Thursday, May 17, 2018

Not all those who wander are lost. 2-on-1 #19

This week's 2-on-1 blog is dedicated to all those restless souls who are not meant to be tied to a traditional lifestyle and yearn to wander, not looking for anything specifically but - like sharks - must move or die. Everyone knows someone like this.

I went to high school with a guy born to run - his name is Randy, I have known Randy since grade school and little league baseball. Randy is a musician -a superior bass player - and lives in Kauai but is prone to take annual trips to Asia and other places. He is now in the middle of solo sailing trip through Asia and headed to London, Not a bad jaunt and it is not his first within the last 12 months. You go Randy.

So why are these people born to run?

Dunno for  sure why but there seems to be a common thread in my experience - musicians seem to be afflicted with the traveling gene. But even though they travel they have roots. I think we are conditioned to have a home base = whether they want to go back to it or not.

Back in 1967 as I was preparing to graduate from high school several of my friends and I were bitten by the wanderlust bug, When asked about our post HS plqns the replies were almost universally the same - I am gonna Route 66 it for a while. The response was greatly aided by our near universal affinity to a popular TV show back then - Route 66. It was a show about a couple of 20 somethings traveling the country in a corvette, experiencing life and love literally on the road of life.

I confess occasionally I wonder how different my life would have been if I had actually taken that trip. Somehow I doubt I'd be living in a home with wheels in North Carolina if I had.

For whatever reason, some people are just happier when on the road. Maybe they had some emotional trauma, maybe they simply like to travel. The reason is irrelevant. These are folks that are not lost,  they are doing the thing that makes them happy.

Back in my Pueblo days (up to 10 years old) we lived a couple of blocks away from a hobo encampment. To get there I had to cross a couple of streets and sneak through my friend Bud Rossi's back yard, hop his fence and go down about 50 feet to the path that ram along the railroad tracks and lead directly to the camp. Now these were the tail end of the halcyon days when hoboes rode the rails regularly. Although my grandma and step grandfather warned me not to hang out there, how could I not? These guys were bigger than life and friendly as all heck. I had my first taste of slumgullion - a hobo stew. It was wonderful but I gave myself away when I asked my grandma what was in it. Busted. But she checked with Mode, my step grandpa and three or four days later she made it for me. I remember potatoes, onions, stewed tomatoes and chunks of beef. It was wonderful. I wish I'd been old enough to ask those guys why they rode the rails. They would likely have said looking for work but I suspect a few just liked being on the road.

I think it is clear by now that some people simply cannot remail in place, no matter where they are. They are simply restless souls that for whatever reason keep on moving much like gypsies, nomads or other types of vagabonds.

That's my quick shack-take on the topic I chose for this weeks 2-on-1 post. Be sure to visit see what he has to say.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MusicalBreak Time

My inner music geek is working overtime this AM - back before we went psychedelic there were some good songs - remember any of these??

Before Jan Ericho joined the band and they morphed into the Vejtables SF had the Mojo Mem

Hey Brian SCott - ever meet these guys in a Battle of the Bands??

From San Jose - I saw these guys open for the Dave Clark Five

I owned this album and yes I'd like some of your tangerines

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. 2-on-1 #18

Picture yourself in a small, artsy collection of shops. You enter a shop that looks interesting - back in the day we called them head shops - and are immediately almost overwhelmed by the scent of incense burning -  Lavender, Sandalwood, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose or maybe Vanilla. Vanilla so sickly sweet it makes you want to swear off vanilla milkshakes for the rest of your life. Playing softly in the background is some music you cannot quite peg  but because there is a sitar you guess it may be Indian. You look up to see several large posters - the old hippy version of Hallmark Cards that
boldly proclaim:
    Image result for Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional posters

And then you ponder -are either of those statements really true? I mean what the heck - Buddha would never lie to us would he?

When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, its a wonder I can think at all. Paul Simon would not sing  it if not true, would he? Wait - he didn't.

It is a given that in a lifetime pain is inevitable - be it physical or emotional. Somewhere down the road of life we all encounter the pain of heartbreak  or the more easily understood pain of falling off a bike, a jungle jim or having a well thrown dodge ball bounce off your head. In my case, a fastball off a knuckle, massively jammed finger and riding my bike headlong into a car stand out among the physical pain memories. I blame Bruce Carpenter for the baseball pain to this day :) .The others are my fault.

The bike incident happened when I was about 8 - I was hustling home - flat out flying - down the road and completely missed the car that turned in front of me. Now remember - thus was circa 1957 or so and cars were not the  lightweight little things they are today - this was a full size Desoto.  Just the fins likely outweighed today's vehicles.

I tried to take a bite  out of the grill. Mr. Desoto won and I was promptly hustled off to  the ER for surgery to stitch up the piece of my mouth that was hanging down. I remember the mask with ether flowing through it covering my nose and awoke in the back seat of my grandmothers Oldsmobile at the local drive in theater. It happened to be close to the hospital and so there we sat, watching Hell and High Water. My mouth hurt like hell and I could swear  the scent of ether was omnipresent. My mouth hurt like hell for a week or so. So....that suffering was not optional - simply the result of my carelessness.

My guitar playing career was effectively ended during a Sunday football game my friends and I engaged in. While absolutely destroying my pal Dave Hitchcock, I jammed, dislocated and did everything  but break the ring finger on my left hand. Being tough, I continued to play the rest of the game but my hand was literally on fire. It remained that way for weeks but I was tough. The tough that is defined by stupid. That hand hurt for six months in total, will to this day not straighten out and caused me to lose my college ring and a wedding band or two over the years. So clearly that suffering was not optional although the pain and suffering of listeners to my admittedly lame guitar efforts did evaporate along with the callouses on my fingertips.

Now I think these two examples the suffering related to physical pain was in no way optional.

Emotional pain, however, is an entirely different matter. We have all, at one time or another, experienced a breakup with a loved one.  We probably have experienced both sides of that equation - breaker or breakee. In my case my go to song was this little ditty 
I guess you could say I chose to suffer by playing the song over and over.. Truth is, I still think of the girl whenever I hear the song. We reconnected years later and are great friends.

The other obvious emotional hit I have  absorbed is the loss of Lynn four years ago. Emotional pain of the highest order. But the suffering afterword did not match the intensity of the pain. The last ten years of Lynn's life were not pleasant. You might say I suffered along with her during those years and when she did die it was a relief as her suffering came to an end. So, essentially, did mine. I still get emotional when I hear a couple of songs that remind me of Lynn but that emotion these days is tied up in remembering the good times. Simple stuff like visiting her at BYU, playing catch on some early dates, moving across the country twice and simultaneously bursting into laughter when we crossed the state line back into California on our return trip.
So here we are, discussing a quote attributed to Buddha but admittedly attributed to others as well.  Based on my experience, suffering is essentially optional. We can control the strength and duration of suffering and control  our lives.  It is no wondwe there are over 500 million Buddhists in the world - the doctrines - if you can even call them that - seem based in rational thought rather than rooted in fear.

Be sure to check Ramana's take on his chosen subject here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Genetic Modification 2-on-1 #18

This week's topic is genetic modification - aka genetic engineering. The "educated" elites on the left are very much against genetic  engineering and rail against genetically modified food daily. I can honestly say I know of  nobody who has been harmed by genetically modified food but none of that is my concern this week. The so-called educated left can rant and rail on genetic engineering  until the cows come in - I do not care about genetically modified food. Those who are opposed to genetically modified food are entitled to their opinions, but that is not what this blog is about. It is simply a discussion for another time.

Readers who know anything about me at all know my wife passed away a little over four years ago from Huntington's Disease (HD), a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person's physical and mental capabilities in the prime of their life and it has no cure.  HD is the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with the disease has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene and HD. Today there are around 30,000 symptomatic  Americans  and about 200,000 potential cases. Therein lies one of the primary issues with HD - our wonderful for-profit medical system and so-called Big Pharma  simply have little incentive to work on solving HD. It is as if President Trump's southern border wall has been erected to hamper  HD study. HD families have no Michael J Fox or Stephen Hawking to help focus attention on HD. Woody Guthrie is probably the most famous person to have ever had HD - luckily his son Arlo did not inherit the gene. Woody died in 1956.

Some of you will say that HD afflicted people simply should not have children. That may  indeed be correct but the genetic test that is 100% accurate was not developed until 1993. My children were born in 1977 and 1982. Lynn was tested and the results of the pre-genetic test were negative, Doctors basically did an MRI and saw no trace of HD (brain shrinkage). Oops - 1n 1999 some friends of ours noticed some odd behavior and strange physical traits in Lynn. She was genetically tested and I will never forget the phone call from the Neurologist's office. I answered the phone at work and there was silence on the other end. Finally the caller said I am very sorry but Lynn has HD.

She lived until 2014, but, we had two children. You can see where this is going. Our daughter was diagnosed with HD  last week after the genetic test was administered. For what it is worth, the older test came back negative 4 months ago.. Each of her three children has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the defective gene. Our son refuses to have the test because he fears it will destroy his attitude about life and he is trying to assure his family has a stable future whether he is there to share it with them or not. I understand his reticence as Lynn gave up on life almost immediately after her diagnosis.  It was part of the progressive degeneration of her brain.

So what does this have to do with the weekly 2-on-1 blog?  Enter CRISPR. If you wish to  examine the technical jargon please click CRISPR. Long story short, CRISPR has the potential to eliminate some 6000 genetic disorders - including HD.  60 Minutes has done a story on  CRISPR.

Genetic engineering is here and it is real. With a bit of luck my six potential HD inheritors will benefit from CRISPR if we can manage to navigate  the slippery slope that genetic engineering has become. But, to ignore the benefits available through the judicious use of genetic engineering is simply immoral in my opinion.  Opponents claim genetically modifying embryos to prevent disease is tantamount to playing god. I say if god screwed up, correct the mistake.  Opponents say genetic engineering is unnatural and does not take into consideration the desires of the future generation. I say so what?  Is not setting a broken arm unnatural? Is not plastic surgery unnatural? Is not transplanting organs unnatural? What about artificial limbs? And who would not want to have HD removed from their life if given a chance? Perhaps some of the faithful might be willing to risk their life on the power of prayer. or god performing a miracle. I am not one of the faithful.

To see what Ramana has to say on the matter please go to Ramana.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Comfort Zone (सुविधा क्षेत्र) 2-on-1 #17

Comfort zone. We all have one. It's that sweet spot where we feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand. Stress levels are low. I often refer to it as my wheelhouse. The common wisdom implies you need to step outside your comfort zone to be successful.

I take exception to such a narrow interpretation of Comfort Zone. Why? We live in an increasingly specialized world. That degree of specialization allows for the development of multiple Comfort Zones. Take a company like Microsoft for example. Microsoft has multiple divisions, offers multiple products and is a very complex operation. Each division creates specialists in things like Windows, Windows security, hardware and so on. Employees develop comfort zones within their divisions. Security specialists, for example, are better at detecting malware than software engineers that do not specialize in security. And then there is the sales team. Being a successful salesperson requires a specific skill set. If the sales game is in your comfort zone odds are you will find success as long as you have a modicum of discipline and are not discouraged by the numbers game in sales - a certain percentage of folks will turn you down. Just remember that a baseball player that fails seventy percent of the times he bats is considered a great hitter.

Me? Well like everyone, I have several. Music - especially the 60s and 70s are my comfort zone but I am fairly comfortable in most pop music.

Sports - strong comfort zone, especially in regards to hockey, baseball and football. I played the latter pair and have loved hockey since I was 8 when my dad took me to Denver to see Denver University play a team from Saskatchewan.

Hunting and fishing - another typical pair of comfort zones for guys but not so much for me. I suspect if my grandfather had not passed away when I was 3 that would not be the case as he was an avid hunter/fisherman.

Cars - another typical guy thing though 2 of the biggest car fans I know happen to be ladies of the highest order. Me? not so much. During high school, there were vocational classes offered but as a 3-sport jock, I was always busy with practice when those courses were offered.

Movies - a moderate comfort zone - up until Lynn was being taken over by the Huntington's Disease that eventually killed her, we went to the movies almost every weekend. I have not been to a movie theater in about 8 years.

Books - I am a huge mystery fan so that is an obvious comfort zone. I have also firmly believed that to knopw the people of any generation, be as current as possible on the authors writing in the now -

Politics - I have a BA in Political Science - specialty in International Relations. I am admittedly a political junkie - but these days it is difficult to engage in discourse with anyone because here in the USA we are so bitterly divided. Civility has become a thing of the past, it seems. Archaeological wordsmiths
are searching for fossils as we speak. Clone teams are doing the research necessary to correct this situation. One can only hope.

Trivia - my kids both think we'd be rich if I could get on a game show - nuff said LOL.

Blogging - Blogging is definitely in my Comfort Zone. Writing this blog has been a real hoot (southern for a lot of fun). We vary topics so we never get bored, we both write on the same subject so folks get an eastern and a western perspective on the chosen topics. Plus, my partner and I get to know more about each other and we have become great friends. Of course it helps that we are both wordy older guys that love to talk - or rather type. I enjoy writing - it is as simple as that.

That concludes my small sample of Comfort Zone issues. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say by selecting this link.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 2-on-1 #16

This week's topic was culled from current events. If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 

The quick, easy answer is yes but is it actually true?  Science in and of itself makes the world a better place, but safer?  Certainly, many scientific advances are dedicated to improving safety in some manner. Some would not even be possible without the efforts of politicians because politicians control much of the funding that drives scientific discovery.

What makes the world a safer place? Sufficient food supplies, which require efficient, effective food production and food distribution; clean water supplies; absence of war; safe and efficient transportation services/systems seem like a good basic set of requirements. Well fed folks with plenty of fresh water and decent transportation systems should result in happy people.  

Science can directly impact food production and distribution, clean water and transportation. Food production has been greatly enhanced since  the days of the Green Revolution, aka the Third Agricultural Revolution that exploded in the late sixties. Things developed to the point where sufficient food production was available in new, developing countries. But then the politicians got in the way and we have struggled with distribution ever since. Add climate change that we are now experiencing and now we need a science reset to boost production again. We need a political reset to distribute food supplies. Water demand will be a major issue moving forward. Thanks to the greed of capitalists like Nestle - who say water is not a right but a product to be bought and sold - water purification will require the best efforts of the scientific community. Then we need to rely on politicians to get the water where it is needed - naturally after select bank accounts are greased along the way.

Absence  of war. Again -absence of war. A glance at the daily news headlines makes that seem nearly impossible. There is little science can do to prevent war - that one is on the politicians'.

Science can assist in the transportation portion of our equation. Of course the politicians must make the decision to go forward with infrastructure projects. Pocket lining 101.

If  politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? Absolutely. But political ambition and greed constantly cloud the thinking of the politicians. Logic leaves the building, and in fact it often seems like logic never made it in the door. Politicians, it seems, rarely look beyond their own benefits.

That is my quick take on this weeks topic. Be sure to check Ramana's here. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Last Page 2-on-1 #15

This weeks topic came about as a direct result of the fun and feedback generated by our previous topic 2 weeks ago - the First Page. After this topic all that remains is the rest of the books. Ahem. To see Ramana's last page go here.

That damn Detective Brooke and his pal the taco bender think they have it all figured out. What a pair of idiots. They have no clue why Bowman was eliminated and they haven't figured out that Perkins and Taylor were mine. God, that Taylor was gorgeous. They haven't figured out that being a serial killer is nothing more than enjoying your work. Nothing is as satisfying as watching the light go off when the spark of life leaves thanks to my efforts - when the sparkle leaves the eyes and all goes dull. The feeling that is better than sex. Taylor was my best yet - watching her realize she was done and nothing or nobody could save her. Acceptance. Acceptance that she was mine. And then she sagged, wet herself and was gone.

"Hey Tito - what's wrong? You look lost".

"I tell ya Chas" - he replied - "something just doesn't add up.There's more to Bowman's death than we have come up with. We are missing something, amigo." 


"Chas I swear Bowman is tied to the Dave Perkins/Susan Taylor murders. We just can't see it yet."

"You've got that right buddy. I do not see any link beyond the fact Bownan, Dave and Susan all were in school with us from Carlile through Central." 

Maybe if Tito and his idiot pal Chas ever noticed me in high school they might have figured this all out. But no, they are too stupid. They are responsible for the rest of my dates. The dumbasses can spend their time hanging at Arnie's Time Out while I do what I do best. Maybe I should write them a letter.

Two days letter, an envelope postmarked Florence, Colorado - a nearby town - was delivered to Chas at the office. He casually opened it and sat in stunned silence as he stared at the letter. It simply said "Tito is next. First Dave, then Susan and CD- next Tito. Catch me if you can".