Thursday, March 22, 2018

Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort.

This weeks 2-on-1 topic was chosen by my good friend - the sage of Pune - Ramana. "Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort."~ Carl C Jung

I have been pondering the above quote all week. Interestingly enough, the most important part of the original quote is IMHO missing - "They are found-given by experience."  We are not born with faith, hope, love and insight but we are born with the capacity to achieve them and our success in that achievement (or lack thereof) comes from our life experiences. 

In my case faith is/has been the most difficult to achieve - and is still lacking in my makeup - at least spiritual faith. My issues with religion are still summed up by the U2 tune I shared last week - I still haven't found what I am looking for. Faith in non-spiritual matters is a bit easier to achieve - when I played football I had faith my teammates would do their jobs and we would win games. At work I had faith my co-workers would get their parts in out project done and we would successfully complete the task/project at hand. By the same  token I clearly misplaced my faith in senior management and the company board of directors as the company went bankrupt and thousands of people were let without jobs, myself included.

Hope is something most of us combine with faith - our faith in our ability to complete a task  is what drives our hope that we will accomplish the goal at hand. Interestingly enough, we hope to complete tasks although we may not always expect to be successful. That is driven by our insight into the task. It may be clear not enough time is allotted to accomplish the task, not enough resources, etc. A classic example is from the dying days of RadioShack - my employer of thirty plus years.  

As brick and mortar sales declined regularly over a period of years, there was a clear increase in digital online sales in the industry so a massive, expensive rewrite of the RadioShack website was undertaken. It was driven by contract employees from India and a level of middle management without the necessary experience to accomplish the task in the requisite condensed timeframe necessary to save the company. If you think it is frustrating to get product support from off site support centers in India, imagine trying to get deeply layered verbal instructions on internal programming issues from that type of site. Plus,  bare in mind the folks doing the QC testing were being expected to perform at a technical level they had never experienced  nor been trained for. It is no wonder the project failed and the company folded, leaving only a struggling web business and a small cadre of independently owned brick and mortar stores  - dealers. Clearly senior management lacked the proper insight  to successfully run the company. I specifically recall having a conversation with the VP responsible for our digital business telling me how Amazon and They certainly enrich our lives Jeff Bezos would never be successful or as strong as RadioShack. How'd that work out for you, Dave?

That leaves us with love. Fans of the Beatles believe All You Need is Love. Well - love can indeed make bad situations more bearable and lack of love can certainly make what should be a happy time the exact opposite. But the fact remains, Love works in conjunction with faith, hope and insight.  My favorite song lyric is from a favorite love song of mine -  
In my most secure moments I still can't believe
I'm spending those moments with you
And the ground I am walking, the air that I breathe
Are shared at those moments with you
I'd say the character in the song has achieved love and insight for sure. I know the songwriter - Terry Kirkman - had some struggles in his life that he eventually overcame and along the way achieved faith and hope. If interested, here is the song
Everything That Touches You. Terry also wrote one of the most played songs of all time - Cherish.

So the question remains -are faith, hope, love and insight the highest achievements of human effort? Granted, they are not on the same level as quantum mechanics, but they are all pretty darn high on the list. They absolutely enhance our lives and in many ways make everything else worth living for so I'd have  to say Herr Jung was on to something with his comment.

You can check Ramana's take on the subject here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

My life in 3 songs 2-on-1 #11

Anyone who has read any of my previous posts know music is very important to me in many ways.  It always has been thus so what music sums up or gives a reasonable picture of my 68 years here on this third rock from the sun?  Some of you might guess one or more of my choices, some may not care. I see this as a simple exerciise that might be fun, so climb aboard the music express along shackman highway. Whether you agree or not with my choices or do not care , I think I can guarantee at minimum a pleasant musical interlude. The inspiration for the topic was a  SHARE on Facebook that was a picture of Snoopy holding a cup of coffee and on the  page was  this "Lord give me coffee to change the things I can and music to accept the things I can't".

Let's start with this one from the Byrds

Like most of us, I thought I had all of the answers when I was young. My namesake uncle Chuck and I had some monumental discussions about things when I was in college getting a decidedly liberal education. Dylan nailed it in this song with the refrain"Ah but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now". Hey - maybe I didn't have all of the answers. Neither, it turns out, did Uncle Chuck. 

Being a naturally curious guy, I kept questioning things.  God, spirituality and more. My late friend Pete Dintino was a devout 7th Day Adventist. My experiences with The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints had put me off religion and possibly even the concept of God. (Now understand - most of the LDS members (Mormons) that I know are wonderful people - my issues were/are with the theology and mythology.) Pete  concluded after our many discussions on the matter that I was one of the most truly spiritual people he had ever met - whereas my evangelical friends are convinced I will likely burn in hell. That leads to the next musical selection:

The journey is not complete and the same still rings true. Some accept that while others say I have not asked the correct questions nor accepted the true answer. Something about "God fearing" bothers me. It always has and I suspect it always will. God creates flawed beings in his image, allegedly gives them free will and then hammers them for questioning things.

So here I am - 68 years old and a lifetime of experiences - some good, some bad. I still have questions unanswered and opinions on most things - and life in general?

So that is the end of the journey musically, at least as far as this topic is concerned. Check Ramana"s take on the subject here.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Calm After the Storm. 2-on-1

This weeks topic - the calm after the storm - was selected by Ramana. While researerching the topic I came across this poem by someone named Rachel:
Calm After the Storm
I am tired, I am worn
For this is the calm after the storm
Heart beat ceases to race
Everything seems to fall into place
Take comfort in cycles and patterns,
Separate the insignificant from what matters
History repeats itself they say,
The universe works in funny ways
So push thoughts of growing older,
Of growing colder, of forgetting to be bolder
To the back of my mind
 Shelved away somewhere difficult to find
And think instead of stories that turn out okay
Think of the sound of waves and rainy days
For I am slowly breathing
Almost sleeping
Nearly dreaming
Simply being.

Storms - be they weather related, relationship issues or simply life issues like losing a job, divorce, etc.  can wreak havoc.  Stress can be brutal, but it is really only temporary as the storm passes. The period in which things improve after a difficult, stressful, chaotic time - that is  the calm after the storm.  
The calm can be something as simple as a few drinks after a particularly stressful day at work, a  weekend get away or something entirely different.

We've all had stormy periods in our lives.  In my life the last two  years of caregiving  for my late wife was particularly stressful. The calm after the storm started when three of my  
oldest friends flew to Texas the first weekend after Lynn died. Their  visit kick-started my  recovery from a very trying  time. 

In late March of 2000 I was living in Fort Worth, Texas when an F3 tornado rolled through the city.  The tornado did 450 million dollars worth of damage to homes and businesses. I was less than two blocks away from feeling the full force of that tornado. My office was two blocks from  the Cash America building shown in the photograph and in fact I had left for home about five minutes  before the building was hit by the storm.

 Immediately after the storm passed,  the city heaved a huge sigh of relief and started rebuilding.

One last "storm" is todays blog. The storm is about to pass, the blog  posted and the calm after the storm begins - the wait to see if anyone reads and comments on the thing. Hmm - that   sounds like another storm. Oh well, life's a bitch as the saying goes.

Be sure to see Ramana's take! 

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Most Dangerous Issue in the World Today? 2-on-1 #9

 Because of my error last week that led to Ramana and I writing on different topics, this week we offer more of the same. I am writing on the topic he covered last week and he is writing on the topic I covered last week.

Ramana covered water shortages last week and that is one of the 2 most dangerous issues today, the other being food resources. But there is a single issue that impacts both of those and that is climate change. Climate change impacts everything related to food prodiuction and wateer availability.

I am not going to discuss whether climate change is man-made or not. That is irrelevant. The climate is changing all around the world - changing growing cycles, watershed and much more. Protocols to deal withn the changes must be developed.

In California, for example, rather than devise a way to store excess runoff from last years record precipation,  the excess was in many cases simply returned to the ocean. Some places made it illegal to collect rainwater. Both are examples of the extreme stupidity  that afflicts politicians here in the USA during these very tribRegardlessial times wherein the  my way or the highway attitude rules.

Changing precipitation patterns,  more droughts and heat waves, stronger, more intense hurricanes, rising sea levels and ice-free arctic during summer all loom ahead. If you want to see more details simply check here NASA Climate Change.

We need to both adapt to the changes that have already occurred while striving to stabilize and reduce the level of heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. To ignore
the reality of climate change is the height  of stupidity in my opinion.  Regardless of the root caauses, climate change is very real.

Whether we beleive in god, any god or not, it is time to recognize the facts and start taking steps to adapt to and mitigate the causes of climate change. Small steps accumulate and become longer strides.  No matter which "tribe" you align yourself with, the problem impacts everyone. It is absurd to elimiunate half of the brain power available to attack a common issue because those folks are on the other side. There is no other side when it comes to climate change.

Check Ramanas comments here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What is the most dangerous place in the world today?

Folks I had a senior moment and mixed up topics so this week Ramana and I wrote on different topics. My apologies to readers and my friend Ramana.

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.