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.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Disagreements.  Nobody should disagree with me as I am always right - or as my friend Gary says - if I want your opinion I will give it to you. Sometimes I am not sure he is kidding when he says that but that is a tale for another time.

Recently General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense for the U.S.A., resigned his position because he has policy disagreements with POTUS 45. 25% of our federal government is currently shutdown because of disagreements between POTUS45 and members of Congress over the building of a wall for border security which POTUS45 is convinced will stop the flow of drugs as well as eliminate the drug dealers, rapists, gang members and other human detritus Trump is trying to convince us Mexico is sending to assault the U.S.A.

There seems to be basic disagreement over how many illegals are crossing the border these days as well. So many disagreements. The only thing the involved parties can seem to agree on is that there is disagreement.

Disagreement resolution has three potential outcomes - one of the  parties wins outright, a compromise is reached, no agreement or compromise is able to be agreed upon and thus there is no resolution (sort of an agree to disagree). Of course the magnitude of the disagreement gives different weight to any outcome.
Does the disagreement involve armed conflict? Is the disagreement between two individuals? Groups? Nation states? All of those impact the attempt at resolution.

How do you approach a disagreement or attempt to resolve a disagreement? I'd start by keeping an open mind. You need to recognize the other side has what they deem to be valid reasons resolution in their favor. All involved need to listen and carefully consider other points of view. You need to genuinely want to resolve the disagreement. And, you must be willing to accept the decision of the mediator/facilitator if there is one.

It's all pretty basic stuff in my opinion - be respectful of the other side in a disagreement, listen carefully with an open mind and look for common ground on which to build an agreement. While that may not solve 100percent of your disagreements, it will solve enough of the day to day disagreements and leave you with the time and wherewithal to handle the really crazy ones. And, if all else fails, there is Glenlivet.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say about disagreements. And Happy New Year to you all

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Is Competition Good for Kids?

This weeks topic came about after some discussions about participation trophies awarded to many teams in youth sports and  my observations over the years coaching youth soccer, baseball, softball and a few relevant life experiences.

Most people that know me know I spent most of my first 10 years in Pueblo, Colorado.That's where I was first exposed to both competition and youth sports. My first memory of competing is from second grade. My friend Dave Perkins competed in everything. Literally everything, We'd take a quiz in school (Carlile Elementary) and our custom was to stand when finished. The first thing Dave and I did upon standing was to check if the other was already standing.  Then we compared grades on the work, both seeking what passed for bragging rights to a second grader. We  both liked the same girl - Susan Taylor and both lost that one as she moved to California. About the only thing we did not compete on was eating lunch, though if memory serves Dave was a Coke guy and I was an RC Cola guy.

Our competition lasted until I moved to California the summer between 4th and 5th grade. Dave was one of the last people I saw before leaving Pueblo. Truth be told, in all of our competition we split just about 50/50. Dave quarterbacked the local HS football team to a state championship - no surprise to me. But all of that competition created a bond of friendship between us that would have lasted had I not moved away. In sports we got to play on the same Old Timers baseball team and Bantam League football team.

In California I continued with youth sports - Little League baseball replaced Old Timers baseball in Colorado. My days were nearly identical to the summer days depicted in the excellent  movie Sandlot. Not once were any participation awards passed out at the end of the year. If your team won the league championship you earned that recognition.

Fast forward a few years and Lynn and I coached my sister's softball team - 14-17 year old girls. No team I ever coached competed harder than Sheila's team and we did very well. We won our division and were rewarded with trophies for the recognition we had earned. There was a large pizza party for all. Another chance to hang out with their buddies on the other teams.

About that same time I got involved in youth soccer - no surprise there as both of my kids played in the league. Players were lumped into two basic categories - house and traveling. Other than tournaments, the house players all played within their league whereas the Traveling teams - the best players - played all around the area. They were as  serious about soccer as humanly possible whereas House players generally were in it for fun, and there was an  advanced house division to help develop players for the Traveling teams.

So what did the kids get from their participation in these teams? Starting as far back as my early participation I learned about competition, teamwork, winning and losing. I learned that it takes work and effort to develop the requisite skills to win. I learned there is a difference between winning and losing. I learned that winning is more fun than losing. And, I learned that as long as you gave your best effort, losing is not a crime. Nor is winning. If you lose you try to correct the mistakes that led to the loss and if you win, keep honing your skills. Be flexible.

These are all valuable life skills that apply daily. The world is growing more and more competitive. Kids must learn life skills at an early age and continue to hone those skills as long as they are part of the workforce. Be flexible. The days of working for a single company for your entire life have come a halt. Things are changing and developing at an incredible pace and will likely require a degree of teamwork and creative thinking unlike ever before.

Does exposure to competition assure success in this highly competitive world? Absolutely not. But it will create better prepared people to face the typical daily insanity we encounter.

Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say about this topic.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Has liberalism failed? 2-on-1 12/14/2018

Has Liberalism failed? To proceed with this text there needs to be  an agreed upon definition of what Liberalism really is.  The far-right in this country has confused the situation by essentially equating liberalism with many historic evils, including communism, socialism, the devil, mental deficiencies and many more.

Merriam Webster offers this as one of its definitions - political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class).

On the surface that all sounds great. The elimination of social inequities. Wow. Liberalism  eliminates racism, race and gender discrimination and more. Wow. Sounds like a perfect world to me.

Alas, all "isms" share a common misconception - that they can be all things to all people. Isms and their followers seem to consider themselves one size fits all solutions to an increasingly complex world with extraordinarily complex issues which must be resolved to make progress. And that, my friends, is from whence the so-called Progressive movement emerged from the swamp into the  lexicon of modern politics. 

And, from the Progressive movement came the most infamous of all indicator Liberal/Progressive thought - Political Correctness. The stuff that gets sanctimonious do-gooders to want to remove everything that is offensive to someone from the airwaves, written page and consigned to the garbage can of life. If the Political-Correctness cops had their way all pages would be blank and the airwaves void of content.

Every right-thinking individual recognizes the folly in such thought and action. We function best and make progress within a system that does little or nothing to restrict or impede the acquisition of wealth. Vast quantities of it. Prices are to be determined by the market with no restriction on profit. And if you reject Jesus in any way, shape or form enjoy your short earthly stay because you will spend eternity in hell. Oh - and there are no AC units in hell. 

Clearly both liberalism and conservatism have been presented in very brief, extremes here. I could go on and on but this weekly exercise is not for War and Peace - we are more of a short story or for those of you who may recall them - the Cliff's Notes versions.

In the brief samples offered above, the liberal viewpoint offers empathy and concern whereas the right viewpoint is more of the Gordon Gecko greed is good notion. Both - if taken on their own are ineffective in the long run. It is when the two notions are combined that a real workable solution is offered. And when we hop into our very safe automobiles - made safe by liberal/progressive safety feature demands that the auto manufacturers screamed would put them all out of business because of the cost - and drive to our safe that back up to a marvelous river that we swim in and catch food from - thanks to restrictions placed on the lumber mill and coal mine handling of waste that was once simply  dumped into the river we should give props to those liberal folks.

When President Bill Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham—son of the late Rev. Billy Graham—was not happy. As he saw it, Clinton had disgraced the presidency. And he wasn’t about to keep quiet about Clinton’s infidelity because the president’s “sins are not private.” But in 2018, Franklin Graham has a very different set of rules for President Donald Trump—and this time, he is ordering fellow Christians as well as the media to lay off the president or face God’s wrath and judgement. Isn't it amazing what the price for a couple of Supreme Court Justices can be.

This little ditty could become a large ditty very quickly but I do not wish to scare you off. Liberalism is not dead nor is its counterpart - Conservatism. A judicious application to both principles is required in nearly all instances for any semblance of a civil society. Back in the old days it was not a mortal sin, political suicide nor just plain wrong for our two political sides to get together and be civil to each other while working things out. I used to be what was known as a Rockefeller Republican. I have a liberal, progressive view of most social causes and a more conservative view of government.Smaller is better. These days I am most often called a RINO or libtard.

That's a wrap on this week's topic. be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Can a truly decent man be an effective leader?

We lost former President George H.W. Bush last week. Bush 41 - not to be confused with his son, Bush 43. Almost immediately, Bush 41 was hailed as a truly decent man and excellent leader, contrasted sharply with the crude, amoral current occupier of the White House.

What constitutes decency? Merriam Webster's dictionary for learning English says: polite, moral and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people. That is perfectly acceptable for the context of this exercise.
41's legacy of decency was discussed by every network and most commentators from both parties. Twitter was alive with tweets extolling the decency and virtues of Bush 41. and even President Trump, who has blasted Bush 41 i n the past, restrained himself. Can there be a red lineeven Trump will not cross?

Bush 41 history is well known - born into substantial wealth,the youngest aviator in WWII, graduated from Yale University, successful businessman, elected to the House of Representatives twice, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the Liaison Office in China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice  President and finally President.
As happens with most politicians, Bush 41's position on various issues, among them abortion, evolved over the years. Bush could reach across the aisle and work with Democrats. almost unheard of in these days marked by some of the most acrimonious political times in history.

Bush 41 was a Republican - make no mistake about that. He was loyal to the cause but respectful to the other side. When Bush 41 spoke of reaching across the aisle he was serious about doing just that. There is very little of that today.
 Bush 41 likely was not elected to a second term due to his  famous "No new taxes" comment and then raising taxes. Bush 41 did what was right at the time, not the most expedient, and he paid a hefty price.

Many people are astonished at the friendship that developed between Bush 41 and Bill Clinton. Clinton is certainly not known widely as a decent human being and his connections with/to known pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (also a pal of Trump's) certainly have been seemingly ignored - as have Trump's ties to Epstein. Hillary Clinton? Her actions regarding Epstein and others are equally disqualifying for a decency award but Both Clintons are widely respected for their political savvy. Trump and his actions are an embarrassment but some of his policies have been well received so clearly being a decent human being is not a requirement to be an effective leader, though I would argue it is desirable.

And then there is Bush 43 - the self-proclaimed compassionate conservative. Bush 43  aka "W" is one of the most widely mocked people to serve in the White House. I consider him to be the Yogi Berra of politics. And, like Yogi, I believe W to be a truly decent human being - as is IMHO his brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida. I suggest their inherent decency came from their father and how he lived his life and the example Bush 41 and his wife Barbara offered their children. It is no surprise that the Bushes were much more welcoming to immigrants than their party today. Decency in and of itself does not necessarily dictate policy - it merely affects how policies are implemented.

Bush 41's presidency included military action dictated by foreign policy. Military action in Panama and the Middle East, and the Berlin Wall came down. Operation Desert Storm was a huge success.

When you add up the successes and failures in George H W Bush's lifetime it is clear he was a successful man and by extension a successful leader so yes - given the right set of circumstances a truly decent man can be an effective leader. I have no doubt the same holds true for a truly decent woman. But real decency is no guarantee of effective leadership.

That's my take on this week's topic.Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for Ramana's take on the subject.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Weekend Athletes

This week's topic was suggested by Ramana. It is something that in September of 1970 I willingly became - a weekend athlete. That is when my school sports days came to an end because of a disagreement with a football  coach. Weekend athletes are the natural progression for those of us who love sports, want to stay active and grow our previous sport legends in our own minds.

At the time I was a PE major planning on eventually becoming a football coach. I was taking a soccer teaching lab  and became fast friends with a Dutch student named Walther. Whenever I played goalkeeper in our class activities I  did fairly well and Walther convinced me to join him and his team on a Saturday as they had lost their goalie. Thus began my 2-season career as goalkeeper for Hayward United in the East Bay Soccer league. Talk about a fish (whale?) out of water - LOL. Plus, the season was in progress and I  could not register as a new player so I assumed the identity of the previous goalkeeper and before every game when the referees were checking the player passes (photo ids) I was always warming up at the opposite end of the pitch. The mostly English players on the team got a kick out of the giant keeper who played angles like a hockey goalie and tried to be helpful. One game got completely out of hand and multiple fights broke out. The opposing keeper - a large Dutch gent named Hans  sprinted my way and when he got close enough to swing started laughing and said "No frickin way are we going to fight. I'm Hans" and stuck his hand out. We shook hands and watched the officials sort things out. After the game we went for beers - a necessary component of weekend sports - and realized he attended the same JC as I.

The makeup of the team was fairly similar to every weekend sports team of which I was a member - several older (40s) players, mostly 30s players that formed the core of the team and a few younger players.

I was working at Sears at the time and there was a softball team made up of players from the store. I talked to the guy that ran the team and he was frankly not interested in a 290 lb first baseman so his team was  always without an opening. As luck would have it there was a weekend when several players were unavailable (also a regular component of weekend sports) and I got a shot to play. The field had a left field fence with tall, full trees along the fence and across the street was a 4 or 5 story apartment complex. The fence was 275 or so feet away from home plate, really a bit short. The first 4 times I batted I hit 2 balls against the apartment and all 4 over the fence and trees. Jack - the guy that ran the team just kept shaking his head and laughing. I should interject that consistently hitting a slow-pitch softball a long way is tougher than it sounds as the balls are pitched with very high arch. I'm tall enough that the arc does not effect me much. Long story short - I was the regular first baseman for that team until 1976 when Lynn and I moved to Connecticut when she was offered a job transfer. As luck - or fate - would have it, we were not having much luck meeting other young couples until after a discussion with the local(liquor store) package store owner lamenting the need for a first baseman
on his softball team. Our social lives improved greatly when my teammates realized I could hit a softball over 300 feet fairly regularly. Suddenly being from California did not mean quite so much in conservative Rocky Hill CT.

We moved back to California in 1977 but it was southern California. I did not  participate in sports there although my bonafides were confirme inadvertently when once during a lunchtime conversation one of the salesmen was bragging about his softball team. They were exceptional and included an ex NFL player who hit monster home runs. He told me the fellows name -  Ed Galigher - and I smiled and said to tell Ed hi for me. Les was somewhat incredulous as he knew I was from Northjern California and Ed (6'5, 275 or so) was a UCLA alum. Turns out Ed and I had been friends since  Little League as we were both from Hayward, we played JC ball together at Chabot. We had been friends and competitors since he was 11 and I was 12. Ed is the best football player I ever played with or against. I may still have the bruises to prove it. The next day Les - the salesman - had a different opinion of me - LOL and relayed Ed's greetings back to me.

At the end of 1977 we made our way back to Northern California and I continued to play softball util my late 40s.  I also regularly played raquetball and handball as well as the odd weekend football game. For several consecutive Thanksgivings a large group of us played a game on Thanksgiving Day aptly named the Turkey Bowl.

Unfortunately, the weekend athlete typically does not have access to medical care and eventually that takes its toll. I am now paying for those decades of fun by living in constant pain. Both knees are shot and I gimp around on crutches. While suggested several times I have a thing about knee surgery and refuse to have it. Knee surgery ranks right up there with flying as shackman no way in hell things. My right shoulder hurts so much I occasionally cannot hang my shirts in the closet. That said, I would do it all again. Someone once called sports the opioid of the masses.

They certainly were that for me. No matter what happened during the week, Saturday or Sunday game time found me with a big grin on my face. Just playing the game was good enough to perk us up.

One of my last job assignments at RadioShack was copywriter for web content. My boss was a former tight end at TCU who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Brian and I had seveal conversations about sports in general and he asked me why I quit playing. I said that while I enjoyed playing I realized that after two years playing JC football, the second on a nationally ranked team, I simply did npot love the game enpough to keep up with the effort it would take to continue playing. He smiled and said that when the 49ers drafted him they wanted him to play for Barcelona in the World league to rehab his injured ankle. He came to the same realization - he simply could not give the level of effort required to continue playing.

Perhaps if we'd known how much money would be involved down the line we'd have felt different, alas we made our decisions.  Weekend athletes encompass a broad swath of personalities and are simmply a cross section of any culture. There are some competent athletes, some who were never particularly successful athletes and a myriad other reasons but they all share a desire to play. In many ways weekend athletics offer the fun of a sport with much less pressure. The exercise is good for you and the camaraderie is great. Game days are easily turned into family fun days with picnics, parties and more. I'd definitely do it all again.

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