Saturday, December 28, 2013

Broken

Broken - as in a broken commitment to make the weekly LBC post on time.  What's a few hours among friends - really now.

To me broken is what you are if you aren't whole.  This song sums it up for and to me:



While I firmly believe if it ain't broke don't fix it I also firmly believe if it is don't stop looking.

I am still looking. The LBC is pat of the search.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Wait until the Gorilla gets tired!

This week's subject is determination. Merriam Webster says determination is :
  1. a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult 
  2.  the act of finding out or calculating something
  3. the act of officially deciding something
Determination quite literally is the engine that drives us. It helps ensure success whereas lack thereof most often leads to failure.

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”  ― Vince Lombardi



Then there's one of my favorite quotes - “Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.” ― Robert Strauss The visuals on that one are delightful to an old high-school and college wrestler. Especially a heavyweight with 37" sleeves (aka long arms) like me.

Tom Petty gets it -

Then there's this anthem to determination:


Of course one's determination to complete a task only comes after one calculates the need to perform that task and makes the determination to begin the task.  Life is so confusing sometimes.

That's a quick shack attack on the subject.  Check out what the other LBC folk have to say on determination.






Friday, December 13, 2013

LBC post - Iis Global Peace Possible?

Ramana asks us this week - Is Global Peace Possible?

When I was in college in 1971 and 1972 I stumbled into a course that introduced me to a fellow named David Mitrany and his work  A Working Peace System. Essentially,  the functionalist approach Mitrany espoused centered around the notion that peace is more than simply the absence of war. Nations could lessen antagonisms by cooperating on common issues such as economics and technology through small. lean international agencies.Once working relations were established between nations the benefit would be obvious, tensions lowered and this working peace system would evolve.  It all made so much sense to me back then. Unfortunately, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

After 40 years of life - literally a lifetime of experiences - I am continuously amazed by the potential for humanity.  I am not, however, prepared to be as optimistic about something as important as Global Peace.  Simply put, there's not a chance in hell of  it happening.  Why?

1) Religion
2) Greed

 Religion is great for some people - necessary even,  But how many religions profess to be the one true religion??  How many claim it's their way or the highway - that highway usually leading straight to some version of hell. Muslim extremists hijack the faith and we deal with terrorism.  So-called Christian extremists hijack the faith.  Look at the history of Northern Ireland.  Religion and politics simply do not mix.  And any fundamentalist that claims to know the only true way to anything is simply not constructed to live in peace. Just 2 short, quick examples.  There are many others.

Remember the Green Revolution? Currently 850 million or more people are starving worldwide - why? Since the Green Revolution enough food has been produced to feed those people but...for some reason we cannot seem to adequately or properly distribute something as necessary for survival as food.  Too many people are lining their pockets along the way and the food simply doesn't get where it is needed.  I am embarrassed that a country as wealthy as ours still has starving people. If we cannot distribute food here how can it be done internationally?

The capitalist says only the markets can produce a thriving economy.  The progressive says the capitalist exploits the worker in the name of profit. The counter person at your neighborhood fast food emporium claims they cannot earn a living wage - we need to double the minimum wage. The owner says he/she'll have to close their doors.  Truth is they'll just raise prices and that counter person has lost sight of the fact that the job was never meant to support a family.. Rational thought has left the building.

IMO religion and greed are at the heart of nearly every conflict in history.  Nothing happening now makes me think anything is changing. Emerging nations want the same rights and privileges claimed by countries like the U.S.A, Canada, Germany - we have nuclear weapons, it is therefor every nation's right to have them. If the supposedly most rational, compassionate nation on the planet has used them what is to prevent the most irrational nations from using them?

The deck is stacked against global peace.  With a bit of luck, all out global conflict won't happen but I suspect there is a generation or two faced with the prospect of terrorist attacks and small regional conflicts - the pressure reducers that will keep global conflict at bay.

That's what I think - in a randomly thought out scatter-brained approach. What do I want?



This one is as true today as it was originally



What do my pals in the LBC have to say? Check them out


Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday LBC - Beauty

Like many things, definitions of beauty are firmly etched in water. In other words, our perception of beauty is fluid and subject to change but at its core each version contains what Wikipedia calls "perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction".

There's physical beauty and philosophical beauty. There's the beauty of an action or the beauty of the written word.

 Nelson Mandela, a hero to many


 My friends Dave and Pat


My first car 



Each of the above embody beauty in different ways - Mandela  of the infectious smile and the ability to change his country depite incredible personal hardship and sacrifice. My friends - simply becvause they are my friends and have been almost forever - at least our personal slices of forever.  And that MGA - come on - what a beauty.  (Wish I still fit in it)

Then there's the beauty of an idea - like the U.S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence  Simple, logical documents expressing the idea that freedom matters. Ideas that set a standard or an expectation for us to strive to achieve.

There's the beauty of a song -



The beauty of a sunset

The beauty of books and the ideas and stories therein - there for anyone to discover


Indeed there is much beauty in the world.  It's up to us to find it. The trick is to never stop looking for it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Daydreams

Daydreams.  That quick little escape from the daily grind, that boring lecture, that job you have to complete or simply the way to spend some time on/for yourself. Ponder the great coulda/woulda/shoulda. You know - that damn - I shoulda remembered this is Friday and an LBC post is due so you scramble to look up the topic. OK - so that's not something you daydream about but - um - well - er - sorry I'm late.

I confess to spending a lot of time in school daydreaming.  I think it is because I found school quite boring most of the time - not because I am smart - but simply because I was not interested. So I'd drift off in a daydream, knowing full well that in college I'd rarely be called upon to respond to a question in class as I was after all just a dumb jock and I rarely did anything to counter that notion until a prof lighted a passion in me about international relations and I went from being a PE major to a Political Science major.. I can't begin to tell you how many times I won the world series with a walk-off home run or scored a goal in the Stanley Cup finals.  Or just imagined myself in some far-off land having new exciting experiences. I made it to a lot of places - Hawaii, Europe, Australia - I loved Aussie beer - LOL.

I was a daydream believer.  I believed almost anything was possible.  And I had an anthem courtesy of the late and very great John Stewart.



On one occasion my daydream,s had a meeting with reality.  I've mentioned in the past that my only mode of transportation in Hawaii was a Suzuki 550.

Yeah - it looks smaller - LOL  I get that,  But I'd roll up to a stoplight in Honolulu by that statue of Kamehameha you see every week on Hawaii Five O or any movie filmed there   and think back on those daydreams.  Or I'd be sitting on the bike having a shave ice from Matsumotos looking out at the big waves at Waimea Bay  remembering those same daydreams.

These days I don't daydream much - I suspect they'd really be day nightmares of the coulda/woulda/shoulda type. Remembrances of past wrong turns down the road well traveled to get me here at this place in time. I'm happy to have spent that time daydreaming - looking for something to light my passions and point my way.  But the answers in life often are not easy - and can remain elusive.  But what the heck - you need  a reason to keep placing one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward - as long as you're moving forward there's hope and without hope the future is mighty bleak.


Friday, November 22, 2013

My Favorite Book

When I proposed this weeks topic - which as it turns out is something of a finale for the LBC - I specifically excluded the bible so as to take away the easy out for the uber-religious posters.  Understand - I do not begrudge anyone their faith nor their religion but  it has been my experience that it becomes an easy out for the faithful.  I was hoping for a discussion of sorts on wjy folks like the type pf literature they like.

In my case my favorite book is called The Long Lavender Look by John D. MacDonald.  It is the 12th in  a long series that chronicles the American human condition - as seen through the eyes of  self professed "salvage consultant" Travis McGee. 

It's my favorite book because it opened my eyes to the ability of a good mystery fiction writer to effectively offer an uncannily accurate look at American society at the time. Warts and all.  The adventures of McGee and his erstwhile sidekick - a gentleman called Meyr - a world renowned economist with a PHD in international economics.

I've read all 21 of the McGee series books numerous times and they never cease to entertain me.  Some people are not appreciative of McGee's attitudes but remember his age and the times in which his stories were written.  But, the quality of MacDonald's writing led me to authors like Dana Stabebnow  - IMHO one of the two best of the current group of mystery writers, chronicling the human condition through the eyes and actions of people in Alaska and her protagonist Kate Shugak, Les Roberts and his Cleveland PI Milan Jacovich,  Louisiana's Dave Robicheux - written by James Lee Burke, Stabenow's equal as a chronicler and story teller,  and then there are the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn novels of the late Tony Hillerman and many more,

Mystery fiction - when done right - is as true a look at the society of the time of the characters and stories as the so-called classics.  And for my money few of the classics are anywhere near as much fun to read although Dickens and Twain certainly come very close.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, sadly the LBC is coming to a defacto end - life has intervened while several of us were making other plans.  I jumped into the LBC pool for one simple reason - I was in the midst of reconnecting with and rekindling a friendship with Conrad - the Old Fossil - started back  in the 80s when we worked together at a RadioShack Computer Center.  We had a lot of fun and met come interesting folks there  - from super peddlers like Mark Stout and our resident jefe Jim Kelso to Michael - oue-resident red-clad follower of the guru bagwan shree rajnesh - who spent most of his time typing and submitting resumes for other work.  Good times.  And as I said - I saw the LBC as a way to stay in touch with and get closer to Conrad.  It was quite successful as we are now good friends - we've made up for lost time.  But, somewhere along that journey something else happened - I became friends with a gentleman in Pune India and a terrific lady in Ireland. As I am half Irish  Marie's perspective has been  a fascinating glimpse into my roots.  Then there's Delores and her strong Mormon faith.  I enjoy our back and forth - she represents all that is right and good with the faith I rejected years ago for a myriad of reasons.  And Paul - our resident author - always fun to read and one I'd seriously enjoy an evening in a pub with.  Now Ramana.  How on earth does a gentleman half way around the world in Pune India strike such a resonant chord with  a guy in Ft Worth Texas? Simple - syncronicity. He knows of what he speaks.

So although there may not be a formal LBC I intend to continue following the members in their blogging endeavors. A need that weekly dose of sunshine and positivity that is Maxi and I enjoy the fish out of water Irish woman married to an Indian and the stories that generates as well. They're all way too much fun to stop reading.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When I was young -- LBC Topic..


This week’s LBC topic – When I was young promises to be a fun one.

Tell me – with a straight face – you didn’t see this one coming



OK – the rooms weren’t colder and my father was a soldier in the Korean war. But many friends were involved in that little excursion to Southeast Asia. I smoked my first cigarette at 10.  It was also my last (well – regular tobacco anyway

And for girls, I had a bad yen
And I had quite a ball
When I was young

Gotta agree with this one, but I was extraordinarily shy so I yenned from afar mostly. I blogged about the change here if you’re interested in revisiting that one -  
The Yen

When I was young, it was more important
Pain more painful
Laughter much louder
Yeah, when I was young
When I was young


Boy that was true. The highs were higher, the lows lower and there was no real long-term vision about life.  Remember the “never trust a person over 30 advice?”  We were so slick.

I met my first love at thirteen
She was brown and I was pretty green
And I learned quite a lot when I was young
When I was young


Well – 15 is more accurate and she had brown hair. Cars back then had roomy back seats.  Yay.  And we had Johnnie Mathis – the mere sound of his voice caused bra straps to come undone seemingly on their own – at least that’s what I was told.



My faith was so much stronger then
I believed in fellow men
And I was so much older then
When I was young
When I was young
When I was young

I definitely had more faith when I was young -  I had high hopes for the world – I suppose that’s part of being a child of the sixties. Now?  Not so much – In the words of U2 - I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. But it’s been an interesting ride and I have no idea how many more stops I have left on this bus ride.  What do the other LBC members have to say? Check them out.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Road rage.  That uncontrollable feeling that comes over someone when another driver creates a seemingly egregious affront to our sensibilities – flipping us off, cutting us off or somehow otherwise impeding our progress - and we are consumed with rage. Woe be to the offender – we’ll show him/her we are not to be trifled with. The one-finger salute at minimum is ready and more than willing. How rational is that?

There’s just something about sitting in traffic that galls us.  We shouldn’t be wasting time like this.  We have more important things to do. Never mind the time we wasted during the day that put is in this position. 


Regardless of our normal daily demeanor I suspect most of us have felt road rage.  Or been the recipient of the rage of another driver.   Is it logical? Nope.  But I suspect it isn’t going away any time soon.  Life has become a hurry-up affair.  There’s always too much to accomplish and too little time in which to accomplish it.

Consequences? Texas proudly executed (they do that a lot here) a man convicted of a pair of road rage killings.  Accidents occur daily.  People are hurt/jkilled .

Avaidable? That’s a tough one we each have to answer.

I’m curious to know if roaf rage is as prevalent in other parts of the world – we here in the U.S.A. are very car centric – I mean many a man equates his coolness and manhood by the vehicle he drives.  Ladies too like a cool ride and become the Queen of the Realm when that car door shuts here. Time to check out the other members of the LBC – maybe I’ll find the answer.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Into the night - LBC Topic

Into the night – brought to us by Will. This ought’a be interesting.

I love the night. Always have. It’s a different world than the one offered during daylight. Things that inhabit the night seem more alive than their daytime counterparts. At least to me they do. Drive around any moderately sized or bigger city – check it out. Now granted – there are places you should not stop and smell the roses – or whatever that funky smell is – but still – try it. Look at the business being transacted after normal hours - Bars, restaurants, clubs and offices. And of course the business that is intended to be under the radar - Sure many are open during the day but they’re just not the same. Looking for quiet? What beats the still of the night?

Don’t get me wrong – I love to sleep. I love to dream. Nightmares have never been present too much to intrude upon my sleep. But – and maybe it’s just that I’m older – but I find myself awake at night much more often these days. I love night sounds – cars racing, sirens blaring, trains – a big favorite – the occasional sound of the local (TCU) college kids partying. I enjoy just sitting on the porch listening. I spend several hours a week doing just that. I’ve done that wherever I have lived. And yes – I’ve heard a lot of interesting stuff over the years.



Gunshots? Sure. And some seriously wild (or so it seemed ) lovemaking – LOL. Guess that is to be expected –



It must be genetic – my daughter is a classic night owl. Until she stopped working she was a restaurant manager and yep – she worked nights. She still maintains those hours.

Interestingly enough I’ve only had one night job. When we returned from a stint in Connecticut in 1976 I had to find work. I worked 11-7 at the 7-11 in El Segundo. Other than the armed robbery attempt I foiled – I was twice the size and thrice as charming as my severely inebriated would be robber and got him laughing so hard his revolver slipped down his pants leg and rolled over his foot onto the floor). That spooked him sufficiently to convince him to beat feet and run. But my regulars included night shift airport workers, members of the local amateur hockey league who came by 3 nights a week – half in uniform – around 2:00AM – that was when they could get ice time – and an absolutely DDG horse exerciser at Santa Anita race track – who hit me up for coffee every morning. She wanted to be a jockey. I wonder if she succeeded. Oh – and of course several local law enforcement officers. And generally, most transactions include several minutes of conversation. The darkness and early hours seemed to encourage conversation. I wonder if in the age of texting that is still the same.
So what did Will have in mind when he suggested this topic? I haven’t a clue. Maybe one of the other LBC writers do. Check them out.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Retribution.

This week’s topic comes from Maria.

Retribution. AKA payback’s a bitch.

In 1972 8 members of a Palestinian group called Black September killed a pair r of Israeli athletes in their Olympic Village building and took 9 other athletes & coaches hostage. After a standoff and failed negotiatios the terrorists demanded aircraft to transport the hostages to Cairo.

The German’s had a plan – Operation Sunshine – to attack the terrorists in the building wherein they held their captives but that was dropped when the terrorists learned of the plan via television. Imagine that. A plan was hatched to attack the terrorists on the way to the airport. Again – foiled when the terrorists learned of the attack plan. Finally the Germans decided to attack at the airport.

Upon their arrival to the airport German snipers began firing and a pair of terrorists were killed – along with a German policeman. Within hours the remaining 9 hostages – being held in the helicopters that had transported them – were killed by the terrorists. In the ensuing shootout 3 terrorists survived and were taken into custody. Within 2 months those 3 terrorists were released by the Germans when Black September terrorists hijacked an airplane and threatened to crash same. Their price for the horrific crime – 2 months in a German peison.

Retribution. If the world has learned anything over the last 60 or so years it is that Israel does not take things lying down. They are nothing if not zealous in their responses to actions or perceived threats. Thus were Operation Wrath of God and Operation Bayonet conceived. Authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1972, the operation is believed to have continued for over 20 years – according to Wikipedia.

Over the years, direct assassinations, letter bombs and the like were the tools of the Israelis and Mossad as they extracted their retribution on Black September. The story has been told on screen and in books . Steven Spielburg’s movie Munich is one such chronicling of the events – based on the 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, by Canadian journalist George Jonas . An interesting film with the usual poetic license taken but well worth watching.



So that’s one example of retribution. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the response was appropriate to the affront. Check out what the other LBC members have to say.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mobile telephony - LBC topic

Today's tpic comes from Ramana - Mobile Telephony. A great idea gone conmpletely and utterly mad. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Seriously folks - does everyone really need to be able to reach you whenever they want? 24/7/365??? Really? Do you need the same access? Really?

Texting? Sexting? Nekkid selfies? have we reached the upper limits of moral bankruptcy yet?

Texting - has the art of verbal communication gone missing? Have our thumbs replaced our vocal cords?


How many times have you been at a theater to see a movie and had the experience interrupted by a phone call or text message? Turn the damn thing off!! Tell the other idiots that get a call to turn their damn phones off too!! How often has your waiter or waitress gotten a phone call or text mesage when you were out to eat? How about the cashier at the local grocry/pick a store - any store - considering these days mo9st of those jobs are filled by "kids"?-

Don't get me wrong. There's a time and place for everything but really now - besides inhaling and exhaling is there really much else we need to do 24/7/365??? If Jim Croce had written Operator tof-day would uit be about a guy blowing up his ex girlfriend's phone at all hours? Would the song had the same heart?



I think not.

Why - you may ask - do I sound so negative about mobile telephony? My daughter - well over 30 - spends in excess of 50% of every waking minute on her cellphone. God forbid it becomes fully discharged and she is without it. It is her life. Smartphones??? Who're they kidding? They're huge contribiutors to the dumbing dowen of America.

Now on occasion I do find the videos shot by cellphones interesting. And it is nice to have a camera handy to take snaps at an accident or other newsworthy activity but we are dangerously close to creating an entire generation of paparazzi and that can't be good, can it? Has personal privacy totally left the building? Isn’t government intrusion bad enough for crying out loud.

Is mobile telephony sucking the soul from us?



There was a time, of course, when this was all still ver new.... remember that far back??



Yes dear readers - I realize mobile telephony has a place in today's world. Who needs an iPod when you can use a smartphone for the same thing. GPS? A good smartphone works just as well. Instant information at our fingertips. But really now - would your life be that much worse without mobile telephony?

Scuse me - my cellphone is ringing. Damn - it's all soooo confusing! Oh - and one of my very best friends was a prime mover in the invention and development of mobile phones. He was instrumental in the design of the switching systems that make the things work. He used to call me on the prototypes from Chicago. True story.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My greatest fear - LBC topic

My greatest fear has to be feeling powerless to help someone I care about. There are simply things I cannot do to help Lynn. I suppose that is not even really fear - but anger. I am mildly claustrophobic so I do have a slight fear of small ecnclosed spaces - I won't ride a full elevator - It is what it is. Everything else is manageable but it was not always so.

When I was a kid in Colorado I loved horror movies and they scared the bejeebers (nice technical term eh?) outta me. The first movie I ever saw was Tarantula (bonus points if you can name the megastar that made his movie debut in that one) and the thrill ride lasted until I was scared by Alien - the last truly scary movie I saw. Here's a clip of Leo G carroll in Tarantula - sort of Topper gone wild -



Along the way I've been scared by and of giant prehistoric flying reptiles (Rodan - I ran home from my cousin Greg's house, hiding under trees so if Rodan was circling the sky like a vulture he (she?) wouldn't see me and eat me after he and I saw that one), Werewolves, vampires, Abominible Snowmen, giant carrot people (the original Thing), body snatchers (the original rocked, the remake was damn good too)

Then there were the man-eating plants (Day of the Triffids)

Strange lobster-like thingees - (Lynn was terrified of this one - I always thought it odd she loved to eat lobster)

Anything with Voncent Price, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr was pretty much a frightening certainty. And of course Bela Lugosi's Dracula.

The last 2 really scary movies I recall are The Exorcist - saw it and then spent the night ine night alone in a strange house and when the resident cat leapt from the frisge to the stove I about went through the roof - and Alien. Some of my fondest memories are of spending Saturdays at the Uptown Theater in Pueblo, Colorado with Kenny and Tommy - alll 3 of us sitting with our legs curled up under us like we were around a campfire - so the monsters wouldn't get us from beneath our seats.

Todays world can be a truly frightening place. It's a shame we have allowed it to become so. But I'm still more scared by the old classics and I'n happy to be that way.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ego

Ego - a fitting topic for my return to LBC blogging after a brief time in the weeds as it was described. Or was it the shadows. Regardless - I’m baaaaaaaaaack.



Everyone has an ego - and how we manage our ego goes a long way toward shaping what people think of us. Ego is continually on display in politics - the battleground wherein the overinflated egos of several of our politicians are on display in all their unwarranted arrogance simply - in most cases - as a means of posturing for position in whatever election comes next. There's the supremely arrogant (or confident as his supporters say) Ted Cruz - the Tea Party's latest darling since the fall of Sarah Palin, Harry Reid - that grand embarrassment to the great state of Nevada, John Boehner - he of the free-flowing tear ducts and the apoplectic former VP Al Gore to name a few. Where you fall on the political spectrum most likely determines whether or not you see any of them as egotistical jackasses or supremely confident leaders.

The common thread in those listed is they all have strong egos. Most leaders do. In fact try and name a leader that does not have a strong ego. Gandhi? I suggest he was supremely confident in himself and his humble facade masked a gigantic ego. He knew exactly what he was doing. His sense of self-worth was as comfortably worn as his clothes.

We can have conflicting egos - as a young athlete I was self-confident and assured. I wanted the ball in the big game - wanted the other team to run my way on the big down so I could stuff the play and loved being on the wrestling mat in a big tournament or dual meet. But put me in front of a 5'2" female that had the audacity to look at me, smile and god forbid talk to me and uh oh. It was find a rock to hide behind time. Knocking knees resembled a Dave Clark drum roll (well - Clark was a fraud - those recorded drum rolls were really Bobby Graham's). Speaking of Clark - his massive ego comes from his ability to make money back in the early days of the British Invasion (the musical invasion). Add in the adulation of millions of teen agers and in his case the result was/is an ego of massive proportions that is firmly in the winning isn't everything - it's the only thing camp.

Me? As I've said many times, I'm a simple guy. My ego is largely in check - but I have my moments. Blogging can be a grand way to put your ego on display and I've done that a time or two. I once mentioned my IQ - not to brag about the number but to show that IQ does not always relate to common sense and real-world smarts. Bad idea. A reader took me to task over that exercise. I read a lot so I fall into the camp of those who know a little about a lot of things. And as you know - a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. But I love the debate above all else so my ego can handle the occasional bashing as long as I get my licks on. And if I can offer any advice about ego, I say embrace your ego. It's a large part of who you are. It's a shaper of your personality.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Synchronicity and a friend named Sharon.

Damned if Ramana's not on to something. Something happened yesterday and today that in no small way did me a world of good. I had a blast from the past. Mine - luckily for me - was much more positive that Ramana's recent reconnect.

In her entire life Lynn has had no more than 3 or 4 close friends. I'm not sure why but that's just a simple fact. When Lynn's HD started to reach he stage where the dementia was profound, I surfed th Web looking for Sharon - one who was always oneof Lynn's best friends. They went to BYU together, joined the Mormon church together, roomed together - you get the picture. I am sure. I was unsuccessful - our last contact being in 1985 or so at the 40th birthday party of Sharon's then husband. Sharon was then a police officer and they are known to be somewhat reclusive for a variety of reasons. I even called the Sheriff's Department where she worked and no luck. I gave up the search a couple of years ago.

Yesterday on a whim I googled her again and found a new reference point and damned if I didn't find her. She was on facebook so we traded a couple of emails, added each other as friends and promised to catch up. This morning when I loggedin at work there was notification of a missed phone call from none other than Sharon - she missed me by 5 minutes yesterday. That led me to call her at 8:30 or so her time and I woke her up. She claimed a late night last night ws the reason and I joked about age catching up with us. Then we talked for over an hour about the days of early adulthood we shared - and for the first time in 10 years I was reminded of nothing but good times and the individual Lynn was. As Sharon recalled, one of the kindest, gentlest people she knew. I remembered simple stuff like playing catch - not something many guys could do with a girlfriend back then. The co-ed softball team we played on. Silly things young couples do. It was very cathartic and as Sharon said - good for her soul too. She's also still in touch with a couple of other friends from Lynn's past so there's more catching up to do.

I know better than to live in the past but frankly the present sucks and the future looks dim so this welcome journey dowm memory lane was the most fun I have had in years. I laughed hard, shed a tear or two and have felt great since we ended the call.

Thanks Sharon. I needed that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wrong fit - Happy Trails

Ironic trhat recent revelations regarding family dysfunction are forcing me to leave. Essentially I am a wrong fit - and so I say to you LBC folk



Shackman has left th ebuilding.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Distraction - LBC topic

Today’s topic – distraction - comes from Maria. Distraction is a multifaceted thing!



Yes distraction can be good, bad or ugly. Depends upon the circumstances. As a contract programmer there were times when I would get seriously stuck on dumb. Something that should have been a breeze suddenly took on the magnitude of scaling the Himalayas. What to do? How to do it? And at times like that a distraction was a welcome thing. In my case simply hearing a song



I liked and hadn’t heard in a while was often enough to break the logjam and let the code flow. Then there are those occasions when you are concentratying on a task at hand - it can be anything from work to watching a movie, reading - and something distracts you. The distraction breaks your concentration, derails your train of thought or somehow otherwise intrudes upon your space. Maybe it's the very impetus to your being stuck on dumb.

Then there are folks like the members of Westboro Baptist Church, the clowns that protest at military funerals waving signs like this


That's an ugly distraction if ever I saw one. Unfortunately the activity - regardless how tasteless - is protected by freedom of speech. Nobody ever said living in a free society was easy - just better than the alernative.

In the world of good distractions, the weekly LBC topic is a most welcome distraction to my daily life. I've made great new friends, engaged in a spirited debate or two and generally enjoyed the break from my routine this weekly exercise offers. For that I thank all y'all (official plural form of y'all for those of you unschooled in southern speak).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Modern Addictions

My apologies for being late.  Blogger is not at all cooperative today – it will not let me edit anything and so after much fiddling and tweaking I did this in a word processor and plugged it into Blogger.  Hopefully the issue will be resolved shortly.
Ramana brings us this week's topic.  Was it synchronicity or prior planning that had his mind seemingly on addiction lately?
Wikipedia says "Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs)." That's a reasonable basis for discussion methinks.
Along with the old standby addictions - drugs, food, alcohol, gambling and so forth, today's world with its hectic helter-skelter lifestyle offers many new addictions from which to choose. With seemingly little or no effort one can become addicted to television, computers, the Internet, one's job, working out, blogging - why - the options are mind boggling. One might even say mind numbing. 
The term "addiction" immediately floods the mind of most people with negativity and fear.  That's not true in all cases but more on that later.  I'll go with a modern addiction I think most westerners can understand - addiction to prescription drugs. There is a HUGE problem in this country with prescription drug addiction. For a small fee - $2-$10.00 or so I can have in my hand within 15 minutes or so damn near any prescription drug - ANY prescription drug.  The news is filled with the names of rich and famous drug addicts that have a serious prescription painkiller jones. Those with the money and pull simply get doctors to prescribe them - aka Rush Limbaugh and others.  Why – we even had a television hero addicted to them – a guy named Gregory House.  The common man can get them on any street corner. I know this to be a fact.
We in the U.S.A. seem to be in the grip of an addiction to prescription meds in general.  There are pills for everything.  Put the kid on meds for depression.  Put the kid on meds for ADD.   Double the prescription for ADHD. Depressed? There's an endless supply of medication to treat depression.  Never mind the side effects - aka the small print - the part of the commercial read at a rate so fast as to be unintelligible. Stuff like infections leading to death have been observed - thoughts of suicide should immediately be reported - stuff like that. What the drug companies must surely assume is simply collateral damage.  They are - after all - only looking out for the greater good. And let’s not forget the new strains of drug-resistant infections we have created by overmedicating ourselves. 
What's good for the drug companies is clearly not always good for us no matter what they would have us believe.
Then there's obesity.  Are we addicted to obesity? Well - no - but a food addiction can certainly lead to obesity.  Addiction to certain lifestyles can certainly lead to obesity. That might make this my theme song -
It’s a minefield out there. Things are moving at such a rapid pace it’s difficult to keep up. It’s easy to let something become an addiction. As I said at the top of this little ditty, not all addictions are bad unless they are allowed to take control of your life and that, my friends, is all up to you.  Take a break on occasion. Enjoy a cup of tea, coffee, a nice single malt – whatever.  Or maybe check out what the other LBC members have to say on addiction.  Careful though – good reading can be addictive.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Best Friend

Today's LBC topic comes from Delores - aka Delirious - currently residing in China although I believe she is back home attending to some personal business here in the good old U.S.A..

It's an interesting topic -considering how often these days the term BFF is bandied about. Many folks seem to claim a new BFF  as often as they grocery shop.  Kinda makes me wonder on which  aisle the BFFs are stocked.  For a spice one do you look near the salsa???

I have several friends I have had since I entered 5th grade. I've said several times in previous posts that my friends back in my school days essentially saved me from a life of crime - seems I am somewhat genetically disposed to that thanks to Paul Wesley Brooke - aka my sperm donating birth father. That statement is quite true, no further discussion of it will be forthcoming and you'll simply have to take my word for it. Foremost among those friends is a fine fellow I usually refer to as Architect Dave. Why?  Another Dave flies for US Air/American and so they distinguished by their occupations - Pilot Dave and Architect Dave. Architect Dave has also  acquired a partner in the best friend business - his wife Pat  - often a reader and commenter on this very blog. Dave and Pat provide an  unbreakable link to my past, and an  anchor to my present. Dave and I spent a couple of years goofing off after high school, usually running the roads in his British Racing Green MGs - first a Midget and latter an MGB.  We put a lot of miles on his cars.  Now he travels via his company airplane and of course on the good ship Lillian Belle. Needless to say I get to live vicariously via the adventures of Dave and Pat. Feel free to check out the Lillian Belle blog listed on the right - there're some great photos and tales of one of those adventures. This was one of our road songs all those years ago


Later in life, while perusing music board discussions, I happened upon an individual I'll call Hockeymom. She is uncomfortable with seeing her name on the Web and far be it from me to go against her wishes.  Plus, getting hit with a hockey stick smarts and even though she lives in another state I'm not taking a chance. She's Hockeymom because 2 of her kids played hockey,  one well enough to have been a contender for a spot on the US women's team years back and she spent years ferrying them to games and practyices. Her minor character flaw in that regard is that she's a Chicago Blackhawks fan.  They have won the Cup twice recently and  regularly beat up on my beloved Los Tiburones.

Thanks to email hockeymom and I became best friends.  We talked and talked.  We shared family triumphs and tragedies.  We whined to each other, yelled at each other.  Her father was a hero of hers - rightly so - and I was "with" her in his last year.  She has been with me every step of the way with Lynn's ordeal. Not too shabby considering the mileage between us - shortened by email and the phone. I can always count on her to call me out when I get stuck on dumb. Sometimes I think she delights in that.

She also loves old movies.  The older the better. We share a love of crash, bang wallop 60s rock and she was an accomplished French horn player - here's a snippet of a piece I listen too thanks to her influence


Time and family circumstances have reduced our contact a lot in the last year but not our bond.

I confess to feeling somewhat guilty discussing these folks herein.  Nothing I say can do justice to how much they mean to me for a myriad of reasons.  And I'd be remiss not to mention my new found friends in the LBC - the term synchronicity immediately springs to mind.


That's a quick look at this week's topic.  Check out the rest of the gang over there on the right.

Friday, August 9, 2013

LBC topic - Humor

The Old Fossil - Conrad -  offered us this topic for discussion today. What is humor? Something that amuses us - makes us laugh. It comes from a Greek term related to the balance of fluids in the body keeping us healthy. So humor is good for us.  So sayith the ancient Greeks.  Me too.

There are many kinds of humor.  Humor has the ability to pull us from the depths of despair, offend us to our core or just simply make us laugh.  Laughter is a good thing.  One of the best things. Humor is both universal and contextual. Cultural nuances rule most humor, making it difficult for example for me to understand Indian humor.  Luckily I have a friend that can translate for me.

Where would we be without humor?  In a much colder, darker place to be sure.

 While it's politically correct to suggest we not laugh at but with people, sometimes that's simply not possible. Have you ever laughed at someone  stumbling and falling?  Ever laugh at one of those silly videos on one of the myriad  "Funniest Home Video" shows? I rest my case.

Wry humor -the bumper sticker that boldly states "If you can read this you're too close".  The old salt "That's as funny as a screen door on a submarine".

Are the clips that follow humorous?? Ultimately that's up to you.  Personally, I find them all very funny.

Religious humor





Dark humor -Frisbeetarianism is the philosophy that when you die, your soul goes up on a roof and gets stuck.  (George Carlin) 

Classic humor 






Offensive humor


Humor is in the eye of the beholder.   - One person's humor is another's offensive comment. Political correctness has spread like cancer.




Universal humor - humor that crosses cultural barriers


What did the Old Fossil have in mind when he chose this topic?   I have no earthly idea but I suspect it was something deep and philosophical - he's like that ya know. Best go read what he and he others have to say.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Songs

This weeks admittedly silly topic was chosen by yours truly in one of those throw a bag of doodoo against a wall and see what sticks moments. Since Paul, our erstwhile  "on-sabbatical"  member dubbed me Music Man in a response some time ago  and I have a propensity to pepper my posts with music, I thought it somehow appropriate.  Truth is, I think if anyone takes the topic remotely seriously, it just might be as revealing about them as a more so-called serious post.  Without further adieu, let the adventure begin.  In no particular order.....

The song is about growth and the changes we endure as what we once accepted as fact we now question.  It has resonated with me since the first time I heard it almost 50 years ago. Dylan is the finest songwriter of my generation IMHO.

Next up is a classical piece.

This has been one of my 2 or 3 favorite pieces of music for as long as I can remember. Soothing, relaxing and to me almost perfect.

Next up...
Simple reason for this - I'd like to feel this way about someone again before I am finished. These simple lyrics by Jim Yester say it all.

And now...
The song speaks for itself and the singer is my all time favorite male vocalist.  We all tilt at windmills at sometime in our lives.  IMHO it's what makes us human.  I saw Ames sing it acapella in a concert at a theater in the round 40 years or so ago and it was spine tingling - brought the house down and it could be heard in the lobby.

Last choice for the day

I have always believed good music is good music - whether you understand it or not and this is a great example- catchy, melodic and simply beautiful.

So why these 5 songs?  Do they collectively say anything about me? I think so - I'm basically a simple guy, somewhat romantic and a bit eclectic. A generally apt description. 

I hope you enjoyed at least some of the tunes.  Any surprises here? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

LBC Topic - What you see out the window

Today's topic comes to us from Grannymar.

She lobbed me a musical softball this AM -


When I look out the window right now I see darkness. The early hour may have something to do with that as I start work between 4:30 and 5:00 AM most days. By the time I have had my second cup of coffee - assuming of course it hasn't been sprayed all over my display because of something funny forwarded by a friend - I see the hulking forms of 4 extremely large black oak trees in my back yard.

As the sun continues its inexorable rise, the forms .become more distinct, So do the sounds from the yard.  The resident squirrels decide its time to rise and shine - which sends our dog Ginger into fits -  who are these aliens that keep appearing in her domain every morning?


Unfortunately, being half Basset Hound, Ginger has a rather loud way of voicing her displeasure at the intruders while at the same time it seems the squirrels delight in chattering away to each other while doing the squirrel version of "Can't touch this".  Alas - Ginger is called inside and the squirrels do their victory dance.  The neighbors continue to sleep peacefully and all is right with the world out my window.

Time marches on,   Behind me in the house I hear the staccato sound of little feet running up the hall. My 31/2-year old grandson is up and ready to attack the day. He jumps down the single step from the kitchen to the mud room that is my office. He grabs my cup and looks to see if I have moved on from coffee - which he hates - to Coke Zero - which he loves..  Still coffee? I get scolded by him - coffee papa? ewwwwwwwwwwwww.  Coke Zero?  A grinning Have some papa? He drinks a bit and then looks for Ginger's green squeaky gator and grabs the doorknob,  looks at me, opens the door and heads outside.  Ginger follows and the battle is on. The green gator becomes the rope in an epic tug-of-war between DJ and Ginger.  DJ has finally gotten big enough to make the daily tussle a contest - he is no longer hopelessly dragged around the house and yard.  He gives as good as he gets. The battle will continue throughout the day wherever they may be.

Occasionally the view out my window is of a thunderstorm - often of seemingly biblical proportions. It literally appears as if someone is standing on the roof emptying buckets of water as fast as he/she can. When it ends the patio is literally under water until the water can drain. 

By midafternoon it is typically 100° - or very nearly so.  Often that is a recipe for all 3 grandkids to be in the back yard playing in the water.  Many a water balloon fight has been contested in my back yard.  Of course it's advantage teenage granddaughters.  What I see out my window is a group of happy kids. Again - all is right with the world out my window.

For the rest of the day, there are squirrels and birds constantly moving about,  chattering away. On occasion a possum strolls across the back yard near the back fence and there are lizards galore.  On rare occasions a snake appears. And of course there's the old neighbor lady tending her yard. Scary thought - I suspect she sees me as her peer. Guess that makes me the old guy at the computer she often sees.

So that's a typical day and what I see out my back door window.  What do the other LBC folk see???  Take a look for yourself.  They're listed over there on the right side of the screen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

LBC topic - Shopping/Shopping online

This week's topic comes to us from our resident Dame Quixote in India - Padmum.

Granted - shopping in brick and mortar has its place -


Clothes shopping is an addiction for some that cannot be replaced by online shopping

 

I hate to shop. Always have, always will. Seems there was never a store big enough to hold all of the stuff I like to fiddle with and look at. At least until the Internet appeared and online shopping became available. I was a big fan of Amazon.com for quite a while.

In fact I make a living these days writing online product descriptions for the company that gave me my nickname. So I have a vested interest in online shopping called job security.  Or lack thereof - LOL. I guess that makes this paragraph a disclaimer of sorts.

It has been fun being involved in an industry that literally exploded on the scene and has experienced exponential growth. Amazon.com initially owned the business model.  They thrived - sales wise. As to profitability - not so much. Out of 60+ billion dollars in sales in 2012 they managed to show just over 100 million in profit. It doesn't take a genius to do that math.  It's called razor-thin profitability. But what a selection - all under one roof.  Mine.

The game is to drive people to a site and then convert as many as possible to customers.  Sell them something. The same applies to brick and mortar retailers. That makes it a marketing game and it succeeds only when the site delivers a pleasant shopping experience - including having the products available. Like brick and mortar retailers, online retailers rarely get more than one chance with a customer.

Here in the states it was often cheaper to buy online simply because there were no sales taxes collected on many sales transactions. I have no idea if that implies in other countries and it is rapidly changing here. If the online merchant has a brick and mortar presence in a state it can and must collect sales applicable sales taxes for purchases by customers within that state. Take my company for example - we are everywhere so there's no free ride on sales taxes.  Amazon has distribution centers all over and their tax-free zone is rapidly diminishing.  Seems too many local and state  governments realized how much lost tax revenue from online sales was costing them in real budgetary terms.

So I am clearly in the online shoppers club.  Charter member. Shopping clearly has an effect on most of us - be it brick and mortar or online.



What kind of shopper are you?????

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not over yet - LBC Topic of the Week

This week's topic comes to us from Will Knott.

So - what's not over yet? This song has a beginning, a middle and an end so it's over. Kinda catchy too.
Hmm - no fat ladies singing that I can hear. So it must not be over.

Maybe we should define "over" before we continue this discussion. Or perhaps we should define it. It's all so confusing. Sigh.

It's clearly not over for Arthur Lee in this little ditty (props to those who can name the songwriters without looking it up)
 
 
Is the implication of today's exercise that there is an end? That closure is a given?.  Well guess what - the only thing in life that is guaranteed closure is life itself.  In everything else there's no guarantee of closure.  Oh sure - there's usually an expectation or hope for closure. Witness this example...


Still not over yet???  Press on.  Who knows what you might accomplish by sticking with it - whatever it may be.

Some things stand the test of time and never really end.  They're carried in the hearts and minds of people through the ages.  Here's a corny example but one I've always loved.



Luckily for you, there's an end to this weekly LBC exercise and you have reached it. why not see what others have to say about Will's little exercise.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Onion Peeled - in Pics

There's been an ongoing commentary from some readers regarding the peeling back of the layers of onion that collectively add up to shackman. Here's the latest entry in that vein - and it's an onion guaranteed not to make you cry.  No guarantees offered regarding making you laugh.

I started out as a child
My gymnastics career ended shortly after this pic was taken as it was clear I was outgrowing the sport rapidly. Like most kids, I loved Christmas. 
  
 
 
I had friends and a dog - Tommy, Kenny & Pudgie.
 

 
We moved to California where I eventually made it through high school. I was somewhat of a jock in high school.   
 


Soon after high school I met a girl.

We got married in 1972.


I managed to graduate from college the next year - BA in Political Science.   We moved to Connecticut in 1976,  LA in 1977 and back to the Bay Area in 1978. We  have 2 kids and 5 grandkids


 
Along the way I went to Hawaii for 6 months.  Alone.  Nuff said :) (That's my late mother and the mirrors on my Suzuki 550).


Eventually we ended up in Texas and I ended up like this - the grandfatherly curmudgeon most of you met on the Internet. Now if my beloved San Jose Sharks ever win Lord Stanley's Cup that curmudgeon label might just vanish.


There's more to the story but that's for another day.

If I had to sum it all up in a song I'd choose Harry Chapin's Circle as the "A" side and  Glen Yarborough's Baby the Rain Must Fall as the "B" side.




That's it for this chapter.  More of a Vidalia than a Spanish onion.

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Contradiction - LBC Topic



This weeks LBC topic is contradiction.


Contradictions are everywhere. Why? I suspect it is because although man seeks order and consistency in all things our very nature is a contradiction to that proposition. Examples? I'm glad you asked.


1) How about those among us who tout balance in life yet yet are workaholics that must think balance is akin to 80% work and to hell with the rest.

2) The vehement anti-abortionist that supports the death penalty

3) Media outlets touting the truth yet reporting something entirely different - i.e. Fox News and MSNBC as primary offenders, others to a degree likewise

4) The youthful athlete going to seed and becoming a curmudgeonly old guy (yikes - I know him)

5) The so-called religious right that preaches hatred and killing and should know better

6) The intellectual left that preaches hatred and killing and should know better

7) The notion that the most democratic, free society on the planet has a government that eavesdrops on all manner of communication - emails, phone calls and the like

8) The notion that the will of the majority in our society is suddenly evil incarnate when you disagree with that majority - Here's what Ben Franklin said along those lines - “The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary.”

9) The honest people - those who would never consider stealing from a store - downloading music/videos from the Internet and not paying - or that accept the offer of that guy that offered to to hook up their cable but not bill them


There are many more examples available yet I think the point has been made. Any of the items listed could be debated in depth.


Christopher Hitchens said it best - "The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has—from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.”


Contradiction needs to be managed - something of an oxymoron but true none the less. Progress requires the envelope to be pushed and the envelope is never pushed without change. And of course there is the notion that the managers must be managed - the cycle is never ending.


Ed Ames - Changing Changing


Now go read the other LBC folk as they contradict my notions on contradiction! It's all so confusing :-)