Thursday, August 30, 2018

My top 10 guilty pleasures 2-on-1

This week's topic was my idea. Guilty pleasures - something, such as a movie, television program, piece of music or food that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard. Be  sure to check Ramana's take on the subject here.

Hmmmmmmm - why 10? That seems like an embarrassment of guilty pleasures so lets see where this goes.
  • British Invasion music -  my absolute favorite  from the sixties. There has never been nor will their likely ever be a band as influential as the Beatles IMHO.
  • This one is somewhat embarrassing but I really like a lot of those Hallmark Movie Mysteries and Christmas movies. My now  18-year old granddaughter and I used to watch the Christmas movies together and the mysteries are always fun to watch, even though simple to solve.
  • I love reading conspiracy theories. I am  particularly interested in the Jesus had a family and has a bloodline so well described in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and turned into a fun read by Dan Brown in his novel The DaVinci Code.
  • Kennedy Assassination - this single conspiracy theory gets its very own spot on the list. Why? When I was a supervisor on the Product Support Team at RadioShack a few years back, one of our customers was The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. In that position I was lucky enough to have several conversations with the then manager that ran the place. I asked him point blank if Oswald acted alone or if the Conspiracy theorists were correct and he simply chuckled and said "Chuck - anyone who goes through this place and looks at the evidence and thinks Oswald acted alone is a fool". Now we may never get the whole truth but we should keep looking.
  • Promise not to laugh, but I am a Bigfoot believer. One of the common  stories heard is the tale of a 50 gallon drum thrown down a hill - not rolled but thrown. I actually know someone who claims to have seen that and he was scared to death as he related the tale.
  • Old sci-fi and horror movies have always been faves of mine. The first movie I remember seeing was Tarantula - incidentally one of the first  movies a very young Clint Eastwood appeared in. And then there is The Day The Earth Stood Still - the original version. One of my nicknames when Lynn and I worked together for a small company was bestowed by the company president - Gort - the first real bad ass of my youth.
And then there was The Thing - an original made better when remade decades later by John Carpenter. James Arness played The Thing in the original, in the remake your imagination played a much larger part.

  • Liver and onions - a vastly underrated plate of food IMHO. Typically the liver is cooked so well done it looks and tastes like shoe leather but properly cooked  to a pinkish medium it is buttery and great. Really. Seriously. Come on - give it a try.
  • Frozen Snickers bars. I am a Type II diabetic but I still enjoy the occasional frozen Snickers bar. Halloweens were always fun when my kids were growing up - they knew  to bring those little Snickers bars to me - LOL. They could exchange them for whatever we had left over and we always had good stuff so they never felt cheated.
  • Old sports cars - my very first car was a 1956 MGA. I'd kill to get that one back - and yes I still fit in one, albeit barely LOL. It looked exactly like this one - wire wheels and all.

  • Caspers Hot Dogs -you can take the boy out of Hayward but you can't get Hayward out of the boy. From the first time I had one, Caspers dogs have been my fave, and now they can be ordered and shipped to NC. Yay me, I have already put in a birthday request for a case. 
That concludes my list of guilty pleasures and puts this week's topic to bed. See ya next week when east meets west in another 2-on-1 when Ramana and I blog on the same topic.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Schmaltz 2-on-1 -8/24/2018

Today we are talking schmaltz. That is right - schmaltz. typically chicken or goose fat. The good stuff that is used most commonly in a Jewish kitchen. Or, schmaltz could well be that highly sentimental, corny movie you just saw or that song that you heard that rapidly became an ear worm of excessive sentimentality. Schmaltz is derived from both German and Yiddish and I'd love to know what was on my co-blogger Ramana's mind when he came up with this one. To see what he has to say on the subject, please go to his blog - Ramana's blog.

Any foodie or fan of cooking shows has heard the chefly sage - "fat is flavor'. And when you're in a Jewish kitchen, that flavor is usually from chicken or goose fat, otherwise known as  schmaltz. That is the cooking equivalent of back to back home runs, especially if the cook is a Jewish Bubbe.

If you are really hard core, grab a thick slice of dense Jewish rye bread and schmeer some schmaltz on it. With a schmeer like that, you may never go back to butter.

Okay - we have fortified ourselves so it is time for some schmaltzy music. You know - that sentimental lovey stuff - but not the over the top type like anything by Celine Dion. That is too much for me. How about  a nice unrequited love tune like this one, penned  by a gentleman named Terry Kirkman. This version is done by Rita Wilson, otherwise known as Mrs. Tom Hanks and even though Kirkman's band (The Association) did a version that has kept Terry nicely over the years I have seen his comments praising this as the best version

How about this classic schmaltzy song by johnny Mathis with lyrics that are the definition of schmaltzy - You ask how long I’ll love you?/I’ll tell you true/Until the Twelfth of Never/I’ll still be loving you - why back in the day this is the voice that caused young ladies bra straps to magically come undone. Or so I have been told. It was a much simpler time. And Mathis had that trio of killer schmaltz - The Twelfth of Never, Chances Are and Misty. FYI, Mathis and my high school counselor were classmates in high school in San Francisco along with the late actor Bill Bixby.

Gotta include this one - ol' Johnny made a lot of guys doubles hitters back in the day. Americans will understand that one - most guys with a twinkle in their eye and young ladies with a shy smile.

Now I must admit this stuff does dredge up some fond memories. Young love. It was the best kind until we grew up and figured out what real love  was all about. But, the learning was so darn much fun.

Lets pop a movie or two into the blu-ray player - smaltzy shlock or shlocky schmaltz - the choice is yours.  This  one is an all time classic piece of schmaltz - the movie of course is Love  Story. It is the movie that led Lynn and I to agree that for every chick flick she carted me off to I would then take her to a shoot 'em up with me. We both ended up fans of both genres so that deal served us well.

Schmaltz is not limited to the old days -  one  of my favorite "chick flicks" stars David Duchovney and Minnie Driver and is called Return to Me. It is the story of a guy (Duchovney) that loses his wife. She happens to be an organ donor and someone gets her heart. A year or so later he meets a nice young lady and sparks fly for the first time in a long time. She had a heart transplant - yes she got Duchovney's wife's heart. She accidentally finds out and the schmaltz hits a bump on the road. If romantic comedy is something you like,  give this one a try, The cast is great and it moves along at a lively pace. The supporting cast includes Robert Loggia, Carol O'Conner, Jim Belushi, Bonnie Hunt (she is also the director) and a couple of gentlemen whose names escape me but whose faces you will remember from many films.

That wraps it up for this week's topic. With all of the tsuris in our society these days, it is pleasant to relax and have some fun when a topic like this comes along. Tune in next week for another 2-on-1 blog.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What will social media be like in 25 - 30 years? 2-on-1 08/17/2018

This week's topic on the future of social media was suggested by me. To see what Ramana thinks about the topic, check his blog here. Merriam Webster defines social media as as forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)

Social media has become pervasive in our society today and it has descended upon us in extraordinarily rapid fashion. It is both global in nature and uniquely national - that is different in its uses country by country yet a great unifier globally.  The world essentially has become the size of a smartphone screen as that phone can reach virtually anywhere. With Facebook, Twitter, Google, Snap chat, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit and many more the world is  your oyster, as the old saying goes. You have the whole world in your hand.

Why social media? I began using Facebook simply because my nieces in California asked me to - they wanted an easy way to keep in touch since we were thousands of miles apart. Like most platforms, kids were the driving force. Once their parents hopped on the band wagon the kids jumped ship and went to other platforms like Snap chat and Instagram. I suspect as the age of the users on those platforms mature, the kids will move on to the next big platform. Before Facebook, there was - ge.t ready for it - MySpace. For a short time MySpace and Facebook duked it out for the hearts and minds of the youth of the world.   By 2009 Facebook owned that niche in cyberspace. 

Because there are so many smartphones equipped with cameras in the world more and more users wanted a quick, easy picture interface. Along came Instagram. Their target market is the nearly 2 billion smartphone users. The youthful users gladly transferred their loyalty to the new platform. In 2018 the mainly mobile photo sharing network had reached 1 billion monthly active users.

There is no reason to expect the growth of social media to stop over the next 25-30 years. I have  faith several new platforms will be born and evolve over that time.

While social media is essentially benign as a form of entertainment a large swath of people are upset over the use of their personal data by companies and even countries. We are in the midst of a long investigation into the use and abuse of personal data mined by companies and how that data is used to manipulate users and influence who they vote for. Russia managed to sow serious discontent in our system of government and ultimately possibly influence the outcome. Cyberwar has replaced the cold war. That surely will continue,and the primary vehicle is the manipulation of social media. One needs to be very mindful of the information you take in and check and double check its veracity. Now more than ever single sourcing your information sources is a bad idea.

When it comes to data mining, Cambridge Analytica was the prime mover in the interference in American elections in 2016. For information on how they did their job, go here. Again - there is no reason newer, more efficient methods of data mining will not be developed in the next 25-30 years.

Another class of data miners that I expect to flourish in the next 25-30 years are the myriad DNA aggregators. There is no more personal data to mine than your genetic makeup. Once the testing companies have it how they use it is up to them. There are positive uses - a serial killer whose work spanned decades was discovered by finding genetic matches with his family and following that up with some Sherlock-like sleuthing. Expect much more of this in the years to come. Whether this is good or bad is your decision but be sure to actually read the terms of service for any genetic testing company. Make an informed decision about how your data is used.

Let us not forget Twitter. Twitter - that place to let it all hang out. 

Where else can you solve the problems of the world in a group of 240 character posts. Set American policy, berate those who disagree with you and in general say almost anything that strikes your fancy. Some might even say Twitter is the crowded theater into which you can yell "Fire". The precedent established by POTUS 45 is not likely to change, though is it too much to ask for a bit of civility?  Yeah - I know - I am dreaming. But I expect Twitter to grow in usage and importance as we become further enamored of the 24/7 news cycle and the thin skin of certain politicos. It is somewhat akin to the rubberneckers at automobile accidents - there is an almost insatiable desire to see the gory details. We are living in a reality show. 

I'd better not neglect another booming social media platform - the blog. Twitter on steroids. Write as little or as much as you wish. Bloviate to your heart's content. Blogging is a terrific way  to connect with people and will continue to grow as more people join. Blogging is a great way to make contact with people around the world and develop friendships and learn about other cultures. You might  even pair up with one of thos in another country and blog on the same topic weekly to get a different perspective on things.

I do hope there is a return to one on one engagement old-school style - surely you remember the days when you had conversations with people you could look in the eye. Clearly that happens rarely these days in the younger generations and though I expect social media to grow and remain in the fore, even get stronger, I hope we do not lose the ability to engage in civil discourse person to person.

That's it for this weeks topic. See ya next week for the next 2-on-1.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Rains 2-on-1 August 10, 2018

Ramana offered this weeks topic - Rains. It sounds like his Monsoon Season has him  looking up. Be sure to check his blog here to see what he has to say.

I love rain. I always have. One of my favorite childhood memories is lying on my back in our front yard and looking up into the sky during a thunderstorm. The cracks of lightening and claps of thunder were absolutely awesome to my young self. And then once the rain stopped I floated paper boats down the gutter. I was a happy kid when the thunderstorms blew through  Pueblo. About the only time I do not like rain is when I get caught driving in a thunderstorm at twilight.

Lately it seems we have entered a feast or famine era for rain.Many places have endured years of drought followed by vast amounts of rain. We are now in the midst of fire season out west and unfortunately there is no rain at this point in time. You can be sure, however, that it will rain like hedouble hockey sticks as soon as the fire season ends, thus creating serious issues with mudslides and the like. Mother nature can be a real  bitch if she wants to, but we need the rain.

Of course we humans romanticize things and walking in the rain is a favorite of many people - myself  included. Funnily enough, in my experience it (walking in the  rain) is something that sounds great in the planning stage but the results may be quite mixed. Especially if it is a cold rain. Of course you get soaked to the bone - no big deal on a warm summers eve but unpleasant as hell when it is cold. Yep - one man or woman's art is an other's lame experience.

Another rain experience not to be missed IMHO is listening to the rain in a building with a metal/tin  /roof. It is a great sleep aid, meditation aid (I have been told as i do not meditate) or just a simple way to kick back and relax. We could all use a little more relax time.

Water rights and the proper management of same are critical to our planet's and our long term survival. Things are rapidly changing and water as a resource needs effective management. Violent conflicts over water rights have been with us forever - and the situation will only get worse  as the world population increases and sources of  clean water diminish My blogging partner Ramana covered this in a previous blog. which you may revisit here if you'd like. Companies like Nestle would like nothing more than to privatize the world's water supply so that it can be fully monetized and thus essentially weaponised. Big  companies like nothing more than to control the supply of a product and they consider water nothing but a source of potential profit. If they can figure a way to monetize the world supply of fresh air, rest assured they will try to do so if a technology ever appears. 

Harvesting rainwater resources is not a new idea but it is something that has largely fallen out of favor these days. I think it is critical we reverse that trend unless we are prepared to have an all out conflict over water availability. To not reverse that trend is a lose - lose proposition as far as I am concerned. And, the notion that it may be illegal to harvest rainwater in some areas is a moral and ethical challenge that must be met. To see how the USA measures up in that regard, check this blog. You might find some of the info enlightening, troublesome or otherwise interesting.

One thing I suspect you have fathomed is that rain is the topic of some excellent music, some of which I have provided here for your listening pleasure. 

And let us not forget the written word such as this little ditty from Shel Silverstein:
I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–

I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head. 

That's it for this weeks topic - rains. I hope you had a nice break from the days stress and worries with some light reading and a damp concert. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel. And I wonder, yes I wonder - who'll stop the rain.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

List your 5 favorite oxymorons, what they mean and why you like them. 2-on-1 08/03/2018

Okay - this week's topic should be a bit of fun. Oxymorons. We all use them, probably joke about them and hopefully know what they mean. You can check my friend and fellow 2-on-1 blogger Ramana's take here. 

An oxymoron occurs when two contradictory words are together in one phrase. In fact, oxymoron translates from the Greek words oxy meaning sharp, and moron, which means dull. Thus, the word itself is two contradictory words pushed together. For a fun read discussing many types of oxymorons (or oxymora -  also a valid plural of oxymoron) check this discussion of oxymoronology.

Let's begin my list with a classic - jumbo shrimp. One look at my over-sized frame and it should be obvious why I like this one - they taste great. They are equally excellent deep fried, sauteed in butter and garlic, boiled and chilled with a nice spicy cocktail sauce or my personal favorite - in a nice Madras curry sauce over rice. and,it is even now the .nickname of a minor league baseball team (the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp) 

Next up is one every fan of the comic strip Peanuts knows well - Good grief. Now realistically I know of no grief that can be called good but in this instance it has been  co-opted by Charles M. Schultz's characters. I must admit to sharing this sentiment with Snoopy on occasion. And, it is regularly used by our hero Charlie Brown for many a frustrating circumstance.  It has come to stand fora feeling of extreme exasperation.

Number 3 on my list is act naturally. I like this one because of the Beatles song from years ago and the irony - act naturally. Interesting - it is said the best actors and actresses are naturals at acting naturally. As a side note - I saw the Beatles in their last live gig on the road in 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The tickets cost a whopping $4.50 each. They sounded awful - LOL - but it was a fun time. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Next up on my list is soft rock. Soft rock? I prefer my rock to be loud and with a great beat - like this little ditty. The fact that the song is a riff on the Indian sex manual The Kama Sutra is clearly a bonus.  Songwriter one, censors zero!

For number five I am going with pretty ugly. There is a clever commercial running on television here that has an installer placing a satellite dish in a very conspicuous place on the front of a house - the commercial is for a cable company (no satellites). The homeowner comments it is pretty ugly and the installer asks her to use those words if she writes a review - emphasis on the pretty.

That completes my list but there are several others that are worth mentioning - spendthriftbridegroombittersweetballpointspeechwritingfirewater, someone and wholesome - all single word oxymorons.. This is a discussion that could go on and on,