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It's been 1 1/2 weeks on new medicine Symbyax and all is well and stable. Glee is a good word to describe the feeling I get from just having a normal, stable, somewhat elevated mood graph. No heart side-effects. Would that it not be for my therapist and support group I'd be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

God sometimes plays funny tricks on us, and it's no coincidence. Not to long ago my Buddhist teacher was telling me that although I'm a "boss" to certain people, I can't even really control them. He asked me to explore how I felt about being powerless over the actions and feelings of others.

Well, yesterday, BAM! I got my lesson in powerlessness. I was in New York and had just finished lunch at the Top of the Tower, accompanied by our British investor. My cell phone rang and it was the dingbat who manages my restaurant when my wife and me ain't there. Yes, I said "dingbat" in the Archie Bunker way, not the adorable little characters one can add to cyber-writing and typesetting.

She: "I smell smoke and it smells sooo bad. It's coming from one of the electric boxes that turns on the whole power for kitchen."

Me: "Hang up. Call 911. Tell them you smell smoke. They'll ask for the address. Have them call me."

She: "Oh, no, no. Cannot call 911 because we can't see smoke."

Me: "Do what I said. Just 'cause you can't see it doesn't mean there isn't (expletive deleted) fire in the walls of the restaurant. Get every last person out of that building immediately." (this was long after the lunch rush so it was just personnel and a couple of barflies).

After a few moments she called back. Not only had the fire department come, but a fire marshal, the electrical inspector from the Town's Department of Buildings, and the Town Board of Health. Apparently in a crisis that involves electricity and food all these people call each other and show up. The health department lady explained that if any "potentially hazardous foods" (e.g., raw chicken) get above 40 degrees Fahrenheit I need to discard them. Of course I will! I don't serve unwholesome food to my customers. Sadly, the health department lady said that other people who have refrigeration turned off either a) don't put bags of ice inside their refrigerators, or worse, b) believe that cooking rotten food is going to make it safe to eat. Well, it may not carry bacteria but it sure ain't gonna be pleasant.

Electrician showed up shortly thereafter; it was just malfunctioning and overheating on the part of a couple of circuit breakers (gee, that's why I couldn't get some of the lanterns on the outside of the restaurant to light).

I got back to the restaurant after we quickly picked up the provisions we needed from our Chinese wholesaler. On the way back wifey couldn't sleep in the truck as she usually does because she was so worried. Finally my rhetoric convinced her that the fire department and electrician would ensure that the restaurant doesn't burn down. She power-napped and I drove.

Now the damned bureaucracy. Electrician must file an extensive crisis report for building/fire departments. I must file a crisis control report with detailed PHF temperature log for the Health Department.

I did not want to be hours away from my business during a crisis. I believe that had I been there to remove the smoking circuit breaker and call the electrician all this other crap wouldn't have happened.

I must accept that I was powerless over what transpired. I must accept that I can't be there all the time or I'll go crazy. I must accept that I cannot micro-manage my business because it's like trying to teach a pig to sing. Being powerless, of course, is unpleasant but heck, if life were easy it'd be boring.

It really sucks not being able to hire professional workers because my wife is too cheap to do so. I'd hazard a guess that if this idiot manager were to smell smoke in her own apartment she'd be the first one on the phone to the fire department. No matter what I do by way of training the employees, stupid, unnecessary mistakes still happen.

Indeed I'm powerless over a lot of things. The fact that it's unfair I must manage a staff who're aware that I can't fire them without the approval of my wife galls me. But I'm powerless over the situation.

Hell, with the help of Buddha, I remained calm during yesterday's crisis and resisted the urge to hire a helicopter to shuttle me off to Connecticut immediately. (No, I can't afford that, silly; I was just kidding!)

/rant off.

The Good News

It reached 55 degrees in New York City yesterday, and is warm up here in Connecticut this morning. In New York, the flowers were beautiful; daffodils, crocuses, and early-blooming trees were doing their best to re-assure me that "spring is here!" My own crocuses, those brave harbingers of Springtime, have poked their heads out of the cold, dark earth to show a little color as well.

In the middle of the crisis described above, I traveled over the Brooklyn Bridge, and found that at a particular off-ramp at the base of the bridge on the Brooklyn side there was a lovely little garden planted on both sides. I wonder if the other drivers notice.

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