Monday, February 8, 2016
It's rampant, it's addictive, it's contagious.
Yesterday Honeybuns and I went out for lunch after church, our normal Sunday activity. For several weeks now we've been observing the same behavior amongst our fellow diners no matter where we go for Sunday chow.
We've made a conscious effort to speak to and smile at children, elderly folks, wives, husbands, friends that are obviously very much ALONE and LONELY while sitting across the table from their loved ones. No matter what the age, the sad look is identical. A kind word or smile is eagerly acknowledged.
Their loved ones are staring at or playing games on their phones! You've seen it, too. It's not just a Dallas disease, but a pandemic across the nation.
We've noticed small children sitting quietly, being totally ignored, while both parents are intently involved with their phones. Husbands and wives are totally dismissed while one or the other plays a game or checks their e-mail. Grandmas and Grandpas are staring out the window while their family members check out the latest games. Usually NO ONE is talking on their phones, that would be rude, I guess. But they are immersed in whatever is happening on that small screen even though their family members are sitting right in front of them.
Yesterday we watched a father play games on his phone while his teenage daughter politely sat across the table watching him. She looked very sad, and I wondered when this Daddy would regret this activity. Her time with him is so very short. I'm sure a day will come when he decides she is or WAS more important than a video game.
EVERY single table in that very crowded, very popular upscale bakery held the same scene. It was unbelievable.
I saw a quote recently, "Our phones keep us connected with many, but disconnects us with the people sitting across from us."
And another with a picture of a lonely child, "I wish I were a phone so my mommy and daddy would hold ME all day."
It's EASY to catch the iPhone Addiction Disorder. The symptoms manifest before you know it and before long you've got a full blown case. Compare it to alcohol, prescription drugs, or cannabis. It's a sneaky, sly bug!
SO......I've made some guidelines for ME! (You can steal them if you please.) I'm comparing these "rules" to taking vitamins, exercising, taking a bath, eating lots of greens, and drinking lots of water. It's preventative action for healthy relationships. (Some of these are easier than others.)
1. When I enter a restaurant with ANYONE, the phone stays in the car.
2. When I'm driving....its in my purse in the backseat.
3. When I have company at my house it's turned off and in my purse in the laundry room.
4. It is never allowed in the bedroom.
5. When I'm at a meeting of ANY kind, it's turned off and stays in my purse or IF it's church, it's in the car.
6. When I'm at ANYONE'S house, ditto.
These little technological wonders can control our lives to the point that we are no longer living our lives with the most important people on earth. A reminder: that isn't a phone you are holding, it is a tiny computer with access to the world and you can also make a call.
Seriously! Who needs to play video poker at a birthday party?
We babyboomers remember when the telephone was attached to the wall, so I think I can put this demanding marvel in its rightful place. When it beeps, it can wait.
And I'll continue to strike up conversations with those lonely folks abandoned by it.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Who is Bernie Madoff???
That was my question too, UNTIL I happened upon a two part TV special this past Wednesday and Thursday evening. I flipped on the show fully expecting to turn it to American Idol after a minute or two, BUT found myself engrossed in this story.
The story of Bernie Madoff is fascinating! Even for a numbers-challenged person like me.
He founded and ran a Wall Street Investment Firm that was very successful for decades. He portrayed himself as a financial magician! The "lipstick" building in Manhattan was his world and many people were employed there making legitimate profits for their customers in the ups and downs of that business. His two sons developed a successful career as traders, and money managers in that place.
The office was modern, slick, and exciting. People counted themselves very fortunate to work at Madoff's. He was very successful and president of NASDAQ for 4 years.
BUT...Bernie had a secret! On the 17th floor of that magnificent building a very different type of operation was whirling. NO ONE was allowed on the 17th floor without Bernie's permission and he rarely gave it. There Bernie's old-time and extremely loyal friend, two female morally bankrupt women and a handful of bean counters reported to work daily. The employees on that floor generated thousands of reports and perspectives and sent them out to some of the richest people on the planet. You see, Bernie had artfully and very slyly convinced his clients that only HE could make them successful on the stock market. Those people GAVE HIM, voluntarily, BILLIONS of dollars for him to "take care of." His charm, timing, manipulation and sheer bravado won them over.
The secret? Bernie never made ONE trade with their money. NOT ONE! He took their billions and spent it on his very lavish lifestyle which included 4 ka-million dollar mansions, yachts, a collection of Rolex watches, lavish vacations, fancy cars, extreme parties and "over the top" gifts to his family and employees. He gave away rare cars, watches, and villas in Switzerland, with the intent of buying loyalty and friendship. It worked for decades.
The reports sent to his 17th floor customers were all BOGUS. Every page, every column, ever number was a lie. Every thing that happened there was illegal with serious consequences. The employees on THAT floor were the only ones in the know!
It went on for YEARS! When a client requested a payout he would offer to give them their money WITH the stipulation that once OUT of his organization there would be no returning. They folded, every time, continuing to TRUST the wizard. He spent their money and they received paper reports in the mail.
Well, to make a very long complicated story short, a numbers nerd caught wind of this operation and was able to look at the books. After about 5 minutes he declared, FRAUD.
The FBI moved in and soon it was very obvious that MANY investors were devastated. It took years to unwind the mess. Bernie had to confess to his wife and sons that his operation was all a LIE, that he'd been running a PONZI scheme for decades. They were stunned! The husband and father they thought they knew didn't even exist. He'd deceived them as well.
Many innocent employees were without a job, one son committed suicide, the second died of cancer, his wife was destroyed. A daughter-in-law had to change her last name to be able to function in society once again. His loyal secretary of 25 years was a key witness AFTER the scam was exposed. She handed the FBI Bernie's "black book" of phone numbers. It contained the names of ALL the folks he'd tricked.
BERNIE and several of his inner circle went to jail. Bernie's sentence was 155 years. He's living the good life in prison as a hero of sorts and has declared that at last he has no worries and is enjoying life.
Probably the most important line of the whole story was when Bernie (Richard Dreyfuss) looked into the camera and stated....."one phone call would have blown the whistle years ago. A secretary could have made that call." (To the government agency that oversees the financial world.)
And another line, "I told them (investors) what they wanted to hear, not the truth, and they believed me."
Wow! He told them what they wanted to hear, not the truth! Most of Bernie's victims were highly educated and very successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. They were good, charitable, smart folks.
Deceived, every one. Probably the biggest lie I/we believe is, "that can't happen to me."
One morally corrupt evil man destroyed many.
Truth (about anything) is important, whether we like the sound of it or not.