Friday, December 26, 2014


Duty. Something you are required to do because of a legal or moral obligation. Duty dictated by the latter is often much more difficult than duty dictated by the former. Following the law is really black and white whereas morality is cloaked in various shades of gray.

I spent eight of the last nine years caring for my wife as she struggled with Huntington's Disease. That circumstance was compounded by the addition of my daughter and her family - all of whom moved in under the same roof as Lynn and I and in fact a further member was added during that time. My daughter and I have been only barely civil to each other for many years - the reasons for which I won't explain here. .Her oldest kids - my eldest granddaughters are good kids and the new addition - my now 4-year old grandson - is a bundle of energy akin to the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame.  Here is the last decent photo ever taken of Lynn when he was just a few months old.

My duty to Lynn was clear as a bell.  I also thought it my duty to allow our daughter to assist with her mother's care regardless of the consequences to me. The success or failure of the circumstance is open to interpretation and in a few months we will no longer be under the same roof.  I look forward to the quiet times ahead.

My first brush with the notion of duty came at a young age as a scout - "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to be square and obey the laws of the pack" - I never forgot that and  I see it has even changed a bit. Good old Den 6 Pack 3 in Pueblo Colorado. Here we are on the front porch of the house my grandfather built. My time in the scouts was very short - 2 years. When we moved to California my friends weren't scouts hence neither was I.

In a broader application of duty we all owe respect and gratitude to those who defend us with their lives.  We owe them respect regardless  whether or not we agree with the fight and we as a country collectively failed our Viet Nam vets here.  We seem to have resolved that issue as we now recognize and respect the efforts of our military regardless of the moral ambiguity attached to the conflicts they face. Witness the two gulf wars and the current excursion in Afghanistan.

Duty.  It is our duty to be as good a person as we possibly can. We all should try to make the world a better place. We all should help others whenever we can.  A simple notion.

That's it for this week's topic. Tune in next week to see where that road takes us.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Comfort Zone

Maxi and Ramana joined forces to give us this week's topic - Comfort Zone. You know that place - it's where you feel like you are in control and can accomplish the task at hand  quickly and efficiently with a minimum of stress. We all have one - in fact we all undoubtedly have many.

Take my job for example. When I have to write copy for computers, tablets or network products the words flow freely.  With digital cameras not so much. That's because I have been involved in the home computer industry since its inception and have written about those products regularly for the last 10 years.  Digital cameras on the other hand are the bailiwick of my buddy Robert and he is as comfortable writing about those cameras as I am about computer stuff.  If he has to write about computer stuff he struggles a bit.

Musically it will come as no surprise that my comfort zone is pop music, especially that of the sixties and seventies - though I have a degree of proficiency  in most decades. But I occasionally step out of my zone to listen to classical music - the complexity is fascinating and oh yeah - much of it sounds pretty darn good.  In fact my fave piece of music is a Baroque ditty - give it a listen. It's widely played this time of the year in many places.

Comfort zones and anxiety go hand-in-hand. It's good to expand your zones - step out of the box a bit. That lets us grow as people. Managing your anxiety is a critical element in life and - and it can in many cases be learned.  Try doing things differently.  Change some habits. Expand your zone. Enhance your life.

That's my quick shack-take on today's exercise.  Check out what the other LBC folk have to say - and I'll see ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel

Friday, December 12, 2014

Love's Labours Lost

Good old Wil again.   As I have stated in the past I am not a Shakespear fan, I'll approach this as a lost love commentary instead.  One that for whatever reason fell into the unrequited love column - like the one this song addresses -

We've all been there - at least I suspect if we are being honest.  Some more than once.

Of course the optimist would suggest that a broken heart is simply one more mistake to be cast aside on the way to finding the RIGHT ONE.  Hmm - that sounds oddly salesman like - ya gotta wade through the NOs to get to the one that says YES.  Some of us are lucky enough to have that experience in love. And also to encounter an aggressive salesperson.  Door knocking religions immediately spring to  mind.  But that's a discussion for another day.

Press on if you have a failed relationship.  After all, it's all just a game

The stakes may be high but the quest is certainly fun and the end result very much worthwhile.  Unless of course you're the solitary type. And that is fine too although it's not for me. There's just something about having someone who gets you - understands you completely and still cares about you. These days that task falls to my basset hound/collie mix - Ginger.

That's a quick shack take on this weeks topic, submitted by Gaelika in India.  We also have a new member joining the LBC this week - Lin from Germany. She's an old high school acquaintance of mine and she can be found at Dun Na Sead Rising so be sure to check her out along with the other LBC posters.  See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Emotional Alchemy

Emotional alchemy. That's a typical Old Fossil subject  - designed to make you think before you speak. Or not - I suppose it depends upon one's level of comfort seaking about personal chemistry and such.

I am essentially a shy, dumb jock gone to seed. Now I fancy myself something of an old curmudgeon. But - through the years there have been a few people with whom I had an almost instant connection. I'll briefly discuss a couple of them.

First up, of course, is my late wife Lynn. Love at first sight?  Well if not that then it was certainly something very similar. The first time we met there was an instant connection. We were both jocks - me a football player and Lynn a gymnast at BYU. Unlike with other young ladies, conversation between us flowed like a river. There was genuine interest there and it lasted for 45 years.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

The other person I want to briefly discuss is none other than the sage of Pune - Ramana.  We have enjoyed an easy rapport from the time we met.  Though coming from two very different cultures, Ramana and I hit it off immediately. We are somewhat similar in background - educated, widowed, we love music and movies and we both fancy a heated discussion.  Though we handle discussions a bit differently, we love them.  Ramana is ever the cool, calm rational fellow whilst I am more easily excitable. It makes for some interesting, fun times.

Emotional alchemy.  Magic?  Alchemy might imply that but it's really - to me - a matter of wanting to learn and a willingness to listen. At times logic dictates the emotions be ignored and reason  take the lead.  It might be nice if that were always the case but then we are people after all. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is much more common than one would hope.

Emotional alchemy. The chemistry class of life.

That's this weeks off-the-cuff shack take on the weekly LBC topic,  See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


There are times in one's life when the stress seems unbearable and simply placing one foot in front of the other seems almost impossible. The next time that happens,  click on these, close your eyes and sit back and relax.

Feel better??? It worked for me..

Friday, November 21, 2014

Most over rated artist

This weeks less than thrilling topic comes via - drum roll please - me. Oh well.

It's pretty simple to me - any celebrity that comes from the reality TV world - the duck dumbasses, the real housewives from anywhere and do on are vastly overrated.  Most if the stuff is scripted so it's as fake as the stars.  But the queen of all IMHO is that fabulously bubble-butted bimbo Kim Kardashian.

Her so-called career is based on a homemade porn tape.  For a time she was in competition with an heir to the Hilton fortune  but little Kimmy has pulled away from Paris and the pack.  Much to the chagrin of her sister Khloe and the Queen Mother Kris Jenner and rising hopeful Kendell. What an amazing family.  OJ's ex-lawyer is probably turning over in his grave.

In a somewhat more serious turn, I personally think  the authors of the so-called classics in literature are somewhat over rated. Not for the quality or lack thereof of their work but because of the attitudes of their fandom.  I suspect they ( their fanboys & fangirls) even resent being called fans  since they undoubtedly feel superior to the rest of the reading world.  Those authors spoke to and about their own times and culture. I prefer reading about those more relevant to my time. I'd much rather read about the goings on on the Busted Flush, tooling around Florida in miss Agnes or consulting with Milan Jacovich on good places to eat in Cleveland. And Kate Shugak has great tales of  life in Alaska and Tres Navarre really knows the Texas hill country. Walt Longmire is the best lawman around.  I do confess though to really enjoying a SherlocK Holmes tale or two along with Jules Verne.  See - it's all relative.

On a final note, even a great artist can lay an egg.  Can there be a more pretentious peace of musical crap than Imagine by John Lennon? Well - possibly Hey Jude, written to John's son Julian by hjis erstwhile bandmate Sir Paul..  They both make me cringe when I hear them played for the bazillionth time.

That's a quick shack-take on today's admittedly lightweight topic. Time to see what the others think. It might be interesting.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Todays topic  comes from Ramana. I wonder what his expectations for the topic may be.
Mine? Today has begun as a typical Friday here in Shackland.

Woke up. Got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, Hm - where have I heard that before? :-) My expectations were simple - let the dog out, make some toast and coffee and sit down at the computer.  Check Ramana's blog for todays topic, ponder said topic for a minute or two and begin writing. Fairly simple, routine stuff. No task too difficult.

Tasks though - those are the things that give expectations some meat. The greater the task the greater the expectation for success or failure. Failing at a dask when expectations of success were very high can be extremely depressing. Expectations often need to be managed - the temptation to be over confident should be resisted at all cost.  Sounds good but we've all suffered at some point when our results have not met our expectations.

My expectations? Of my friends I expect honesty and a degree of loyalty. Of my work? At this point in time I expect nothing more than a paycheck and a fair amount of tsuris. Of life in general?  Since February not much if any.

So that's a quick shack-take on this weeks topic.  Now I'll see what the others have to say.

Friday, November 7, 2014


This weeks topic comes from the sage of Pune, India  - Ramana and Maxi from Florida so it's not my fault if you don't like it.

Blame.  Is it sheer irony that Ramana chose it as the weekly topic the same week as the great American blame game known as a national election? Arms are in agony across this land from waving fingers in disapproval and blame over the state of the nation. Things haven't been this ugly since the days of John Adams. And it is the other guy's fault.  The other party's fault. A collective breath of fresh air known as acceptance of responsibility is long over due. Why are things like this?

Really now people.  Everything in life we do not like simply cannot be the fault of someone else.  How about  the things we do that may not make sense??

To many people it's simply easier to pass the blame than to take responsibility for their actions.Admit it dear reader - you're no saint. Neither am I - I confess to have passed the buck a time or twoo over the years.  That doesn't make it right. Not when doing it right includes - and is especially true - when no one is watching.  Do the right thing - in spite of the influences of others. Right is right. Unless it's wrong.  Ahem.

By now I assume you've figured out the theme of this little ditty. Be tresponsible for your actions. There's always a choice.  The options may not be wholly attractive but there are choices to be made none the less. Make the choice. Don't blame someone or something else for the bad ones and don't give credit where it's not due forthe good ones - you did the work, put forth the effort and made it happen - often with the help and support of others.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm shackman and I approve this message. Check out what the other LBC folk have to say on the matter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Comedy of errors

Yet another literary influenced topic. I still dislike ol' Wil but so be it.

So what's it like when things go so horribly wrong the situation becomes funny? We've all been there at some point - of that I am certain.  My two years of varsity football in high school certainly qualify. Our sad excuse for a coach took the most talented team in the league to a blazing 1 win 2 ties and the rest losses/  I'm still mad at him - LOL. At least I won lineman ofthe game in the one that we won.

Then there are the political comedy of error incidents.  Can you say John McCain and Sarah Palin?  Michael Dukakis in the tank?  Anyone remember Gary Hart? Then again several administrations have been nothing to write home about either. Would you consider the Watergate candal a comedy of errors?  I sure do.

So what does one do when trapped in a comedy of errors? I suggest pressing on and hoping for a quick result - get it over with,And remember - it's always beer:30 somewhere so relax and move on. Or listen to some [progressive rock - like Scotland's Comedy of Errors

That's this morning's quick shackake on this weeks topic.  Check out what the others have to say ==>

Friday, October 24, 2014

Commitment to the unverifiable

This week's LBC topic comes from an old fossil. It's an interesting topic worthy of thought but as is my style on these matters I will simply shoot from the hip, hopefully straight and true.

FOS loves a good debate, as do I.  Clearly the line has been cast hoping to set the hook on the topic of god.I'll bite.  I am NOT in the camp that believes in god that is the be-all end-all guide to life.  I do not believe in the virgin birth, jesus is the son of god, etc.  Those of you who know me have heard this and I'm sure expect this from me - when it comes to god,

I do not hold those beliefs against anyone and I try to respect all religions though I confess to a growing contempt and distaste for Islam. Beyond that statement, that's a subject for another day.

I also understand that what today is not verifiable one day may well be verified. I have that much faith in science and the abilities of man. it has always seemed strange to me that a god would give man these brains with  unlimited potential and then rail against us for using them.  Why - for example - cannot the theory of evolution be god's way of developing things? And really now - Noah's Ark?   could it be? Right.......

.Now to the best of my knowledge - and I'm sure the media would be all over the story if it has happened - nobody has actually seen and spoken with god -  and if ithappens how would it go? It'd be nice if it went like this

Somehow I do not see the god that needs to be feared having such a casual, meaningful conversation with us. Nothing makes me cringe internally more than someone who states he or she is a god-fearing individual. On the brighter side, the conversation need go no further with that person if they only intend to preach at me. Their world is black and white and clearly I inhabit the black side. To me though there are mostly shades of grey

Yep.  I will survive.  And if I am wrong in thinking the universe is somehow interconnected and there is some sort of spiritual one-ness to it all - well so be it,  At my age the answer is not that far off so I will know soon enough.  Pity I won't be able to share it with all y'all though.  Ya see - that's something we all discover for ourselves  at the end of the line.

That's my quick shack take on this week's topic.  Check out what Fos and the others have to say.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Peek a boo

This weeks topic comes from Ashok, It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with  -

Friday, October 10, 2014


It's all about learning, folks.  Everything.  It's really that simple. If we cannot learn we are doomed to fail.

Central to learning of course is teaching.  If we do not learn how to teach we cannot learn.  Oh sure - some of us are innately curious and will  ponder something and even work it out but the solution is of little or no value if it cannot be effectively shared - taught to others.

Some 1800 or so years ago Roman emperor marcus Aurelius learned from his great grandfather "  to get me good and able teachers at home; and that I ought not to think much, if upon such occasions, I were at excessive charges" - sounds like home schooling was valued even then.  And that public education was not particularly well respected.

Things have not changed much - just listen to George Carlin (if hearing Carlin's strong language is bothersome read the text here )

Today kids have major obstacles to overcome to get educated - not the least of which is the public education system. Our rapidly declining middle class is typically working more hours for le$$ so they have less time to do their part in educating the kids.   And college? My college education cost me  less than $1000 for tuition and fees.  Books probably added another $1000 and it was very easy for me to pay my way through school. And remember - that was spread over 6 years. Today that same degree would cost in excess of $25,000 just in tuition and fees alone.  And thats for a BA in a California State University school.  It assumes of course that a child can meet the educational; requirements to enter the school. I'm not altogether certain a child going through the public school system here in Ft Worth, Texas would be able to demonstrate those skills - based on what I have seen of the education offered my grandchildren here.  I suppose I should rest easy as the politicians in both parties promise to make education their top priority.

What was it that George Carlin said?

That's a quick shack take on education.  Check out what the others in the LBC have to say about this important topic.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Movie review - Chef

I just watched one of the best movies I have seen in many years - Chef - written and directed by Jon Favreau - a particular fave of mine.

Chef is a small budget film populated with big name performers including Favreau himself, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansen, John Leguizamo in what is probably my favorite part he has ever played, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr.  It's definitely an eclectic mix but they are all excellent.

Kenneth Chisholm ( offers this summary:
“Carl Casper is an acclaimed chef with a family life that seems as decaying as his artistic freedom. Those frustrations boil over into a raucous viral-videoed public confrontation against a restaurant critic who panned his cooking of food that his boss ordered him to make against his instincts. Now with his career ruined, Carl's ex-wife offers an unorthodox solution in Miami: refit an old food truck to offer quality cooking on his own terms. Now with his young son, Percy, and old colleague, Martin, helping, Carl takes a working trip across America with that truck to rediscover his gastronomic passion. With Percy's tech savvy and Martin's enthusiasm, Carl finds that he is creating a traveling sensation on the way home. In doing so, Carl discovers he is serving up more than simply food, but also a deeper connection with his life and his family that is truly delicious in its own way.”
 This is a delightful film about people, food, attitudes and love. Anyone interested in food culture, chefs, restaurants and the restaurant biz will in my opinion spend an enjoyable 2 hours with this little gem.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Personl Debt

This weeks topic falls under the heading do as I say - not as I do.

In today's western society it seems rampant consumerism is the order of the day.  We need to spend spend spend.  But stuff to be happy.  Buy stuff to do your patriotic duty and make jobs,  Buy stuff. Buy more stuff.  The road to happiness is bought - and you don't even need money to buy.  Just use credit.  What the hell - the government runs on a huge deficit - so why not all of us?? Max out those cards.  Buy a house and car you can't afford.  It's the patriotic thing to do.

And then when you can barely breathe with the weight of your personal debt pressing in on you, you are on your own.  Every time your phone rings you cringe with embarrassment knowing its probably a debt collector that bought your debt for pennies on the dollar and is calling to threaten and harass you into payment of the debt that has now been inflated due to bogus charges added by various and sundry.  The collector will scream and yell, call you useless, threaten to sue and then offer some sort of payment plan.

Helluva way to live.  If you consider that living.

Or, you can try living within your means and not buying in to the bigger/flashier/more expensive is better scenario. Buy what you can pay for.  Stay away from credit -  use it wisely.  Don't sign away your family's future for a home or car you cannot afford.  Bank 10% of your earnings - regardless how hard that might be.  Discipline yourself and teach that discipline to your kids. Everyone will be better off in the long run. Be prepared for the worst and hope it never happens.  Instead of a $5000 cruise take a family trip to Yellowstone. Take a driving vacation like folks used to do all of the time.  I still remember the trip that took us to the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. It was a great time. There is much to see and do wherever you live that will not leave you shackled with debt.

I've been down both sides of this road.  One works, the other is a recipe for disaster.

That's this weweek's shack take on the weekly LBC topic.  Check out what the other LBC members that posted this week have to say on the matter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dead-End Streets

Dead end streets.  The end of a wrong turn taken somewhere. It can be as harmless as simply turning around, retracing your steps and taking the right path. Then again it may seem as if your entire life's journey has been a wrong turn and the result is a dead-end life.  I suspect that's what British songwriter Ray Davies had in mind when he penned this tune:

What are we living for?

Two-roomed apartment on the second floor.
No money coming in,
The rent collector's knocking, trying to get in.

We are strictly second class,
We don't understand,
(Dead end!)
Why we should be on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
People are living on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
Gonna die on dead end street.
Strong words for a pop/rock tune but then Davies has always been that kind of songwriter when it comes to chronicling life in England.  And music - especially popular music - has always been a way to show the world how things really are - at least through the eyes of the songwriter.

Then there's this example of those in a dead-end life here in the good old USA - though admittedly an old example and indeed a fictional one

It does however represent the truth  even today. But the good news is being on a dead-end street isn't necessarily the end - merely a challenge that needs to be overcome. Heck - the Dead End Kids became the Bowery Boys so there's always hope.

I spent many  a Saturday afternoon at the Uptown Theater in Pueblo, Colorado watching the antics of the Bowery Boys - Slip, Satch and the gang.

Thats your quick shack take on this week's topic - which came to us via our pal Maxi in Florida.  Check out where the other LBC folks ended up on their Dead-End Streets.


Friday, September 19, 2014

All's well that ends well.

At 24, he had Oswaldo the Rabbit, his first successful cartoon character, stolen from him by Universal Studios. At 25, MGM told him no one would ever like Mickey Mouse. At one point in his twenties, Walt Disney was so poor that he resorted to eating dog food..  Who woulda thunk it.  Yep - he qualifies as an all's well that ends well story.

Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at age ten. Franklin's parents could only afford to keep him in school until his tenth birthday. That didn't stop the great man from pursuing his education. He taught himself through voracious reading, and eventually went on to invent the lightning rod and bifocals. Oh, and he became one of America's Founding Fathers.  I'd say that ended well.

Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC, twice.  You read that right. One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, the man who brought us "Shindler's List," "Jaws," "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" couldn't get into the film school of his choice. Maybe, just sometimes, education can be a little overrated. In the end, Spielberg would get the last laugh, when USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994. Two years later, he became a trustee of the university. Yep – another ended well scenario.

Yep - clearly Russ Hodges, Bobby Thompson and Giants fans had an all's well that ends well moment.  Talph Branca and Dodger fans?  Not so much.

On the list for sheer improbability, there is no comeback more unbelievable than the last few seconds of the 1982 Big Game. Five laterals and one game-winning touchdown later, The Play smashed its way into American sports history. Oh, and the Cal football team defeated Stanford 25-20.  Surely Joe Starkey had a moment.  Stanford fans?  Yep - not so much.

My point in all of this?  Physics tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  So to is it in life.   Call it winners and losers or something else if you like but the fact is, there are 2 sides to everything. So keep that in mind when you next celeberate your happy ending.

That's my quick shack-take on this week's LBC topic, Tune in next week - same Bat time, same Bat channel for another installment.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Are the Mystics right - is time an illusion??

The old fossil posed an interesting question.  One I frankly I have never considered - which makes my read the topic and shoot from the hip even more interesting, at least to me.

Tell me you didn't see this coming -

It poses a couple of questions - does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?

Does time exist?  maybe in the now it does but the past and future? I suspect not.  We use "time" as a convenient place marker for our lives. We recall the past by chronicling events. We mark it with photographs, written chronicles, physical evidence.  But these things are not time - they - each in themselves mark a particular presence in time - a different now that has come and gone. If things were not constantly in a state of flux would "time" really matter?

The concept of time conveniently allows us to add much needed structure to our existence, There's a  degree of comfort knowing every now has a specific "time" attached to it and although we humans cannot leave well enough alone - we created multiple time zones to make things more convenient.  But "now" on the east coast does not change the "now" here in Texas nor is it the future now on the west coast. It is simply the now.

Time travel?   What a quandry!

Einstein theorized it was possible - is it? Depends on which mystic you follow I suppose.  The notion of time travel is fascinating.  Who wouldn't want to go back and correct a mistake or two from a different now? Who wouldn't want to know who wins the next big game ahead of the event?  There is a current series on SyFy that addresses time travel  called Continuum,  It's definitely worth a look if you are interested in time travel and its repercussions.  That of course assumes time is more than an illusion - and they address multiple time lines. That classic space/time continuum gets ripped occasionally and opens up an entirely different can of worms.

Now back to the original question - is time an illusion?? Frankly I do not have the proper brainpower to comprehend the scientific discussion  in spite of my IQ as tested being kinda high. Guess it's high in the wrong area but unless Neil deGrasse Tyson or Sheldon Cooper are explaining things, I am typically bored stiff (aka it is as clear as mud).  I guess that leaves my notions and understanding of time confined to esoteric discussions like this one.  You know those discussions - the ones where the discussion in and of itself matters more than the subject or any conclusions you may reach.

If pressed I'll admit to thinking time is an illusion but its one we need.  We need the structure.

Thats my quick shack-from-the-hip tale on this weeks topic.  Please check out my compatriots in the LBC and see where time takes them - and here's a final musical time share - just to get the blood moving a bit

Friday, September 5, 2014

Teaching Values

Every culture has its traditions and values.  As such it falls to the older generations to teach those traditions and values to the children of the society to ensure the well-being of both child and society. Without the process there would be np continuity.

In the west our basic values and guidelines come from the ancient Jews -  the so-called Ten Commandments from the Torah (or as the Christians call it - the Old Testament). Its a question for historians and the faithful to decide from whence they came - when taken as a set of rules by which to live  IMHO its the content that matters. No magic or bearded entity in flowing robes required. 

Once the basics are in place the teaching gets a bit tricky.  The conservative traditionalists resist change at every step of the game. That in turn leads to a situation we now face here in this country -  our educational system is based on an agrarian culture  that no longer exists and so our children are falling further behind children in other parts of the world.  It is no surprise then that we as a country are no longer the shining example we once were and still should be.

Will McAvoy was right - "Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies" "We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men.; it did We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it - it didn't make us feel inferior.  There's more but the point is we cannot simply sit back on our heels - rest on our laurels - and survive and thrive.  It falls on us to ensure our children are properly educated to compete and succeed in this ever accelerating fast paced world in which we all live. They need to understand the moral foundation and then build upon  it and grow so that we as a culture and a society do the same.

That's my quick shack-take on today's LBC topic. And although I wholeheartedly agree with the fictional Will MvAvoy's take on things there is no other place I'd rather be then here in the good old USA.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I wish I hadn't done that.

I wish I hadn't done that. I really wish I hadn't left my Suzuki 550 in Hawaii when I moved back to the mainland on Christmas Eve in 1986. I really loved that bike.

I remember sitting at stoplights in Hawaii gazing around and thinking I can't believe I am really here. That six months was truly a great time and I rode that Suzuki everywhere - rain or shine.  It got exciting a few times on H1 - the main drag - as since I did not wear a helmet I could hear cars racing behind me - the cops used to race on H1 all the time.  Back then they were given cash and chose their own cars - usually the muscle variety - and it was not odd to see a huge Samoan or Tongan in a black 442 or some other powerful, fast auto.

I remember taking a day off work and riding to the Norh Shore to watch the big waves at Waimea Bay the first day they hit. It seemed like half the population of Oahu was there - I stopped at Matsumotos and grabbed a giant shave ice (ice cream and beans of course)

 and parked in the parking lot at Waimea and just watched in awe as the big waves broke.

Then there were the Saturdays I rode to the beach and watched the sail planes (gliders) swooping around doing their loops, whirls and vertical climbs just like Rocket J Squirrel.

One memorable evening I road home to Waipahu from Kailua 0 I had just been at my friend Dave DeCaire's house helping celebrate his daughter's birthday.As luck would have it it began to rain.  No big deal - it rained all the time.  But this instance it did not let up - I got a break going through the tunnel but as soon as I exited on the Honolulu side  the bike started to plane.  No wheels on the ground  - I was on water.  That was exciting.  Scary.  Pick the adjective.  The rain kept up until I hit downtown - and as I headed toward Waipahu it suddenly got very cold. I was in the small valley that passes the Halava jail.  Froze my you know whats off - LOL.  But eventually I made it home safely to Hiapo street. Rick & Laurie laughed their butts off at my appearance. I probably should have taken Dave's offer and slept on hIs couch but alas - I did not.

Nothing could beat cruising Hawaii on that Suzuki but there are some great spots in Northern California I would have liked to see.  Unfortunately Lynn was dead set against it so I left thje bike parked at Rick and Laurie's place and sold it about 3 weeks after I left.  Sigh.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Matrimony.  Marriage.  Psychology Today says  marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is increasingly cut short by divorce.  To that I say marriage is one of our oldest customs with many influences, in this country primarily religous  influences and legal ramifications. 

What makes it so different from simple cohabitation?  Make no mistake - matrimony does change things in a relationship. The so-called get out of jail free card disappears - dissolving a marriage isn;t as simple as simply packing up your stuff and easing on down the road. Yet in this country nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

My generation - the Baby Boomers - have spearheaded the so-called attack on the institution and later generations have picked up the ball and are running with it. The "me" centric folks have decided that regardless the vows and commitments made at marriage it is perfectly acceptable to bail on the marriage when things don't go your own way.

Then there is the gay marriage discussion. Some say once that door is open then people will be marrying animals or something else.  I have never heard an argument as patently ludicrous. The same people that rail against government intrusion in their life wish to  prevent loving same-sex couples from sharing in the legal benefits of marriage based upon the so-called rules of life dictated from some old bearded gentleman in flowing robes that lives in the sky or his Jewish rabbi son.

I was married for 42 years - from 01/01/1972 until 02/10/2014.  The "til death do us part" clause kicked in then when Lynn died. We were together as a couple from 12/31/1998 until that day in February.  Over the years we had issues like any couple  - but we worked through them.  Some issues were not easy but we did not bail.  As a result it is a major point of pride for our kids that they had the same parents - no steps - throughout their lives. We simply believed in ourselves as a couple enough to stick to it.  And trust me - the last 10 years offered more than enough reasons for me to bail.  During that time I was regularly cursed, physically attacked and more.  But that was the disease speaking and acting - not Lynn.  There were also moments when she  would walk up to me, hug me and say she loved me.   Or a few nights when there were quiet, reflective, happy conversations - always short but exceedingly happy moments.  Those were Lynn fighting through the disease that eventually claimed her. Marriage and the commitments we made were the glue that kept us together. I like to think I would have done the same had we simply lived together all of those years but that's something we'll never know.  

Unfortunately too many people these days do not have the same attitude.  Again - the me-centric folks do not place the same emphasis on staying married.  Why bother  - they say. I can't answer that one for them - but marriage worked for us. It's one of our cultural norms that resonated.  It still does.

So to sum up - I'll go on record as being a supporter of matrimony.  I also am a supporter of gay marriage.  People in a loving relationship all deserve the same legal benefits.  Religious objectors are entitled to their opinions as well - I choose to disagree wholeheartedly with them and I resent the hell out of their attempts to modify our constitution to  their benefit. Nor do I take issue with folks who divorce . It's their business - not mine. I just hope they made every effort to fix things first.    I'd say this simple song from the sixties - written by my good friend Ron Ryan - sums up my notion pf marriage 

That's a shack take on matrimony.  Check out what Maxi, Ramana and the others have to say. 

Friday, August 15, 2014


Indifference.  It's truly one ofthe greatest evils facing us these days.

Indifference.Take politics for example.  Overall, OECD countries experience turnout rates of about 70%, while in the U.S., about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections. Indifference is the reason.   I find it odd that our rapidly declining middle class is syill willing to allow the future of this land be determined by so few. Where has indifference led us?  This cannot be embedded but take a look

Indifference.   Jack Kerouac said "If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime"  Make a choice. Get off your butt and make a choice.  Elie Wiesel says " Indifference to me is the epitome of evil".  How many evil things have been ignored due to indifference?  Again - get off your butt and do something.

A good place to start may well be found in this old tune:

If there is a circumstance where indifference  is the order of the day I suggest it is death.  One's own death.  Death is a certainty.  It's gonna happen sooner or later. Stop worrying about it - get over it. Spend your time living life as fully as you can.  Sure - as we get older  we cannot do as much as we used to.   Put me at the top of a steep hill and roll me down it and I still wouldn't do a mile in under 6 minutes like I did the last year I played football. 300-ft. home runs long ago left the building. But I do read more.  I do think more.  I tend to care more about substantive things.  I have not become indifferent to life.

That to me is the greatest evil of all.  If you are indifferent to life then quite frankly tou are breathing good air a useful human being could use. Get off your butt and do something.

That's today's quick shack-take on the weekly LBC topic.

Friday, August 8, 2014

As you like it

Fans of William Shakespeare will recognize this week's topic as the title of one iof the bard's plays. Let me state unequivocally that I am NOT a fan of the man nor of his work. What can I say.  It must be the lineman in me. I suppose my distaste for Will dates back to the time I was forced to sit through one of his plays at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.  I was 11 or 12 at the time and on a week long holiday visiting my namesake Uncle Chuck and his family.  Good old Anut Sue decided to add a bit of culture to my life beyond science fiction literature which I devoured at the rate of a book a week back then. Alas - much to her chagrin, she failed.  Chuck thought it was funny - I suspect he disliked the play as much as I did but knew enough to remain silent about it.

The phrase, though, implies there are many ways to enjoy or appreciate whatever the topic at hand.  For example I prefer my beef bloody rare. I find beef cooked anything beyond medium rare virtually tasteless.  Again - must be the lineman in me.   For my non-American readers here's a representative image of linemen:  Fans of American football might recognize 3 of the Fearsome Foursome - one of the most legendary defensive fronts ever.

Now don't assume I dislike plays - in fact I really enjoy them.  When I was in gradeschool in Pueblo Colorado I used to look forward with delight the daysd the local JC drama department put on plays for kids and upon leaving Carlisle School after a day of learning several of my friends and I would hustle down to the JC and watch that afternoon's offering.  My first exposure to Grimm's Fairy Tales came from those plays. And I am a huge fan of musicals - my favorite being Camelot.  I have seen Camelot on stage with both Richard Burton and my personal fave - Richard Harris - as Arthur.

  I saw Mr Roberts at a theater in the round and the actors were upstaged by a goat that relieved itself at center stage - causing even the actors to laugh.

So there you have it.  Different strokes for different folks is the order of the day.  Better see what Ramana and Ashok have to say on the matter -  hopefully they didn't struggle with the topic as I did.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Going dark for a bit

Moving this week, will be back when everything is unpacked and hooked up....not likely to be here for this weeks LBC post as well

Friday, July 25, 2014

Corporal Punishment

I'm running late today simply because this topic does not lend itself well to my usual check the topic and start typing methodology. This one requires a bit more thought.

I'm making an assumption - which as we all know can be dangerous - that Ashok is referencing corporal punishment towards children .  Its a hot topic in many places.

When I was in school corporal punishment ((AKA paddling) was allowed. I personally never encountered it.  No - I was not a saint - I was just lucky. My transgressions were typically in physical education (PE) classes and so my punishment took the form of  running laps or doing push ups.

The issue is whether or not corporal punishment works.  Does it change a child's behavior in the manner intended or does it contribute to a myriad of developmental and behavioral issues down the road. Is the child conditioned to behave better ala a pavlovian dog? Personally I suspect kids are smarter than dogs and simply resent the hell out of being paddled although I am sure a small percentage fears the punishment enough  to alter their behavior.  Fear is after all a primary motivator at least here in western society - populated by so many god-fearing people. Maybe4 the trickle down theory is at work here.  Ahem.

I suspect those who believe never hitting a child are also in the group that believe winning and losing - and learning how to do both - is not a good thing.  Considering that seems to have been started by my generation - the Baby Boomers - I'd like to ask them how they think that has worked for them.

Corporal punishment in schools should not happen but that requires parents to assume the responsibility for raising their kids.  All to often these days  parents see school as simply daily day care. They send undisciplined kids to school and act incredulous when little johnny or janey are called out in school for their bad behavior. It must be the teacher's fault. Frankly I am surprised anyone wants to be a teacher these days.

Corporal punishment in the home is acceptable to me - as long as it is not excessive.  But here where I lice a teenager can have a parent arrested for assault if they are spanked. Another case of ridiculous so-called "progressive thinking"

Bottom line - corporal punishment in schools is NOT ok.   At home - within reasonable limits it is. Sometimes smacking a toddlers hand when he/she plays with an electrical plug makes more sense than trying to reason with a child whose faculties to reason are not developed.

That's a shack-take on today's subject.

Friday, July 18, 2014

You get one life do-over. What would it be?

What was I thinking when I came up with this topic??? I have no earthly idea.

I suppose the obvious answer for me is simply take better care of myself over the years. But with an early 50s family record I simply ignored good sense. There's an old saying - "If I'd known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself".

I joke about the multiple Xs in front of the L on my "buffalo petite" frame. Clearly I have food issues. It's my addiction. I love to cook and I love to eat. Until just recently there were no other issues but the stress of the last 5-6 years has taken it's toll. That nasty "D" word for older fatties like me has raised its ugly head as has the high blood pressure bugaboo. Not off the charts crazy BP - but still enough to have to watch it. My Docs over the years marveled at how healthy I have stayed. One - good old Dr Tilkin - sat in the examining room with an angry look on her face. She reminds me a bit of the bride of Frankenstein with her hairdo -the Doc's is all silvery gray but the do - well it's close enough.

At any rate, she had a serious glare on her face. The comment was "I hate to tell a ### pound man he is healthy but dammit it's true. But I guarantee it won't last forever (she was right).

There's a direct correlation between something I would NOT change - I have smoked but one cigarette my entire life.  That was under a bridge with a few buddies. Luckily we were busted by one of their dads - so technically I never even finished it but I realized then and there I would never be a smoker. During my college days I became very adept at making special brownies and spaghetti sauce so I rarely even smoked the evil weed although I did get plenty of second-hand smoke at concerts and the like.  But I digress. 

Until my mid forties I  played a very aggressive brand of softball and racquetball.  My knees survived 6 years of football but the softball and racquetball did them in and now I gimp around a lot and working at home the last few years has made me entirely too sedentary.  

So there ya have it.  I should have managed my weight and health better so that's my do-over. But like most of us, I figured I was invincible back in those old days.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Self esteem

Self esteem.  We all need it.  Some folks have an excess of self esteem.

Some have an empty vessel that should be filled with it.

A lot of money is spent by those seeking to raise their self esteem.

Why the disparity? Life gets in the way. Sometimes with good results, sometimes with not-so-good results. I seriously doubt there is a self-esteem gene - IMHO it's a learned experience.  Nurture, not nature. I'll use youth sports in this little ditty to try and make a point..

Some unfortunate folks are beaten down early in life.  Very early.  Mom and/or dad  simply do not understand or care what the ramifications of their constant browbeating on their kids actually are. Destroy a child's confidence and you destroy the child and possibly the adult that child will become. Prevent a child from learning  the disappointment that comes from losing is a disservice to that child and ultimately to society. Kids need to learn to be both good losers and good winners. Positive reinforcement in a negative circumstance is essential. Perhaps it's just my Western Jock mentality but it makes more sense to ground kids in reality than to to ignore it.  Of course we tell so many cultural lies to our kids  (Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Storks deliver babies - etc.)  that a dose of reality just might be refreshing.
I recall from my time as a participant in youth sports feeling like total crap when my team lost a baseball game.  Especially if I pitched. For about 10 minutes I was a real bear.  But as the pizza place was about 15 minutes away I happily put the loss aside and dove into a Pizza Joynt Confusion with both my teammates and the other team.  After all - we went to the same schools, played on the same sandlot teams and were most assuredly pals.  Between bites of pizza we were learning - unbeknownst to us - valuable life lessons. Sometimes the best lessons are learned without knowing they are being learned.

Not everyone is built to be a captain of industry. Not everyone is built to be a world-class athlete. Not everyone is built to be a philosopher - except maybe Ramana.  The trick is to recognize we are built to be ourselves and to be comfortable in our own skins. 

That's a quick shack-take on the weekly topic.  Please check the others in the LBC to see what they think.

Friday, July 4, 2014

But..... LBC post

We've all heard it.  No doubt we've all said it.  It's the trailer to those facts that do not jibe with our point.  It's the exception to our rule.  Or to the statement made by the debater with whom we are engaged.

But what about yickety yack doo dah.  But can be a terrific counter punch to the argument being promoted by your opponent. It's the contrast to the presented argument used to show the argument is not without flaws.  There's wiggle room if the discussion is a negotiation.

But holds the key to many things.

It's the sign of the curiosity of a child.

It's the heart of a poem about things left unsaid or deed left undone.

But You Didn't

By Merrill Glass
Remember the time you lent me your car and I dented it?
I thought you'd kill me…
But you didn't.

Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was
formal, and you came in jeans?
I thought you’d hate me…
But you didn't.

Remember the times I'd flirt with
other boys just to make you jealous, and
you were?
I thought you'd drop me…
But you didn't.

There were plenty of things you did to put up with me,
to keep me happy, to love me, and there are
so many things I wanted to tell
you when you returned from
But you didn't.

All these things and more - that's what those 3 letters can do.

Check out the other LBC posters for their take on But...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Much ado about nothing....

Come on.  Admit it.  We've all been there.  There's some moment or situation on our lives that we were guilty of blowing something out of all reasonable proportion.   Nobody is reasonable and sane 100% of the time - at least if you're honest with yourself.

The current political scene here in the USA and in other countries is a prime example of  today's topic in action.  So deep are the lines drawn in the sand that when either side passes gas the other pounces on that fact and blasts the offender as an unpatriotic, society destroying boob. 

Kids are great at making much ado about nothing - especially when it comes to hurting themselves in some minor way.  After long periods of wailing and crying the application of a simple band aid usually solves the matter.  Regardless of the owie - a band aid is typically a fix-all response.

In many cases some folks will blow anther's error out of all proportion - simply to make themselves look better.  Although the result is often completely the opposite it happens regularly in the business world.

As the source of the saying concerned spying and gossiping about others (at least that is what I am led to believe as I am not nor have I ever been a fan of Shakespeare)  an analogous to the NSA and it's obsessive reading of emails and listening to phone calls seems also in order.  And the obsessive use of so-called traffic cameras everywhere - common in the UK and an the rise here -   seems also to be an example of overkill. We are rapidly becoming a society based on spying, snooping, gossip and rumor.  All central themes in Much Ado About Nothing.

Looking for a classic example of the topic in action? Take a look at what right-wing pundit Ann Coulter says about the  World Cup. God forbid you like tacos, curry, bangers and mash or something.  

So it seems there are countless examples of much ado about nothing screaming "Look at me!"  Secrets and secrecy abound.   Gossip is everywhere.  Here's a musical example that does real justice to Much Ado About Nothing.

That's my quick take on today's topic.  Time to see what the other LBC folks have to say.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Unwritten social agreements

Today's topic comes from The Old Fossil. 

Several examples immediately come to mind, some large scale and some not so large.

Individuals in a free society have  the responsibility - it seems to me at least - to take care of themselves, be self sufficient and not a burden to the rest of society.  Sounds good does it not? At least until the fickle finger of fate, karma, god, God, bad luck or whatever  you choose to accept as the cause for an action that derails your train and renders you for whatever reason incapable of keeping that unwritten contract/agreement.  So now you cannot "take care" of yourself/family.  Maybe you lost a job, had a major accident, illness - the reason is irrelevant.  The fact remains you are no longer keeping up your end of the social contract.

The fact you need help then calls into play another set of unwritten social contracts - namely that your family and friends rally to assist you and help you get going again.  Put the train back on the track. Their help may and indeed does come in many forms - perhaps financial and maybe more important - emotional. I recently experienced a huge emotional; lift when 3 of my oldest and dearest friends simply flew to Texas to spend a weekend hanging out with me shortly after Lynn passed away.  It was he subject of a blog entry you may remember - Are we too busy for what really matters. I didn't ask them to come - they simply adjusted their lives and came. 

The most important unwritten social contracts are  those between family and friends.  Loyalty when it matters most.  And honesty.  The truth is always the best antidote - especially when offered in a constructive, positive way when the truth being offerd is particularly painful.

There are many unwritten agreements that are at play in our lives daily.   Our lives are essentially largely series of habits - things we do "automatically" without thought.  Its in our best interests and by extension society's as well.  If we had to actually think about everything we do we'd be thoroughly worn out in a few hours. The unwritten agreement to be a good member of society allows us to  take the pressure off of ourselves.

Then there's the unwritten agreement to have an LBC post up on time so I h-guess it's time to hit send. Time to see what the others have to say on the matter.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Unclehood - LBC topic

Unclehood.  I am Uncle Bubba to a fetching batch of young ladies - Becca, Sammy and Rachel - my brother's kids; Heidi and Nicole - my sister's kids; and Lin - an "adopted" niece and daughter of the late Pete Dintino - one of the best friends I have ever had. The moniker Bubba comes from the fact that my brother and sister - 11 and 10 years younger than I - could not say brother - it came out Bubba.  Still does.  So since they still call me Bubba it is only natural that my nieces all call me Uncle Bubba.

Interesting thing about being an uncle  - on occasion nieces - and I suppose nephews biut of course I have no personal experience there - might on occasion listen to you when they would likely blow off the actual parent.  Or so I've heard.

Truth of the matter is I am on Facebook largely because the nieces find it convenient to keep up with family comings and goings there.



Sister-in-law Margie, Sammy, Becca, my dad, Rachel
The bottom pic was at one of Sammy's softball games - she had a full scholarship to Notre Dame De Amur and it was close enough to home that there were always family members at the games.  Sammy is 6-ft. tall and got the pitching genes I wanted.  Becca is working and going to school.  Truth is she's the hell-raiser of the group.  New mom Rachel is happily at the moment a stay-at-home mom.  Nic is a chef  and Heidi a cosmetologist. Lin just graduated from college and is looking into grad school.  Pete is very proud of her - as am I and her other surrogate uncles - Pete' s posse - she did yeoman work taking care of Pete when he fell ill.  

I am extremely proud of each of my nieces. They have unlimited potential  and are working hard at realizing that potential. They are also very different.  My brother and sister's kids were brought up in the family tradition of athletics and Sammy pushed that envelope along quite nicely.Heidi and Nic were both excellent soccer players and their mom and I were involved as coaches, league officials and the like.Heidi and Nic are from Hawaii and have a special reverence for aunties and uncles because of that.  
Lin is quite independent and not afraid to do whatever it takes to get what she wants.  She spent time recently as a student ion Costa Rica.  It was  a great experience.  Becca and Sammy I think prefer Vegas.  But fear not - I believe what happens in Vegas stays there ladies. I bet the guy Sammy took out in one punch for messing with Becca wishes Sammy had stayed home though.

I've often wondered if the nieces think of me like this - Buck's kind of a roll model.

So that''s a quick shack-take on unclehood.

Friday, June 6, 2014

If I Could Invent One Thing To Make The World A Better Place It Would Be.....

This week's topic is silly.  Clearly the person that offered it was really reaching.  Oh - yeah. It was me.  

OK - here goes.  I'd invent a pill  - watch out big pharma - that gives everyone a sense of humor, patience,  the ability to move on from things they cannot change and that allows them to see the world through the eyes of a child. It might be a big pill but once you get it down I suspect you'd feel better and if everyone feels better wouldn't the world be a better place? Wouldn't the issues of the day be easier to solve with patience, humor and the wisdom of a child?

I think so. And since today's post is so short I've included a couple of tunes to make you smile (hopefully)

Oh what the heck - 3 songs. I just felt like hearing these this AM.

Tune in next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel for the next installment of the LBC saves the world, brought to you by Ramana, Ashok, Maxi and her always full glass, Maria and occasionally the Old Fossil.