Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


 My grandson was returning home from camp and it has become our custom, Grandma and I, to spruce up his bedroom before hand. Sometimes we buy him new curtains or maybe paint the walls, put up those wall cling things (fat heads ) stuff like that. This year we included a vase full of fresh cut flowers. We figured he was old enough to enjoy them without being embarrassed about it, you know what I mean. We were surprised when he said he would like to have a plant of some kind in his room. He wasn't overly thrilled with the cut flowers though, he was talking about a house plant. And so then I had this idea. I would get him a terrarium. Hey, they are neat and he probably wouldn't kill those plants. I know him well and he ain't gonna spend a lot of time caring for a plant. A terrarium would be perfect.
 First I went online to see what was available. Turns out the glass containers are rather expensive. I found that strange considering what they are. I can buy the same containers, just by another name, for far less. The difference between a jar and a terrarium ! Well I get it. I did look at complete kits that you can purchase. With those all you need to add is the plants. Cacti and succulents is what I had in mind. Low maintenance you know. I started reading about all of that. I'm no farmer that much is sure or botanist. After just a short time I decided to check the local garden center. I'll just see what they have to offer.
 I did check first at the Walmart and was told to go online, they didn't carry anything like that in the store. It was suggested I try the local craft store, Ben Franklin. They had some containers, quite pricey I thought and the other supplies. I mulled it over some but thought this is turning out to be too much work. I headed for the garden center. It was there I struck pay dirt. They had an array of them. When I first asked the person working there, an older lady about a terrarium she said, you mean a fairy garden ? Wait a minute here I thought, what are you trying to say ? I don't want a fairy garden I want a terrarium. A terrarium is terra firma you know, the earth, a miniature world, something masculine, like the bottled world of Kandor or something, it doesn't have anything to do with fairies ! Then she showed me a terrarium and I said yes, that's it. Turns out that is what is popular right now. People construct these terrariums but call them fairy gardens. Apparently you place fairies in hidden places or some such thing. It is definitely a " millennial " concept. I'm thinking there are bound to be rainbows and unicorns involved in this somehow. Anyway, to shorten the story a bit I didn't purchase a terrarium. The only one they had that I really liked was $92.00 and that was out of my price range for where it was going. Hey, this isn't Christmas you know ! I did buy a pot of cacti though. They will have to do. I haven't given up on the idea of a terrarium and may make one for myself. I'll just keep my eyes open for a bargain on a container of some sort.
 I thought finding a terrarium would be a piece of cake. I talked to two people that didn't even know what one was. I guess they are just not in vogue anymore. My sister had a large one, on a pedestal. Well now that I think about that it was the 1970's maybe things have changed since then. I was just a bit shocked when I was asked if it was a fairy garden I was seeking. I mean, do I look like someone that would want a fairy garden ? OMG.   

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

eruditely whimsical

 Like most people I have a few books around the house. I don't have a real bookshelf anymore, you know, like a formal one. A bookshelf or bookcase is something I would have, given the space. I have always thought if I were to buy or build another house I would like to have a formal study, or den if you prefer. I don't want a man cave, I want a study like Ward Cleaver had. You had to ask permission to enter that room ! At least one wall of that study would be lined with books. I always suspected that those books were seldom read, maybe never read, but were there mostly for show. I read once where having books was a sign of wealth. I can see that. There was a time when books were expensive and rare.
 I would say the majority of the books I have right now are novels or works of non-fiction. The hard cover ones almost always have a dust jacket on them. As I looked at the few I do have on a shelf at my desk, technically a bookshelf, this thought came to me. How come the Bible never comes with a dust jacket ? Is that somehow symbolic ? I mean these other books on my shelf have dust covers, does the publisher expect them to sit that long that they need protection from dust ? The books I have don't have the expensive binding that some may have that is true, but their covers are attractive. If you had books that were bound in expensive leather and hand tooled wouldn't you want them to be shown off ? I mean just what damage is dust going to do to my book anyway ? I think the damage would be done my handling them, my dirty fingers soiling that leather. Of course if I were wealthy my hands certainly wouldn't be dirty ! Is that the real purpose of the dust cover, to protect the book from us ? If that is the case those flimsy paper covers just don't cut it. The majority of mine are ripped or faded and don't look too good. Well that's true on the books I do read often. others sit there, protected from dust in pristine condition, unread.
 I have noticed that collections of law books, ever notice the walls of them in a lawyers office or a judges chambers on television, do not have dust jackets on them. Reference libraries do not have dust jackets on them. I think it is safe to say mostly novels have those jackets. Does that mean they are not expected to be read ? That is my conclusion. As I said earlier I have never seen a Bible come with a dust jacket. That certainly means it is intended to be read, and read often. Just like those law books and other reference materials, that book should be consulted. It is a working manuscript. I have seen Bibles come with a zipper to keep it closed and protected. Makes sense if you intend to carry it with you. I'm not saying other books haven't been made with a zippered cover but, I haven't seen it.
 Does any of this make a difference ? No, it doesn't make any difference at all. Sometimes I write these blogs as a discussion. I'm just talking to myself. Even when we are talking with another, having a discussion, that doesn't mean it amounts to anything. It is a part of the art of conversation. To talk with one another, to interact without causing turmoil or hard feelings. Not everything we talk about is life changing or even relevant sometimes. I would call what I have written this morning " musing. " I hope you find it amusing ! That is the intent anyway. Yes you can be entertained by deep thought. Deep thought doesn't always have to be meaningful. Everything we say doesn't have to sound as though it comes from a erudite scholar. Sometimes deep thought just turns out to be whimsy. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

I survived

 It has been said I'm just not right in the head. Well, there just very well may be a good reason for that. You see I believe it was the summer of 62 when I, along with my brothers and sister were at Sammis beach. It was a beautiful day to play in the bay and catch those cool breezes off the water. Mom had packed a picnic lunch just like she did most days we went. My sister and I , not being very strong swimmers, played along the shoreline. Those brothers of mine however they were like fish ! Both of those guys could swim far and fast. They were just naturals and so they played out in the deep water.
 On this particular occasion brother Dan was diving for clams. He went down and what he came up with is what we called a skimmer clam. Now we didn't eat those skimmers, we used them for bait. Oh, I heard of people eating them, especially the rims but not us. They were great for fishing for stripers and bluefish seemed to enjoy them as well. Anyway, brother Dan had this skimmer clams and hollered at me to catch. He threw that thing in a high arc toward were I was standing. I missed and it hit me square on top of my head. I immediately began to cry and rushed to momma. She says, bend over and I'll kiss it. Well, because a kiss from momma can cure just about anything. When I bent over the blood began to flow ! That clam cracked open on my skull and put a big gash in it. The clam cracked open I mean, not my skull, although that was later debated. There wasn't a concussion protocol back then, I was still conscious so I was alright. But the blood was flowing pretty freely and Mom, Mom is not someone you want in an emergency. She just starts to scream and just sits there !
 It was a fortunate thing for me that the neighbor lady was there with us that day. Francis Rollings, Aunt Francis as we called her, was a calm , cool and practical women. She grabs a beech towel, soaks it in the salt water and presses it on my head. She says, hold that there and quit crying about it, you'll be just fine. Then she looks at Mom, who is still in shock and mumbling something and tells her, I'm taking this boy to the clinic ! That is all we had readily available to us at that time, the local clinic. It was great though, those Doctors there could do anything, we certainly didn't need any specialists. I remember riding in her Willies Jeep station wagon, you know the kind, and bouncing up and down that old chip and tar road heading into town. Wasn't any such thing as a seat belt to hold you in place. I held on with one hand while the other kept that towel on my head. Let me tell you that lady was moving. She would tell us kids, when you are in a hurry or feel like you might get stuck you had to " giver' the gun " and Aunt Francis certainly did " giver' the gun " that day.
 When we arrived at the clinic they took me right in. No waiting around to see the doctor, I was making a mess, dripping wet, sand on my feet and all of that. I looked up to see who the doctor was and it was Dr. Abel. My heart skipped a few beats then. Dr. Abel, aka The Slasher, was staring at me smiling. Old Doc Abel was a nice enough man, he was a very good doctor in fact, but the rumor was he always cut you open for one reason or another. That is why the kids called him, " the slasher. " I normally saw Dr. Nugent but I guess he wasn't around that day. Then I thought, I'm already cut so maybe he won't cut me more. He took one good look at the wound on my head and said, we'll just put a few staples in it, you'll be alright. Staples ! I thought he was going to take a staple gun and just staple it back together ! I was too scared to speak. About that time Mom shows up having dropped the other kids off at home and enters the room. She has regained enough composure to hold my hand and reassure me that he won't be using a staple gun. I get fixed up and that is the end of that story.
 I have begun losing my hair. Male pattern baldness is the clinical term. It hasn't progressed to the point of uncovering that scar. Yes, there is a scar there to this day. It was a direct hit and some say I haven't been right ever since. I did learn that if you get injured the last person to run to is Mom. I got bit by a mouse once, another story, and ran to Dad. Now he took action ! First he squeezed my hand to get the blood flowing, then he poured alcohol in that wound and squeezed some more. Had to get the poison  and germs out you know. After doing that a couple times he put a Band-Aid over it and said, watch it close boy, if it begins to fester let me know ! I wasn't quite sure what festering meant, but I knew it wasn't good. I did keep a close eye on that for a while. It never did fester so the cure worked well. After that I wasn't so sure I wanted to go to Dad either. Well, somehow I survived my childhood.     

Sunday, July 23, 2017

men, not government

 Charity is a gift not a right. The political climate is certainly a hostile one at this time and this notion of charity as a right is foremost in the discussion. I suppose you could say a lot of folks just feel it isn't fair. Why should some receive charity as an entitlement while others struggle to provide. Should I be made to struggle to provide that charity to others ? Well that is the crux of the matter isn't it ? Almost everyone agrees that we should help our fellow man. Almost everyone will tell you how charitable they are. At the same time almost everyone will tell you they should have that choice, to give or not, as well.
 Isn't the notion of charity a Christian virtue ? I certainly believe that it is. I hear many people insisting that our nation isn't a Christian nation, we have separated church and state. Well then, why is the government extending charity ? The government has even made some forms of charity an entitlement ! You can't have it both ways you know. The money the government has is the people's money, yours and mine. We should decide who gets charity and who does not. It could be I choose not to be charitable, that's my right isn't it ? There is no law that says I must act in a Christian fashion. Hey, that's on me right.
 Charity is the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. Notice it is voluntary. Charity isn't an entitlement. Charity is something given, not received. What is received is a gift. I was taught to be grateful for any gift I received. It appear to me that many are now demanding gifts. I find the whole concept distasteful and somewhat repugnant. I fail to understand why anyone would think they are entitled to charity. I can certainly understand hoping for it, wishing for it, and  praying for it but demanding it ? No, I just don't understand that at all. I have no more right to demand you provide charity than I can demand you " love " me. And it doesn't matter a wit how much I might " love " you.
 The purpose of government is to govern. And just what is governing ? To keep things in check, provide law and order, and establish standards. A governor is supposed to keep something operating within a confined set of limits, generally speaking high and low. A range is to be maintained. Now can Charity be measured ? Can Charity be governed ? What I mean is, how much charity is to be extended and to whom ? Can a set of parameters be established for that ? I don't think that is possible. That is like saying how much is too much ? How much money can you make before you have to give it away ? How many French fries are enough ? If you are met with unfortunate circumstances, whether by choice, design or just bad luck does that make you immediately qualified for charity ? Should that be law ? I don't think so, yet our government is doing just that. And what is the result ? Many are starting to believe that charity is a right, an entitlement earned by just being physically here ! No need to contribute to society exists, I should be able to rely upon charity for my needs ! I just can't wrap my mind around such a concept.
 Well I know that this is sometimes called humanitarian aid. We are helping out fellow humans. Really it is just a generic term to say we are giving charity to everyone. It is an attempt to eliminate the Christian aspect of that charity. It is a polite way to include others in this giving. All religions do teach that we should be giving, charitable to our fellow man, I understand it is not solely a Christian virtue. The bottom line being charity is a virtue. Can a government codify virtue ? A rather grey area wouldn't you say ? Which virtues are chosen ? It is a slippery slope indeed. Virtues are something  practiced on an individual basis ! When we codify virtues we call that religion. The government isn't a religion.  John Adams said, " a government of laws, not of men. " Of course Adams did believe in the virtue of a righteous people doing the governing. That is the foundation of our government. Doing the right thing not because we have to, ( law ) but because we know it to be right. Charity is best left to the virtue of men, not government.    

Saturday, July 22, 2017

a choice

 It appeared on the news once again, just a quick spot, that an Atheist group was suing the Gideon's. They want the placing of Bibles in hotels and motels to stop. They are of course trying to use the " establishment " clause , that's the first amendment to the constitution in case you don't know that, as the rule. I'm sorry but I just don't see it that way. In the first place none of those hotels and motels are owned and operated by the government. The amendment says, the government shall make no law establishing a religion. It also says they can't prohibit the free exercise thereof. So, it seems clear enough to me, that if I want to give a hotel or motel a copy of the Bible to place in their rooms I have a legal right to do so. At the same time those Atheists have a right to hand out any anti-Bible literature they would like. Things is, the owner of the hotel or motel isn't the government and can accept or reject either one, being the good citizens that they are. The government can't tell them what to do in that regard ! No one is saying you have to read the Bible as a condition to stay there. You are supposed to read that long notice on the back of the hotel/motel room door though, how many have read that ? You know, the notice of terms and conditions and studying the fire escape routes. But whatever, they just need to get over all of that.
 The thing I just don't get about these atheists and other non-believers is why they get so upset. If you don't believe in something why do you insist on removing any mention or sign of a God ? I'm convinced that Unicorns don't exist yet I don't insist they be removed from the toy stores or any images of them shown to my children. Hey big foot is just a myth and yet they make documentaries about that. I'm quite certain the government has spent money researching that myth as well. I don't see anyone protesting that however. Let's sue the government for promoting big foot. I don't know I'm just a bit confused I guess. If you don't believe something why does it seem to bother you so ? If you truly believe there is no God, no one holding you accountable for anything, what is the problem ? Could it be that your belief isn't as firm as you would like others to believe ? What I mean is, are you trying to hedge your bet just a little bit ? If I can make everyone stop talking about this, I can then have a clear conscience ? Out of sight, out of mind. I am a firm believer in this, no one can make you believe anything. Belief is a personal choice. I can be made to say things, under duress to extricate myself from an unpleasant situation, but does that mean I believe it ?
 Look I'm a Christian. All that means is I believe in Christ. It doesn't mean you can't believe something different. I see the Star of David and that says to me, those folks are Jewish. That is all it says though, it doesn't say they want to oppress me or make me change my belief. I can see the symbol for Islam. I don't agree with their teachings but I don't insist their Mosques be torn down. Furthermore if they want to place a copy of their Quran in a hotel room I say, go for it ! I guarantee you I will not be harmed by that. Hey you can put a copy of Harry Potter in there if you want to, I could care less. You know why ? Because I don't believe in Mohamed or Harry Potter !  Geez folks, it is a simple thing.
 I catch a lot of flak about this climate change thing. I say tell me when the climate wasn't changing. That's right I am a climate denier ! The government is establishing a whole branch of science to prove that climate change exists. Hint : it already is, changing that is. The thing is it is all part of a natural cycle. I do not believe that man has made any significant contribution to that change. Green house gases and all that stuff ? Yeah, alright if you say so. I don't believe it. I also don't feel a need to insist that you change your mind. I mean, I wouldn't want it against the law for you to believe that by not using hair spray in an aerosol can you are saving the planet !  Save away I say, if that is what you believe. I will tell you you're wrong and just keep on doing what I'm doing. That's because that is what I believe. Of course there is a distinction to be made between climate change and religious belief.  If I am wrong I would be contributing to the demise of the planet. If I am wrong about God what have I lost ? So, I guess what I'm saying is this. Don't be upset about what you don't believe, concentrate instead upon what you do believe. You might surprise yourself with what you discover. Read the book, or don't read the book, your choice. I'll just leave it right here.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back to the begininng

 Never having been 64 years old before I was wondering what I would write about. Just what do old people think about ? Well it seems 64 year old men think about pretty much the same thing as 63 year old men. Who would have guessed that ? I have to say my 64th birthday was a great one. I did go clamming just as I had planned. Although after about three hours of digging I only managed to uncover one clam, that's right one, I felt somehow refreshed in my soul. I can feel it more in my arms and chest this morning but yesterday it was in my heart. No, not a heart attack but just a nice warm feeling of sentiment and memory. As I wandered from place to place in search of my elusive prize I did remember the days of my youth. I figure it may have been the same water ! Oh sure it would have been evaporated and recycled a few times over the last 47 years but I think it was still the same. A ways south of Gardiner's Bay New York sure but water flows downhill right ? That's why it's frozen at the north pole, to keep it from all running downhill ! But anyway, it was good time and I really enjoyed myself.
 After leaving the bay side of the Island we drove over to the ocean side. My wife remarked how remarkable it was that it was such a short distance from the bay to the ocean. I told her just how common a thing that is to me. Drawing a sketch of Long Island in the sand I showed her how that worked on the eastern end. Assateague Island is only 37 miles long and the width isn't very much at all. Assateague is a barrier island and changes almost daily. You know when you live somewhere you just don't give it a whole lot of thought. Driving from the Bay to the Ocean seems like the most natural thing to me. Something taken for granted. We went to the ocean and walked out into the surf for a bit. That Atlantic ocean water is a bit cooler than I thought it would be. Very refreshing !  It was a beautiful sandy beach reminiscent of Main beach back on Long Island. Just listening to the sound of the surf and smelling that ocean breeze is a tonic. I received a transfusion of salt  into my bloodstream. Just what the doctor ordered. The screech of the gulls , along with the screams of the children truly is music to my ears.
 I have never been one much for sitting in the sand at the ocean beaches. Now, I'm thinking that may change. It was such a tranquil time amid all the excitement around me. It is hard to explain. As I watched the children running and playing along the waters edge I found it satisfying. I just sat there with my memories. Yes my wife was with me and I think she was lost in her memories too. There is something therapeutic about the ocean. They say life itself sprang from the ocean and I agree. Every human emotion can be expressed with the ocean waters. There are times of calm and times of turmoil. You can watch this unfold before you every day at the beach. The water forever touching the land and receding once again. Time and tide wait for no man is an expression I heard often as a child. It does best explain life. I do wonder what if ? What if you were an Iowa farmer would you feel the same connection to the land as I do to the water ? I expect I would. Perhaps the smell of the land has the same effect as the smell of the Ocean. I can see that, the smell of the pines and the forest. All of it can take us back to our youth, to our earliest memories.
 When I was brought home from the hospital 64 years ago it was to a fisherman's shack on the beach at Napeauge. That house was on stilts and the water would rise and fall beneath it. Although I don't have any direct memory of that, we left that place when I was about four years old, I think it influenced me. My mother tells me we once sat in the car during a hurricane in fear that house would be washed away. That house was still standing in the 1960's and it was pointed out to me. I expect it is long gone now, perhaps washed out to sea. When my time arrives it is my hope that the same can be said of me, he went back to the sea. Back to where it all began.   

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going Clamming

 And so today I celebrate another birthday. Yup, I will have been here on this globe for 64 years. That is 6.4 decades ! Ah well, time goes on . My plan is to go clamming. That is an activity I probably last did about 1969 or so. That was 48 years ago ! Man, I really do need to get out more often. But seriously I have certainly eaten plenty of clams over the years just haven't had the pleasure of digging them. I guess the truth is I just never tried. Isn't it funny how we can go along year after year thinking about certain things and never get around to actually doing it ? I mean, I have lived close to some body of water all my life. That is the result of being born on an island, spending twenty years in the Navy and retiring on a peninsula. Today however, I'm 64 and I'm going clamming. I ordered my rake from Walmart and I'm all set. Off to Assateague State Park to scratch up a few. It will be a wonderful day I'm certain of that. My wife, bless her heart, has never dug a clam in her life ! I can't allow her to bear that burden any longer so today she gets initiated.
 I went online to check for a good clamming area. The website says that Assateague State Park offers fishing and clamming there. Assateague is famous for their wild ponies and the website warns about that. They have to give you the obligatory warnings, you know, state the common sense rules in case you just don't have any. They are wild animals and will bite and kick you ! Stay well away from them. Do not feed them. Well as long as they don't try to take my clams we will get along just fine I'm certain of that. If they try to take my clams I will go all cowboy on their butts and round'em up and herd'em out ! It is a problem I didn't have when clamming at Hands' Creek on Long Island. It could make the whole deal more interesting.
 I'm getting off this computer now and going clamming. It will be like a trip back in time for me. That Walmart clam rake does have a metal handle that is in sections and that is different. I don't have a basket or an inner tube either. What I do have is a net bag with a ring at the top. You can put a belt through a loop and tie it around your waist. That is what the instructions say and I guess some folks clamming use that method. I'll give it a go. I figure to fill up my cooler with them to bring them home. And so I'll say something I haven't said since 1969, I'm going clamming. Sounds good to me.
 Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You don't need a license to clam at Assateague State park all you have to do is pay admission to the park. As I checked that out I discovered I am eligible for the " Golden Age Pass. "  This pass only costs you ten dollars and is good for the rest of your life ! In fact it is good at all Maryland State Parks and entitles you to discounts and such on various activities. I will be getting my " Golden Age " pass you can be sure of that. Who knew ? I'm going clamming in my golden years. And just why do I find that amusing ? I'm not certain I can answer that but I'll just be smiling all day.  


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Getting home

 For those of you that remember we had an " oil " shortage back in '73. That is what we were told anyway. The truth was OPEC, a collection of Arab countries decided to place an embargo on oil. That was in response to our support of Israel. I don't recall the news people reporting on that in that light. I was quite a bit younger then and not really paying attention to global politics. All I knew was gas was getting hard to come by and expensive.
 I was in the Navy back then stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. I owned a 1965 Pontiac Bonneville at the time. I had purchased this vehicle for $ 300.00 from the local butcher. It was a fine automobile , no doubt about that. It was even equipped with an aftermarket air conditioning unit. The unit was mounted under the dash, right in the center. This car had a bench seat, like many of them did back in the day, but because of that a/c you really couldn't sit in the middle anymore. But, this car was spacious and a great cruiser. I can't remember now what size engine was in that beast but it was thirsty. I would drive that car from Norfolk to East Hampton, out on Long Island, every weekend I was free to do so. I would often post a little note on a bulletin board and take riders. That is how I could pay for the gas. I would drop those people off anywhere along the route they wanted. Most of them wanted off at an exit of the Jersey turnpike. Well everybody in Jersey lives by an exit to the turnpike. That was a running joke, you live in New Jersey ? What exit ? Dropped more than one guy off on the side of route 13 too. That was the routine though. Get as many riders as I could and head for New York. If those riders were in the place I dropped them off I would pick them up on the way back. Like I said I was quite a bit younger then and shall we say less than responsible. I'll leave it to your imagination what some of those rides would have been like, five or six young sailors heading home for the weekend ! All I can say about that is, I'm a survivor.
 Gas was a problem, as I mentioned. There were odd and even days to deal with. In case you have forgotten or don't know odd and even days were based on your license plate. Whatever number was the last number, say odd, you could get gas on an odd numbered day. Wasn't much you could do about that, an extra set of plates helped, not that I knew anyone that did that. There were exceptions though. On the New Jersey turnpike you could purchase two gallons of gas if you had has less than 1/4 of a tank. The attendant would look at your gas gauge to verify that. Strangely the gas gauge on that Bonneville remained " stuck " just over the empty mark during the whole crisis ! Now someone had put an auxiliary gas gauge inside the glove box that worked just fine. Wasn't that a coincidence ? I could stop at every service center along the turnpike and get two dollars worth. slowed progress down some but I got where I wanted to go.
 I don't remember what happened to that car. I'm thinking I just wore it out. I do recall toward the end of her days oil consumption was getting to be an issue. That car did leave oil spots everywhere it was parked. It was a fine automobile as I mentioned earlier. Just how many trips it made back and forth I couldn't say. It certainly took a lot of abuse. Some good memories associated with that car. There is one person I remember in particular. This guy would ride almost every time I went. I don't recall his name I just called him the sleeper. This guy would get in the car and just fall asleep immediately. I would wake him when I reached his exit on the turnpike. I always picked him up on the way back as well. Same thing, he just slept the whole way. I remember one night driving along the freeway and he wakes up a little. He is staring at the dashboard, head barely up and says, man it's foggy out there. I just laughed and agreed. He went back to sleep. It is the only conversation I can remember having with the sleeper other than where to drop him off and pick him up. I expect he is in New Jersey to this day, asleep.
 I wasn't the only one doing this. Guys would get rides lined up a few days in advance. All this was long before Uber. No text messages, no Facebook, no nothing to set it all up but we still managed it. Were there is a will, there is a way. There were weekends when I even made a profit on the deal. If someone wanted to get home bad enough they would pay a premium. Yes, you could get booted real quick for a ten spot ! Sorry, no more room. The only other option was the Greyhound bus. Those buses were lined up at the pier every Friday afternoon. Took them a few times and that was always a wild ride. From Norfolk to the Bus depot in New York City, the infamous Port Authority. From there catch a train to East Hampton. Not as convenient as driving your car but it would get you home. That was always the impetus, getting home. Made it home through the gas shortage and when I didn't have a car. There was always a way. I even hitchhiked a few times. Good times and good memories.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The truth is a tool

 Every once in a while when I am writing a line or phrase will come out that I enjoy. I usually write them down elsewhere and call them my quotes. I think everyone should have their own quotes, don't you ? Really those quotes are just a completed thought. As much as I like to talk and ramble on, anyone that knows me will tell you that, I do enjoy brevity in thought. I like to get to the point, of course I have a lot of points to get to, soo. But I'm getting off the subject. I was talking about quotes. I had that experience in writing yesterdays blog. Actually it happened twice and that was unusual. The first one went like this, " The past should never be used to subjugate the future. " When I wrote that line in my book of quotes I did change the last word to " present. " So, it now reads, " The past should never be used to subjugate the present. " I rather like that thought, that expression. What I am trying to convey with that line is that I am not responsible, nor are you, for whatever transpired in the past. Therefore the past should never be used to control or demand anything of anyone in the present day, or the future for that matter. I see an awful lot of that thinking going on today. This is what happened to my " people ", whichever grouping of people you wish to assign is fine,  so now you owe me ! I do not believe, nor subscribe to any such notion. Certainly we should carry the lessons of the past forward but those lessons do not include responsibility for a past I didn't share in.
 Following that I wrote this observation, " the distance from informed to inflamed can be a short one. " That was my thought as I wrote about the movie Detroit that will soon be released. I am concerned about just what will be released ! Yes this movie deals with a period of time in America that wasn't very pleasant. Yes it is a historical fact that this happened. It remains to be seen how historically accurate the film actually is, but that is another discussion. As I pointed out in that posting yesterday the truth needs to be told, history shouldn't be hidden. That is the informed part and I agree with that 100%. What concerns me is the inflamed part. This film, this retelling of events that transpired in the city of Detroit in 1967, a riot, has the potential to cause a great deal of civil unrest given todays environment. Yes, the distance from informed to inflamed can indeed be a short one. I do believe this filmmaker, and truly all filmmakers, editors and such have a civil responsibility. This film is going to throw fuel onto a fire that is already burning. I just pray that it doesn't go from inflamed to " engulfed. "
 Well that is what I was thinking about when I wrote those two lines of prose. I do enjoy a good quote. The thing about quotes are they can mean so many different things to people. As with any language it must be taken in the context in which it was spoken or written to be fully understood. I enjoy quotes because they do make me think, just what is the author trying to say ? I often find several layers in them. Quotes, most of them from famous people, are generally used as an axiom. If a famous person said this, it must be true. That is why we see them posted on our Facebook timelines. They are an offering of truth. Often meant to inform or instruct us in the proper behavior or response to a situation, they can be helpful. They are offered as a tool. They can also be used as a weapon ! That thought was also included in yesterdays posting. " the truth is a tool, not a weapon. " When the truth is presented out of context it becomes dangerous. Isn't that what we call a truth bomb ! It is always your truth however, not necessarily the one on whom you dropped it. It can be countered with another " truth. " That is why I say, truth is a tool. It should be used to gain an understanding. In the Bible it is recorded that Jesus said, " the truth will set you free. " You do have to read the chapter and verse to understand what " freedom " Jesus is talking about. But that is my point here anyway. The truth is a tool. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Opening old wounds

 " The world premiere of “Detroit,” the movie, will be happening in Detroit, the city where the events that inspired it actually took place.
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the 1967 Detroit riot will have its official debut on July 25 at the Fox Theatre, according to Annapurna Pictures. "
 I " clipped " that bit of information from a web page. There was a story about this on Sunday morning. I confess to not really having any memory of this event happening. I can only blame that on the fact I am a white man and this hasn't been talked about all that much. I guess it is all a part of the cultural awareness thing. I did watch a preview of sorts that described somewhat what had taken place in Detroit back in 1967. The loss of life and damage to property was enormous. That such a culture of hate and bigotry existed there is unbelievable. We white folks tend to think of the north as " tolerant " and " accepting " when that isn't the reality at all. It is just that there was little financial gain to be had in the north during the slavery years. We do think of slavery as north and south. The truth is slavery was practiced everywhere throughout the world. It wasn't an isolated thing dreamed up by the white folks in the south. The whole world is guilty of that ! Every creed, every race shares in that vilest of human endeavors, the trading of our fellow man for profit ! And yes, it still continues to this day.
 As I watched this short " preview " of this movie I couldn't help but think about the purpose in making this film. The thought was, why open old wounds ? Now anyone that knows me knows I am all for history. I do believe that history should be taught. That history should be as accurate as possible. This is what happened. The thing to me is, history should be taught as a documentary. When we are recounting these tragic events in history they should be treated with the utmost respect. These events are not fodder for entertainment ! I question the purpose of this film other than as a money making proposition. I view it almost as a exploitation of current events and civil unrest. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying the history shouldn't be taught or told, just that one should treat the material very carefully. The cause(s) of any civil unrest are always subjective. It really does depend upon whose side of the story the facts come from. Yes, the side of this story, the Detroit Riots which some label a revolution, can be viewed from two sides. Are both sides equally responsible ? Are both sides equally guilty ? The answer is always no, It does take two !
 Detroit the movie does deal with prejudice, bigotry and poverty. Those are all underlining causes no one can deny that. The police force was corrupt and biased in their enforcement of the laws, laws both written and unwritten. The smallest of events can precipitate an explosion and this is what apparently happened in Detroit. As I stated earlier I know little to nothing about what happened there. I am not dismissing it as " one of those things " but question why. Why are we making a movie to be marketed for " entertainment " based on such a horrible thing ? Oh, make no mistake about it, it is solely for entertainment purposes that is why you will have to pay to view it. If it were educational would that be the case ? I highly doubt that. No, this movie is designed to appeal to an audience. Just what audience is that ? I question the reason for making such a film right now. Is it yet another exploitation ? A way to stir up the population and create even more unrest ? Look I'm no conspiracy theorist but it just strikes me as the worst possible time to release " entertainment " like this.
 America is plagued with problems like every other nation on earth. There have been, there is, and there always will been inequities and injustice. That is just a fact of life. It is a constant struggle. I do believe it is of primary importance that all the events of the past should be taught. No history should be hidden away and ignored. Yes history needs to be taught in context as well. That is what is so often missing or completely slanted, context. Take an institution as vile as slavery for instance. In the 1800's in America and indeed throughout a good portion of the world it was viewed as a legitimate business ! Some of the founding fathers had slaves and thought nothing of that. These were highly esteemed gentlemen in society. Nothing unseemly about any of that. That is context. Today the mere mention of the word can get you charged with a crime ! Again, context. The injustices of the past should be exposed and examined thoroughly. It is only through knowledge that progress can be made.  All of that having been said I question this opening of an old wound. Of what possible benefit can this examination be ? Is the purpose of the film to place blame where blame is due ? If so, that is already well known and documented in the records. All one has to do is read their history books.
 In these more modern times we are telling the truth more readily, being called out and challenged in our views. That is a good thing, a very good thing. The truth should be told ! That truth should be used as a tool, not a weapon. The past should never be used to subjugate the future ! The opening of old wounds only leads to more infection, not to a cure. The distance from informed to inflamed can be a short one. This movie is set for release on July 25 in Detroit. It is my fervent prayer that no ill comes from this. Given the current political and social climate I just have serious misgivings. Oh I have no doubt it will sell tickets. Many will go and see and leave with the flames of hatred having been stoked. Many others will go and leave with an agreeing nod to the black community, righteously upset. It is my thinking that is what this film is all about, emotional response, and not much to do with healing. No doubt it will be profitable but the question is, will it be worth the price ? And I don't mean the price of admission.
 In conclusion I find it interesting that this filmmaker has chosen to release a film about this dark period in history. Are we not tearing down confederate monuments in an attempt to hide that history ? Why the very presence of a monument that has stood, in some cases, for over a hundred years is so vile, so offensive that it must be removed ! But, a feature length film, well, that's different right ? We are removing statues and monuments and taking down the flags because they are offensive to some. At least that is what we are being told. They are reminders of the past. I suppose a two hour film isn't supposed to do that, be offensive I mean. I can't see anyone getting upset about that at all.    

Sunday, July 16, 2017

an unanswered question

 It is a popular expression right now, " thank you for your service. " You hear people say that all the time. I hear it all the time. I'm never quite sure how to respond. A simple you're welcome is all I usually manage. I just don't know what else to say. It gives me an awkward feeling. I just feel a bit uneasy for some reason. Well, I think I know the reason and it is that knowledge that makes me uncomfortable. You see, yes, I was in the Navy, retired after twenty years. Yes, I served in the armed forces of this great nation and I do take pride in that. It is just that I was never involved in any major fighting, my life was never in danger. All in all it was an uneventful career. The biggest battle I fought was against loneliness. I think of it in this way. I was in the fire department but we never had a fire ! I appreciate the acknowledgement but feel a little guilty accepting it. Yes I was ready, willing and hopefully able to fight should that occasion arise. Strange as it sounds, I do regret remaining unchallenged. Would I have responded ? I'll never know the answer to that question. You can not know until the battle has begun. Being ready for the fight and fighting are different actions altogether. Play acting is one thing, real danger is quite another.
 Whenever someone says to me, thank you for your service, all those thoughts rush through my mind. I hesitate to answer because of that. I do not want to leave some impression that I am a hero or something. I know that sounds crazy but it is the way I feel. I understand that when someone says that to me they don't think about any of that. They are just thanking me for my service, simple as that. It does make me feel a little special and maybe that is the intent. I'm not special. I have known thousands of men just like me. I sailed with those men and in the later part of my career, women. Just a bunch of folks doing a job. Some of us liked the job more than others. It is all just human nature. I was always amused by certain things. One thing that amused me was when we received our " evaluations. " One statement you would always see in there was, " he wears the uniform with great pride " or other words to that effect. It really meant  your uniform was clean and neat. A peacetime concern. I don't think that would have mattered all that much during wartime. But, as I said , I served during the peacetime Navy. That sort of stuff made a big difference.
 I do have a stack of " Letters of Commendation " and " Letters of Appreciation " as both are popular things to issue. You can receive those letters for just about anything. To someone that was never in the service they look impressive. Truth is, they mean very little. Those letters can be approved by the commanding officer alone. Really they are just " thank you " notes. I do have other certificates marking certain accomplishments. Things like crossing the equator, transiting the Suez canal, crossing the Artic circle and commissioning a ship. They all look great hanging on the wall but have nothing to do with battles. I'd say the most prestigious medal I earned was the medal from Operation Iraqi Freedom. At least I think that it what it was called. Anyway I have a medal issued by the Iraqis government for my involvement in all of that. Sadly, not much was resolved there. It certainly doesn't compare to the " Victory in Europe " medal my father earned. That is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Now that was service ! He earned that medal in the skies over Germany in the belly of a B-24 bomber. The medal I received is more of a, thanks for showing up  kind of thing, a participation award.
 I think that maybe as I age I realize that I have never been tested. They say the young man rushes off to war, eager for the fight. There is some truth in that. Young men do want to prove themselves. I was no exception. Now I realized even then I was no GI Joe, one of the reasons for joining the Navy. Being GI Joe required a great deal more effort than being a swabby, at least in a physical sense it does. When I joined I was 5'10 " and about 140 lbs. I just didn't have the physical attributes. But all that was forty six years ago. I did my best to be a " sailor " with all that entails. I tried to live up to the hype and gave it a good go. The truth is I was never tested in battle. That should be a good thing but I am left wondering. One of life's unanswered questions I suppose. And I feel a little funny taking credit of any of it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

a " daycation "

 Today the plan is to take a " daycation. " Hey, I can make up words. A " daycation " is a vacation for one day but you probably surmised that much. Anyway my wife and I along with one of my sons families are going to Cape May, New Jersey. This will be the first time , in a while , that we have all gone somewhere together and I am looking forward to it. In years past we took vacations to Disney, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, oh yes, quite the vacationers. But that hasn't happened in a few years. Time and circumstance can change even the best laid plans and intentions. No matter though, today is a " daycation. "
 The itinerary is to drive to Lewes Delaware where we will all board the ferry. This ferry does carry cars and trucks but we will just be foot passengers. There is plenty to do on the others side in Cape May, New Jersey within walking distance. The ride over takes about 85 minutes, crossing the Delaware bay. I am looking forward to strolling on the deck and just taking in the salt air. It will be a refreshing, even rejuvenating thing for me. My wife and grandson aren't so sure about the ferry however. They'll be fine ! That is what I keep telling them. I'm certain there will plenty of distractions to take their minds off of the ride. I haven't traveled on this ferry before but am fairly certain if there is money to be made, someone will be making it. What I mean is, I'm certain there will be concessions of some kind.
 We plan on spending the day just walking around, enjoying the sites and scenery. I'm told mini-golf is a possibility. I do enjoy a contest with the " kids. " And I mean all the  " kids " mine and theirs ! LOL, yesterday as I was watching the Waltons on television it dawned on me, I'm the patriarch of this family. That should afford me certain privileges. Isn't that the way it works ? I'm thinking two mulligans sound about right. It sounds like a day of food and shopping. I'm all for food and the shopping, well, the girls enjoy that. The main purpose for this " daycation " is for us all to be together. It is also to celebrate my wife and I's birthdays. It is what we both wanted, what we always want really. Spending time with your family is the " present. " You should enjoy the " present " every day ! Well, we do have to go to work to pay the bills. There are so many distractions in life. Sometimes the days and weeks go by so fast you don't even realize it. Grandkids grow up overnight it seems. As I said we haven't been on a vacation with them in a few years. This " daycation " will be a first with them as young adults. Wow, that is the first time I've really been aware of that situation. They are young adults now, both of them in high school. And if the grandkids are young adults what does that say about my own kids ? Man, I'm a patriarch ! Not so sure I like that label.
 Yes, I have big plans and high hopes for today. I'm just certain it is going to be a wonderful day. The open water, even if it is just the bay, and good food. Time spent with the ones we love is always well invested. The return comes later on and is somewhat of a gamble as well. You never know when a memory will be made, you can't plan on that. I have been on vacation for as long as a week but the memory of it is in moments. You know what I mean ? You spend a week or a day and what do you remember of it ? Might be a hour, might be less. At least for me that is way it has always been. The most precious of our memories are created in a moment. I'm thinking the same will be true for this " daycation. " I'll be taking the camera and a good attitude. That is all that is required. Oh, and the rest of the family.    

Friday, July 14, 2017

Something more

 I saw that Muslim gentleman on television this morning. Ever notice how they emphasize that ? The fact that he is a Muslim. Don't say what country he comes from though. Muslim isn't a nationality but his religion and that's makes a difference ? Anyway, he's back. You know the one, the Gold Star father that Hillary paraded out during her campaign. It didn't have quite the impact she had hoped for and he just kind of faded away. Now he has stepped out on the stage once again. This time he was at Towson University speaking against hatred and discrimination. Well , I thought to myself, I should hope so. I guess because he is a Muslim that is supposed to be some radical concept ? Lend some more credence to the topic ?  Hmm, I'll have to give that some thought. I do feel for the loss of his son. I'm assuming his son was a practicing Muslim as well. He wasn't the first Muslim to serve in our armed forces and certainly not the first to be killed in action. I knew a few Wiccans personally as well. None of that is news to me. That we shouldn't hate each other and discriminate against each other is also not a new concept to me. But whatever, I'm not sure what his claim to fame is, but he is certainly entitled to speak wherever and whenever he chooses.
 Listening to the news reporter talking about eliminating hate and discrimination I couldn't help but think. This gentlemen is heading up a campaign to eradicate these human behaviors. That is his stated purpose. He is only one of millions of people that agree that hate and discrimination are wrong. Mankind has created an entire philosophy about just how we should deal with that. Generally speaking, we call it religion. One definition of religion is :" the belief in and worship of a controlling power, especially a personal God or Gods." It is that personal God or Gods that instruct us in social behaviors. IE : what is right and wrong. I know of no religion that preaches hate and discrimination. Know some that use that as a tool to gain followers though. That is another discussion however, one I have addressed in the past. So I will not enter into that here.
 The thing that struck me about all of this is how we have these folks campaigning to eliminate these behaviors but without the use of religion to do so. Except the emphasis was placed on the fact that he is a Muslim. I find that a bit confusing. So you are going to tell me what is right and wrong but there is no accountability to your God(s) ? All religions traditionally offer a reward for correct behaviors and a punishment for incorrect ones. So, just how are we going to decide right from wrong if man is the sole rule maker ? Do you see the problem with that ? You always win when you can change the rules at will ! Everyone can not be the winner ! That is just a universal truth. No matter how much you feel that it is unfair, that is the case. There are winners and losers ! You can not replace God with government. You just can't do it ! The reason is a simple one. Human beings tend to change their minds and attitudes based on their current situation. Humans are not consistent in their thoughts or actions. We may believe in our God or Gods but we also know they will likely not interfere with whatever choices we make. Gods have a tendency to be patient. Fact is they use the logic, give then enough rope and they will hang themselves ! I certainly agree with that assessment. Are any of us perfect ? No, not hardly. That is why the whole forgiveness thing exists. Seems like now we want to change it to, we don't even have to try. We will not be held accountable. All that is necessary is to say, I know what is wrong !
 I realize that I write these thoughts with a biased opinion. I freely admit to that. Take that Muslim fella campaigning for diversity, tolerance and eradication of hatred and discrimination. Ever read the Quran ? That isn't what his text instructs the faithful to do. So if I am to believe this man is genuine, sincere in his beliefs, how can he preach the opposite of what his religious texts tell him to do ? That is an issue for me. But I don't want to start a big discussion on that. I'm just sayin' religion and the writing of religious texts are to instruct us in behaviors that are acceptable to our God or Gods. It is those behaviors that will give us the reward we seek. Failure to follow those rules will result in what ? Depends on which religion you are talking about. The most important function of any religion is to hold us personally accountable.
 No one wants to die. No one wants to believe that this is all there is. We all want more. And if you want more you must do what your God or Gods tell you to do. Failure to do so will result in your being held to account. When the account doesn't balance, you are in arrears. Problem is, if you are dead it's just too late ! No time left to balance the books ! That is the personal accountability I am talking about.
 Obedience is a prerequisite to receiving the reward. Just as you have to work to earn your pay so you must obey your God or Gods to receive whatever is being promised. If you genuinely want what is being promised, that is exactly how it works. What is the reward for not being discriminatory and hateful ? What if you are discriminatory and hateful, what is the punishment ? Can it be written into law that I can't hate you ? Can it be written into law that I can't be discriminatory ? I submit the answer is a resounding no ! I can provide penalties for when I believe you are acting that way, evidence must be provided, but does that eradicate the actions ? No. I just got caught is all, held to account. I am being held to account by whom ? Think about that. I am being held to account by other people, the lawmakers, the lawyers, the courts or whatever label you wish to apply. I can be fined, imprisoned and maybe even executed. But that is all that can be done. Those actions will not eradicate prejudice or discrimination. You can kill me but promise me nothing beyond that. And that my friends in why we have our God or Gods. The promise of something more, whether for the good of the bad. There will be consequences.
 You see there are those trying to make a campaign out of just actions. At one time in history we called that a Crusade. The crusades were more about territory than religion. Religious belief, a promise of something more was used as the motivation. The same thing is happening today. All this unrest and campaigning really has little to do with religion. It is centered on property, money and opportunity. Not much has changed since the middle ages in that regard. This is just another crusade. It is being fought with rhetoric. ( the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques. ) What is being promised ? The promise is that life will be " fair. " Heaven on earth ? We will receive our reward while we are still alive ! Sounds pretty good doesn't it ? Thing is we will all die one day, then what ? Is death fair ? I'd say so because we are all equal in death. It is what comes after that will separate us. My advice is to plan ahead. The goal is to avoid negative consequences, always has been and always will be.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

everyone is doing it

 I seldom know what I want to write about when I get up in the morning. I just turn on the computer, check my e-mail, say Good Morning followed by birthday greetings as appropriate. It is a routine I have fallen into. Having done that I open up my blogger page and begin. There are mornings when I jump right in and others where I'm looking at a blank screen for a while.
 I do look back over blogs I have written in the past, there are a lot of them. According to blogger I have published 2456 of them. That's one every day for 6.7 years. I have started to repeat myself. I mean just how many opinions can one person can have ! Well, if you ask my wife she would tell you I always have one. I guess you could say they are unlimited. I naturally want others to read these pieces or I wouldn't bother publish them. It is the not the sole reason for writing them, but a small part nonetheless. So in writing them I do try to write stories or opinions that I feel may be of interest to others. There are subjects I rarely, if ever, write about. These are the things I put into the " Jerry Springer " category. I say that because it is my feeling that shows like Jerry Springer and Maury are successful because they tap into, what should be personal and private business. Oh, I know some people love all that stuff but I'm not one of them. I am ever mindful that my blog postings don't turn into that ! In the old days we called that airing our dirty laundry ! I must say it does seem like a popular pastime these days. I call it " social restraint " and society in general is sorely lacking in that regard. Now everything is out there !
 I do think it is a bad thing generally speaking. I've always called it stirring the pot. If you constantly talk about all that stuff you do keep your emotions stirred up. As I am fond of pointing out emotions are great motivators but seldom good decision makers. Get things all stirred up and bad things happen. Yes, I'm saying it is better to just stew on things for  while. I realize that isn't what is being taught these days. Now it is, get it all out there, make yourself heard, it is all about you ! But I don't agree with that at all. I say learn to be patient. You know they say a watched pot will never boil, I say watch yourself. Exercise restraint. If you don't watch what you are doing and saying, bad things will happen ! Yes, it is called restraint. Do not put your dirty laundry out there for everyone to see.
 The reason you shouldn't air your dirty laundry is a simple one. I believe by airing it out in that fashion it begins to acquire a bit of acceptance. What I'm saying is folks get used to seeing it ! If you see something all the time you do begin to accept it. You will begin to take on the attitude of, everyone is doing it. Justification for doing what you know instinctively to be wrong. It is the popular excuse we always tried to use as children. What did Mom tell you then ? If little Johnny jumped off the roof would you do that too ? It just seems to me that many have failed to learn that lesson, if they were ever even taught it in the first place ! In fact, now the trend is to provide " therapy " to these people. These people that lie, cheat , steal, father children and abandon them, become drug addicts and alcoholics, and all matter of things are being called survivors ! We listen to all their tales, they air out an entire closet of dirty laundry and the result is what ? They illicit sympathy from the " good " people. Well, mostly the " good " people that can make a few bucks off these folks. You know, like talk shows and addition centers. The rest of the folks just like to hear all the dirt and laugh. Truth is, it is usually a nervous laugh.
 Look we all have some dirty laundry I am well aware of that. The thing is I was taught to keep that stuff to yourself. Learn from your mistakes and try to do what is right. I was taught to take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others, I am disturbed that is has become a form of entertainment ! There was a time when you didn't want others to know your shortcomings, your failures. That was especially true when it came to moral and ethical behaviors. Yes, we might be poor people but we know how to act right ! Wasn't that the lesson ? You don't have to be rich to be clean. You don't have to be rich to live a clean life either. What you do have to do is exercise restraint in your choices. Just because everyone else is doing it that doesn't make it right.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A luxury vacation

 I still enjoy watching the price is right. The price of things certainly have gone up that much is certain. Most of the prizes I really don't have a clue how much something like that would cost. Hot tubs, exercise equipment, kitchen appliances and 70 inch high definition televisions aren't something I know much about. Jewelry and designer handbags are really out of my wheel house. I do know Michael Korrs and Gucci ain't cheap. And then there are the vacation packages. Seems like you get a free breakfast with most of them. There is usually some sort of day trip with those packages.
 I was watching yesterday when a vacation package was offered. It was a seven day, six night stay in the " fabulous Hamptons. " The announcer was saying you will be staying at the Southampton Inn surrounded by fine dining and shopping. I couldn't help but laugh. For those of you that might not know, I was born and raised in the Fabulous Hamptons. Well, at least fabulous East Hampton. It was before they were fabulous though. They weren't even the Hamptons then, each town still went by its own name. Saying the Hamptons is like saying the Rocky Mountains, the area is rather large. Truth be told when I lived there it was more like Appalachia for the working folks, there wasn't too much that was " fab " about it. Yes, we had the tourists back then, the wealthy folks on vacation from the city. Thing was they went away after Labor day, the vacation was over. Now apparently the " Hamptons " are a prize to be won on a game show ! Isn't that amazing ?
 I haven't lived in the fabulous Hamptons in many years. I wonder what it is like living in a prize package ? I guess it must be like living in any other tourist attraction. You have the guests and those that just work there. Mustn't do anything to upset the guests. The guests are always right. We need the money from those guests. Oh, I saw some of that back in my time there. It must be a lot worse now though. The beaches are some of the most beautiful on the east coast I'd be the first to tell you that. There are some beautiful area in the " Hamptons " nature wise. That is the part I remember and love so much. I just can't see it as a vacation destination. Beyond eating at fancy restaurants, tasting wines and shopping I can't imagine just what you would be doing. The beaches were crowded even when I was a kid, unless you went to the bay. Oh I get it, it is a playground for the wealthy and the wanna be wealthy's. The " Hamptons " are the hot spot. The thing is this, if I am a contestant on a game show I'm probably not a wealthy person. Call that judgmental if you will but that would be my guess. I could use a new television, refrigerator or even a car. But, would I want to go to the rich kids playground ? I don't think so. Shoot after that free breakfast I probably wouldn't be able to eat the rest of the day. I'm thinking I would stick out like a sore thumb !
 I guess what I'm trying to understand is how my hometown became a prize on a gameshow. Is it so out of reach to the common man that it is offered as a luxury ? That's the reality of it. It makes me feel a little sad. I guess I'm should feel a sense of pride. I come from the " Hamptons. " No, I come from East Hampton, down to three mile harbor. Was a day when I worked there. I was just one of the " cast of characters. " Now I can't afford admission to the park. Maybe I could win it on the Price is Right. That vacation package ?  Valued at over six thousand dollars ! Well, I think the price is a bit inflated but then it is a luxury vacation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Derby

 I stayed up to watch the home run derby last evening. That is an unusual thing for me these days staying up past eight o'clock. I haven't found many shows worth staying up for. I suppose I'm just getting old. All these reality shows that are so far from reality are just confusing to me. I don't even know what any of the newer shows are about. I did record Candy Crush because my wife wanted to see it. It's a game show of sorts. Not as much fun as Family Feud or Wheel of Fortune though. I can see where it could be entertaining for some. But the home run derby, now that is special. There is just something visceral about watching professionals hit a ball as far as they can ! My man Aaron Judge blasted a baseball over 513 feet ! Now that is awesome.
 Every year major league baseball tampers with the format used for the derby. It is a way of keeping it fresh and fair. Total number of home runs is how you win. Me, I'd change it to total number of balls hit the farthest ! You would have to hold the derby on a field that is unencumbered by a roof or an unsurmountable wall. Judge slammed a shot that hit in the roof that didn't count. How far would it have traveled ? We don't know but could guess based on mathematics. I haven't heard any estimation on that shot. But that is what the fans really want to see, the long ball. The players talking strategy will tell you to hit line drives, the shortest and quickest way to hit a homer. That is simply because of the time constraint. This year they could earn extra time by hitting some big shots. In the end it didn't make much difference. The winner didn't need the extra time, he didn't even use all the time he had.
 I'm thinking we allow the batters to hit a set number of balls, say ten or so. Then we add the total distance those balls traveled. Yeah you would have to fool around with that format. Maybe only a set number of balls could be " pitched " and you get your total distance from that. It is easy enough to measure those hits these days. The emphasis should be on distance though. That is why I watch and I believe why the majority of folks do. To make it fair any ball that is hit counts. It would encourage the players to hit it long that much is sure. Maybe you could award trophies for total distance and the longest shot !
 I get it. When you are trying to win a contest you figure a strategy. The format used this year was based on time. Hitting the ball in a straight line takes the least amount of time. The next pitch couldn't be thrown until the ball landed. I'm not certain that had a real impact on the outcome. Some said it helped the " smaller " players that don't posses the power of the big men. Yes, if it clears the wall it is a home run. I understand that. But it is the monster hits that we all want to see. I didn't see any of it but they did have high school and college kids competing in a home run derby. That tells me that it is possible for those kids to hit a homer in that park. Impressive for those younger guys but not so impressive for the pro ! I want to see that ball crushed !
 Anyway, it was worth staying up for. I really did enjoy the obvious good time the players were having. It is hard to remember just how young some of those guys are. When you are 63, 23 seems pretty darn young, just kids really. Some will tell you how hard they have worked to get where there are. I understand that. What I wonder is if they understand the gift they were given. The ability to be a " professional " playing a game is a gift. It takes more than passion, more than practice and more than being in the right place at the right time. It takes a gift. By the time they are forty it is over. They will be the old veterans, the old guys. I've seen a few come and go. I guess that has been my gift, I get to watch. Play Ball ! As the new slogan says " ain't baseball great " Yes, I think it is. It may not be as popular as it once was neither is Roller derby.        

Monday, July 10, 2017

opinionated defense

 My grandson Mark, who rarely reads my blogs, says to me, you should try to be more convincing in your writing. You see, he has decided that he want to become a prosecutor, a lawyer. He has been taking advanced placement courses in government. He just recently got the results of the state administered test for that course. He did score in the top ten per cent. As part of that course they did argue cases before a mock court. I'm sure that is where that thought came from. But I told him, I don't write my blog to convince anyone of anything. I was informed that is what a blog is for, to convince people you are right ! When I further said to him, it isn't important whether others think I'm right or not I was met with a gaze of incredibility. Really, he just laughed and give me that, yeah right, look. You know the one.
 I do write only what I feel. They are my thoughts about whatever and I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Will I defend what I write ? Of course I will, otherwise it wouldn't be worth writing. Yes I believe what I write, at least the moment I write it I do. Me typing in this computer or printing it out doesn't make it law. I can change my mind and my opinion at any time. I've been known to do that on occasion, I'll admit that it doesn't happen often. I'll further admit that doesn't make me right, just convinced in my own mind. That is why I write these blogs and stories, I am convinced and maybe you will be as well. The thing is, the later is just a bonus. If you agree it is reassuring. Truth be told, I don't feel like I have a case to win. Just what am I defending against ?
 Well now that is the crux of the matter isn't it ? In our legal system the prosecution bears the burden of proof. It is the prosecution that must provide evidence to dispute a fact. If someone questions my statements are they then not the prosecution ? They certainly are from my point of view. Now the majority of the things I write about are a matter of opinion. Opinion is not fact ! Therefore an opinion can not proven nor disproven. Interesting isn't it that the Supreme court of the United States issues their opinion on cases. In their opinion something is either legally protected under the constitution and the bill of rights, or it isn't. It is for that very reason lawyers argue their cases. They are trying to convince the judge or judges of their opinion. That they are right. They get paid a good deal of money for doing that. With me, I'm not getting paid a dime so why argue ? Only to make my point is the answer.
 The case could be made, no pun intended, that I am defending against the Supreme judge. It is to that one judge I must answer. I am battling against conscience. What forms our conscience ? I would say our conscience is formed by the beliefs we adopt. These beliefs may or may not contain a religious component. I do think the non-believer can act just as consciously as the believer. Doing the right thing does not require a belief in God. In my opinion doing what is right is the only requirement for salvation. If God can forgive us all for a multitude of sins surely he could forgive one indiscretion, doubting his existence. If you lead a just and moral life I believe when you stand before God in judgement he just might say, with a wink and a smile, I told you so. The important part is doing what is right, not just saying I know what is right. It is not forcing others to believe what you believe. Defend what you believe but don't use it as a weapon. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. You are entitled to your opinion.   

Sunday, July 9, 2017

the lesson of time

 Aging is a matter of developing patience. The ironic reality in that statement is that by the time you learn true patience, your time is up. Fortunately I am still just a bit impatient. There is still much I want to accomplish. The frustration comes from wanting to teach others what I have learned along the way. When they just don't get it, I grow impatient. I expect it is the same frustration a teacher or a coach must feel. You keep telling them over and over and yet they just don't catch onto whatever it is. I also expect that is why man invented writing. Here it is , in writing ! If you can't remember it, at least you can read it ! Now we can't even develop enough patience to read the book, we just google it.
 Patience is easily confused with resignation. To resign is to quit trying, patience is waiting for a result. Patience can feel like resignation and that can, in turn, cause anxiety. Some say I am a cranky old man or being contrary, the truth is, I'm impatient. When will others learn what I already know ? Isn't that the way we all feel at times ? There are certain truths that are unshakable to each of us. Lately we have been calling those unshakable beliefs prejudicial, closed minded and bigoted. Should I refuse to change my belief to suit yours, that has become the result. The fact of the matter is it has always been that way among people, it is the stuff wars are made of. That is when our patience has run out !
 Patience is mistakenly associated with inaction. Whereas patience is waiting for a result that doesn't mean you quit trying. Patience is doing the same thing over and over again until the lesson is learned or taught. Impatience stems from inaction. You may become impatient with yourself or another. When all patience has been exhausted the result is almost always less than desirable. You just can't be in a hurry. That is the lesson of time. When Einstein said " insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results " he was talking about patience. Doing the same thing over and over again will give you the same result. You will learn that lesson !
 Aging is developing patience. The patience to learn about yourself is the most difficult. You have to be consistent in your actions, doing the same thing over and over, until the lesson is learned. Each lesson learned is a building block. You can't go back and change the foundation after the walls have been erected. What you can do is examine that foundation, see where any flaws may be. From that point on build only upon the " good. " Takes a good bit of patience to do that. Thing is, you got time, you'll learn. True patience requires no expectation of seeing the results, just knowing the result will be positive. And that is frustrating. Life is all about expectations. Once you learn to be truly patient, it's over.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

resigned on pot

 The first medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland just received their license. Many people are excited about this for varying reasons. Some are saying it is a cure, others say it is a treatment. Another group is drooling over the possibility of profits and the state is going to collect more taxes ! You will have to have a prescription from your doctor. That prescription will allow you to inhale a foreign substance into your lungs. That substance may alleviate some anxiety and mask some other symptoms. The side effects ? I would guess lung cancer is a possibility but I'm no physician. But beyond all that, a lot of folks are happy saying what a great thing it is. I believe I just heard that California has now passed legislation that you don't need a prescription anymore, a little recreational pot is just fine. I suspect that will be the case in Maryland in a year or two, once that tax money starts to flow into the coffers.
 You know I've given some thought to this agenda of marijuana as a medicine. I find it amusing that it has come about in a backward sort of way. Marijuana and the smoking of it has almost always been for recreation, although some " native Americans " used it to have religious experiences. Now we have decided it is medicine. I can get a prescription " for medicinal purposes " only. LOL, heard that said about alcohol many times too. During prohibition you could get a prescription for alcohol, did you know that ? Yup, for medicinal purposes only. Of course later on we legalized it once again for recreational use. I don't think a doctor would even prescribe using alcohol anymore. Drink a pint a day as needed for anxiety ! Doctors endorsed smoking cigarettes too. Now no cigarettes but pot is okay to inhale into your lungs.
 The question is why do we regulate these sort of substances in the first place ? We are trying to keep people from getting too much of a good thing right ? Alcohol is regulated by the government for what reason ? Is it an attempt to keep minors from using it ? Is it because the government wants the tax money ? Is it because we decided it wasn't a medicine after all ? I mean if it was a medicine you would need a prescription right ? Well, not an over the counter medicine you wouldn't, but if you want the " good " stuff you need a prescription. The problem with pot was too much of the " good stuff " was being sold on the street and the government gets nothing. Solution, call it medicine, regulate and tax it.
 Look I'm not saying there aren't chemicals in that stuff that may provide some relief to certain individuals. Cannabis oil has been proven to be an effective treatment for certain neurological conditions. The thing is that it can be introduced into the body without the person getting " high " from it. I have yet to see any study that says THC, the ingredient that gives you that euphoric feeling actually treats or cures anything. Like alcohol it'll make you feel good alright, for a little while anyway. The argument could be made that all medicines do one of three things. They either cure, control or cover-up. It we apply that logic almost everything becomes a medicine. I'd say smoking pot to get high is no different than drinking beer to get drunk, you are just covering up your feelings, altering your mood, you are medicating ! For that reason I find this whole idea of " dispensaries " for medical marijuana a silly sham. Does the government really think I am that stupid ? If you want to allow people to smoke dope, allow people to smoke dope. Do not try to convince me of some medical necessity and that you are doing this to benefit the people. Pooh, you're doing it for the revenue.
 I have decided the battle is lost. Recreational use of marijuana will become the law of the land. I believe it is a mistake to legalize a substance that will just cause harm to the society. In what can only be viewed as ridiculous some state are earmarking tax revenue generated from the sale of pot to fund rehabilitation centers for those using marijuana ! It's true, look it up. You can buy pot legally, get yourself into trouble by excessive use, just like alcohol can do, and wind up needing professional intervention. No worries though that help is being financed by selling more pot ! A self sustaining cycle of sale and abuse. Hey, you gotta love it. Let the government run the show and this is what you wind up with.
 The only other alternative would be personal accountability. We certainly can't expect that of our citizens now can we ? No, not when we are teaching generations of children just the opposite. The only thing we need be concerned with is the law of the land. If the " supreme court " rules it is acceptable, that's it ! That is the final authority. Why do you think the removal of God from the discussion is necessary ? Because the belief in God requires one to be personally accountable, that is my thought. Oh the cry goes up, separation of church and state ! Well that is true, the founding fathers did separate church from state. What they didn't separate was church from the people ! In fact they guaranteed the right of the people to worship God ! That was because they knew it is only through personal accountability that a nation can survive and flourish. People doing the right thing without the government telling them what to do all the time. They had enough of government intervention in their lives to understand that perfectly well. The " colonies " were doing quite well on their own, then government wanted a piece of the action. The result, a revolution.
 Strangely it seems that now the people want the government to intervene in their lives. They want the government to establish moral and ethical standards. These folks are calling it being progressive. I say it is being regressive. If you want the government to tell you what to do, how to do it and when, then get yourself a dictator. If something is morally or ethically wrong we will give it a different label, a new name, and just legalize it. We will call it a right ! Individual rights without individual responsibility is the end game here. It won't work ! That's my thinking on the whole deal anyway. And this post isn't about whether pot should be legal or not. To be clear, I have resigned my position on that debate.

Friday, July 7, 2017

an axiom

 Does the need to explain stem from insecurity ? That is a question I find myself asking. As I grow older I do feel more of a need to explain. But then an explanation sounds more like a justification for my choices and I do not feel a need to justify anything. That isn't to say I don't feel I haven't made mistakes in life, just that I haven't caused irreparable damage to anyone. Yes some of my choices have effected others, and not always for the better, I am aware of that. I do feel that all my exchanges have been " quid pro pro. " What was taken, was given freely. Nothing has been coerced. I have limited powers of persuasion and certainly hold no power over anyone.
 Many years ago I was told the more you know the less you think you know. I believe that is an accurate statement for most of us. As we get older we are less convinced that we have all the answers. Perhaps that is why this need to explain grows within me. It could be the need to " prove " the answers I did provide. Now I never did take algebra in school. Well the truth is I took about two weeks of it or something like that. Mrs. McMahon (sp) was the teacher. I recall her putting a problem on the chalk board, yes I'm that old, we still had a chalk board, and we had to solve for x. I provided the answer. It was then that Mrs. McMahon told me to prove it. My reply was, is the answer correct ? She informed me that it was indeed right but I needed to prove it. Well in my thinking the proof was before her, I had the answer. To make a long story short, I left that class and went down the hall. I took business math after that, you know, math for dummies. I learned to balance a checkbook, figure compound interest and that sort of thing. But you know, I have yet to have anyone ask me if I took algebra or faced an algebraic dilemma ! I have provided whatever answers were requested of me and never once had to prove a thing. The bank let me know when my checkbook didn't balance, but I already knew it and was hoping they wouldn't notice. That's another story altogether.
 Is that what I am feeling ? A need to " prove " the answers ? No, I don't think that is it. I think I just feel it necessary to instruct others. Is that presumptuous of me ? That is what I thought when that teacher asked me to prove it. She was being presumptuous. She figured I didn't know how to get the answer. I was a bit offended, I had provided the answer, it was correct and she admitted that. So then what " proof " was necessary ? The proof she was seeking was that I arrived at that answer in the prescribed fashion, in the method she was teaching. I had to follow the rules. I do recall her providing the class with a list of axioms. We were to memorize those axioms. To the best of knowledge I hadn't used any of those axioms ( rules ) to arrive at the answer. That didn't make the answer any less valid. That was my argument. I haven't always followed the rules in life either. I don't think all my answers have been wrong and so now I try to explain. The difficulty lies in finding the " axioms " in life. Those axioms are the basis of our philosophy. They are what leads us to the answer. The axioms are not the proof however, only the path.
 We are fond of saying that each of us walk a different path. There is much truth in that statement. I do believe that all of us should follow certain set rules, axioms if you will. These attributes have been known to man since the beginning of time. They have been written about, taught and impressed upon us all. They are the basic precepts to living within a society. The fact is the steps are the same, it is only in the order those steps are performed that change the result. Works that way in math and it works that way in life. In more recent times I see a whole lot of folks skipping right over certain steps. I see others trying to rewrite the rule book. What I'm seeing is a whole lot of second guessing and a lack of confidence. Arrogance is being confused with confidence. Each of those things perform a function separate and distinct from the other. You can't interchange them anymore than you can change a mathematical function and expect to arrive at the same result. It just won't work.
 Einstein and a few other brilliant men have attempted to define life through mathematics. They present those equations that cover the chalk board or now I guess the white board. They are attempting to " prove " whatever their belief is by following a path of axioms. If this is this, than that has to be that. That is the proof ! Problem is, life doesn't work that way in my experience. The futility of life is that it ends. That is why we believe there will be life after death. Just how can we solve this problem ? I do believe an old axiom found in the Bible, " Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."
 It could be as I get older, closer to the final harvest so to speak, I need to review what I have sown. What can I expect ? Like a child facing punishment, I need to explain. When will I know if I provided the correct answer ? The answer lies in belief and requires no proof. That is what I feel anyway.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

never too late

 Someone famously said, " it is never too late to be what you could have been. " I find it ironic that the person that said that is unknown. I wonder what that person became ? Whoever it was never got credit for that pearl of wisdom. In the larger picture it shouldn't make any difference. Does it matter where the inspiration came from ? I don't think so. It may make for an interesting tale but that is all.
The question really is, can we determine what we become ?  The old, he was a legend in his own mind thing. If you believe it, that is your reality. So when that person said, it is never too late to be what you could have been, what is he, or she, saying ? Is it all a matter of believing in yourself without the requirement of validation ? Or is it the validation of others that make us what we become ?  In short, are we what we perceive ourselves to be, or what others actually see ?
  I think what we present to the world is our perception of who we are. We all modify that image,  in varying degrees,  to " fit in " the picture. It is the amount of ourselves that we keep hidden we call potential. Just like potential energy, it is at rest. Every once in a while it does come out in a burst of energy. Emotion is the fuel for that action. Some people just let that energy flow freely, others use various stimulants to release it,  and still others keep it bottled up. As we age we tend to let more of that potential loose. We are less inhibited for a number of reasons. Least among them is an awareness of time. It is getting later ! But as whoever it was pointed out, it is never too late to be what you could have been. At least not in your in own mind is my thinking. Is it when you present yourself, completely and honestly to the world that you achieve greatness ? Is that the secret to success ?
 What is success ? Is it financial independence ? Is it adoration from the masses ?  Or is success nothing more than contentment ? That doesn't sound right though. To be content is to be lazy ! Isn't that what we think ? If we settle, it is a sign of resignation. We are taught to not settle for anything less than what we want. What do you want ? Success or contentment ? That is the struggle we all face in life. We do require a certain degree of success to be perceived as successful among our peers. For that reason we struggle to provide that proof to others. For some that struggle for proof consumes them and they find no contentment in life. Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum. They are content with the way things are for them. But society will not allow that. we insist they must need more. We begin to speak of quality of life. How do we define that ? What is a quality life ? Just who sets that standard ?
 It seems to me we are told to work, to become a success. It starts when we are just children. We are told you have to work to earn money, to become successful. Money is success. It doesn't really matter how you get that money, as long as it is legal, you are successful. Everything else takes a back seat to the gaining of wealth. This is what is required for the health of the individual and for the health of the society. We all need to eat. That was the first job of man, to get food. Then there was the need for shelter. From there we have progressed to " needing " an I-phone ! You gotta work to get all that stuff. Got stuff ? You're a success. But what of quality ? Quality is a measurement of what ? Contentment ? Having all your needs met, enjoying your stuff and not wanting more. Is that the recipe for a quality life ? That is pretty much what we are taught. Then we get all that and discover it isn't true. We figure it is because we don't have enough stuff. We work some more trying to get that " quality of life " that is so elusive. But now the time is getting shorter, life is rushing at us. It is getting late. " It is never too late to become what you could have been " I have discovered it is never too late to find out what you can be, you have been that all along. It is just a matter of showing it to others. Will that make you a success ? Doesn't matter. It will bring a contentment to you, a quality of life that can't be purchased. I think maybe that is what John Lennon and Paul McCartney meant when they wrote, " Let it be. " It was released in 1970 and just now I'm thinking about it. Well forty seven years isn't that long a time. It really is never too late.    

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

the cost of charity

 I first read about this on social media and then it was on the news. The story of Charlie Gard. What a sad and tragic story that is. The final chapter has yet to be written and I'm hoping for a miracle ending. I did see where the Pope and Trump have gotten involved. As I was reading about this on social media I did read some of the comments. I was taken aback by some of those comments as they related to Trump. Many were saying that Trump was just using this child as some sort of political pawn, that he didn't care one bit about that child and on and on with vile diatribes. I understand you hate the man and you are entitled to that and your opinions. The question I presented in my comment was, If a person is moved to perform a charitable act, does the motivation change the value of the act ?
 My thinking is to whomever received the benefit of that charity it certainly wouldn't matter. To the person performing the act as long as the required result is achieved I wouldn't think that it would matter either. Even if that person has nefarious intentions, as many of those people writing their comments felt Trump has, does that negate the validity of the act ?  I would have to say only if the act later proves to cause harm. Then the question is, should we look a gift horse in the mouth ? Well that depends upon the horse now doesn't it ? We are told to not do that however, in fact, we are taught that is being prejudicial ! Oh, there's an inconvenient truth. We do judge people and their character based on our perceptions and their past actions. You're not supposed to do that. Isn't that what the narrative is ? It doesn't matter if we are talking about an individual or a group in that regard. We shouldn't judge.
 This situation with Charlie Gard has me scratching my head. I fail to see why the British government will not allow this baby to come to America. No one is asking that government to pay for any of that. As near as I can tell this decision is based in bureaucracy. Britain has socialized medicine. This system has decided that Charlie Gard has a terminal illness. He will die and they just aren't going to spend any more money trying to save him. Nothing personal, it is just a business decision. The government says they will " pull the plug "  regardless. Okay but why deny this child transport to America to at least give it a chance ? What has the government to lose in all of this ? Well not to be prejudicial but I can only think of one reason. If they relent on this case wouldn't that set a precedent ? The precedent would establish that the government doesn't get to choice who lives and dies. At least that is the way I see it. Britain is obviously saying, no need to throw good money after bad !
  I hear many in this country wanting the same medical benefits that people receive in England and other foreign nations. Is this what you really want ? Socialized medicine does lead to just this situation. Well it is true that socialized medicine is not a charity, the people pay for it. If this is going to be the result, for me, the price is much too high. The problem is if you leave the decision to the individual as to who receives what treatment, and how much, that treatment will be unlimited. Left to the government, to bureaucracy, the result is Charlie Gard. So we are left with a big question, what is the cost of charity ? How much are you willing to pay ? Someone has to pay you know. Should it be Charlie Gard ?