Thursday, June 20, 2019

Nostalgia

We have been very close to this topic  on several occasions - maybe I can tie things together with this post. Ramana selected the topic - be sure see what he has to say over at Ramana's Musings.

Definition of nostalgia

1 : the state of being homesick : homesickness

2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition also : something that evokes nostalgia


Nothing invokes a feeling  of nostalgia in me like this

My very first roller coaster ride was the Cyclone at Lakeside Park in Denver, CO. and yes I sat in the first car. I was 8 or 9. That of course led to this-The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - in operation since the 1920s.



There was also a ride called the Wild Mouse that scared the heck outta me  but it was replaced in the 1970s. It was single cars - 2 riders per car with the wheels set far back so that you felt like you were sailing off into space on every sharp turn.

Folks who know me or who read my blog know of my music tastes. They are firmly rooted in the sixties and seventies - not because I am firmly rooted in those decades but the music then was the best - Beatles and the rest. Major changes in the direction of pop music that continue to this day. And nostalgia? How about this:



or the real thing:




A lot of people long for the good old days - the fifties. Good? 5-10% of the population was closeted and afraid to admit how they really felt. Women were regularly denied their rightful place in the workforce. They were expected to manage the home and raise the kids while the men did the real work. Rather strange, if you ask me, considering how a nation of Rosie the Riveters handled the workplace while men were off fighting the war.  IMHO the old days were not always so good.


Fortunately, kids in the UK were listening to our music, taking the birth of rock and roll and standing the music on its ear by repackaging it and selling it back to us.


Television and movies were both quite different back in the old days. Both were more character driven but as technology improved over the years both mediums embraced it. Track the differences in Dr. Strangelove, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our fathers to see how movies about war are handled. Television has kept pace with the times as well. and good is good - a good old movie is every much as enjoyable whenever it was made. My all time fave movie is an anti-war film written by Paddy Chayefsky called The Americanization of Emily.

These days films seem to be heavily laden with CGI, often to the point of overkill. I typically find that boring although I freely admit I am a huge fan of the Jurrasic Park, Star Wars and Star Trek series. It is a pity my favorite Science fiction film - The Last Starfighter - was not made 15 or 20 years later to take advantage of the improvements CGI - Starfighter was the first movie to use a Cray computer for all of its CGI.
But, better CGI would not, IMHO have improved the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, and the 2008 remake of  The Day the Earth Stood Still was  IMHO nowhere near as good as the 1951 version. But John Carpenter's The Thing in 1982 was vastly superior in every way to the Howard Hawks The Thing From Another World in 1951.

I distinctly recall watching Leave it to Beaver when I was a kid and thinking that was very similar to my life. I got it and felt like they got me. Today along comes something like HBO's new series Euphoria and it scares me to death if it in any way accurately portrays high school kids today.

I confess to a certain level of nostalgia for my first car - a 1956 MGA.  It looked exactly like this one - dents and all. It cost me the hefty sum of $300.00 when I bought it.
To acquire one today would run between $21,000 and $25,000 dollars. Damn - I should've stuck that puppy in storage and for those smart asses out there wanting to know how I got in it, one leg at a time just like anyone. Ahem.😜

To be homesick you need a home. I have two places that will always be home to me - Pueblo, Colorado and Hayward, California. When I was nine and my sister a newborn, we moved from Pueblo to Hayward. I still remember my childhood buddies in Pueblo - Dave Perkins, Kenny Lockard and Tommy Samberson. Several kids I met on my first day in Hayward remain my closest friends today. The songs  Rocky Mountain High and California Bloodlines immediately take me to my homes and if I am honest cause me to tear up. I miss both terribly, even though they are significantly different then the last time I saw either and perhaps not even recognizable. Nostalgia keeps those two places exactly the way I remember them.

Clearly any positive life experience  is apt to have a trigger that makes us nostalgic and transports us back in time. I think it is perfectly natural to be nostalgic for those good times, but dwelling on them too long and actually living in the past is not the prescription for a happy life. As I have said many times, live for today. Jimmy Buffet said it perfectly - Yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for too long. There's just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong.

That's it for my nostalgic trip through my life. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.





Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sometimes I wonder

 This week's 2-on-1 topic  asks questions. Do you have questions? Do you have answers? The topic is actually the opening line to a song from the sixties written by my friend Ron Ryan, and I found myself laying in bed  a few weeks ago and the song popped into my head.  Even at the age of 69, I find myself pondering the universe and where we are headed. Some answers come easier, others are much more difficult.

Sometimes I wonder :
  1. Is there really a meaning to life?
  2. Is there really a God?
  3. Have I failed the ones I love?
  4. Is the world better with me in it?
  5. Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?
  6. Is humanity headed in the right or wrong direction?
  7. Why do so many people fear diversity?
  8. Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
  9. Has there always been something or before something was there nothing? 
  10. Why are so many people so confident in beliefs that can’t be proven?
  11. When is taking a human life justified?
  12. Do animals have rights?
  13. Why is life unfair?
  14. Is privacy a right?
  15. Is fear, ignorance, jealousy, or something else responsible for hatred? 



Please visit Ramanas Musings to see what Ramana has to say about this weeks topic.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Intolerance

This weeks 2-on-1 blog topic comes from Ramana. Be sure to check  his take over at Ramana's Musings.

Intolerance. The unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own. A my way or the highway attitude. We've all been there - on either side of that equation, if we are honest with ourselves. Or, an inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.

The latter definition of intolerance can be the cause of serious embarrassment to one who suffers something like lactose intolerance or some other malady. The air may need to be cleared quite often. With my multi Xs before the L on my frame, clearly there is not much food I cannot consume save for some nuts, including Brazil nuts and walnuts so I shall confine this discussion to the former definition - the unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own.

I consider myself a very tolerant individual. I can and do put up with most things. I am, however, noticeably intolerant of liars and the special kind of stupid required for racism and/or those who stir up racist action and commentary.


I am not suggesting I have never told a lie. That would in and of itself be a lie. But - perhaps somewhat hypocritically, the notion that some lies are worse than others and the individual that lives in a world populated by alternate facts - those who when their lips are moving are most likely lying - aka compulsive liars breathe good air a useful human being could use. That is a far cry from the lies we perpetuate with our children - Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny - and other similar notions. If those are "real", why not Superman/Supergirl, Thor, Iron Man - any character from the Marvel or DC universes. Are all lies harmful? Are some harmless? Is what mom and dad always told us - honesty is the best policy really true? How can it be when we routinely lie to our kids?

The ethics of lying are actually pretty interesting. Lies for selfish reasons - lies that benefit the liar at the expense of another are ethically immoral as far as I am concerned. What we commonly call little white lies are typically acceptable. They are not meant to benefit us, they are designed to not hurt someone else. have you ever told someone you really enjoyed a meal they prepared for you or a gift they gave you when you did not really enjoy it? The relevant sports analogy is no harm - no foul. 

That raises a question - does the politician that lies about crowd sizes do it  for selfish reasons? Does one who routinely lies about facts and figures do it for selfish reasons? Does the politician who screams fake news and says the so-called main stream news media is the true enemy of the people and who chooses to believe the word of the leader of our longest standing enemies over his own intelligence officers have anything but his/her own selfish intentions in mind? Perhaps that special form of stupid - or just plain being stuck on dumb is the simple answer. Frankly it seems the only bipartisan activity these days is lying. The Amazing Race for politicians in this country racing to be the biggest and best liars is underway and with both parties populated by amoral sociopaths, buckle your seatbelts folks.

I despise racism in all its ugly forms. It seems we are being led into a period where any and all progress made regarding race relations in the last several decades is in jeopardy.  Why? It has suddenly dawned on some folks that around 2045 the white population in the USA will no longer be the majority. So-called white privilege will disappear. So, it seems some in our government are making a push to make some permanent changes in our culture by stepping us back to the good old days. You remember those days - closets were full of people afraid to be themselves, women were supposed to stay home and raise kids, evangelicals are attempting to firmly place their faith in our public institutions, including schools and the government is now trying to end federal funding of schools. The good old days indeed. Kids pledging allegiance to a flag in a nation under god will make it all better. Multiculturalism will go away. We will restrict immigration to only those with something to offer us who are willing to assimilate to our way of life. We need to make English the official language. Business requires less regulation. Rivers need not be clean - dump that coal ash in them. Leaders of companies and lobbyists find themselves in charge of major agencies that regulated them and regulations are disappearing like candy in a basket at Halloween. People will know their places in society. Ahem.

As the grandfather of 3 mixed-race grandkids I have seen first hand how racism effects people. I have been riding in cars in the back seat when the black drivers are pulled over for no real reason other than driving while being black.

It is not hard to see why black culture is so mistrusting of whites. Of course many whites deny the existence of so-called white privilege. They were not alive when slavery was the norm. And now they are discriminated against  when they are denied jobs so lesser qualified minorities fill quotas. Their rants against immigration are almost always against immigrants of color.

Racial unrest is stoked by a current administration that never misses a chance to fan the flames. White supremacists are enjoying an a resurgence of ugliness and hatred. White so-called militia groups take it upon themselves to patrol our southern border to keep out Central American immigrants, They stage marches and rallys and are told what fine people their groups contain by the leader of the free world. Is it any wonder those groups feel emboldened?

It would be too easy to continue a rant on intolerance - but it would be pointless. We are in the midst of a vast generational change - a change that will not only include a new generation of leaders but also a shift in the racial balance of power. I'd like to be around in thirty years to see how it is working out. Then again, maybe not.

Perhaps I am not as tolerant as I thought - I find myself getting angry just  thinking about liars and racists. Time to wrap up this week's topic. See ya next week with another 2-on-1 blog.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What single event - with a different result -would have caused the most changes in your life?

In all our lives there are events that have a major impact on the directions our lives take.  In mine there are 2 that happened within 5 years of each other that changed everything about my life. The first one is discussed here, and be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see Ramana's take.

When I was 3-1/2 years old my grandfather died. The significance is that my mother and I lived in the house he built in Pueblo, Colorado with my grandparents. My grandfather was a true outdoors man that hunted, fished and camped whenever possible. He owned his own construction business as an excavation contractor.

Had he not passed I would have been groomed in his business and I would have become a typical outdoors man. My grandfather's hunting buddy was a Taos Indian Chief. The Taos Indians were Anasazi. I would have had extensive contact with those indigenous people - something that never happened when my grandfather passed. 

My grandma used to tell me how close my grandfather and I were - interesting considering my age. I actually called him daddy Harry. He  took me fishing and one trip I remember sitting on his tractor wondering if there were any mountain lions watching me.

Another difference is I would have been a member of the Masonic Order known as the Shriners. Most of the male Higgins family members were Shriners. The females were members of the Eastern Star.

So how would that have changed my life? Had my grandfather lived, there is little likelihood my grandparents would have rented the basement to local JC athletes, which means my mother probably would never have met my step father, married him and moved to California. No California, no Lynn and no family - at least not the one I have spent 70 years with. I would have graduated from Pueblo Central High School,  my mother's  alma mater. I would  have probably still been active in football and baseball but not wrestling as I was recruited to that team by the coach.

It's funny how many things have to align for events in our lives. Take meeting Lynn - she was at the party with her friend Sharon, both were home from BYU for Christmas. Sharon had a holiday job at Loards Ice Cream in Alameda. My friend Rick Smith's dad was part of the management team at Loards. He got his friend John Dailey a job. John was driving the delivery truck and met Sharon. John - realizing what a "hero" he'd be by bringing a new girl to the party invited Sharon who in turn asked if she could bring Lynn along. Now John could be an even bigger hero - LOL, and of course said sure.You can read the full tale of that meeting here.

I have stated many times in the past, life is about changes and how we deal with them.  Look at any major event in your life and examine the myriad conditions that had to align for the outcome achieved. Life is really a giant domino fall.




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Voluntary Work

We all like to think we are good citizens, don't we? What makes us good citizens? Among the list of things that make  good citizens is Voluntary Work - Ramana chose  for this weeks 2-on-1 blog. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take on his chosen subject.

I doubt it will surprise any of my regular readers to hear that my voluntary work was centered around youth sports. I was  very active in several - Little League Baseball, Miss Softball America and youth soccer.

In Little League Baseball I coached a minor league boys team called The Panthers. These were kids either very new to the game of baseball or just plain not very good at the game. This was clearly an in it for fun group and we managed to have a lot of fun. We managed to beat the eventual league champs both times we played them along the way. It was fun teaching baseball but more fun watching the kids have a good time. Their age group was 9-12.  I was also tasked with umpiring both minor league and Major League (the good teams) - and the league had adopted a uniform rule - all umpires were called "Blue" after the traditional colors warn by umpires. Oops - Panther colors were red and white so folks  were addressing a guy dressed in red "blue". They got over it.

n occasion I umpired a game of my brother's team - the Senators (also the Major League team I played on many years before. The Senators were the league big shots - prior to each game they played their team song , a little ditty by the Beatles.
Th
 That tells you the age range of the parents and coaches. The players age range was again 9-12.

Lynn and I joined forces to coach my sister's  MSA softball team - the age range of the team being 16-18. These kids were excellent and won the league championship and several games in the state playoffs before finally losing. Gotta admit that without Lynn being there to translate and deal with the other issues confronting 16-18 year old girls, I would have been a fish out of water. But we had great fun - winning helps.

I spent most of my volunteer time in youth soccer in the Hayward Youth Soccer League (HYSL). I coached boys and girls house teams and was a league VP. I computerized as many functions as possible, The absolute  most fun thing, though, was coaching the girls under 8 team called Moby Grape.Our banner was a big white whale on a purple background the kids and parents saw at the first practice. Yes we had a team song
While the song was playing the kids looked around with puzzled looks on their faces while the parents laughed and cheered. I knew my audience - LOL. I also laid down the law - my way or the highway. We were here to have fun. Period. Any parent that viewed themselves as the second coming of Pele could request a transfer now to another team of bite their tongue and talk to me in private. I promised to teach the kids to compete hard and  have fun. I was not going to train soccer champs - but promised to offer genuine evaluations of the kids if the parents wanted them (in private) to help guide
their future in the league.

Soccer here is broken down into  3 levels of competition - or it was back then. There are House teams, Advanced House teams and Select teams. Advanced House and Select were very serious about the game and winning mattered. Some parents had issues with that -  the kids not so much. I also coached under 8 boys and under 16 girls house teams. My son was excellent and so he jumped up to Select his second year. To this day he is mad that I did not coach him more than one year. The kid  was at home playing soccer with European and Hispanic kids that were born with a soccer ball on their foot.

The diversity of the parents and kids involved in the HYSL was amazing.  While there were occasionally some tensions between groups by in large it was a smooth running  operation.

That concludes my take on this week's topic. My volunteer record is not the most robust, but I spent most of my life working 6 days a week.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Regrets

It is normal to have some things you have done in the course of  your life to regret. In fact, I would go as far as to say anyone who claims to have no regrets is simply a liar. But, to live a life filled with nothing  but regret is absolutely not a way to live either. In fact, trapping yourself in the past with regret and fear of the future is a sure fire formula for failure.

You'll never regret being kind so make being kind a habit - you'll find that is a good life plan to follow. If nothing else,  it is a good  formula for the rest of your life. Rather than regretting every questionable decision you make, put it in the experience column of the spreadsheet of your life. Make it a learning experience and try to not repeat the mistake again.

Had a bad breakup? Move on. I have found this song to be helpful a couple of times when things didn't work out in a relationship.


 I have been a John Denver fan since I first  heard this next song about an epiphany  a man has when he fist recognizes the beauty  and grace of nature in the rocky mountains. 

lived near them for the first 10 years of my life and the first time I heard this song I was sure John had written it for me.

It is normal to have  some regrets in life, just do not let them control you or weigh you down, Chalk them up to experience and try not to repeat them. There is plenty of good in this crazy world - even in these trying times. 



 That's my quick shack take on regret.  Don't live a life of regret - file the regrets away as experiences that helped make you the person you are and keep moving forward one step at a time. I must confess - my biggest   recurring regret is to not keep my weight under better control. Make that  control - anything would be better, alas, it remains to this day an issue. That itself is part of the reason I have carried the dumb jock persona intermingled with the jolly giant persona all these years.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what Ramana has to say. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel for another 2-on-1  blog where Ramana and I tackle the same topic to give you different takes on the subject.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Someday!

The Shadow of Me

It was a long time ago, in another age
Where the shifting of the wind
Knew where I began
A place so far away, 
Somewhere distant, in childhood country
Before the fog had set in,
Before time lost all trace of me

Where have they gone?
Those merry dancers with whom I played?
When we were queens of the carnival, kings of the parade?
Before being dethroned to mid-life corners
Hearing the music, without playing the drums
They tell me to take this age with grace
Yet everywhere I turn, is young

I'm still the same, I have not changed
I lived a time where love was wild and thoughts were too
With high regard, when eyes were glued
Now inside I'm torn in two...the old and the new
Trapped between this nowhere place
Myself and someone else
Until each barrier becomes a bridge...
Have I been shaped too square by passing years, to fit in circle's place?

My memory recalls those beautiful tomorrows
Now long buried in yesterday's ground
There are other ways to measure time
Besides growing older and graying hair
Recorded music fills the room
Left playing from an earlier time
When October skies showed fading traces
Of empty days and sad old faces
The "others" of whom I had no fear

Now those shadowed remnants from my past
Are stalking at my heels
Will somebody care to ask?   Will anyone need my mind?
Is there something they want to tell me?
Will they patronize, or just be kind?

Care enough, make me useful, give me value, call me beautiful?....
Not yet the age I'll someday be
Still, I feel the sting of losing me
How I ache for all those love songs
How I ache for someone needing, someone pleading...
For advice....for my worth, for an answer, will they want me?
How it haunts me.....Will they see me?
Touching me....reminding me of who I am................not just who I was... 
 
Carrie Richards 

Do you live in someday? Someday I'll start that business,.
Someday I'll lose those extra 20 pounds. Someday I'll write that novel. 

Time is endless but as you circle the drain it dawns on you. The water is
running out. Time may go on forever, but we don't. Someday is today. Live for today -
 
 
 
That's my  quick  shack tale on someday - be sure to checkRamana's Musings.