Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Thursday, June 22, 2017

you'll learn one day

 I like to watch jeopardy and guess at the answers. It is good exercise for an aging mind. As I watched last night I got too wondering, Just who is smarter, a person with a PhD in a specific field or the person that can answer questions from all areas ? Well in Jeopardy the answer would have to be the later. That is usually who wins. But I was thinking in more general terms. What I mean is we all admire those with those advanced degrees and think of them as " smart. " But those that have knowledge of a more general nature over a very broad range of subjects we call trivia. We trivialize that knowledge ? Hmm, that doesn't seem fair now does it. If I were stranded on a desert island I sure would rather be with that person. Hey on Gilligans Island they had the Professor. He made a lot of cool things but never figured out how to repair the boat ! Maybe he needed a broader base of knowledge. Just a thought.
 It is much the same in the workforce. The workers that in my estimation are far more talented, or at least possessing numerous skills, are paid less than the expert. And the expert only has to know one area ! That doesn't seem very equitable now does it ? In another strange twist the skilled laborer can become " overqualified " for the job and refused a position. I know about that first hand, it happened to me. I was told due to my age and experience they felt I was overqualified. The thinking was, I would be continuously looking for a better position and therefore they couldn't count on me staying. I understand the logic. Of course from my vantage point I didn't agree, pointing out they would be getting more for their money.
 I tend to think in order to become expert in any one field you have to possess a narrow sense of focus. I mean, the ability to focus so much on one thing that it keeps you fascinated. You see, that's my problem, I have too many interests. I quickly become bored doing the same thing over and over. Once I know how to solve that math problem my curiosity is satisfied. I don't know how you remain fascinated with the same subject for life. Just seems like it would get boring to me. In todays information age this is even more so. I can just type in a query and presto, I have an answer to almost anything I would want to know. So, why should I spend years acquiring specific knowledge about a subject when I can just google it ? All you really need to know is what question to ask.  It is still the ability to perform a task that is valuable. I do think skilled laborers will one day be in high demand. They will be the ones that get paid the highest. Knowing about something and doing it are different actions. You can't learn experience you have to live it.
 I do think that is part of the problem we face today. We have far too many educated folks that don't really know how to do anything. They have degrees in various subjects that hold no true value in the workforce. Not to disparage anyone but how many liberal arts degrees do we need ? Even when we attend a trade school that only prepares us for an entry level position. It may make the student feel better about themselves having that piece of paper, but only hands on experience will make them masters of their trade. I admit that those students will receive a higher starting salary because of that training. Why is that ? Because it is a measurable thing and experience isn't really measurable. I've known some awfully skilled craftsman in my day that didn't have as much as a high school diploma. I've also known some with degrees that couldn't change a tire.
 I guess what I'm asking here is, how do we measure intelligence ? Is it measured by degrees and income earned ? Is intelligence a focused thing or does it cover a broad range ? I've always wondered why it is that those with degrees feel so intelligent. What they did was learn what someone else already knew. I'm certain I could spend four years and learn what was already known in a specific area. Instead I have chosen to spend my life trying to learn things for myself. I have learned I'm not gonna rich doing that. I haven't made any real " discoveries " yet. I'm not done learning. I'm still waiting. You know my dad always told me, " you'll learn one day. " Maybe I will, maybe I won't. One thing is sure, I've never been bored.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

the strongest stand alone

 I was taught that God helps those that help themselves. Through hard work, diligence and prayer all things are possible. I admit it is not an easy thing, this belief, but it is a necessity. When things go right it is easy to take the credit and forget that you did have the help of God. When things go bad, who do we want to blame ? God. Strange how that works isn't it ? We take credit for the good and place blame for the bad. This has been so since the beginning. Whether man has one God or a hundred we look for someone to blame. Oh sure, we holler our praises to our God or Gods when things go the way we want them too, but it isn't an acknowledgement of our Gods help, no it is more like we are thanking God that he didn't mess things up. At least that is the way I see things going these days. That is also why I see God being eliminated altogether. Hey, you can't sue God when things go wrong but you can sue your neighbor ! And isn't that what we call justice these days, monetary compensation ? Seems that way to me. That is also why many feel the wealthy can just do as they please, they can afford it. If we don't get whatever we want we will just sue for it ! We'll call it social justice though that doesn't sound quite as greedy does it ? If you are rich you should have to give some of that money to me, it's only fair. What do I have to give you in return ? Nothing, nothing at all.
 America was founded on the principles of hard work, diligence, and an acknowledgement of God, a higher power than ourselves. Yes, the founding fathers argued over just who God was, I know all that but they all acknowledged a higher power existed. That is the basic principle of belief. There is a power greater than yourself that will guide you and help you in life if you but listen. The only mystery is in knowing what to listen to. That is also a mystery you have to solve for yourself. For some it is called enlightenment and for others just a gentle acceptance. I do believe we all know the truth and it is a matter of acceptance. We don't know it all ! For all of mans' advancements in science and technology, all of our advances in medicine, we still don't know all that much. Oh, it was a big bang. Yeah ? What caused that to happen ? We can save a life ! Can we really ? Can we create one ? No. Yes, you can take one, that doesn't take much knowledge, hey, a rock can do that. And that is exactly why God is called the creator, only God can create life. When man starts to believe that life is just some sort of accident, a random occurrence in an infinite universe, man will perish by his own hand. Man needs faith to survive. It is a simple truth.
 I get angry and shake my head in disbelief as those that would deny this basic truth. I also get just as angry at those that insist God will do it all just for the asking. Neither one of those are the truth. We shouldn't attempt to use our Gods as instruments. The Gods do not exist for us, we exist at their pleasure. It doesn't matter if you believe in one God or a hundred, that is not the point. The point is obedience. And what is obedience ? It is as simple as doing what is right. We all know right from wrong. It is just that we allow others to convince us otherwise. Strength in numbers right ? Truth is, the strongest stand alone.
 I'm not certain what it is I am trying to say this morning. I'm unhappy with the direction the country is going. We are divided and it ain't getting any better. I have a bad feeling about all of this. Thing is I ain't blaming Trump, although I didn't vote for him. I don't blame the government as some sort of separate entity. The government is the people ! How is it so many fail to understand that ? The government are the people that we choose to represent us. So why is it that for every perceived failure we blame the government ? We should be blaming ourselves ! We are responsible. We the people are responsible for all of this mess ! And what is our solution ? Sue somebody, anybody, and place the blame there. Never mind about God, he doesn't have any money but the government does. And just where does that government money come from ? Why it is an endless supply, almost like " manna " from heaven. The government will sustain us. Well I can tell you this much. The Israelites received " manna " from heaven " by a demonstration of their faith. Can you believe in government ?  No, you can't and for one simple reason. Governments are created by man. I don't have any answers but I can tell you this much, it is going to take the intervention of God to straighten it all out. And that intervention begins in the heart of each one of us. It doesn't come as a gift, free for the asking, it is a reward. God helps those that help themselves, a simple truth.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

one more recital

 For the first time in a number of years we didn't attend a dance recital. Our Morgan has had to undergo a surgical procedure and was not cleared to dance. Even though we didn't go it was a bittersweet time. I have seen a few other photos on Facebook from various dance recitals. I do enjoy seeing the smiling faces of those little children, even those that aren't so little anymore, and reading the proud comments of parents and grandparents. Time has a way of slipping by us all and then coming back around to stare us in the face. It all happens so quickly. Now I'll admit I wasn't as aware this time that the recital was so near. The reason is a simple one, I wasn't taking Morgan to rehearsals and such. I have been blessed to be a small part of the process since she was just a tiny dancer. Morgan handled the situation extremely well, in a mature fashion I would say. She had made the decision to have the procedure and knew she would miss this recital. She has made me proud once again. I think she will dance again but the decision is hers to make. She is a teenager now and sometimes priorities change. Social circles are formed, broken or modified. We can only give her space to grow and offer guidance when necessary.
 I took her first pair of " ballet " shoes and combined them with a flower and picture of her in a shadow box. I just felt those shoes should be preserved. It is my hope that she will treasure and enjoy them as much as I treasured and enjoyed watching her in them. I do believe the greatest treasures are not purchased, they are created. Morgan has many trophies, medals, certificates and all the trappings of youth enjoyed by the youth of today. In my youth those items weren't handed out as readily. I can see where they don't mean all that much to the kids either. They enjoy receiving them, immediate satisfaction, but it doesn't appear to last. I encourage Morgan and her brother Mark to save those items, to place them somewhere for safe keeping. It is my feeling they will become more " valuable " in about thirty or forty years. At least that is the case with me, not that I received many awards. I don't like to talk about it much but I do have quite a stack of " Letters of Commendation " I received over my twenty year career in the Navy. They are sitting in a closet collecting dust. I don't know what else to do with them. It would look silly to have them all out. Maybe when I reach eighty or so that concept will change. I do believe it takes a good number of years for things like to make into the daylight.
 And so recital season has come and gone. Now we face the summer months and all that entails. Mark has gotten a part time job, a real job and that is a milestone. Morgan is busy with her girlfriends doing whatever they do. The summer will pass quickly and the cycle will repeat itself. Morgan is off to high school this fall. No more grade school or middle school for grandpa ! So long Wildcats, hello Bulldogs ! Hard to believe I have watched Morgan dance her way from kindergarten to High school. I'm hoping she will decide to return to dance but the decision is hers to make. Only time will tell. I am reminded of an old Rolling Stone song, " time is on my side " but now I'm not so certain of that. Go, fly little girl and dance if you like I'll always be around to support you. Time has a way of getting away from us all. I do hope there is time for at least one more recital.

Monday, June 19, 2017

knowing the man

 Yesterday was Fathers day. I saw the photographs and read the words of endearment posted on Facebook. I'm a bit of a sentimental person myself so that stuff always hits home. Naturally I  spent some time thinking of my own Dad. He left this earth in February of 1990. Hard to believe it has been twenty seven years. I think that has something to do with the fact that I speak with him every day. Or, it could be that he is speaking through me, maybe that is how the afterlife works. Whatever the case, I hear him all the time and it is a comfort.
 I was fortunate to have a wonderful Dad. Hard working and caring. Of course we have to remember that I was born back in '53 and times were just a bit different. He was a product of the times, as we all are, and reflected the attitude and thinking of the times. Children were to be seen and not heard. There was much that was not talked about in front of the children. I'm quite certain he would be taken aback if he heard the conversation now ! I'm also quite certain he would have an opinion on that. I think that is were I get my opinions from. Dad was never hesitant to tell you what he thought. And he usually told you in a nonchalant, matter of fact kinda way. It just rolled outta him.
 Growing up I didn't spend a great deal of time with him. He wasn't the type of Dad to play games and such. If he wasn't working, he was working on something. You know what I mean. Recreation to him was building or fixing something. That is how he spent his " free " time. You didn't bother him when he was doing that either. Now, he would show you how to do something but he only showed you once. After that you had better get it right. He did expect a lot from you. I don't think he expected anything more from you than he expected from himself though. Therein lies the problem with him. The man knew how to do just about everything. A true jack of all trades it was a lot to live up to. He really did expect others to know what he knew and have the ability to do it. That was very true in the " working " world that he lived in. Academic pursuits he wasn't very impressed with. Oh he was proud of you when you got good grades or his friends complimented him on how smart his kids were, you know how folks do, but he preferred the manual labor skills over anything else.
 As I mentioned earlier Dad passed in 1990. I was in the Navy then, had been for almost nine years. I had left home when I was 18 and hadn't been back. Traveling around like I did I didn't get to spend much time with him. And that is my biggest sorrow I think. I never got to know Dad as another man. I only knew him as a father. I often think about that and wonder. Oh, I've heard many tales of him from his friends. Stories from his youth and tales of his exploits. I even know fragments of stories from when I was young. Remember I told you much wasn't talked about when I was a kid. There are still secrets from that time I don't know the whole truth of. What was he really like as a man ? But then I think the question really is, would he have been a friend ? The answer is, yes, I believe he would have. We did have a lot in common, although we often disagreed on current events. Well you know how "old " people are. I was just a teenager back then and knew it all. Thankfully over the years I have been dummied down by my own children and now grandchildren !
 There are other times when I think it was a blessing that I didn't know him as another man. In my mind he will be forever Dad. Dad, with all that image entails is a comforting thought. When I remember him I remember him full of life, vital and energetic. I see a man among men. There are times when I remember seeing him in the hospital, right before the end. His body was frail but those eyes still had spark. Most importantly to me he still had that firm handshake. That was Dad's way. If he wanted to express " affection " to another man it was with a firm handshake and a look straight into your eyes. It was with that I said, goodbye. So maybe, it is better that I didn't know him otherwise. That is the way he left me as well. I'm thinking I did know the man after all. So until I shake his hand in greeting once again, and I'm certain I will, I'll just hold onto the memories.    

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Can I say that ?

 I saw in the news where that girl received a conviction on involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of that young man. I admit to not really studying all the facts in the case. I did hear where he got out of the truck at one point and she encouraged him to get back in. So I agree with the judgement that she is partially responsible. She had the opportunity to save his life but choose not to. In my way of thinking that was a " voluntary " decision on her part so I'm not sure of the involuntary charge, perhaps it should have been something different. Whatever the case, she was implicit in his death of that much I am certain. Did she think it was a game or that he wasn't serious ? I can't say. I believe that at the very least she should have reported it to the police or other competent authorities rather than allowing him to kill himself.
 Now that being said I raise the question of assisted suicide. I have heard some of those condemning this girl for what she did supporting the assisted suicide cause. My question is a simple one, can you have it both ways ? What I mean to say is can I encourage you to kill yourself to the point of helping ?  All that is necessary is the spoken word, no drugs or physical assistance of any kind. Apparently the judge and jury thought that was criminal, al least in this case it was. Would it have made a difference if he had a terminal illness or was just old ? If so, how come ?  But that's different you say ? Although I don't agree I would say both actions are being done to " ease the suffering " that person is experiencing. Again you answer, the emotional distress is a temporary thing whereas a terminal illness certainly isn't. The logic there is plain, it is alright to expedite a known result. I would answer we will all die one day, a known result, so why can't I expedite that at any time I choose ? It's a slippery slope in my estimation.
 To me this is another case of trying to legislate morality. Either it is legal or it is not. Morals can not be decided on a case by case basis. That is what this is. Can I encourage and/or assist a person in committing suicide or can't I ?  If I can, what are the qualifiers ? And , more importantly, who gets to define that qualifier ? Is it the person wishing to commit the act or a state sponsored authority ? Should I have to apply for a " permit " or " release from liability " before assisting ? Just how imminent would that death have to be ? That would seem logical if we are just basing this on law. If we include an inherent moral obligation to " save a life " whenever possible how could we then determine that ? Moral behavior is not on a case by case basis ! So the question then becomes was this girl guilty of a crime, involuntary manslaughter, or a moral infraction ? If you say she is guilty of a crime wouldn't it then always be a crime to assist in the suicide of another human being ? If she is guilty of a moral infraction is she subject to mans' law ? In this case it would seem so. It does strike me as rather contradictory to the rhetoric I keep hearing from some. If I am an attorney I would cite this case as precedent. You can't encourage or assist anyone in a suicide without being guilty of involuntary manslaughter. We'll have to see how that all plays out.
 To sum it up, personally I think she is guilty. She had the chance to help, to save a life perhaps, and choose to do nothing. What were her motives for that choice ? I can't know that any more than you do. We can assume or speculate about all of that but we can't really know. I have to believe that she didn't really take it seriously and thought he wouldn't go through with it. I find it difficult to believe anyone could have such a disregard for another human being. Truly it would take a dark heart and soul to do such a thing. Should she get twenty years for involuntary manslaughter ? Of that I'm not certain. She should certainly be held to account. Was it criminal or moral, this infraction ? Are we to be held criminally responsible for our words ? Truth is we already are, to a degree. You can't holler fire in a crowded theatre or use " hate " speech. We have determined that words are hurtful. Now we are trying to define just what words are just hurtful and what words are criminal. The problem being, crimes are tried on an individual basis. Morals are the standards set by society for acceptable behavior. This behavior was apparently criminal. The real question remaining is, what can I say ?  
    

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I'm back

 It was Tuesday morning and all was going well. I looked out my upstairs window and saw a Verizon employee up the pole two doors down. I didn't give it much thought as I often see these folks climbing in the rigging of this modern day, connected world. I had in mind to scan a old photograph to send to my sister. Thing is I had just purchased a new printer/scanner and hadn't downloaded all the software for it. No problem, I'll just go online and get it. Problem, no internet access ! That is the message I got. Well I have suffered temporary outages before I'll just be patient. I did notice that Verizon man had moved from that pole to another location. Maybe that has something to do with this problem but I'll give him time to finish up and then I'll see. To shorten the tale a bit, he left and took my internet connection with him !
 I called my internet provider, as they bill themselves, and all I got from them was, your modem isn't online. Well duh, I'm no connectivity expert but I knew that already, that's why I called you. They couldn't determine what was wrong. At first the representative said, I'll schedule an appointment for a service professional to come out please hold. So, I held. After a bit this person comes back and says, our advance team informs me that there is a general outage in Greensboro and service should be restored by this evening. Well, okay then, I'll just have to wait. I waited and service didn't return that evening. Another call and I go through the whole process again to be told, your modem isn't online. Yeah, I know that. They will have to schedule a service professional. He'll be there Friday morning between eight and ten. He shows up during the scheduled time frame, a minor miracle that I give thanks for. He looks at the wire coming from the pole and says , it looks pretty old, I'm going to replace it. He gets his ladder and all the necessary stuff and up the pole he goes. It is then he discovers someone has unscrewed the connector on my wire. I'm not connected to the internet at all ! Well, isn't that something he says, guess somebody thought that old wire wasn't being used and disconnected it. So, for almost four days I have no internet service because somebody unscrews the connector ! I'm blaming that Verizon guy ! I've been sabotaged. Well that guy did have a pony tail ! Probably high as a kite. He didn't look too confident when he was working on that stuff.
 And so I was exiled to no internet for a few days. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I will say it was different. Funny how quickly you can become dependent upon something. A few times a question came up and I thought, I'll just google it. Nope, you have no internet connection. I could have gone to the library ! Now there is a novel idea. Did you catch that pun, a " novel " idea. Oh how the times change. But I made it through the wilderness of no connectivity and back to Facebook and this blog land.
 I will say I was overwhelmed by the number of folks inquiring about my absence. It sure is a heartwarming thing to know that you are missed. My Facebook family ! It is a wonderful thing. Social media can be a good thing. It is a real shame that some use it as a vehicle to spread hate and dissention. I must say I will view it differently from now on. Hey, maybe social media does involve a bit of fantasy but that's alright too. We can be whatever we want to be, let's all choose to be nice. Wouldn't that be wonderful ?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

a matter of trust

 I have found some changes have occurred in my social life since the election. I think that is probably true for a great number of us. What I'm thinking about, of course, is our online " social " lives. Not so much in the way we utilize that social media but in the circle of " friends " that were in it. As for me I don't feel as though I have lost any friends, just a few don't visit as often as they used to. I suppose it is to be expected. It works that way in real life as well. As we get to know each other better we sometimes find things that are disagreeable to us. It doesn't necessarily mean we condemn the other person, just that we disagree. There are times when you discover that person just wasn't what you thought them to be. The disappointment you experience is what causes the rift. That disappointment can be in them or you ! The later is the harder one to recognize.
 Religion and politics are the two most difficult areas to navigate. That is exactly why the old adage about them exists. But it is those two items that are the talk of the internet and social media. The reason for that is obvious, everyone is concerned. We are talking about our nation and the direction it is going. The religion part concerns the Muslims and their possible involvement in the terror attacks. Islam is a religion. What complicates that is that Islam is also an ideology. And so the two are intertwined and make it into the discussion. It is this discussion that has caused such a rift. Well that along with domestic policy.
 So just why do we venture into those areas of discussion ? I think it is just because of a basic need on our part. We all would like our relationships to be a bit closer. They start out as an acquaintance. Hello, good to meet you. Perhaps you have something in common. A mutual acquaintance or some other thing. From an acquaintance you progress to friendship. And friendship comes in varying degrees. What determine that degree ? I believe it is just a simple matter of acceptance. How willing are you to accept their ideas, beliefs and lifestyle ? I also believe it has little to do with how it affects you personally. That is the strangest part of the equation if you ask me. But that is related to the amount of value you place upon their opinion. The more you value their opinion, the more disappointing it becomes when you discover they don't agree with yours. Then it becomes a trust issue. Just how much of myself can I trust you with ? All relationships are based on trust. I trust you are being honest and forthright with me and you expect that in return.
 Now having been on this social media they call Facebook for a number of years I have observed this behavior. People saying hello and then becoming " friends. " For a while they share and interact with each regularly. Then for one reason or another they drift apart. I noticed the little subgroups being formed. I even joined in those little subgroups. Hey, I wound up creating one of my own ! Now that was unexpected but I felt it had become a necessity. The " house " became a bit too crowded and conflicts were popping up. Apparently I was causing the problem ! The reason was a simple one. My opinions were in direct conflict with some others in that group. I'll admit it was flattering that they should place so much value upon my opinion. That had to be it because they certainly weren't ignoring me. I can't speak for others but as a general rule those I don't value,I ignore. So in a strange way it was a validation for me. I created my own subgroup and invited everyone to join, no one is excluded. So far it has been working well.
 It is a brave new world this social media. The rules are the same but the conduct is different. That is why we have so many bullies, stalkers and what's the term, " trolls. " I was accused of being a troll on several occasions. That is another aspect of this social media, name calling. I'm not certain but I think a troll is someone that just likes to start fights on social media. At least that is the impression I received. If telling the truth and giving an honest opinion is being a troll, I'm guilty ! But then I have been told that a Troll just leaves a comment and then disappears. Well anyone that knows me knows that isn't the case. I will stick around and talk about whatever for hours at a time. My problem is letting it rest ! I'm aware of that imperfection and the frustration it can cause. I'm working on it.
 There are many I have met on Facebook that I have never met in person. There are many that I have never seen their faces. The interesting part of seeing their faces however is not for their appearance but for their emotions. It is the subtle looks and glances that we make when talking that help to relay our thoughts. A sly grin or a raising of the eyebrows. That is what I miss more than anything else. It's good to laugh, even if you have to laugh alone. Am I alone ? Or do you laugh at your own snide remarks, anecdotes and quips ? As I often quote Shakespeare saying all the worlds a stage and each of us merely players, it is also true of this social media. The only thing different now is that being on Facebook or other social media sites is more like being in the movies than on stage. You can be whatever you want on social media. Assign yourself a character, change your appearance if you like or remain anonymous the choice is yours. No one need meet you face to face and your secrets are safe. It is all a matter of trust.
 

Monday, June 12, 2017

little things

 Did you know it was on this day in 1942 that a little girl named Anne Frank received a diary as a birthday present. I didn't, but I have a book that tells me what happened every day in history. I do enjoy reading those little tid bits of history. Now consider that gift of a diary, who could have foreseen the impact that would have in history. I would argue it is one of the more important documents from the twentieth century. I also admit to having never read it. I have only a rudimentary knowledge of that diary. That speaks to the importance of that book though, that I should be aware of it. I know they have made movies about it as well.
 When I read that footnote in history I was reminded how whatever we do may have an impact that we cannot conceive of. I'm certain that little girl never dreamed her diary, a personal thing, would become known as a piece of literature. It wasn't the gift that was of importance, but her appreciation of that gift. I mean she did take the time to hold onto that diary and record her experiences in it. That diary was of great importance to her. Having never read the book or really anything about her or her feelings I can only speculate. Was that diary her way of holding onto normalcy ? Perhaps it was or perhaps she was just recording those things she found difficult to believe. Whatever the case was she couldn't have known the impact it would have.
 Now I don't expect anything like that will happen to any of us. Fact is, no one does. Anne Frank certainly didn't. She said so herself, she didn't think anyone would be interested in the musing of a thirteen year old girl. Those were her words. I looked up some quotes from her and that is one of them. Had she not be caught up in WW2 and died in a concentration camp would anyone had paid attention to her writings ? Maybe, maybe not. It was her father that discovered those diaries and it was a fathers love that saw the importance in them. I can't help but think there surely were others, many others in fact, that have gone unknown and unnoticed. Is it chance or fate ? I tend to believe that our lives are predestined. We will be what we become. It is only the road we take to get there that we decide upon. I believe the end result will be the same. That is the free choice we are given. Of course if we stay on the wrong road, all is lost. Does God know that ? I guess it we are indeed predestined that would have to be the case. Perhaps that is why some think about getting a do over. We keep coming back until we get it right ! It could be that each of us are but a tiny fragment in the cosmos. It is only when all the fragments are assembled that the purpose will be revealed to us. It could be I'm destined to be one the scraps left over. I don't much like that idea but it is a possibility.
 I read that little bit of history this morning and thought about it. Whoever gave her that diary as a gift and I haven't researched it to find out because it isn't important, had no idea what would be set in motion. The same is true with all of us. We can never be certain what will happen next. The most innocent of things, a small gift. It wound up being a gift to all of humanity. Isn't that remarkable ?   

Sunday, June 11, 2017

under the influence

 With all this talk about the Russians hacking our elections I was reminded of the " Red " scare during the fifties and sixties. We were convinced that the Russians wanted to blow us all up. Sure we had executed Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for giving the Russians information on building the atomic bomb but it was too late, we knew they had one. It was only a matter of time until they dropped one on America ! We had " civil defense " shelters everywhere if we could just get to them in time. When I was in grade school we did have our " safe spaces. " They were under our desks ! If you had warning you could duck under those desks and be shielded from the blast. That is what we were told anyway and what we practiced doing. Make sure you tuck your head in to cover your eyes, that stuff can blind you ! We weren't told about a thermo-nuclear blast that would incinerate you, it was just a big bomb. A really big bomb. But hey, that's the Russians for you. Boris and Natasha were even after our squirrels. Rocky and Bullwinkle weren't fooled by them though and always prevailed. The United States would too. And now I find out it is all propaganda. Those Russians are still at it. Only thing that has changed is the names. Vladimir instead of Boris.
 Strange thing is when asked directly whether the Russians changed even a single vote in our election the former director of the FBI said, no. He said he was certain that they had not. He was certain they tried to influence the election though. I wonder if all the " dead " voters and the ones that voted illegally influenced the election ? I guess not as I don't hear any talk about any of that. I just can't help but wonder how a precinct can report more votes for a certain candidate than registered voters in that same precinct ! Well must be that new math they are teaching the kids. That " common core " stuff. The only thing common about it is the education they are receiving as a result. I suspect the Russians are behind that as well. It has to be the Russians. They are a tricky bunch, influencing our elections and I didn't even know it. If Hillary had won, I still wouldn't know about that. No telling what else they are influencing. I'm thinking they are behind this whole Muslim thing as well. It is the Russians that are influencing the Muslims to become radicals ! Yes, that's it. Oh, those Russians they are a devious race.
 Going back to the whole hacking thing though, I am under the impression in order to hack into something, like a computer, you have to gain access. If that is the case the FBI says they didn't hack into our elections at all, not one vote was changed. They influenced our elections. Isn't that what a candidate is trying to do when they are campaigning ? Sounds like they are trying to influence my decision to cast my ballot for a specific individual, usually them. Sometimes they do hire others to " speak " for them and try to influence me in that way. Some just hire pop stars or respected intellectuals to do the talking figuring that will change my mind. Whatever the case I am being influenced. Apparently it is something to be investigated.
 Hard to believe that we were once allies with the reds. Of course that all fell apart as soon as the war was over. Those Russians wanted everything. We wound up cutting Berlin in half on account of them. General Patton wanted to take them out right then. We already had the troops and equipment there, it was a perfect opportunity. Eisenhower convinced Truman that was a bad idea. Patton had an " accident " and died. Later on Ike becomes the president and has to deal with the Red scare. Ain't politics something ? Patton didn't want to " influence " anyone he wanted to " hack " them to pieces. If he had all this could have been avoided. And now the Russians are influencing our elections. I must be getting old and tired. All I can do is shake my head. It's gotta be Russia. You know Charlie Chaplin was thought to be a communist. That's right, the little tramp himself. When he went to Europe Ike slapped a " travel ban " on his sorry butt and he wasn't allowed to return to America ! No one was upset by that either, not even Hollywood. It was the Russians that influenced Chaplin ! Imagine that.    

Saturday, June 10, 2017

" questio quid luris "

 It was on the news here in Maryland. Seems as though some woman is demanding her right to go topless on the beach at Ocean City. Her primary argument is, if men can do it, so can women. Well I understand the logic behind that statement and can't really disagree with that on legal grounds. It is the whole " equality " thing in a nutshell. I just take issue with the social conscience part of the equation. I mean, we are still supposed to have a social conscience aren't we ? As is expected the biggest opposition voiced was about it effecting the tourist trade. Ocean City and its' boardwalk adds millions of dollars to the coffers of the city, indeed to the whole state. Maybe people wouldn't bring their children there. But the city council has decided they will take no action at this time deferring to wait on a higher power, perhaps the state legislature or another higher court.  Personally I don't think you will see a mass exposure on the beaches but rather just a few activists or whatever you want to call them. There will be those that want to " empower " women. I find the whole thing just silly. Maybe they could designate an area of the beach for that. I do think that would be a fair solution. Of course the argument is, if men can expose their chests in public, women can too. As I said I can find no legal grounds to say that they shouldn't but that doesn't mean they should. It really is a cultural thing. This is the United States of America and one of our social customs is that women do not expose their breasts in public. Call it silly, call it unfair, you can even call it puritan if you like, but that is the custom.
 If you remove the customs and traditions of a group, or a nation that group or nation no longer exists. A very simple concept really. Isn't that what is behind the removal of those confederate memorials ? An attempt to erase that tradition and thus remove it from society ? Think about it, that is what the deal really is. To change the entire narrative of our nation. I know it sounds melodramatic but that is what it is. Women going topless in public, as a matter of course, would do the same thing. It would alter our social conscience. It becomes an acceptable behavior.  I just read where this female senator was giving a speech to the college kids. She drew attention to herself by repeated use of the " f " bomb. She also interjected other " spicy " terms. Her spokesperson says she did that for emphasis, to show how serious she was about the topic. I recall the Democrats playing tapes of Donald Trump using questionable language and how unacceptable that was. Now when this Democratic female senator does the same it is for emphasis ? Really it is an attempt to change the narrative altogether. This language was meant to appeal to whom ? Those college kids. Well because we all know that the public use of and frequent interjection of the " F " bomb just shows how serious you are ! It is similar to Castro pounding his shoe on the table, if you are old enough to remember that. A shift in social conscience. " Salty " language lends credence to sincerity ? Hmm, I don't think so. I'll tell you why.
 The term " salty " language comes from where ? It is obvious the language one might expect to hear from a sailor. We are all well aware of the reputation of the American sailor. I am doubly aware as I tried to be that reputation many years ago. So you could say I speak from experience. Yes, sailors are known for hard living, good timing, brash and bold actions. It was sailors that started the tattoo tradition.  Yes we are some pretty bad dudes, and gals. But there is another thing I can tell you for a fact, sailors are not known for always telling the truth ! They do have a habit of embellishing the story just a bit, you know, to make it a bit more interesting. That is why they started using that " salty " language in the first place. It is really an Alpha Male sort of thing. I can swear more profanely than you so that makes me the winner ! Truly it is just basic stuff. A bunch of men crowded together on a ship for months at a time and the language gets salty ! No different than kids in the schoolyard. Survival of the fittest.
 I see these little changes occurring and I see the America I love slipping away. It is always been so but that doesn't make it any easier for me to watch. I now know how my parents and grandparents felt. I am beginning to understand just what they were talking about. All the little chips in the wall will eventually make it fall. I keep trying to repair that wall, all the time knowing it is inevitable. It is a recurring theme with me, this lamentation. I repeatedly say, you can't legislate morality. In both of these instances I can see the legal ground these people stand upon and can't dispute it. Yet, I question the moral and ethical issues they wish to dismiss as irrelevant. I believe it is those moral and ethical values that make America what she is. That is why the motto, E pluribus Unum, was chosen. From many ,one. One people with a common goal,  common traditions and customs. What I am beginning to see is quite different. Its' every man for themselves, just do your own thing. As long as it ain't illegal, its' cool. And if it is illegal and you still want to do that, make it legal without regard to moral or ethical considerations. Think, gambling as one example. But we'll call them lotteries , doesn't sound as bad. Maybe we need to change our national motto. The current one is, " In God we Trust. " That upsets some people. Maybe it should be " questio quid luris "  which means, I ask what law ?  A nation that is ruled solely by mans' law is doomed to perish. Our founding fathers knew that and it is my belief that all Americans need to be taught that truth. Sadly it is being removed from the curriculum.

Friday, June 9, 2017

vindication

 I watched some of the Comey testimony before congress yesterday. It went just about as I expected. Each Senator trying to grab the spotlight with their questions and remarks. I don't see where much was accomplished but then I didn't watch the whole deal. I had other things to do. I did notice that when he was sworn in it did include the words, " so help me God. " Now that is an oath we are all familiar with. In the court you can say " I affirm " if saying swear offends you. I've always found that a bit amusing. I won't swear but I'll affirm. Are we splitting hairs here or is it just me ?
 That came to mind later in the day when I saw a posting about removing the words " In God we Trust " from some states license plates. I think it may be Florida that has that on them. I'm not sure if all of them do or if it is an option, somebody from Florida can straighten me out in that regard. The important part was this push to have those words removed. Every once in a while I see they want it taken off our coins and money. The ten commandments have been removed from court rooms and other public buildings. But as far as I know we still say , " I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. " If we continue to remove God and any reference to him or his words what will we swear to ? Opps, I mean affirm. And then just who is going to " help " us ? Isn't it the implied punishment of going to hell the real penalty for lying under oath. Oh sure man has provided penalties for perjury but they are temporary ones. Only God can help you in the end. That is why we say, " so help me God."
 So if we take that away what will we say ? I affirm my statements to be the truth. " In short, trust me, I'm telling the truth. The only problem we have these days is that truth has become a subjective thing. Just listening to the testimony given in those senate hearings yesterday made that obvious. Comey says I took notes and affirm that is exactly what the President said. Then the questioning senator says, but what did he mean by those words ? Comey says, I took it to mean this or that. Is that testimony or just asking for an opinion ? Look ask me about the guy that just fired me and I'll tell you what I think too. Thing is ask me about the same guy after he gives me a raise. I'm thinking my opinion might be a bit different. Now Comey did take that oath so I have to assume he believes it. I'll give that man the benefit of the doubt but from what I heard it was mostly his opinions, not sworn testimony. He kept saying, " I could be wrong. " That to me implies that he doesn't really swear by those statements. Quite a telling thing to me but I'm not a politician just the average joe.
 Well I've rambled on about this long enough. As I said when I started this I was just thinking about taking an oath with God as the qualifier. I can see a trend where that will one day be removed entirely. Perhaps there has already been some provision made for that that I don't know about. I do wonder if a person is a atheist, agnostic or a deist do they have to say so help me God ? And if they do, aren't they then lying ? Is the truth measured by God ? Well, only God can know the truth in our hearts and I think that is the truth we are seeking here. I also believe the denial or avoidance of the truth will not change that truth. That is the belief at the core of it all. In the end the truth is revealed and you are judged. It has always been so. Man pleads for vindication from his God when facing death. Some would call that forgiveness because no man is without fault. You can only be vindicated by the truth ! That's my thinking on that anyway.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

watching and waiting

 I haven't been making many political statements lately. It s just that I have pretty much made my feelings known. When I was writing about political views it did create a stir. I got caught up in that maelstrom and damage was done. Well be that as it may I never said anything I didn't mean. I may have been misunderstood a few times or I just didn't understand what the other person was saying. Whatever the case is, that is behind me now and I just keep moving forward.
 Now this morning I see that James Comey is going to testify before Congress. They say he has a seven page brief that he is going to present. Call me a skeptic but I would have to question Mr. Comeys' motives. Oh I know he was subpoenaed and at first there was talk if he would honor that. That is some legalize I don't understand really, I didn't know you got a choice when subpoenaed, but now he is going to talk. Of course let's keep in mind the agenda is to destroy Trump, the man who fired him. No matter which side of the political aisle you stand on you have to see that. Charges of " obstruction of justice " are already flying around. The screams for impeachment are getting louder ! The Dems just can't accept the fact that Trump won the election.
 And then there is the Russians. The Russians interfered in our elections to get Trump elected because Trump is such a cooperative man. Yup, Trump will just go along with anything for a dollar. The fix was in. When it is on tape Obama telling the Russians he can be more " flexible " after the presidency no one seemed to be bothered by that. I wonder just what he was talking about ? That ambassador said he would be sure to tell Vladimir. All very chummy. Strangely the Russians don't seem all that thrilled with Trump but I guess it is all just a ruse.
 I am just getting tired of congress expending thousands, possibly millions, of dollars on all these investigations. When the only agenda is to get rid of Trump any way possible. It is getting to be quite an obvious thing. Ever since the election results were known there has been a steady string of accusations and investigations. This latest one is because Trump spoke privately with the head of the FBI. Comey says the talks were uncomfortable. Well for the most part any time I've had to talk with my boss it was uncomfortable ! I guess Trump, the boss, didn't like what Comey had to say or wasn't happy with what he was doing, he fired him. Thing is, that is his prerogative. And now the guy that got fired is going to " testify " about all of this. Those conversations were private. That means it is a matter of he said, I said. Just how are we going to " prove " anything ? The press and the Dems have already decided that whatever Trump says is a lie and that Comey is a saint !  All I can say is Comey should be thankful it isn't Clinton, or he might be committing suicide about now !
 Well it is apparent that this will continue as long as Trump is in office. I had hoped that things would calm down just a bit. It hasn't. This isn't what the democratic process is supposed to look like. We had our elections. Despite all the complaining and allegations, from both sides about improprieties, Trump was elected. Now ALL our representatives are supposed to be working together to govern the nation. What we have instead is half the representatives working to remove their boss. The other half is fragmented between supporting the boss and just keeping a low profile. Just how anything meaningful is supposed to get done is beyond me. I'm thinking it will be four years of investigations. Well unless they succeed in getting Trump ousted somehow. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

what's next

  I was wondering if when you go to heaven, do you start over ? What I mean is, do you start again with all the people you have encountered here on earth. Do you get another chance to correct the mistakes you may have made or take actions that you wish you had. Or is it like so many say, you arrive and everyone you have known is waiting for you ? I guess if they are in heaven that would be a good thing as only the " good " people get there. Of course the alternative would be hell where all your enemies are waiting for you, to torture you for all eternity ! Now that sure sounds bad. It could be that when we die we are sentenced to spend eternity with those that we chose to spend our lives with on earth, good or bad. Now that would be an incentive to choose your company wisely. Hey we have all had those friends that were fun for a little while, a real blast, until they got us into trouble of some sort. Some of us married those folks as well ! Strange how it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Well, live and learn is what they say.
 What I was wondering about though was getting a fresh start in heaven. A kind of celestial do over. Then once you get that right you are sent back to earth to inspire others. Now, you wouldn't necessarily come back as an evangelist or prophet, you could come back as anything. The important part would be that you are a role model. You would be one of those people that leave an impression on others, for good. That would be the people making the correct choices. We all know people like that, that give good sound advice and seem to have an awareness we don't possess. Maybe that awareness is experience. Now I don't think of this as reincarnation although the concept is similar. I'm just thinking I can't come back as a bug or some animal. Well, alright I guess that would be a form of punishment, but I just don't buy into that scenario.  I guess that is human vanity speaking as I am certainly more important than a bug ! Of course there is something to be said for the whole greater cosmos thing and each part is integral. The issue I have with that is we know some animals, mammals, and plants have gone extinct. So that means they couldn't have been so integral after all. They either just disappeared or where replaced by something else.  I don't think I'll ever go extinct though. That's the whole afterlife thing right ?
 Time is a relative thing. What we conceive of as a year may be no more than blink of an eye. We think of time as traveling along a straight line, It just continues on. Could be that isn't so at all. It could be that we each live in our own time. Heaven could be the beginning, not the end. So every time we fall short here on earth we are sent back to the beginning. It may be that is why some of us experience Deja vu. We have been here before. Maybe if you keep making the same mistake enough times you do begin to remember it ! We start out innocent as a child, the closet thing to being like Jesus , and the journey begins. The majority of us will stray from that path. Some will make it farther than others. The real question is, where are we going  ? If we started out in heaven what is the destination ? Now that I don't have an answer for. Are we just stuck in a circle ? I can't believe that because what would be the purpose of that ? And I do believe we are here for a purpose. Maybe not as individuals but as a species. And doesn't the Bible say, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. First was the heavens. The last thing God says in the Bible is, I am coming back soon. I'm thinking the circle will be broken when that happens. I just wonder what is next.   

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

gluttony

 I'm not much on shopping. Like most men, I know what I want, go to the store and buy it. It is a fairly straightforward deal. As a result I really haven't been to many malls. I've been to the Dover mall and I guess a few others, I don't know. But yesterday I took my granddaughter to the Annapolis Mall. It is the largest mall I've ever been in. Maybe it was just the size of the place, or maybe it is just my age, but I was immediately struck with a single thought, we sure are a consumer driven society ! I  witnessed a gluttony of consumerism and it made me feel just a little sick. Is this what America has really come to ? It was a Monday morning, shouldn't folks be at work ? This mall wasn't filled with old retired folks, no the demographic was as varied as America itself, and everyone seemed to be rushing about or drooling over some product. That is, the ones that weren't on their phones. It was just a sobering thing to me.
 I spent about three hours there and must have walked a few miles. Shop after shop showing their wares. Some of those shops shouldn't be showing their wares, at least not in front of the children ! But again, I guess I'm old school the only place I saw those things growing up was in the sears catalogue, when Mom wasn't around. I admit it was a staggering array of products, intermixed with food and drink. Every once in a while I came across what I called the " living " room. Right in the middle of the corridor there would be a large carpet, some wing back chairs and a coffee table. Folks were just sitting there, on their phones, relaxing. I just found it strange. It was definitely designed to make you stay longer.
 The thing that bothered me was all that glitz and glitter. I understand the concept, get them in your store, but still it struck me as a bit too much. These stores weren't there to fill a need, there were there to create a desire. That is what bothers me. I began to think it is no wonder so many are the way they are today. This mall and so many others just like it are designed to make you want stuff. They are planting that seed of, I have to have this ! I watched as the people shopped. Shoes and clothes seemed to top the list. Then I came around a bend and there was this strange place. A big open room with long tables in it. On those tables where some kind of electronic devices. The walls were covered with what appeared to be large flat screen monitors. There were quite a few people lined up at those tables being circled by other people wearing green polo shirts. Every once in a while the green polo shirt people would swoop in to the table and take the devices out the peoples hands. I stood, just staring, what in the heck ? My granddaughter looks at me and says. it's the Apple store. I just look at her and say, Apples ? She gives me that scornful look of, OMG are you stupid, and says I-phones and tablets Grandpa. All in all I found that store very creepy and I didn't go in there.
 Now, having witnessed all this consumerism it didn't make me want to run into the wilderness and start living a minimalist lifestyle but I'd say it was an eye opener. No wonder so many people feel underprivileged in society today. If you were exposed to that as a child and grew up that way it would certainly change your thinking. This is how we are supposed to be right ? Get money and go to the mall to buy stuff ! We are buying stuff just to buy it, it isn't a necessity or a real need. The only need being satisfied is the need to get more stuff. I don't know, I just felt repulsed. That is the only word I can think of to describe it. As a reflection of American society I did find it repulsive, somehow vulgar and vain. It just struck me as a place that is all about " me " and what I want. If I have the money or credit I can satisfy my every desire in this mini city of gluttony ! It is a consumer overload for sure. Far more stuff that anyone would ever need. My parting remark I made to my wife, I sure miss the day when the biggest store you went to was Woolworths. That was all the shopping I needed.    

Monday, June 5, 2017

listening

 You know when I was growing up adults lived in a sort of secret world. I was told that children were to be seen, not heard. How many times I was told to " get outside " the grownups are talking I can't even imagine. There were things the old folks talked about that was just none of your business. Now that I have reached the age of majority, shoot you could say it was a crowd, I understand all of that. I also agree that it was a better method. It was better to discover these " adult " things for yourself. Then you kept that knowledge from your parents for as long as you could. Hey, being a kid did have some advantages. You could use that " lack of knowledge " to your benefit every now and again. Granted those times were far and few between, my parents weren't stupid, but I could fool them every once in a while. I knew about Santa Claus for a couple years. That happens when you are the youngest. The older kids just have to tell you to prove their superior intellect. But if you are smart enough you just cry about it and tell Mom and Dad. They want you to " believe " and will support you. You also get that special present you want so much, just as long as you are reasonable about it. I mean, don't get greedy.
 Now people tend to fear what they don't understand. That is just plain human nature. My parents kept you in the dark about a lot of stuff. That was by design. When I heard them whispering about so and so is in " trouble " I was curious. I often heard that somebody was going to be lucky if they didn't get themselves shot ! Putting two and two together I just naturally figured doing whatever it was to get a girl in " trouble " could get you shot ! I figured I'd try to avoid that situation.  A little later I learned what that something was, that was what older brothers and magazines were for. Of course the teenage years come along and you quit thinking altogether for the most part, but that is another story. But when I was growing up I was kept sheltered from a lot of stuff. Now I knew that money didn't grow on tress and just because everyone else was doing it didn't make it right. Those lessons were taught early on. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing you have to think for yourself. Most of those secrets the adults kept were about other adults that didn't follow that advice ! I guess they didn't want us kids to know that they made mistakes. I admired my Dad, no doubt about that, and for a while I thought he was infallible. It was his friends that filled me in on his secret life. Yes he had done foolish things and made stupid decisions. I quickly learned it was best not to bring that up though, at least not with him. You do have to learn with whom and about who you can gossip. That is what the secret conversations were all about, gossip.
 I suppose you could look at all this two ways. Either you discover the truth and are disappointed, or you take a measure of satisfaction in that knowledge. In my case it was the later. I did, and truth be told, still take satisfaction in knowing my parents, and all those adults, aren't much better than me. It's funny when you are a kid you can't wait to " grow " up. Then when you are " grown " you find it isn't all you thought it would be. There really isn't any secret knowledge. No, the secret is talking about someone else's misfortunes. The fun was keeping it from the kids. Makes you feel pretty adult doesn't it ? Admit it, that is how it feels. Well I think that is how it used to be anyway. Nowadays it is all different. Nowadays parents tell the kids everything, shoot they even teach in elementary school what I never heard about till high school ! Even then your Dad had to take you to the gym in the evening for a special film presentation. Mom had to take my sister on a different night. I'd say we were told the basics. After that I knew , for sure, how to get a girl in " trouble. " I also learned that if you married her first it wasn't trouble then, it was a blessing ! Ah, for the good old days. I still believe kids should be made to listen and not speak for  a number of years. Listening is the greater skill. They will be plenty of time for talk later on. That's what adults do, talk about it. Mostly they just discuss how everyone else is wrong. That's the secret.        

Sunday, June 4, 2017

when fifty was too much

 I think it was the summer of 1968 or maybe '69. I was " working " at Olympic Heights service station pumping gas. I was making a few dollars here and there with other odd jobs as well and had amassed a lot of money. I had fifty dollars just burning a hole in my pocket. About this time there was a  man that had a fifty horsepower  Evinrude outboard motor he wanted to sell. Sure it was an older model, I think it was a 1959. It was in the test tank at the back of the shop and was running great. That motor was huge. A v four that weighed a couple hundred pounds , more than likely. I didn't have a boat but that motor was a bargain. I just had to have it. Uncle George, as I called him, said I could store that motor there as long as I needed to. All I needed was a boat !
 I had some feelers out for a sixteen foot skiff that I thought would be just about right for that beast. I could see myself just flying across the bay. Of course I didn't have any money left, I spent that buying the motor. Well as it happens I was working at the garage when this guy comes in looking for a used outboard. He is telling George that he has this older skiff down to the harbor and wants to buy a motor suitable for it. Now I had that motor in the back and no boat but saw a chance to make a few dollars. Hey, I worked here and people brought motors in all the time I could get another easy enough. George tells the guy he doesn't have anything at the moment but he could ask me. I tell him about that fifty and what a great motor that is. To make a long story short he agrees to pay seventy five dollars for it if I can get it on his boat. You see he says he doesn't have a trailer and no way to get the boat to the shop. After a brief consultation with Uncle George he agrees to help me put that motor on. So, the deal is made.
 On the back of the pick up truck there is a boom and boat winch used to raise and lower outboard motors, among other things. Uncle George loads that motor into the truck and away we go to the harbor. The man is told to bring his boat up alongside the dock. We can park the truck alongside that and just lower the motor into the boat. It's a fine plan and one we know will work, having done it just a few times over the years. Well this guy brings this boat alongside and he was right, it is older ! It is an old lap strake boat older than that motor. It doesn't look all that great. I jumped down into that boat and had a good look at the transom. I wasn't impressed. I expressed some doubt about the ability of that transom to hold that big fifty. But, I was just a kid and what did I know ? The owner of the boat told me in no uncertain terms that transom was as solid as a rock. Uncle George just looked at me and winked with that grin he sometimes flashed. If you knew him you knew what that meant. Not a man prone to arguing he simply stated his opinion. He says, I don't know about that Bub but she looks a little spongy to me. Again the owner assures us it'll be fine.
 I remember Uncle George lowering that motor down and me guiding it onto the stern. As I said that motor had to be a couple hundred pounds at least. As I sat her down the bow rose up some, that was expected, but the stern just seemed to groan. I swear I heard it complain about that load. I tighten down the clamps and fastened the safety chain to a ring in the boat. The gas can was lowered down, the first tank was free, courtesy of Uncle George. Now all this was a long time ago and some of the details I just don't remember. I guess he already had controls in the boat because I remember him starting that motor up and turning the wheel. That motor was just purring like a kitten, a 200 pound kitten that is.  Next thing I remember is him throwing that motor into reverse and hitting the throttle. That motor just starting backing up and it took the stern with it ! Problem was the stern was no longer attached to the hull. Yup, it ripped the transom right out of that hulk. Went down pretty quick as I recall, right there at the dock.
 That guy sure was upset. There it was his " new " motor lying on the bottom still attached to a part of his boat. First he tried blaming me. Uncle George stood up for me and said in his rather quiet gentle voice, the boy tried to tell you. Well that didn't make the guy feel any better about anything. By that time a few other folks had gathered around, as folks will, and were gawking at this spectacle. There was laughter and wisecracks which wasn't helping that guys' mood one bit. I don't remember much of what happened after that. I do know that someone dove down and attached the cable to the motor and it was raised out of the water. That motor came back to the shop but the guy didn't want to pay to have it " dried " out. I'm certain it could have been saved but I don't believe it was. What happened to the boat I couldn't say, guess it got hauled out. All in all I got a kick out of it. I made 25 dollars on the deal. Well when you're dealing with them city folks you just never know. I did get a boat later on and bought a motor for it. I bought a twenty five horsepower model off of a family friend, Dave Jacobs. I think it was a Johnson. That motor had a habit of snapping drive shafts, replaced it twice, but it sure did run good. I wonder what ever happened to that motor ? You see by then I had learned that sometimes a fifty is just too much. 
 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

appropiations

 Remember when they called America the melting pot ? I do. That is what was taught in elementary school when I was a child. We were told how people from all over the world immigrated to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. They all came here seeking the American dream, a better life for themselves and their families. They " yearned " to be Americans. And believe me when I tell you " yearning " is a very strong desire ! That's what they did though, they yearned ! But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore does it. Now these immigrants come " demanding. " Big difference there isn't there ? There are not trying to assimilate, to melt into our society. no they are floating on the top demanding all the cream !
 Now I realize I am speaking in generalities. I am also aware that many will start pointing out that not all these immigrants are that way. Yup, that's why I said in general. I do believe the narrative has changed drastically over the last fifty years or so. Yes all the immigrants in the past faced discrimination and were mistreated and taken advantage of. I know, so what's your point there ? Yes, it was wrong to do that. But, for the most part, those same immigrants tried to become as American as they could. Sure they had funny accents, they ate different foods and had strange customs, that's why they were laughed at. They didn't always understand our ways, that's why they got taken advantage of. Oh today we call that being minimalized ! That sounds so much more compassionate doesn't it. Bottom line was they all tried to become Americans and assimilate to the American culture. You could call it blending in.
 You see it is cultural differences that divide us. Oh a lot of folks want to holler about the color of our skin as the primary cause but that ain't so. No, it is a cultural difference. Oh but we are not supposed to talk about that at all, no we must all embrace diversity and all cultures. Isn't that the narrative ? Yes it is, whether you want to admit to it or not. It is our culture that makes us who we are. That starts when we are just little children. Where did you grow up and who where your neighbors ? That's the culture you grew up in and most likely the culture you adopt. As the world grew smaller and populations shifted around cultures began to clash. That's still happening today and will continue.
You know it really is a simple thing although man likes to complicate matters. We tend to hang out with folks of the same culture as ours. Shocking isn't it ? We tend to hang out with people that are similar to ourselves ! I know, how racist is that ? We also tend to dislike those that have opposing views from ourselves. Well if that just isn't intolerance I don't know what is. And worst of all, we tend to want others to be just like us ! Well, I'm speechless.
  It is a time in America when the pot is being stirred once again. This happens every now and again depending on conditions throughout the world. The Irish came when they suffered the big potato famine. The Chinese came to build the railroads. All manner of Europeans came for the opportunity offered in America. Hard work and persistence would make you successful. Yes, it was a dream but dreams do come true. Now we are in a period of wishing. All these folks wishing for the things that they used to dream about. The difference is now they are demanding their wishes be granted ! Quite the contrast from making your dream come true with your own efforts. But it'll settle down again I just can't say when. Then a new mixture will have formed and all will be well, until the next time. You know the things we want are determined by the " appropriations committee. " Right now, the committee is in shambles.

Friday, June 2, 2017

validation

 I saw on the news that LeBron James had his home or was it his security gate vandalized. Someone spray painted a racial slur on it. You don't suppose it was someone that doesn't like his basketball team do you ? I mean, I don't follow the NBA but do know his team is in the playoffs. I also know that it is quite the rivalry with the two teams. Hey, but I guess it was just somebody that doesn't like black people. I even heard LeBron saying how even though he is rich and famous it is tough being black in America. Yes, I expect it is quite difficult to live in a gated mansion surrounded by all that wealth. Wonder why I don't feel so bad for him ? Imagine that, all that wealth and fame and there are still people that just plain don' like you. Surely it is the color of your skin LeBron, that must be the reason.
 Now I know that racism exists in America. Gee, what a revelation that is. Racism and bigotry has existed in the society of man ever since there was a society of man. I just can't believe it still exists . right ? That is what I hear from the left all the time. Why it is just incredulous ? What, people don't like other people that are somehow different ? How can that be ? We are supposed to embrace diversity. Well unless that diversity is diverse to what we are saying that is. Then we will hold rallies and protest, we will even riot if necessary. Oh, you will be diverse whether you want to or not ! So anyway, LeBron is upset that somebody called him a name. Hard to believe that happens in America, isn't it. People saying or doing hateful things. Next thing you know there will be beheadings ! Oh, that's right the left has already staged a photo shoot for that. At least she was fired for that as everyone agreed that was a bit much.
 What I do find disturbing in all of this is LeBron James, who is certainly an idol to many young black children, shoot all children that love the game of basketball really, making his statement about it being hard to be black in America. What is the real message he is sending to those young people ? What he is saying is even if you are successful, a star, a millionaire and a celebrity if you are black in America it's tough. What he is really saying is, you'll never be white ! Isn't that the real message. What happened to I'm black and I'm proud ? That is what James Brown was singing back in '68. What are they singing now ? I can't even listen to the words anymore because of the racial slurs they use in almost every line. Oh, but they call it art, being creative these days, yeah right. LeBron James has a social responsibility. What he should be saying is, you can make it too ! He should have just said, yeah some idiot spray painted my gate and let it go at that. Encourage the school yard bullies and you'll get more of the same. That's a lesson I learned in elementary school. But what is LeBron teaching the kids, specifically black kids ? No matter what you'll always be black and life will not be fair to you, at least not in America. Well all I have to say is if being the third highest paid athlete in America is oppression bring it on ! I want to be #1.
 All I'm saying here is that if you teach the children that they are oppressed, they will be oppressed. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. I don't understand why the black community insists on teaching their children that they can't be successful because they are black. I just don't get the message. LeBron is even telling them when they are successful they are not because white people hate them. I guess it is because I'm not black. It must be all this white privilege I enjoy. Because, you know being white in America I get every advantage. I wonder if those folks living in Appalachia got the memo on that ? And just how many government sponsored programs are there for the majority ? I haven't seen a pamphlet on that. Oh, that's right I can just invoke " privilege " anytime I want.
 Look I'm not saying there weren't injustices and inequities in the past. We are all well aware of that history. Thing is you can not use history to create a future. If you stay in the past that is where you will be. I'm not saying it is easy. Hey, news flash, it isn't easy for any of us that aren't born into wealth and power. Even then I expect there are pressures, expectations to meet, it is called being a human being. Quit using the injustice of the past as justification for your failures ! Being black in America is not a " failsafe "  to excuse your every mistake. If you choose to get involved in criminal activity it is because that is what you chose ! It really has nothing to do with being black. If you have children before marriage and the father of that baby refuses to take responsibility for that baby it is not because you are black, it is because of the choices you made. Bottom line is this, as long as you keep teaching your children that everything that happens to them, good or bad, is dependent upon the color of their skin they will believe that. But hey, I'm just a white guy that wouldn't know anything about any of that so I'm just a racist. My hope is that one day we will get past all of that nonsense. In the meantime people are sometimes bigoted and mean, they will do things like that. Don't encourage them by validating their hate. And that is just what LeBron James did ! I'm mad about that and I'm not even black. Last I knew they don't even know who did it. We are all just assuming it is a white guy. but we wouldn't want to stereotype anyone would we ?      

Thursday, June 1, 2017

frowned upon

 Well that comedienne Kathy Griffin stepped in it didn't she ? I see where she has apologized and feels so bad for her indiscretion. CNN has severed ties with her and she will have to pay the price. I am surprised that I am not hearing support for her from the left. Freedom of speech and all that. Considering it was an attack on Trump I am surprised I'm not hearing hooray and well done ! Could it be that the left agrees, that sort of thing is frowned upon ? Could we be witnessing a change of heart ?  Well, I'm not going to go that far there are plenty of other things the left endorses that in my opinion should be frowned upon. Yes I understand all about the Constitution and Bill of Rights and all your precious freedoms. Hey, they are precious to me as well, but there are certain things that are just way too much, over the top , and this last incident is just one of many. Never have I witnessed such incivility directed towards a president. Oh, I know Obama caught his share of flak, but the personal attacks on he and his family were no where near the magnitude of what we are seeing now. Not that Trump doesn't bring some of it on himself with his tweeting. Still, a little decorum please.
 Just why was this image so offensive ? Was it because of the beheadings ISIS carries out ? Was it because it was such a gruesome image ? As troublesome as that image is I can't seem to figure that out. There were certainly images of Obama involving nooses, which really seem to getting people upset lately, and other racial and ethic slurs. I don't remember any big backlash when any of that happened. In my opinion they were as equally offensive. So the question I have, is just what chord was struck here ? Don't misunderstand me, I condemn her actions vehemently, a vile and heartless act in the hope of gaining attention. Well, you got it ! But why this one image caused such a stir even from the left ? Could it be that the proverbial " *hit "  hit the fan ? I guess it isn't a very educated theory but that's exactly what I think happened. You can only pile it so high. Enough is enough. 
 I've know this for a while and I'm certain many others have as well, the left became unbalanced when Hillary lost. I mean we all know, for a fact, that the DNC conspired to undermine Bernie. He was a challenge to Hillary that they just couldn't abide. So, the left rigs the primaries in the certainty that Hillary will win the general election. Then, omg, she didn't win ! It has been a hissy fit ever since. Protests and marches galore, investigations and allegations just flying everywhere. It's all a conspiracy, Trump and the Russians ! Everyone is losing their healthcare, food stamps and welfare ! The illegals are going to be deported, I mean, my God this president intends to put America first ! He is going to enforce the laws as they are written ! And then Kathy Griffin posts  that image ! It was just too much ! It is my hope that it serves as a bucket of cold water to the face of the left ! Yes, there are boundaries, walls if you will, that you just don't cross ! I know that is a lot to hope for but we need to stop all this nonsense. I get it, Trump is an offensive person to many, he is brash and abrasive. I said it more than a year ago, he is no diplomat, statesman or politician.  What he is is a businessman. I didn't cast my ballot in favor of him but let him get about the business of governing. If the results are unsatisfactory we can all hire another person in four years. That's the way it works in America folks. Acting like a bunch of spoiled little brats, well, that my friends is frowned upon ! Just ask Kathy.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

just passing through

  What if you were just passing through, would you be alright with that ? It is a question I have asked myself on occasion. What if I am just passing through ? What I mean is, I'm not here for any special purpose or reason at all, I'm just passing through. I find my ego balks at that notion. It must be ego, what else could it be ? I haven't received any messages or signs from above. No, I have always done what I thought best for me at the moment. And doesn't that sound selfish ? Yes it does, but there have been times when what was best for me was better for another and that was why I did it ! Did you follow that logic ? I am aware that sometimes what is best for me is better for someone else. There are also times when just doing what I feel is best for me leaves me with a sense of guilt. I do believe it is somewhat of a delicate balance between the two.
 In the last few years I have taken up writing these blogs or essays whatever you wish to call them. At first they were just a form of entertainment to me. A sort of self gratification to see my words in print, on the internet, even though I put them there. The satisfaction of self publication. Gradually I decided they could become a record of my thoughts for future generations. As I put it some time back, I get to tell my side of the story even after I'm gone. That was assuming I would be talked about and remembered. Is that presumptuous of me ? I don't think it is as far as my immediate family is concerned. I'm quite certain I will be talked about and remembered for at least a few years. The reality is as the years go by those remembrances will get less frequent.
 Over time I thought I would like to write some words of substance. That is the way I expressed my idea. Now I don't claim to be a scholar of any kind. I graduated high school and have some college credits to my name but that is the extent of that. I know that degrees don't make you smart. All of us folks without one will tell you that. I understand it completely. Degrees are what society accepts as intelligence. The proof of that is when they bestow an " honorary " degree upon someone. The educated folks are saying you are almost as smart as us, all you need is a degree ! That's the way I see that anyway, although it would be an honor to receive such.
 It is possible to write some words of substance without having a degree many have done so over the ages. The real problem is in getting attention. If what you're writing doesn't show a great promise of profit it isn't likely to be published. I do think that is changing today with all this posting to the internet and You tube, forums like that. I think they call it going viral when you gain popularity in that way. Then the problem is just gaining attention in a crowd. You would have to be different that much is sure. I don't think I'm much different than most. That is why I think maybe I'm just passing through. I don't know where I came from, or where I'm going, but I'm on a journey. How long is it ? I don't know, no one knows. I'm a realist in that regard anyway, I know the journey here on this earth will end. The longer you're here the end grows nearer.  I'm starting to feel a sense of urgency. What is it that I need to get done ? That is the big question facing me these days. Of course there I go assuming I'm here for a purpose, what if I'm not ?
 Well the truth is it is all a matter of degrees isn't it ? We all wonder about the degree of our importance in our world. The greater our importance the longer we will be remembered, isn't that it ? We all want to feel important and that we made an important contribution. Our lives have to mean something ! We are here for a purpose. Then the question I'm asking is, are you satisfied with your role in life ? Is it enough ? What if you are just passing through ? Is that alright with you ?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Justice

 The things that are advertised on television and in the magazines are a reflection of what society wants. I suppose that isn't completely accurate as they are products and services that the advertisers want to sell us. Their job is to create that desire in us to purchase whatever it is they are selling. Done correctly however the first statement is true as well. These products and services can have a profound effect. Consider the tobacco industry. In the forties and fifties they sure made that look like a desirable thing to do. All the really cool people did that. Smoking practically liberated women ! That was the impression those advertisers projected anyway.
 I was listening just yesterday and an ad for a law firm came on. This is just one of the many for medical malpractice. The catch phrase they were using was, there is no excuse for medical abuse ! Well you can't argue with that logic can you ? No one has a right to abuse anyone. The " non attorney " spokesman went on to say they would investigate and find the mistake that was made. If you, or your loved one had suffered from a mistake, or died from it, they will get you the compensation you deserve ! They will not rest until justice has been gained. And it is that last statement that causes me to think. Is justice monetary compensation ? That is the clear message they are sending out. Justice is a settlement, make them pay. Enough financial compensation will make up for the injury or loss and you will have obtained justice.
 Just what is justice ? Justice is being treated fairly. That is what I think anyway. Justice is being fair and reasonable. Laws are made to ensure justice. The thing is the law isn't justice, it is only the vehicle that delivers that justice. If a doctor makes a mistake and causes injury or death what penalty should he or she be subject to ? How do we administer justice ? If the mistake was a honest one should they even be subject to prosecution ? Is justice solely punishment for wrongdoing ? I don't believe that it is. Fair and equitable treatment applies to all the parties involved. If a suit is brought against a doctor and no wrongdoing is found were is the justice for him or her ? Is that justice just a simple, sorry ? According to the non attorney spokesman justice for the injured can mean thousands of dollars in compensation. I would agree the injured party shouldn't be liable for the medical expenses incurred as a result of an obvious error, that would be fair. The physician that is subject to legal scrutiny, having his ethics questioned and his reputation smeared has no recourse for justice if found innocent. Justice for him is not having to pay a settlement. Is that fair and equitable ? I would say not.
 Setting all that aside however the central issue I am questioning is this concept of justice. The advertisers on television, radio and magazines are all saying justice is monetary compensation. If you want justice, real justice, sue them ! No matter how ill, injured or even if death resulted the only true course of justice involves  payment of a settlement. That is how we obtain justice in America ! I believe justice is a virtue. Justice is an individual thing. The most virtuous among us seeks only a justice that is fair and equitable. Our courts only allow you to be " made whole " again when it comes to your personal property that was damaged or stolen. That often doesn't seem fair to the one suffering the damage though. Consider your car. If it is completely destroyed you can only receive the Kelly blue book value of the car. Is that fair ? To the insurance company it certainly is. Can I buy a replacement car of equal value with that settlement ? Probably not. Was justice served ? But what of a medical mistake ? What is just compensation when you can not be made whole again ? Apparently it is a whole lot of money. Sure Aunt Susie is dead, but you're getting a structured settlement ! That's justice ! Somehow I just find the whole thing a bit troubling. I don't have the answer but I don't like it. Justice as retribution ?  What I am seeing in those ads is an abandonment of Justice and a shift to retribution. And that is what is being taught today and I find that very unsettling. Justice is not getting what you want. Justice is not punishing another for their misdeeds. Justice is an equitable settlement between two parties. Justice is a give and take. Justice is a virtue !

Monday, May 29, 2017

moral essence

 Back in the day we were sure America was the greatest nation on earth. Now I see an America with shaken confidence, filled with indecision and doubt. In our quest for freedom we have imprisoned our spirit and our drive. No longer do we strive to be free, no longer do we dream. No, now we cower in the corner and hide. Hide from the realities of life. Seeking out safe spaces, proclaiming our friendship to all. Proclaiming anything, to avoid a confrontation. And that is spreading throughout our society like a cancer, eating away at the America I love so dearly. Our children are being infected with it in our schools and universities. They are being taught to be dependent, not independent. I see this and it troubles me deeply. How can America survive ? If there is no one that is willing to believe the dream , it can not. What I see now are those demanding the dream become their reality. That is not the purpose of a dream my friends. Yes, dreams do come true, an exception not a rule. Dreams are what sustain the spirit of man, not the material gains he makes in his lifetime. Dreams do not consist of what you have, but what may be possible. That is the dream, that is America !
 The dream is that by hard work and a spirit that is true I will prevail. Isn't that the image of the American cowboy ? Isn't that image the identity of the dream ? The cowboy, a Hollywood invention for sure, but a close reflection of what the American dream is all about. What does the cowboy represent ? Independence is his greatest asset. A cowboy answers only to himself and his God. The cowboy is sure of himself and his abilities. The whole " code of the west " thing is what appeals to the spirit in all of us. It is a whole " moral " thing in its' essence. There is right and wrong. And it is that essence that is being destroyed today. Today the only thing wrong, is being right ! To state the truth, clearly and plainly will get you labeled. You will either be called an " activist " or a " bigot. " And that label really depends upon what is popular at the moment, subject to change at any time. Change has become the justification for erasing the " moral essence " of America. Change is always a good thing right ? That is what is being taught. Tried and true is no longer sufficient, we can do better. Well, call me old fashioned but I liked it much better when we were sure. I'm still sure ! I'm sure the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth. The problem we are facing today is far too many think greatness is the same as popularity. Well that just ain't so. Appeasing everyone and anyone does not make you great, what it makes you is a sucker. I may be old but I still remember that lesson from the schoolyard. I remember learning that the only way to gain respect was to stand up for it, you can't get that by groveling. What that will get you is the loss of your lunch money and left hungry ! Believe me when I tell you, you will not walk away feeling superior ! You will not end up living the dream, quite the contrary. It'll be a nightmare.
 On this day, a day set aside to remember those whose lives were taken in exchange for the freedom we enjoy. I am grateful. Each and every one of the fallen defended that " moral essence " we call America. I salute them all. I am proud to say I once was among their ranks. I am grateful once again for I came home, unscathed. I too dream. I dream of the return of the America I knew as a child. An America that is sure of her position in the world. An America that is proud. An America that is unapologetic for her greatness. An America that is ONE NATION UNDER GOD ! An America restored to her " moral essence. "   

Sunday, May 28, 2017

self awareness

 Yesterday I was playing around with my slide show program. I have made a few slide shows in the past and enjoy doing that. Thing is I just don't have a lot of patience with it. I'm always anxious to get to the end. It can take some time to get it right. Anyway, I remembered that some time back some folks were curious about the sound of my voice. Well not really the sound but whether or not I retained a certain dialect. Now I've never claimed to possess this dialect in the first place but grew up in the area that is was spoken. I never doubted that I picked up some of the phrases and inflections in that speech but not the entire dialect. It has been my contention that the true speakers of that dialect are all but passed on now. I think the last of them were in my parents generation. I certainly knew a few and it wasn't easy to understand exactly what they were saying. The speech is rapid and filled with odd sayings. Oh there are a few obvious ones that you hear to this day more as a nod to that heritage, than a manner of speech. Speech like anything else has to be used to be kept alive. The old folks are mostly gone and that speech went with them for a variety of reasons. So anyway, I made a recording and got mixed reviews. Some say they could hear that dialect a bit and some not at all.  It was interesting though as I didn't know what to expect. I do know, and I think this would be true for most of us, that I don't like the way my voice sounds when recorded. Something must be wrong because I sure don't sound like that ! Well my bathroom mirror is defective too, I don't look like that either. It's a conspiracy.
 I wondered about putting a voice to the name. For many of you folks that read these blog you have never heard me speak. The only words you hear are the ones you read. Do you ever imagine what that voice sounds like ? Strangely when I read your words, you all sound like me. well except for the ladies, I'm nor sure what voice I hear then. And I think I'll leave that speculation alone. When I was recording I tried my best to just talk the way I naturally would. It is not as easy as one would think, especially when you are just talking to yourself. I read a blog that I had written while back. I don't believe I write the same way I speak though. I make an effort to be as true to myself as possible. Of course there is a little voice inside saying, don't sound like an idiot ! That is when the " big " words creep in. Using words that others don't understand can make you seem smarter, right ? Sometimes I think that is just the case and I do try to avoid that. Still the correct word will convey your thoughts more clearly and it is a necessity at times. Writing is a one way communication for the most part. I do want you to understand what I mean.
 Another part in all of this is looks. I don't post many photos of myself. The reason is a simple one, I don't have many. I'm a little old for the selfie thing. I really don't like posed pictures either. As a rule posed pictures don't show the real person. Now moving pictures tell a different story altogether. If you could see me while I was talking that would change things yet again. I do tend to speak as much with my hands as I do my lips. Or at least I think I do. I would say I am not overly animated as some folks tend to be but hand gestures are important in conveying the message. I suppose I could set up the video camera and combine it all. The thing there is it wouldn't be the real me. I think maybe that is why some folks are good actors and others are not. If you can just relax, be completely yourself or adopt another personality in front of the cameras, or an audience you can be an actor. The secret is, you have to be able to do that with yourself, when no one is looking. Seems backyards doesn't it ? But I think that is the secret. If you can discard any sense of being self conscious you stand a chance of success. Confidence is key. Is the key to confidence a lack of self consciousness ? I've seen a few cases where I thought that must be the case ! There was no other explanation for the performance. Funny how this can be true in my eyes and the person is still successful ! All a matter of opinion I suppose.
 I have considered posting a few of my blogs in video format to You Tube. I wonder if I would get any views and what would people have to say ? It could be a crushing experience. I know that they say going " viral ' is a good thing but I'm not certain I want a virus. Fact is I'm not that confident and I am self aware. I may try it to satisfy my curiosity. Do I want to set myself up for the abuse though ?