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. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unpleasant Encounters

I am sure we have all had an unpleasant encounter or two in the course of our lives. I have been in the unique position of being the unpleasant encounter for many people in a two year stretch of my life when I worked for a financial service company. What, you might ask, did I do? I  The territory was essentially the entire country, and I repossessed mobile homes. In the vernacular of the industry, I popped coaches. It was an interesting couple of years.

My company serviced mobile home loans for a number of banks, savings and loans and insurance companies. There were loans all over the country but most of my work was in Florida, Colorado, Arizona and California. Each month the lenders sent me the delinquent accounts and I worked them to bring them current or took possession of the coach - aka popped the coach, I was a much better than average bill collector - I have a booming voice, Alas,  sometimes things went completely south. The last week of every month was hit the road time. I'd gather up my paperwork and bid Lynn and our cat a fond adieu and off I'd go on a coach popping tour.  Ii would inspect and pop as many as 30 mobile homes.

Typically, the coaches were empty when I hit the road. I was always very reasonable about letting families clear out before I  knocked on the door - it was embarrassing enough for families losing their homes, No need to make it worse. At this point I should interject that when I first took this job my friends literally laughed their collective asses off - I am rather large, At the time I was 6'2" and about 290. They were all picturing me literally chaining up and yanking these home off the property. e all had a good laugh.

One trip to the north was more interesting than usual- I had scheduled visits as far north as Eureka and as far south as Santa Rosa.  One of my stops was in a little berg just north of Santa Rosa and it was not in a mobile home park, it was on private land,  By the time I found the place, the day was pretty well shot (no GPS back then). I drove up the winding driveway, encountering various goats and cows with the occasional chicken running around. The man I saw made me immediately think of Deliverance. I asked him why he had not vacated the place and he indicated he wanted to take care of the matter.I asked how he intended to do that and he yelled out a woman's name. We looked up at the run-down blue trailer and the door opened. Out stepped what I assume was his wife, buck naked. She was ready to work out a trade - sex for more time. This was in the seventies - free love and all. Now I must admit - if the woman approaching me had looked at all like Natalie Wood I might have hesitated but this lady looked like what I pictured a female sasquatch just might look like - or perhaps Ma Kettle It did not take long for the pair to realize they were going to have to leave and give up their place. I gave them two days - long enough for me to go to Ukiah and hit several accounts, and I'd come back and inspect their trailer then. They agreed, called me a few names and I watched them flip me off in the rear-view mirror as I exited the property.  I drove about 30 miles and booked a room at the local notel  motel. After a diner dinner I went back to ,my room to watch some TV. The lead news story was of a tragic fire that had burned down the trailer of a local couple. Clearly they did not take my turn down of their offer very well. They simply torched the place. The paperwork was much simpler than usual as well.

On one Southern California trip I actually  popped a really nice coach. The place was actually horse training facility run by a very nice, pretty deaf lady. While inspecting the coach I stumbled across her stash of letters to and from the ex chronicling the rise and fall of a relationship and a business. It was quite sad and frankly the reason I left that business.  Suddenly I decided how I made my living required a higher standard.

Call it Karma - several years later I was forced to appear in court when the company I worked for was sued by their primary insurance carrier. Being on the stand in a civil trial was not as much fun as it appears on television. In the end, the carrier won several hundred thousand dollars from my former boss. I got a nice dinner with the carrier's IT manager.

That brings my tales of unpleasant encounters encounters to an end. There were others but honestly my life as not been filled with unpleasant encounters. While not the life I had planned, it has turned out to be interesting and full of characters with some adventure folded in to keep it interesting. When I lived in Hawaii I used to sit on my Suzuki 550 waiting for the light to changeat the intersection where the statue of King Kamehameha rules the roost, and simply be amazed I was there.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings .

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Rumor

Image result for rumor cartoons

We live in an era driven by rumor, gossip and innuendo. I suspect any organization of reasonable size has always dealt with rumor, the rumor mill and we are taking rumor to new heights these days. Rumors often seem to start just like the Big Bang that started the universe. They just seem to have always been here.

Enter the Internet. Nothing makes a rumor more powerful than having it hit the Internet and go viral. Just look at our 2016 presidential election. The Russians did an outstanding job posting rumor and innuendo about the Democratic candidate  and stirring up a portion of the GOP  that seized the lies of Trump and ran with them. Of course HRC was as practiced at lying as Trump but his lies gained more traction. 2016 raised tribalism to a new level and i suspect 
2020 will be more of the same.

I am much less concerned about adults and rumors than I am about children. Cyber bullying is reaching new heights and causing more harm and pain than at any time in our history. It seems like every week a child somewhere commits suicide because of bullying, and the anonymity of cyber bullying fuels the flames. Kids are not being provided the tools to sort through the nonsense. Critical thinking skills need to be taught and reinforced from an early age. The anonymity of the Internet makes things worse.

Adults deal with rumors regularly. They carry them to the extreme with conspiracy theory sites. Take a look at Alex Jones and his Infowars site. It is just one of many. There is so much junk available these days it boggles the mind.

There is a lighter side to rumors. Today is a day rife with rumors for the American football fan. The 2019 NFL draft begins tonight and so the pundits are all declaring who they think will be chosen by each team, This follows months of mock drafts and parsing every word from the NFL teams. The same thing will happen with basketball when the NBA draft happens. Baseball and hockey are not quite as crazy since those leagues are not primarily fed players by colleges.

Rumors can steal a person's reputation or open the person pushing the rumor to a defamation lawsuit. There is also a point at which rumors and or  gossip become propaganda - again, that is something we saw in our 2016 election. Expect to see it again in the 2020 election as out current administration seems to have no interest in curbing interference from other nations.

Be sure to check Ramana's take on rumors here.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Sense of Humour


 
A sense of humor - the ability to laugh, especially at yourself, and your ability to perceive funny things and say funny things - is the topic of this week's 2-on-1 blog. A sense of humor is not a one size fits all proposition. They vary by the number of people alive.  Some may like a guy like George Carlin, some may prefer Chris Bliss or any of a number of stand-up comics.


 

The ability to laugh is one of our greatest coping mechanisms. Think about the topsy-turvy, insanity filled world we inhabit. The schism between left and right is deeper and wider than the grand canyon. We are currently gearing up for the 2020 Presidential election. Believe it or not,  things will probably get worse before they get better. Is laughter really the best medicine?

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. So a good sense of humor is actually good for  you. 

The Dark Side of Humor

most of us enjoy the Roadrunner Wile Coyote cartoons. Poor old Wile Coyote takes it on the chin several times in each cartoon.He gets blown up, runs off a cliff and has numerous things like safes dropped on him and the dark sides of our senses of humor keeps us laughing. Naturally some of us that have dark sides so dark things that normally make a person cringe make us laugh or make us utter comments betraying our dark senses of humor. Before she outgrew them, one of my granddaughters used to watch horror movies and scifi movies with me. A machete attack usually resulted in one or both of us commenting that was gonna leave a mark, followed by a bit of raucous laughter. 

 
Ditto when one of the bad guys in the Jurassic series gets eaten by a dinosaur. The cheers were equally raucous.

The point? Laugh. Laugh long, loud and hearty. Whichever side of the comment you land, laughing- even if at the presumed loss by your opponent - and you will feel better. That raises another question. A standard political question revolves around when power does or doesn't speak to truth. Need the same standard apply to laughter? In a world rife with political correctness and political spin, I suspect not.

Now something I find interesting  but will not really be addressing here is the senses of humor attributed to Millennials. I have often considered the term Millennial sense of humor to be an oxymoron. I am not sure they do not have senses of humor. Probably,  I just do not understand them as a group and have no logical point of reference. Perhaps therein lies the problem - Millennials are notoriously light on logic - just another thing they blame us baby boomers for. But I truly cannot see the current generation leading the civil rights movement we spearheaded. But that's topic for another blog.

That is it for this weeks blog topic - selected by Ramana (look at the spelling) LOL. Please check for Ramana's Musings here.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Deja Vu All OverAgain

In honor of the opening of baseball season I selected this week's topic -as quoted by former Yankee great Yogi Berra. Besides being one of the best catchers ever to play the game and being part of 10 championship teams, Yogi was famous for his Yogi-isms (colloquial expressions that lack logic). Truth be told, many of them are just attributed to Berra, even if he never actually said them. As he so perfectly put it: “I never said most of the things I said.” It's time to sit back and have a chuckle or two and take a break from the seriousness that dominates life these days.


  1. It's like Deja Vu all over again.
  2. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  3. You can observe a lot by just watching.
  4. Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.
  5. A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
  6. Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
  7. We made too many wrong mistakes.
  8. Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
  9. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
  10. Never answer an anonymous letter.
  11. The future ain’t what it used to be.
  12. I tell the kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
  13. It gets late early out here.
  14. We have deep depth.
  15. Pair up in threes.
  16. I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.
  17. He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.
  18. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.
  19. I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.
  20. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.  
  21. So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.
  22. Take it with a grin of salt.
  23. The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
  24. Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.
  25. I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4.
This is my favorite time of year as a sports fan. As I have said in many blogs, all I ever wanted to be is a baseball player. As a kid - until moving to the SF Bay Area I loved Yogi and the Yankees, but that all changed when I had my own team to root for - the  Giants of Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and the rest. Plus, along the way I discovered hockey and the Stanley Cup playoffs started this past Wednesday. That makes me a happy guy. It happens the same time every year -  it's like deja vu all over again.

Be sure to check Ramana's blog here. I suspect his take will be decidedly different - perhaps there is a cricket player equivalent to Yogi Berra.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Freedom 2-on-1 April 5, 2019

 Freedom. An important word. A word to die for. A word to live by.

Freedom to speak your mind. Freedom to live life as you please without hindrance or restraint. The absence of subjection to foreign domination or a despotic government. Freedom to worship any religion or no religion at all. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

in 1988 Bruce Springsteen sang Chimes of Freedom to 200-300 thousand East Berliners. It wasn't long before the wall came down.
We have it pretty good here in the USA - even now in what many consider to be dark times. Our President promised he would tear down our institutions of government and he is trying to do just that. His supporters are happy.

While most Americans understand freedom of speech means you can say what you want but you do not stroll into a crowded theater and scream "FIRE!" at the top of your lungs. Our President recognizes NO restraints to his speech. His supporters do not care.They have 2 new conservative Supreme Court Justices.

To say many die for freedom is an understatement of herculean proportions. We have fought the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War, and the unnamed war in Afghanistan. I have a friend named Dennis Marsh who fought and flew in the Vietnam war, helped evacuate Saigon at the end, and proudly traces his heritage back through every war by identifying his family members in each one. Dennis proudly comes from a long line of American Patriots.  It is because of people like Dennis that we enjoy the freedoms so commonly attributed to the USA.

It is because of what has been dubbed The Greatest Generation that we are not speaking German or Japanese as our primary language. That generation made the sacrifices necessary to defeat the AXIS powers in WWII by supplying the military might with the materials and support needed to get the job done. except f

We are in the midst of perhaps the greatest divide in our country's history except for the Civil War.. Though you would be hard pressed to get anyone on the left or right to admit the other side actually believes in freedom - the left calls the right  fascists and the right calls the left socialists/communists, they actually just see freedom differently. The left sees freedom as - freedom to a - be or do anything you wish, and the right sees freedom as the freedom from - big government, regulations, restrictions on their ability to make money. Our educational system has failed colossally in teaching civility and civil discourse, making it virtually impossible to debate or discuss an issue without devolving into mayhem. Ultimately I suspect we will survive, just not in my lifetime. There are generally accepted two types of freedom - for a good article on them go here.

In many ways freedom is a relative term. How can that be? The USA was founded on Judeo/Christian principles. Our social framework consists of laws designed to support those principles and ideals but not to legislate any specific religion as the state religion. That has led to debate and argument over things as ridiculous as Christmas displays on public land - some on the left claim those displays promote  Christianity and are offensive to other faiths and non believers.  Personally, with our Judeo/Christian  background they are nothing more than simple tradition. On a personal note, I know of no one who has been offended by my wishing them a Merry Christmas. But a democratic country founded on other than Judeo/Christian fundamentals is likely to have a different framework more aligned with their founding ideology.

 FI think freedom comes in big F and small f versions. Big F Freedom is freedom as it relates to the government. We vote and elect most of our leaders. The laws they pass set the boundaries of freedom. They dictate that we do not choose our Presidents and Vice Presidents on simple plurality - the individual with the most votes wins. Congress created the Electoral College - thereby giving for example Wyoming's 70,000 voters per Electoral College Vote the same weight as the 179,000 voters in California for each Electoral College voter. Wyoming's voters are worth roughly 2.5 times the voters in California.  Yep - that sure seems fair. Alas changes to or eliminating the Electoral College require a Constitutional Amendment and that is not likely to happen.

Small f freedom - the freedom to change your mind, make mistakes and learn from them - the freedom to live your life on your terms  Speak your mind.

The most important freedom we have is access to the means to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One could make an argument that there is not equal access available and that clearly needs to be worked on, but we are working from a base of strength.

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose
Nothin', don't mean nothin' hon' if it ain't free, no no.

Be sure to check Ramana's Blog by clicking here 
See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Is Healthcare a Right or a Privilege?

Is healthcare a right or a privilege? Is healthcare for profit a sin? Is the healthcare issue more complex or is it really just a simple, black/white right/wrong matter? Is it capitalism vs socialism? Be sure to visit Ramana's Musing

The good old USA boasts the highest healthcare cost in the world, a 3.66 trillion dollar industry with over $10,000 per  person being spent. Healthcare accounts for about 18% of our GDP, according to CMS.gov . And the bang or our buck? We have the lowest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate in a group of high income western nations - including the U.K., Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

With that backdrop, healthcare is clearly an expensive proposition - something on which everyone cam agree. Is it a right?  I checked the Bill of Rights - no mention of healthcare so it must not be a right. See for yourself - Bill of Rights.

Take a closer look at the numbers and you will find that the main drivers of the cost differential between the USA and those other countries and it gets more interesting. We use the same amount of services, visit doctors and hospitals at the same rate as people in those other countries but administrative costs and prescription costs in the USA are significantly higher. Those costs account for the difference in spending. The price of medicine in the USA is often in the news - especially when a company suddenly increases the cost of their product by hundreds if not thousands of percentage points. For example, the cost of insulin nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016. Whew. That is a healthy leap but we have to pay for all that research and development - right? Think again. Eli Lilly - the company that first produced insulin made 1.7 Billion dollars on its most popular version of insulin a full 12 years after it was introduced. And mind you - to a diabetic it is usually take insulin or die. Unfortunately often that turns into a choice - food or insulin.

Again - is healthcare a right or a privilege? Knowing that one person's right to healthcare is anothers burden to pay seems to point to the notion that healthcare is a privilege. Everyone needs to take care of themselves. Working people should not be required to pay for healthcare for those who choose not to work. It is simply not fair - is it?

I believe basic healthcare service is a right everyone should enjoy. That basic healthcare should include annual checkups, vaccinations etc.. Wellness should be the focus. That does not mean it should be free. It is worth noting that the reason Medicare is acceptable to some who might otherwise be considered conservative, Medicare is not a government provided entitlement - everyone contributes to the Medicare costs when they work, along with their employer. The government essentially becomes a state run insurance provider. I have been on Medicare for almost 5 years. My policy is provided by Aetna. That should be put in place literally at the time a SS number is acquired. Individuals should make contributions at work just as they do today (but not necessarily the same rate). Employers would continue making contributions as well. Just as currently offered, private companies should be encouraged to offer policies should they choose to enter the market. Prescription  drug prices should be negotiated and reviewed periodically. Policies should be transportable so changing jobs does not cause a lapse in protection.

We have a moral obligation to care for the less fortunate members of our society. They should have have medical coverage provided.

Not all medical procedures should be considered a right. Some should be privileges offered to anyone willing to pay for them. Separate policies could be offered that individuals pay for on their own.

There will be people who say Medicare and Medicaid are entitlements that we can no longer offer, they are leading us down the path toward socialism., be they brightest of red conservative I know of nobody willing to give up their medicare coverage. Not a single individual. Private companies already carve out slices of the Medicare pie - that my friends is capitalism.

Obviously things are not entirely black and white when it comes to healthcare and it is up to us and our elected officials to resolve the issue. It is time for Congress to pull up their big boy/big girl pants and do the job we hired them for - to govern. Resistors should be fired.

That's it for this week's 2-on-1 blog. See ya next week.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Acceptance

Ramana offered this week's topic  acceptance - consenting to receive or undertake something offered or being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.  Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say on this weeks 2-on-1 topic.

In this alleged you can do anything you want if you try hard enough world we inhabit, it is time for a bit of rain to fall on your parade. The fact is, as noble as the sentiment is intended to be you simply may not be able to  achieve anything you set your mind to. On occasion the obstacles presented may simply be insurmountable or the competition may simply be over your head. There is a point at which you simply must accept the fact that your goal will not be achieved in spite of your best efforts. As long as you have given your best effort there id nothing to be ashamed of. Period. This applies to us all. Acceptance of failure is an important learning opportunity, almost as important as success in any endeavor. Acceptance is the key that unlocks your ability to deal with change.

There is a reason the so-called serenity prayer is such a critical aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous (and the other like groups) - it is the truth. It works. 
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

You say you don't believe in God? Well you have to believe in something - even if it is yourself. The statement still works, though it seems to me faith in something bigger than yourself makes life easier.



One of life's greatest challenges is to align what you want with what you need. If you have a clear understanding of what you need then odds are you can understand better how to get there.  Dealing with and healing from the negative happenings in life - no matter what they are -requires an understanding of the event and acceptance of the event - be it health related, personal relationship related, career related or anything else. You cannot heal without acceptance. Even if you receive an ultimately fatal diagnosis health wise, you need to accept the fact so that you can live your remaining days as best you can.

I have direct experience with fatal health diagnoses - as most of you know my late wife Lynn died from Huntington's Disease. When we received the diagnosis she essentially got a 10-15 year death sentence. I'd love to say she accepted the diagnosis and lived her life as well as she could. For the first time since I had known her, she simply gave up. The fight had gone put of her. That is partially the result of HD destroying the brain but not entirely. Now our daughter has received the same diagnosis and she is not handling it particularly well. Part of that is my fault as she and I do not get along well at all but she refuses  to get a job and contribute to the household which absolutely boosts the stress levels on the rest of us. Plus, she resents the fact that I will not be there for her in the end - given my age and health the next 15 years are likely to be well past my sell by date.  She has resented me since we moved to Texas and she stayed with her grandparents so she could finish high school. She was a senior when we moved and simply could not accept the fact that there was a major recession in the SF Bay Area and no jobs in my field. Had she accepted the facts of the situation life may well have been smoother for us all. 

Acceptance into a group is also something we all deal with - starting with friends from an early age comes immediately to mind. Think back on all of the cliques in your high school days. Gaining acceptance to a clique was an important part of growing up. In my case the cliques were primarily athletic teams but I do also still have the same core of friends I had in high school. those types of cliques happen in college - think fraternities and sororities. There are also myriad special interest clubs, my first exposure to those being the Science Collection Club in junior high school.We went fossil hunting every weekend and that was pretty unique and great fun. Some of us got into rock and gem collection as well. Acceptance matters as each group you join helps shape your ideas and personality. I became interested in archaeology and for a time considered pursuing it further - until I realized I was mildly claustrophobic - so much for that. No pyramid or grave exploring for me.

Acceptance is not inaction. Inaction is the denial of reality. Acceptance allows you to deal with reality, Take aging as an example. Most of us resist the fact that we are aging - occasionally we deny it at our own peril. Some of us may try to do things that are beyond our physical or mental capabilities. Acceptance of the reality of aging and the changes aging brings to us allows us to live a happier, probably safer life. 

Lastly, there is an old saw that says to correct a problem you must first accept the fact that the problem exists. Accept that change is the norm, not the exception and you will be better equipped to respond to and adapt to the changes life throws at you.
















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.