Thursday, February 22, 2018

What is the most dangerous place in the world today?

What or where is the most dangerous place in the world today? So many choices.  Dangerous to me personally? To my family and friends? To my country? To the world? One could justify a book on each of those but alas, this is a simple weekly blog so all y'all are safe. This will be short and sweet.

The knee jerk reaction would be to say a US public school is the most dangerous place. Given recent events here that would be a reasonable response. We seem to be reliving the halcyon days of the wild, wild west. Everyone needs a gun to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property. At least that is what we are told by the vocal, overly verbose 2nd amendment supporters backed by the NRA.

However, in the grand scheme of things, school mass shootings account for a smaller percentage  of deaths caused by guns (as the tool -people pull the triggers) than you might imagine  because the mainstream media covers them differently. Why is that?  Could it be simply because the preponderance of victims are white?  Or the fact that schools targeted were not in urban areas? Check the list here.  Make up your  own mind. Mass shootings in general are responsible for fewer deaths than you might imagine.

Statistically speaking, you are almost 700 times more likely to die in a car accident than from a gun discharge. Injury Facts Chart (from Wikipedia)

I should state for the record that I am not a gun owner at the moment, (I have been in the past and likely will be again) nor do I come from a hunting background. That, however, is due to the death of my grandfather when I was three as we lived with my grandparents and my Daddy Harry as I called him was an avid hunter. His best hunting buddy was a Native American Chief from Taos, NM. I know many gun owners and NRA members and I can unequivocally say they propagate gun safety every day and care more about our environment than anyone I know. That does  not make me an NRA supporter, by any stretch of the imagination.

What is my point, you might ask? Simply that in spite of the press, the USA is still  a safe place in which to live and to  visit. Yes we have a gun culture that is not likely to change -you see we, lived and loved that cowboy/wild west life popularized in books, movies and the like.

The world in general is a more dangerous place than  it has ever been so increased vigilance is required nearly everywhere. Radical Islam has hijacked the faith of millions and declared war on all things western. Based upon news reports, were I female I do not think I wouldn't feel safe in many parts of India. I'd love to visit Israel though - and that's one place where we can learn much about life under less than ideal circumstances.

Back to the original question - what is the most dangerous place? Wherever you are. I suspect there are statistics somewhere that say you are more likely to be grabbed by a flying purple eater in place X than anywhere else so everywhere is dangerous, clearly some more so than others.. Be smart. Do your homework, due diligence or whatever you care to call it. Pay attention to your surroundings and enjoy yourself. I know of no flying purple eater sightings in a long while. Live your life to its fullest as I suspect you get only one.

That's my quick take on the topic I proposed. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fulfillment 2-on-1 #7

Fulfillment. Achieving something desired. Most of us start out as children with big dreams. I suspect most of those childhood dreams are destined to remain unfulfilled as when we are young our goals tend to be unrealistic since our parents typically fill us with notions like "you can do anything" - one of the great lies children are told. Add to that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy (from my western perspective) - and you get my point. In my case, I never made it to the NFL or MLB so  my childhood dreams remain unfulfilled. Fear not, though, as my psyche remains intact. I think.

As we grow up and hopefully mature,  we adapt to reality. Work hard, do your best replaces you can do anything. Education fuels our dreams. Reach for the stars and learn from your mistakes. Press on - my old friend Dave Wegenka used to say. Sage advice. So I never pitched in a World Series but I had a lot of fun playing softball well into my 40s. That certainly contributed  to both my happiness and sanity over the years. Original dream fulfilled? Nope, but, the realities of life allowed me to modify my hopes and dreams - what really happened while I was busy making other plans in that regard turned out okay.

Like many of my generation, when the blitzkrieg known as the British Invasion hit, I took up the guitar with dreams of being a rock star. That did not work out so well, as dreams go. But my love of that music remained and I remained interested - and thanhks to the Internet, eventually I became close friends with the man who wrote several million sellers for The Dave  Clark 5, perhaps the best known being the following:

Again, things in that regard turned out okay.  I never became a  rock star but the music of that period in my life has brought me much pleasure, many friends, and helped keep me going through many tough times. Original dream unfulfilled, replacement dream very much fulfilled.

I have always been shy, and for years helped feed the notion I was a big, dumb jock.  I was never a ladies man nor was I one of those arrogaant jock types or one of the cool kids.  As such,  though I dreamed of a happy life with someone, my social life re the opposite sex was certainly nothing to brag about. Eventually, though, I met the "one", things clicked and we were together for over 45 years until she  succumbed to Huntington's Disease - a condition appropriately characterized as the disease that is the child of the union of Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimers.  Our legacy of 2 children and 5 grandchildren - in spite of a  fair degree of family dysfunction, means that dream goes into the fulfilled  side of the ledger.

I love to write. I have started the great American novel but, alas, it remains unfinished on a memory stick in my drawer. Who knows if it will ever be finished - certainly not I. My writing these days is what happens on this blog and though it is certainly enjoyable, no literary giant is being spawned.  The jury is still out on this dream.

What dreams are left? I really have only one of note - to win the lottery and move to Nevada City in Northern California and enjoy what remains of my days. And each time I play the lottery and do not win, I take heart knowing I am helping fund education in my state. Seems like a win-win dream to me, fulfilling in many ways.

That's my quick take on this weeks topic. Be sure to check Ramana's take on his chosen topic  here.  See ya next week.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What is your favoite place of all the places you have been? 2-on-1 #6

This week I threw a curveball to my blogging partner Ramana. The topic is intentionally vague and open to  interpretation. It was influenced by those many Facebook lists that make the rounds seemingly daily to allow friends to get to know you better. Truth be told, they probably simply  influence the ads you receive, but they can be a bit of fun. With that in mind, off we go..

Favorite place I have  lived - Northern California, hands down. From its  spectacular climate, incredible scenery and in spite of its ultra-liberal politics

The only place even close is Hawaii

Favorite city I have visited - Toronto, Ontario. Although it was many years ago, I saw women riding  the subway system alone after midnight, people were exceedingly friendly and I have never seen a city that size so clean.

Favorite vacation  - whitewater rafting on the American River (again years ago but oh what fun it was

Favorite concert - several -  Dave Clark 5 in 66,  Beatles - Candlestick Park in 66,  Kenny  Rankin - the Boarding House 69, the Association at Cal State Hayward '68, Moody Blues Concord  Pavilion '94 or  so, Neil Diamond Cow Palace Daly City 94 or so.  Over the years I have been to 50 or more concerts

Favorite place I have yet to visit - England, Pune India - one due to my heritage, the other to have a face-to-face with Ramana

Favorite fast food place  - Jack in the Box - love those tacos  :)

Favorite place to be since retiring - anyplace with my fully charged Kindle.

Favorite place in the USA I'd like to visit and why?  Alaska - Dana Stabenow paints a fascinating picture of Alaska and the folks who live there in her Kate Shugak book series.

I'd like to use this to revisit any fave place or find new favorites   what the heck, someone wins the lottery every week and ther is that nice big place in Nevada City, CA I'd like to buy to keep  the car safe and sound.......

With all of the nonsense going on these days in the real world, I thought it was worth taking a break from that  and paying a brief visit to the lighter side of things.

 Be sure to see Ramana's take here.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Theory and Practice 2-on-1 #5

Theory and practice. That is a term/phrase I'm sure we have all heard before.

A successful baseball related moviead had a variation of the theme with "if you  build it, they will come." The theory was proven true - both in the film and in the real world. In the film - Field of Dreams - the Kevin Costner character builds a baseball diamond on his farm that  attracts  ghosts of  baseball players past (including the Costner character's father) and generates sufficient income to save the family farm. In the real world, that baseball diamond became a real tourist attraction. The theory was proven in practice.

There are a couple of theories that most of us have heard about for years - Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Einstein revolutionized physics and science with his theories that have been proven correct and led to the development of nuclear weapons and more importantly space travel and the myriad inventions that benefit us daily that sprang from the space race 

Darwin's theory of evolution is under constant attack by the religtious right in this country. They advance the theory called Creationism and use bible passages as scientific proof of their theory. They claim the earth is closer to 6000 years old and reject the notion that man and ape evolved from a common ancester In practice,  humans and chimpanzees share almost 99% of the same DNA and we also share genes with plants - including bananas . In practice it appears Evolution passes the test, Creationism and its Intelligent Design not so much.  Of course there are also troublemakers like me who suggest that perhaps Evolution itself is an Intelligent Design. 

Theories surround us everywhere. How many theories are there on child rearing?? Late night TV here is bombarded by get rich quick schemes that you can buy - and if you follow the steps you will get rich. Then there are the dietary programs. So many choices. One theory that seems to work in practice is the gadget marketing scheme that for just 19.95  or less you can purchaase the latest wonder gadget but wait- act now and get two for the same price, just pay a separte handling charge.  To see several of these ads just search TV ads on youtube and get ready for a good laugh.

I must admit - that meatball maker looks interesting - LOL.

So that is a quick l;ook at Ramana's topic. Be sure to check out his take on it here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What is the biggest mistake you have made in life? 2 on 1 #4

Okay - time to come clean. What is the biggest mistake I have made in my life? The answer is easy, embarrassing and colossal, IMHO.

Starting at a fairly young age, many if not most things came easy to me. In grade school in Colorado I was always number 1 or 2, in constant competition with my pal Dave Perkins. I left for California before fifth grade, and it turns out Dave was the star quarterback on the state champion high school football team.

In California I was still a good student, but I never had to work hard at it. When I hit the proverbial wall in math, I had math whiz friends to help me out. Every other class was easy.

That was the good news. The bad news was that my only real interest was sports. With the exception of !y first love, baseball , success came fairly easy. All the while, nothing else really interested me. I was - and remain to this day, very shy. I suspect that is why I was not an overly aggressive football player, but I was good. I wrestled for 2 years and placed 3rd in the league my first year 2nd in league my second year, 3rd in the North Coast and made it to the state tournament.

I graduated fairly high in my class but I graduated clueless about life after high school.

I was accepted into the University of California system buy instead enrolled in the local comunity college, hoping to find myself. (Some say I am still looking and they are probably right).

I am now of the opinion that entering any college without a notion about what you want or need to get out of it is a huge mistake. I played football for another couple of years with some success but my lack of commitment collided head on with what was required to continue on to the next level. I briefly considered going to BYU and might have kept playing but my then girlfriend - a student there, left college so I enrolled in Cal- State University. Again, I haad no idea what courses to pursue but I did enjoy Political Science and eventually earned a BA. I was also married and in the real world, but still without any real direction. Lynn and I were essentially winging it. My best friends were well on the way to careers as a pilot, dentist, Park Ranger and entrepreneur.

By now you may be wondering what all of this has to do with the weekly topic. Then again, maybe you are wondering why I never developed passion for anything. Or perhaps you have guessed that I essentially drifted through life unable to commit to anything career wise. Who wouldn't want to commit to repossessing mobile homes, Pacific Finance or one of the other snooze fest jobs I encountered along the way. In my case it was always easy to get by. Lynn had found something she enjoyed and was good at so I was supportive, and that got us transferred across the country twice.

Long story short, we ended up in Los Angeles and I ended up joining RadioShack in 1977 and other than a stint as a contract programmer for a few years was there until they went bankrupt and I joined the ranks of the retired. I spent 30 plus years working in the electronics world.

I have managed to live a fairly decent life, but find myself wondering what could have been had I ever developed real focus - what would have been different?

No - I am not feeling sorry for myself. I accept full responsibility for where I am and how everything got to this point as I enter the drain circling stage of life. I simply made a huge mistake early on and should have worked harder at developing the passion required to be really successful - then again, making a lot of money was never the most important thing to me. Perhaps things ended as they should have. As I have said on occasion in this blog, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I guess I should have figured sooner that time flies whethet you are having fun or not.

Check what Ramana has to say here,

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Commitment. 2 on 1 #4

Commitment - a willingness to dedicate yourself to something.  That's something we all face daily in life. It is something we start at an early age - or at least we should. We should commit to getting the most put of pur educational opportunities on school, to doing our jobs to the best of our abilitities, etc..

Our commitments and our ability to maintain those committments go a long way to determine our success in life. My blogging cohort, Ramana and I have in common a commitment to our respective marriages. We both were primary caregivers to our respective spouses when their health failed after many years together, something we both never gave a second thought to. In my hcase the final 10 years of Lynn's and my life together were dominated by her struggle with Huntington's Disease. I wrote previously about our relationship in February of 2014 here.

Vince Lombardi, a famous, successful American football coach said, "The quality of person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence". If something is worth doing, do it the best you possibly can, whether it seems trivial or not. No job is to trivial to be given anything less than your best effort.

Another fairly simple commitment is that made by Ramana and I to post a weekly blog. Clearly not all commitments are life critical. Some - like the 2-on-1 blog are simply for fun and relaxation. Like nearly everything in life, commitments should help keep a degree of balance. Personally, I think everyone needs to make a commitment to do as little harm as possible and leave the world a better place than it would have been without us.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Did school prepare you for the real world? 2 on 1 #2

This weeks topic asks the question "Did school prepare you for the real world? ". My answer is no, not at all if the school discussed is everything up to and including high school.

School did very little beyond teaching me to read and write. Granted, those are important skills required for any level of success in
life but they stop far short of preparing anyone for success.

Somehow our schools need to find a way to inspire students to discover what interests them and points students in a direction that leads to a career. In my high school there were vocational classes that focused on blue collar careers like
welding, auto mechanics and carpentry. Sadly, those have not been available for decades. No budget for them.  That is, in my opinion, rediculous.

Students need more elective classes to inspire interest in fields that are useful and more needs to be done in developing interest in math and science. We need to fill our colleges with math and science students from here, not from around the world. We need to take advantage of the educational opportunities we currently provide students from other countries.

Our college system does offer the tools necessary to launch a career. The trick is to get into college and then graduate without a crippling mountain of debt. My BA cost me a total of about a thousand dollars. I attended a state university that was essentially a commuter college - and also a community college (also called a junior college). There are opportunities available, our students need be aware of them.

That brings us to the students. Today's world is unlike any previous. The pace is faster, changes more frequent and information more readily available than ever. Along with that information is its evil twin, misinformation. Now more than ever it is critical to verify information and that is equally important when it comes to education choices. It starts with the parents, flows to the student and finally the educators.  Garbage in, garbage out definitely applies. You get out exactly what is put in, and now more than ever students need to be prepared.

While it may not be possible to earn a 4-year (well - six in my case 🎓) for only a thousand dollars like mine, it is possible to earn that degree and start a career. It requires hard work, and whether or not today's students are  up to the challenge is a topic for another

I picked this week's topic and so Ramana will choose next week's. Be sure to check Ramana's take on this week's here.