Friday, December 19, 2014

Single Father's MOVIE REVIEW: Interstellar

Matthew McConaughey plays a single father in Interstellar
IMDB.com is 8.9 on a scale of 10. I'd say that's about right.

A smart, slightly complex, and entertaining film starring Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, and featuring Ellen Burstyn, Interstellar is set in a future United States. The world's people have evolved to believe that wars are less important than feeding people, but Earth is light years from Utopia. Not only does the government have more control of education and work, but the entire planet has also started to become a dustbowl in which entire species of crops no longer grow.

Single father of two, Cooper (McConaughey) is a farmer and, in a former life, a scientist and a pilot, who wants more for his children, not the least of which, survival. As a result of Cooper's education, experience, and a little help from a "ghost" who lives in his daughter's, Murphy's (McKenzie Foy) room, Cooper discovers a secret base where NASA, thought to be defunct, had constructed a program to find another planet where the human species could colonize. Ironically, the program was headed by Cooper's former mentor, Professor Brand (Caine).

Conveniently, a black hole had formed a half a century earlier outside the rings of Saturn and, according to Professor Brand and his daughter, also Brand (Hathaway), 12 astronauts had already been sent on individual expeditions through the singularity. Data they'd received indicates that three of the planets could possibly sustain life.

The Future of Baseball?
Somewhat predictably, the only person on Earth who can possibly - and literally - pilot the next step of the recolonization plan is, of course, Cooper, who is conflicted about leaving his family for what may be years and the potential of saving the entire human race.

I wonder what option he chooses.

I'll leave the rest of the film plot up to you, but Interstellar is a really fun take on science fiction, time travel, and human social evolution. If you're a fan of Asimov, Vonnegut, or even Star Trek or Star Wars, you'll really enjoy Interstellar.

Aren't we all time travelers?
With a run time of two hours and 39 minutes, the only concern I had about the film is its length. However, I saw the Interstellar with my favorite single mom and four children between the ages of eight and twelve, including The Favorite Son.

When the credits started to run, so did The Favorite Son . . . to the bathroom. On the way, he said to me, "I really have to pee. I didn't go to the bathroom during the movie because I didn't want to miss anything."

I guess that means it wasn't too long.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Single Father: Getting Ready to Date

"Ain't no man that can't avoid being born average, but there ain't no man that got to be common." - Satchel Paige


St. Louis Browns' Satchel Paige
If a healthy diet, exercise, and shaping up is a stand-up triple on the way to feeling good physically, then grooming and wardrobe is the sacrifice fly to get you home. (I use the word “sacrifice” with purpose; for a lot of guys, shopping for clothes is probably not terribly high on the fun-to-do list.)

A lot of guys may already have tackled this one. For others – and at the risk of being redundant, it’s probably been a while since the single father has dated. Due perhaps to shifts in societal values during the past couple of decades or to the priorities a forty-five year old woman compared to a twenty-five year old woman, the women’s expectations have changed. Clothes styles have, too. However, I’m not sure good grooming has ever gone out of style. You’ve already taken the time to remake yourself physically, why not take the next step?

Whoa! Not so fast! What do you, dad, know about style anyway? Unless you’re a clothes designer, buyer, a sales consultant, or even a professional hair stylist, your answer is probably, “Not much.” Again, this is not a problem because the Single Father’s Dating Rule #2 is, when buying clothes or getting your hair cut, enlist the help of a Platonic Female Friend (PFF) for advice . . . and then, take it!

I have to admit, the clothes on which I get the most compliments aren’t those I pick out myself. Why? Well, because I’m a guy. As such, I’m concerned at least as much about function as I am about form. When I buy jeans, I buy jeans to be comfortable. When I buy jackets, I buy jackets so I’m, yes, comfortable. Sure, I’d like to look good, too, but when I think something I buy will look good, I figure out that I’m right only about half the time. Probably less.

On the other hand, a woman’s eye is keen because, well, she’s looking. Just like you can see a woman wearing a dress that, ahem, accentuates her assets, a woman can look at a pair of jeans that makes your backside look good. She can tell you if your haircut looks like a million bucks or looks like it was done by a preschooler using blunt-tipped scissors. In case you’re unsure, you want the former.


By way of a disclaimer, you don’t want a PFF to shop for you. If you want a woman to shop for you, then you’ll likely appear that you’re needy or that you want to be “mothered,” which, I can tell you based on my conversations with PFF’s, are not attractive qualities. Rather, you want a PFF to shop with you. You, single father, will have taken responsibility for your personal improvement plan. Your PFF is simply your consultant and I know there are ladies out there who would love to help a friend spend money on clothes. I can almost guarantee, she’ll think of herself in the role of Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady and of you, a somewhat hairier Audrey Hepburn, who needs her help to reach his potential as a gentleman. (Don’t ask me how I knew to use that reference, but if you use it when you ask your PFF to help you shop, I can almost guarantee she’ll appreciate it.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Reasons to Take an Interest in the Things That Interest Your Child

Ever sit in an auditorium of a fourth grade band concert as the as several dozen anti-Mozarts, including your own child, discordantly struggle their way through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Single Dad? Frankly, I hope you have.

Whether you've attended your child's fourth grade band concert, coached a little league baseball team, or participate in a science fair, you're communicating much more to your child than any words can convey.

Here's what you tell your child and opportunities you create when you take an interest in the activities that interest your child.


1. You teach your children what it means to care.

2. You help to build confidence in your children.

3. Your encouragement gives your children the support to explore new activities, which will almost certainly help them to identify what they may like to do or is good at.

4. Your presence provides natural opportunities to "parent" your children; you'll have more opportunities to lead by example and impart your wisdom during casual, low stress interactions.

5. Your children know you love them.



You child may or may not every play Mozart's Twelve Variations, but with your support, he or she will be more likely to accomplish incredible things . . . on their own path.



Friday, November 28, 2014

Un-American: The College Football Playoff Selection Committee (Are You In?)

Yep. It’s true. Heck, if you think about it, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee (CFPSC) isn’t just un-American. It’s downright Communist. Think about it.

NCAA College Football Selection Committee: Un-American?

Communist Central Planning Committee
College Football Playoff Selection Committee
Comprised of a group of politicians and cronies who decide what’s good for everyone else.
Comprised of a group of politicians cronies who decide what’s good for college football.
Using objective data, subjectively decide the resource allocation to the proletariat.
Using objective data, subjectively decide which college football teams deserve to play for the national title.
While outwardly maintaining the system benefits the masses, decisions unfairly benefit only a few.
While outwardly maintaining the system benefits the fans, decisions unfairly benefit only a few.
Chairman uses media to cheerfully explain the benefits of the system.
Chairman uses media to cheerfully explain the benefits of the system.
Everyone lives with less except the committee cronies who divide the limited resources.
Fans and schools live with lesser bowl games and a less interesting playoff system except the CFPSC crony schools which divide the limited resources.

CFPSC Chairman Jeff Long
Potentially, the two most egregious omissions from the College Football Playoff exist in the Big 12 and Southeastern (SEC) Conferences. First, while Baylor and TCU both have identical conference and overall records and Baylor beat TCU in a head-to-head game, the Communist Party . . . er, I mean, the CFPSC has ranked TCU higher than Baylor, which means TCU may get a berth in the first college football playoff and Baylor may not. Second, either Georgia or Missouri, currently ranked 9th and 17th, respectively by the committee, will win the SEC East Division. The Bulldogs or the Tigers will then play the winner of the SEC West Division, either Alabama, currently ranked #1, or Mississippi State, #4 for the SEC Championship. However, if either Georgia or Missouri earn that title by actually winning the SEC, it is unlikely under the CFPSC that either will earn one of the coveted four playoff spots due to nebulous reasons like "body of work," "Top 25 wins," or something else.

What if there was a committee for the NFL or Major League Baseball and the Patriots or the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees or San Francisco Giants, in spite of having won their respective divisions, are not included in a playoff because the committee decided that their schedule wasn’t strong enough or that they didn’t have enough “quality wins?”

That would be idiotic, right?

Here’s The Single Father's Guide answer. The NCAA College Football playoffs expand from four teams to eight teams and merit determines the playoff spots. Each of the winners of the five “power conferences,” the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and PAC-12, are in. Then, as in a representative republic, coaches of all NCAA Division I Football teams vote for the next three schools, similar to a wild card system, based on the proportional populations of its student body. For example, a school that has a student body of 30,000 would have three times the weight of a school that only has a student body of 10,000. Merit is rewarded, as potentially are special cases such as independents like Notre Dame, which plays a strong schedule each year, the small conference powerhouses like Marshall and Boise State if the non-conference schedule is reasonable, and the hard-luck teams like an undefeated or one-loss power conference team that loses its conference championship.

Roll Tide

Is any system perfect? Well, no.  Moreover, there will always be subversives who want to undermine a merit system for those who believe they know better. At least with “The Single Father’s Guide to the NCAA College Football Playoffs,” we’d be starting with the subversives NOT running the system.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Favorite Son Saga: Living With a Cartoon Character

Sometimes, I think I'm living with a cartoon character. This conversation took place, literally, last night.

 


THE FAVORITE SON: (Eating a wedge of mango like Bugs Bunny eats a carrot and walking from the family room to the kitchen for another piece.) You know, sometimes you're almost as good-looking as I do.

ME: (Freshly showered after family gym night and wearing jeans and a long sleeve tee-shirt.) Is now one of those times?

THE FAVORITE SON: (Replacing his mango wedge and returning to the family room and responding in a matter-of-fact tone.) Yes.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Middletown Thrall Library's Authors & Illustrators Showcase: December 6, 2014

Middletown Thrall Library
Don't miss your chance to meet the author of "The Single Father's Guide Blog," The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball, and Father Like a Tree, and dozens of other talented Hudson Valley authors and illustrators at the Middletown Thrall Library's First Annual Authors & Illustrators Showcase.

Matthew S. Field's Father Like a Tree
"Featured authors will cover a wide variety of genres including nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Meet Susan B. Pfeffer, Michael J. Worden, Bern Cohen, Marianne Sciucco, Matthew S. Field, and others."

Matthew S. Field
This is a great opportunity for both readers of "The Single Father's Guide Blog" and bibliophiles to meet authors, discuss literature, and even get a few signed books in time for the holidays. According to the Middletown Thrall Library's website, "This free event promises to be a wonderful opportunity for readers to meet local authors, to learn about the publishing process, and to view these authors' books."

The Middletown Thrall Library is located at 11-13 Depot Street in Middletown, New York. The Authors and Illustrators Showcase begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 6, 2014. For more information, call 845-341-5454. I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Single Father's Guide Among Strictly Dating's "10 Best Dating Blogs for Single Dads"

Single Father Blogger Matthew S. Field, aka Yours Truly
The Single Father's Guide Blog has been recognized by Strictly Dating as one of its "10 Best Dating Blogs for Single Dads."

According to Strictly Dating, "Matthew Field blogs about his life raising his three kids whilst living in Hudson Valley’s Warwick, NY, USA. He is the author of ‘The Single Father’s (Guide)’ and the children’s book, ‘Father Like a Tree’ plus he’s working on a new book about dating as a single dad. Check out his posts on ‘First Date Sex and the Single Father’ and ‘Surviving Infidelity.’

Strictly Dating's mission is "to get exactly the right relationship for you. Together with our partners, we literally invest millions of pounds each year in state of the art technology to ensure that you get the best dating experience." Check out more at StrictlyDating.com.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Single Father's SAFE HALLOWEEN

The Incredibles, sort of.
While I acknowledge there exists differing opinion about celebrating Halloween, I think Halloween can be one of the most enjoyable family holidays. This is particularly true for (single) parents/fathers when the kids are younger. Still, when there are thousands of children walking around wearing costumes and masks that may impede their vision and sharing the streets with motorists, well, it’s just a time that safety is more important than ever.

Rather than creating my own list of Halloween safety tips, I’m just going to borrow a list created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heck, it's my taxes that pays for this kind of stuff. Here goes:

Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
They're only children one time.
Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Another Halloween and couldn't find a costume.

Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?
Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:


·         Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

·         Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.

·         Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.

·         Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.

·         Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.


Happy Halloween, Single Fathers. (And, everyone else, too!)




I

Friday, October 24, 2014

Single Father's Movie Review: ABOUT TIME

A film that includes a great father and son story, a cute love story, time travel, and Rachel McAdams? Well, that film has to be just about perfect, right? Well, About Time is just about perfect. (I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a sucker for a good love story.)

After a disastrous party the night before, Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is summoned to his father's (Bill Nighy's) study. According to his father, the men in Tim's family have the ability to travel to and from the past simply by going to a dark place, making his hands into fists, and wishing to return to a moment in his past. To Tim's considerable surprise, it actually works.


Written and directed by Richard Curtis, About Time is one of those cheeky British love stories in the mold of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, which, admittedly, is a pretty good formula. A charming, slightly awkward, but quick-witted protagonist this time played by Gleeson, falls in love with an essentially perfect and heart-breakingly beautiful American, not Andie McDowell or Julia Roberts, but Rachel McAdams, and endures a few gentle bumps as they endearingly amble through the script toward happiness. In the end and with his father's counsel, Tim learns the most valuable lesson he can, and (spoiler) it's "about time."



Technically, About Time isn't really perfect. The plot hole that Tim, in his 21 years on earth, hadn't ever balled up his fists in a dark place and wished he could have done something again, accidentally discovering by himself that he could time travel, is a little hard to swallow. And, at one point, near the end, the story seems to meander aimlessly for a few minutes. Frankly, I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief of those minor complaints for Ms. McAdams, (who, I'm a little concerned, may become type-casted as the female love interest in more time-travel movies, e.g., The Time Traveler's Wife), and the other really terrific components of the film.

Still, About Time is a lot of fun and, if you have a little time yourself, you could certainly find worse ways to spend 123 minutes.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Avoiding Accidents at the School Bus Stop

A Bus Driver Pledging Her Commitment to Safety
An average of 33 children die each in school bus related accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About two-thirds of these accidents occur outside the bus, and the majority of the children involved are between the ages of five and seven years old. Many of these tragedies can be avoided if motorists simply obey the traffic laws as they pertain to stopping for the school bus when loads and unloads students.

As single fathers, we've all probably have all seen a car pass a school bus that has its red lights flashing and the STOP "arm" on on the driver's side of the bus extended. The fact is, whether a motorist is simply distracted or believes he or she is above the law, (see the incredible video news story, below), there isn't much we has parents can do to prevent drivers from passing our school buses, but we can educate our children ways to understand potential dangers and take responsibility for their safety when they board and get off the school bus.




Here are some great safety tips you should share with your school age, particularly your early elementary age, children:



  • Children should carry belongings in a backpack so that they won’t drop things on the way.
  • Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early; students arriving late may be tempted to run across the street, causing them to possibly trip and fall in front of the moving bus or other vehicle.
  • Walk young children to the bus stop and when possible, have older children walk in groups, which are easier for drivers to see.
  • If a child must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic, and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.
  • If a student must cross a street, then remind the student to stop, look left, right and then left again.
  • Always cross in front of the bus, never behind, and maintain eye contact with driver. Make sure that child is at least 10 feet, five giant steps, ahead of the bus before crossing.
  • Remind children not to cross until the bus has come to a complete stop, the RED stop lights are activated, the STOP sign “arm” extends, and the driver signals that it is safe to cross.
  • Let children know if they drop something, never pick it up and never crawl under the bus. Instead, ask your child to tell the driver and to follow the driver’s instructions.
  • When exiting the bus, look to the right before stepping off the bus. Impatient motorists may try to pass the bus on the right. Cross in front of the bus and maintain eye contact with driver.
  • If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child is discharged. A child can be so excited after school that they forget safety rules and run across the street.

School bus drivers and student management aides often receive 40 hours or more of training each year to safely transport our children to and from school each day. Take a few minutes to review school bus safety rules with your kids, single dad. It's a worthwhile exercise.



Friday, October 10, 2014

The Favorite Son Saga: Zombie Apocalypse Redux & Driving a Lamborgini

Zombie Clown
It's been a while since I posted an installment of The Favorite Son Saga on The Single Father's Guide Blog. For all of my readers jonesin' for one, here it is.

On the drive home from soccer practice on Monday after I delivered one of his teammates to his home, The (ten year old, zombie-obsessed) Favorite Son began:

THE FAVORITE SON (TFS): I can't wait for the zombie apocalypse.

ME: Oh, yeah? Why?
The Zombie-Obsessed
Favorite Son

TFS: Well, I could drive a car when I'm like, 13.

ME: If the zombie apocalypse happened right now, why couldn't you drive a car right now?

TFS: Yeah. But, how would we get gas with all the power out?

ME: There'd be plenty of gas. We'd have to syphon it out with a hose from other cars.

TFS: You know how to do that?

ME: Yeah. We could do it.

TFS: (Pause, considering the implications.) Could I drive a Lamborgini?

Lamborgini


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Single Father's Guide to Ray Rice, the NCAA, & Dorial Green-Beckham: A Tale of Two Programs

Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice
Sadly, I think there’s something been missing in the aftermath of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice’s very public domestic assault and it’s not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s bungled handling of the video revelations of the assault. Frankly, I believe a lack of integrity among some NCAA programs and a win-at-any-cost philosophy among coaches to the detriment of the college athlete have propagated a culture of entitlement among many players.

A case in point is the tale of two major college programs and how each addressed the case of Dorial Green-Beckham, arguably the best NFL wide-receiver prospect in the country.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops
In April 2014 while a member of an SEC Conference Missouri Tigers football team that finished the previous year's campaign with a 13 – 2 record and a #5 national ranking, the 6’ 6”, 225 pound Green-Beckham broke into a Columbia, Missouri apartment and assaulted an 18 year old female student in the process. What was the response of Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel? Green-Beckam was dismissed from the team.

Dismissed from the team.
Oklahoma Sooners' Wide Receiver
Dorial Green-Beckham

Meanwhile Norman, Oklahoma, Big 12 Conference powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops opens his arms to Green-Beckham after his dismissal from Missouri. While the NCAA denied Green-Beckham’s waiver request to play for Oklahoma in the 2014 season rather than waiting a year after transfer, the student-athlete will return to the gridiron in 2015 and likely enter the NFL draft in 2016.
Missouri Tigers'
Head Coach Gary Pinkel

While Gary Pinkel, I'm sure with a heavy heart and knowing his decision would diminish the on-field talent of his football team, attempted to impart a life lesson to his former player by showing the talented young man that actions have consequences, Bob Stoops did the opposite. By offering a scholarship to Green-Beckham, Coach Stoops communicated through is actions that no matter what you do, Dorial Green-Beckham and other blue-chip college and high school athletes – you can break into apartments, you can assault an 18 year old women, you can punch your wife so hard that you knock her out – and you can get away with it. Nice work, Coach Stoops and Oklahoma. Thanks a lot.


But, really, nice work Coach Pinkel and Missouri. Thanks a lot.

O.J. and Nicole


Saturday, September 27, 2014

National Bad Customer Service Day

Crusading for Customer Service
Because customer service has been such a priority in my professional management career, I tend to have pretty high expectations of customer service as a consumer.


When I was a wee lad of 23, I earned my first opportunity as a frontline manager at a 90 bus, 110 employee Ryder System, Inc. school bus operation in Erie, Pennsylvania. My manager and mentor, Greg Walter, and I talked daily on the telephone and met monthly in-person during which times he reinforced the importance of taking care of my internal customers, the people who reported to me, and my external customers, the folks who write the checks. I carried those lessons with me through my days at Ryder, to Ferrellgas, Suburban Propane, and now, Durham School Services. At each stop, I’ve had a great deal of professional success primarily, I know, as a result of that focus on customer service.

It’s that perspective that makes patience a scarce commodity when it comes to the times that I experience substandard customer service, and, unfortunately, today appears to be Bad Customer Service Day in Orange County. (It might be a national thing, but I didn’t leave the county today to find out.)

"Der, I make the donuts."
The bad service started after I promised The Favorite Son a stop at the Dunkin Donuts in Florida, New York before his Taekwondo class at Northeaster Martial Arts Academy. There was a line of cars around the building, so we decided to go inside to order. At the head of the line, there was a large, rather high-maintenance group, perhaps eight people trying to order. I counted six employees behind the counter. Rather than one DD employee working with that large group on one register, at least five were trying to take care of the group while the line of customers, on which I was fourth, stretched out the door. It took more than fifteen minutes to get two ‘nuts and a cranberry juice.

From there, it was Lowe’s where, for the sake of convenience, I decided to pick up some lawn and garden supplies. (My bad.) I had only a few minutes to grab what I needed and get back to the gym to retrieve The Favorite Son, so I purposely went directly and only to the “outside” garden center to save time. After my quick pick of supplies, I was second in the only cashier’s lane only to learn that the cashier was talking, seemingly without end, to another department about whether the window treatments for the customer at the front of the line were on sale.
Customer Service Desk?
(Window treatments? In the garden center? Seriously?) As the line of lawn and garden buyers lengthened, I asked a nearby Lowe’s employee if she’d mind opening a second lane. The first response was complete indifference. When I asked again, she sighed grudgingly, rolled her eyes, opened the lane, and checked me out. When I thanked her, she said, and I quote, “.“ (Nothing.)

Next, my visit to ShopRite to pick up my shop-from-home groceries was greeted with several mischarged items in spite of the fact that I’d spoken on the phone with my shopper to clarify the substitutes and the prices.

Still, with all of this going wrong for me today, I thought I’d brave the lines at Masker’s Orchard, do another quick pick of my all-time favorite apples, Jonagolds, and call it a day. It all went pretty smoothly: there was no line of cars to access the orchard, I knew right where the Jonagold trees were, and the trees were full and largely unpicked. After ten minutes, I had my one, count it, one $27 bag of apples, and I headed down hill in my car to pay.

Maskers Orchard's Jonagolds are pretty darned good.
Their customer service? Not so much.
The sixteen year old boy who was supposed to give me a pay ticket had no chance when he said, “Would you open your trunk so I can check to see if you have any apples back there.” When I said, “No,” he was a little confused. So he got on his radio and summoned a seventeen year old who instructed me to open my trunk and proceeded to explain that he had the “right” to search my car. Then, it was an eighteen year old who arrived in time to lecture me on private property rights and suggested that the bag of apples in my front seat was “too full.”

Finally, the orchard owner, with whom I’m casually acquainted, showed up and said, “Hey, I know you. Aren’t you . . . You’re fine."

Well, I’m home now with my garden supplies, groceries, Jonagolds, and some of my sanity. I’m pretty sure that I’m just going to stay home tonight and let the rest of the world deal with Bad Customer Service Day.

As I lay here in my bed, getting ready to nap just after I finish this blog post on this early autumn Saturday in New York, I’m reminded of a famous movie line, which I’ve modified in my head and which sort of metaphorically summarizes my day:

“They can take our apples, but they can’t take our . . . FREEDOM!”