Amazing Movement

My fellow Lions have been telling me for the past year to sign up for the Lions International 100 Year Anniversary Convention. I listened, and argued with myself about going. One day I got up enough nerve to begin filling out the registration form online. When it came time to pay and to pump in my credit card numbers the program locked up and I backed out. The Convention began on Friday, June 30 and runs until July 4th. Because it is the 100th anniversary and the Lions Club was founded by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones, it is in Chicago. Three days ago, I decided to let go and volunteer to work the event. I talked myself into giving up one day away from Peg and to serve the cause. E-mail is wonderful. I messaged the Volunteer volunteer and he accepted me graciously. I told him I would work in any capacity. He assigned me to the Parade of Nations. The Parade was on Saturday and this was on Thursday. The hook was that I had to register to attend the event to work the event. I busied myself for the rest of the day deciding on how to get their, where to park and how to proceed. Finally, I decided I would go down to Mc Cormack Place on Friday to register, so I wouldn’t be rushed on Saturday morning. Lion Ralph told me to be at the parade registration tent by 7:00 a.m.

On Friday morning after breakfast and after getting Peg out of bed, I drove the thirty-five miles to Mc Cormack Place and arrived at the convention center at 11:00 am. I had to be home by 2:30 to help with Peg again. I found the line going to room 102 and stopped dead. The line was easily three people wide and a hundred yards long. I wasn’t worried, I had plenty of time. After forty minutes spent chatting with Lions from India, Philippines, and Malta I made some forward progress. Still not to worry, I can still make my deadline. A Lion volunteer appeared, and asked what we were in line for. I told him what my situation was, and he walked me ahead to serpentine line immediately outside room 102. It was half filled. Great I thought, a short line. I met more Lions, this time from India, Philippines, Indiana, Hawaii, and London. At twelve thirty I made it through the door of room 102 only to find another serpentine which was full. Luckily, there were about six registrars moving us along. There was a second serpentine line in the room next to ours. It also served by six registrars. I learned that these people were all non-english speaking Lions.

An amazing thing about all these lines filled by people from everywhere is that there wasn’t a crabby person anywhere. I would have thought that if you just arrived from Australia (eighteen hours non-stop, and longer if connections have to be made), the night before suffering from a severe case of jet-lag, and were tired that you would really be upset by having to wait in another long line. It wasn’t the case, some of these people had waited in lines for hours in a couple of airports before they got to the convention. Lions Clubs International Foundation told us they planned on forty thousand people attending. By the opening day they estimated fifty-five thousand. I personally met several who made decisions at the very last-minute, and missed the deadline to get credentials by mail.  So, there we were waiting and telling stories about our clubs and activities. At 2:00 p.m. I called Peg’s caretaker to let her know I would be seriously late. I got home at 4:30. Peg was fine without me.

On Saturday morning the opportunity alarm went off at five a.m. I crawled out of bed, showered, dressed and left the house by 5:30. At that time of the morning on a Saturday of a holiday weekend the traffic moved at seventy-five all the way to the turn-off for the Outer Drive. I sailed through the construction zone past Mc Cormack Place and onto the Drive. I exited at the light before Randolph, and turned onto Michigan Avenue to disappear into the underground garage under Millennium Park. It was so empty I was able to park within fifty feet of the exit to Randolph Street. I had about a mile walk ahead of me to the parade registration tent, but I was so early I just took my time and sauntered along. About midway between Randolph and State I saw something strange. A City of Chicago dump truck fully loaded with salt and a snow plow parked at the curb. A driver sat behind the wheel. Strange I thought, they can’t be waiting for a snow storm. A few yards further on the opposite side of the street sat another truck with the plow and salt. I menatlly filed it, and proceeded to the reported check-in tent. I got to the spot only to find myself there all alone, no tent, and not a single person insight. This can’t be, I’m right on the mark printed in the instructions. Not to worry, I still had plenty of time so I sauntered back a half mile to the official parade start point. Alas, a tent with Lions. I found someone, and checked in at 7 a.m. By that time, the only parade volunteer vests they had left were XXL or XXXL. I chose the double. I am a big guy around the belly and chest but thankfully, I am nowhere near XXL, I would have asked for an L, or an M. Finally, a volunteer registered me. A volunteer registered by another volunteer. I asked for my assignment, I got it from another volunteer. I was to go to the Purple Zone which was about four blocks back from where I came. I eventually learned that a purple flag defined an area for a specific group of countries. It was about half a city block long and ended at a grey flag. Further west at half block increments there were more colored flags. Luckily, I learned one of the volunteers there with me was another Lion who held the key to the event; a list of countries and the color of their staging area. In the beginning there were not many people at the area, but by eight a.m. things began picking up. The scheduled start time was 9:00 a.m. As more people came my job was to answer their questions. Most needed direction to their start zone. I’d find the lady with the list, and we’d use sign language to direct them. (we had a poster with the zone colors and arrows pointing the direction). The crowd got bigger and nine o’clock came, and went, but the parade did not begin. There was total confusion as Lions from 135 countries milled about looking for directions.

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My XXL Volunteer Parade Marshall Vest

As the crowd grew, the head Marshall had the north-south streets closed off. As they did that the traffic on La Salle Street (the grey zone) got really heavy as Chicagoans not knowing what was going on searched out ways to get around the blockage. My job shifted to holding back people from crossing the street against the lights. The Lions are all crazy I thought, they step out with their backs into the traffic lane without looking to take group pictures, or to look at their phones. Picture taking was in a frenzy as a group saw interesting costumes from another country, and they rushed to take pictures with them. Numerous young ladies handed me their camera and smiled at me to take their picture with a group.

One lady who happened to live downtown was on a suicide mission to cross the street when we stood in front of her with arms stretched out. She very indignantly shouted that she needed to get to the other side. My fellow Lion belly bumped her, and told her if she didn’t obey he would call a cop. She rebelled and yelled even louder. She shoved   him away and proceeded to bull her way past him. He grabbed her by the arm at which point she really hollered out “let go of me, and don’t you touch me again.”

” Lady,” I Said, “all we want to do is to protect you from getting run over, when the light changes we will let you cross.” She stopped yelling and waited. Had we let her go she would have been followed by a stream of people running behind her. Most of these people were from Asia and they are accustomed to crossing streets with lots of traffic, I thought, but one wrong move by me, and someone will get hurt. I stopped another Asian lady who was stunned by my direction. I told her “We want you to go home alive,” she smiled and stepped back. In general, the Asians were very respectful.

Just around the corner on La Salle Street stood the Joliet American Legion Band. Patiently standing at ease in lines ready to march into the parade. Dressed in navy blue suits, white shirts with black ties, and Captains hats they were there for at least two hours standing, holding their instruments. I wanted them to begin playing, but they remained quiet throughout watching the mayhem pass by them. I guess I’ll have to wait until the Sunday night concert at Frankfort’s Concert on the Green where they are playing the next evening.

By 9:30 a.m. the streets were filled with marchers from the countries but still there was no movement. The people traffic on the corners and the sidewalks slowed a bit as last-minute paraders scurried to their start zones. Finally, at 10 a.m.the parade began moving, and my role shifted to one of urging people to move along so there would be no long gaps between. I stood on the median on Wacker Drive and waved them forward to catch the group so they could stand and wait for more movement.” Hurry up, and wait,” I told them. From 10:00 am until 1:00 p.m. I stood and watched in amazement waving my arms forward as people from so many countries passed me by. China was my favorite. I didn’t even know the Lions had clubs in China. First they carried a banner as wide as the street announcing China, Then a very short distance later came another banner declaring China, and below that the name of the city they represented followed by row after row of Chinese Lions waving flags. there had to be ten Chinese cities represented, each with hundreds of marchers. My favorite was the city that did a Dragon Dance as a special attraction. In addition to their hundred marchers the dragon snaked his way around, and through the marchers to the beat of a very loud drum.

At one o’clock my legs were numb and feet hurt, so I decided to quit. I walked away near the end of the line, and headed to a coffee shop on La Salle that reminded me of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. I ordered a bowl of chicken dumpling soup, it was the first and only thing I had to eat. I paid $6.79 for this small bowl of soup and thought how glad I am not to be working downtown. Inside the shop I met an Australian couple who were also snacking. I asked them why they weren’t marching. “We did,” they answered.

“How long did it take?”

“About an hour.” Gosh it started at ten, and it is now one and still going. I finished my soup and walked out to be surprised that there were no marchers left on Wacker Drive. I saw a crowd of orange vested volunteers at the corner of Wacker and State two blocks away. I walked slower than my start of the day saunter, and as I approached the tail end of the crowd two old lady Lions tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew where to catch a shuttle bus back to Mc Cormack Place. Here they were at the starting point of the parade route, and I had to tell them the shuttle busses were at the conclusion one mile south. I thought they were going to faint right there. I don’t know how they made it back, I’m hoping the lions marshaling the parade at the end would help them out.

I slowly walked the sidewalk south to Randolph, and made the turn east to find my car  when the answer came. There, parked diagonally across the street blocking four lanes of traffic were the two dump trucks loaded with salt, and their plows lowered to the ground. They were a deterrent to terrorists. Chicago can’t control gun violence but it was making sure the headlines would not read “truck rams parade killing. . .” My guess is they had trucks blocking every street crossing the parade route.

Good job Chicago, thanks for letting us use the city for a great parade.

You Are Invited

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Lion Grumpa Joe is throwing a big party this Thursday evening 28 August 2014, for anyone 21 years old or older between 6:30 and 11:00 p.m. at Oak and Kansas Street in Historic Frankfort, Illinois. I’m calling it the Best Wurst Fest ever! You are all invited. Admission is by invitation only, and an invitation is a mere twenty dollars. The sawbuck gets you a chance to win a 10,000 dollar jackpot and gets two people into the party. Oh, I almost forgot, if you wait until Thursday night to buy a ticket at the door the invitation fee goes to twenty-five bucks. If you aren’t a party person, you can still buy the ticket to get a chance to win the jackpot because you don’t have to be there to win. Isn’t that a great idea, or what?

The food offered will be genuine German bratwurst sandwiches, with what else but sour kraut? If you are not hungry, and still wish to fill your need for salt, we offer authentic German twisted bread sticks lovingly called pretzels. Wash it all down with some fantastic imported German Warsteiner Pilsen beer. It is the rich creamy kind with a thick tall head like they pour in Munich, Heidelberg and Frankfurt during October Fest. If you can’t stand bratwurst, pretzels, or beer, I’ll have pizza, and soft drinks. If you can’t stand eating, I asked the famous Peter from the Bier Stube restaurant to entertain you while we wait for Die Musikmeisters Band to play oom-pah songs so we can all do the German Polka and Chicken Dance the night away.

I guarantee your friends will ask you on Friday morning if you had a good time last night because you will look like you have a package on.

Click the button below to get your admittance to the party, I added a $1.00 service fee so the entire sawbuck goes to charity.

Your ticket will be at Will Call in the Lions Wurst Fest Beer Tent ticket booth on Thursday night 28 August 2014. Please bring a printout of your PayPal receipt and a picture i.d. to verify your age and donation.

Remember, my invitation goes to everyone including your friends, relatives, neighbors, or the guy you sit next to on the train coming home from work, and the beauty of it is that one ticket gets two people through the gate, now is that beautiful or what?

Can’t you just taste it now?

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Lion Grumpa Joe

 

 

What It Means To Be a Lion

This morning I read the June issue of Lion magazine. I came across an article written by the Managing Editor Lion Dane La Joye that I think is great and I wish to share with the world.

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Dane LaHoye Ltr

Connor’s Chair

I’m not in the habit of pleading for money on this BLOG, but a special need has come up. My Lions Club is currently involved with a fund raising project to aid a young man born with a list of  problems that have made his life very difficult. Have you ever heard of any of the following: arthrogryposis, prune belly syndrome, bilateral hydronephrosis, scoliosis and club feet? Of these five conditions I am only familiar with the last two. I had to do research on the others to find out what they are. After learning, I thank God that none of my kids or grandkids have any of these afflictions.

The young man’s name is Connor, he is eighteen years old and has led a life vastly different from the rest of us. Yet, somehow he continues to thrive. To me, that is a testament to a loving family. Connor graduated from Lincoln Way North High School last year even though he needed a special motorized wheelchair, and a computer to help him speak. Where there is a will, there is a way, and Connor found it.

So why is my Lions Club involved? Connor’s special chair has broken down and he is a man without mobility. The cost of repairs is great and the time between breakdowns is short. The Frankfort Lions are assisting a group organized to raise money to buy a new chair at  a cost of $38,000.00. The group is Have a Heart for Connor.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

1. Donate online through the Frankfort Lions Club website.

2. Attend the Summit Hill Talent Show on January 27, 2012. $5 to enter 7p.m.

Summit Hill Junior High School
7260 North Avenue
Frankfort, IL 60423
(815)469-4330 Phone

3. Bid in a silent auction at the show

4. Buy 50/50 tickets at the show

5. Buy a Pick Three raffle ticket and have a chance at one of twenty nine prizes of $50.00

Call Lion Denise to buy a $10.00 chance at 815-546-8745.

Connor participates in St. Baldrick's event at LWN to raise money for cancer.

Seriously, How Many Miles Does a Shopping Cart Log?

English: Jewel-Osco - monster shopping cart truck

Image via Wikipedia

 

Today is one of those days when the weather inspired me to write.  The opportunity clock woke me at 7:00 a.m. and I looked out upon a white Frankfort. It snowed last night. By 9:00 a.m. I was holding a bucket begging for money at the front door of the Frankfort Jewel Food Store. My Lions Club agreed to beg for money to feed the needy at Christmas. Our local Jewel sponsors a program where they offer the meals with donations from their customers. They have a can atop each checkout counter, but on weekends they ask local groups to help. The Lions is one group they rely on. Since we also distribute food to the needy on the holy day and we buy some of it from Jewel they are comfortable with our helping them in this cause.

So what does this have to do with inspiration to write? Well the temperature was a cool twenty-five degrees this morning when I arrived at my post. I dressed for the occasion and felt comfortable for about an hour, but the cold  finally penetrated my layers and I was dancing to stay warm. To pass the idle time in between shoppers, and there is a lot of idle time between 9-10 on a cold snowy Friday morning. Shoppers are smarter than old Lions who are out to put the touch on them. The smart ones stay in where it is warm. I played drums by tapping my thumbs on the bottom of the plastic collection bucket, and watched the Jewel employee collect shopping carts from the parking lot. I held the door open for him as he  wrestled a long line of telescoped carts into the store.

The engineer in me jumped into action. I asked Zak the cart collector if he ever wondered how many miles on a typical shopping cart. I got the dumbest, longest look I ever received from anyone. I would love to have had an audible readout of Zak’s mind from that moment. Of course, his answer was “I never thought about it.” I don’t think any one alive ever has either. Seriously, how many miles does a typical shopping cart log before it goes to cart-heaven?

My calculated estimate is 15,000 miles. What is your guess? Leave your answer in a comment.

Send Money

On this Memorial Day Weekend let us not forget those who have defended our flag and the people of Joplin Missouri who have suffered great losses as a result of the tornado.

As a member of the Frankfort Lions Club, I appeal to the people of WordPress , and all my friends to consider sending donations to the address listed below.  Here is a copy of a letter I received from the District 1B Governor  Lion John J O’Brien.

1-B Lions, Lioness, and Leos,

A Forwarded Message from Our District Governor John O’Brien and MD-1 on assisting in Joplin, MO

After a few calls from club members in our District asking what we can do to help in Joplin, Missouri, I was able to get thru to the District Governor in Joplin to ask what we could do to help.  She thanked us for the offer and she went on to say that seven (7) Lions in her district lost everything the owned, cars, houses, computers with years of photographs stored on them. They only had the clothing on their backs. Her Zone Chair and her husband went to the crawl space of their house only to emerge to open sky.

If Clubs in our District or individual Lions wish to help or contribute financially, below is the mailing information you need.

If you want to help out personally, the Lions Club House on the edge of town in Joplin,  suffered minimum damage and has become a gathering point in town.  They will be cooking food all weekend at the club house. Volunteers are able to stay at the club house, but there are no showers available at the Lions Club building. She asked if you come down to help, to wear your Lions Shirt or vest or bring your lions ID card to get past security.

Those wishing to offer monetary relief; please makes checks payable to:

MD26 M6, Joplin Relief Fund,

and mail to:

PDG Jim Wilson, Cabinet Treasurer

1551 E. Powell

Springfield, Missouri 65804

Thank you in advance for any help you send.

An Apple Atta Boy

Yesterday, I did something really stupid. I was in a hurry, and I paid for it in time. The night before, I had attended my Lions Club 70th Anniversary party, and took about a hundred photos. I promised to post them on the club website, “WE SERVE.”  In the past twelve months, I have observed a trend on this website. The day after a major Lion event the number of views jumps. It happens because people want to know what transpired at the event. They are looking for news while it is still hot. It was my goal to capitalize on that observation.

The first thing after breakfast, I whipped open my trusty little red point and shoot Nikon and removed the media card. In one smooth move my hand went to the computer and shoved the card into the media card slot. Or, at least, I thought it was the media card slot. It wasn’t. I missed that slot by three-eighths of an inch and shoved the card into the CD drive slot instead. My pictures were swallowed by the iMac, it iAte my media card.

Don’t panic, I said to myself, just figure out how to open the thing and pick the card out. The iMac design is a thing of beauty as well as function. I looked everywhere for a screw or tab or anything that would give me a clue as to how to open the case. I found nothing. Don’t Panic. I shot off an e-mail to  my son Mike who owns the same model. I asked him for the key to opening the box. His reply was not encouraging. He didn’t know, and he reminded me that the warranty is probably void if I attempt to open it myself. Smart kid I thought. Don’t panic. I went online and found an Apple Service Center in Orland Park. They didn’t open until ten and it was still before nine. I called anyway, they were closed. Don’t Panic.

Grandma Peggy tried to console me. I reminded her that every time we visited an Apple Store in Illinois, Arizona, and California, it was the only store in the mall to have people. I’m sure this will take forever to fix. The last time I had a laptop fixed by a local service known for its great response, it took two weeks to get it back. That is, after I paid a premium to have it placed on their “look at it” within 24 hours service special. They didn’t say “have it fixed” in 24 hours.

After what seemed like eternity, ten  rolled over on the clock. I dialed the Apple Store. Amazingly, I got an answer after listening to Apple commercials for a minute. A real live human answered the phone, and he sounded like a bona-fide U.S. of A. all American kid. I expected to hear a heavy Indian dialect. Phew! the panic began to subside. I took the first appointment they had open. It was at 11:40 a.m. on the same day. I didn’t even know if I could get there by then, but I took the appointment.

Grandma Peggy helped me wrap Baby in a blanket to keep her warm and from getting scratched in transit. It was seven degrees yesterday.

I didn’t want to hear Peggy’s lecture on asking for directions so, I printed the instructions for getting there before we left. I parked exactly according to the certified instructions. I told Peggy to wait in the car as I ran into the mall to find the store. Baby is very heavy, and I didn’t want to carry her far. It is a good thing, I did the scouting trip. We parked at the opposite end of the mall from The Apple Store.

As I expected, the store was crammed with customers. Most played with iPhones, some played with MacBooks, others sat with blue-shirted staff receiving one-on-one instructions. They gave me  instructions over the phone to check in with a staff member. I crossed over the line and ran head on into a blue-shirted kid with headphones, a microphone, and an iPad in hand.

This blue-shirt met me with a body block as I crossed the line. Within ten seconds he had me checked in and arranged for another blue-shirted staff member to meet me at a specific entrance to help unload and carry Baby to the store. Then, with my  problem noted, he alerted the service staff  to look for a guy with a heavy brown jacket and a plum-colored shirt. All of this was done while we stood within four feet of the line.

I rushed back to the car, and we drove to the opposite side of the mall. Within a few seconds a blue-shirt with bleached white spiked hair popped through the mall door pushing a cart. He gingerly lifted Baby out of the back seat with the blanket intact. I parked while Grandma Peggy escorted the blue-shirt and Baby to the store.

Grandma Peggy and I stood around looking lost and wondering what happened to Baby, she disappeared. A completely different blue-shirt saw us looking bewildered. He asked if he could help.

“What’s your name?”

“Joe,” I responded.

He searched his iPhone.,”yep, you are checked in.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Is this the best spot to wait?”

“Actually, no,” he replied, the front of the store is best.

“Good, I will look over the MacBook Air while we wait, but how will I know when it is my turn?”

“Someone will find you.”

The blue-shirt escorted me to a MacBook Air, and  quizzed me on how I wanted to use it. I told him, and he began to steer me toward an iPad when I felt a light tap on the shoulder.

“Are you Joe?”  asked another blue-shirt, this one with tattoos from his wrist to his elbow.

“Yes.”

“Follow me.”

I looked at my watch, it was 11:40 a.m. He led me to Baby. Blue-shirt with the tattooed arm asked what was wrong with her. I explained my stupid move.

“Don’t feel bad, lot’s of people have done  the same thing.”

“I’ll be right back.”

He disappeared with Baby in his arms. Peggy’s blue blanket was on the floor. I picked it up before she saw where it was. I handed it to her and she smiled, “I saw that.”

Within minutes, blue-shirt with tattoos came back with Baby in arms; the  media card clenched between his fingers.

“Oh thank you,” I said. He handed me the tiny card and I stuck it into my wallet with my credit cards.

Blue-shirt with tattoos, and I had a technical discussion about how to get the computer open. He graciously explained the process. I was glad that I hadn’t been brave enough to attempt it. We kidded back and forth as he tested the CD drive to see if it had been damaged during the fishing process. They do this so often that they developed a fishing tool to find media cards without opening the computer. I can see why. Opening an iMac would have taken them much more time than it did to fish the card out.

Blue-shirt with tattoos arranged for another blue-shirt to assist me with transport back to the car. This guy was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and carried Baby under his arm.

I looked at my watch as we drove away. It was 12:15 p.m.

This was my first Apple Store experience. I bought the computer on-line to avoid the crowds at the Apple Store.

I cannot say enough great things about the Apple blue-shirt staff. Every one of them was courteous, and treated us with the greatest respect. They all had one goal, to make certain the customer was satisfied and being taken care of. They have something that is missing from other major stores,” SERVICE.”  When I was a  kid, most stores had great service and attitude toward customers. Sears was one of them, but they succumbed to the competitive pressure of K-Mart , and now they are owned by K-Mart. Had they remained a service oriented organization they may have done better. Apple has found that service pays. As my son often tells me, when you buy an Apple product you pay a ‘Apple Tax.’  Apple can charge more for its product because  of two things; Quality, and Service.

I give Apple and the Orland Park Apple Store five stars for their best practice of treating the customer right.

Last night, I finally got back to reporting on the Frankfort Lions Seventieth Anniversary party; only twelve hours off schedule.

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