality. And she is an incredibly interactive dog. She can be independent and do her own thing, but she also wants heavy doses of attention and playtime. And when she wants attention, she can be very seductive. She’ll look at you with excitement and anticipation in her eyes. Sometimes she wags her tail and often she wiggles her whole body. Sometimes she whines and ‘talks’ to us, or puts her paw on us or even jumps on us. She has us both wrapped around her little paw. Especially Tom. I’ve never seen him hug and kiss a dog so much, and we’ve had dogs together for over eighteen years.
Whenever we come home, Remy leaps in the air and yells, jumps on us and around us, licks us and shows such glee, it’s contagious. We drop everything and greet her enthusiastically. We both get such a kick out of Remy. We just can’t get enough of her.
Remy gets the usually sedentary Tom to go outside and run around with her and Lexi. The dogs go tearing back and forth, chasing each other around the backyard and wrestling. Then they run around Tom or crash into him and jump on him. It’s a pleasure to watch, especially since Lexi hasn’t been able to romp and play like this for a long time. I particularly enjoy watching Tom’s face, smiling from ear to ear the whole time. It makes me smile too, both inside and out.
Remy and Tom
Tom getting kisses from Remy
Tom and his boat dog
Remy has also gotten Tom to invent an indoor game that produces the same glee all around. Tom runs around the house with the dogs in hot pursuit. Tom tries to trick them and switch directions or hide. They whine and bark but love every minute of it. Remy is definitely a Daddy’s girl. And she’s become a constant pal to Lexi.
Lexi and Remy on the beloved sofa
Lexi and Remy
Lexi and Remy
With me, Remy is gentler. She goes into play position and/or nuzzles me or paws me when she wants attention. From me, she settles for lots of hugs and belly rubs. She also cuddles with me on the sofa when we watch television. Her coat is so soft and silky, particularly her head and her ears. She feels so good, I stroke her obsessively. I can almost feel my endorphins flowing when I pet her. I just can’t keep my hands off of her!
We did a Mitzvah (good deed) by taking on this shy and anxious dog who needed a home. She did a Mitzvah for us by bringing extra doses of laughter and fun, warmth and love into our lives.
Owen installed the chair stair life with nary a snarled curse in the air. Not only did he install it, but he never looked at the instructions until he got the electrical stuff and wanted to make sure he was attaching the connections correctly.
“How can you remember all that stuff?” I asked.
I am awed because I still can’t figure out how to put the ink cartridge in my printer — and have actually never known how. Printers are beyond me. And if that sounds ridiculous, don’t judge me. We all have limits.
My son put together the entire stair lift from pieces. He remembered how it had looked before he took it apart. All of it. Where the screws and bolts went. Where the switches needed to be placed. “I took it apart,” he pointed out.
“Taking it apart and then remembering how to put it back together — without even referring to the directions — is … amazing.”
I don’t think he sees it as amazing. He’s always been able to do that. Therein lies the difference in the way our brains are wired. I remember concepts. Ideas. I connect them. He remember how things work. And how to connect them. If we are all abandoned on a desert island, I’m pretty sure his abilities will be of far more use than mine.
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