Friday, December 27, 2019

Recapping 2019 and looking ahead to 2020

It's that time again. That time when we look back at the year about to end and look ahead  to the new year about to dawn on us.

2019 has been an eventful year, full of ups and downs joy and laughter and all of the myriad other emotions we go through. Again I say - if I had known Oi would live this long I would have taken better care of myself. I truly never expected to make 70 years - and in that odd way things happen with dates, about to enter my 1th decade on this here third rock from the sun.

It has been a down year health wise, beginning with getting really sick when summer kicked in in North Carolina. It really wiped me out. And then, a sinus infection that is expected to last three weeks or so hammered us all here in Brentwood but we still had a fun Christmas. I watched three of my great nieces ripping through wrapping paper like the Tasmanian devil. A fun time was had by all here in nippy Brunted, CA.

Yes the rode to Brentwood was fraught with action and adventure, Zombies and a very interesting young guy in Cleveland - a waiter in a place called The Chocolate Bar  that knows as much about our music as I do - and my eventual return home to California, Boy what a 70th Birthday Party my friends and I had in Sacramento last August at our 52nd year reunion from high school. There was a room full of people that has gotten to connect/reconnect through Facebook and then kick the tires and light the fires at a great party. A grand time was had by all.
Leave us not forget the grand adventure crossing the US via train chronicled by Jim Furr and his iPhone. While the romance of train travel by coach has been debunked, it was still a grand time. The best part was reconnecting with Jim Furr - my travel mate, pusher and photographer. Of course the entire trip was the idea of Brian Scott - who was ultimately unable to travel with us due to family duty but thanks anyway BS - for getting me to agree to the trip in the first place.

And then there was a connection made with someone who has shared classes with me since 7th grade - she even posted the class pic. Vicki Martinez aka Lee has become one of my closest and best friends. It has been a kick getting to know Vicki. And to the lady who sat next to me and said I would not recognize her and pointed to her picture - I simply said oh come on  Indiana Newman - I have seen the Facebook pics. Who woulda thunk Debbie Newman would be our own version of Indiana Jones. Once again, thanks to Betty, Mary, Joyce, and everyone else responsible for that great time. 

There was one more reconnection - my old friend KT and I reconnected after 50 plus years. Lots of catching up to do and the process is well under way.

All in all,  2019 was a very good year - getting back to CA was worth every bit of the effort.

And now we look ahead to 2020 - a year that is critical to our survival as a society. One can only hope the deep divide that we have created is somehow reversed.We are better than this - we have to be.

That is it for 2-on-1 blogs this year and we are working on expanding a bit in 2020 so everyone have a safe and happy new year, see you next week.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


For this week's topic Ramana picked Tradition. Be sure to check out his take at Ramana's Musings.
 Merriam Webster (online) says "

1a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)

b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable … the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet …— J. L. Esposito

2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

3 : cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions

4 : characteristic manner, method, or style in the best liberal tradition  A culture's traditions, customs and institutions combine to define cultural continuity for that society. For example, we traditionally for years the US established a 5 day work week with weekends off. Union organizers fought hard to establish that tradition. Recently that tradition has come under attack as businesses claim they cannot be competitive in the world market with that restriction.  Traditionally, health insurance in the USA is offered to a large percentage of American workers through their place of employment, with the remainder acquiring insurance directly through health insurance providers. That led to the  creation of  the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare - a seriously flawed attempt to provide healthcare to the balance of Americans. To date (per Google) 44 million Americans remain uninsured while 33 million have inadequate health insurance. It appears our tradition of a deeply flawed health insurance  system is unchanged. Some traditions become laws - such as we drive on the right side of the street, Other traditions are created by the repetitive nature of the activity that becomes a de facto tradition. Think Black Friday sales. In the same vein, most Baby Boomers can remember a time when many if not most businesses were closed on Sunday. Sundays were days for families and spiritual fulfillment. That tradition has also given way to businesses remaining open 7 days per week. Profit margins demanded the change, according to business owners. Then there was the tradition of marriage. The traditional marriage was one male and one female. Now we have same sex marriages in many places meant to include homosexuals in the same benefit pool as heterosexual couples. This means they are protecting the rights of same-sex couples, Each state will determine their own rules regarding same-sex marriage so the tradition will vary by state. Many families have established their own traditions. My family does not happen to be one but traditions can be as simple as having someone read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. In fact, holidays are a common time for families to establish traditions.  Many families attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, I know families that name their children with names all  beginning with the same letter - I once worked for a fellow named Roger who was married to Rita and  their boys were named Raymond and Russell. Traditions add shape and shade to our culture and our families and ourselves. Of course not all traditions are positive. Negative traditions are lurking everywhere and with a bit of effort they can be changed or eliminated. Children seem to have taken the bullying tradition to far and it needs to be addressed. And there is the new tradition of not holding children responsible for themselves and their efforts. Life is a collection of wins and losses. Kids must be taught how to accept the losses along with the wins - just participating is not enough. Goals and the effort required to achieve those goals must be explained. Progress  and advancement must be earned. Those are the traditionsthat will matter most. This is the last 2-on-1 blog before Christmas so to all of my readers that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas - to my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah and to the others Happy Holidays. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Yes, I had one! 2-on-1 Dec 13

 Image result for peabody and sherman

This week's topic was suggested by me after reading a post with a similar title. It allows a bit of fun as we cruise through the holiday season. And what, pray tell, did I have? Well that depends on the time period in question so lets step into the Way Back Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman and have a look.

As a boy in the fifties it was natural for me to be a cowboy fan, and I was. I had just about every toy gun offered including a Rifleman rifle and a hog leg as carried by Steve McQueen in Wanted, Dead or Alive. I was the rootin tootinest kid in the neighborhood, surely destined for NRA membership.

Advancing the timeline a bit, high school days were a fun time and yes I had a car to get around in. My folks bought the very first Mustang convertible supposedly to hit the SF Bay Area. It was silver smoke gray (auto company 
code for light gray) with a red interior and a white rag top. I used to take it on

rallys on Friday nights. They were great fun -something like scavenger hut in your car. Pie plates with things of numeric value written on them placed hither and yon - and you get a set of instructions which if followed correctly would take you to the next pie plate which had a clue to the next pie plate, eventually leading you to a finish line. In our case we then adjourned to a Straw Hat Pizza place to total our scores, eat pizza and maybe win a trophy. We actually did place in several.
 Yes -I had a sports car. That is always good for a laugh as I am a rather large fellow.My first car was a 1956 red MGA. My friends also had sports cars - we were the anti-hot rodders - none of that Detroit slag for  us. There was an  
MGB, a Sunbeam Alpine, a Triumph Spitfire GT6  and another MGA. A few years back my friend Mark was car shopping and a friend of mt stap-dad had an MGB he had restored - so he brought it over so Mark could test drive it/ Mark was convinced I'd never get in and his jaw thudded on the ground he sure got a kick out of the test drive. Those MGA days were what I consider the good old days.

Yes, I had a student loan. Now I have to admit - I did not really need a student loan as my college education was dirt cheap. Tuition and books each quarter at then Cal-State University rarely surpassed $200 or so. But I needed a new stereo so I got a student loan on a Friday and on Saturday left the local Pacific Stereo with a dynamite stereo system. Ironically, years later when managing a RadioShack store in Oakland one of my customers was a gentleman named Ed Long - the guy that designed the speakers I bought and the designer of Time Aligned speakers and PZM microphones which were designed using microphone elements Ed purchased from me.m And yes I did pay my student loan back on time.

When it comes to friends, I have  some spectacular ones. One played in the NFL for 7 years but the one with the largest impact on life as we know it is my pal Stuarts from Rego Park, Queens  NY. He went to Forest Hills High - the same as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle. When he had secured his Masters Degree in engineering from NYU he went to work at Bell Labs. At one tine he was in charge of the AT&T PC business but his favorite job was in the development of cellular communications. Stu led the team that deigned the switching systems  that make cell phones work. One afternoon I got a call from Stu - not unique in and of itself. I asked him  where he was - Chicago n a taxi testing our new communication stuff - how do I sound? Needless to say I was flabbergasted. He also had some interesting tales to tell about the PC business and how Olivetti did business but those are for a different day.

That concludes my run through the "I had one of those" things Of course there were others - a hula hoop which I never did get the hang of, a male cat named Susie - a Main Coon that was bigger than a bobcat. Susie looked just like this

and ruled the neighborhood. He was a very cool cat. He could also be kinda scary LOL. 

Enjoy those unique moments and people in your life. They keep things interesting and that helps keep you going when you can look back and enjoy those mom get lucky

That is it for this weeks 2-on-1 blog. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say over at Ramana]s Musings

PS - I never did join the NRA. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Older and Wiser

Older and wiser - that is Ramana's choice for our topic this week. Be sure to see what he has to say at Ramana's Musings.

The assumption here is that with age comes wisdom. Though there is a definite link between age and wisdom, not all old people are wise and not all wise people are old. One who cannot listen cannot grow so the odds are that person will never be wise. What is wisdom? Merriam Webster (online) says "sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence. a choice showing good sense common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge. 

Many folks are afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are great learning experiences and the primary take away should be - IMHO - not repeating them. Think about the world of science - scientific discoveries come from experimentation, failures and learning from those failures. 

We all experience a bit of heartache in life - it is just part of life - and again just learn from the experience, and keep moving forward.

My all time fave  basketball player, Julius Erving, got it right when he said "
The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical."

It strikes me as rather odd that we here in the United States do not seem to offer the proper respect to our senior citizens. Consider the ages of some of our senior politicians and it is even odder but here it seems older people are shuffled off to retirement homes and ignored except for holidays. Ironic then that we elect septuagenarians President.

One thing is certain - e all reach the end of the line. One can only hope we are wiser than when we started.

That's my quick shack take  on older wiser. Stop by next week for another 2-on-2 blog where my blog mate Ramana and I tackle the  same subject.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Spirituality and Media

This week's topic is my suggestion. It is intentionally broad, primariy because I had it in mind to  discuss spirituality and entertainment. I really have no concept of that in India, so I left the topic wide open for Ramana - be sure to visit  his blog, Ramana's Musings.

 While channel surfing the other night I came across one of this year's God shows - Evil, That got me thinking about the number of religious/spirituality themed show, It seems like every year there are one or two new shows offered,  few rarely survive. I found a site called which offered these five shows as the top 5 Christian themed shows of all time.
  1. The Twilight Zone
  2. The Andy Griffith Show
  3. 7th Heaven
  4. Little House on the Prairie
  5. The Waltons
That's an interesting list and not at all what I expected, the author's logic being "Television today is mostly garbage promoting all kinds of sinful activities from pre-marital sex to drunkenness.  Television applauds this type of behavior and, unfortunately, our children are being force-fed an illusion of grandeur.  We as parents and as individuals should reconsider all of the T.V. shows that we watch and ask ourselves, “Is this really beneficial to watch?  Do the cons outweigh the pros?”

Looking  at his list in that light it makes a bit more sense. The stories for the most part feature loving families and every Twilight Zone episode featured a morality tale. It won't surprise anyone that knows me that the only show listed I watched regularly on that list is The Twilight Zone.

I lean more to shows like Supernatural, Dead Like Me (my all time favorite TV show) and the current Evil.

Supernatural: Two brothers - Sam and Dean Winchester - follow their father's footsteps as hunters, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth. 

This show has it all. God - coincidentally named Chuck - is a writer and the story of Supernatural is his vision of the world. It's the kind of show that appeals to a person like me - one who refuses to take the rantings and ravings of televangelists seriously.  Any show that includes demons archangels and  has a King of Hell as a primary character is simply looking to give some sense to it all and while they discuss serious morality issues have a bit of fun with the good vs. evil stuff.

Dead Like Me: Dead Like Me is an American comedy-drama television series starring Ellen Muth and Mandy h her lifeas grim reapers who reside and work in Seattle, Washington. Georgia (Muth) is unhappy with her life Wikipedia,
the first scene of the pilot episode introduces an origin-of-death myth where at the dawn of time, god (busy with creation) gave Toad a clay jar containing death which Toad promised to guard. Frog begged Toad to let him hold the jar, something to which Toad finally agreed. An excited Frog juggled the jar and finally dropped it, shattering it on the ground. When it broke open, death got out.When Georgia dies, rather than going to Heaven she joins a team of Reapers tasked with taking souls just before people's tickets are punched.

Evil: Evil is a psychological mystery that examines the origins of evil along the dividing line between science and religion. A skeptical forensic psychologist allies with a priest and a contractor to investigate purported supernatural incidents. It is in some ways a watered down version of The Exorcist - one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen.

 Clearly these shows are not for everyone but they have proven to be to me at least both thought provoking and entertaining. In their own way they all deal with morality and spirituality. There are also shows that appeal - I think - to the born again crowd. God Friended Me immediately comes to mind. It deals with questions like why things happen, why bad things happen to good people and the like. I watch and enjoy God Friended Me. Per Wikipedia, the series chronicles the life of Miles Finer, an outspoken atheist and podcaster, who is sent a friend request on Facebook by an account named "Go
d". This account suggests new friends to Miles, people in his hometown of 
New York City, who will require assistance.

God, religion, Faith and spirituality are touchy subjects these  days to some. Personally, I think they should be open for discussion at any time. Wherever you fall on the faith/religion topic it is something that has a large place in our society. Like it or not, western society is based on tenets and beliefs of Judaism and Christianity. Whether you like it or not, are a believer or not, that is simply a fact. Unfortunately, our tribal tendencies these days make discussions on the matter more difficult. Anything that helps an individual come to grips with their spirituality is a good thing.

That is it for this week's topic - Ramana and I will be back next week with another topic.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Marriage 2-on-1 Topic 11/22/2019

Ramana's choice for this week's topic - marriage - should prove interesting. Please be sure to visit his blog, Ramana's Musings.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary contains this interesting statement on marriage "The definition of the word marriage—or, more accurately, the understanding of what the institution of marriage properly consists of—continues to be highly controversial. This is not an issue to be resolved by dictionaries. Ultimately, the controversy involves cultural traditions, religious beliefs, legal rulings, and ideas about fairness and basic human rights. The principal point of dispute has to do with marriage between two people of the same sex, often referred to as same-sex marriage or gay marriage. Same-sex marriages are now recognized by law in a growing number of countries and were legally validated throughout the U.S. by the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. In many other parts of the world, marriage continues to be allowed only between men and women. The definition of marriage shown here is intentionally broad enough to encompass the different types of marriage that are currently recognized in varying cultures, places, religions, and systems of law."

So if Merriam Webster is hesitant to tackle the subject isn't it beyond the scope of a simple little blog like this? Nope. Not to me anyway.

Marriage is what you believe and want it to be or what your cultural mores cause it to be. That makes the last sentence in the above statement the most important - The definition of marriage shown here is intentionally broad enough to encompass the different types of marriage that are currently recognized in varying cultures, places, religions, and systems of law.

For me it was the "traditional" wedding in a cute little church but non- traditional in that Lynn and I were not members of the church nor the religious affiliation of the church. We met with the pastor and were quite upfront - we thought it was nice and we wanted to be married there. We were both lapsed aka Jack Mormons- he had no problem with that. So we thought all was settled until we gave the organist our musical selections. We chose Camelot music - sans the movie vocals - and the woman was apolectic.
 The last  2 ere a couple of the song selections we made that nearly sent the old lady off and running. We also chose a different processional -
 I cannot remember the recessional tune we chose - it may have been the schmaltzy We've Only Just Begun but I think it might have been somewhat bouncier.

Over the next few years I actually recorded music for several friends weddings, and the most popular recessional was from Rocky - Gonna Fly Now

That little ditty could clear out a packed church in no time. I remember one in LA that included a reception at a disco and folks literally flew to the place. That was a fun one.

Of course the rest of the marriage is exactly what you make of it. Choose whatever legal tradtions that matter to you - Lynn and I managed 42 years by  eventually slaying whatever dragons appeared and having enough respect for the marriage and each other to work things out. It certainly wasn't always easy but we survived. Our kids always like the fact that they only had one set of parents - I guess it made filling out forms easier.

That is my quick take on marriage - be bound by whatever mores and rules  are important to you Make the wedding day a celebration everyone can  enjoy and most of  all, Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot. 

I'll see y'all next week for the next 2-on-one blog.