Friday, October 17, 2014

Peek a boo

This weeks topic comes from Ashok, It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with  -

Friday, October 10, 2014


It's all about learning, folks.  Everything.  It's really that simple. If we cannot learn we are doomed to fail.

Central to learning of course is teaching.  If we do not learn how to teach we cannot learn.  Oh sure - some of us are innately curious and will  ponder something and even work it out but the solution is of little or no value if it cannot be effectively shared - taught to others.

Some 1800 or so years ago Roman emperor marcus Aurelius learned from his great grandfather "  to get me good and able teachers at home; and that I ought not to think much, if upon such occasions, I were at excessive charges" - sounds like home schooling was valued even then.  And that public education was not particularly well respected.

Things have not changed much - just listen to George Carlin (if hearing Carlin's strong language is bothersome read the text here )

Today kids have major obstacles to overcome to get educated - not the least of which is the public education system. Our rapidly declining middle class is typically working more hours for le$$ so they have less time to do their part in educating the kids.   And college? My college education cost me  less than $1000 for tuition and fees.  Books probably added another $1000 and it was very easy for me to pay my way through school. And remember - that was spread over 6 years. Today that same degree would cost in excess of $25,000 just in tuition and fees alone.  And thats for a BA in a California State University school.  It assumes of course that a child can meet the educational; requirements to enter the school. I'm not altogether certain a child going through the public school system here in Ft Worth, Texas would be able to demonstrate those skills - based on what I have seen of the education offered my grandchildren here.  I suppose I should rest easy as the politicians in both parties promise to make education their top priority.

What was it that George Carlin said?

That's a quick shack take on education.  Check out what the others in the LBC have to say about this important topic.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Movie review - Chef

I just watched one of the best movies I have seen in many years - Chef - written and directed by Jon Favreau - a particular fave of mine.

Chef is a small budget film populated with big name performers including Favreau himself, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansen, John Leguizamo in what is probably my favorite part he has ever played, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr.  It's definitely an eclectic mix but they are all excellent.

Kenneth Chisholm ( offers this summary:
“Carl Casper is an acclaimed chef with a family life that seems as decaying as his artistic freedom. Those frustrations boil over into a raucous viral-videoed public confrontation against a restaurant critic who panned his cooking of food that his boss ordered him to make against his instincts. Now with his career ruined, Carl's ex-wife offers an unorthodox solution in Miami: refit an old food truck to offer quality cooking on his own terms. Now with his young son, Percy, and old colleague, Martin, helping, Carl takes a working trip across America with that truck to rediscover his gastronomic passion. With Percy's tech savvy and Martin's enthusiasm, Carl finds that he is creating a traveling sensation on the way home. In doing so, Carl discovers he is serving up more than simply food, but also a deeper connection with his life and his family that is truly delicious in its own way.”
 This is a delightful film about people, food, attitudes and love. Anyone interested in food culture, chefs, restaurants and the restaurant biz will in my opinion spend an enjoyable 2 hours with this little gem.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Personl Debt

This weeks topic falls under the heading do as I say - not as I do.

In today's western society it seems rampant consumerism is the order of the day.  We need to spend spend spend.  But stuff to be happy.  Buy stuff to do your patriotic duty and make jobs,  Buy stuff. Buy more stuff.  The road to happiness is bought - and you don't even need money to buy.  Just use credit.  What the hell - the government runs on a huge deficit - so why not all of us?? Max out those cards.  Buy a house and car you can't afford.  It's the patriotic thing to do.

And then when you can barely breathe with the weight of your personal debt pressing in on you, you are on your own.  Every time your phone rings you cringe with embarrassment knowing its probably a debt collector that bought your debt for pennies on the dollar and is calling to threaten and harass you into payment of the debt that has now been inflated due to bogus charges added by various and sundry.  The collector will scream and yell, call you useless, threaten to sue and then offer some sort of payment plan.

Helluva way to live.  If you consider that living.

Or, you can try living within your means and not buying in to the bigger/flashier/more expensive is better scenario. Buy what you can pay for.  Stay away from credit -  use it wisely.  Don't sign away your family's future for a home or car you cannot afford.  Bank 10% of your earnings - regardless how hard that might be.  Discipline yourself and teach that discipline to your kids. Everyone will be better off in the long run. Be prepared for the worst and hope it never happens.  Instead of a $5000 cruise take a family trip to Yellowstone. Take a driving vacation like folks used to do all of the time.  I still remember the trip that took us to the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. It was a great time. There is much to see and do wherever you live that will not leave you shackled with debt.

I've been down both sides of this road.  One works, the other is a recipe for disaster.

That's this weweek's shack take on the weekly LBC topic.  Check out what the other LBC members that posted this week have to say on the matter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dead-End Streets

Dead end streets.  The end of a wrong turn taken somewhere. It can be as harmless as simply turning around, retracing your steps and taking the right path. Then again it may seem as if your entire life's journey has been a wrong turn and the result is a dead-end life.  I suspect that's what British songwriter Ray Davies had in mind when he penned this tune:

What are we living for?

Two-roomed apartment on the second floor.
No money coming in,
The rent collector's knocking, trying to get in.

We are strictly second class,
We don't understand,
(Dead end!)
Why we should be on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
People are living on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
Gonna die on dead end street.
Strong words for a pop/rock tune but then Davies has always been that kind of songwriter when it comes to chronicling life in England.  And music - especially popular music - has always been a way to show the world how things really are - at least through the eyes of the songwriter.

Then there's this example of those in a dead-end life here in the good old USA - though admittedly an old example and indeed a fictional one

It does however represent the truth  even today. But the good news is being on a dead-end street isn't necessarily the end - merely a challenge that needs to be overcome. Heck - the Dead End Kids became the Bowery Boys so there's always hope.

I spent many  a Saturday afternoon at the Uptown Theater in Pueblo, Colorado watching the antics of the Bowery Boys - Slip, Satch and the gang.

Thats your quick shack take on this week's topic - which came to us via our pal Maxi in Florida.  Check out where the other LBC folks ended up on their Dead-End Streets.


Friday, September 19, 2014

All's well that ends well.

At 24, he had Oswaldo the Rabbit, his first successful cartoon character, stolen from him by Universal Studios. At 25, MGM told him no one would ever like Mickey Mouse. At one point in his twenties, Walt Disney was so poor that he resorted to eating dog food..  Who woulda thunk it.  Yep - he qualifies as an all's well that ends well story.

Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at age ten. Franklin's parents could only afford to keep him in school until his tenth birthday. That didn't stop the great man from pursuing his education. He taught himself through voracious reading, and eventually went on to invent the lightning rod and bifocals. Oh, and he became one of America's Founding Fathers.  I'd say that ended well.

Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC, twice.  You read that right. One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, the man who brought us "Shindler's List," "Jaws," "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" couldn't get into the film school of his choice. Maybe, just sometimes, education can be a little overrated. In the end, Spielberg would get the last laugh, when USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994. Two years later, he became a trustee of the university. Yep – another ended well scenario.

Yep - clearly Russ Hodges, Bobby Thompson and Giants fans had an all's well that ends well moment.  Talph Branca and Dodger fans?  Not so much.

On the list for sheer improbability, there is no comeback more unbelievable than the last few seconds of the 1982 Big Game. Five laterals and one game-winning touchdown later, The Play smashed its way into American sports history. Oh, and the Cal football team defeated Stanford 25-20.  Surely Joe Starkey had a moment.  Stanford fans?  Yep - not so much.

My point in all of this?  Physics tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  So to is it in life.   Call it winners and losers or something else if you like but the fact is, there are 2 sides to everything. So keep that in mind when you next celeberate your happy ending.

That's my quick shack-take on this week's LBC topic, Tune in next week - same Bat time, same Bat channel for another installment.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Are the Mystics right - is time an illusion??

The old fossil posed an interesting question.  One I frankly I have never considered - which makes my read the topic and shoot from the hip even more interesting, at least to me.

Tell me you didn't see this coming -

It poses a couple of questions - does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?

Does time exist?  maybe in the now it does but the past and future? I suspect not.  We use "time" as a convenient place marker for our lives. We recall the past by chronicling events. We mark it with photographs, written chronicles, physical evidence.  But these things are not time - they - each in themselves mark a particular presence in time - a different now that has come and gone. If things were not constantly in a state of flux would "time" really matter?

The concept of time conveniently allows us to add much needed structure to our existence, There's a  degree of comfort knowing every now has a specific "time" attached to it and although we humans cannot leave well enough alone - we created multiple time zones to make things more convenient.  But "now" on the east coast does not change the "now" here in Texas nor is it the future now on the west coast. It is simply the now.

Time travel?   What a quandry!

Einstein theorized it was possible - is it? Depends on which mystic you follow I suppose.  The notion of time travel is fascinating.  Who wouldn't want to go back and correct a mistake or two from a different now? Who wouldn't want to know who wins the next big game ahead of the event?  There is a current series on SyFy that addresses time travel  called Continuum,  It's definitely worth a look if you are interested in time travel and its repercussions.  That of course assumes time is more than an illusion - and they address multiple time lines. That classic space/time continuum gets ripped occasionally and opens up an entirely different can of worms.

Now back to the original question - is time an illusion?? Frankly I do not have the proper brainpower to comprehend the scientific discussion  in spite of my IQ as tested being kinda high. Guess it's high in the wrong area but unless Neil deGrasse Tyson or Sheldon Cooper are explaining things, I am typically bored stiff (aka it is as clear as mud).  I guess that leaves my notions and understanding of time confined to esoteric discussions like this one.  You know those discussions - the ones where the discussion in and of itself matters more than the subject or any conclusions you may reach.

If pressed I'll admit to thinking time is an illusion but its one we need.  We need the structure.

Thats my quick shack-from-the-hip tale on this weeks topic.  Please check out my compatriots in the LBC and see where time takes them - and here's a final musical time share - just to get the blood moving a bit