Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebration or Revolution

 Is it necessary to celebrate everything we agree with and condemn those things we don't ? I read where the Congress has asked the President to condemn Nazi's and white supremacists. Does that really require a document ? I mean it kinda goes without saying doesn't it ? And even if I sign a document, make a formal declaration, what does that accomplish. I guess it is a reward of sorts, I got my way and made him say it. It all sounds rather childish to me. Now, Kim Jong Un, that dictator needs to be told in no uncertain terms what will be the result if he continues in his actions. A formal declaration is in order for that, a warning. We don't need to send him a formal letter saying I don't like you or " unfriending " him on Facebook ! He already knows that.
  I believe in God. My belief in God does not require you to believe in him. My faith is not dependent upon your acceptance. I have noticed if I don't go around hitting people over the head with my Bible, they generally leave me alone. Fact is, many don't know a thing about what I believe.
Yes I know the Bible tells me to go forth and spread the word. It has been my experience whispers are heard before shouts. Shouting tends to make people defensive. The first act of defense is to put up a wall. Offerings are accepted but demands are met, usually with force.
I will offer to share my belief with those in need. I offer that as a gift. You can either accept or reject that gift. I expect nothing in return.
 It is unreasonable to expect the majority to accept the opinion of the minority. I agree it is equally unreasonable for the majority to condemn the minority for beliefs or practices that do no harm. Each and every one of us have some aspect of our personality that others don't like. Each and every one of us have secrets that we keep from others. Personal likes and dislikes. It isn't wise to impose those likes or dislikes upon others. What is the benefit in that ? The benefit is to you, and you alone. You receive satisfaction, affirmation for your belief. My feeling is if you require that in order to believe, you are not convinced. Belief can be proven or disproven. Faith requires no proof !
 But, you say, nothing changes without protest. It takes revolution to create new realities. Okay I can see that logic, history is full of examples. What was created however was a new society, a new form of government or a return to the old.
 "Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy; such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."
-- John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power (1763)
John Adams was aware of all this and certainly expressed it so much better than I ever could. I believe he is correct in his assessment. I am troubled that I may indeed be witness to this degradation of Democracy, every man doing what is right " in his own eyes. " Moral virtues are on the decline and wanton pleasure is definitely on the increase. If we continue in this revolution just what will be created ? If you agree with Adams, it must be anarchy.   

Monday, September 18, 2017

The comfort of Family

 I looked at the calendar and was reminded. On this day there was a birth, a birth four years before my own. On this day in 1949 my brother Dan arrived. I've known him all my life ! Well, that would be the assumption wouldn't it ? The reality is quite different. We walked side by side for a while. I reached a fork in that road and choose my path. We each traveled our own roads just as we were taught to do. Now brother Dan didn't " travel " all that far for many years. What I mean is he stayed in our hometown after school and built his life there. I joined the Navy and traveled all over the place. I rarely had the opportunity to spend time with him much after the age of 23 or so. We were both occupied with living and our immediate needs.
 I expect this situation happens a great deal more often than we realize. In those Hallmark holiday specials families are always coming together, " friendships " are highlighted between siblings. Oh but if life were really that simple. I don't know maybe my family never received the script. We have all just ad-libbed thus far. My eldest brother was born in 1947 on the 26th of this month. He  left us nearly three years ago. I had more opportunities to see and visit with him than I took advantage of. For that I carry regrets. Brother Dan has traveled now and lives in Georgia. He is still far away in a physical sense but somehow a little closer because of time. Is it because time itself is becoming smaller ? Deaths remind us of that. Our time on earth is finite. I experienced the reminder of time last Friday with the loss of my sister in law. 
 On Saturday it was my Moms' birthday. She turned 88 and it was a reminder. Today I am reminded again. Time is the most precious commodity we can possess. We can't control time, but we can control the use of it. I can't travel to Georgia with any regularity but perhaps I will make that journey on occasion. That is the problem however, occasion. Why do we wait for an occasion ? The occasion should be just being with my brother, that is occasion enough. I understand Dan has purchased a computer and is attempting to learn its' use. I get it, us " older " folks hesitate when it comes to this new technology. I have encouraged him to " get on Facebook " and get connected. Truth is, I want to be connected. I want to share more in his life if only through the medium of social media. There is much to be learned about each other. Yes, we are brothers but there is much that is unknown. We last lived together in a different time and place. The events of life have changed each of us in ways the other may not understand. The brashness of youth often came between us. Then as younger men we were all bravado and machismo !
 I would love to hear the story of his journey thus far. I hope he would like to hear mine. Dan has always been my brother, we were born that way. My wish is to be brothers " together. " We have been brothers apart for far too many years. I work on the family tree, I have my walls lined with photographs, ancestors and descendants. I have wrapped myself with these things. I have found that the greatest gift of all in this life is a very simple thing : it is the comfort of family. The comfort of knowing that you are loved. When those ashes are thrown and the dust settles, that is what is important.
Dan in the foreground, sister Millie and myself. 
Easter 1961 a lot of " water " under that bridge ! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Grief is defeated

 I made a few attempts at writing about something else. Those attempts were met with a wall. That wall is grief. I grieve not for what was lost, for memories remain, I grieve for the future. For events that may have happened, for plans unfulfilled. The loss is only perception. Were Joan here with me , as I write these words, we would not relive the past, we would make new memories,  and it is that gift, that is the loss. The gift that was Joan.
 Tomorrow has been removed and replaced with a finality. Certainty is replaced with apprehension. My faith whispers to me that I will enjoy that gift again. Reality presents itself as fact and all I see before me is death. I know through faith I will defeat that reality. It is what has been promised to me. The promise did come with an obligation, an obligation to obey. Am I up to the task ? I must remain strong in my faith through the loss and not let doubt divert my course. I could drown in my sorrow if I allow it to pool.  It is from that pool that fear and apprehension flows, often as tears.
 I believe with each passing day the whisper will become louder. In time it will drown out doubt. It has always worked that way and I have no reason to believe this time will be any different. Grief causes our soul to cry out. I find the cries are for myself, not for the one lost. Grief is a selfish emotion. Love defeats grief.
 For that reason my thoughts are flooded with memories of Joan and all that was. She added much to my world. She was a friend. She was family. I seek comfort in knowing that she has joined her husband and all the others deserving of paradise. Portions of her essence are with me still and always shall be. All that was,  remains unchanged. My sorrow is that I will receive no more. Guilt stems from that knowledge. I hadn't given any thought to her leaving and she left me unexpectedly. No chance to say goodbye. The truth is given the chance I wouldn't have said goodbye. What I would have said is, I'll see you later. That is what I believe.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A few words

 This morning I am deeply saddened. My sister in law Joan has gone to be with the lord. The sorrow is for myself, my wife and all of those that knew and loved her. Joan feels no sorrow, no pain and certainly no loss. She has joined her husband and all the others in paradise. It is in times like this that I fall upon my faith to carry me through. I can't just sit and write about it, I must live it. I admit it is more difficult to live the words than to write them. Still I have no regrets with Joan and have no need of closure. Joan isn't closed to me but rather will live in my heart and memory forever. The next few days will be the hardest.
 I don't write these words for sympathy. I don't write these words for any reason other than they are my thoughts. Joan was a beautiful soul with a pure heart. Generous and kind. She will be missed. I could write volumes about her but the synopsis takes but three, I loved her. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Turn signals

 I cut the grass yesterday and noticed it for the first time , fall grass. Do you know what fall grass looks like ? I can see the slight brown tint in that growing grass, it is the seed for next year. I'm no farmer that much is certain and agriculture isn't part of my makeup but I am observant. I first noticed this when I worked for the town of Ridgely, Maryland. Cutting grass was a big portion of my responsibilities and many hours where spent on the tractor. Riding along hour after hour you just naturally start to notice this stuff.  I wasn't wearing ear buds plugged into an I-phone or MP3 player and so wasn't distracted by any of that. It was just the tractor, me and acres of grass. I also got to do a lot of thinking then as well. Could be that is why so many farmer are as wise as they are, plenty of time to think about stuff. I expect that isn't as true today as it used to be. Farming has become quite the automated process. The cabs of those tractors and combines are plenty plush I'd say and filled with distractions. , just like our automobiles. It's become a problem, distracted driving. I can't imagine why. But I started out talking about the fall grass coming on. It is just one more indicator that the seasons is changing.
 I wouldn't call myself much of a naturalist, I just know what I have observed or experienced. I do think it would be fun to go exploring in the wild, living off the land and all that. I always wondered where people got the money to do that. I mean, surely you have other responsibilities in life don't you ? How can you make a living doing that ? Another big question has always been, where would I do it ? There isn't a single square foot of land in all of America that isn't owned by somebody. Isn't that an amazing fact ? Not one square foot isn't titled to someone, some corporation, or the government. Even the Indian reservations are technically the property of the United States government. It is frequently mentioned these days how we took the land from the native Americans. Yes we did, and put it in our name.
 You know what's strange ? We are taught that our government, is of the people, by the people, for the people. The government is also the largest landowner. So, we shouldn't have anyone homeless in America because we all own the land ! But, the government controls our use of said land. Hey we are even charged admission to get on some of the most beautiful land we have, we call them national parks and forests. So just who is the land titled to ? I want to see the deed. But again, I've wandered off track.
 Anyway I noticed the fall grass coming on, the hint of color in the trees and it is getting dark earlier. The breezes are getting cooler. I did see some geese the other day. Maybe it is just some romantic notion I have from watching too much television. Maybe it comes from riding a tractor for hours on end. I just can't help but think what it must have been like back in the old days. I'm thinking before we could turn on the news and listen to the weather reports. I'm certain folks back then could read the signs left by nature like you and I read a book. Nature does leave indicators with almost everything if you are observant enough. We have heard red in the morning sailors take warning, red at night sailors delight. I wonder if that works in Kansas. I watch the squirrels gathering their stores for winter, I stare at the wooly worms when they arrive. All these things are signs, the signs of nature. Ever notice how the sky is grayer in the winter months ?
 I do find it all very satisfying, reassuring somehow. The changes occur so subtly. Yes, the big events get all the attention. The thing is like a great work of art it is the details that make it beautiful to look at. You do have to know what to look for though. I suspect that is what is taught in art appreciation class and what should be taught to our children regarding nature. Sadly, I think a lot of that is being lost. Well, there is always the weather channel.   

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Purpose

 I was watching this hokey series on Netflix called Iron Fist. I just started watching it and so am not that acquainted with the whole premise of the show. Anyway the main character is talking and says, " our purpose is to find our purpose. " The character gives credit for that bit of philosophy to Buddha. Not being a Buddhist I don't know if that is accurate or not. Years back it was always Confucius that provided that wisdom. I haven't heard much from him lately. I do know that half of what was attributed to him, he never said. Hey, Yoga Berra had the same problem. Yogi famously said, " half the lies they tell about me aren't true. " Now any statement similar to that may be credited to him. I did read where he was amused by all of that. But I was thinking about the purpose of life, and the thought that our purpose is to find our purpose. My first thought was, where should I be looking ? Will we found our purpose or will it be revealed to us ? That is the essential question to ask in my opinion. I lean toward the later. It will be revealed, I'll know it when I see it.
  I have written this before and still believe it to be true. There is little that can be said that hasn't been said before. It is only in the choice of words that sentiments change. It is sentiment that the majority of us wish to express, although in more modern times we are becoming fact based. That is part of the reason for religious belief being on the decline. That's the way it is becoming in the information age. There was a day in America when the volume most often referenced was the Bible. I don't believe that was a bad thing. That book was the source of wisdom for the Christian world. Well, truth be told it still is. Many are repeating what is written on those pages just paraphrasing to sound different. Like a salesman selling the same product, only to a different customer. The good salesman adjusts the pitch ! He will point out different features to different folks. The things that are important to them.
 I began thinking that perhaps our purpose will be found in the knowledge we seek. That is to say, where we collect our wisdom. Traditionally that was given to us by our parents and grandparents. We listened and learned. When we didn't listen , we were held to account and corrected. For the majority of us we gained an understanding of the way the world works. Now it seems that wisdom is coming from the Internet and social media ! I believe that is not a good thing. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, a great tool, but can also be harmful or confusing. Information introduced prematurely can cause problems. Just like reading a book, don't tell the ending in the second chapter. I think that is what is happening these days. Too much, too soon. We are rushing ahead and failing to learn those basic life lessons essential to living in the real world. That's why you see so many claiming they are " empowered " by doing the things that should have been doing all along. Basic life lesson are coming as revelations to these folks. Same reason everyone is now a " survivor. " A survivor sounds like you have overcome some life threatening experience above and beyond expectation ! Growing up we called that, gettin' by. Of course back then I didn't think much about my purpose, I just did what was expected of me, to the best of my ability. Guess I figured that was my purpose. The best example of purpose came in the Rocky movie. Remember when Adrian wakes from her coma and says to Rocky, win ! Mick exclaims, PURPOSE, what are we waiting for. For Rocky wasn't that to do what was expected of him ? To win ?
 All of this is just speculation on my part. I don't profess to have any great wisdom or inside knowledge. I just enjoy thinking about it and writing down my thoughts. Could be that is my purpose at the present time. I do think our purpose may change from time to time, seems reasonable to me. As to the big picture I'll only be able to really see that from a distance. I'll have to be patient, I'll be distant from this world one day. I'm thinking it is then I will see the big picture and know the answers.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

on drugs

 I read another article about a young lady losing her life to drugs. It was the same as all the rest, young, talented, full of life and then wasted on a high. I remarked then how I felt we needed to quit saying something. We hear the phrase the " war of drugs " used. I don't think we should be battling a drug, rather we should be battling for our children. We need to take a good, long , hard look at why these children make these choices in the first place. Addiction isn't a choice, I'm not saying that, but I am saying the choice to start using drugs certainly is. The thing I wonder about these days is are we giving the kids a choice ? What I mean is we are always pushing drugs on them. How many times do we say, take this, it'll make you feel better ? Beginning with pumping them full of vaccines, we push the " miracle " of modern medicine upon them. There is a pill for everything. Feeling a little sad, here take this. A little too full of youthful energy, take this. We drug our children and then wonder why they become addicts !  It is a lesson we are teaching all too often, a better life thru chemistry.
 I often hear the argument to legalize pot because, it is no worse than alcohol. I agree it is no worse than alcohol. In some ways it may even be a " healthier " choice. But setting that aside the question I ask is this. Shouldn't we really be striving for something " better than ? " Why are we settling for it's no worse than, is that making progress ? I can't see how it is. Now I don't know or care if pot is a " gateway " or not. In my thinking it is society that is opening the gate. We advertise drugs on television for Gods' sake ! What is a child to think ? Am I the only one that sees this ? I watch a television commercial for some drug or another followed with a commercial for a rehabilitation center !
 Oh, I know this has all been said before but I can't help but repeat it. As I read that tragic story, a newspaper article about someone I have never known it hit hard. This young person was found on the side of the road in the area where I was raised. I can't imagine that happening when I was a kid playing in those woods. Yes, I knew some kids that snuck liquor from their daddy's cabinet. Their was much talk of smoking pot, although I never saw anyone with it. The sixties was the beginning of this trend. Pill poppers we called them. It has progressed to injections. Where will it end ? It will only end when we teach our children to only use drugs as a last resort when prescribed by competent authority. Hey maybe I'm just an old fart but I read and pay attention to the label. Yes, I have abused alcohol !
 The expectations of your peers is what usually drives this abuse. When you start doing that stuff when you are alone that should be a red flag. If you can't get along with yourself without being drugged you really do have a problem. How is it that our children are being influenced in this way ? Could it be that we are just being too permissive ? Could it be that we are providing " entertainment " in such abundance that they aren't learning to just be with themselves ? Could it be that we are not holding our children accountable for their choices ? I don't have any answers for the current epidemic. I do think this war on " drugs " needs to be refocused. We should be fighting a war on dependence. That begins with teaching our children to be independent. Independence doesn't mean you just get to do what you want ! I'm thinking that is the lesson that should taught. There ate consequences for the choices you make, good and bad.
 I know that this does nothing for the ones currently in this situation. For those unfortunate souls al we can do is pray. And for those that do it shouldn't be celebrated as an achievement ! I see far too many dancing around on a stage somewhere telling their stories like it is something to be proud of. I'm thankful for your recovery but don't tell your stories with your chest stuck out like some conquering hero. Those events should be told with the utmost humility. If you wish to impress your audience with the severity of choosing drugs or alcohol, bring out a drunk or someone stoned ! Just let those folks address an audience that is clean and sober. Maybe do a powerpoint presentation of the dead and dying ! And please explain to this audience that legal drugs can do the same thing when misused. Yes, put a fear of these drugs into the hearts of the children. They should be just a little nervous about using them. I still am.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

no quarter !

 Yesterday marked a solemn anniversary. I was gratified to see that even in the midst of the chaos and turmoil of two hurricanes it wasn't forgotten. It is something I will never forget, akin to what my parents generation feel for Pearl Harbor. As tragic an event as that was it now often goes unnoticed by many of the younger folks. Slowly history is putting a cloud over that, obscuring the reality of it.  I'm not saying we should never forgive, for the generations following that are not accountable. All the lives lost were important to someone. I am saying we must never forget about it. For some that distinction is hard to comprehend. Forgiveness is the more difficult action to accomplish, forgetting is much easier. I know it isn't very Christian but I admit it is easier to forgive my enemies once they are dead ! I hold no Japanese folks responsible for what happened in 1941. Yes, there are a few left that participated. They would all be old warriors now, veterans of a war they lost. They pose no threat and I would leave them in peace, unmolested in their memories.
 That attack will have been 76 years ago this year. Yes it is remembered, mostly with tributes to the fallen. The living veterans are counted, especially those that survived that initial onslaught. More lives were lost on 9/11 than at Pearl Harbor. The truth is more lives were taken at the world trade center than were lost on D-day ! A staggering statistic when viewed in the context of history. Memorials have been erected and the names written down. A new monument began construction to remember those in Pennsylvania that were martyred in defense of our nation. A 93 foot tall " Tower of Voices " to remember those lives on flight 93 that were taken. I have placed that on my bucket list of places to see. This tower is the final phase of that national memorial. It is a bit symbolic in that regard as far as my thinking goes. It remains to be seen if that will be the last memorial dedicated to that awful day.
 As I listened to the tributes and speeches yesterday from various dignitaries and family members I was struck by a particular phrase used in conjunction with the attack on the trade center. That phrase was remembering the " sacrifice " of those that lost their lives. You could say it is a matter of semantics and I couldn't argue with that, still I am bothered by it. Those folks that were killed by that terrorist attack did not make a sacrifice, their lives were taken from them ! A sacrifice is something freely given, often in hope for an exchange. I don't believe one single individual in those towers gave their lives willingly. Yes, there certainly were many acts of bravery and personal sacrifice following that attack. It is to those acts that our memorials should be dedicated. Those memorials represent the lives taken, not the act ! The names recorded are those whose lives were taken, not sacrificed. They supported no cause, what did they hope to gain ? The answer is nothing at all, given a choice they would have lived ! That choice was taken from them on that fateful day and we must never forget that !
 Should forgiveness be forthcoming ? If so, who are we to forgive ? You can't find closure with an ideology. That ideology is alive and well, flourishing in fact. I for one will give it no quarter. I will speak out in opposition, no matter how politically incorrect that may become. I will take whatever measures I can to prevent the growth of that cancer in the world. I will never forget what they are capable of doing, what they have already done ! The enemy is elusive and insidious in their plotting. I will remain forever vigilant. Sixteen years have passed and the fire of anger still burns hot in my heart. I don't believe I'll ever put that behind me, much the same way Pearl Harbor lives in my parents memories. Innocent lives were taken ! The sacrifice came with those that responded. Their gain was to be the saving of life. a selfless act. God bless them all. I will never forget.    

Monday, September 11, 2017

Deportment

 I watched Charlie Rose interview Steve Bannon on sixty minutes last evening. In the end I was left with one impression, Charlie Rose has lost all sense of impartiality. HIs dislike for Trump was on full display, as was his distaste of Steve Bannon. Nothing wrong with that on a personal level but he is supposed to be a professional. I couldn't help but wonder if that really was his personal feelings, or is he being paid. If I were his employer he would be censured or perhaps fired. It wouldn't be for the view he holds but rather for his complete lack of impartiality during that interview. Unless, of course that is what he was being paid to do. There were moments when I could see the color rise up in his face and I felt like he wanted to strike out. All in all I found it very unseemly for a " senior " correspondent. I'll blame it on the influence of Gail King and Nora O'Donnell.
 It left me wondering what has happened to the newsmen ? Walter Cronkite told us, " and that's the way it is " without his personal judgement or opinion taking precedence over the news. Walter was a man you could trust to tell the truth of it, whatever it was. I also admired David Brinkley. It was he who said, " Washington D.C. is a city filled with people who think they are important. " I'd say that was telling it like it really is. It appears to me that a lot of the newsmen we have today have adopted that same attitude. I would say there are a lot of newsrooms today that are filled with reporters that think they are important ! What they fail to understand is what Walter and David both knew, the importance lies in reporting the news factually, unbiased, and without a agenda. It was simply their jobs.
 Although the majority of you that read my postings can take an educated guess I won't say what I think about Bannon or Trump. Whether or not I agree with what was being said in that interview isn't important to this discussion. What I'm taking issue with is the reporting. It didn't seem like an interview at all. It struck me more as an ambush. Bannon says it was his first television interview, ever. Charlie Rose attacked with the viciousness of a cobra. He continually interrupted when Bannon tried to answer. Following his interruptions Charlie tried using misdirection, changing the topic, and the interjection of personal opinion to direct the conversation in his favor. In my opinion he came just short of telling Bannon, " I'm Charlie Rose and I'm smarter than you are. "
 Yes, I felt Charlie Rose became condescending on several occasions. And maybe even worse was Charlie Rose repeating those weak, non-sensible retorts like I read on Facebook. I believe he employed every single one of them. " We are a nation of immigrants. " Charlie  is that the best you have to offer. Yes, we are a nation with immigrants ! Legal immigrants have always been welcomed in our nation so what is your point ? Sorry, I just expected a more thoughtful, informed interviewer wouldn't stoop to such low level statements. Even Bannon had to tell him, Charlie that is beneath you.
 I can only assume that Charlie Rose has decided to " ride for the brand. " He is pushing the agenda as it is being fed to him. Perhaps as his career nears its' end he has become concerned with his legacy. It's a shame he is sullying whatever successes he has had in his career with such tripe as he spews forth today. To say I have lost all respect for him is an understatement. What happened ? How has it come to be that he has lost all sense of deportment ? It seems like the entire " left " has lost a sense of deportment. Well, the truth of the matter is a great number of Americans have lost there senses. As my old friend Walter would say, " and that's the way it is. "    
  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

the response

 The pressing issue of monuments has taken a back seat to Irma. I'm happy about that much anyway. It is a shame that it is taking a natural disaster to get people focused on what is important. I wrote and explained yesterday why I don't think Irma is anyone's fault, especially it isn't God punishing anyone. Now that the attention is focused on Houston and Florida there will be some to proclaim, " God works in mysterious ways . " A lot of folks like to say that as an affirmation that God only does good things. They wish to put a spin on things they can't understand to get a positive result. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm one of those that try to find the positive in every situation, even when there isn't one. Attitude and outlook are the motivators for the things we do, and the choices we make. The little train that could ! That is what I was taught. I wasn't taught to ask for help or to surrender when things got tough. I was taught to give thanks to my God for whatever good fortune I experience in life. The thanks isn't for any action God may have taken on my behalf, the thanks is for strength of spirit.
 That spirit is the gift that God has given me. I am free to use that gift in any way I choose. That is how it should be with a gift, it is given without expectation of a return. There will be those that appreciate that gift and those that do not. As the person giving the gift one shouldn't be concerned with any of that. The gift is in the offering, not in the object. Isn't that what the story of the little drummer boy teaches us ? Remember when we were children, and made those little gifts for Mom ? The value was in the offering. Aren't they also the gifts most often saved, preserved over the years as treasure ? I have a few of those treasures from my own children, and now from the grandchildren. God imbued me with his spirit, I am responsible for the usage and care. I believe my God even left instructions for the care of that spirit. Man recorded those instructions, first in memory and later in writing. The reference is in our conscience.
 We instinctively know right from wrong. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.". If we had received our rights only from the government, then the government could justifiably take them away. Jefferson was saying that God instills those rights in us, not the government. In todays' jargon, it's a no brainer ! I also believe I am responsible for the choices I make. That is another lesson I was taught at an early age. I can point the finger at any number of people or circumstances but the response is my own. It is the strength of my spirit that guides me. If I have maintained that spirit well, it will serve me well. The choice is mine.
 So as I listen to the reports of the storm and its' progress I will pray. I will pray for all those in harms way. I offer my prayer without expectation of return. My prayer is an attempt on my part to share the gift of spirit I was given by my God. It is offered to anyone that may be in need. I don't care what monument may or may not have offended you. Monuments are just reminders. Reminders are  good things, even when we are reminded of bad things. Will Harvey and Irma serve as reminders of the human spirit ? Yes, I believe they will. Disasters have a tendency to bring out the best in humanity. It isn't God causing storms as punishment. It isn't God working in a mysterious way. Storms are a natural occurrence. Every person on earth is imbued with the spirit of God. It is that spirit that will respond.

 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

who's to blame ?

 Like most of America I am concerned about this hurricane named Irma. The news has been incessant and has grown increasingly dramatic. Unfortunately I don't think the news folks are exaggerating the seriousness of the situation. This is one time when I wish that were the case. This storm is a monster. I have seen some postings where certain celebrities and others are blaming this storm on Trump. Now just how stupid is that ? The reasoning is that God is somehow angry at the United States and punishing everyone for Trumps actions. Unbelievable that anyone would even suggest such a thing.
 A lot of people will question why. Why does God allow these storms and other natural disasters to happen ? I don't have an easy answer for any of that. Could God intervene and stop all of this ? If you believe in God, you would also have to believe that it is possible. So why doesn't he ? I don't know, but here is what I think.
 God, whatever name you choose makes little difference, is the energy that gave life to the world. My Bible tells me that in the very first chapter. " And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. " God then said, Let there be light and there was light. Light is energy. Energy is the ability to cause change in matter or the environment. One would have to conclude from that history that God is the source of light/energy. That energy, that light created the world as we know it.
 Now I don't believe that God preplanned everything that would follow. That is evidenced by giving man free will. If he wished to control everything, he would do so. It just seems logical to me. Why did he create earth in the first place ? That is the biggest question to be answered. I don't believe the sole purpose was to glorify himself. That doesn't sound like the God I pray too. It is a question I intend to ask one day. Setting that aside as an unknown, I would expand that to include people and the weather. What I'm saying is these things are just part of a natural order, a cycle unbroken since the beginning. I do find it unsettling that the world was flooded at one time. Yes I believe that Biblical account. Was that a punishment from God ? I struggle with that question as well. Noah could just as well had a premonition that he acted upon. Other cultures also have tales of a great flood so perhaps Noah and his family weren't alone. Believing that doesn't change anything as far as I'm concerned. I do believe that God is the beginning and the end. The alpha and the omega. I don't envision my God as a puppet master. I don't think that is necessary for either God, or us.
 Believing that heaven awaits those that please God, obeying his commandments is the reward. The manner in which I arrive to face judgement is not important. The important part lies in what I did while I was here. I was given the choice. I could obey or not. I can't say I haven't been told, that I am unaware. Just as I wrote a few days back I believe that fate fulfills destiny. Fate are those things that happen to us either by our own actions, the actions of others or nature itself. The only thing we can control is ourselves ! That is the test isn't it ? Isn't that what judgement is all about ?
 I am destined to be with God, I believe that. How soon that destiny is fulfilled I can not know. I'm not ruling out the possibility it could take several lifetimes. That is simply because I believe that God also gave me life. It is the energy of God that sustains all life. Energy, as we all know can neither be created or destroyed by man. We can kill the physical body, no problem there, but we can't destroy that energy. Where does it go ? Does it need to go anywhere ? Energy, as we know it is always transforming from one state to another. We also know there are two types of energy, kinetic and potential. Is what we perceive as eternal rest simply potential energy ? Is that energy then absorbed into the whole ? It's a lot to think about.
 To sum up my thoughts this morning I just wanted to say, God isn't punishing anyone for anything ! I do not believe that. I believe prayer is just as effective in times of crisis, as in times of calm. Much of what happens to us is the result of fate. God is not controlling our fate. We can have the greatest influence on our fate although circumstance and the actions of others will certainly intervene. It will not change my destiny however. That is the basis of faith.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Patroit or politician

 You know what the problem is ? For too long the American voters have elected the candidates that promised to give them the most. The original idea of casting your ballot was to elect the person best suited for the job at hand, that is to say, the management of government. Government was to be run for the benefit of all, in an economically feasible fashion. Then slowly patriots became politicians. That is when the wheels started to fall off ! The republic started to shift to a democracy. The reason for this isn't difficult to understand. In a Republic the power is held by the people through their elected officials. When those elected officials start legislating the power to themselves, democracy emerges.
 A democracy exists when a simple majority makes the rules. The politicians have, through legislative trickery, managed to do just that. You hear it all the time, the Congress makes the rules ! That's true and the way it was designed to work. The executive branch is charged with implementing those laws and the Judicial branch with enforcing them. Three branches of government, the balance of power. Which party holds the majority in the Congress ? The party that has a majority in both the house and the senate is the simple answer. The intent being they represent the majority of the American voters and therefore the will of the people. That works until the executive branch starts issuing " executive " orders. That has been true with every president, not just the current or previous administration. It then falls upon the Judicial branch to either approve or rescind that executive order. Of course that only happens after the fact ! After the barn door is open, so to speak. Convenient isn't it ?  The wheels of Justice turn slowly. These executive orders are not law, they are not the will of the people, but a decision made by the President. Yes, there are situations when it is necessary because the Congress can not act quickly enough or refuses to do so. An emergency exists and that is what executive orders are supposed to be used for. The most recent example being this DACA order. Understand that this is not a law, only Congress can make law. Just what was the emergency ? Was it indeed a national emergency that precipitated the necessity for this order ? If so, what was it ? I can't think off anything and I'm betting you can't either.
 But I have wandered off the subject I wanted to talk about. I was thinking about the responsibility we have to elect the candidate we feel will best suit the needs of the country. I'm as guilty as everyone else. We have a tendency to listen to those of the party we affiliate ourselves with. That is a natural thing. Then we choose the candidate that best suits our needs. There, that is the problem, We are choosing candidates based on what we think they can do for us, individually, rather than what is best for the nation. That is precisely where the wheels get loose. The problem lies not with government but with the people. We the people are the government ! We the people need to take charge, put our foot down and deliver a message. That message is sent via the polls.
 Whether you like it or not a clear message was sent to Washington after the last election. Donald Trump is that message. Trump represented the will of the people. I don't want to hear any sorry excuse about he didn't win the popular vote. Bill Clinton won election and reelection without winning the popular vote. He is just one of five. In other words 12% of the time the president is elected without the majority in the popular vote. The message was the majority of Americans want change in government. The government is too big, too involved in our private lives, and spends our money like a drunken sailor. Yes many are upset with this " interloper " in Washington, in a position of power and authority. The reasons are many. First and foremost however is the fact that he isn't a " insider " he is not a member of the club. He doesn't belong ! This person is going to upset the applecart for sure. All the politicians know these and are scrambling, afraid for their positions, for their status and privilege. The party doesn't matter anymore, it's every man or woman for themselves ! And that is a problem. It is supposed to be every man or woman for the country.
 Now everyone will say how I am a Trumpeter ! I support Donald Trump. Once again I will state a fact, I didn't vote for him. He was not my choice, but he won the election. It is true that I agree with most of his decisions so far. I do believe he is acting in the best interest of the country from a business standpoint. That still doesn't mean I think he was the best choice. Bottom line, he is the President. Is his motivation patriotic or personal ego ? Most likely some of both. Why a man of his wealth would subject himself to the rigors of the presidency is a valid question. It is certainly a feather in your cap ! He isn't doing it to advance his career, that much is certain. It remains to be seen if he does anything constructive. At this point it is my feeling, and apparently a great of America agrees, a little destruction in Government is necessary. He can do that, no doubt about that.  
     

Thursday, September 7, 2017

it's coming

 Yesterday I noticed a hint of color in the trees. The evening before as I watched my grandson playing soccer the geese flew overhead, three times. Those geese weren't honking, guess the sky hasn't become crowded just yet, but they were headed south. I thought, I wonder if they have some kind of long range radar. They are headed for a hurricane ! I just checked google and they claim those geese can fly up to 1500 miles in one day. They could already be in the storm. But nature has a way of protecting birds and animals from such things. They will most likely stop and feed somewhere safe and continue their migration later on.
 I have seen the mums for sale, the corn mazes open for business, a hint of color in the trees and now the geese. I can say conclusively, fall isn't far off. I don't need a calendar or goggle to tell me that. I feel the cool air in the morning, refreshing now. Something isn't it ? In the summer the wind is welcomed as a friend, a breeze to cool us down. In the winter months that wind turns mean, biting into our skin, chilling our very bones. Yes in the fall and winter months it does become stark. That is the word I would use to describe it. The snow can be beautiful to look at, fun to play in, but it quickly becomes a nuisance. Like an unwelcomed guest, you can't wait for it to go away. But here I go rushing ahead, the very thing I complain about when others do it. We are a fickle species man.
 The kids are all back in school now. As expected they are in the next higher grade, a year closer to graduation and I can't quite grasp that yet. A freshman and a junior ? Guess they are growing up after all, no matter how much I want them to linger. Shoot I wouldn't mind lingering at this age for a while myself ! I remember when I couldn't wait to be " grown up. " Well that turned out to be a disappointment. It isn't nearly as much fun as I anticipated ! Still, I had to be grown to get married, have children and grandchildren. Great grandchildren may be in my future but I'm not rushing that. Is it that I have learned something, or just don't want those grandkids to grow up ? A little of both I think. Great grandchildren would surely signal " fall " in my lifespan. I don't think that could be denied. It's true we don't have an expiration date but we do have a shelf life ! According to the Social Security administration I can expect to live to 84.2 years old. They might lower that to balance the budget though so maybe I had better tell those kids to hurry up after all. I don't know, all I know is fall  is coming, and fast.


I do enjoy the early fall. When the leaves begin to drop and it stays cool at noon. I like wearing a light jacket or a sweatshirt. The smell of burning leaves is a favorite, in the last few years roasting some marshmallows over a fire has become a thing. That reminds me I need to build a fire pit. We have made makeshift ones intending to construct a permanent one, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe this year. I'm not crazy about pumpkin anything. No lattes, no pies, no nothing. Last year I didn't even carve a Jack O Lantern. I did make this politically incorrect version of one though. I just couldn't resist and my grandson got a good laugh. He kept it in his bedroom till almost March ! It was one of those " nervous " laughs. You know the kids today are being taught to be so " socially sensitive " afraid to share a bit of humor. Without going into a whole big thing I was taught that the best humor is when we can laugh at ourselves. The " jokes " we told did just that, and in a way exposed those preconceived notions we had of others for what they were, misconceptions. Now they say we were harboring hidden prejudices and all manner of foul things. Mustn't acknowledge that they even exist ! We will hold protest and parades to eliminate them but we can't laugh about any of that ! Well, like I said, I'm not going to go into a whole thing here today. Maybe another blog, anther day.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

steady as she goes

 My mind is occupied this morning with so many thoughts. My sister lives in Florida, on the east coast. My Mom lives in Florida, on the west coast. Sure looks like that hurricane is going to get one of them. Fortunately my brother that lives in Georgia is going to get Mom and bring her to safety. Unfortunately my sister is in the hospital with a case of pneumonia ! She can't evacuate but has been assured the hospital is hurricane safe. Naturally my thoughts are with all of that.
 President Trump made an announcement on the DACA program and set people into a frenzy. Nothing is going to happen for at least six months, but they are already protesting in the streets. I saw where 7000 students walked out of high schools in Denver in protest ! Have we lost control of everything ? People were surrounding Trump tower in New York in protest. All at once they are no longer illegal aliens, they are undocumented immigrants, and now they are " dreamers. " I want to know just what is the dream ? If it is to be an American, then you need to first become a citizen ! In order to become a citizen you must enter my country legally ! It isn't that hard to understand. Laws are written to establish order. Laws can not be circumvented to satisfy feelings. Marching in the streets carrying protest signs written in Spanish proclaiming you will not leave is just crazy. At least write those signs in ENGLISH, the predominant language spoken in the host country you are trying to become a citizen of ! Quit dreaming and start doing !
 Houston and the surrounding areas are still underwater and in dire need. That news is being set aside in light of the looming storm called Irma. To say the country is unsettled is a bit of an understatement. Storms and social unrest are threatening to divide us all. I'm thinking I have to turn off the news for a while, stay off of social media and collect myself. I'm heading for the coffee pot. I pray everyone is safe and sound. To coin an old nautical phrase, " steady as she goes. " That means don't panic, get a firm grip on the wheel. I think it is going to be quite the tempest over the next few days.
   

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

the value of a memory

 My Mom tells me she has a few cassette style tapes that were recorded back in the eighties. On these tapes are my father, brother and possibly my niece. She can't be certain as she hasn't listened to them in quite some time. I asked for and she said she would try to make a copy for me. I'll need to purchase a tape player, I'm certain they are still around. I sure hope she follows through on this promise as I'm excited about the prospect of hearing Dads voice again. There were many times when I didn't want to hear what he had to say but those days are long since past. Dad passed away in 1990 and his voice is getting a bit dim. Now the words he spoke are ingrained into my subconscious and I hear him everyday, but it is the sound of that voice I want to hear again. No doubt I will recognize it.
 Isn't it funny how when we hear our own voice recorded it doesn't sound anything like we hear it.  You know what I mean ? I don't sound like that is the immediate reaction I always get. Strangely when we hear other people they sound just perfect. How can that be ? It's a mystery I haven't been able to solve. I'm thinking it has something to do with resonance. My voice must really resound in my head because of the pitch. Sounds kind of hollow ! And that doesn't sound good. I would rather have that deep bass voice of authority. a voice like Morgan Freeman. When he speaks, you listen. What's more, you believe what he is saying. The very reason he is such an effective pitchman. It is the pitch that matters.
 A while back I did make a recording of my voice. I did that to satisfy a curiosity. I was wondering if others thought I had a particular accent. The results were mixed. Some did think I had retained a particular inflection and manner of speech, where others said they heard none. It was interesting. I had read a prepared piece, a blog I had written and just read that. Since that experiment I have wondered what if I hadn't been reading from a " script ? " What if I had just been engaged in a conversation and not conscious of being recorded ? I'm certain it would sound differently. No, my voice would be the same but the choice of words, of phrasing, certainly would be different. It would also depend upon whom I was speaking with. We do change our manner of speech to fit the occasion. We make subtle changes depending on the social situation.
 I'm anxious to hear those recordings my Mom has. Surely it will be a trip into the past. I'll be hearing a familiar voice once again. I've got lots of old pictures, grandparents and such. Even though the technology was readily available I have no " home movies " of myself, my brothers or sister, no one like that. I have hours of video footage on the grandkids that I hope they will enjoy some day. I do wonder if they will just take that all for granted much the same way so many did with old family photographs. I let a great deal of them go unnoticed and unsaved in my younger days. They weren't important at all back then. Would I have done the same with film ? Just can't say as my family never had a camera capable of such. I'm certain the cost of processing also played into that decision. Home movies were for the " upper " class folks that went on family vacations and the like. I'm told that my videos, stored on SD cards will not degrade much in years to come. I'm just praying that the technology stays around long enough for the grandkids to enjoy those recordings. If the technology to play it back exceeds the value of the memory, they will be lost. That is the key here, the value of the memory. Memories are like antiques, they are all old, but not all are valuable. The value is dependent upon the a number of factors. The least of these is sentiment. That's why people collect such things as Troll dolls. Once the sound of my fathers voice was free, but now has become priceless to me.
 Well okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean. What was once taken for granted has become a treasure. In the future perhaps we will have our loved ones and even our pets with us in virtual reality ! What do think about that ? I'm thinking it would be a bit creepy. I'll settle for some tape recordings or video footage thank you very much. Memories are more valuable than any of that and will never be replaced. That's my thinking anyway. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

one smooth ride

 Tomorrow my grandson goes for his drivers license. He has had his permit, attended all the mandatory classes and driven me around. Still, tomorrow will be a big day for him. Who among us can remember the thrill of getting that license ? I don't have any distinct memory at all, just that I got it. I do remember being all worried and nervous about that road test. I was using my Moms' car, a 1968 Dodge Charger that I hadn't been allowed to drive very often. It was an automatic so that was a help. I was more concerned with damaging the car than anything else. That's about all I can recall.
 I was thinking about this and how things have changed. My grandson tells me if he gets his license he still couldn't drive to school. I figured he meant he couldn't because he doesn't have a car of his own. That wasn't what he was thinking about though, he doesn't have a parking permit from the school. I'm told you have to purchase a permit and now they are all gone. Granted this is a high school but I have seen the parking lots, there are lots of spaces. So, if all the spaces are gone that means a lot of cars, far more than what faculty would need. Just how many of these kids have their own vehicles ? I don't remember all the kids in my classes having cars. I did have one when I was a Senior. It was a vehicle given to me by an uncle. It was a 1965 Ford Falcon station wagon ! I was thrilled to have it. I surely didn't require a parking permit up at the high school. Well now that I think about it I didn't need an ID either. Times have definitely changed. How many trucks sat in that parking lot with a shotgun in the rack ? Duck hunting is done in the early morning you know, before school. I think a few folks would get just a bit upset by that nowadays.
 Remember cruising around ? I drove my car just to drive. I expect all teenagers do that, that is something that I'm certain hasn't changed. I'm not up on what the cruise here in Greensboro is but McDonalds seems to figure into the route. I see a lot of pick up trucks parked there with young boys. Not so many young girls though ! Mom and Dad aren't having any of that ! Maybe the girls are driving their own cars around now. I hadn't really given that any thought. Boys are interested in the car thing right ? When I was young I was aware of a number of ladies that had no drivers license and had never had one. Grandma certainly never drove an automobile in her life. Yes, a lady having a drivers license wasn't something that was assumed back then. That's changed.
 I think it was a lot easier for kids to get a car when I was in high school. Good used cars could be had for as little as a few hundred dollars. All you needed was a little mechanical ability or a friend that did. Junk yards were around to get parts at reasonable prices. Thing was, almost everything on those cars could be fixed, they didn't necessarily require replacing. I remember seeing those electronic ignition systems for the first time and scratching my head about that. No points, no condenser ? I learned to adapt. Didn't like it much but that's what the new cars have. The new cars today are just too complicated for the average Joe. The parts need to be replaced, not repaired. I have been informed in the last years that junk yards no longer exist. At least the one in Greensboro doesn't, I was told it was an automotive recycling center ! No more wandering around the junk yard looking for a part. Go to the counter and inquire. You will need to know the year, make, model, and the part number you hope to retrieve. Don't try to just ask for a radio, that will be met with a barrage of questions. I was just looking for a simple 12 volt am/fm radio. I was told without all the aforementioned information that would be impossible !
 I guess what I am trying to say is when I went to school a car was closer to a wagon than a electronic package. An abacus compared to a electronic calculator. Both will get the job done, albeit one faster than the other, even when in the hands of the inexperienced. I do believe the guys of my generation where far more knowledgeable about vehicles and how they work. We had to know to keep things going, unless of course your Daddy had lots of money. We laughed at those kids. Today it just isn't a practical approach. Buying a good used car, one that you can repair yourself,  just doesn't make sense. You can buy a working automobile for the price of the parts ! That is the big change I think. Was a day we could buy a forest, chop down the trees and build a cabin. Cheaper now to just rent a condo. Everything changes.
 I'm sure my grandson will get his license and eventually a car. He wants a Jeep. I wanted a Mustang. I never did get that Mustang, although my sister did. She bought one brand new, off the showroom floor in 1971. In 1975 I bought a Gremlin, brand new, off the showroom floor. We'll see what Mark winds up with. Whatever it is I am certain he 'll have fond memories of that first car. I would love to have a 1965 Ford Falcon station wagon once again. I'm told they are antiques, collectors items. Yeah well, they were a fine automobile. And I'll tell one thing that Falcon had that cars don't have today, a bench seat ! That's right it was equipped with a bench seat. The advantage ? I would turn to the young lady riding with me and say, " slide on over here, I don't trust that door. " And that was one smooth ride.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

fate fulfills destiny

  Have you ever heard the sound of a bell buoy in the fog ? It is one of the most ominous sounds I can think of. I have heard it almost as a whisper, beckoning, tempting in it's insistence. At other times it is sharp and clear, a warning. Always I get an unsettled feeling in my stomach. It isn't exactly fear, that isn't the feeling, foreboding is the word to describe that sound. All that is true if you are underway, moving through that fog. If you are safely moored the sound takes on a different quality altogether. Then  it can be a comfort, a lullaby that soothes.
 I don't know why that came to mind as I sat at this keyboard this morning, I do have these random thoughts that appear to be unrelated to anything at the moment. Scatterbrained is what they used to call that. I prefer to think of it as an active mind. I believe our brains process information all the time and just file it away. Every once and a while something is filed in the wrong place. Those are the seemingly random thoughts we have. Once we refile them, in their proper place, they make sense to us. Did that sound escape a file to warn me about something ? If so, I can't see it just yet.
 I have two options. Either I move forward slowly, cautiously listening into the darkness, or drop anchor and wait. If I wait, the fog will lift. Patience is what is required in this situation. Yet I feel a sense on anxiety about all of this. I don't feel like I should wait at all. Still, the bell rings. The sound is dull and muffled so whatever I'm being warned about is at a distance. I do need to be careful though, the fog can be deceiving. Is this just a warning, a nudge to change direction, to change my course ? If so, what course shall I take ? To answer that I would have to know the destination. Is that what I am questioning here, the destination ? Do we know where we are going ?
 Is our destiny, our fate ? I don't think so. Our destiny, our destination, is predetermined by our God. We can choose which God, if any, to follow, but that will not change the destination. All that changes is fate. I say that because I believe we control our fate, to a certain extent, by the choices we make. Our choices will never supersede our destiny however. Circumstance and chance figure into all of this as well. I don't believe my God is like a puppet master, controlling my every move. I do believe my God provides guidance if I but listen. That guidance can make the voyage a lot easier. Fate, to me, is the result of action. That explains why bad things happen to good people. Those things happen as a result of actions taken by either themselves, or by others. But those bad things do not change the destiny of the person, only the fate of those around them. I'm not saying it is what was meant to be, rather I'm saying that is how fate fulfilled destiny.
 I don't know the destination, only where I wish to go. Will I get there ? That is not up to me but was predetermined at my birth. I do have a destiny to fulfill, a purpose. I have often thought about what that purpose may be. I do think in order to know that I would have to know the purpose of the universe. I am just a miniscule particle in all of that. Is it reasonable to believe I could understand that ? To what purpose, man. Was man created to glorify God ? Is that our sole purpose, to please the one that created us ? That certainly doesn't seem right. If that were the case God must be sorely disappointed. My Bible tells me that happened on at least one occasion and the result was the flood. Now I'm hearing the sound of a bell buoy ! That tells me to pay attention, might need to adjust my course or drop the anchor. I'll keep on listening for now.  

Saturday, September 2, 2017

a step too far

 I like listening to the classic country songs. This morning as I heard Conway Twitty crooning his hit I'd love to lay you down, I was reminded. You know, when that song was first released many radio stations refused to air it, it was just a little too suggestive. No matter that it would perhaps gain listeners, that wasn't relevant. What was relevant was decent programming that was fit for decent folks to hear. Oh, songs like that may be alright for honkytonks and bars, but not on the common airwaves. That song was taking things just a step too far. And that is exactly what I was reminded of, taking a step too far. When I was young and that happened I was quickly pulled back from the edge. Nowadays it seems like we encourage folks to just plow ahead, upsetting everything without a care and calling it progress. My thinking is things have gone a few steps too far ! It's time to rein all this nonsense in just a bit. There is a time and place for everything. We should maintain at least a semblance of decorum.
 If you watch the reactions of folks these days it is usually in extremes. That is the way we express the sincerity of our thoughts, feelings and actions.  We are either preaching, punching or protesting ! Reasonable and calm discussion appears to have been thrown out the window. Everything, and I mean everything is done to the extreme. We are deeply offended by the slightest impropriety. We launch crusades against these real or imagined indiscretions with all the fervor we can muster. In the past we would have just ignored it ! Just like that recording I mentioned. The radio stations just smashed the record and threw it away. They didn't campaign to have the recording company boycotted, the industry destroyed. No, they simply stated they wouldn't play that record. And that was pretty much the end of that. Today the radio station would insist that the record be played no matter who might be offended ! Why it is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States ! Well, as long as it was making a profit for the radio station that is. Commerce is of primary importance, supplanting good taste and a sense of propriety. If it is profitable that's what matters.
 I see all this as a shift in the basic philosophy of American values. As cliché as it sounds we were once a country about Apple pie, Momma and God. We were concerned with doing what was moral and just. The dream was to make a good life for yourself and your family. That dream was within your grasp if you worked for it. It was up to you to do right, make the correct choices and take responsibility for those choices. But now the philosophy has changed. Now we approach justice and morality as a vigilante group ! We just take the law into our own hands and make demands. We call those demands " rights " and have legions of lawyers, scholars, and " progressive " thinkers reinforcing that notion. Whatever the mob wants, the mob gets ! Yes there was a day in America when we had dreams, they have been replaced with demands. Have we taken a step too far ? I think so, but it isn't too late to take a step back either. I believe everything goes in cycles. I'm praying we have reached the peak of this one. Sometimes you just have to say, no.  

Friday, September 1, 2017

years gone by

 Well here it is September. There are a lot of birthdays in my family during this month. Mom, Dad, both brothers and various in-laws and outlaws. There were so many my sister waited until October ! She didn't want to get lost in the crowd I guess. I am an early riser and so appeared in July. I prefer the warm weather and being on Vacation, July is perfect for both. So I went to my genealogy program to confirm birthdays. Like most men I don't remember dates well, at least dates concerning birthdays, anniversaries and such. In my family tree program complete dates are listed whenever I could find them, that means the year. As I looked up those dates it was the years that caught my attention. First it was brother Dan. He was born September 18, 1949. That was only four years after the war. " The war " in my world always being WW2. Mom was born on the 16th, in 1929. The next month the stock market crashed. Dad was born in September of 1924, the year Boston opened its' airport. My eldest brother Harold arrived in 1947 the same year the Air Force was created as a stand alone component of the armed forces. All of those events are real history to me as they are obviously before my time. I came along in '53, the same month Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing-Sing. I was told that is what happens to spies and traitors.
 The years did jump off the screen this morning. I see the year 1949 and that sure seems like a long time ago. Yes, I know I was born in '53, but '53 ain't 49 ! Hey 1949 was in the first half of the last century. My Dad was born in 1924 and passed in 1990. As much as I miss him, it does seem reasonable. I mean after someone is deceased their age doesn't matter anymore. They ain't getting any older. Isn't that the way we think of that ? I lost my eldest brother in 2014 and I feel like he never got to be old, even though he was born in 1947. Just what is it about dates ? Sometimes they don't make much sense. I don't think of myself as " old " but 1953 was a while ago, just ask any teenager. My brother however, he's old. Fact is, he has always been older ! Maybe that is the simple explanation for all this confusion. Those that are older than ourselves will always be old ! That does seem like an accurate statement. Well, unless we decide to just go on " feelings " something many are apt to do these days. Hey some have decided they aren't even the gender they were born as, but that's none of my business. If they were born before 1953 they are older than me, no matter what they decide. That is how it works !
 September is the beginning of fall, it arrives on the 22nd this year. We think of it as the beginning of the end. The summer is over and the cold weather is poised to take over. I'm glad I wasn't born in September. July is much better. Warm weather, lazy days and six months till Christmas. Right in the middle of the year, almost. Same with the year 1953, just about half way through the century. Had I been born before '53 I'd be old right now ! I am the youngest you know ? My sister was born in 1951 but we won't talk about that. Strange how that works isn't it ? Just how old does a lady have to be before it doesn't matter anymore ? I'll reserve my answer for another day and time. Smartest thing I can do right now is wait for another date entirely, probably another year ! The years certainly do go fast. Birthdays mark the individual passage of time. Do you like being reminded ? I do enjoy receiving a card as an acknowledgement that I am still here. Mentioning the year of my arrival however, is not necessary.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

hanging on

 As I was driving back from dropping the grandson off for soccer practice I noticed a sign alongside the road. Hand painted on a piece of plywood it read, MUMS. My immediate thought was, it's fall. The seasons are being rushed into we are all aware of that. The Halloween candy went up when the 4th of July stuff came down. Now it appears the mums have joined in. I've still got my tomato plant producing and flowers are in bloom, there is no place no Mums. I don't know, it was just a shock I guess. When I got home the evening news was on. I was watching that with my wife and telling her about those mums when the newscaster mentioned a corn maze ! Yup, this farm that creates a corn maze every year has it ready for business. Oh my goodness, corn mazes too ! Did I just hear Jingle Bells or is it my imagination ?
 Now this is something I have mentioned several years, and probably several times during those years, it's nothing new. Still those mums appearing on the side of road was a jolt. I was thinking about the grass that needs mowing and what I might put on the grill for labor day, fall decorations weren't part of that picture. The wife and I do have a small collection of " door decorations " that we hang to announce the arrival of the various holidays and seasons. In fact just a little while back we bought one that says, Welcome Autumn. " It has the obligatory pumpkins, corn stalks and bales of hay on it, along with some glitter. We picked it up at the Dollar store shortly after the fourth of July, laughing as we did so about the fall decorations being out. Somehow it doesn't seem so funny today.
 I can't help but think we are now living by a commercial calendar. It certainly seems all the seasons are geared toward sales. I was never a farmer or one who lived off the land. I did grow up with an understanding of that somewhat. In the spring you had the fresh turned earth and the crops went in. The flowers began to bloom and the grass was greening up. The warmth arrived a little earlier in the morning hours, the world was waking up from that long winters nap. Spring was celebrated for the gift of life. Then we had those lazy, hazy days of summer. Life was good, even the rain was celebrated as a gift. The fall was harvest time, a time to be grateful for whatever bounty the good earth had provided us. It was also the time to prepare. Prepare for the winter months. All the seasons being tied to the cycle of life, of birth and death. Modern man has lost that connection for the most part. The seasons dictate the products that are for sale. That much has always been true. Even in my youth certain products were not available for purchase until they became available locally. Things like cantaloupe or watermelons weren't shipped in from California or foreign countries. If the local farmer didn't grow it you most likely didn't get it. My Mother tells me they didn't get oranges at all until Christmas, as a special treat, because they were so expensive. The local grocery store, owned by Mom and Pop didn't stock such things as a matter of course. Now we expect to be able to get whatever we want, whenever we want it. The calendar means little to us in that regard. The calendar  marks the passage of time. As any " senior " will tell you, time flies. I sure wish we would stop rushing headlong into each season. We are only given just so many seasons, let's not use them all up at once ! Mums and corn mazes ? Really, already ? 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

gettin' a lickin'

 I was watching the Waltons as I do most days. Even though I have seen almost every episode multiple times I still enjoy the program. I wouldn't call myself a Walton expert or anything like that, I just like the whole premise of the show. It really is an escape from the real world and that is what those shows were designed to be. To me they are presented almost as an ideal. When I was growing up we had a lot of shows like that. Lots of everyday heroes that lived a modest life. Morality and justice were the themes. Doing the right thing and getting rewarded for that. If you messed up you would be held to account !
 In this episode one of the Walton boys was getting involved in a bunch of mischief. A neighbor boy got mixed up in all of that as well. Toward the end of the show the little boy that was a friend to the Walton boy was to receive a lickin' ! I just had to chuckle a bit as I heard that line. It took me back in time, to my own youth. How many times I heard that said I can't say with certainty, but I sure heard it a lot. If it wasn't directed at me it was directed at my brothers or sister. I asked my wife if that is what her parents said, she replied no, they got a beating ! I continued to laugh about all of that. That is part of the charm shows like that hold for me. I am reliving parts of my childhood as I watch. I wish my childhood was like the Waltons , it wasn't anywhere near close to that, but there were moments.
 Looking back on those shows they did share a common theme. They were all about right and wrong. There was a moral to the story, and that moral was plain. We all knew that real life seldom, if ever, worked that way but it was fun to watch anyway. Who didn't want a Dad like Ward Cleaver or Lucas McCain ? Oh they would hand out a lickin' when it became necessary but they did exercise greater restraint than my Dad. Still, I knew I had it comin' when I did get those lickin's. It wasn't a sneak attack. I always got the chance to explain myself. Seldom was the explanation sufficient to ward off that lickin'. Doing something for a " good " reason wasn't excuse to do something bad ! The road to hell is paved with good intentions is a bit of wisdom I learned at a early age.  I'm certain those shows had an impact on my thinking, I don't see how they couldn't have. Was it a more naïve time ? In certain ways I would have to say it was. There was much children didn't see or hear about. We were left to " discover " that stuff on our own. We would learn about that stuff when we needed to know it ! In a way you could say we were taught the " lesson " before we even had a chance to read the book ! Failure to " learn your lessons " could result in a lickin'. Then you would be taught that lesson all over again. Adults that got themselves into trouble had failed to learn their lessons !
 I'm not certain what shows the kids watch today. From what little I know they really don't watch television shows like I did. I guess there are just too many other options. Music videos, movies on demand and the whole world of the internet to explore. I was told that television was ruining my generation, the boob tube was dumbing us all down and making us lazy. Now it is social media that is causing issues. I wonder what's next ?
 It is a never ending thing, this concern for the generation following our own. I remember when television entertainment was meant to entertain everyone. Today we would say that it was being censured and that is exactly what it was. I don't think that was a bad thing. It sure made it more of a challenge to write and produce a good show that gathered a following. Now all we need to do is appeal to the more " base " side of folks to obtain viewership. Just look at the most popular shows and the evidence is staring you in the face. Not too many moral or ethical values on display in my estimation. Reality they call it ! Yes and I guess it some fashion that is the reality of the world. not my reality however. At least with those old shows their " reality " was a possibility to the average person. It was also something folks aspired too. I do think we try to emulate our " heroes. " Those heroes are whom ? Whoever is admired in popular culture. They are the role models aren't they ? I'd say so, and I'd say we are in real trouble. I'm thinking the whole country needs a lickin'.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

a different perspective

 Labor day is just around the corner. The unofficial end of summer, time to put away those white suits and dresses. Am I mistaken or wasn't this also the time for the " white " sales ? Sheets and pillow cases figured prominently into all that, although I believe it was all linen that went on sale. That was all many years ago now, a relic of a memory. I really just remember that it was the time to go back to school. September would be cool on Long Island but now that global warming has occurred I guess that isn't so anymore. I read where there will be no football program this year at the old alma mater. A lack of willing participants being the cause. I wonder if they have a soccer program ? I'm betting that they do. I will be accused of profiling or being prejudicial in that guess. I am aware of the present demographics of the area and so feel it is a fair assumption. Things change with the times and with the will of the people. Soccer has gained in popularity over the last ten years or so that can't be denied. My beloved Baseball has been on the decline for quite a number of years now. and boxing, who even knows anymore ? We have changed to MMA, more gladiatorial I suppose and in keeping with modern day attitudes. From the sweet science, to ground and pound ! But I digress in my thoughts, I was thinking about Labor day. Everyone thinks of it as a three day weekend and so it is.
 I find it interesting that it was started by the labor unions. It was a day to celebrate the importance of the Labor force in building America. It wasn't intended to celebrate the individual though, it was for the entire force. It is a subtle distinction missed by many folks.. The Labor unions having gained in strength now demanded something, a day off ! Those unions having decided their own importance to the success of America as a nation demanded a day off. They demanded the workers be paid for that day as well, a national holiday. We wouldn't produce anything on that day, but we would get paid for doing nothing ! A great concept to pacify your workforce if you are the union leader. It is almost diabolical in its' sheer simplicity. In reality it is a socialist ploy to control the workforce and the government. We will tell you when to work and when not to, the union knows best. Ultimately the unions seek to control the government. Then you have the birth of the socialist state. Individuals are discounted in favor of the whole, the state. All the while you keep telling the people how they individually benefit from all of that. See, you're getting paid and you don't even have to work ! Isn't it great ? Yup, it's a regular holiday.
 The fact is the success of the nation depends upon the success of each individual in that nation. All too often we lose sight of that. America is a success due to the influx of talent and personalities over the decades. Those immigrants that came here to become Americans did provide the labor, the backbone and the drive to make our country a success. Oh yes, there were the wealthy ones, it takes money to build a nation you know, and we commoners envy the bosses and their money. That is the natural order of things. The dominant male leads the pack doesn't he ? Yes and he always will. Whether by physical or economic strength he will lead. These unions would have you believe that they alone can provide you with that success. They will empower you ! Just the opposite is true. The union seeks to control you for their own benefit. But hey, if you are willing to relinquish your desires in exchange for a day off, that's your choice.
 Individual success is achieved through individual effort. Neither a union nor a government can ensure you success in life. All they can provide is material things, creature comforts and a sense of security. Yes governments and unions can give you all the trinkets in life, make it easy for you to exist but they can't give you a life ! A life is something you must build for yourself. So go ahead enjoy your day off, a day without work, you earned it right ? The labor unions think so. So long as you stay in line, pay your dues and accept whatever the union or government offers, you'll be fine. You may even get to like it ! Fact is, after a while you will depend upon it. Is that something to celebrate ? 

Monday, August 28, 2017

life in portions

 When I started writing these blogs I had no idea that my sister kept a journal. Over the years we just haven't been that close to each other, location wise that is. Well I guess the truth of the matter is we weren't all that close for a number of years. There wasn't any animosity between us, we were just busy living our lives. I'm sure you know what I mean. We do tend to get involved in our own little worlds and get lost. She was in Germany for a time, married to an Air Force man and I was in the Navy, moving up and down the east coast. Anyway, she is still married to that Air Force man and they are now, long since retired, and living in Florida. Yes, I've retired also and my traveling days done. To make a long story shorter, we have been in touch with each other over the last ten years or so and making that brother, sister connection once again. It's a wonderful thing. She has confided in me her journal keeping habit. This is apparently something she has done for many years, far more than my blogging. I haven't read any of her journals and she hasn't offered them to me. That is fine as I get the impression they are more of a diary, of sorts, filled with personal thoughts and such. My blogs, on the other hand, are written with the " public " in mind. I'm telling my story and do not reveal all my thoughts. I will say this much, I don't have much to hide but, there are portions of the story that do not need to be told. Secrets aren't always bad things, sometimes secrets are nothing more than mistakes, and mistakes can be corrected.
 The same situation happened with my brothers, this disconnect over time and distance. They were busy doing their thing, while I was busy doing mine. By the time we had all caught up with one another we found we didn't share much in common. Isn't that a strange thing ? Oh sure we all grew up together, same parents, same town and all of that, but as adults we had little to share with one another. It was distance that came between us all. Had we all returned " home " the situation may have been different. Problem was the branches on our tree had spread out and we were all far from the roots. We really knew little of each others lives, having not shared them as adults. My oldest brother did live a mere twenty miles from me for the last twenty years of his life. I was a mere twenty miles from him and didn't visit nearly as often as I now wish I had. Just twenty miles but it just might as well have been a hundred and twenty. It was no fault of anyone, the only fault was time and distance. We were on different roads. My oldest brother is gone now and I miss his presence on the earth. I sometimes look into the night and see nothing but the darkness.
 My other brother lives in Georgia. It has been a few years since I saw him last. The story is much the same. He has been busy with his life and I with mine. He was the last to leave our hometown. His life seemed so stable to me but that fell apart somewhere along the way. I understand things happen, people change and choices are made. I have no idea of who, what, where, when or why. The story is his tell and he has chosen not to tell. Perhaps in time he will feel that need and perhaps not. We have begun to reestablish a connection with each other. Only time will reveal what is to come. He tells me he has written many stories about his youth and I am anxious to read them. He is anxious to share them as well. He hasn't gotten into the computer world just yet and so he will have to mail me those stories. I'm looking forward to that.
 There are times when I wish my life had been like a Hallmark movie holiday special. You know what I mean ? The family all together, having their issues, solving those problems, and living happily ever after. In the end everyone loving one another unconditionally. I do wonder if it is even possible. Families, siblings as adults, all together sitting around the dinner table, no fighting, no judging, no I told you so ? All is forgotten and forgiven. Sadly, in my case anyway, that could never happen because we haven't shared our lives. Just a few cards and letters over the years.
  Well, I think that life is best shared in small portions, at least that has been the case with me. I believe all is going according to plan. I have made my choices, traveled the roads I wanted to travel. Yes, there are times when I wish I had my siblings traveling that road with me, but that isn't how the highway ran. It looks like our paths are converging once again. There is a lot of road left ! We'll see where it goes together.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

soon enough

 The summer is winding down and the kids will be going back to school soon. This year my Morgan goes off to high school. Her brother will be taking his test for a drivers license on the 9th of September. That means he will be driving himself to school at least a few times this year ! Yes, you read that correctly, my grandson will be driving himself to school. How can that be ? It would seem that time once again has eluded me and slipped past the gate. On the bright side, all is progressing as it should and for that I am grateful. Even during these turbulent days since the election that have stretched into months, the majority of things have stayed the same. At least he isn't going to be driving a flying car to school ! That is one promise that hasn't come to fruition yet. I have seen a lot of other things arrive though. You know when I was a senior Texas Instruments began selling a pocket calculator and man I thought that was something. Just look what the kids can carry, in their pocket, to school these days. Simply mazing. I did take a certain satisfaction in buying the grandkids some school supplies this year. I bought the classics, #2 pencils, pens, and some notebooks, you know the composition type. I'm not certain how the kids felt about that but it gave me a warm feeling anyway. Nostalgic !  No backpacks this year and of course no lunch boxes ! I'm not certain when the lunch boxes went to the side, probably a few years ago.
 Of course the kids aren't nearly as excited to go back to school as in years past. The excitement and/or anxiety just isn't there anymore. Now it is, ho--hum. It is called adapting to life and we all do it. We try to maintain a certain level of excitement for our everyday lives but it is a difficult thing to do. I imagine even superstars get bored with their everyday activities. It would help to have unlimited resources to provide distractions. I can't see that lady that just won millions in the Powerball becoming bored anytime soon, know what I mean ? When you are that wealthy you can hire someone to have fun for you ! Yes, she is that rich. Seriously I do think it would be as simple as Forest Grump pointed out when he was telling that lady he was a " gazillionaire. " He said he had plenty of money and that was good, " one less thing " you know. Yes, that must certainly be a wonderful feeling not having to worry about your bills. One less thing for sure. We'll see what the school year brings, I'm certain there will be moments.
 With the beginning of another school year another chapter begins. Those " kids " are young adults now. I don't know ;  with the youngest one going to high school it just feels a little different this year. A Junior and a Freshman. The sister saying to her brother, you have to give me a ride to school changes the conversation a great deal. Yes, changes are on the way. I have always been told to embrace change but I'm thinking I would like to hold this off for just a while longer. Just a few weeks now till school opens. Maybe not even that. I'm not counting and the kids aren't either. It'll come soon enough is the attitude everyone here has. Have we all become that mature ? Must be that because I know I'm not that old. Surely those kids aren't that old. One thing I have learned over the years is, whatever comes your way will come of its' own volition. It will all come soon enough.        

Saturday, August 26, 2017

sqeaking and squawking

 I have been using a seagull as my profile picture for a while now, I do think it is appropriate The other day when I wrote my post called " Quit Squawking " a friend pointed out that I do squawk a lot. It is a fair statement and I take no offense. I would also say there are times when I should just quit squawking, although that is unlikely as it is part of my nature. Some of us identify with the mountains, some with the sea. Apparently I identify with the gulls. I did enjoy the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull and still have a copy around here somewhere. He was a different sort of fellow, always questioning things. I'll take it.
 My own dearly departed father often compared me to a gull. He would say , " you don't do anything but eat, *hit and squawk. Looking back I can see where he got that impression at times. Hey, I was a kid once. I might have been worse if we had video games back then, Fortunately all we had was pong, and that got boring real quick. As a result I did spend a lot of time just asking questions and trying different things. Mostly I tried to be my father, which meant building things or repairing stuff. I even fixed stuff that didn't need fixing. As I result I did learn a broad variety of skills  although I profess no mastery of any one. I am the quintessential jack of all trades, master at none. No musical or artistic talent however. But I can squawk !
 Now having that pointed out to me, my inability to quit squawking, was a valid observation. I have given it some thought. I was writing about discretion and deceit. I admit I do forget about the discretion part a great deal. I'm thinking this blogger platform has liberated me somewhat. Liberated me from the basic tenets I was taught as a child. Is it progress ? Well not always is my response. And so I offer my apologies in advance for my indiscretions. In all fairness however I did include that warning in the description block for this blog. Have any of you taken the time to read that ? LOL, or have you glossed over it like those " terms of use agreements "  that pop up so often ? Be honest now. That isn't the first warning block I have had to include, there is one on a group I formed on Facebook as well. That became necessary when some other folks were offended by the mere posting on a link to this blog ! I wasn't aware that link was also a trigger ! But that is all water under the bridge so to speak. I hold no ill feelings toward anyone. I'll just keep on squawking though. Sometimes that squawk can turn into a screech ! I hate it when that happens. I'll try hard not to screech. On the other hand one does have to remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I do hear a lot of squeaking ! Those squeaks make me squawk ! It is a never ending cycle.  
   

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Discretion or deceit

 Yesterday I was writing about polite company and how people behave in public compared to how they behave on social media. I do believe that we live in a far more socially aggressive society than in the past. That was my premise about being in polite company. You remember how your Mom would correct your behavior and " censure " your words. They were the lessons you received about being in polite company. Instructions on how to straighten up and fly right ! Sadly in my estimation those lessons are not being taught anymore, in fact, the opposite seems to be true. The object now seems to be , force your opinion upon others no matter what. Your feelings are far more important than what anyone else may be experiencing. Any " tempering " of your words, or " constraint " on your part is viewed as a weakness. It is a fight to the death !
 I have noticed this behavior is far more prevalent on social media than it is in society. That is a good thing, but I can also see it gaining in popularity in personal interactions. More people are apt to express themselves forcibly than in the past. I believe that started with the acceptance of crude, vulgar, and offensive adjectives in our everyday language. I could make the argument that it began when little Johnny started calling his mother Jane instead of Mom ! Mom having relinquished her position of authority over his actions. Hey, I'll leave that to a sociologist to figure out. They go to school for that sort of thing. It's none of my business. But my point here is that is what I think happened anyway. If you don't teach your children how to behave you can't expect good behavior. Of course we could just talk to them about all of that. Yeah, that's working out real well.
 What I was wondering about as I began this was whether people are more honest in person or on the internet ? It is certainly easier to be whoever you wish to be on the internet. I wonder if people choose to present themselves differently when they are unknown ? The question is, is that who you really are ? Only you know the answer to that question, everyone else is just guessing. The more exposure you allow, the greater the chance they will guess correctly. That is why you were taught restraint in polite company. You don't want people to think you're an animal do you ? Better to keep your cards close to the vest, to coin an old phrase. It is called discretion, although some feel it is deceit.
 Discretion is the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense, or revealing private information. It's purpose is not to hide anything, rather to protect. Of course, later on, when certain things are revealed, one may feel deceived. So the question becomes when to exercise discretion, and is it ever acceptable to deceive. I would say it is always best to exercise discretion as its' purpose is not to harm anyone. On the other hand deceit is perpetrated. And if something is perpetrated that action is harmful, immoral or possibly illegal. That's never a good thing. That applies even if you are just trying to deceive yourself ! We call that delusional. There is a lot of that going around these days.
 I do think that we should be as honest as possible. Now I know I have a tendency to write differently than I speak. That isn't a conscious thing intended to deceive anyone but rather the way my brain seems to function. Or is that a malfunction ? Whatever the case, the words in my head come out differently when written, if that makes any sense at all. I wonder if some of you were to meet me in person if you would be disappointed. Well not disappointed really, but not what you expected is a better description. Would you feel deceived ? I certainly hope that wouldn't be the case. Our mental images of people can often deceive us. The reason is a basic one, we are all prejudiced. I know, we all deny that as prejudice is a bad thing. Fact is, it is only bad when proven to be so,if not, you exercised good judgement. And there is that word, judging. Don't judge ! But then again we do tend to think of judgement as a condemnation and why should that be so ? We all like it when the judgement goes in our favor don't we ? The judgement is a good thing. Strange how that works isn't it ? But I have begun to wander. I do think I have failed to exercise discretion adequately and for that much I apologize. I will try to be more discrete in the future.