Super Bowl versus Downton Abbey. Which would you pick?

Believe me; it's not easy to leave a Super Bowl party. But the stakes were high.
Believe me; it’s not easy to leave a Super Bowl party. But the stakes were high.

Like so many other people, we attended an amazing Super Bowl party on Sunday night with an incredible assortment of food—different kinds of chili, wings, various chips, veggies and dips, every liquid libation imaginable, desserts, everything anyone could wish for. Our host and a friend had set up a ten-foot projection screen which gave all the guys in attendance a major stiffie. There was also a big-screen high-def television in another area showing THE GAME so it was visible from any vantage point. Sounds like a perfect evening, right? If you’re a guy.

My playoff dilemma this past Sunday night wasn’t about the Bronco’s and the Panthers. I had to leave the party early because in the ladies version of Super Bowl and going head-to-head in the competition was Downton Abbey. It’s in its last season and I didn’t think the guys would appreciate me changing the channel. We’re all on the edge of our seats wondering whether bitchy Lady Mary will land a forever guy before her eggs dry up or her heart turns to ice. Will Daisy pass her exams and lead the Labour Party in a run for Prime Minister in the new world order? Will Anna’s heart breaks be rewarded with twins—one of each, a boy and a girl?

The team lineup for Downton was far superior to the competition.
The team lineup for Downton was far superior to the competition.

Potential love matches are springing up all over the place. What are Mr. Barrow and the footman getting up to in those clandestine meetings in Mr. B.’s room? After six seasons of wearily watching Lady Edith shed buckets of tears, will she fall in love again and create a multi-media empire with the guy who works nights with her. Will Mrs. Hughes finally hit Mr. Carson over the head with a frying pan and tell him to cook his own damn meals? Maybe then they’ll be the way he likes them. So many potential plot twists; so many gorgeous new dresses to admire during evening cocktails.

downton2Such delicious, genteel escapism. No concussions, crotch-grabbing, drug-enhanced testosterone chest-bumps or violence anywhere. In fact, at the risk of sounding like I’m over-simplifying (which I doubt), football to me is a giant yawn. All they do is run and get knocked down; run and get knocked down. End of story. Where’s the fun in that? But I do acknowledge the Super Bowl parties are great fun. And the best defensive lines of all? The ones uttered by Dowager Countess Grantham. Go Downton!


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Spare the rod, spoil the child is today’s banking credo

Imagine this. Your parents scrimp and sacrifice to pay for your post-secondary education at a top university, seeing it as an investment in your future. You repay them by choosing to cheat on exams, to plagiarise an essay and purchase prepared top-graded papers on-line to guarantee a good mark. Unfortunately, you get caught but instead of expelling you for being dishonest and deceitful, the university rewards you with a prestigious degree, a top job in your field upon graduation and a signing bonus from your employer. Anyone that resourceful and creative about winning deserves the rewards. Right? Then, ironically, your parents are charged with fraud and fined tens of thousands of dollars for raising a child who should have behaved more ethically. How’s that for justice?

greed1Bizzare as it sounds, that’s exactly how the banking system operates. If you happened to see the movie The Big Short, you’ll understand the absurdity and immorality of the situation. Individuals within the large banking conglomerates fattened their own bank accounts by deceiving customers into thinking they could afford more than they fiscally were able to handle, who played complicated numbers games with the professional skill of Las Vegas card counters and then rewarded themselves handsomely for their evil ways. That’s the world of banking in America.

greed4In a brilliant move by legislators and financial regulators, international banks have been assessed with multi-billion dollar fines for permitting their executives to cheat, lie and otherwise deceive the people who pay their wages and fund those huge bonuses. Tragically, it’s not the banking executives who are going to jail, losing their homes or paying fines but the shareholders and customers who deposit part of their hard-earned wages into the institutions’ savings accounts and investment funds every payday. Yes. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase and other banking behemoths who were the instruments of unscrupulous and greedy leaders are being punished—not the unscrupulous and greedy leaders personally. By fining and punishing the institutions (the banks) rather than the individuals, we, the little people who carefully save to buy their GIC’s and mortgages are taking it in the neck, again. Our stock prices suffer but not the people who created the mess.

Not bloody likely.
Not bloody likely.

Give me strength. In what Emerald City somewhere will international governing authorities finally do the right thing and root out the cause of the problem. Have they no brains? We know they have no heart but we keep hoping for some courage to rise above the injustice of the entire financial melt-down mess and eliminate the cancer that exists within the banking system and its associated credit authorities. The corruption is still flourishing with no controls in sight.

As a teeny-tiny shareholder in a bank, I’m being punished for what those greedy, unrepentant criminals did, beginning in 2008 and still going on today. The only upside to the whole stinking cesspool is I’ll never have to worry about paying capital gains. Any potential for me to make money on my savings account or bank stock has been gobbled up by bank executives’ bonuses and fines against the institutions who manage my life savings. It’s not just unfair; it’s unjust. Please sir. No more.

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Are you swingin’ with your circadian rhythms?

Whose brilliant idea was it to ruin my Christmas and New Years by calling for a proposal due January 3rd. There's a special place in hell for you.
Whose brilliant idea was it to ruin my Christmas and New Years by calling for a proposal due January 3rd? There’s a special place in hell for you.

Since I retired and am no longer subject to the tyranny of office hours (which generally averaged sixty hours per week), proposals and other work deadlines, getting up before daylight to negotiate traffic jams in a snowstorm and returning home again after dark, I’ve become unusually protective of my time commitments. One of the most wonderful benefits of retirement is no more anxiety-inducing time constraints dictated by others. The downside is I think I’ve taken it too far and now resist any form of activity with a time-related deadline.

Until the discovery and implementation of electric lighting in homes just over one hundred years ago, most people rose at sunrise and went to bed at sunset. With shorter daylight hours of sunlight and longer nights during winter, human beings adapted by hibernating and bedding down for longer hours to keep warm and conserve body energy. I’m inclined to think we also fattened up during the autumn months, a natural phenomenon I still personally undergo every year. What has been genetically engineered into my body’s natural circadian rhythms is becoming the scary master of my daily schedule.

Do not disturb. I'm now in my happy place.
Do not disturb. I’m now in my happy place and you’re no longer the boss of me.

Ask if I want to go to a movie on Tuesday afternoon? Not until after I’ve had my afternoon nap. Otherwise I can’t guarantee I won’t fall asleep in my popcorn. Dinner on Wednesday at a friend’s house? Sure, as long as I’m home and in my jammies by 9:00 p.m. There’s a dance at the clubhouse on Saturday night? No problem. It’s all baby boomers and we’re outa’ there by 10:00 p.m. latest. We regularly close the diningroom at 8:30 p.m.

What ever happened to going out to the pub on a weeknight, swilling beer until well after last call at 1:00 a.m., inviting the gang back to our apartment for more partying and listening to the oldies on the stereo until it’s almost time to go to work? Sure can’t party like we used to. The upside is I’m getting plenty of beauty sleep, albeit without the rewards. The wrinkles persist; the waistline expands and I’m still going bald. But, all is well. I’m living my circadian dream. Rise when I feel like it; go to bed when I feel like it; attend social functions when I feel like it; nap when I feel like it. The old-fashioned rhythm method is guiding my life and it feels wonderful.



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