Thursday, December 29, 2016

Farewell 2016 and Catch Up

Due to a stint  in the hospital and being  sick I missed a couple of LBC posts so I will catch up here.

The  person I admire most is Neil deGrasse Tyson - who says "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."The enthusiasm he brings to his discussions is infectious and you can see the sparkle in his eyes as   he speaks.   As  a black man he faced many hurdles on his way to becoming an astrophysicist.  He is easily one of the most interesting people on the planet.

Am I enjoying what I am doing ?  Not really. I should not have moved to North Carolina. I belong on the other coast to be frank. That aside, I have been frustrated by many issues here. Plus, I miss working. Maybe this is just a bad time - a blip in my timeline. Time will tell.

Lastly - this week's  topic - Farewell 2016. It has been a challenging year health wise and  otherwise. I now live with 5 other people - so much for a quiet retirement. But as things turned out health wise it is lucky for me I had those people around - and still do. So happy trails 2016 - I won't miss you. 2017 promises to be most interesting with Donald Trump as President.  Hopefully my health will continue to improve and the future will be brighter.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Outlaws LBC 12/9/2016

Truth be told,  I have been so sick the last 3-4 weeks I decided to pas on this weeks topic. Thn I saw it and was quickly energized by the thought of this - one of the most kick-ass tunes ever recorded

That should be enough energy to suck to finish the post.

Outlaws have been romanticizes since the tales of Robin Hood - feared by the bad, loved by the good. that sure hooked me as a 5-yr old in Pueblo, Colorado

Here in the USA we romanticize several outlaws - like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did they get out of South America?

All of that is well and good but the fact remains - most outlaws are genuine bad guys. Bonnie and Clyde were stone cold killers. So too were Jesse James, Billy the Kid maybe even so-called hero of the west Wyatt Earp.

It's  tough to romanticize the outlaws of the 20h Century .  There was very little steal from the rich and give to the  poor -just steal and kill.

Enter the 21st century and suddenly things change. Hacking jumps to the fore. Sites like Wikileaks leak thousands of documents, exposing warts and flaws of anyone they hack. Part whistle blower, part activist - your point of view likely rests on which side of the coin you choose to support. But the fact remains - they are still outlaws.

Curious what my cohorts have to say??  Ramana   Pravin

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Favorite Fictional Character is..... LBC

This weeks topic was my suggestion - part of a string of our favorite things that tell  a bit about each of us that choose to write on the topics.

When I suggested the topic  I knew I could not give a single answer that would be totally honest. I have always been a voracious reader. This year alone I have read over 90 books. I freely admit most of my reading is recreational and mystery fiction.  Considering my age - 67 - I have read through multiple generations of fictional characters, beginning with Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade to Spenser, the Nameless Detective, Kinsey Milhone, Lucas Davenport, Milan Jacovich  and many more.

With such a breadth  of characters to choose from I have chosen three - Spenser (Robert B Parker), Travis McGee (John D MacDonald) and Kate Shugak (Dana Stabenow).

Spenser appeared in 1973's Godwulf Manuscript and is currently being authored by Ace Atkins since Parker's death in  2010. Spenser is a former cop, extraordinarily literate, cultured hen it suits him and as you would expect  tough as nails. As originally written, Spenser  was at one time heavyweight boxer who once fought Jersey Joe Walcott - which gives a clue to his age. He is a seriously smart-mouthed guy with a committed relationship with his girl - Susan Silverman - and a best friend -Hawk- who defines the bad in bad-ass. His home base is Boston but there are stories based elsewhere.  Learn more about the character here  Spenser

Kate Shugak is a modern-era heroine based in Alaska. Dana Stabenow is a superior writer who has created a delightful series that captures the modern era - warts and  all - as viewed through Kate's eyes. I cannot recommend this 20 title (so far) series enough.  Kate is an Aleut and lives on a homestead in  a fictional park in Alaska. She has an assortment of family and friends - including her current boyfriend, Alaska State Trooper Chopper Jim Chopin and her adopted son (of her deceased former boyfriend) as well as an various Aunties. Kate's stories play out throughout Alaska and offer a look at the history and culture of the state.

Check out Kate and Dana here Kate Shugak.

Were  someone to hold a gun to my head and force me to choose one of the three characters to be my  favorite it would be Travis McGee, the Florida based creation of John D MacDonald. McGee resides at Slip F18, Bahia Mar Florida on a houseboat  - The Busted Flush - that he won in a poker game. McGee is a salvage consultant - he recovers things for people for a flat 50% of the value fee. McGee is the last resort for recovery so the fee is rarely an issue. The series hit the streets in  1964 with the Deep Blue Goodbye and ended with 1985's The Lonely Silver Rain.

McGee's philosophy of life was decidedly anti-group. His best friend and occasional partner in arms is a world renowned  economist named Meyer - who has the physique  and pelt of a bear and lives on a cabin cruiser called the John Meynard Keynes. Travis has attitudes about sex that are definitely a part of the times in which his stories were written but he does learn and grow with the times. He fights corruption, lies and deceit wherever he goes. His vehicle of choice is his customized 1936 Rolls Royce pickup painted a horrid blue by a previous owner that he calls Miss Agnes.

I think it is time to go read a bit. Be sure to see what Ramana 
and Pravin have to say on their blogs.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Free Will LBC 11/24/2016

This weeks topic was suggested by Ramana.

Wikipedia says "Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action." On the surface it sounds simple enough. Further examination suggests otherwise.

 Image result for free will and determinism

Christians, for example, claim to have free will. So the God that  created man in his own image created a bunch of flawed human beings that can choose their own way in life, but unless they choose to follow God's way they are doomed. That  is not free will in my book, simply the typical religious my way or the highway proposition. 

Consider  that we live much of our lives by habit. We  cannot handle the stress of making a conscious decision for everything so we make many decisions simply by rote. Coffee with or without cream, route to drive to work and things like that.  That frees up our brain power for the more important  daily issues which must be resolved. Are those  decisions the result of free will?  Some - not all. Some decisions are made as the result of a set of specific causes.

Yep - this free will stuff can be very confusing.  Religion, guilt, cause/effect, praise, sin, responsibility and more can effect decisions. .

Looks like free will is not often free after all. Fate? Is everything  in life predetermined? That's a topic for another day.

 One final comment - today is Thanksgiving here in the USA. I am relatively certain I exercised free will while eating far too much turkey, stuffing and roast pork to say nothing of  sweet potato pie.  Sorry Dr Tyson - we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

Check out my cohorts at Ramana 
and Pravin


Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Favorite Cartoon Character LBC 11/18/2016

This week's topic is my  suggestion. My favorite cartoon character is Charlie Brown's pet  Beagle Snoopy. I h ave been a fan as long as I can remember. Truth be told, each character in the Peanuts gang is deserving of the honor but a Sopwith Camel (that looks remarkably  like a dog house)  flying Beagle  is hard to resist.
Snoopy has his own twitter page, a Facebook page and even a  hit song about him.  Snoopy wwi ace lb.jpg 
Not bad for a Beagle. Snoopy is simply the most loyal, lovable pal a guy could  ask for. Just ask his owner, Charlie Brown. And to top it off Snoopy is a better man than most men. Since his debut on October 4, 1950, Snoopy has become one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the comic strip (according to Wikipedia).Check out my cohorts at Ramanaand Pravin

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Favorite Movie Star LBC 11/11/2016

Ramana lobbed another softball with this topic. It is a welcome respite from our recently concluded presidential election.

Like many things, my favorite movie star is not etched inn stone - more like water. I am old enough to have lived through several generations of actors/actresses.

When I was a kid my favorite actors were Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. That's hall in the black shirt and Gorcey in the hat with the upturned bill - better known as Slip (Gorcey) and Satch Hall).

The Bowery boys evolved from the movies Dead End Kids and  East Side Kids. I used to see the Bowery Boys almost every Saturday at the Uptown Theater in Pueblo, Colorado.

 The Uptown is also significant for this clip, an early example of the popular Clint Eastwood - easily one of my all time favorites in a film called Tarantula - horror fun in the fifties.

As I aged and developed a taste for more serious film fare my fave was Robert Mitchum, a self professed journeyman actor. Check his bio and credits here.  He never failed to entertain - and he was an interesting character in real life. Heaven Knows Mr. Allison has always been a fave movie of mine along with Thunder Road, Cape Fear, The Night of the Hunter, Farewell My Lovely, El Dorado and many others.

Evolution led me to my current favorite -actor/director extraordinaire Clint Eastwood.  From Rawhide on TV to the Italian spaghetti westerns he captured my eye. His western pedigree is nearly unmatched and who doesn't love Harry Callahan. Those  movies certainly made my day. 

One of my favorite early Eastwood  films is 1971s Play Misty for Me. It was also his directorial debut. It was clear he had directorial chops. I still get chills when I see Jessica Walter in anything to this day.

Clint's last movie as an actor is Trouble With the Curve. Not surprisingly I loved it - the story of  an  aging baseball scout and his relationship with his daughter. 

My  favorite female movie star is Helen Mirren. No question, she has been for decades. She has had a long, diverse career and can do comedy, heavy drama and action. Check her out in the Hundred Foot Journey

That's it for this weeks fun topic. Check out my partners at their blogs - Ramana and Pravin

Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Favorite Music LBC 11/04/2016

Ramana lobbed me a watermelon with this weeks topic. Relax and have a listen. I don't expect anyone to listen to them all but these are  a good example of my somewhat eclectic musical tastes. Genres under represented but still loved include classical, classic Memphis blues and the greatest beer drinking music ever - Zydeco. The last 3 always make my all time top10 and there is also a song in this list inspired by the Kama Sutra - happily snuck by the censors in the sixties. 

I love show tunes - I also love Ed Ames' voice so here is a song that fits both

 I spent 6 months in Hawaii and developed a taste for Hawaiian music  and here is my fave Hawaiian tune.

Being a baby boomer it is only natural I love the British invasion - this tune is from my favorite group back then and it is the uncredited work of my pal Ron Ryan


These guys still tour every year

I am also an old folkie and this song reminds me of home in California and of my late wife

Some tunes - regardless of genre - are simply so good you never forget them, like the next 2

My favorite female   singer?  Back in the sixties the voice of Bev Bivens did it for me - here is a great sample (also a show tune)

If I were to pick a sound I prefer above others it would be the jingle jangle sound of a Rickenbacker 12 string guitar, usually played by Roger McGuinn

Most of the previous songs periodically make my all time fave to 10 but the next 3 always make the list

That's my take on this weeks topic. There are more current artists i enjoy - Hootie and the Blowfish, The Gin Blossoms, 2 Celloes and  others but I really enjoy the older stuff. Greatest songwriter? Lennon.McCartney, Brian Wilson, Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carol King. Best  songs not on this list? If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot, God Only Knows - Beach Boys.  Artists that never got famous but should have? Ron Ryan, Gary Owen and  John Hesterman  (check them all out on Facebook).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Religion vs spirituality LBC 10/28/2016

Ramana  offered this weeks topic. Religion vs. spirituality.

Religions are all "isms" and as such tend to think of themselves as the one true religion. Their leadership may pay lip service to other religions but behind closed doors they all think of themselves as the only real way to whichever God or Gods they worship.  While Christianity has many different "sects" they are essentially all either Catholic or Protestant. Martin Luther spurred the creation of Protestant sects when he broke from the Roman Catholic church over his disagreements with several practices and teachings therein. And then apparently God was frustrated and pressed the reset button and created the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - a  church that is considered by its followers to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ (and in the spirit of full disclosure the church into which I was baptized). Of course all Christian based religions owe a debt of gratitude and  dogma to Judaism and its 10 Commandments.  Of course the religion most often in the news lately is Islam. 

What do they all have in common? A specific set of rules and dogma that one must follow to reach the promised land. The rules are mostly established by the management team of the religion. Of course that is not what they are called. They use names like Apostles, Pope, bishops and the like.Did you ever wonder why Catholics ate fish on Fridays? Why Mormons do not drink alcohol?

Religions include many spiritual people. One might even say all religious people think they are spiritual. But not all spiritual people are  religious. Therein lies the difference.

My late friend Pete Dintino was a devout Seventh Day Adventist. We had many discussions about religion. He always considered me one of he most spiritual people he knew yet he fully understood my distrust  of and dislike of religion. 

Quite the opposite of religion, spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. I wish I knew who said it that way but the quote I found in Google lists no author.

Spirituality means different things to different people. Atheists can be spiritual beings. Their spirituality is just not directed at nor referencing any god. A spiritual awakening is a very
individual experience.

I grew up in Colorado - John Denver's  song resonated with me the first time I heard it. I have seen the things of which he sings. I know there is a bigger picture than just me. I think 'ol Tom Jefferson may have gotten it right.  Check out the Jefferson Bible. Then again,

Check what my  cohorts have to say.  Ramana  Pravin

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Olympics - yes or no

This weeks topic was my suggestion.  I simply wondered what my cohorts thought about the Olympics - are they worthwhile?

I have always been a fan of the quadrennial athletic competition I always enjoyed watching the swimming competition and the field events like the shot put, discus and javelin. The fellow that was my best man when Lynn and I got married was an outstanding swimmer and he was very active in AAU swimming. Being a big guy I naturally gravitated toward the big guy events - shot put and discus and the more nuanced javelin.

I also loved the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the games. Watching the teams enter the arena in the colorful colors of their countries was always a  kick. 

Things changed in the sixties - the supposedly amateur athletes became  much more as the eastern block teams  became essentially professionals, supported year round by their countries. It became tougher and tougher for the countries that played by the rules so-to-speak, including the US. That made the so-called Miracle on Ic e all the more miraculous when the truly amateur US hockey team upset the Soviet hockey team in the 1980  Olympics held in Lake Placid, NY. Here,s the last minute of that historic event.

That game inspired a nation. Mine.  It also solidified my love of ice hockey which in turn made me a bigger fan of the winter Olympics than the summer games.

Eventually real professional athletes were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games.  Not surprisingly the US became almost unbeatable in basketball and in the winter games Canada, Russia  the US, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic became the best teams. Not surprisingly, the National Hockey League teams were comprised primarily of players from those countries. But to me it made perfect sense for an event meant to showcase the best athletes actually allow the best athletes to compete.

Since the Berlin games of 1936 the games were used to promote a political agenda. Jesse Owens ruined Adolph Hitler's plans in those games. President Jimmy Carter led a boycott of the 1980 summer games held in Moscow too protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.the 1984 games held in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviets and 14 of their allies.

The 1972 Munich Games included the massacre of 
eleven Israeli team members and officials by the Black September terrorist organization.

Yet the games continue. They have become financial disasters for some host nations but the audiences are still there. People still love to root for their teams. Most participants know they have little or no chance of winning - the want to compete with and against the best. A Jamaican bobsled team? Remember Eddie the Eagle Edwards?  

I say a  resounding YES to the Olympic Games. For a couple of weeks every two years (the winter and summer games are held two years apart, maintaining the four-year cycle of each competition) we get a brief respite from the problems of the world. It is not much but it is something.  And you can secretly root for the underdogs.  There is almost always a major upset in some event.

Check what my cohorts have to say - Ramana  Pravin

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why Do You Do What You Do? LBC 10/14/2016

This weeks topic comes from Pravin and I am going to take a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) that he has read Simon Sinek's  Start With Why or has seen Sinek's Ted Talk - which can be seen on Youtube  here.

Regardless of the inspiration, Pravin as usual has offered something that is interesting and thought provoking. 

Most of us have at one time been told to find something you are passionate about and  make that your life's work. With passion it won't feel like work. In my case from about age 10 on my great passion was baseball. I wanted to pitch and hit really long home runs.  That lasted until I was 17 or so when the physical realities kicked in and it became clear I was not going to be the next  Don Drysdale. I was what we  back then called a thrower - not a pitcher. Pitching is an art I was no artist. 

Reality bites. But heck - I was young and had my whole life in front of me. I entered college hoping to find a new passion that could lead to a successful career and a happy life. Several of my friends did just that - a couple of pilots, a dentist, an architect  and an engineer.

So in 1973 I graduated with  a BA in Political Science (International Relations). I was nominated for a Danforth Fellowship - pretty unusual  for a jock. As you can probably tell, I did not get the fellowship. In 1972 Lynn and I were married so  I was in the position of needing to find a job. As in a "real" job.

My first real job was repossessing mobile homes.  I trust you have  picked yourself up from the floor and did not hurt yourself laughing. No - i did not go physically move them - I handled the insurance paperwork and stuff like that. Trust me when I say there was no passion involved though on two occasions I was offered sexual favors to not "pop the coach" as we called it.

At that point I essentially stopped looking for a passion from which to launch a career and  started looking for something I could be good at and make a living. Sales reared its ugly head.

I was an excellent salesman (based upon my results) but I hated it.
At that point I combined computer support and programing with sales and became a small business consultant which lasted until Silicon Valley tanked in the early nineties. That meant the small businesses I was working with had the chance to hire PHDs from Silicon Valley or me for the same amount of  money. 

And that is how I ended up in Texas. I simply needed a job and RadioShack made an offer thanks to my past performance there previously.

I spent 21 years doing various jobs in scenic Fort Worth, Texas. I essentially worked because I needed a job and then Lynn developed HD and I needed to care for her.

I have always had a passion for music - especially the music of the sixties and seventies. I started visiting websites and music forums and met some great people with the same  passions. I built some web sites and ran a music forum. While running that forum I met a fellow that  had been part of the British Invasion of the sixties. He wrote several multimillion sellers  for a band called the Dave Clark Five. Because Clark reneged on payment he had promised, my friend parted ways and moved on to another band, He continued to write music and perform. He followed his passion and has lived a very happy life.  

So here I am at the end of the line, having essentially lived a relatively normal life like most people. Perhaps a lack of passion prevented me from living an exceptional life.  The chart below is the centerpiece of  Sinek's theory and the key to great leaders.
That's it  for this week's topic. check what my cohorts have to say.

Ramana         Pravin

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pets LBC 10/07/2016

Ramana  suggested this weeks topic as a replacement for one of the topics  previously suggested by a blogger no longer associated with the LBC. Pets are the order of the day this week.

I cannot remember a time when I have not had a pet, starting with my red cocker spaniel Pudgie when I was a youngster in Colorado. I  also had a cat - a beautiful Maine Coon I called Susie.  Susie was bigger than a bobcat and was king (yes - king) of the neighborhood. Indeed - he was the original boy named Sue. This is not Susie but is representative of his size and color. Imagine seeing something like this strolling through your yard at 35+ pounds with some serious swagger.

Lynn loved pets as much as I did. She  came with a Pekinese as a package deal and there were NO cats that were anything but putty in her loving hands.

Fast forward to today and I have three shelter adopted critters along with the three grandchildren to keep me on my toes.Ginger is a basset hound/collie mix and Stretch and Willie are tuxedo cats I adopted last Christmas here in North Carolina.

Stretch and Willie are named after my two favorite baseball players - Willie McCovey (44) and Willie Mays (24) of the San Francisco Giants of the early sixties. They love to  play all night -  including a game I call cat hockey wherein they manage to get the drain plug out of my bath tub and proceed to push it all through the joint. When they tire, they hop up on my bed and catch a few winks.

Lynn named Ginger when I brought her (Ginger) home from the shelter. Ginger loves to go with me in the car and in fact knows when I put on long pants she is getting sprung. (My regular attire is shorts and a long sleeved tee shirt)

My pets are family  and my best friends - loyalty unmatched and always up  for a snuggle or a back/belly scratch.

Check Ramana's take on this topic  here.
Pravin's take is here. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Neighbours LBC 9/30/2016

Ramana suggested this weeks topic - Neighbours.

Times certainly have  changed. In 1959 when we moved from Colorado to Hayward, California we moved into a brand new housing development. All new homes with largely first time homeowners, just a bunch of newly constructed homes in a sea of dirt. That all changed immediately. Groups of neighbors banded together to build fences, patios and such. Friendships were struck and a community established. I was the  neighborhood baby sitter. The dads played football in the street with the kids. The Jewish family across the street became an extension of our family - Len and Elaine were second parents to my sister, brother and I.Their second oldest son Russ is a Facebook friend of mine and their cousin Stuart - who spent  summers with them is one of my very best friends to this day. As an aside whenever you use your cell phone you owe a debt to Stu and his team at Bell Labs as they were essential in developing the switching systems employed in cell networks. When my infant brother Pat passed away it was a neighbor that came to my JHunior High School to break the news and take me home.

In 1975 Lynn was offered a chance to take a position setting up a New England regional office for her company so off we went on what we expected to be a great adventure. Alas - New England was not particularly open to a couple of North Californians outside of the office. Were it not for her cousins in Middletown CT. our social life would have been non existent. That did not improve for seven months or so when I talked my way into a tryout on a softball team sponsored by the local package (liquor) store. It was amazing how the ability to hit a slow-pitch softball well over 300 feet caused the west coast bias to evaporate.

A year later we  moved back to California (Hermosa Beach) where neighbors were cordial but not overly friendly. Eventually we got back to Northern California where our friend base was and the neighbor issue tended to not matter. 

Texas and North Carolina have been more of the same. Smile and wave but that is it. Until my daughter and her kids moved back in a few months ago the animals and I lived a pleasant but solitary existence. 

I confess  I miss that neighborhood community in Hayward. There was a real "we" spirit about things whereas today's world is a me world. It should surprise no one that Donald Trump is enjoying success in the current  presidential race here - he epitomizes the me folk even though like me he is a Baby Boomer.

 Be sure to see what Ramana has to say on this topic here. 
Pravin's take is here.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Profit Based Healthcare LBC 09/23/2016

This weeks topic was my suggestion. I must confess - any liberal/progressive streak hiding in me tends to rear its head when the subject of healthcare is the topic of discussion. There are many directions this discussion can take but this is just a short blog so I will toss out a few things and let you, dear reader, make up your own mind.

Three out of five personal bankruptcies in the US are the result of  medical bills (2013 study). That is upwards of 643,000 bankruptcies. Check Snopes for details. Look at this chart to compare some popular drug costs internationally -

The difference? Those other countries employ a single-payer system. In the US  single--payer is as offensive a term in the medical industry as is gun control to the IRA.

Funnily enough though - what are Medicare and Medicaid if not single-payer systems? Many  Medicare users are covered by private companies in the form of Medicare Advantage plans (which at minimum offer the same coverage as Medicare and a variety of additional coverages) or employ a Medicare Supplement plan that picks up some of the costs not covered by Medicare Part B (which covers 80% of the  cost of part B services). Advantage and Supplemental plans are offered by private insurance companies. For example, my Advanage plan is with Aetna.  Medicare plan coverage prices are negotiated by the government. Many Advantage plans cost nothing beyond the basic $114 monthly fee automatically deducted for Medicare B that is automatically deducted (as mine).

The fear/contempt of single-payer systems here is what led directly to the abomination known as Obamacare - which is failing and fading fast if many of the media reports are to be believed. 

So what is the point of this statistical mish mash?  I am a proponent of a single-payer system. There will always be demand for private healthcare - the rich folk will always want their exclusive care providers. They simply will NEVER accept being limited to the same providers as the masses. I frankly could care less - the discrepancy in what those people can afford compared to the average citizen is directly proportionate to the income discrepancy. 

The government "death panel" argument (remember Sarah Palin?) forgot to mention that the current "death panels" now are for-profit insurance companies and their actuarial staffs. Just what you want - coverage wholly dependent upon profitability, yes indeed.

The hurdles ahead are numerous and difficult. The VA crisis of the past several years - decades in the making IMO - fuels the opponents of single-payer. Mismanagement is no stranger to any healthcare system but it borders on criminal when it involves those who sacrifice all to protect our way of life. But the problems are fixable. 

Interestingly enough I have never experienced any  major issues with our healthcare system save one. I have a fatty tumor on my neck and my RadioShack insurance refused to cover its removal. The insurance company said it was cosmetic only and so not covered. Guess I missed the ugly rider on the policy but what the heck - what else are beards for. But even through the 10 years Lynn struggled with HD we had no issues. We were very lucky. Of course HD is not a very Dr intensive disease - since it is incurable we basically experimented with drug combinations to control the symptoms as well as we could. She was covered by Medicare for 9 of the 10 years.

Its an election year and change s in the wind. Here's hoping it hits our healthcare system. IMHO profit should never prevent someone from  receiving health care and we absolutely need to care for the mentally ill betterif it is even possible to call what we currently provide care.

That's a very quick look at this weeks topic. Check Ramana's take here. Check Pravin's blog here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

How Do You Identify Your Mojo?

Pravin offered this weeks topic. Lets begin by trying to define mojo

Merriam-Webster says mojo is: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc..

With that definition as a starting point for this exercise, I suppose it behooves me to define my own mojo. Frankly it is not something I have ever spent much time worrying about, sculpting or in any way considered important. Taking a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) I think my mojo is centered around affability and honesty. 

Being a big guy, I have usually attempted to be anything but intimidating in interactions with others - unless in a debate/argument scenario or in sports.. Even then, I try to be straight forward and matter of fact, usually trying to win with facts. (Of course I have been taught techniques to use in a debate to win and have on occasion used them.) And sports? Lets just say I am naturally competitive in some ways and physically gifted enough to do fairly well.

Does my mojo work? I was an excellent salesman - even though  I hated every minute of the job.  My dumb-jock persona served me  well over the years. It fit in with my inherent shyness and allowed me to pick and choose my moments to be less than (more than?) the big, friendly quiet guy. In high school I always tried to be anything but that Big Man on Campus  type jock that intimidated the nerdy kids - in fact when called on to pick teams in PE  I typically picked the nerdy kids first. Looking back,I suppose that fueled  my mojo then - but it was not   a conscious thing.

Am I successful? That is a good question.  My core group of friends has remained relatively constant for over 50 years. It includes a dentist, an airline pilot, a park ranger, an architect and a successful medical supplies entrepreneur.  Compared  to them I have to say I have not been successful. I grew up primarily bored and other than baseball never developed a passion for anything as they all did. And we all know the passion for baseball did not work out. But - I have 2 kids and 5 grand kids. Lynn and I were together for 45 years until that "til death do us part" clause kicked in and she passed away. I take that to mean I got a few things right and had my mojo working on most if not all cylinders in that regard. So does that success identify my mojo? Dunno. If financial success is the key to your definition then I suspect not.  Lucky for me, I have always had enough financial success to get by - regardless how much money I made.

So has this week's topic's question been answered?  I am a big, friendly fellow of above average intelligence with a few very loyal friends and a somewhat dysfunctional family and I never got rich. Is that mojo or misfortune? You make the call as I am really like Popeye - I am what I am and that's all what I am.

Check out my LBC cohorts take on this weeks topic at these links - Ramana and  Pravin.

See ya next week, same bat time; same bat channel.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Domestic Chores LBC 09/09/2016

Ramana suggested this weeks topic. 

How are domestic chores divided up in your household? Traditionally there are chores that typically are handled  by men and others by women. Men tend to be the fixers and yard workers, women handle cooking and cleaning. That's how the division worked in my home when I was a kid. My mom was a branch  manager of  a Savings and Loan company and always worked. My dad was a retail manager.  As the oldest of three kids, by ten years, I was the chief assistant. I did dishes daily, mowed the lawn weekly.  

In Lynn and my household Lynn was not a good cook so I handled that. She cleaned (did dishes).  Lynn was a fixer in the house - me outside. I did yard work, she hung wallpaper and fixed things that needed fixing. When we did minor renovations we did  them together. We painted a house both inside and out - along with the assistance and direction of my step dad - definitely a qualified DIYer. Infinitely more qualified than Lynn or I (he was a carpet layer and hotel engineer by trade).

My point in all this is simple. The only rule that is important in dealing with domestic chores is that as long as the work is evenly divided, who does what is largely irrelevant. Whatever works for your situation is what you should go with.  When we lived in Connecticut and Lynn spent a lot of time on the road I handled most of the chores. We lived in a condo so there was no yard work When I managed RadioShack stores and worked six days per week Lynn did more.  It never mattered to me who did what and Lynn often said I was the least chauvinistic person she had ever known.

Running a household is a partnership and the division of duties should be whatever works best for the partners in the endeavor. When I first  moved to NC it all fell on me. Now, with three teenagers under the roof  my percentage of the chores have  been severely reduced save one. I still pay for everything. LOL.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Purpose of Life LBC 09/02/2016

This weeks topic comes from our occasional contributor Pravin. Pavin is a very serious, thoughtful young man so it is no surprise his suggestion would be one requiring serious thought.

I'm going with this definition:

 "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations"

I believe it  covers most, if  not all of the bases.  I am  also quite sure many of my friends and acquaintances will not agree with me.

I have friends and acquaintances representing many religious ilks and I am sure a fair number of them think a life without fear of god cannot be a  purposeful life. Those with an Eastern philosophy driving their beliefs reject fear-based beliefs but they place other conditions on life and its purpose.

Me? I suppose I am  something of a hybrid. I have never been able to reconcile a loving god with one who supposedly  creates a flawed being -m aka us -  allegedly offers free will but then says if you do not do exactly what I say you will not make it to the other side. I am told that is what faith is all about. My friends  Dave and Lyn are both fine folks  Dave even goes as far as saying he hates religion. On this he and I are in agreement - religion is people based for the most part. Dave simply says read and follow the bible. The purpose of life then is simply  living a godly life by following the teachings of Jesus in the bible. Dave is most sincere in his beliefs and they do work well for him. Now Lyn and I have not had many discussions on this matter but she is quite religious. Her concern for me and  my soul are heartfelt and honest. 

There are a few folks that simply will no longer interact with me as to them I am simply an atheist.. Oh well. I'll have to muddle through the remainder of my life sans a few faux friends.

I appreciate Dave and Lyn's concern but I simply cannot accept the premise of their faith. I am more in the Thomas Jefferson school. Take away the magic and Jesus leaves a powerful footprint for a moral life based upon his teachings and the way he lived his life. Dave simply thinks Jefferson got it wrong. I am not so sure. I have said several times in the past that I fall into this category:

As luck would have  it, I am at an age where the term circling the drain is appropriate. That would seem to make it imperative that I come to a decision sooner rather than later but  I will not simply say OK - I will be a believer. That is a lie I will not offer. So to me the purpose of life will remain
 "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations".

Check  Ramana's take on this weeks topic here. Pravin's blog can be found  at this link - Pravin.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Best Movie of 2015

2015 had it all movie wise. There were blockbusters, a Tom Hanks movie, an animation film, a Johnny Depp flop, Minions, Tomorrowland, James Bond, and more.  Box  office results were mind boggling. 

The Acadamy Award for Best  Picture went to Spotlight.  I think they got it right. Spotlight was an excellent film about the exposure of abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church. The movie was done in a quiet, straight forward manner that belied its subject matter and  told a very important story. It showed what real working journalists are capable of.  

I also got a kick out of Meryl Streep's  movie Ricki and the Flash about an aging rocker mom and her relationship with her family.

As to the box office king Star Wars?  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. And I am a huge Star Wars fan. 

This topic was my suggestion.  To see what Ramana has to say check here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Favourite Season LBC

Another Ramana pick (the u gives it away) - and my favorite season is - drum roll please - the Fall.

For as long as I can remember the Fall has been my favorite time of year.  The temperature drops, the leaves change - Halloween, the Great Pumpkin, Ghosts, goblins and witches all  make an appearance. What could be better??

When I was a kid in Colorado every fall we would take a weekend trip to Aspen to see the trees Nothing much compares to the color and majesty of the Aspen change.   

 During te six years I played high school and college football there was that moment when the time changed - the fall  behind. That meant we either got out of practice an hour early or we ran conditioning drills in the dark. A double winner  - yes it's the small things that matter. It became  a game  game between the coaches and players about cutting corners on hose runs.

The Fall also begins the run up to tje holiday season here. Anticipation builds for  Christmas or whichever of the holidays holds meaning for you but frankly the Christmas anticipation swept everyone along.

I'll leave you with this version of the penultimate version of a Fall classic - I chose this version to honor Brian Scott - my lifelong friend who could blow a sax worthy of Stan Getz

Checck out Ramana's take  on thistopic here.