One of the most common icebreakers at a party is to ask a person what he does for a living. As I inch closer and closer to retirement, I find myself reflecting on work more and more. Our occupations and career choices so define us.

I mean, I could retire right now, but I'm just not ready to answer the “What do you do for a living?” question with the words, “I'm retired.” At least not just yet.

I started working at age 14, delivering the Long Island Press in my Brooklyn neighborhood on my bicycle after school. The thought that someone would pay me to do anything was mind blowing at the time.

It really did make quite an impression, as I've been working non-stop ever since then except for a two-week vacation once a year and a day or two off now and then. That's 43 years working and still going strong.

My next job was working in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant that was located next to a big hospital. I was to keep hospital visitors from parking in the restaurant's parking lot. Let me tell you, I took my life into my own hands with that job. Fortunately, the restaurant changed owners and I got to work inside after that. That's probably why I'm still alive today.

The restaurant was Nathans, of Coney Island hotdog-eating-contest fame, and every now and then I’d put on a giant hotdog shaped “Mr. Frankie Man” costume and stand outside waving at passing cars and people.

The costume was huge, heavy, and hot as hell inside. The eye holes were in the middle of the hot dog, which had to rise at least four feet over my head. It was very disorienting in there, to say the least. When I wore it, I'd get cursed at, spit on, and even little kids would try to knock me over just for the fun of it. Still, it was part of the job and I was just glad to be getting paid to do anything.

I would advise any teenager to take a minimum wage job for a year or two. The lessons you will learn about hard work, showing up on time, and dealing with the public are priceless.

I know there's a movement now to make fast-food jobs have a living wage. No matter, I would advise working there and moving onward and upward if possible, but since fast food is so prevalent in our society maybe it could be considered a career for some (especially if you move up into management). All I know is I was glad to get out of that business so I could stop coming home smelling like grease.

Then I got a job with a big savings bank, first as a teller, then as a traveling branch auditor, and finally moving into EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Auditing. I had computer training in high school that was somewhat rare at the time, which is how I was able to get promoted. I still use those skills every day. Auditing bank processing on a mainframe IBM computer would prove to be great work experience.

The bank liked me so much it decided to pay for my continuing education, so I would work all day in midtown and then go downtown to Pace University two or three nights a week until I got my bachelor’s degree. Surprisingly, once I got my degree, the bank refused to give me an actual IT (Information Technology) job.

The bank argued that, if it hired me in IT, I'd get a year of experience and then leave. So I had no choice but to leave right then. Very strange — the bank got virtually no return on its substantial education investment in me — but it is what it is.

Around this time, I was also working part-time with a guy doing hardwood floor sanding and cleaning. He liked me for two reasons: 1) I showed up and 2) I worked. He claimed that, believe it or not, finding someone who could do these two things consistently was extremely difficult.

I left that job because I was already working full-time and going to school, but I often wonder what would have happened if he and I had continued to build that business up. Who knows, maybe I would have been retired and moved on to something else a long time ago.

From the savings bank, I wound up working for a very large commercial bank in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. By that time, I had passed the test for entry-level computer programmer with New York State. I could have taken the job in the World Trade Center or in Albany.

Since the pay was nowhere near enough to get an apartment in the city, I decided to move to Albany, get a year’s experience, and then go back to the city for the big bucks.

When I told one of my female co-workers at the commercial bank that I was leaving for a job in Albany, she said, “It's so boring up there, you'll be back here in six months, guaranteed.”

What actually happened was I rented an apartment in Rotterdam, got engaged to the landlady not long after, and I've been here ever since. How about that? And no, I don't have to pay rent anymore.

I often think about what would have happened if I'd taken the job in the World Trade Center and just lived at home until I got enough raises to move out on my own. Many of my co-workers died there on that awful day, Sept. 11, 2001. Very sobering to think of that.

What a stupid and senseless way for so many totally innocent people to die. I could have easily been one of them.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about work from working first for myself, then in the private sector, and now in the public sector:

— If you are supposed to show up on time, then show up on time. I'm so big on this that I show up extra early just to make sure I'm there on time;

— If you are going to do something, then do it as best you can, not just because you are getting paid but because it reflects on you;

— Be especially thankful that someone finds you desirable enough that he or she willing to pay you good money for your services. Never take this for granted. There are plenty of folks with fancy framed degrees from very good schools who can’t find work;

— Don't be bummed out when Monday morning comes around and you have to get up and go to work. Be thankful that you have a job to go to;

— Realize that organizations are made of people, and people have all different personalities, likes and dislikes, good days and bad days, etc. There is always stress when people are involved (that’s why I love working with computers so much). You can only control what you can control. Don’t let it get to you; and

— No matter what job you have, the only constant is change, so make sure to keep learning as much as you can. It's the only way to stay relevant.

During the election, you heard the word “jobs” so often you probably got as sick of it as I did. I mean, just look around you. Jobs are all over. There are endless driveways to seal, decks to be built, houses to be painted, cars to be washed, lawns to be mowed, etc.

If you want to work, you can find work. It may not be the work you really want, but we don’t all get to be supermodels or 787 pilots or CEOs, but you have to start somewhere.

You are so lucky that you live in a country where you really can start from nothing and rise as far as your perseverance can take you. Work hard, work often, and things will look up eventually. That’s why, no matter what anyone says, there is no need to make America great again. It always has been great and will continue to be great as long as we keep working hard and innovating.

Remember the landlady that I wound up marrying? When I first met her, she was a single mother with not one but five, count ‘em, five, jobs. Everyone thinks I married her because she’s beautiful, intelligent, and the most caring person in the world, but her work ethic impressed me to no end 30 years ago and she's still going strong (although she’s now down to “just” three jobs).

When they coined the phrase “Protestant work ethic,” I’m pretty sure they had her in mind. I love to read and I always feel guilty sitting in my comfy chair enjoying a book at the end of a long day while she’s still flitting around the house doing a dozen things (but I do it anyway).

We naturally think of getting paid to work but don’t underestimate the power and satisfaction of volunteer work. Go into any church or club and look at what the volunteers are doing; it'll blow you away.

I've edited several club newsletters over the years, and I always got a rush when my copy came in the mail. Even though I put it together on the computer, seeing the physical copy it in my mailbox always gave me a thrill.

There's nothing like volunteering, if you haven't done it, you should try it. Really. I'm certain you'll get much more out of it than you put into it like I always do. I only wish I had time to volunteer more. Maybe when I finally do retire.

Work defines us in so many ways. When to end a working career and move on to the next phase is an important decision we all must make at some point. If I look tired when you see me next it’s because I've been up late thinking about it.

Location:

For the past several years, I’ve read one book about every two weeks on average. It got to the point that I was reading so many books I'd be at a tag sale or benefit sale and buy books I'd already read. So I decided to keep track of all the books I was reading just to keep that from happening. I hate more record-keeping but I couldn't think of any other way to do it.

Then I figured, as long as I'm keeping track of the books I read, I might as well rate them. I decided to use a movie-like star rating system — five stars is a totally wonderful read, and one star is suitable for birdcage lining. I haven’t had a one-star book yet.

With all that being said, here are the books I gave five stars to. Any of these I guarantee would make a great read or a great gift for someone who likes to read:

— “The Sheltering Sky,” Paul Bowles, 1949: A sprawling novel about a couple with marital problems traveling with a friend through the North African desert. Expansive and thought-provoking on many levels;

— “The Big Sleep,” Raymond Chandler, 1939: A true crime novel with detective Philip Marlowe. This is the seed of Garrison Keillor's famous “Guy Noir, Private Eye.” Think trench coats and dames;

— “The Stories of John Cheever,” John Cheever, 1977: I’d never read Cheever and this just blew me away. Masterful in every sense. If you ever fantasized about what goes on in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan, look here;

— “Deliverance,” James Dickey, 1970: You know the movie; it’s even more intense in print. When you read something like this, you just wonder where it came from. This chilling story still resonates today and I’m sure will for a very long time;

— “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg, 2012: Very insightful. Master this and you can do anything. Makes you wonder if you really have as much control of yourself that you think you have;

— “The Narrow Road to the North,” Richard Flanagan, 2013: Epic prisoner-of-war tale. Superb, and based on true events. There is nothing pretty about war;

— “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, 2012: A modern true-life thriller. Like something right out of the news. It may be a little cliched, but, then again, if you watch any TV, you see that every day. If you like plot twists, here you go;

— “Fortunate Son,” John Fogerty, 2015: Autobiography from the Creedence Clearwater Revival legend. Wonderful. What this American songwriting genius had to go through to survive the slimy recording industry is truly eye-opening. Money just has a way of ruining everything;

— “The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway, 1952: I read this in high school and it’s even better with age. You cannot not love it. The old man is the kind of guy we should all have in our lives (and the boy is too);

— “Fortune Smiles,” Adam Johnson, 2015: Just brilliant personal fiction. This is the kind of writing that I myself aspire to. Nothing is more fascinating to me than the way people deal with and react to the world around them;

— “The Basic Kafka,” Franz Kafka, 1946: If you have never read “Metamorphoses,” where the narrator wakes up as a giant insect, you'll find it here. Incredible. This brilliant writer was ignored in his lifetime, but his words will live forever;

— “The Trial,” Franz Kafka, 1925: The classic treatise against bureaucracy. I think of this when I'm waiting on hold, or filling out a tax form, or trying to find the customer-service phone number. There is nothing funny about it, which really makes it hit home;

— “Jailbird,” Kurt Vonnegut, 1979: Nobody satirizes our imperfect society better. I've read all of his books and I only wish there were more. Another great one is “Breakfast of Champions.” If you’ve not yet discovered Vonnegut, a Schenectady native for cryin’ out loud, what are you waiting for?;

— “The Railway Man,” Eric Lomax, 1995: A true-life prisoner-of-war story. Very moving. I don't know if I could have lasted with all he went through, described in excruciating detail. An amazing story of survival and redemption;

— “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” Carson McCullers, 1940: Truly moving and brilliant. A very special work. It will stay with you for a long time. This is a real gem;

— “Chesapeake,” James A. Michener, 1978: A monumental study of the southeastern seaboard area. How he can write these kinds of huge, all-encompassing books is a miracle for sure. A masterpiece;

— “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage,” Haruki Murakami, 2015: A wonderful introduction to the haunting and introspective world of the great Haruki Murakami. When I read him, it’s like he knows my thoughts. I don’t know anybody better who is currently writing;

— “The Kind Worth Killing,” Peter Swanson, 2015: A modern-day “Strangers on a Train,” Hitchcock-type thriller, and a great page turner. You will want more;

— “Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit,” Andy Rooney, 2009: Don’t you miss the old master? His writing is just like his talking. I just love finding the magic in the ordinary. He’s gone but his words are still with us, thank goodness;

— “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” William Styron, 1966: A controversial but nonetheless amazing work about slavery. The new movie is controversial as well. It’s just the nature of the subject. Still, the writing is powerful and direct. You will never again think about slavery the same way after reading this; and

— “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde, 1895: So funny and timeless from the master of wit and satire. He was truly brilliant. One can only imagine what he’d think of Facebook, the Karsdashians, or our president-elect. The male master of the one-liner (the great Dorothy Parker is, of course, the female one-liner master).

  So there you have it. If you read one of these and enjoy it, please let your friends know. We could all use a little good news these days, and these books are all that good. Enjoy!

When you attend a wedding, there are invariably many couples out on the dance floor just holding each other close and spinning in slow, never-ending circles as some slow tune plays. As pathetic as that may be, it still beats the folks who choose to just sit and stare at the dancers. There has to be a better way.

Many years ago, my lovely wife and I tried taking dance lessons. She was doing well but I was only giving it a halfhearted attempt so we never got much out of it.

In my defense, I just couldn't get into the way it was taught. Many people are visual learners and that's great. I wish I were, too.

Instead, I'm the kind of guy who needs to read something that's explained clearly in a step-by-step manner. (I guess that's why I enjoy computer programming so much.) Dancing as you might expect is just not taught that way. Bummer for me.

One time, there was a full-page ad in the paper announcing various classes at a local mall. One of them was dance, and get this — it was to be taught by a former “Rockettes” dancer. You know, one of those famous and beautiful long-legged, high-kicking gals that does the Christmas show each year at Radio City Music Hall. There can't be a better teacher than that, so we signed up.

The day of the class, the whole group was waiting in a big room at the mall for the teacher to arrive. Finally the door opens and in walks this older woman, limping, using a crutch! She actually had been a Rockette, but a very, very long time ago.

The best was when she explained why she loved teaching dance. In what can only be described as a Northern version of a slow Southern drawl, she said she did it because that's how she got her “soooocial interaaaaaction.”

Between the drawl and the crutch I didn't expect much, but she was actually quite a good teacher. We learned a little, which was great, but we didn't stick with it so it just basically went in one ear and out the other. How sad is that.?

If there's one lesson I can give, one that I wish I'd always followed myself, it’s that, if you're going to do something, then, by gosh, do it with all the strength and conviction you have. That’s not always easy because of factors both in and not in your control I know, but still.

You can't learn anything or get anything done right unless you put your whole heart and soul into it. Heck, if I'd kept at it, I'd probably be enjoying swimming, dancing, guitar-playing, and so many other things. So, if you're going to do something, then do it, and try your hardest. Wimping out is all too easy.

Birthday surprise

Getting back to dance — recently it was time for yet another round of Trying to Find a Good Birthday Present, a game that I'm not really good at, unfortunately. So I thought another round of dance lessons might be something fun to try.

I went back to the original dance school where we'd first gone so many years ago and got us signed up for some beginner lessons. When my wife received the gift card, she was really shocked that I would go there again. I guess she thought that dancing had come and gone for us. But, trouper that she is, she agreed to give it a try.

At the first lesson, we didn't know what to expect after so many years, but the teacher turned out to be a really nice and above all very patient guy; we just clicked immediately with him. Before you knew it, I was guiding my wife around the dance floor, holding her in the proper position, doing a simple fox-trot type of dance.

As simple as this beginning dance is — two steps forward and a little shuffle from side to side — it is so much more fun and satisfying than just going around in circles in the same spot over and over. How I wish we'd not taken this long to learn it. What a revelation, to actually be able to properly move around a dance floor as a couple. If you can do it, you know what I mean, and if you can't, look up a dance school right now. You'll be very glad you did.

I love music but I have no musical training. My wife, on the other hand, has been a professional musician virtually her entire life. While dancing, it's often hard for me to get the proper rhythm — you know, to keep to the beat.

I know I have to work on this but it seems to frustrate my wife very much because she's all about proper musical timing and all that. I'm hoping my good looks and youthful enthusiasm will offset my poor performance in this area to some extent at least — hahaha.

I know there's a TV show called “Dancing with the Stars” but I avoid it because I boycott all so-called “reality TV”shows as a matter of principal. However, I have watched the ballroom dancing competitions, and, let me tell you, there are some fantastic dancers out there.

Why ballroom dancing is not an Olympic sport is a mystery to me. If you see the skill and dexterity of these couples as they glide around the dance floor as if on air, you can't help but be amazed.

Show stopper

In a similar vein, a very wonderful couple from church gave us tickets to see “An American in Paris” at Proctors. Now I'm not normally a Broadway show kind of guy. Being full-blooded Italian, I much prefer an opera by Puccini or Verdi, but let me tell you this show was phenomenal

A big part of it was the dancing. We all know humans can't fly, but, if you saw this show, you indeed saw humans flying around that stage. These dancers’ moves are so smooth, it's like their bodies have rubber bones. I don't know if I've ever seen more beautiful dancing in my life.

Let me just try to describe one small move from the show for you. At one point, the leading lady is standing with her arms outstretched. Then the leading man places his head above her hand and slow rolls up her arm, around her back, and out the other arm, such that, if you didn't know it was a real woman, you would have sworn it was some kind of a prop

I mean, it was truly amazing. At the end, when he's leading her through the air, her pink dress billowing around her, she really was flying for all practical purposes. What absolutely amazing performers.

We'll never dance like that of course – I'd be in traction if I even attempted it. But let's forget about learning and practicing dance moves and steps for a moment.

Biggest benefit

When you boil dancing down to its core, at some point you realize it's basically all about holding a beautiful woman up close. Who wouldn't want to do that? Why didn't I realize until now that that's one of dancing’s biggest benefits right there?

Sometimes I'm truly shocked by how long it takes me to “get it,” but it is what it is. Maybe slowly going around in circles isn't so pathetic after all.

I don't know what we'll do when our dance lessons run out. We don't have any weddings coming up that I know of. Maybe we can find a club where they play old-time fox-trot music. Until then, don't be surprised if you see us dancing in the backyard or on the deck. May I have this dance, madam?

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Imagine a perfect late summer, early fall day in upstate New York. Birds are singing, the sky is blue, there's no humidity; nature’s wondrous bounty is on full display. Some possible activities for such a glorious day include but are not limited to walking, gardening, hiking, bicycle riding, and just about anything that you can do outdoors.

I used to tell my kids, when a day like this comes along, make sure you go outside (that is, get off the computer, phone, and video games). After all, we live in upstate New York; these days are few and far between, and you better take advantage of them when you can.

So imagine my cognitive dissonance when recently, on such a picture perfect day, I found myself in, of all places, a casino for the first time. No I'm not making this up and, yes, it was as strange as it sounds.

Here's what happened: There was a car show in the parking lot of a local casino, and just for attending the car show you got a free $10 casino voucher. So, just to use the free cash, I found myself inside a casino in the middle of a bright sunny day. Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

In my wild, misspent youth I'd occasionally wind up in a kind of bar after closing time, a place known colloquially as an “after-hours club.” What's amazing about this is when you finally leave at, say, 9 a.m. after an entire night of partying, you join fresh-faced people on the street who just woke up and are going to church.

This is kind of what it was like in the casino, a cavernous and dark space lit by the glowing neon of row after row of garish, blinking slot machines. In a place like this, you quickly lose all sense of time, which is probably what the owners want in the hopes of keeping you there as long as possible — which may not be that long if your money runs out.

The car show had been well attended but the casino was absolutely mobbed. We had to wait in line almost a half-hour to exchange our vouchers for machine-readable slips that we could gamble with.

I had no idea so many people, on a positively gorgeous Saturday, would be crowding into a dark casino like this in the early afternoon. By far, the crowd seemed to be retirees, and in fact there were all kinds of buses in the parking lot. So now we know what many of our older relatives and neighbors do for fun, apparently.

Once we got our slips, the next task was to find the “right” slot machine. If I tell you there were hundreds to choose from I'm probably being conservative. Picture aisle after aisle of blinking, noisy mechanical marvels all trying to catch your attention with crazy graphics, strobe-type lights, etc. The term “sensory overload” comes to mind.

The machines seemed to be organized by the bets they take, like penny, nickel, and dollar. The machines we wanted to play, the nickel machines, turned out to be the hardest to find. Once we did find one, if it didn't look right — and don't ask me what the criteria is for knowing if a slot machine is right or not — we had to keep searching.

When we finally found the right slot machine, it was time to play. This machine had a minimum bet of a nickel, but it was explained to me that, unless you select “max bet,” which in this case was $2.25, the payoffs when you win are too small.

So we put in two free $10 slips, started hitting “max bet,” and watched the rows and rows of digital limes, lemons, and stars not line up. I kid you not, in about two minutes we lost everything save for 10 cents.

We hit print and gave the 10-cent voucher to the security guard on the way out. My lovely wife thought the whole thing was ridiculous, and I have to say she’s not so far off as usual, but my father liked the place just fine (he would have liked it a lot more if we had won).

Now don't think I'm an absolute rube when it comes to gambling. Back in the day, I was really into horse racing. I'd buy the Racing Form, study all the trainers, research all the tracks, the whole bit. I never won a lot but I won on occasion.

At least with horse racing, because of all the data that was available, you felt that you could apply some intellectual skill to it. In fact, I knew a guy who, using computers, lots of strategy, and betting very diligently, made his living just playing horses.

But with these slot machines the only strategy I could discern was changing the size of the bet. Other than that, it's just hit the button and watch the light show. Not very satisfying if you ask me.

The entire time I was in the casino, where they make it seem like it's night in the middle of the day, I was thinking I should be out on a picnic or on a hike or on a boat or anywhere but there. I guess you could say it's good that so many retirees are getting out of the house but, if it were me, I'd save my money and do something else.

Even if you should win, there are other ways to enrich yourself besides with money. There's the library, there's church, there's volunteering, and so much more. I guess, for some, that's not as exciting as the potential of winning a jackpot while trying not to lose all your Social Security. To each his own, as they say.

They have all kinds of ways to draw you into the casino. There's the free vouchers like we got, the very cheap lunch and dinner buffets, the pretty girls with the free drinks, and other special days and special deals.

The good things about casinos are they provide a lot of jobs, add to the tax base, and get people out, but the bad thing is it's gambling after all and it's just so easy to lose a lot of money (like $20 in two minutes). I'm glad I can finally say I went at least once, but if I never go again that's just fine.

Did you ever notice how gamblers justify their hobby by telling you about their big scores? No doubt they really did hit it big on occasion, but they always fail to tell you about the countless bets they lost, and surely over time they are in the red.

I used to buy the $100 per year Lotto play because that got you some free tickets, but after a while I realized that I'd be much better off just putting that money in the bank. Hey, believe it or not, banks used to pay interest so it made a lot of sense (cents?).

I know, I know: “You gotta be in it to win it,” and I still buy a ticket now and then, especially at work. Nobody wants to be the last guy left in the office when everyone else hits it big.

The next time I go to a car show and they hand me a free $10 casino voucher, I'm pretty sure I'll just give it away (or ask if they'll let me use it for the lunch buffet).

Location:

When you're young, there are many fun and special days to look forward to throughout the year, like birthdays (parties and gifts!), vacations (travel or just veg out), and holidays (so what if no one knows when Christ was born, why let one little detail spoil all the fun).

These are the days when memories that will last a lifetime are made. When you're older, like me, you still look forward to these days, but there is one day, at least for me, that stands head and shoulders above all. That glorious day is Hazardous Waste Day. When you get to middle age like me Hazardous Waste Day is it.

Think about it: No expensive gifts to buy, no stressful dinners to prepare or attend, no travel arrangements to fuss over. Just the wonderful thought of getting rid of some nasty chemicals in a (mostly) environmentally safe way (I mean, they still wind up in the environment, just not ours). Hazardous Waste Day is truly a great day.

For me, it starts off with a visit to the Guilderland Town Hall. I don't know what it is about the town hall, but for some reason the lovely ladies that work there always seem happy to see me. No matter if I'm there for a permit, a sticker, or, in this case, the Hazardous Waste Day form, I'm always greeted with a cheerful smile and competent and efficient service. Way to go, Guilderland Town Hall.

Then it's time for assembling the actual Hazardous Waste. I don't know about you but, if you work on cars, motorcycles, and do lots of household chores like I do, it’s so easy to wind up with all kinds of leftover nasty stuff.

Quite frankly I find it shocking to think that as a homeowner I have to deal with so much of it: leftover paint, driveway sealer, kerosene, solvents of all kinds, used antifreeze and brake fluid, and more. I try to use gloves and all when I use this stuff but still just being around it as much as I am can't be that good for me. What can you do when you need to get the job done?

On Hazardous Waste Day, I load up my truck with all this toxic junk and head over to the town highway department. This is where the town workers and the hazardous waste day crew are waiting to help you.

They must be doing something right, because this year the line of backed-up cars and pickups waiting to get in stretched all the way out to Route 146. It’s a good feeling to know that my neighbors are so environmentally conscious.

What always amazes me is there are so many young people helping out. They make sure everything gets unloaded correctly and put in the right bins or whatever. How great is that, giving up a Saturday morning to help the community like this. I think that's just super. I don’t know if they’re volunteers or what but it’s civic duty like this that makes a community a community. We need more of it. I can think of many other kinds of community days that could really make a difference — mow some senior’s lawn, clean up a park, etc. — and I’m sure you can too.

When I leave the landfill, I'm always really happy, as I've taken care of a big mess that would otherwise be cluttering up my garage or basement. Since I would never throw this stuff in the trash, Hazardous Waste Day is good in that it forces me to get rid of some really nasty junk. Gotta love that.

The only thing I worry about is where it all eventually winds up. I hope at least some of it gets recycled but you have to wonder.

There was a segment on “60 Minutes” showing a beach somewhere in Asia with mountains of used computer parts. Little kids would scrounge around picking off parts that had any value at all. Of course the runoff made the water toxic, which is why I never buy fresh fish from any Asian country.

So you really have to wonder what happens to all our toxic waste in general. It's good that we take care of it, but if other people are having their environment and themselves poisoned that's not good.

I'm a big fan of recycling in principle; I'm the guy in my house who always makes sure the bin goes out in time. In fact, I've been known to pore through our garbage pails, pulling out stuff (straws, drink lids, shampoo bottles, etc.) that really should go in the recycling.

I love buying things made from recycled parts as well. I'm still waiting for sandals made from recycled steel-belted radial tires. These seem like a no-brainier to me. Anything we can do to keep junk out of the landfill is good.

I read somewhere that by 2050 the weight of plastic in the world’s oceans will be more than the weight of fish, so this is a really serious topic that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

The other attraction of Hazardous Waste day is, let's face it, it just sounds cool. When you work at a desk in a cubicle all day like I do, the only hazardous thing you face is deciding what to eat for lunch (and some of the fast-food choices available are truly scary if not outright hazardous).

So for one or two days a year, to become Hazardous Waste Guy is quite fun. Just imagine me in a bright red spandex suit with a yellow cape and big white circle with a red skull and crossbones on the chest as I deliver my toxic load to the landfill. Very exciting, for a boring old guy like me.

Hazardous Waste Day is a great way to clean up some very dangerous household clutter and admire some very helpful town employees and assistants. I commend all the towns that do it. Thanks for doing something that is really helpful for all of us and for the environment (at least for our environment) as well.

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