The "space race" used to be about countries competing … now, it's billionaires.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We grew up in the 1960s when space exploration was in its infancy and space travel was left to the imagination of television show and movie writers; but since one of us was a theater major and the other studied business, it's not surprising we had very different reactions to the recent flights.
Black expected Red's reaction would be filled with television and movie references (she could only think of Star Trek and the opening phrase "Space, the final frontier," and The Jetsons) so was surprised when Red explained that it wasn't so much what was happening, as who was doing it.
Red remembers when she first heard of Richard Branson (well before being knighted, earning the title "Sir"). It was in 1979 (wow, that's over 40 years ago) on her first trip to England (to visit Black, who was at London Business School) when she went to the original Virgin Megastore down by Marble Arch shortly after it opened. Over the years, Red's connection to England continued (including a college semester, marrying a Brit, and living there for, on and off, for several years), so she couldn't help but read about Richard Branson as he was such a flamboyant personality and often in the news. Especially for his travel-focused "adventures" – such as founding Virgin Atlantic airline, being a daredevil in a hot air balloon, and breaking the speed record for crossing the Atlantic.
So, when Red heard that Sir Richard Branson (and then Jeff Bezos) was going up into space, she wasn't surprised but was certainly very interested in watching,
Let's face it. When an astronaut goes up into space, there's a certain level of excitement, even if you're not a "space geek". For me, watching the billionaires go up includes a certain element of "OMG, they're well-known people who have a lot to lose if something goes wrong." Of course, you don't want anything to go wrong, but for some reason, the element of danger and what's actually happening becomes more real when there's a very public face attached to it.
Black, on the other hand, was more interested in the business side of space, not only tourism but how these flights renewed interest in space (and you can't ignore NASA and government contracts). Of course, Bezos shared his belief that space could be the answer to how to save the earth, something he touted as far back as his 1982 high school valedictorian speech. And, Black was intrigued that his aircraft, a more traditional rocket and space capsule, was so different from Branson's "space airplane".
Also, having watched the two flights on their respective websites, Black couldn't help but be entertained by all the "marketing" each company mixed in with the science and excitement. And later, was amused when Bezos thanked Amazon customers and employees for helping to make the flight possible, although she had to wonder if he genuinely meant it or if it was written by a clever marketing executive to offset some of Amazon's "people problems".
Red couldn't help but remember that comment when she got an Amazon delivery later that day, although she knew her new cereal bowls didn't contribute much. But that wasn't what she shared with Black, but rather how she'd never compared Jeff Bezos and her sister until,
During the press conference after the flight, when a reporter asked Bezos if he'll be flying again soon, his response was something that I'd absolutely expect you to say … "Hell, yes. How fast can you refuel that thing?"
Thanksgiving dinner may be behind us, but we continue to face increased food prices this holiday season. Some of us can still manage, although it may take some adjustments in eating and shopping habits. But for many, it means “food insecurity” (which is more than just being hungry, it’s a consistent lack of food), with more and more people turning to food banks.
So, if you can, and in the spirit of holiday gift-giving, consider donating to your local food bank. It may end up being the best gift of all because helping others is good for you.(Red knows it makes her feel good and puts her in the holiday spirit, while Black “ignores” the emotional aspects and touts the science behind it.)
Food prices. What goes up must come down. Or not.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, like most of us, has been impacted by rising food prices and shortages, while Black knows that understanding “why” that’s happening doesn’t help you put food on the table.
Red doesn’t need the media to tell her about increasing food prices as she sees it every time she looks at the weekly food fliers or goes into a grocery store, but admits she’s been very fortunate as it hasn’t had much impact on what she buys. However, that’s because ever since her financial crisis many years ago, she’s become a much more savvy shopper, relying on grocery store weekly specials and stocking up when things are on sale. (Black explained the business concept of “loss leaders” that get you in the door.) Not to mention, now that her daughters no longer live at home, her grocery shopping has decreased significantly, so her grocery budget has more “breathing room”.
Black will fight the temptation to explain what’s driving up food prices (in stores and restaurants) and is well aware she’s very fortunate that it’s barely changed her shopping habits. Still, she can’t help but be concerned with how rising food prices affect people’s ability to afford nutritious food and basic supplies. Things many of us take for granted. But what she finds the most alarming (and disheartening),
Food banks, who are often the only thing standing between people having food and going hungry, are facing higher than usual demand at the same time they are pressured by food shortages and escalating costs. I could quote you numbers indicating the increase of people being served (many who are first-time food bank recipients) or the percentage increase in costs, but it is not about numbers – it is about people in our communities.
And while Red hadn’t thought about this ripple effect, now that she has, in the spirit of the holidays, we ask everyone,
If you’re able, consider making a donation tomorrow, Giving Tuesday, to your local food bank. Because while you may be able to manage the rising cost of food, millions can’t.
Some things never change, like our Thanksgiving routines. But that’s ok, as Thanksgiving’s about traditions, so it seems only appropriate that we’d like to repeat what we’ve told you before …
We'll keep this simple and to-the-point … Happy Thanksgiving!
Comic strip or reality show: A group of bachelors participates in a foot race, and whoever's caught by the single woman in the race will become her husband.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We may be sisters, but except for growing up with the same parents in the same house in New York, that may be where the similarities end; especially in terms of dating "protocol" as Black never thought twice about asking boys (and later men) out on a date, while Red never gave it any thought, accepting the convention that boys did the asking. (She did make an exception for her senior prom but was shocked when he accepted.)
When it comes to Sadie Hawkins Day, we both agree it's a quirky holiday that makes it "acceptable" for girls to ask out boys, but of course, we have very different perspectives. For Red, it conjures up images of Sadie Hawkins Day dances, although she never went to one and doesn't even remember how she knows about them. While Black's fascinated by how it all began with the cartoonist Al Capp and his popular "Lil' Abner" comic strip and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon.Now, over 80 years later, if you were to analyze Sadie Hawkins Day, you would probably find it outdated and sexist. But why not just laugh at its silly beginnings and enjoy the day. The funny thing is Red still thinks men should ask out women, while Black always believed that every day's Sadie Hawkins Day.