Friday, March 17, 2017

Penpals

Back in my Junior High  (7th and 8th grade) days I was introduced to the concept of penpals - someone you meet and begin a relationship with based on writing letters. In a sense, it was the social media of the day - the very early sixties.

The concept was simple. A company called Internationl Youth Service in Turku , Finlnd awould for a nominal fee send you the name and address of someone with the similar interests as you and you would simply begin corresponding with them. Although they ceased operation in 2008, you can read about IYS here.

One of the first names I received was Dieter Eiche - I even remember his address - Fliserstrasse 11, Balingen, Germany. We corresponded regularly, usually once monthly for four years during our high school years. He  entered the military after graduating and we only occasionally corresponded for a couple more years until we stopped. But we had formed a fairly strong friendship and it was truly one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.

We moved to Texas in 1994 when the electronics industry in the SF Bay Area went into the tank. Small companies I was doing consulting  and custom programming for could suddenly get PHD level help for the  same fees I charged so Lynn and I hit the road.  About 4 years after the move, I ws sitting  at my desk in Fort Worth when I received an email from Dieter. I was stunned and delighted. We quickly traded a few emails and caught up with each other. Dieter was a Judge in Germany.
 Here is a photo I found of him on the Internet.  And, although we are no longer in contact with each other it was fun catching up.

Letter writing is considered passe in these days of texting, email, blogging and the many forms of social media. Blogging, frankly, has replaced penpals for me. The net result is the same - I get to interact with people all around the world and I have developed strong friendships that make the entire blogging effort worthwhile. There are Ramana, Maria and Pravin in India, Ursula in the UK, a few in Australia and of course many here in the  U.S.A.. I heartily recommend blogging as a way to meet people, enjoy discussion/debate and even argue (civilly of course). If you are shy or do not know how to start, a blogging group like the LBC is a great place to start since the entire group writes on the same topic every Friday.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Peace

This weeks topic is Peace. The absence of conflict. Wikipedia says "a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence."  It sounds simple yet history shows it to be nearly unattainable. An Impossible Dream of sorts.



There is a line in the song -"to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause." History is full of conflicts fought in the name of one god or another.  The Crusades saw Christians 
attacking Islam. We live in a world marked by terrorist attacks from a radical sect of Islam against the West. 

There have been wars fought between nations sharing common religions - so clearly religion is not a cure all for conflict. Christianity is split between Catholics and Protestants. Islam has Shia and Sunnis. Ireland and its troubles show how violent conflict between Catholic and Protestants can be and our incursion into Iraq showed the schism between Sunni and Shiites.

Pick a period in history and at best you might find the occasional peaceful region. Per Wikipedia,  the longest continuing period of peace among currently existing states is observed in Sweden, which has had peace since 1814 (for 203 years; if Swedish participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Libya is not considered) after its loss of major parts of the country to Russia in the Napoleonic wars. Swedish peace may partly be explained by its geographical position, partly by non-participation in military alliances during peacetime, resulting in a certain level of Swedish neutrality during wartime, and partly by the periods of relative peace in Europe and the world known as Pax Britannica (1815-1914) and Pax Europaea/Pax Americana (since 1950s).
Other examples of long periods of peace are:

That is not a particularly impressive record for humanity's time on this third rock from the sun. And with more nations reaching for their own version of the brass ring. More changes. The stage is set for additional conflict. Global resources are shrinking and - for whatever reason - the global climate is changing. We have the capacity to eliminate life on the planet with nuclear weapons so clearly it is in our best interest to keep working on the peace process. The answer has to be out there somewhere.


I am essentially an optimist and expect things to work out although the current polarization in politics here does have me worried a bit - especially when the chief advisor to our new president has a stated goal of destroying the administrative state. But that is a topic for another day. Me? I will continue commenting on things, and listening to music that matters to me while I watch my 7-year old grandson does  little boy stuff with reckless abandon.


That's a quick shack take on the topic Ramana gave us this week. Be sure to check the other LBC folf for their takeon the topic - Ramana  Pravin and Maria

Friday, March 3, 2017

Food for Thought

This weeks topic was offered by Pravin. Food for thought - something that requires serious consideration.  Think before you speak. Heck - what fun is that? Ahem. Well - a little mental stimulus is always a good thing.

As a general principle, thinking before engaging your mouth or fingers is always a good thing. Often the best thing to say is not the first thing that comes to mind. While you cannot change the wind you can adjust your sails to reach your destination.  The only person truly responsible for your life is you. Believe in yourself - if you don't others will recognize that fact and likely will not believe in you.

I do see a certain irony in the fact that this week's  topic has left me virtually speechless. Would you believe I am still pondering my response?

Better see what my cohorts have to say - Ramana,  Pravin and Maria.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Life With Social Media LBC 2/24/2017

Social media has been a big thing for quite some time. Since the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA last year it is now even more so since the POTUS fancies himself something of a tweet master and has made his daily tweets must-read nuggets. Whether you love Trump or not, to keep abreast of the daily news cycles you need to see  what POTUS is saying, who he is attacking and whatever else he is saying. Then - if you are clever - you can develop a score sheet to log his misstatements (lies) or mistakes and even get a glimpse or his personal viewing habits. I doubt he sees the irony in creating his own fake news while blasting the admittedly left-leaning mainstream press by mistakenly thinking a story on a Fox News pundit's show was a real time news story.

Until Donald Trump discovered how much he could stir up with his daily tweets,i was lucky to read a tweet every couple of weeks. Suddenly, though, I was checking Twitter several times a day to see what nuggets of entertainment POTUS was bestowing on us. Suddenly it was governance in 140 characters. Welcome to the brave new world.

My first brush with social media was  through MySpace. Myspace was a bastion of musical information and any regular reader of mineknows how much influence music has on my life. and then along came Facebook and for a short time it was a MySpace vs Facebook battle. That battle was driven by young people and in a very short time MySpace went the way of Beta tapes. And some enterprising folks were creating sites for employers to advertise for and seek/hire employees. Google "job sites" and get over 500,000 results in just over a second. And Linkedln is now almost a substantial networking site for people.I receive 5-10 mhits daily from Linkedln and I have never really used the site. Many folks I know, however, are avid Linkedln users and it can be a decent job reference/seeking site.

To keep up with my musical hobby I ran a music forum called Rock-talk.us for  a number of years in partnership with a fellow who was very active in the music and radio business in Phoenix, Arizona starting back in the sixties. Through that forum I met and corresponded with pop stars from several British Invasion bands and several studio musicians from that same area. It was great fun and I made a few good friends, including a songwriter responsible for several multi-million sellers  of the sixties. I learned how songs were snuck past censors - including a popular pop anthem that was actually an ode to the Kama Sutra. Who woulda thunk - LOL.


I am an active Facebook participant so that is social media I clearly embrace. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with my five nieces in California as well as a batch of folks I knew in high school.Facebook is also a showcase of sorts for the political  dysfunction we are experiencing as the left and right wing flamethrowers populate and often dominate news feeds unless you have learned the  value of "unfollow". And apparently it is a hacker paradise of sorts as almost daily some one on my friends list sends out an "I have been hacked' message.

A interesting byproduct of social media is what is commonly called branding.  Everyone and perhaps every thing has a brand these days. One never knows when that life-changing score will come along. Gotta protect your personal brand. Ahem.

Social media is the way of the world and it will no doubt continue to evolve and change over time  A whole new generation of entrepreneurs  is looking to make their mark and become the next Mark Zuckerberg. It is guaranteed to be an "E" Ticket ride.

Be sure to check in on Ramana, Pravin and Maria to see what they think.




Friday, February 17, 2017

Consumerism LBC 02/17/2017

Today's topic - consumerism - was offered by Ramana. According to Wikipedia, consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. Sounds like a definition offered by the Marketing gods.

We are assaulted daily by people/companies trying to separate us from our money. Better ingredients, better pizza; he went to Jareds; the beer that made Milwaukee famous; the champagne of bottled beers. All of these marketing phrases are designed to help convince us to purchase a particular product. Spend, spend, spend.

One thing often lost in the crazy world of consumerism is the cost in terms of resource use/misuse, labor abuses and the like. Everyone likes to get the best deal, the best price. So what if a 12-year old child earns a whopping 50 cents an hour making the product. Who really cares about Nike worker abuse as long as they get those Air Jordans on the shelf.  And no, Nike is not being any worse than many others in the clothing industry.

The importance of the element lithium to the battery industry and its limited supply/availability raises important issues for the electric car industry. Can the limited availabilitybe dealt with peacefully? Wars have been fought ovdr limited availability before. Japam went to war in  WWII because of limited oil resources.
Who knows what the future may hold.

The consumerism pendulum swings the other way as it drives the economies of the various nations in the world.  Economic growth is on the mind of every leader of every country. One can only hope we effectively manage the appropriate resources to ensure an adequate supply.



I confess that I am subject to the same attacks of rampant consumerism  as are most of us. Fortunately for me I am not in a position financially to take advantage  of them often so the earth's resources are safe from me!

That is my quick shack-take on this weeks topic. So what do my blogging cohorts have to say on the matter? Check them out 

Ramana  Pravin  Maria


Friday, February 10, 2017

Impatience LBC Post 2/10/2017

Today's topic comes to us from Pravin. The first example of impatience that springs to mind is the impatience of a child waiting for Christmas. Each day - as the big day draws nearer - kids are consumed with eagerness and anticipation. It can be a joy to watch as the child's parents become impatient awaiting the child's reaction to Christmas day. Who hasn't experienced impatience while stuck in heavy traffic, while waiting in a long line or waiting for the big game or concert to begin?



Yes - time management - or lack thereof - can cause impatience. Impatience can cause us to make rash decisions with serious consequences. But being overly patient can be a huge waste of time so it seems we need to learn to manage impatience. Busines training - especially management training - usually includes specific sections on time management to assist in this endeavor. I think there should also be training guides for relationships - and  being patient while the relationship develops.

I confess to always being impatient when it came to relationships - being shy, I pretty much always expected them go fail but I also wanted them to progress rapidly. Hmmm - hurry up and end the pain? LOL



Back in my college days, I switched majors from Physical Education to Political Science I had a falling out with the head football coach that was severe enough that he guaranteed I'd never get a coaching job and he had the juice to make that threat stick. I had taken a few political science  classes - and though my history major pal Tony swore Political Science was an oxymoron -they let me transfer a lot of PE classes to the Political Science undergrad requirements. There was one particular professor - a Dr.Hudson -who was not enamored of jocks in his classes, had run afoul of the same coach as had I because he refused to cut football players any slack. As the quarter drew to an end,  Dr Hudson and I had jousted verbally the entire 10 weeks, and as he passed out the final exam he boldly and loudly stated he guaranteed I would not do well on said final. I freely admit I was something of a smart ass and I laughed in his face. After the exam, I knew I had aced it. I busted my butt preparing and it paid off. It was impossible to measure the impatience I felt waiting for those finals to be graded and the quarter grades to be posted. Two days later I appeared at Dr Hudson's office door to be met with his snarling face and he threw my blue book at me. I had aced the test and the class. I earned an A on both. I simply stuck out my hand to shake his, wished him well and walked off. I am sure celebratory beers were quaffed that afternoon.

That is my quick shack-take on this week' LBC topic.Please be sure to see what my cohorts had to say on their blogs.  Ramana  Pravin  Maria

Monday, February 6, 2017

A nice break from all of the insanity!

Well - Super Bowl has come and gone. I had no dog in the hunt and that is a very good thing as I would have been a basket case regardless of which end of the score my team was on. But since I was unencumbered I was able to simply watch and enjoy the game. What a game it was.

Super Bowls are rarely super - they are usually a snooze fest. Not 51 -  it was a real barn burner. It looked like the Atlanta Falcons were going to run away with  the game. I realize my non-America readers  may not understand the dynamics of the game of American football. Some even think rugby is a tougher game but let me assure you it is not.

With the exception of boxing and maybe MMA fighting no sport comes close to the concentrated violence of 300 pound athletes running into each other with reckless abandon. Take a look at the concussion issues that are now so regularly in the news.

Yesterdays game was an example of the best the game has to offer as Atlanta Falcons started fast and tried tom but their collective feet pn the throat of the Patriots. Tom Brady was harassed regularly and the Falcons were up 28-3. Then the wheels came off and the high-flying birds became wounded ducks. A run of 31-0 in just over a quarter cemented the legacy of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the best ever at their jobs. Patriots fans danced with glee while Falcons fans stared in stunned disbelief.

So now today it is back to the real world for all but fans of the Patriots. They have a big parade to look forward to and bragging rights until next season. The rest of us are back to worrying about the next  bizarre tweet that may emerge from the White House. It is worth noting Trump is buddies with both Patriots owner Robert Kraft and QB Tom Brady so maybe in his deliriumTrump may be silent. OK - not bloody likely.