Sunday, March 31, 2013

End of the year

Now the taxes are done and the new years of projects are ahead, I define the last year in financial terms. In other words, I see where the money went.
For years, I would get paid and spend what I made. At first I tried to be frugal and logical with a savings account, life insurance, and somewhat of a budget. Then the credit started flowing in and the ability to buy whatever the family wanted expanded into spending more than what was coming in. But it was credit and you only had to pay the minimum fee to continue to buy more stuff.
After some time, the credit cards were shredded and the budgets adhered to. At the end of the year it is still interesting to see where the money goes.
A couple of years of big expenses to the house, the budget is suddenly into a casual routine. There seems to be enough money in the bank to pay the bills and buy the food and even splurge every now and then.
Maybe everyone isn’t divided the same way in a pie chart, but this is mine, at least for now.

Having Faith

Since this is the season of the springtime reawakening and the celebration of the Easter bunny I thought I would bring up this word “Faith” again.
Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a deity or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion”. Faith may also be a belief that cannot be based on proof.
Faith is one of those feelings that cannot be explained, like hope or love. Faith is one of our personal senses.
Sometimes our faith comes from experiences and sometimes our faith is thrust upon us. We give our time and money to many organizations with the faith we are doing the right thing. Our faith can be shared or our faith can be blind.
Faith often involves accepting a deity, explanation of nature, or the description of our universe. Proponents argue that having faith will answer our concerns that cannot be settled by evidence.
Just so you don’t picture me as some kind of a heathen, I grew up in the organized religion called Christianity. It was the family practice to wake early on Sunday morning, dress in our best attire, and sit in the same pew at the same time to hear some old white guy read out of a book. Then we would all sing songs. I attended Sunday school and even Bible school during the summer. I was taught all the stories. I sang in the choir. I was baptized so I could eat the bread and drink the grape juice that went around. It was like joining a club. I was told the answers were in believing. “Have faith” they would preach.
Organized religion got me to join the scouts, which is like the junior army. I got to find out what poison ivy was all about. I got to swim in a lake with water moccasins. I got to light fires and track animals and get badges for my effort. I got to paddle a canoe, which is the worst form of transportation ever.
As I grew older and started to question what was being taught, I realized the words that were spoken on Sunday morning and the day-to-day lifestyles of all who attended were not the same. In some causes, they are not even close. I guess if you tithe enough you can buy off your daily sins?
But back to faith and what do we do with it? When things are bad, we have faith they will get better. When things are good, we have faith that they won’t go bad. Faith is that intangible explanation to our physic that everything will be OK.
You have to have faith that the girl will like you. You have to have faith that the teacher will not recognize your attempt to forgery your parent’s signature on the report card. You have faith that if you slump down in your seat the teacher will think you are invisible. You have faith that that baby is someone else’s. You have faith the parachute will open. You have faith that even if your mind is telling you that driving this fast is wrong, you will survive. You have faith you can get away before her mom finds you. You have faith that your boss will be fair and give you raises for just showing up.
Getting back to the holiday at hand, you can see what I associated this Sunday with. I don’t know why I got a big blue bunny. I didn’t sleep with it or name it or even remember why I got it, but I guess it was good for a photo shoot. The basket full of sugar, like treats on Halloween and Christmas, was what I wanted. Hollow chocolate rabbits and M&Ms and Jordan almonds were my favorites. I learned what candies I preferred for this holiday. Jellybeans, peeps and creamed filled eggs did not make the cut.
And now that I know that my brother is the Easter bunny that explains a lot of things. Now I just need to find out who the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas are.
I wandered off again from the subject, but faith is very subjective. You believe what you want to believe and luckily in this area you can believe whatever you want. Shoot it is built into our laws of human rights. I won’t get into the different variations of belief because this is all about faith.
I have faith that the sun will come up every morning and the darkness will arrive every night. I have faith that the world will keep turning and keep us grounded. I have faith if I supply an area of safe shelter and provide enough grub to the critters who live with me, I can wake up to a song that could never be composed. I have faith in myself to take care of myself, and on certain occasions, surprise a few others.
Every special holiday Sunday our family would put flowers on. This may be an Easter shot, but looking at the roses this may have been Mother’s day. I don’t know where my brother was or who that red haired kid is. I think he was a kid from an orphanage. I don’t know why but maybe our family sponsored him for a weekend. That really doesn’t sound like I family. I just thought he was my replacement. 
So enjoy your bunny treats or bonnets or just March Madness and have some Faith. Don’t forget her sisters Hope and Charity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Is Wrong With You?

As we get older we change. The hair gets thinner as the body gets thicker. Little aches and pains appear as flexibility diminishes. It is just part of life and we all know it. We’ve seen it in our parents and grandparents but never relate these changes to ourselves until it is to late.
When we gather for a party or around family or even at work, we talk about our ailments. We share stories about dealing with the pain and offer solutions others have tried.
Watching daytime television we find there are a whole bunch of ailments we have and never knew about. Luckily there is a solution for every one of them.
There are creams for wrinkles, pills for weight loss, magic potions for energy, all sorts of exercise machines to get you fit or chairs on rollers if needed. There is even a long list of lawyers who say you should be paid for being disabled.
What’s up with that? Get paid for being sick?
Being sick or feeling ill or having pain is not very much fun, but if it makes you money. With all the ailments around there may be some cash in yours. At least take the time to fill out some forms and see what you can get. This seems to be a theme of daytime television.
Unfortunately I have the scares of going to the doctor and getting put back together again so I try not to get any more. I avoid the hospitals because that is where they keep sick people. I avoid the doc-in-the-box offices because you can pick up all kind of stuff there. And when you see a kid or worse, a bunch of kids, you know they are carrying every disease in the world. Even at the store if a person in the same aisle sneezes, I turn around and head the other direction.
I’m not totally immune. Once a year I get a cold. The usual stuffed up head, sniffles and runny nose. Three days coming, three day here, and three days going is my rule of thumb. It is the only time I buy medicine. One pack of antihistamine will last for the period of the cold. After that I’m done.
Now we all get a little twinge of a snuffle when spring starts and can get a sneeze or two from dust bunnies (don’t come to my house) but for the most part, I we get outside and take some deep breathes while walking to the store or riding your bike in the open air, the body adjust and you keep moving.
Other than that, I take no pills or ointments. Well, let me clarify that statement. I do put band aids on cuts or slaughter Vick’s vapor-rub on when it is difficult to sleep or rub down with Vaseline when the skin is tired, but that is all in the medicine cabinet. The aspirin bottle is full and at least five years old. The hot rub cream is not needed since I’ve gotten old and slow and less likely to pull a muscle.
In a couple of months I’ll be invited to join the Medicare family so I don’t think it is worth my time to try and get a couple of bucks for some made up ailment or condition.
Then again, I like it this way.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to make a friend

What is a friend?
 A description of a friend might include an alter ego, an amigo, a buddy, a chum, a compadre, a comrade, a confidant, a crony, a familiar, an intimate, a mate, a musketeer, or a pal
Or perhaps an acquaintance, an associate, a cohort, a colleague, a companion, a fellow, a hearty, a hobnobber, a partner, a peer, a sport; a brother, a main man, an accomplice, a ally, a collaborator, a confederate; a pen pal, a benefactor, a supporter, a sympathizer, or a well-wisher.
Friends can also be an adversary, an antagonist, a competitor, an opponent, a rival and even a nemesis.
So how do you make one of these “friends”?
Your first friends are family. The immediate family of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters has to be your friends because you live with them. You eat and sleep and bath and spend quality time with them. The extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins become our next friends. We are all friends because we all have the same last name. We are buddies for life?
Our next association with others is school. Thrown in a classroom with 20 to 30 strangers, we form a bond of being together before an adult teacher. Quickly we find common grounds and form associations. Away from our family protection we depend on each other for survival. Being very young, these friendships are fleeting.
Next come the groupings of church, choirs, scouts, teams, and clubs. With parental guidance we are again thrown into a group of strangers to learn social activities. This is the first training outside of the family to follow the perceived values engrained in our particular cultural grouping. We learn to dress alike. We learn to sing alike. We learn to follow orders. We learn camaraderie. We learn how to tie knots.
By the time teen years come around we are experienced enough and maybe smart enough to start making our own decision on those we want to be associated with. We can now decide who will be our friends. Here associates bond over parties, girlfriends, dances, and growing up.
When college takes place former friends separate to different locations. Much of friendship is the close proximity of each other until time changes daily communication.
Some friendships continue through the ages and some fade away. Some can be reunited through technology and some will never happen again. Some are remembered and some are gone.
So how do you make a friend? Here are some hints some say work to make a friend.
1. Follow your intuition. At any time or any place when you walk into a room you cannot help but scan the room. A face or stance or a look might attract your attention. Follow your intuition to introduce yourself to the person who has interested you. It may be only a physical attraction but it may turn into a friendship.
2. Engage your passion. Paint or play music or run or go to the gym and sooner or later your will find someone who also engages in the same passion. That may create a friendship.
3. Buy a puppy. If you really want to meet someone, get a puppy. I don’t recommend buying a puppy with all the shelter alternatives, but a puppy, unlike a cat, will bring the others to your door. Guaranteed. Pups are chick magnets. Dogs are a mans best friend, but when you are shouting at the television over a field goal, your dog will just look at your and smile.
4. Start a hobby. Hobbies are those fun things we like to do but you can also find a friend. Whether it is art or dancing or whatever turns you on, there is a group out there who also enjoy theses things. Taking a painting class or cooking class or go to the gym and you will meet others who enjoy the same things. It may be the passion or just a class; you share the attempt and may form a friendship.
5. Widen your age-range view. Sounds easy but then again a younger or perhaps older friend could be easy to get along with. As we age, age does not make as much difference as it did in our youth. Besides, a different focus on certain subjects may for an interesting friendship.
6. Build a community garden. Really? Well if you open up a plot of land and dig it up and put some greens in and water it and trim it and guess what. Other people will appreciate your effort and ask if they too can participate. Digging in the dirt is a great way to make a friend, whether it is human or animal.
7. Reconnect with people from your past. We all lose touch with old friends. They get married and focus on their families. They move away. They change their values or interest that once was. Yet the old bonds are still there. For whatever reasons, the reconnect can take place. We can be friends again.
8. If adventurous, use the Internet. There are lots of sites out there that can connect you with all kinds of “friends” who can be real or not real. Post some profiles and upload some pictures and hope for the best. Are you that desperate to make friends?
So to make a friend is just to be you and meet others in an un-stressful location and just see if there are any connections. If after a while you want to spend more time with this person, a friendship is starting.
A friend, a true friend, is someone you can sit quietly with in comfort. You do not need to entertain a friend or expect anything from a friend. A friend is like an old comfortable shoe. A friend has gone through enough experiences with you to offer assistance when needed and give advice when asked. A friend will laugh at your jokes and listen to your miseries. A friend will keep your secrets and won’t judge your actions.
Then there is that boyfriend/girlfriend thing. When a friend gets an emotional connection all values of friendship changes.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Sleepover

As a kid I would have sleepovers and went to sleepovers. You know what they are. It is when all the parents dump all the kids in one place for the night. Of course they are separated by gender. Then the parents who sponsor this occasion must feed, clothe, and provide entertainment and protection to the overzealous kids who feed off of each other’s energy until they drop from exhaustion. Most of my sleepovers were just one kid would stay the night at my house or I would stay the night at another’s house. We would eat popcorn and watch television then fall asleep in our jammies. It was like being in another family for the night. Don’t know what the girls did, but the guys would play soldiers or pirates or wrestle until we got old enough for physical changes to happen.
Then there was the big sleepover. Camp. Camp was made for a bunch of boys to be dumped by their parents to a far away place for week. We would sleep in drafty cabins on wooden bunks, wear the same cloths, sweat in the heat and play in the dirt. A bunch of teenagers were in charge of us, but like prison, we had no place to go or any method to get there. After a month or so, our parents would arrive to drag us back to school.
Then again, there was the sleepover of ’66. A hearty band of high school students gathered at a friend’s house for an impromptu party when it started to snow. His mom was nice enough to call all the other’s mothers and fathers to ask permission to store the kids for the night rather than send them out into the weather. All of the boys and girls were excited at the possibilities but a few did not get permission and had to leave. We gallant lads escorted each and every one of them back to their homes safely then waded back through the thickening white stuff to the gathering. With warm drinks and sleeping bags we dried off. The girls retired to the upstairs while the boys attended a story telling session by my friend’s father. Once or twice the girls would try to slip downstairs but were always caught. The next morning we celebrated our short sleep with a hearty breakfast and a few sly looks of what could have been before trudging out into the snow with our memories.
Today the sleepover is much more complicated. It may be caused with bad weather or the late hour or possibility of too many adult beverages. A sleepover can be the results of a random meeting leading into an invitation inside another’s home.
Whether it is a physical adventure or a parental comforting, the morning will come with the thought, “Now What?”
Some years ago I used to walk to work. A friend of mine who lived a block away would walk with me. One morning I went to his apartment to see if he was ready. Upon opening the door I noticed he was not alone. A girl I knew from work was coming out of the bedroom. She acknowledged me, kissed him and left. It was a quiet walk downtown because I didn’t know what to say.
Sleepovers are like that. Maybe the next morning you share a shower or have a breakfast but it has to end. So what is to be said? “Thanks, that was fun.” Or “Let’s do this again sometime.” Or “Do you want me to call you?”
Some sleepovers turn into something else while some are just notches on the bedpost. Mine turned into a twenty-five year marriage.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I know I get stuck on this subject a lot. Maybe that is because I have so much to say and no one to talk to.

I was watching this show the other day and kept wondering why each character says, We have to talk.”

Maybe we do HAVE to talk?

The ability to form sounds into words that can be understood by another is one of our key attributes like the opposable thumb. We are trained early in life to change our grunts into utterances that will answer questions and express thoughts, feelings, ideas and just blather.

We express ourselves by the way we talk. We small talk. We talk down. We talk on the phone. We talk back. We pillow talk. We talk turkey. We talk through our hats. We table talk. We even talk to ourselves.

We deliver speeches. We converse at work or an intimate dinner. We gossip when we don’t know the facts. We give lectures by talking. We express and exchange ideas by talking. We even sing by talking to music. We reveal confidential information in whispers. We recite by reading out loud. We expound our feelings. We pontificate our wisdom. We sermonize our faith. We even filibuster to waste time.

We seem to have a lot to talk about. Do we have anything to say?

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Do you want to know a secret?
A secret is to be kept secret. A secret is to be kept from knowledge or view of others. A secret is by habit discretion. A secret could be for hidden aims or methods. A secret is secluded. A secret is undercover. A secret is made to elude detection. A secret contains information that unauthorized disclosure is forbidden.  A secret is confidential.
So do you want to know a secret? Well once a secret is shared, it is no longer a secret.
 With all the talk on the web sites telling you getting old is no problem, guess what?  The secret is out.
Getting old means you have $40,000.00 a year less to spend. Getting old means the taste of food or even the effort for cooking just isn’t interesting. Getting old means wearing the same t-shirt day-after-day. Getting old means shopping is a chore rather than a thrill. Getting old means thinking twice before starting a project. Getting old means naps are good. Getting old means those little pains are now constant aches. Getting old means you catch the eye of a pretty thing only to look in the mirror and realize the smile is a laugh. Getting old means a late night out ends at 10 PM. Getting old means knowing that air travel or automobiles were rare when your parents were growing up. Getting old is knowing that the essentials we take for granted today were all constructed in our lifetime. Getting old means you realize all those dreams you had in high school didn’t come true. Getting old means… well you are closer to the end than the beginning.
Getting old beat the alternative. So the secret is out. Keep your lips sealed.

PS. Yes, I had one of these. Don’t know how I got it. Probably got it from some uncle who served in the South Seas. Used to hang it on the wall. Never gave a name to it. It just hung there. Maybe gave it away or maybe threw it away when disinterested in it. What a way to go. Oops! There is another secret out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wanna Do A Do-Over?

In golf it is called a mulligan. Take a big swing and miss the ball. Give yourself another chance and another swing.
Life doesn’t always work that way. We come to a cross in the road. We go left when maybe we should have gone right. There are no take backs.
That is what life is all about. The daily decisions we make can mold the rest of our lives. The decisions can ripple through to others adjusting how they live their lives.
As we grow older and perhaps wiser, we can review some of our decisions and ponder what would have happened if I had studied more in college, if I had taken the job up north, if I had paid more attention to what my parents were saying, if I continued with that band, if I had learn to drive without drinking, if I had told the girl what I felt instead of holding it in, if I had decided to follow the path to normal, or if I had not married?
That long run on sentence is like life. Everyday is an adventure with unknown possibilities and conflicts and decisions to be made. The outside influences of work and family and friends and even world events taint our decisions. A good do over might have been tie-dye.
It is all a learning experience. We can’t go back and have a do over no matter how much we might want to for the clock continues to click. It might be fun to ponder but it will never happen.
Some people say the circle of life isn’t just the day we are born to the day we die. Maybe we do have a chance for a do over?
If we return to this planet as a bug or a bird or a puff of wind or maybe a grain of sand on a distance place we cannot imagine or just a thought, it may be our do over. A dream could be our haunting prison or a chance at a do over.
If we were smart enough or emotional enough or logical enough we wouldn’t have to take the second swing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Do You Worry?

I keep hearing about good ideas that turn into a slog of procedures and bureaucracy due to people being scared of what would happen if. Understanding every decision must have certain responsibilities, but I keep hearing about who would be liable if something went wrong.
What caught my ear was the test of self-driving cars. The autos, though still experimental, are suppose to drive from point A to point B using GPS and sensors to detect other traffic. They just sound wonderful to one like me who don’t drive, but the discussion turned to what would happen if there happened to be a wreck.
Who would be liable? Usually the owner of the auto who has the state approved license and registration would be liable, but this would be different. Since the auto was actually driving itself, would the automaker be liable? It is an interesting question that I’m sure that lawyers everywhere must love.
Would it be the person or the gun? Would it be an emotional problem or the access to weapons? Would it be immediate anger or the routine video violence?
We all fear a problem may happen that we might have to pay for or be liable for. Insurance of many types pride themselves on assuring the participant that they will cover any problems as long as the premiums are paid.
So how do we move forward with this constant worry? We decide to accomplish a task, and then refrain to analysis every detail of the decision to question “what if?”
Have you ever tried to cash in an insurance policy? An auto wrinkle at the local Wal-Mart parking lot or the watched pot fire that wasn’t watched is some of the usual problems. Some are no more than a lost of work time and pay to attend a workshop of metal bending or an estimate for repairs that the deducible did not cover. Don’t forget to read the fine print.
So do you ever think what would happen if a branch from my tree fell over the fence on my neighbor’s deck? What would happen if a person walking down the sidewalk in front of my house slipped and broke a bone? What would happen if the neighbor’s house caught fire and then spread to my house? What would happen if you promised another a lifetime of wonder but then it stopped?
A liability can mean something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or something that someone is responsible for, or something that increases the chance of something occurring.
Or then maybe it is…
Lability refers to something that is constantly undergoing change or something that is likely to undergo change.
I’m libel to do this.

Trimming the Tree

As one of my friends has been writing about his area cutting down trees, the sound of chain saws fill the air. The city has hired an outside contractor to “trim” and grind up the tree in the front of my house. I was forewarned this would take place and will wait to see what the remains are.
They seem fairly confident and have an established name. I have even used them before to remove some of my old trees. Yet the sound is like a dentist office times a rock concert. Feels like nails on the blackboard that never stops.
A little history of this elm would be that when I moved into this abode, the tree was recently planted and was just as tall as I was. Through the years it was watered and cuddled with high grasses, evergreens, and ivy. Squirrels used the crux of the trunk as a nursery.
I’ve appreciated the shade as it has grown. I have sat on the front porch and watched it dance the branches dance in hurricanes. I’ve marvels at the peace it brings on a hot summer night. I’ve fascinated the shadows and reflections this tree has given me during a lonely time. I’ve even fallen asleep under its protective branches. This tree has become my friend and there are strangers cutting it.
Even though, in this town, the trees, bushes, grasses and bushes that are between the sidewalk and the street are officially city property, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to care for them. There are some restrictions about the height of bushes or what type of materials can be placed in this section of land. Years ago a neighbor protested the timbers that we placed in this tiny garden and we removed them. Since then I’ve just let the area grow.
Another feature of this small acreage is this is where the bunnies live. In the spring on a warm evening I can sit on the porch and watch little rabbits come out and play, protected by the greenery around them.
As if knowing their friend was going through surgery the wind has picked up and the sky has turned grey. The critters have all scurried home since they don’t like the noise anymore than I do. My thoughts turned to my wife and what she would have done. She would have been out there screaming at the guys in their hard hats and reflective vest. She would have been calling me at work or calling the police and there would have been a massive amount of tears. I’m glad she doesn’t have to experience this.
Perhaps this will be the spark to get me to do my springtime trimming I need to do in the yard. I’ve had a plan to take out some of the volunteer trees but haven’t used the saw yet.
The yard has changed a lot over the years but this one tree has not changed. Hopefully this haircut will increase its growth and see me thorough to the end.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It’s All About The Sex

Reading an article about a book on what may have happened when the Neanderthals met the Homo sapiens.
Sounded like an interesting concept but then I started thinking. What would you do if you met an alien?
But what is an alien? An alien is someone or something that is not like me. Someone unfamiliar possibility dangerous or possibility adventurous could be an alien.
Whether this alien comes from outer space or across the border from another land or culture, the first meeting must be exhilarating. A totally different being has entered your familiar surroundings. Now what do you do?
First the decision for safety must be established. If there is a threatening feeling about this alien, our survival instincts kick in and it is decided the alien must be destroyed. It doesn’t matter that the alien may feel just as threatened by us or at lest feel as uncomfortable in the confrontation, the decision, whether by previous activities or bigoted history, has been made.
Second will be communication. We always want to share experiences with another and perhaps wonder at new discoveries from others. Language can turn to hand signs and motions and a smile. If both agree on the symbolism, communication can be shared.
But the most important part of a meeting with an alien is what do we do next?
Now I will take a sidetrack to present another formula. What if this alien is of your species but of a different gender? I know it is getting back to the subject of dating.
What do we do when we meet another? We must immediately decide do we feel threaten and form a defensive position or do we feel empowered over the other being and view it as a meal or are we attracted to the other as a mating partner?
For survival we must find shelter, food and water but sex? As to all species, we are embodied with this sense to have to procreate and continue our existence. Yet our species has the logic/emotion battle to act on this biological mayhem.
Others will say the cuddling of other animals shows the same affection but is it true emotional connection or just foreplay? There are many books and theories about what attracts us to each other but I have my own.
First, it is the attraction. Even when programmed by society to the flick of the hair, the scent, the full lips, the stance, the fashion, we see another and are curious.
Second, curiosity turns to adventure. Can the move be made by one of the participants to start the investigation with the other? This is where it gets interesting. The conversation turns to a list of questions with hopes of finding a coincidental connection.
If alcohol is applied, the answers will get ridiculous with laughter (another subject for another time) and may lead into a debasing and forgettable situation.
Third is the mutual agreement to mate. Depending on the amount of time “dating” and getting to know each other or the immediacy of the moment. Copulation might be for a purpose or a way to fill the time.
Forth, and this is the important part, what happens next? The morning after, as it is called, a commitment is made or denied. If the sex wasn’t that good, move on to another subject. If the sex was worthy of another try and the partner is comfortable enough to spend additional time with, the relationship continues.
As time passes, the alien is no longer an alien. If the fornication turns to a family then another turn in the relationship. If not, then the length of the commitment is the quantity or quality of the sex.
Oh sure, all the analysts will diagnose the quality of a relationship or marriage or whatever keeps a couple together as an emotional connection between partners in life.
But it is all about the sex.

What do you do with your hands?

Have you noticed how people use their hands?  
Our hands are one of the physical attributes that separate us from other species. Our hands can grab things, pull things, touch things, and hit things. Our hands are tender enough to hold a baby and strong enough to break boards.
We hold hands, wash hands, cover hands with gloves, and shake hands. We have hand-me-downs, hand jobs, hand offs, and hand stands. We wear jewelry on our hands to show our attachment to another.
We put out our hand when being introduced to a stranger. We put out our hands in need. We put our hands together to pray. We wave our hands to acknowledge another.
Watch how people talk and you will notice how much the hand action tells about the individual personality. Some hold their hands in their pockets and some way their hands about emphasizing what is being said. Got to hand it to you, these things are fascinating.
So the next time you pick up a pen and sign your name, be thankful for your hands. Put your hands together.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Best of the Best

Read something about a friend of mine, we’ll call him Andy, but that’s not his name, being the BEST sci-fi writer of all. Now I don’t read sci-fi but I guess Stinky….er ah Andy is the BEST sci-fi writer I know. Then again I don’t know any other sci-fi writers.
I guess we all strive to be the BEST at something. The BEST basketball player in high school, the BEST dressed in your yearbook, the BEST dancer in your prom, or maybe the BEST salesperson.
We hold the BEST to a higher standard. Awards and accolades are presented and displayed by the BEST. The BEST become celebrities and are acknowledged on talk shows.
A sense of superiority accompanies being the BEST. If delusional enough the sense of being Number One can overwhelm the psyche or become an obsession. There is a feeling of pride at being better than anyone else, at least for the moments.
Some of the awards fade fast and there is a new BEST tomorrow. Being the BEST only last until a better, faster, smarter or more powerful comes along. Then you are second BEST.
So you can be the BEST of what you are. The BEST husband/wife, the BEST father/mother, the BEST bottle washer, the BEST grass cutter, the BEST slug on Sunday, the BEST second place finisher, the BEST back scratcher…
Being the BEST or the BEST of the BEST is no more important than being the BEST you can be.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Can you live off pizza and beer?


Any college student or fraternity house would say “Sure!” but what about a 64-year-old grey hair guy living with a toaster oven and a microwave?
Now remember this is winter. Those long dark, gray and windy days of winter that drag on and on. Working out in my studio in the winter isn’t really conducive to thoughts of fine cuisine.
“Keep it simple and quick” has been the motto for meal preparation. Sandwiches and soup out-of-a-can and heated in the microwave or those pre-pared stuff heated in the toaster oven have been the norm.
Now building a kitchen I’ve started thinking about cooking again. Real cooking, not the stuff that I have left over in the only cookbook I retained, my mother’s “The Art of Cooking Vol. 1”.
I was privilege with a wife who loved cooking as a hobby and I was the taster Guiney pig. From oriental to homemade pasta to stews and soups and a vegetarian diet every meal was an experiment. All the necessary appliances and cookbooks and classes were provided and each dining experience was a wonder. I should not have been surprised because all her hobbies were intense.
I haven’t spent the time or had the space to prepare a meal other than taking it out of a box or having it previously cooked for several years. I have most of the utensils but not the cooking pots and pans and mixing bowls of a fully equipped kitchen.
I already knew Southern cooking from my grandmother but never from my mom. Most of our food was simple or cheap or from the club. Grew up on greasy eggs in an iron pan, meatloaf, cream chip beef on toast, peanut butter on Wonder bread, and green beans out of a can.   
I’ve seen as many cooking shows as anyone else and understand how to apply most of the spices and ingredients but learned at an early age the pallet is trained.
So now I start to think of spending more time in the kitchen and preparing fresh food for consumption. Even with a large recipe and all the ingredients, with only one plate or bowl to fill, the leftovers will have to be preserved.
The prep work is all the fun with food. Like some chemistry class the mixing of flavors to achieve the brief necessity of feeding your face can be a chore or a reward.
Now the daily trip through the aisles of the grocery store takes on new observations. Most meals have certain similarities. A base of starch seems to be the basis to begin with. Rice, Noodles, Potatoes, or Bread seem to be the basic start to any recipe. Sauces of tomato or beans seem to come next. If the sauce is thick it can be poured over the base, if the sauce is thinned it can be a soup or stew. Roots and peppers can be added to taste.
Then there are those spices and herbs that make the flavor to the individual delight of the taster. Grow them to pick fresh or store them on the occasional need?
Haven’t looked at anything that had a face, no matter how well they disguise it. The roughage is wonderful fresh seasoned with sea salt and course pepper. Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
Cooking takes a lot of thought. Cooking takes a lot of time. Cooking leaves a big pile of dishes and pots and pans that must be washed and put away.
I’ll just have a pizza and a beer.
What? It has some green stuff and some red stuff and some mystery meat for protein and can be made in only a few minutes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Monster Movies

I think I’ve told you about my fascination with 50’s black and white monster movies. It was just what young boys and girls saw in the movie theatres. Yes, there were actually buildings that you had to buy a ticket to see in a dark room with a mass of other children eating popcorn and drinking soda a huge screen full of images of old houses and dark rooms and weird creatures that made us scream and have bad dreams.
It was pretty spooky, but it was what all of us did and could associate to each other with. Did it impede the youth with distorted horror that did or not exist? Perhaps it was a cover for the mass hypnotization for the terror of the red menace.
So why do we invent monsters to create fear? Look at the average television program and watch the panic. If it doesn’t explode in front of you then what is the purpose?
Tonight on the History Channel there is a series about a book full of monsters and saviors. Who will win?