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This week's 2-on-1 topic was my choice - a wheelhouse expanding first page of an as yet unpublished novel/short story.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