Thursday, June 14, 2018

Do you have a code that you live by? 2-on-1 06/15/2018

This week's topic is my suggestion- Do you have a code that you live by?

There's a great line in the tune above - you, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.. The current tribalism on display daily made me wonder just what exactly is it driving this madness that makes hypocrites out of so many evangelicals? What spurs the pure hatred of the far right and left?

Contrary to the desire of evangelicals, the USA is not a Christian country - it is a country founded on Christian principles. Most people born here are raised and hear some variation of the 10 commandments daily. Those rules - that code - is Jewish, offered allegedly to Moses by God some 350 years before Christ appeared on the scene. My code is not surprisingly taken from those 10 things, though some might argue there were originally more than 10.

My personal code is drawn from those  

  1. Respect your mother and father
  2. Treat others the way you want to be treated
  3. Don't lie
  4. Don't covet your neighbor's wife or his stuff
  5. Be nice
  6. Family first
  7. Try to learn something new every day
  8. Always do your best, but winning at any cost is not an option
  9. Admit when you are wrong
  10. I will not change who I am for any person

Admittedly in these tribal times on occasion, some of those parts of the code can be difficult to live up to. I admit to having a substantial temper that I work very hard to suppress - but at times it does rear its ugly head. I can honestly say that when that happens it is very rare that something good happens.

Over the years I have been exposed to many different "codes" from many different sources, including religions and other philosophical sources. These days, Ayn Rand's morality of selfishness is evident in the daily activities on of our  (in the USA) government, as led by POTUS 45. Her Objectivism - parts of which have always been championed by conservatives, are more popular than ever and so it is against that backdrop that my meager little code tries to get me through each day.

You can boil my code down to work hard, treat others fairly, be yourself, tell the truth, learn something every day and be who you are.

To see what my blogging partner has to say, go here Ramana.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

There is nothing new, except what has been forgotten -2-on-1 06/08/2018

Ramana suggested this week's topic, "There is nothing new, except what has been forgotten" - Marie Antoinette. It is a sister quote, if you will, to "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" by George Santayana in 1863. Then there is the more common "there is nothing new under the sun". So, everything that is is as it has always been.

How many times have you eaten a bowl of ice cream too fast and ended up with that classic brain-freeze headache? How about a hangover the next morning after a few too many Margaritas (or the adult beverage you prefer).

There are, of course, several more serious examples that validate our weekly topic. If we are to ever progress as a culture, we must study the past so we do not repeat its mistakes. That notion and a widely held belief by many here that our political system and government are allegedly corrupt and broken led to the election of POTUS 45, our current embarrassment who has caused an employment boom in fact-checking as he lies so much. Alas, Mr. Drain the Swamp has simply deepened the swamp and restocked it with a fresh batch of so-called born again sycophants and crooks like Rick Perry (former) and Scott Pruitt (latter).  Sometimes, perhaps, what we view as bad is not really bad, or we make an even bigger mistake in our attempt to fix the perceived problem.  

Is life really simple? Do we really overcomplicate things? Would we really be better off living simpler lives? My friend Tammy would certainly agree - she is something of a minimalist. In my case, I am well aware of the beauty of the simpler things in life but circumstances in which I exist require much more than the basics, though many people do forget that sometimes simpler is better. In this country, the prevailing attitude is to make each day better than the one before. Companies can never be satisfied with their level of profitability - it must always be increased. We live in a world wherein satisfaction can only come from growth and getting bigger and better - or so says the daily marketing and advertising we are bombarded with.  We sure do keep big Pharma busy providing us with stress meds and of course there is the drug problem.

Perhaps we have forgotten.

That's my quick shack-take on this week's topic. Be sure to stop by Ramana's blog to see what he has to say. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Is overrated or is it really useful? 2-on-1 06/01/2018

This week's topic - Is overrated or is it really useful? was my suggestion. I have been an avid Amazon customer for many years. Last week I was looking for a USB 3.0/Ethernet adapter and so I decided  to check out Amazon's offerings as well as what else the Web has to offer.

Amazon is rather unique in their attitude and business strategy. They re in it for the long haul so they constantly play a long game. Immediate profitability is not critical to Amazon as long as they grow their market share. Toward the end of my career at RadioShack I worked for The VP in charge of .com was a fellow named Dave Goyne. I recall several conversations with Dave regarding Amazon and their rapid growth. His comments were always that Amazon was a benign company - never profitable and not a threat to the multi-billion dollar RadioShack. Dave had no vision and at the end of his time we were very far behind companies like Amazon in web development. I hope he is enjoying his retirement - he wanted to farm nuts (I do not recall what kind - Almonds and Pecans both stick in my mind). The Shack is no more save for a few independent dealers and a web presence that is ludicrous at best. Thousands upon thousands of people lost their livelihood due to the bad decisions made by Goyne and the rest of senior management.  Jeff Bezos - the Amazon CEO is now arguably the wealthiest man in the world. Not bad for a guy that started the business selling books online. He and Amazon changed the publishing industry.

Amazon now is the clear leader in online sales. They are developing a robust brand of their own products like Fire tablets, cabless, Echo, Prime and more. Prime offers video streaming like Netflix with a growing list of original material, free 2-day shipping and more. For a nominal fee of $12.99 Kindle owners can read an unlimited number of books - last year I read 78 under the Kindle Unlimited plan.You may not find the latest best-sellers but there is a vast array of excellent stuff available.

I realize this is starting to sound like a commercial for Amazon but all is not sunshine lollipops and rainbows.  Amazon grew its business by offering the best prices. That automatically generated competition from other online companies. Then they created Amazon Prime and offered free 2-day shipping as well as video streaming to compete with Netflix all for a flat annual fee (that price just went up BTW). They wisely offer some program material that is original which adds subscribers and allows Amazon to do add-on sales.

POTUS 45 has spent a considerable amount of time claiming Amazon is responsible for the US Postal Service losing billions of dollars; not collecting sales taxes on items sold; forcing thousands of "mom and pop: stores to close.  It will come as no surprise that those things are simply lies. Trump despises Bezos for one simple reason - Bezos owns the Washington Post. Amazon collects sales tax on products sold, they do NOT collect sales tax om sales made by Amazon associate companies. The USPS negotiates shipping rates for large commercial customers and Amazon pays the same as others. That contract is renegotiated periodically. Lastly, the chief small business killer in this country is Walmart - not Amazon.
 because of the depth and breadth of their selections. They are developing same day deliveries, 1-hour grocery deliveries and are one of the most innovative companies in the country, 

The bottom line - to me - is that Amazon is easily the most convenient online business to use when shopping online. I may not always buy there but they usually get my first look.

To see what Ramana thinks, click here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Imperfections 2-on-1 #20

Imperfections are this weeks topic, suggested by Ramana. Imperfections - those faults, blemishes or otherwise unwanted characteristics that, depending upon your outlook, make us unique or prevent us from being perfect. I am most often in the former group - it is our imperfections that make us who we are - and make plastic surgeons rich.

As we age I suppose it is normal to wonder who that old person that we see in the mirror each morning is that stares back at us. In our hearts, most of us still feel like that enthusiastic youngster that was full of hope for life, not that oldster who has realized that life is what happens while we are busy making other plans. Life is about evolution - we grow into adulthood through our experiences and life lessons - each lesson leaving its mark on us, shaping our attitudes and actions. 

Can that woman that stares back at the once 17-year old beauty still be a beauty? Absolutely - and often more so than that youngster with the perfect complexion and the perfect smile. For example, I'd much rather see Helen Mirren than Jennifer Laurence on screen. I have a friend that complains about the extra 40 pounds or so she carries around these days as well as the wrinkles that she thinks detract from her looks. Trust me when I say this woman is DDG - drop-dead gorgeous. She is a life lived, and yet still in progress and as far as I am concerned has miles of smiles yet to travel - along with a few speed bumps along the way as that is the way of life - lots of curves, twists, turns and speed limit changes.

Then there is that white-haired, goateed fellow that stares back at me each morning.
Through a quirky memory that often leaves 50-year old memories imprinted in my mind like the pages read in a book by a genius with an eidetic memory (no I am not a genius - I just have a great memory) I cannot help but think - in spite of recent events -  Jimmy Buffet got it right when he sang " yesterdays over my shoulder but i can't look back for too long - there's just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong".

What about our institutions? Cam imperfect people create perfect institutions? It would seem we here in the USA currently have a president hell bent on destroying our institutions of government to further enrich himself and his family. One can only hope the checks and balances built into the system created 240 years ago are strong enough to prevent that from happening. POTUS 45 is certainly creative in his efforts to create an alternative reality by simply screaming everything he does not like in the media is simply fake news and declares the media - with a glaring exception is the enemy of the people. The question becomes will his narcissistic imperfections convince enough people he is correct to inflict permanent damage on what is - on paper - the best political system devised by imperfect people?

Be sure to see what Ramana has to say on imperfections.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Not all those who wander are lost. 2-on-1 #19

This week's 2-on-1 blog is dedicated to all those restless souls who are not meant to be tied to a traditional lifestyle and yearn to wander, not looking for anything specifically but - like sharks - must move or die. Everyone knows someone like this.

I went to high school with a guy born to run - his name is Randy, I have known Randy since grade school and little league baseball. Randy is a musician -a superior bass player - and lives in Kauai but is prone to take annual trips to Asia and other places. He is now in the middle of solo sailing trip through Asia and headed to London, Not a bad jaunt and it is not his first within the last 12 months. You go Randy.

So why are these people born to run?

Dunno for  sure why but there seems to be a common thread in my experience - musicians seem to be afflicted with the traveling gene. But even though they travel they have roots. I think we are conditioned to have a home base = whether they want to go back to it or not.

Back in 1967 as I was preparing to graduate from high school several of my friends and I were bitten by the wanderlust bug, When asked about our post HS plqns the replies were almost universally the same - I am gonna Route 66 it for a while. The response was greatly aided by our near universal affinity to a popular TV show back then - Route 66. It was a show about a couple of 20 somethings traveling the country in a corvette, experiencing life and love literally on the road of life.

I confess occasionally I wonder how different my life would have been if I had actually taken that trip. Somehow I doubt I'd be living in a home with wheels in North Carolina if I had.

For whatever reason, some people are just happier when on the road. Maybe they had some emotional trauma, maybe they simply like to travel. The reason is irrelevant. These are folks that are not lost,  they are doing the thing that makes them happy.

Back in my Pueblo days (up to 10 years old) we lived a couple of blocks away from a hobo encampment. To get there I had to cross a couple of streets and sneak through my friend Bud Rossi's back yard, hop his fence and go down about 50 feet to the path that ram along the railroad tracks and lead directly to the camp. Now these were the tail end of the halcyon days when hoboes rode the rails regularly. Although my grandma and step grandfather warned me not to hang out there, how could I not? These guys were bigger than life and friendly as all heck. I had my first taste of slumgullion - a hobo stew. It was wonderful but I gave myself away when I asked my grandma what was in it. Busted. But she checked with Mode, my step grandpa and three or four days later she made it for me. I remember potatoes, onions, stewed tomatoes and chunks of beef. It was wonderful. I wish I'd been old enough to ask those guys why they rode the rails. They would likely have said looking for work but I suspect a few just liked being on the road.

I think it is clear by now that some people simply cannot remail in place, no matter where they are. They are simply restless souls that for whatever reason keep on moving much like gypsies, nomads or other types of vagabonds.

That's my quick shack-take on the topic I chose for this weeks 2-on-1 post. Be sure to visit see what he has to say.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MusicalBreak Time

My inner music geek is working overtime this AM - back before we went psychedelic there were some good songs - remember any of these??

Before Jan Ericho joined the band and they morphed into the Vejtables SF had the Mojo Mem

Hey Brian SCott - ever meet these guys in a Battle of the Bands??

From San Jose - I saw these guys open for the Dave Clark Five

I owned this album and yes I'd like some of your tangerines

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. 2-on-1 #18

Picture yourself in a small, artsy collection of shops. You enter a shop that looks interesting - back in the day we called them head shops - and are immediately almost overwhelmed by the scent of incense burning -  Lavender, Sandalwood, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose or maybe Vanilla. Vanilla so sickly sweet it makes you want to swear off vanilla milkshakes for the rest of your life. Playing softly in the background is some music you cannot quite peg  but because there is a sitar you guess it may be Indian. You look up to see several large posters - the old hippy version of Hallmark Cards that
boldly proclaim:
    Image result for Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional posters

And then you ponder -are either of those statements really true? I mean what the heck - Buddha would never lie to us would he?

When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, its a wonder I can think at all. Paul Simon would not sing  it if not true, would he? Wait - he didn't.

It is a given that in a lifetime pain is inevitable - be it physical or emotional. Somewhere down the road of life we all encounter the pain of heartbreak  or the more easily understood pain of falling off a bike, a jungle jim or having a well thrown dodge ball bounce off your head. In my case, a fastball off a knuckle, massively jammed finger and riding my bike headlong into a car stand out among the physical pain memories. I blame Bruce Carpenter for the baseball pain to this day :) .The others are my fault.

The bike incident happened when I was about 8 - I was hustling home - flat out flying - down the road and completely missed the car that turned in front of me. Now remember - thus was circa 1957 or so and cars were not the  lightweight little things they are today - this was a full size Desoto.  Just the fins likely outweighed today's vehicles.

I tried to take a bite  out of the grill. Mr. Desoto won and I was promptly hustled off to  the ER for surgery to stitch up the piece of my mouth that was hanging down. I remember the mask with ether flowing through it covering my nose and awoke in the back seat of my grandmothers Oldsmobile at the local drive in theater. It happened to be close to the hospital and so there we sat, watching Hell and High Water. My mouth hurt like hell and I could swear  the scent of ether was omnipresent. My mouth hurt like hell for a week or so. So....that suffering was not optional - simply the result of my carelessness.

My guitar playing career was effectively ended during a Sunday football game my friends and I engaged in. While absolutely destroying my pal Dave Hitchcock, I jammed, dislocated and did everything  but break the ring finger on my left hand. Being tough, I continued to play the rest of the game but my hand was literally on fire. It remained that way for weeks but I was tough. The tough that is defined by stupid. That hand hurt for six months in total, will to this day not straighten out and caused me to lose my college ring and a wedding band or two over the years. So clearly that suffering was not optional although the pain and suffering of listeners to my admittedly lame guitar efforts did evaporate along with the callouses on my fingertips.

Now I think these two examples the suffering related to physical pain was in no way optional.

Emotional pain, however, is an entirely different matter. We have all, at one time or another, experienced a breakup with a loved one.  We probably have experienced both sides of that equation - breaker or breakee. In my case my go to song was this little ditty 
I guess you could say I chose to suffer by playing the song over and over.. Truth is, I still think of the girl whenever I hear the song. We reconnected years later and are great friends.

The other obvious emotional hit I have  absorbed is the loss of Lynn four years ago. Emotional pain of the highest order. But the suffering afterword did not match the intensity of the pain. The last ten years of Lynn's life were not pleasant. You might say I suffered along with her during those years and when she did die it was a relief as her suffering came to an end. So, essentially, did mine. I still get emotional when I hear a couple of songs that remind me of Lynn but that emotion these days is tied up in remembering the good times. Simple stuff like visiting her at BYU, playing catch on some early dates, moving across the country twice and simultaneously bursting into laughter when we crossed the state line back into California on our return trip.
So here we are, discussing a quote attributed to Buddha but admittedly attributed to others as well.  Based on my experience, suffering is essentially optional. We can control the strength and duration of suffering and control  our lives.  It is no wondwe there are over 500 million Buddhists in the world - the doctrines - if you can even call them that - seem based in rational thought rather than rooted in fear.

Be sure to check Ramana's take on his chosen subject here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Genetic Modification 2-on-1 #18

This week's topic is genetic modification - aka genetic engineering. The "educated" elites on the left are very much against genetic  engineering and rail against genetically modified food daily. I can honestly say I know of  nobody who has been harmed by genetically modified food but none of that is my concern this week. The so-called educated left can rant and rail on genetic engineering  until the cows come in - I do not care about genetically modified food. Those who are opposed to genetically modified food are entitled to their opinions, but that is not what this blog is about. It is simply a discussion for another time.

Readers who know anything about me at all know my wife passed away a little over four years ago from Huntington's Disease (HD), a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person's physical and mental capabilities in the prime of their life and it has no cure.  HD is the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with the disease has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene and HD. Today there are around 30,000 symptomatic  Americans  and about 200,000 potential cases. Therein lies one of the primary issues with HD - our wonderful for-profit medical system and so-called Big Pharma  simply have little incentive to work on solving HD. It is as if President Trump's southern border wall has been erected to hamper  HD study. HD families have no Michael J Fox or Stephen Hawking to help focus attention on HD. Woody Guthrie is probably the most famous person to have ever had HD - luckily his son Arlo did not inherit the gene. Woody died in 1956.

Some of you will say that HD afflicted people simply should not have children. That may  indeed be correct but the genetic test that is 100% accurate was not developed until 1993. My children were born in 1977 and 1982. Lynn was tested and the results of the pre-genetic test were negative, Doctors basically did an MRI and saw no trace of HD (brain shrinkage). Oops - 1n 1999 some friends of ours noticed some odd behavior and strange physical traits in Lynn. She was genetically tested and I will never forget the phone call from the Neurologist's office. I answered the phone at work and there was silence on the other end. Finally the caller said I am very sorry but Lynn has HD.

She lived until 2014, but, we had two children. You can see where this is going. Our daughter was diagnosed with HD  last week after the genetic test was administered. For what it is worth, the older test came back negative 4 months ago.. Each of her three children has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the defective gene. Our son refuses to have the test because he fears it will destroy his attitude about life and he is trying to assure his family has a stable future whether he is there to share it with them or not. I understand his reticence as Lynn gave up on life almost immediately after her diagnosis.  It was part of the progressive degeneration of her brain.

So what does this have to do with the weekly 2-on-1 blog?  Enter CRISPR. If you wish to  examine the technical jargon please click CRISPR. Long story short, CRISPR has the potential to eliminate some 6000 genetic disorders - including HD.  60 Minutes has done a story on  CRISPR.

Genetic engineering is here and it is real. With a bit of luck my six potential HD inheritors will benefit from CRISPR if we can manage to navigate  the slippery slope that genetic engineering has become. But, to ignore the benefits available through the judicious use of genetic engineering is simply immoral in my opinion.  Opponents claim genetically modifying embryos to prevent disease is tantamount to playing god. I say if god screwed up, correct the mistake.  Opponents say genetic engineering is unnatural and does not take into consideration the desires of the future generation. I say so what?  Is not setting a broken arm unnatural? Is not plastic surgery unnatural? Is not transplanting organs unnatural? What about artificial limbs? And who would not want to have HD removed from their life if given a chance? Perhaps some of the faithful might be willing to risk their life on the power of prayer. or god performing a miracle. I am not one of the faithful.

To see what Ramana has to say on the matter please go to Ramana.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Comfort Zone (सुविधा क्षेत्र) 2-on-1 #17

Comfort zone. We all have one. It's that sweet spot where we feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand. Stress levels are low. I often refer to it as my wheelhouse. The common wisdom implies you need to step outside your comfort zone to be successful.

I take exception to such a narrow interpretation of Comfort Zone. Why? We live in an increasingly specialized world. That degree of specialization allows for the development of multiple Comfort Zones. Take a company like Microsoft for example. Microsoft has multiple divisions, offers multiple products and is a very complex operation. Each division creates specialists in things like Windows, Windows security, hardware and so on. Employees develop comfort zones within their divisions. Security specialists, for example, are better at detecting malware than software engineers that do not specialize in security. And then there is the sales team. Being a successful salesperson requires a specific skill set. If the sales game is in your comfort zone odds are you will find success as long as you have a modicum of discipline and are not discouraged by the numbers game in sales - a certain percentage of folks will turn you down. Just remember that a baseball player that fails seventy percent of the times he bats is considered a great hitter.

Me? Well like everyone, I have several. Music - especially the 60s and 70s are my comfort zone but I am fairly comfortable in most pop music.

Sports - strong comfort zone, especially in regards to hockey, baseball and football. I played the latter pair and have loved hockey since I was 8 when my dad took me to Denver to see Denver University play a team from Saskatchewan.

Hunting and fishing - another typical pair of comfort zones for guys but not so much for me. I suspect if my grandfather had not passed away when I was 3 that would not be the case as he was an avid hunter/fisherman.

Cars - another typical guy thing though 2 of the biggest car fans I know happen to be ladies of the highest order. Me? not so much. During high school, there were vocational classes offered but as a 3-sport jock, I was always busy with practice when those courses were offered.

Movies - a moderate comfort zone - up until Lynn was being taken over by the Huntington's Disease that eventually killed her, we went to the movies almost every weekend. I have not been to a movie theater in about 8 years.

Books - I am a huge mystery fan so that is an obvious comfort zone. I have also firmly believed that to knopw the people of any generation, be as current as possible on the authors writing in the now -

Politics - I have a BA in Political Science - specialty in International Relations. I am admittedly a political junkie - but these days it is difficult to engage in discourse with anyone because here in the USA we are so bitterly divided. Civility has become a thing of the past, it seems. Archaeological wordsmiths
are searching for fossils as we speak. Clone teams are doing the research necessary to correct this situation. One can only hope.

Trivia - my kids both think we'd be rich if I could get on a game show - nuff said LOL.

Blogging - Blogging is definitely in my Comfort Zone. Writing this blog has been a real hoot (southern for a lot of fun). We vary topics so we never get bored, we both write on the same subject so folks get an eastern and a western perspective on the chosen topics. Plus, my partner and I get to know more about each other and we have become great friends. Of course it helps that we are both wordy older guys that love to talk - or rather type. I enjoy writing - it is as simple as that.

That concludes my small sample of Comfort Zone issues. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say by selecting this link.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 2-on-1 #16

This week's topic was culled from current events. If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 

The quick, easy answer is yes but is it actually true?  Science in and of itself makes the world a better place, but safer?  Certainly, many scientific advances are dedicated to improving safety in some manner. Some would not even be possible without the efforts of politicians because politicians control much of the funding that drives scientific discovery.

What makes the world a safer place? Sufficient food supplies, which require efficient, effective food production and food distribution; clean water supplies; absence of war; safe and efficient transportation services/systems seem like a good basic set of requirements. Well fed folks with plenty of fresh water and decent transportation systems should result in happy people.  

Science can directly impact food production and distribution, clean water and transportation. Food production has been greatly enhanced since  the days of the Green Revolution, aka the Third Agricultural Revolution that exploded in the late sixties. Things developed to the point where sufficient food production was available in new, developing countries. But then the politicians got in the way and we have struggled with distribution ever since. Add climate change that we are now experiencing and now we need a science reset to boost production again. We need a political reset to distribute food supplies. Water demand will be a major issue moving forward. Thanks to the greed of capitalists like Nestle - who say water is not a right but a product to be bought and sold - water purification will require the best efforts of the scientific community. Then we need to rely on politicians to get the water where it is needed - naturally after select bank accounts are greased along the way.

Absence  of war. Again -absence of war. A glance at the daily news headlines makes that seem nearly impossible. There is little science can do to prevent war - that one is on the politicians'.

Science can assist in the transportation portion of our equation. Of course the politicians must make the decision to go forward with infrastructure projects. Pocket lining 101.

If  politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? Absolutely. But political ambition and greed constantly cloud the thinking of the politicians. Logic leaves the building, and in fact it often seems like logic never made it in the door. Politicians, it seems, rarely look beyond their own benefits.

That is my quick take on this weeks topic. Be sure to check Ramana's here. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Last Page 2-on-1 #15

This weeks topic came about as a direct result of the fun and feedback generated by our previous topic 2 weeks ago - the First Page. After this topic all that remains is the rest of the books. Ahem. To see Ramana's last page go here.

That damn Detective Brooke and his pal the taco bender think they have it all figured out. What a pair of idiots. They have no clue why Bowman was eliminated and they haven't figured out that Perkins and Taylor were mine. God, that Taylor was gorgeous. They haven't figured out that being a serial killer is nothing more than enjoying your work. Nothing is as satisfying as watching the light go off when the spark of life leaves thanks to my efforts - when the sparkle leaves the eyes and all goes dull. The feeling that is better than sex. Taylor was my best yet - watching her realize she was done and nothing or nobody could save her. Acceptance. Acceptance that she was mine. And then she sagged, wet herself and was gone.

"Hey Tito - what's wrong? You look lost".

"I tell ya Chas" - he replied - "something just doesn't add up.There's more to Bowman's death than we have come up with. We are missing something, amigo." 


"Chas I swear Bowman is tied to the Dave Perkins/Susan Taylor murders. We just can't see it yet."

"You've got that right buddy. I do not see any link beyond the fact Bownan, Dave and Susan all were in school with us from Carlile through Central." 

Maybe if Tito and his idiot pal Chas ever noticed me in high school they might have figured this all out. But no, they are too stupid. They are responsible for the rest of my dates. The dumbasses can spend their time hanging at Arnie's Time Out while I do what I do best. Maybe I should write them a letter.

Two days letter, an envelope postmarked Florence, Colorado - a nearby town - was delivered to Chas at the office. He casually opened it and sat in stunned silence as he stared at the letter. It simply said "Tito is next. First Dave, then Susan and CD- next Tito. Catch me if you can".

Thursday, April 5, 2018

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 2-on-1 April 6

I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of poetry. My experiences reading and analyzing poems have pretty much always been based on assignments in school. Some have expressed surprise over this because of my love for music, but though I love music I detest opera. We all have our limits - poetry and opera being two of mine.So here we are - a topic drawn directly from a Rudyard Kipling poem that actually screams relevance in today's world. Leave it to Ramana to so subtly point out my shortcomings - that darn Karma thing I guess.

Okay - enough whining - done so with nary a slice of good, sharp cheddar I might add. But seriously - given the conditions prevalent in today's world was Kipling on to something? Are several ultra-aggressive religions responsible for the divisions we deal with in the world and are they insurmountable? According to Wikipedia, the top 5 religions based on adherents are as of 2012 are Christianity with 3.2 billion adherents, Islam with 1.8 billion adherents, Secular non-religious including atheist and agnostic with 1.2 billion adherents, Hinduism with 1.1 billion adherents and Buddhism with .5 billion adherents. You can view the entire list here. The top three are all typical isms - my way or the highway (in this case  straight to hell, though the secular non-believers may disagree).

While logic would seem to dictate a global approach to the world many countries are adopting a much more nationalistic me first attitude that is not conducive to adaptability. Many Muslims seem intent on taking over portions of western society through the ballot box along with acts of terror. This has led some countries - the USA included -to attempt to restrict Muslim immigration. Since Islam is as much a way of life as it is a religion, it seems the fears may be well founded based on the European experience. I suspect our roots as an immigrant country have made it easier for Muslims to integrate into our society but that may be in jeopardy due to radical Islamic terror. All Muslims come under much more intense scrutiny thanks to the actions of a small percentage of the entire faith. I should point out, though, that although the percentage is small the numbers are large. If one in ten Muslims are "radicals" then that means there are almost two million radical Muslims.

Christianity has had its time in the violence game. Remember the Crusades?  The original Friday the 13th massacre? How about something as recent as the troubles in Northern Ireland? It seems some religions are as adept at using fear to keep their folks in line as any nation state.

I confess that when I started this little ditty I was positive and upbeat like my liberal education taught me (I have a BA in Political Science) But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there will not likely be a come together moment between east and west. There will always be small percentages of people from both ends of the spectrum that embrace adaptability. Many people love to travel to strange, far away lands. But they then return home to the way of life that is more comfortable to them, fully convinced they are people of the world because they developed an appreciation for the cuisine of whatever land they visited. 

The bottom line is simply that the West and East are too different to have that come together moment, But that does not mean we cannot have mutually beneficial relationships. We live in a truly global economy that requires cooperation to prevent mutual destruction. At the same time, certain Eastern countries believe they must develop nuclear arms to be respected in the new world order. They feel they must counter the West militarily to control Western empire building which history shows has been the norm. Western empire building is largely a thing of the past but "Fake News" keeps the mythology going. Russia is perhaps the most active empire builder (rebuilder?) on the world scene and they need to be dealt with though whether Russia is in the West or East is a topic worthy of discussion.

It can be considered somewhat ironic IMHO that the East is the birthplace of the oldest civilizations on the planet with the possible exception of the Central and South American natives (Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas). But they were not assimilated well into Western civilization (those old school Catholics were an ornery lot).  

So my conclusion is that the quote is truer than not - East and West will essentially remain separate but equal partners with neither able to fully assimilate the other into a integrated society beyond trading partners. 

To see what Ramana has to say, go here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Page One 2-0n-1 #13

This week's 2-on-1 topic was my choice - a wheelhouse expanding first page of an as yet unpublished novel/short story.

You’ve gotta love food trucks. They offer great food at prices low enough for me. Unfortunately, my wallet was as empty as my stomach yesterday and the smell of the tacos wafting from Tito’s was making it worse. Tito winked at me as I strolled by, expecting me to order my usual triple taco lunch special. I just shrugged at him and smiled as I walked past the service window. The back door opened and a grinning Tito handed me a bag of tacos – “on me today, Chas”. I almost hugged him.

Tito and I have known each other for about 25 years. We met on the football team in high school – Central High – in Pueblo, Colorado. He was a slow footed, sure handed receiver and I was a part time tight end/tackle. He was half my size then, but his years as a taco purveyor had rendered him a bit circumferentially challenged. That is a fancy term for fat. After high school, we both attended the local state university in town – Southern Colorado State. We both played football there too – both all conference. It was the big fish in a small pond syndrome. After we graduated, he went to work in his family restaurant business and I became a cop. So here we were – Tito a popular food truck jockey and me a small town detective, Tito happily married with three kids and me – a widower. My wife Dee passed away six years ago from the ravages of Huntington’s Disease. We’d had no kids because Huntington’s Disease (HD) is genetic and any child we had would have a 50  percent chance of having HD. We decided the odds were not in our favor.

So there we were – the dynamic duo, Chas and Tito, staring at the body of someone we both knew – Carl Bowman. Carl had been shot in front of the bar that Tito and I frequented once a week or so for a  couple of cold Coors. We were old school and had not adopted one of the new microbreweries in town. Someone had done Carl in execution style.  Tito almost tripped over him as we left Arnie’s Time Out. The killer used a silencer – we had not heard the shots.

I reached into my pocket, grabbed my phone and called it in.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

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

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

Let's start with this one from the Byrds

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Calm After the Storm. 2-on-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sure to see Ramana's take! 

Friday, March 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check Ramanas comments here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What is the most dangerous place in the world today?

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

What or where is the most dangerous place in the world today? So many choices.  Dangerous to me personally? To my family and friends? To my country? To the world? One could justify a book on each of those but alas, this is a simple weekly blog so all y'all are safe. This will be short and sweet.

The knee jerk reaction would be to say a US public school is the most dangerous place. Given recent events here that would be a reasonable response. We seem to be reliving the halcyon days of the wild, wild west. Everyone needs a gun to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property. At least that is what we are told by the vocal, overly verbose 2nd amendment supporters backed by the NRA.

However, in the grand scheme of things, school mass shootings account for a smaller percentage  of deaths caused by guns (as the tool -people pull the triggers) than you might imagine  because the mainstream media covers them differently. Why is that?  Could it be simply because the preponderance of victims are white?  Or the fact that schools targeted were not in urban areas? Check the list here.  Make up your  own mind. Mass shootings in general are responsible for fewer deaths than you might imagine.

Statistically speaking, you are almost 700 times more likely to die in a car accident than from a gun discharge. Injury Facts Chart (from Wikipedia)

I should state for the record that I am not a gun owner at the moment, (I have been in the past and likely will be again) nor do I come from a hunting background. That, however, is due to the death of my grandfather when I was three as we lived with my grandparents and my Daddy Harry as I called him was an avid hunter. His best hunting buddy was a Native American Chief from Taos, NM. I know many gun owners and NRA members and I can unequivocally say they propagate gun safety every day and care more about our environment than anyone I know. That does  not make me an NRA supporter, by any stretch of the imagination.

What is my point, you might ask? Simply that in spite of the press, the USA is still  a safe place in which to live and to  visit. Yes we have a gun culture that is not likely to change -you see we, lived and loved that cowboy/wild west life popularized in books, movies and the like.

The world in general is a more dangerous place than  it has ever been so increased vigilance is required nearly everywhere. Radical Islam has hijacked the faith of millions and declared war on all things western. Based upon news reports, were I female I do not think I wouldn't feel safe in many parts of India. I'd love to visit Israel though - and that's one place where we can learn much about life under less than ideal circumstances.

Back to the original question - what is the most dangerous place? Wherever you are. I suspect there are statistics somewhere that say you are more likely to be grabbed by a flying purple eater in place X than anywhere else so everywhere is dangerous, clearly some more so than others.. Be smart. Do your homework, due diligence or whatever you care to call it. Pay attention to your surroundings and enjoy yourself. I know of no flying purple eater sightings in a long while. Live your life to its fullest as I suspect you get only one.

That's my quick take on the topic I proposed. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fulfillment 2-on-1 #7

Fulfillment. Achieving something desired. Most of us start out as children with big dreams. I suspect most of those childhood dreams are destined to remain unfulfilled as when we are young our goals tend to be unrealistic since our parents typically fill us with notions like "you can do anything" - one of the great lies children are told. Add to that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy (from my western perspective) - and you get my point. In my case, I never made it to the NFL or MLB so  my childhood dreams remain unfulfilled. Fear not, though, as my psyche remains intact. I think.

As we grow up and hopefully mature,  we adapt to reality. Work hard, do your best replaces you can do anything. Education fuels our dreams. Reach for the stars and learn from your mistakes. Press on - my old friend Dave Wegenka used to say. Sage advice. So I never pitched in a World Series but I had a lot of fun playing softball well into my 40s. That certainly contributed  to both my happiness and sanity over the years. Original dream fulfilled? Nope, but, the realities of life allowed me to modify my hopes and dreams - what really happened while I was busy making other plans in that regard turned out okay.

Like many of my generation, when the blitzkrieg known as the British Invasion hit, I took up the guitar with dreams of being a rock star. That did not work out so well, as dreams go. But my love of that music remained and I remained interested - and thanhks to the Internet, eventually I became close friends with the man who wrote several million sellers for The Dave  Clark 5, perhaps the best known being the following:

Again, things in that regard turned out okay.  I never became a  rock star but the music of that period in my life has brought me much pleasure, many friends, and helped keep me going through many tough times. Original dream unfulfilled, replacement dream very much fulfilled.

I have always been shy, and for years helped feed the notion I was a big, dumb jock.  I was never a ladies man nor was I one of those arrogaant jock types or one of the cool kids.  As such,  though I dreamed of a happy life with someone, my social life re the opposite sex was certainly nothing to brag about. Eventually, though, I met the "one", things clicked and we were together for over 45 years until she  succumbed to Huntington's Disease - a condition appropriately characterized as the disease that is the child of the union of Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimers.  Our legacy of 2 children and 5 grandchildren - in spite of a  fair degree of family dysfunction, means that dream goes into the fulfilled  side of the ledger.

I love to write. I have started the great American novel but, alas, it remains unfinished on a memory stick in my drawer. Who knows if it will ever be finished - certainly not I. My writing these days is what happens on this blog and though it is certainly enjoyable, no literary giant is being spawned.  The jury is still out on this dream.

What dreams are left? I really have only one of note - to win the lottery and move to Nevada City in Northern California and enjoy what remains of my days. And each time I play the lottery and do not win, I take heart knowing I am helping fund education in my state. Seems like a win-win dream to me, fulfilling in many ways.

That's my quick take on this weeks topic. Be sure to check Ramana's take on his chosen topic  here.  See ya next week.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What is your favoite place of all the places you have been? 2-on-1 #6

This week I threw a curveball to my blogging partner Ramana. The topic is intentionally vague and open to  interpretation. It was influenced by those many Facebook lists that make the rounds seemingly daily to allow friends to get to know you better. Truth be told, they probably simply  influence the ads you receive, but they can be a bit of fun. With that in mind, off we go..

Favorite place I have  lived - Northern California, hands down. From its  spectacular climate, incredible scenery and in spite of its ultra-liberal politics

The only place even close is Hawaii

Favorite city I have visited - Toronto, Ontario. Although it was many years ago, I saw women riding  the subway system alone after midnight, people were exceedingly friendly and I have never seen a city that size so clean.

Favorite vacation  - whitewater rafting on the American River (again years ago but oh what fun it was

Favorite concert - several -  Dave Clark 5 in 66,  Beatles - Candlestick Park in 66,  Kenny  Rankin - the Boarding House 69, the Association at Cal State Hayward '68, Moody Blues Concord  Pavilion '94 or  so, Neil Diamond Cow Palace Daly City 94 or so.  Over the years I have been to 50 or more concerts

Favorite place I have yet to visit - England, Pune India - one due to my heritage, the other to have a face-to-face with Ramana

Favorite fast food place  - Jack in the Box - love those tacos  :)

Favorite place to be since retiring - anyplace with my fully charged Kindle.

Favorite place in the USA I'd like to visit and why?  Alaska - Dana Stabenow paints a fascinating picture of Alaska and the folks who live there in her Kate Shugak book series.

I'd like to use this to revisit any fave place or find new favorites   what the heck, someone wins the lottery every week and ther is that nice big place in Nevada City, CA I'd like to buy to keep  the car safe and sound.......

With all of the nonsense going on these days in the real world, I thought it was worth taking a break from that  and paying a brief visit to the lighter side of things.

 Be sure to see Ramana's take here.