Thursday, March 14, 2019

Doom and Gloom Pt II




This weeks topic is Doom and Gloom - a topic last visited by the LBC, the precursor to the current 2-on-1 blog posts six years ago - hence Pt II. If you wonder what I said six years ago, click here.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to read Ramana's take on the topic.

FYI, Merriam Webster says doom and gloom is sad and tragic events : a feeling or attitude that things are only getting worse.

Life is a series of challenges - I'll wager most of us have been behind the proverbial eight ball at some point in our lives, worried about making ends meet.  Just providing the essentials - shelter and food becomes a challenge.  Somehow we muddle through, be it God's will, hard work or maybe even good fortune. Every problem has a solution - just press on until you find the answer. Some folks have a half empty glass, some have a half full glass and some folks don't even have a glass. (I hope those glassless folk at least have a full bota bag as it is always nice  to have 2L of  good red wine to help you get through the day.

Today our society seems more divided than ever. We have evidence a hostile foreign power  meddled in the 2016 and 2018 elections and is continuing to do so now that campaigning for 2020 has begun.  Some view the apparent lack of concern shown by the current administration criminal while others believe all problems  stem  from our southern border and it is a national emergency that can only be solved by allowing the president to divert already committed funds to the tune of almost 9 billion dollars from other areas.

Every nation has grounded a new Boeing aircraft - 737 Max 8 that has been in use for under two years because of two crashes within a month resulting in over 200 fatalities.  The FAA, BTW, has ruled it safe. Some have also banned the 737 Max 9  Is the sky literally falling? It is not a good time for Boeing, that is a certainty. Technology running amok?

Then there is the weather.  Global warming debunkers are having a field day making snide comments during this frigid winter. The irony that climate change is caused by global warming  is lost on them. Burning fossil fuels is something that we need to reduce and eventually stop. The steady rise in temperature will have disastrous results unless we are prepared. Doom and gloom? Entirely warranted in this instance. It matters not one iota if the warming is caused  by people, assisted by people or purely an act off God or Mother Nature. It needs to be addressed.`
 Image result for doom and gloom cartoons
We are in the midst of an economic boom that shows there is still substantial economic strength in the world economy.  We should be able to deal with whatever comes our way. Unemployment is at rates never before seen, but there is a degree of deception built into those numbers. Not everyone is employed in a job that allows them to make a living. Many people work second jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. this does not apply solely to workers in the fast food industry - teachers in many areas face the same struggle. Not only are teacher salaries too low in many instances, they work in educational systems ill equipped to prepare students for entry into the real world. If teachers were paid like babysitters. Of course there are those who feel teachers are overpaid and they get 3 months of annual vacation. Yet EVERY teacher I know pays for a percentage of their student's supplies. 



We live in a time where wealth is concentrated more and more in an increasingly small percentage of our population. There is a brewing debate about wealth distribution and a debate about the merits of capitalism vs socialism and democratic socialism. The right conflates socialism with communism but the reality here is NOT that the government owns and operates the means of production but increasingly here large companies seem to own and operate the government.real power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people just like wealth, pushing toward an oligarchy. Yes, I realize I have somewhat oversimplified the issue but look at what has been happening. There will come a time when that snowball rolling down the hill will be unstoppable.  Something to think about.





















So here we are - in a rapidly changing world with various and sundry swords of Damoclese hanging over our heads. China, Russia and the USA are the largest players with India not far behind, all vying to be the big dog on the block. Russia's economy is too weak, China steals innovation from the USA. Foreign countries hold over 6 trillion  dollars of US debt, with Japan and China each holding over a trillion each. We added over a trillion in US debt last year when we issued huge tax breaks to the richest in the country.

It would be easy to be overcome with despair, doom and gloom. But, we seem to do best when our backs are against the wall and I suggest we are at that stage now. What happens in the next couple of years will dictate the future our grandchildren will face. If we can manage to bring civility back into our discussions, the divide between us will shrink. Once that happens compromise will again be on the table and we will be on the road to recovery.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Change

Change. One of the constants in life - like death and taxes. How you deal with change determines the kind of life you lead.
We have been living through decades of change coming at us at breakneck speed. Our inability to keep up with that change has left many us in a state of Future Shock - a term from Alvin and Heidi Tofler in their book of the same name. Essentially it means too much change in too short a period of time.

Technology and technological change has increased dynamically. It took less than 100 years to go from  the first flight to landing on the moon. Wildly futuristic gadgets written about in the 30s are now real. The laptop computer on which this is being written is more powerful than the room sized computers of yesteryear and look at smart phones.

Granted, we have not reached the Jetsons level of technology in our homes but I suspect the wait will not be much longer. We do have robotic vacum cleaners but  mass produced flying cars may be a long way off.

There is another change about to take place and it may not be as peaceful as previous similar changes - generational change. Baby boomers are about to give control to millennials. Millennials will be the ones in power and they have a completely different mindset and outlook. There are daily rumblings in the news about what the new, younger representatives in congress think and the direction they seem to be pushing things. 

Bernie Sanders excited a new, young generation of participants in our political process and those young folks have had two plus years of the Donald Trump version of the truth and battle lines are being drawn. The man we elected because we wanted change is in the process of tearing down the institutions of our government. Bernie's social democrat pitch appealed to the young generation. The 2018 midterm election saw some serious changes in congress and it showed a new progressive lean to the far left.  The GOP is trending far right. The reality is the American electorate, GOP and Democrat , is centrist in nature. Conflict is brewing.

What we now face is a panic driven, largely older white population watching power slip away. As they scramble to legislate their particular brand of morality, the progressive young left is pushing back harder. Change is in the air.  Remember the sixties - already the alt-right is threatening civil war. The danger of an amoral leader is that Trump will not care about who he whips into a frenzy. He will simply say it is Obama's fault.

Alarmist? Perhaps but who could have envisioned the lies told daily by the defacto leader of the free world? Who could have envisioned the evangelical right would sell their collective souls to support an alleged pro life President? Stack the supreme Court with alt-right judges and the evangelicals are fine. Compare Franklin Graham's comments on the immorality of Bill Clinton with the immorality of Donald Trump. Utter hypocrisy. Every time Pat Robertson opens his mouth he embarrasses Christians - or at least they should be embarrassed. Fortunately most Christians are good people. The real ones have something I do not have - faith.

Now combine the BIG CHANGE just offered with the stress and strain of the changes in daily life. As wealth is further accumulated by a tiny percentage of the population, the once dominant American middle class that drove the world economy grows smaller. Yes unemployment is low but how many jobs does it take to live a decent life?

Change - immigration  across the southern border has been trending down for decades but saw a recent upswing. Why the upswing? Perhaps the ranting of Trump. Perhaps the legitimate upswing in asylum seekers from central American countries where society is devolving and violence is the norm?

Change - climate change is real regardless of the reason. Look at the weather patterns and trends. The world's breadbasket  will be severely impacted, and soon producing sufficient food to feed the world's population will be in jeopardy.

Change - Trumps apparent alignment of American foreign policy with that of Russia is causing issues with our allies around the world. Some now consider Angela Merkel the defacto leader of the free world.  Others consider POTUS45 a traitor who should be stood against a wall and shot.

Change - our educational system needs a massive overhaul as we strive to train and prepare the kind of workers companies will need as we race to the future. At the same time we need to bring civics and real history back to the curriculum  as well as vocational training.

Everything is not doom and gloom but we need to be aware of where we are in time. Our country has survived centuries because at the core it is populated by good people.There are excellent people that go to church regularly and care about their capital NNeighbors. There are many secular people who genuinely care about others and this world we live in .it is time to heal the divide and stop fearing the furure, Change is good. Embrace it. It's time for the country  - founded on Judeo-Christian principles to act like it.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take on change. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Superheroes, real or imagined

The modern comic book superhero is the current manifestation of the semi divine gods of myth and legend that fight off evil in their universe. They were typically incredibly strong, cunning and exceptional fighters that existed in both secular and religious history. They are found these days populating the entertainment universe  - movies - and print - comic book notably Marvel,   DC and the somewhat lesser known Dark Horse comics. Most people my age were weaned on the DC Comics superheroes with Marvel and  Dark Horse entering the party much later. My superheroes fandom started with DC Comics and Superman, added Batman and The Justice League. I was also a fan of the Blackhawks.

As the real world grew crazier and crazier the comic universe and characters kept pace. Marvel introduced a whole new generation characters - I was a Green Arrow and Speedy fan along with the Flash. To this day I am a fan of those characters I enjoyed as a kid. I had a great Superman suit made by my seamstress grandmother. I leaned fairly quickly as it offered little protection when I jumped into a still smoldering fire pit in the alley by my house. I only made that mistake once. Ahem. I guess I was just caught up in the moment.
TV and Mov ie Supermen

These days we are seemingly buried in movies and TV show depictions of superheroes and their universes. It all seemed to start with Star Wars at the movies and Star Trek, initially on TV and then resurgent in the movies. We  are up to Aquaman now - that movie is quite successful with the box office currently sitting at 1.149 Billion dollars per Forbes after just over 6 weeks in release.
TV, Movie Wonder Woman

Justice League - AquamanLately, in this divisive era of Trump art is imitating Art is imitating life as several shows are focusing on the superheroes - in this case Superman and Supergirl being illegal aliens and with a segment of the earths population opposing them because they are aliens. One thing that has not changed - the good guys usually win, though it may take several episodes  to complete the task at hand.. Somewhat surprisingly to me, my black grandson prefers the female superheroes to the black ones. Wonder Woman is kinda hot.
 

We are also seeing a ump in female superheroes. Wonder Woman now has a group of lady friends. Captain Marvel is next. And, black superheroes are joining the fray.

Superheroes. Serious popcorn movie stuff. You might say I am fortunate to have an 8-year old grandson under the same roof so I can stay current on the various superhero universes. I might disagree due to the nicks and gashes in the walls from his plastic swords and spinning kicks but what the heck.

What does prove a bit tougher is to convince Damien that the real superheroes are the first responders and men and women in the military service that risk their lives daily to protect and serve us. Police, fire, EMTs and the like are constantly on the front line and often in the line of fire of our urban battle grounds. Damien is biracial but identifies as black. He has been in the car with his mom and a friend that was stopped simply for driving while black. That is a very real thing that happens more  than it should. I have been stopped both while driving with two other people - both black - and have been a passenger in the car with two other people - both black - with one of them driving.

That is a quick take on the topic of Superheroes. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings .


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dancing.

Well - it appears my buddy Ramana got me this time. Dancing. Not in my wheelhouse - that is for sure. I went to one dance in junior high and I think 4 or 5 in high school. And that includes a Junior Prom and a Senior Ball. I went to a Christmas dance and a Sadie Hawkins dance - that's one where the girl invites a guy and is responsible for their dressing the same (jeans and shirts). I was at other dances but I went with my buddy Brian and lugged equipment. I was a roadie of sorts.  And I loved hearing the New Chessmen play live. I have always loved live music.
  As I have said before, I was painfully shy and the thought of having people watch my large self dance  pretty much kept me away from dances and the dance  floor. We even had a segment of PE class that "taught" dancing. I tried the cha cha - maybe once. I was not a particularly good waltzer either but I liked that slow stuff the best. I mean there was no fake yawn and stick the arm around the girls shoulder like in a movie theater - slow dances they could just snuggle close if they liked you.  My first real girlfriend was a very cute, 5'2" blonde and I am 6'2' so that was nice. So was she -very nice and a very close friend these days. She knows where many of those teen age skeletons are buried. She may have helped bury a few - LOL. She was my date to that Christmas dance.
 You can travel all around the world with dancing. There was the dance of love in Brazil
 How about the Locomotion here in the USA? When this came out I was visiting friends at Lake Tahoe and flipping burgers at their place- the Minuteman Cafe
 Now I must confess to a bit of a fib. I did say early on  that dancing is not in my wheelhouse. I did spend two years in a Polynesian dance group where I performed Tahitian (yes in a grass skirt), Filipino, Samoan (knife and fire knife), Maori (hakas were actually a lot of fun - here is a sample of the New Zealand national rugby team performing one before a game - Kamate) and Tongan dances. Gotta admit - that was a lot of fun - and No Ramana - NO PHOTOS EXIST  LOL. I was actually a decent Samoan knife dancer - the required hand-eye coordination IS in my wheelhouse. At least it was back then. How and why did I do that you might ask? My friend, the future Ranger Rick and his family moved to Hayward from Hawaii and got involved in dancing through the Walnut Creek Recreation Department. Rick got all of our friends to join and off we went. There was a big annual show in Walnut Creek and we took jobs  whenever offered - did several frat shows and danced in dance competitions. 

Tap dancing, ballet and the like is an entirely different matter. Those folks offer some of the most graceful, athletic performances you will ever see. They are truly amazing. The athleticism is astonishing and it is easy to see why for decades athletes have taken ballet courses to improve grace, balance and even more. that was going on over 50 years ago when I played HS football - maybe if my school had done that we'd have won a few more games. Ahem, 

I am not a great fan of ballet but I can fully appreciate the athleticism and efforts of the dancers. Tap dancing, though, is truly awesome when you are watching someone like Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr or any of the other classic performers. I could barely walk in the dang tap shoes let alone dance,
And then there is Michael Flatley
Different styles but both amazing,

Dancing is many things to different people. It is an activity that can be enjoyed by entire families and multiple generations. Nothing warms the heart quite as much as senior citizens tripping the light fandango with ear-to-ear grins and thoroughly enjoying themselves. If you doubt that check out the goings on at any high schools 50th reunion and watch time melt away as old friends reunite and celebrate their lives.

That's it for my take on dancing. Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to check his take on this 2-on-1 topic. See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

WHich mythical lost treasure do you think is real? Why?

It's time for a little fun. Throughout time there have been legends about lost treasures, cities and the like. Are any of those tales real? Do any of these lost treasures really exist? It seems nearly every bandit, bank robber, pirate or bad guy/gal worth his or her salt has stashed something of value that is waiting to be found - just as that Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot is just waiting to be won. And of course there are those shipwrecks just waiting to be found.

As a child of the fifties I was naturally a cowboy fan and so I naturally was drawn to those tales of yore. But, I was an even bigger fan of pirate movies - one of my first great movie memories is of Burt Lancaster as the Crimson Pirate   carrying his sabre and wearing red and white striped pants flying
around like an acrobat in the ships lines. Of course there was Blackbeard,  who allegedly left treasure stashed along the eastern seaboard and what kid back then did not know of Long John Silver. Then there was Captain Kidd.

For years there were tals of treasure buried by Captain Kidd on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. And there were other rumors about Oak Island too - maybe the British buried treasures from their looting of Havana.

Other rumored booty on Oak Island includes Marie  Antoinette's jewels and even the Ark of the Covenant the Holy Grail and some original works of William Shakespeare.

I first heard of Oak Island in my high school library when I read about the deaths of several treasure hunters in August of 1965. I then read what I could find about the island and its treasure lore. I was somewhat dubious but still interested so I kept up with the goings on. I periodically heard about the Templars possibly visiting there and the Templars have always fascinated me

 These guys were the Christian warriors that launched Crusades against the infidels in the Holy Land and accompanied Christians on treks to the Holy Land.  They are also an alleged reason for modern day Islamic terrorism. Like the Chinese, radical Islam plays a long game and holds grudges apparently eternally. They are also perhaps the source of Friday the 13th being an unlucky day as the King of France ordered their arrest on Friday the 13th. In the 1960s the Templars were suggested to have taken possession of certain religious relics such as the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant when  they occupied the Temple on the Mount. They had the ways and means to transport any such relics almost anywhere, including Oak Island.

Jump ahead to 2011 and The History Channel comes out with a series called The Curse of Oak Island. Huzzah - maybe the questions will be answered. We are now midway through the sixth season and we have more questions.
That, of course, includes Oak Island.Read what History Channel says about the Curse of Oak Island here.

A pair of brothers from Michigan, Marty and Rick Lagina have led a team seeking to solve the mystery of Oak Island. You can read a blurb about the  Laginas and their business interests here. I freely admit I am thoroughly hooked on the show and the Mystery of Oak Island, At first I was convinced there was pirate treasure buried there but the more I researched the more that did not seem likely as the things encountered by searchers pointed to something much deeper than Oak Island being a simple pirate treasure dump/hiding place.The engineering required to create the water booby trap alone seemed to me to be well beyond the capabilities of pirates.

So what have the searchers actually found on Oak Island? Read about that here.

What does the future hold for the search? Time for my fanboy conjecture - IMHO there is sufficient evidence to indicate the Templars spent considerable time and effort transporting and hiding religious artifacts on Oak Island. There are some that believe Sir Francis Bacon's manuscripts are buried here. Though sufficient material shows many old books are or were sequestered on Oak Island much of that could also support the Templars and religious texts. Gold and jewels? I don't really care - I find the religious artifacts notion more compelling and interesting. If wrong and there turns out to be nothing? Then I have been watching the worlds longest popcorn movie and have loved every bit of it. But I firmly believe there is something hidden on Oak Island waiting to be found. Only time will tell.

Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see what Indian lost treasure Ramana  thinks is real.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Families then and now.

Families then and now - another check on our cultural progress it seems - albeit more open ended than a good old days type of post. With the inherent 2-on-1 east west vibe it will be interesting to compare notes when this one is finished.

The old family standard - dad works and makes enough to purchase car and a house is foreign to me. I cannot begin to describe that lifestyle as I never experienced it. My birth father left before I was born. At the age of 61 I saw a picture of him for the very first time. Subsequent contact with that part of my
family was met with stony silence and in fact his brother told me in a tersely worded email basically to pound sand.  Daddy Wes apparently was a loser - a dirty cop who spent his share of time in the state pen in Canyon City. I do know he got married later in life so I may have another half sibling or two out there somewhere.

My mom's parents were closer to a classic family - my grandfather was a self-employed contractor and my grandmother had a seamstress shop. Jump ahead to 1949 when I enter the scene - our family consisted of my mother, me, my Uncle Chuck, grandmother and grandfather. My Uncle Chuck was soon in the Marines. I was known as Charles or  Butch Higgins until my mom married Jack McConvey when I was 8. Unfortunately my grandfather died  in 1953 and everything changed again. Daddy Harry - as I called him  - was an avid hunter and fisherman- both which I would have been exposed to.He was also a Shriner - part of the Masons, Again - something I would have been exposed to and participated in had he lived. I actually remember going fishing with him once and we got skunked, We stopped at a place on the way home that had pools stocked with trout and so we returned home successful providers (for a small fee of course). That was our little secret.

No photo description available.No photo description available.My grandparents were entrepreneurial - both self employed; The house Daddy Harry built had a full basement which was rented out at various times to players on the Pueblo Dodgers, a Brooklyn farm team or football players from the local JC up the street. Jack McConvey was a basement tenant who worked his way up to the main floor by marrying my mom.


All of the neighborhood kids were in the typical family and I had a very pretty single mom but as far as I could tell we were accepted as part of the neighborhood.  My pal Kenny had one sister and one brother, both older than us and my pal Tommy had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. His dad, Sparky, was a railroad engineer and kenny's dad Jim was a businessman - think Ward Cleaver. Main employment centered around the railroad and the Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) steel mill. The population of Pueblo then was 80-81,000. My mom worked at a place called Railway Savings and Loan. I went to YMCA camp the last 2 summers after selling candy door to door to cover the costs. Most of the neighborhood kids went to Camp Crockett. The boys were in scouts, we played Bantam League football and Old Timers baseball. There was no Little League in Pueblo. 

Everything I saw and experienced seemed very typical of the times - very Beaver Cleaverish. The boys slept out in each others back yards (Virgil Barnhart had the best yard) and Tommy's older brother Adrian and his friends would harass us and we'd all sneak off and raid the gardens of the neighbors. I had cousins in town and nearby in Trinidad. It was from what I could tell a very normal childhood centered around families.

My sister was born in Pueblo and a few  months later we moved to California to a town with the a population of 72,000 but it seemed much larger. Pueblo was a city whose nearest neighbor was 20-30 miles away. Hayward - the new place - in the middle of the East Bay - the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay Area.

My dad worked for his dad in the newspaper subscription business at a place called Periodical Publishers. My mom quickly found a job at a local Savings and Loan called Pioneer Savings. I noticed right away that nearly all of my friends' mothers worked. The pace of life in the Bay Area was much quicker than Pueblo. We moved into a new housing tract called Palma Ceia.I remember the first few months groups of neighbors would get together, get acquainted and we started putting fences up in the back yards. When everyone agreed on what to build off we'd go for the weekends supplies and shortly thereafter all the fences were done. Then came the patios. Those got built in 3s and then lawns were planted but oddly enough nary a white picket fence was built anywhere. Dinners were generally marked by family conversation around the dinner table or we ate off of TV trays in the Living room and watched TV while we ate.

In 1972 Lynn and I got married and after a pair of cross-country forays we found ourselves back in the Bay Area. My folks had gotten a divorce and mom was getting remarried so we bought her condo from her. We were both working, had excellent childcare and things were moving along smoothly until we decided to sell the condo and buy a house. Shortly after moving into the house the economy started to slip in the Bay Area and Lynn - unbeknownst to us - was beginning to feel the effects of the as yet undetected Huntington's Disease that would eventually take her life. She began having difficulty at her job as things that once came easy to her were fast becoming a struggle; Long story short, we both lost our jobs and were having difficulty making ends meet. We had always been able to make it but we started hitting a wall and had begun the slide out of that vaunted economic powerhouse known as the American middle class.

We sold the house at a huge loss and ended up in Texas, essentially starting all over.  Because of my job at RadioShack we were a techie family. If it was new and cool we had one. We were so busy that dinners were rarely around the table - we ate out a lot or ordered takeout. Dinner communication was almost non existant. We did, however, participate in the kids activities. Lynn handled Jamie and dance classes while I coached both kids in soccer and baseball/softball. I was a VP in the local youth soccer league.

Jamie graduated from the same high school as I. She even ran into some of the same teachers I had. Once she came home from school with a puzzled look on her face. She said there had been a substitute bteacher in one of her classes and tha the called roll like a PE coach. When he got to her name he said McConvey - looked up from the page and queried Chuck or Mike? She responded Chuck was her dad, Mike her uncle. He laughed and told her to see him after class. He was my wrestling coach and his son and my brother were best friends. Unfortunately Sean did not complete high school - not uncommon for Texas.
 
Lynn eventually succumbed to Huntington's disease and Sean and Jamie set out to make lives for themselves. They have kids - Jamie 3 and Sean 2. Sean is with his significant other for the long haul, Jamie is flighty and restless, more so now that she has been confirmed to have Huntingtons Disease. Sean refuses to be tested - he is just working hard to make a good life for his family, jamie is sulking and pouting about her fate. She has strained relationships with her kids, her brother and me. Both of their families are completely hooked on techh and whenever possible are texting merrily away. They both have completely different outlooks on the world than Iand are completely apolitical. I - on the other hand -m am a poitical junkie.

Thjat's a wrap on my take on families then and now. Like I said I have little experience with NORMAL -I have always simply called my family dysfunction junction.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to get Ramana's take on the subject.  I'll see ya next weeek, same bat time, same bat channel.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Who or what is the "Big Bad" in the current world order??

The last 10 years have seen many changes in the world order. Along with a severely fractured split in the political debate, rapidly accelerating in the last two years, how are things aligning today? Has there been a change in the leadership roles by nation stated and their leaders? Are we still living in a primarily east vs. west world or has that dynamic changed? Is the world safe? Are we safer now  than we were ten or so years ago?

Much has changed in politics and the view held by the citizens of the USA - of that we can be certain. There is a daily hue and cry in social media from the far right crucifying former President Obama and the Clintons. For simplicity sake I am focusing on the commentary offered by a single individual. Maybe he is having difficulty accepting that his guy won in 2016 and despite having control of both houses of congress and the executive branch Trump's sole accomplishment has been a tax break that has effectively fubared the economy so badly our grandchildren will still be paying the debt long after the poster and I are dead and gone. One long, eloquent post after another in the same vein. never a mention of the Russia connection between Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. More than once he has posted words similar to these (these are taken directly from a recent post speaking about Obama "The Piece of Shit is a traitor to our only ally in the Mid East. Barrack Hussein Obama should be tried for treason and executed." No comment on how Donald Trump is rolling back sanctions previously placed on  an oligarch who is a strong Putin ally. Never a comment about a White House meeting between Trump and Russians wherein only Russian media was allowed. Never a comment about how Trump constantly lies about the NATO alliance. Trump  lies about Robert Mueller. Trump lies about our intelligence gathering agencies. Trump lies about his accomplishments as president. Simply put, Trump lies. About everything. Constantly. But Barack Hussein Obama should be tried for treason and executed. 

This poster constantly reminds readers that his side has their guns and stand ready to use them. He claims the other side wants to confiscate them. And have the UN establish a new  world order wherein those who do not toe the "company line" will have no place in the new society. One language, one religion, one currency and so on. Liberals are libtards in his world and Democrat is just about the worst thing one can be called unless you add corrupt as an adjective. Or piece of shit.

I trust by now you have gathered I do not agree with this fellow. What you probably have not figured out is he has been a friend of  mine for years. Still is. But the hatred he regularly spews - (he disagrees and calls it patriotism) - is his right and even his duty. He has a regular cadre of supporters that collectively pat him on the back for being their honest spokesperson after each tirade. Many of them are also my friends, though most just Facebook friends.

So what does all of this have to do with the "Big Bad" on the world stage? Simply this - a very real and distinct lack of civility in political discourse in this country has allowed (caused) us to elect as our so-called leader a man who is systematically trying to tear down the institutions of our government, is damaging  alliances that have served us well for decades and has fixated on illegal immigration as the single largest problem we face and is causing so much harm to our country that the harm may not be reversible. THE HARM MAY NOT BE REVERSIBLE.

This hate speak has accelerated to the point that the left wing fringe has now taken up the mantle and are firing back just as haphazardly as those on the right. Pelosi and Schumer sound as bad as Miller and Bolton.It sounds like an American version of what went on between Britain and Northern Ireland and we all know how that turned out. We simply must find a way to disagree and find common ground. We  do not need a concrete wall along our entire southern border but there are places where a substantial physical barrier is necessary. Being pro choice does not make you a baby killer - it does, however, speak to having government make choices for half of the population about their own bodies. Sorry, but I do not feel any government has that right. We must figure a way to beat China at their long game. They play it extremely well at our peril. We must find a way to deal effectively with an increasingly weak (economically speaking) Russia that is becoming more and more aggressive internationally and has the second largest cache of nuclear weapons. We must deal with climate change that can and will disrupt food production worldwide whether climate change is naturally occurring or assisted by man. Without sufficient food supplies regional conflicts will expand and possibly lead to all out global conflict. Plus, the evangelical movement is being more aggressive than ever about allowing God back in our schools and government. We are not now nor have we ever been a Christian nation. We are a secular nation founded on Judeo-Christian fundamentals. There is a difference. Religious clubs are fine, religious,  curriculum does NOT belong in public schools. If that is what you want go to a Catholic school. Attend a religious-affiliated college like BYU, Notre Dame, St Marys - there are plenty of them available.

Those are just of a few issues we could address if civility existed in our political discourse. The hate speech cited earlier is a symptom of the problem, not  the problem in and of itself. The lack of civility that in turn lead to the election of Donald Trump is  the two-headed monster that is in my opinion the "Big Bad" we are faced with. Addressing the civility matter would - also in my opinion - inoculate us from a second Trump term - something I fear we might never fully recover from.

That's my quick take on things. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Relocation

Ramana selected this weeks 2-on-1 topic - relocation. There is a television commercial running these days that  says Americans move more than people in any other country. It suggests we in the USA will live in 11 different homes in our lifetimes. I immediately started doing the math and found I have lived it 10 different homes to date in my lifetime. It is not likely I will move more than one more time. Well I'll be damned.

Related image

Depending on the circumstances, relocation can be adventurous and fun -  like my move from Colorado to California just  before my 10th birthday, or somewhat harrowing - like our move from California to Texas when Lynn and I had both lost our jobs and employment prospects in the SF Bay Area were almost non-existent. So off  we moved to Fort Worth for a promised $10.20 per hour job with the hope it would grow into a future for our family.


Texas proved to be a good move - I did not leave until 2015 when I ended up in North Carolina. Between that first moving adventure and the trek to North Carolina our relocation timeline looked like this:


1975 Lynn was offered a promotion if we would move to New England and set up a new office for her company. How could we turn down New England in the Bicentennial year? I loaded up the car  with our dog Sherman and cat Peabody  and headed off on my maiden cross country drive. Lynn worked in the Los Angeles office for a few  weeks and then flew back to Hartford to meet us.

The New England office Was soon  functioning smoothly and Lynn was offered a transfer back to Los Angeles. Being natural left-coasters, we jumped at the chance to get closer to home, even if it was Los Angeles. We packed our Chevy Monza, loaded Peabody and  Sherman into the backseat and off we went. We landed in Hermosa Beach, 2  blocks from the ocean. That made the move palatable but changes in the company were afoot so Lynn resigned shortly thereafter. She moved back to Northern California and stayed with my parents.  I was promptly let go and I took a job with Radio Shack after being assured I could transfer to Northern California. Three months later I moved in with Lynn and our daughter in the basement of my folks place in Castro Valley. 

By mid 1986 things were going well and I was offered a position in Honolulu, Hawaii. Many promises were made - including money for relocation expenses so off I went to get the facility set up and find a place to live. When senior management started dragging their heels on the relocation money. Lynn got mad and said they might never get us back to California. Long story short, Lynn and the kids stayed in our condo in Hayward and I spent 6 months in Hawaii with my only transportation being the Suzuki 550 I purchased in Hawaii. You just never know what hardships one must endure when Image result for 86 suzuki 550relocating. Rest  assured I had way more fun than I was supposed to. But, Lynn and the kids met me  at the airport with huge grins on Christmas eve. 

The next big relocation was the move to Texas in May of 1994, brought o  by a  collapsing economy in silicon valley and a lack of suitable employment opportunities. I was not thrilled with the circumstances of the move but it was definitely one of those  "Ya gotta do what ya gotta do"scenarios. Texas turned out to be a great place and if I was younger I would move to Austin.

Every major relocation takes on a life of its own. They all include hitting restart - getting established and comfortable in a new place. Ours were all positive although some took more work than others - except Hawaii. I used to pull up to a stoplight and look around and think to myself I cannot believe I am here. I also believe if Lynn and the kids had come nobody would have cared if RadioShack did not get us back to California. 

That's my relocation story. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

What would you do given 38 minutes to live before Nuclear disaster were to strike?

This topic was my choice. It came from seeing a picture of the old duck-and-cover days when I was in grade school, junior high and high school and a friends post on Facebook that asked the same question. Why did my friend  post the question? Simple actually - it really happened to Hawaii when on January 13, 2018 the following emergency message was broadcast at 8:07 A.M. to all Hawaii cell phones - BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

As you can imagine, the fear and anxiety was nearly unimaginable. Check these links

Fear. Panic. And tears. For 38 minutes, Hawaii thought it was under attack

Being a mother in Hawaii during 38 minutes of nuclear fear

For 38 Minutes, Hawai Panicked. This could be the end

Obviously there was an error and Hawaii remains lush and lovely in the middle of the Pacific. But, ngiven the political climate both here in the USA and elsewhere in the world, what do you suppose the chances are another mistake is made and what if it isn't caught in time? Or, in a worst case scenario, a nuclear attack is actually launched? Wth the actors and nations involved, I frankly am no longer not worried about nuclear conflict. I think there are enough fools in charge in all of the nations with nuclear arms that actually believe nuclear war is both survivable and winnable. As the old somg goes, it's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack.

And to answer the question posed by the topic, like most I'd undoubtedly spend most of my time contacting those I care most about. Where I live is not likely in and of itself a primary military target there are several close enough that I won't have to worry for long about anything.

I often wonder if tjhe younger generations these days are as aware of the situation we live in - as I think we were in our youth or have they seen sufficient movies and game scenarios that have dulled them to reality? Has any movie had the effect of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach that was turned into a fairly sobering film in 1959? I know that one stuck with me for years.



As our society seems to move closer and closer to the vision of Ayn Rand are the chances for nuclear conflict heightened? "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”  

That certainly sounds like the credo of any high-powered CEO to me. Kind of reminds me of that old credo - the one who dies with the most wins" - the call of the unchecked, unregulated capitalist. Merge that with the decidedly un-Christian hateful evangelical right and the recipe for disaster is at hand. Lets just hope common sense has not taken a permanent vacation.

Be sure to check out Ramana's Musings to see his take on this week's topic. I suspect it will be quite different. 


Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Good Old Days.

This week''s topic - The Good Old Days - was chosen by Ramana. Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see his take on the topic.



Who among us hasn't at some point in time shrugged their shoulders and said back in the day we we would never get away with saying that, doing that or something similar in response to some action by a less than respectful (in our mind) young person? How many pictures of push mowers have been posted in response to a complaint about mowing the grass with a power mower? How many times have you heard or read that you ate what was put in front of you or you ate nothing ar all? For me that usually referred to Tuna Casserole on Tuesday nights when Sea Hunt was on. To this day I cannot look at a can oan of tuna without this flashing through my brain - 


Think about it. Were things really better back in the day? I find it hard to believe a member of the LGBTQ community looks back on the fifties with warm, fuzzy feelings about living a lie and having to deny who they really were. And African Ameericans look back on Amos 'n Andy or Rochester warmly? The Jim Crow south? Or were  the sixties and the Black Panthers more nostalgic for them? Confession time - I thought Amos 'n Andy was hilarious and so were The Honeymooners. Both shows were laden with stereotypes and of course we all know that is political correctness - a serious no-no these days.

The good old days is largely generational - each generation has its very own good old days. Younger generations these days enjoy blaming the baby boomers for today's problems.We rebellious boomers started the participation awards nonsense and our children picked up that ball and ran with it Most of the current politicians - whose failings and actions are directly responsible for the election of Donald Trump as POTUS45. Apparently we never learned to be careful what we ask for as we got it - a non-politician in the white house. In this instance the good old days might be considered to be any time before Trump was  elected. 

A fair number of Catholics consider the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965 as the delineation point for the good old days in their faith, meaning anything before that is valid after it not so. Think Mel Gibson and his traditionalist Catholic beliefs as an example. In fact Christianity has several changes which could be considered defining points for the good old days. Think any Protestant sect. Think Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Saints.

Every generation claims to have the best music. I laugh when I hear a kid these days disparage the Beatles. It is highly unlikely that without the Beatles, popular music would have evolved to what is popular today. The Beatles turned popular music on its ear as they broke new ground with things like Sgt Pepper and inspired people like Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen and others. The Beatles went from being a standard guitar band to a highly complex mixture of orchestral sounds and experimentation that is all the more amazing when you consider the band members could neither read  nor write music (not to be confused with and was inspired by them and others and so today we have rap and hip hop. Not surprisingly we encounter a good old days speedbump here - I just heard these 50-year old tune on the radio and enjoyed them  as much as ever. If you have a sudden nostalgic urge to hear  these just click the link.

I Will.

You Didn t Have to Be So Nice
 Will this next song be as popular in 50 years? My guess is no. But my mixed- race grandkids disagree.

Naughty by Nature

There is a certain nostalgia for film noire that has been around fordecades. Some folks simply perefer black and white as a medium - listen to the hue and cry whenever a classic film is colorized. As many hate the newly colorized version as perefer. Many a Good Old Days moments here. 

It has become the custom in many  a competition these days to have no winner or      losers and lets give everyone aparticipatipn trophy too while we are st it. Sadly ths seems to have evolved from my very own Baby Boomer generation. So this Good Old Days moment is very valid - lets get back to the good old days of teaching kids how to play a sport fairly and to be good winners or - perish the thought - losers. Kids need to learn how to compete to get along in the world today.

So where are we with the topic? Are the old days really the Good Old Days? Are they really better? The answer is a great big old sometimes. But older is no guarantee of better. This line from another favorite song of mine gets it - "Yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for too long. There's just too much to see wauring inn front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong"

Don;t recognize it? Here's a link to the song

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Atitudes

While some things never change, we are really bettere off culturally when things evolve and grow. We may not love the changes as they occur but progress comes from adapting to change and adopting changes. These days corporal punishment - or really a lack thereof - is another big Good Old Days rant. Both sides vehemently defend their choices. A few other somehat common Good Old Days flashpoints include Kids growing up playing outside vs the electronic devices; Violence in video games (and remember - my generation grew up playing some form of gun centered game, deending on what the latest popular movie was. And some of those guns shot plastic bullets - I had one of these



And of course I had a Rifleman rifle and Josh Randall's (Steve McQueen) Mare's Leg from Wanted Dead or Alive. And several friends had big backyards in which to play guns. We played them all - Paladin, Rifleman, Josh Randall, Wyatt Earp, Matt Dillon, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry - even Audie Murphy. I am not sure a video game is as much fun as gunnunn'down Virgil Barnhart or Kenny Lockard in a serious bout of guns in Virgil's back yard. And yes the Indians could be good guys - Broken Arrow had Michael Ansara as Cochise and Tonto was no stereotypical Indian to us - he was one of the good guys. And the Mexican kids had The Cisco Kid, Zorro and El Fego Baca.

So that is my quick shack take on The Good Old Days. I confess I am occasionally guilty with some of my nostalgic trips back in time - I do think in a few instances those times were better, But I believe looking forward and constantly learning is the way to go. And you do know what they say about the past - if we do not learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. One last thing - none of my neighborhood buddys was ever Bat Masterson Nobody had the requisite cane and derby hat.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The First Time I Saw an Ocean

The first time I saw an ocean was the summer before we moved from Pueblo, Colorado to California. We were trekking west to see my new grandparents and decide if we would  make the big move. We made the drive in 2.5 days and had 4 days to check out the lay of the land.

My first real ocean view was Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I loved it. Of course in typical tourist fashion,  we rolled up our  pants and took off our shoes and socks and went wading.   n knee deep water, when the wave was receding from the beach it felt like the ocean was making a serious effort to pull me out to sea.That's when I got my first real sense of the power of the ocean. I knew I was a strong swimmer but it made me nervous as hell just the same. Plus, it was summer and the water was frigid.

Ocean Beach SF Surf Cam.  The surf is treacherous and as I said, the water is frigid. Plus, there is a great white shark breeding ground nearby, just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mt next view of the Pacific Ocean was Half Moon Bay - a fairly typical state beach .It was a fun place with some  great restaurants. The water was still frigid but at least we were further away from those pesky sharks.

We continued south down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz , which rapidly became my favorite ocean spot. I wonder why. Must have been that roller coaster - The Big Dipper and  the Mad Mouse. Funnily enough I remember neither the water temperature or the distance to the great white breeding grounds. Must have been that bumper car ride.


A little furthersouth was the last stop on our ocean/beach tour, Monterey. The thing I liked best about the entire highway 1 trip was the ruggedness of the coast. There were normal beach places but th e coastline is basically rugged - and gorgeous.


My dad  insisted we take the boa1t tour of Monterey Bay. When looking out to the bay and seeing nothing but whitecaps, I was not really interested but alas my 8y-year old vote was quickly smashed by those cruel parent types. If the Santa Cruz roller coaster had been on the water it would have only been half as scary as that darn boatride.Of  course I asked if there were shatks on the bay. You bet said the cheshire cat-ike ggrinning captain. It just dawned on me that perhaps Mr Speilberg was also a passenger on the trip as I am sure I said something like  "We need a bigger boat". The boat captain and my dad had a great time - me not so much. My Mom was somewhat neutral, perhaps fearing for the sanity of her firstborn child.

That day in  Monterey ended my first exposure to the Pacific Ocean. I even stopped thinking about that boatride when we stopped at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant  and I go-t myfirst taste of deep-fried artichoke hearts. It is true - everything is better fried.

The trip was a rousing success. The next summer we  packed  up our 1957 Dodge Cornet, loaded  UHAUL trailer and headed off on the new life adventure in a land called California.

Besure to check Ramana's Musings to check on Ramana's first encounter with an ocean.