Sunday, June 30, 2013

I bought a pot

No, silly, not that kind of pot. I bought a stainless steel pot. “Why?” You ask. Well I’ve been thinking about cooking. I got this brand new stove and I bought some pans but I’ve been thinking about making some stews or big meals I can refrigerate and eat over and over and over again.
Watching all those cooking shows they all seem to have this big pot to put all the ingredients in and slow cook them down before adding all the liquids. I think these are called Dutch ovens. I asked some friends about preferences of cookware and they all recommended Dutch ovens. Of course I did my usual search of the Internet and the local stores where I would probably shop for one.
I’ve got some BIG stew pots from my father’s club that would do the job, but I kept thinking about this Dutch oven. An 8-quart cast iron pot with a ceramic baked on cover. I understand the cast iron thing. My family had a cast iron frying pan. It was always on the stove. We cooked everything in it. Eggs, then hamburgers, then ham, and then who knows what with just a brief visit to the sink for a wipe out. There was probably a cake of food on that pan that was cooked before I was born. They still make these frying pans but I decided not to buy one, for now.
So I looked at the Dutch ovens and thought about making the trip to Target to pick one up, but as usual couldn’t decide what brand. Then I noticed there was a 5-quart model. So now I have to decide whether I want a BIG pot or a little pot.
It is kind’ a like watching the Tour de France and thought I ride a bicycle everyday, I’m not even getting close to these twenty something’s. They go faster than a lot of cars in my neighborhood. So when I climb on my pony and pedal to the store, I crank up the gears but it only puts more pressure on the chain rather than my heart.
Pretty darn exciting stuff, but this is what happens in the ordinary times. As it has it, I was walking through the grocery store, picking up the usual stuff to keep the critters full when I turned the corner and wandered down the aisle that holds the magazines. I stared at all the colorful covers and found no interest, but behind me was the cooking “stuff”. There is a 5-quart pot. It is stainless steel with a glass top and a price that is cheap. My mind races to constant to-do list and scans the “Dutch Oven” file. Should I wait and go to Target and look at Paula Deen’s discount “because we are dropping her” line or Rachael Ray’s pans or order on-line or keep wondering whether or not to buy one of these thing, so I pick up the pot and put it in the cart.
Once home now the stove is full of pots and pans. The best part is I can take the “Dutch oven” off my to-do list. Will this post fill my requirements? I don’t know but I can always go back and get another one. If it does then it was a cheap solution to solve my worries.
Shoot, I haven’t even fired up the grill to burn some hot dogs and hamburgers and peppers and corn yet. These pots and pans will probably stay pretty pristine until winter. I’m hoping for a nice week of snow so I can hunker down and actually cook. I’ve got a great recipe for chili but I haven’t made it in years. Then again, living by myself in a snow bank with a pile of chili might not be a great idea?
I’ve got a slow cooker that would probably do the same as a Dutch oven but cooking seems to be about utensils and procedures. A slow cooker, from what I understand, is throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and covering it up and letting it simmer for hours. So is the Dutch oven for the same purpose but on the stovetop? Again the cooking industry has more methods and varieties and variations to burning and heating dead animals than anyone could ever imagine. Also, the aisles are filled with items that proclaim themselves as food that can be quickly prepared in the microwave.
It is time to go inside and heat up the stove and prepare the Sunday lunch including flank steak, mashed potatoes and green peas. It is still too hot to cook for long hours and no one else is around to share in the conversation of “why don’t we add this spice” or “that taste terrible”. The menu is basic as is my lifestyle but now I have a pot.
PS. You want to eat really, really good stuff? Become a crewmember of a cooking show. Now that’s a good eats.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What Are You Waiting For?

Said the Id to the Ego.
Oh, just in case you didn’t know…. Id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role; and the ego is the organized, realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. The super-ego can stop you from doing certain things that your id may want you to do.
So what are you waiting for? The question comes up again and again.
Perhaps I learned this unusual habit? Maybe I was trained to wait.
In proper society when one enters a room, the host introduces them. To meet someone else in the party, one must ask an elder or one of the families to introduce you. Otherwise you can view the vision that is unattainable. Even in the most sophisticated occasions we are separated by name, rank, and position.
Then one must learn how to make the move. You see someone who you feel you have made visual contact with. You know what I mean. You are sitting at a bar and you look over at another table at an attractive person and she looks back with a smile and a gleam in her eye. It doesn’t take much to get your attention. You try to go back to whatever you were doing before but you keep getting distracted. The second glance is like an invitation, so what are you waiting for?
I remember at dances how the boys would line one wall and the girls would line the opposite wall waiting to see who would make the first move. Once one of us crossed over the party began and we all loved it.
So what are you waiting for? The question returns again and again and again, but the answer is what are you looking for?
The to-do list can wait till tomorrow or the day after or even to the next person because the basics are taken care of. The day-to-day life functions are steady and do not need any adjustments. Even most of the wants, needs, and desires have been accomplished so the question is; what are you waiting for?
Maybe it is like dating when you wait for the other person to invite you to become more familiar with their body? Maybe it is waiting until you have enough knowledge or experience or tenure with the company to ask for that raise? Maybe it is a fear of failing or a reaction to success.
I was always accused of not being spontaneous. I evaluate, contemplate, and ponder a thought before I act. Sometimes I wait too long and miss it. So what are you waiting for?
Perhaps it is a sense of self-doubt or a history of failure, but I know I over analyze problems. Even shopping, I see something I might “want” or “need” but do not buy it at the time. Instead I go home and think about it. Do I really need it? Will it really accomplish my list of necessaries?
Then I go back after convincing myself the purchase could be made logically in my mind, only to find that it had already been sold. I kick myself for the lost opportunity but rationalize it by the thought of next year’s items.
I think, now and then, about being spontaneous and traveling to a different place to meet another person totally unknown to me to start a new adventure. I could do this on-line and not know if I’m talking to a cute chick or a prison cellmate, so I wander on and don’t rock the boat as some say.
I never knew when things that changed my life were happening probably because I was waiting. So what are we waiting for?
Water to boil? Download a file? Getting there? These are all things we wait for. Somehow we accomplish the wait.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Care is defined as “to have feelings like concern, responsibility or love for someone or something”. Our species is embedded with caring. Looks what happens when there is a tornado or some other disaster. Whether those who are affected are friends or strangers, we come together with food, clothing, and help because we care.
You can take care, give care, and be careless or careful. We have childcare, day care and even devil may care. We have extended care, home care, managed care and even hospital care. We can be a caretaker and caress or even if you stretch this silliness, a carrot.
We care for our children because they put our names on the birth certificate to make us responsible for what we did. That means food, clothing, shelter, education, sports, driving, dating, going away to college, broken hearts, bad clothing decisions, weird taste in music, moving back home after college, getting married, having grandchildren, getting divorced, moving back home…. The list goes on and on.
We care for our parents for the same reasons. They had to put up with all the previously mentioned stuff, so when they get old and feeble, we feel responsible to pay them back.
We care for our pets with food, shelter, and a place to sleep. We find joy when our dog jumps up on the bed after leaving a load on the living room floor. We love to be kissed on the lips by our cat that just finished licking their butt.
Then we meet someone we care about. They are not friends. Friends are people you enjoy spending time with and have some association with, but do not have a romantic connection with. They are not lovers. Lovers are people who may have been friends but things got complicated when you climbed into bed and your rational logic dropped to the floor.
Caring for another might mean you can make a difference. If they are hungry and you can provide food then you care. If they are sick and you can provide medicine and rest then you care. If they are in danger and you can provide protection then you care.
As we all grow older and unsteady, who will care for us? Maybe you raised your children well enough that they will step up and live the day-to-day stress of making sure you are cared for when you fall. Maybe you have enough money to check into one of those villages that feed you three times a day, provide a place to sleep and activities like watching television.
Like life insurance or retirement funds and paying off loans and reducing our budgets, we can only do so much to prepare for our twilight years. While we are still somewhat cognizant we need to decide what to do when.
Then again, maybe I don’t care?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I’m Leaving Tomorrow

They say, you know those folks who say what they say; it is going to be hot and humid for the next week. I guess after a wonderful winter and soothing spring, it is time for summer in this burg. Being below the Mason-Dixon line, summers are hot. Not like dry Arizona heat or as humid as Louisiana heat, but hot enough to get soaked after an hour of working in the yard. So I will settle back to six months of sweating and change to little boy pants.
The daily trip to the grocery store maybe slower and I may enjoy their air conditioning more even though I may offend, but that is what summer is all about. I’ll see if the ceiling fans I had installed last winter will keep the little house cool.
As I travel through the neighborhood getting my bearings and making those deep intake/outtake breathes that refreshes the body I pass a group of people. Typical group of people who I do not know but nod to me with my daily intrusions onto their street.
The group seems like neighbors discussing neighborly stuff when a fellow walks up. After what appears a communal welcome I overhear “Don’t know if you know this”, he says, “I’m leaving tomorrow.”
I had noticed a house for sale sign down the block so I immediately thought this was his announcement to his neighbors he was about to move out. I’m sure the neighbors will give their best wishes and goodbyes and wonder who the next person to invade their neighborhood will be.
Then I thought about that phrase: “I’m leaving tomorrow”.  A statement like that puts a finite on a relationship. Shoot, it put a sudden period on an interaction between people.
Now communications may still exist but the physical distance will change. With the distant, lack of daily sharing of events, the connection will, as I say, grow vanilla. The other person may have wonderful and maybe a life-changing occurrence but you are not close enough to give support or advice or share in the joy or sorrow except through some keystrokes.
The communication between those who have left is all about the past for they have no idea what is planned for the future. They cannot share on each other’s children or that wonderful recipe that was a hit at parent’s night or the night spent in the waiting room or celebrate the purchase of a new car or the recent planting of blueberries. Cards and pictures and brief comments cannot say the same statements as sitting on a porch together over a couple of beers watching the sun go down.
Have you ever noticed when we gather? We have the strangest behavioral pattern. We first do our usual greetings and salutations, and then we find a place to put our stuff, then back to find a comfortable pattern of conversation. Whether for one hour or a weekend together, we chat and laugh and converse in the most polite fashion.
Then when we are about to pack up and depart to various places, intimate subjects come out. It happens in families, friends and even with fellow workers. We wait for the last minute to bring up a topic that could have been an in-depth story or revealing thought that might have produced a fruitful and rewarding and possibility helpful discussion from people you trust and love. For some strange reason we don’t want to share these secrets with others or we wait for the last minute to bring it up.
“Bobby is going off to the army” or “Mandy is pregnant” or “My uncle Billy is coming to live with us” or “I’m getting a divorce” or “I just spent my 401K on comic books” or “I never graduated” or “Do these pants make me look fat” are all subjects that should have been brought up earlier in the conversation. Yet we wait for the last minute. That is why “Good-byes” take so long.
Just hop on the plane or train or bus or climb in the car and say, “See yah” and be off into the mystery of another land. Perhaps it is easier that way than announcing you are leaving?
When you know you only have another day to be intimate with this other person what do you do? Make the grandest meal anyone has ever tasted or perhaps offer to take him or her out to the best restaurant in town to celebrate your compatibility? Get drunk over a bottle(s) of fine wine telling old tales and remembering things that should have been forgotten? Take that long walk to try and explain all the misconceptions of years of understanding or misunderstandings in one night? Celebrate the times together and reveal the secrets of the past?
You just never know. Suppose, just suppose, the statement of “I’m leaving tomorrow” meant like forever? That would put a different spin on things. There isn’t a timeline on living and dying or a clock set for when it happens, but we all know it happens. No one gets out of here alive.
Extra pressure question: What would you do if you knew within the next 24-hours the other person would be gone – forever? If the person is a passing fantasy or a particle acquaintance that statement may not be so shocking, but if this comes from a person who you hold close for whatever reason, what would you do?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stone Cold Sober

A friend of mine has not had his nightly glass of wine for some time due to surgery, so I thought I’d give him moral support. So for the past five days, I haven’t had a drink either.
Now a lot of folks probably don’t see what the big deal is missing a drink or two. But there is a history here.
I didn’t start drinking until college, well, high school. Never experiment with mix-drinks or liquor, but under peer pressure would drink the watered down 3.2 beers. I wouldn’t drink at home and actually didn’t drink that much while in school. By then I was working so I didn’t have much time to party.
After college and married, I tried to look distinguish and started drinking wine. After a few years I was drinking a case or more of Heineken every week.
Once I moved into this house the drinking was reduced for other alternatives. Whatever the reason, every evening because a buzz and then a haze.
A couple of years and some close calls, the alcohol became part of the nightly habit. Every evening, I would ride to the store and buy a 12-pack of beer. Before sleep the beer was consumed.
The past couple of years, the morning started off with water and coffee and quickly switched to beer. Bedtime only came when the beer ran out.
So, like when I quit smoking, this was cold turkey. Changing a habit isn’t hard if you don’t go down the beer aisle. Even the checkout folks marvel when packing the daily run.
So what is different? Water washes down food just as well as beer. The buzz is gone but going to sleep is a bit more difficult. Waking up seems the same but I think my head is clearer. The biggest change I have seen is those weird dreams I have been having are gone.
I’ll see how long being stone cold sober will last. I’m drinking a bunch more water keeping up with the old habit of having a bottle in my hand. Will see what happens when I go out with friends?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


This morning I read Gary, Indiana wants to shrink itself by 40%. Gary, like so many other industrial cities in the Rust Belt, has been struggling with the economic downturn and the real estate bust. Yet, this idea was unique.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has suggested speeding up demolishing dilapidated buildings and leaving the empty plots to nature. Her plan is to hire crews to deconstruct the abandon boarded up buildings and recycle the materials. This process would create jobs and raise the property values of other buildings in the area.
On the surface it sounds like an interesting concept or a last ditch effort, but everyone knows wandering through a city with rows of abandoned blight that vacant properties attract criminal elements. Even though the city would have to pay for cutting the grass in the empty lots and picking up the trash when the empty lots becomes a dumping grounds, the cost may balance out due to less police and fire calls and less stress on an elderly infrastructure.
If, in a dream world, these lots were allowed to become neighborhood gardens or parks maintained by the neighbors everyone would benefit. Even if the plots were allowed to grow naturally they could become animal habitats.
So I looked at a map of my own city and it’s history. Over 100 years after Jamestown, the curve in the river at the falls, the city was incorporated. Years of future annexation from Powhatan’s territory continued as the city expanded. First just along the river then expanding up the hills and across the river. It became the capitol of the commonwealth, was burnt during the revolutionary and civil wars while continuing to grow. First north then west then south the city annexed areas from surrounding counties to feed the growing expenses.
Yet when the fees and taxes do not support the cities’ expenses and state and federal assistances vanishes, what is a city to do? A city is like a family. It has a budget. Some items are crucial and some can be reduced or eliminated. Like any families’ budget items of shelter, safety, food, clothing, transportation, education, employment, and even recreation; a city has to maintain and grow its infrastructure of water and waste, roads and bridges, police and fire organizations, social assistance, and much more.
Every city has its various methods to entice business, promote historic and entertainment sites, welcome families while controlling crime and decay. One method is to acquire additional resources from other counties. Yet the counties need the revenue also and will push back.
Like the gerrymandering that happens to define political districts, every city has its areas of good, bad, and ugly. There are areas that are low on crime and high on revenue and others in reverse. So if these areas could be de-annexed, it would cut the cities responsibility to maintain the infrastructure while keeping its productive tax base.
And what happens to these areas de-annexed from the city? Do they form their own village? Do they create their own unregulated militia? Can they maintain without the support of the city or are forced to migrate like Native Americans when their land was annexed by England?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


It seems to be happening more and more.
Look at the clock and it reads 5:55 or 11:11
or some set of triplicate numbers.
I’m sure I stare at the clock a million times a day
but triplicate numbers make me wonder.
Some may think it is coincidence.
Some may think it is just lucking timing.
I think it is a message.
A message sent from afar.
Some strange sense is sending this as a coded message.
Haven’t decoded the meaning yet.
So I just see the numbers and say them outloud.
Two twenty-two, more for me and more for you.
Five fifty-five, another good day to be alive.
Nine ninety-nine, you take yours and I’ll take mine.
Eleven-eleven, what happened to seven-seven-seven?

But this is what crazy people do.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Awkward Moment

We all have them. We have more of them than we think. Awkward moments may be how we learn to experience life?
You know that moment on a long road trip when suddenly the reaction to that burrito lets loose or walk in on your parents while they are making whoopy or opening the door to a port-o-potty and someone is still in there or belch while French kissing or finding your best friend making out with someone who is not his girlfriend; they are all awkward moments.
We stop for a moment, access the situation, get a goofy smile on our face, and back away. These moments can change our relationships with people or just burn an image that will continue to create nightmares.
What made these two words cross my mind is thinking about that moment in a party when you run out of things to say. Choosing between a handshake or a hug or a kiss after a first date is an awkward moment. Every gathering, whether with friends or work associates or networking occasions start the same way? Meeting an old schoolmate who remembers everything about you but you don’t remember their name is an awkward moment. First you introduce yourself. In some gatherings you are already known and in some you must wear a nametag. This can be stressful or comfortable but not awkward. The first time you get tailored trousers is an awkward moment. Second, you bring about your personality. If you are in a business situation there are professional topics and ideas to be discussed but no opinions. You spill a drink on your pants is an awkward moment. If you are in a friendly party the conversation usually involves family, health, vacations and whatever has been happening to each other since last we met. When you ask about someone only to find out they have just died is an awkward moment.
Then comes the gatherings’ awkward moment. After all the pictures are shown and the past history and jokes are put away, then comes the moment of what to do next.
Either the twister game comes out or another round of drinks are made to ease the tension. Even the best of friends can change their religious beliefs or political affiliations or social commitments over a period of time. We are willing to share more personal information on social media than face-to-face conversation because it avoids that awkward moment. Remembering what your mother said about wearing clean underwear in your girl friend’s bedroom is an awkward moment.
So in a couple of weeks a group of geezers will get together to celebrate being old. Some will be drinking and some will not. Some will be talking about their kids and some will not. Somewhere along the way a secret might sneak out or not.
I’ll let you know when we reach that awkward moment.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Bar

On this daddy day, trying to think of what “dad” would do that made him a dad. He sat at the end of the table. He carved the turkey. He drove the family around. He was the head of the house; a position that comes with the title “dad”. So while viewing notices of all these folks celebrating their dads and thinking of an upcoming event with several of these dads, I pondered a comment made by one dad and I quote, “So, we are talking about getting together and drinking beer.”
The occasion is a “When I’m sixty-four” celebration. It’s not about the record or maybe it is because these geezers have reached that age. Due to our busy lives and lack of communication, we put one of the pups in charge of organizing this fiasco. It seems we cannot get together without alcohol so I guess we will be spending time in a bar or tavern or local drinking establishment.
Maybe the first thing our species invented was fermentation to dilute our minds of how tough life is. We certainly have carried the processing of the grape and barley with us around the globe. We drink to celebrate, we drink to drown our sorrows, we drink to pass the time, and we drink to gather money with festivals every weekend.
With this understood, drinking venues were created. They became gathering spots for the gentlemen of the community to decide politics, swap tales and network. Restrictions were made to keep the establishments closed during certain times, but being a resourceful species we found a way to bring the venue into our homes.
By the mid-20th century the bar became a standard for all the suburban ranch houses. The first question asked when another couple came over was, “What would you like to drink?” It was the centerpiece of entertainment and the dad was the bartender.
Of course the bar had it’s own recipes and concoctions and utensils and glasses. A fully stocked bar had to have all the ingredients for any combination of drinks. Like the outside grill or riding mower, the bar was the pride and joy of the day.
Bartending was a man’s sport until tavern owners realized by having a woman bartender who looked like a hooker, the number of request for drinks grew and patrons stayed longer. Also bartending at home cut the pattern of the husband staggering home after a “business meeting” but also made available to women libations to help the daily chores of ironing, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children go by.
So much is said for gun control or automotive speed limits or even illegal substances, but alcohol in all its variations seems to cause some problems.
There are approximately 80,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States according to the CDC. This makes excessive alcohol use the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation. In 2006, there were more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion.
The rules are don’t drink if pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant (but that is probably the way you will get pregnant), don’t drink until you are a certain age (as if that is going to stop you) and don’t drink and drive (unless they don’t catch you). What the rules don’t count on is we like to be impaired. We like to have an excuse for being silly or obnoxious or even dangerous. We don’t like the morning after hangover.
My parents had a cabinet at the top of the stairs with lots of fancy bottles. My dad, running a private club, had access to lots of distillers and distributors so he could have his choice of the “good stuff”. I don’t remember seeing my parents drink together but there are photos of couples coming by the house being entertained. I do remember we had all sorts of glasses that were not for milk. We even had glasses that when you filled it with a liquid the lady on the front of the glass lost her bathing suit. I never was interested into breaking into any of the bottles.
I learned drinking from my Libbie friends. We’d make fake ID cards and sneak into a local bar for expensive watered down beer. Now and then a bottle would be passed around but with so many people and so few bottles the results were not overwhelming. The thought at the time was you had to drink to be sociable, cool, like James Bond. This was still the time of the blue laws so access to liquor was difficult if not impossible. Dads would lock up their bar before they locked up a gun closet.
I had some bad experience with liquor growing up so when I was of age to buy my own, I purchased wine. I thought this would be more cosmopolitan and suave. To entertain, my wife and I would invite our friends over for a wine tasting party. Cards and information about the wines were prepared and several bottles were purchased, but it seems our friends just wanted to get drunk and didn’t care what the wine tasted like.
Now my friends have bars and glasses and utensils and pride themselves on the variety of bottles in their possession.
So I’ve never had a bar. I don’t know how to prepare a slow gin fizz from a white Russian. So if you want to come over and be entertained with adult concoctions, BYOB. I will provide you with mass quantities of cheap beer or if you prefer the grape, but I only have one wine glass unless you want to drink out of a cup.

I Learned That From My Dad

Another day in the sunshine pondering about the latest Superman movie, I wonder how does he cut his hair? In this movie Superman, er, Clark Kent has a beard. What a great marketing promotion for Gillette to show they have blades sharp enough and strong enough to shave Superman. Where are the other marketers? How about toenail clippers? How about deodorant?  You know the man of steel must work up a sweat saving the world in that tight outfit. Might take a bit more than Axel body spray.
But today is that day that we remember our fathers or dads or pops. The guy who did what he did causing us to be here.
I talk about this every year because my dad is not here to reminisce and I only have a fleeting memory of when he was around. He was beyond middle age when I arrived and did his best to provide for my being. I was schooled and fed and clothed and followed the provincial patterned of what a youth of culture and social upbringing should do.
So the question is: “What did I learn from my dad?”
Some boys will say they learned how to play baseball from their dad or taught how to work on their car from their dad or learned how to fish or drive or even to talk to girls from their dad. Some dads were even the first dance partners for their daughters.
My dad taught me that when he came home from a long day at work, I was to go to my room and leave him alone. He would sit on the porch and watch television and was not to be disturbed. His only hobby was to sit out in the heat of the yard and pick ticks off his dog or paint the little shed. He worked later hours, perhaps to stay away from the household, and slept in church. He enjoyed providing for Christmas and was always “on” around people he needed to impress. Perhaps I learned emotional interaction or lack there of from him? Sometimes we know our day and sometimes we don't.
I don’t remember being punished by my dad or if I did it just washed over me. I think dad sort of passed that thing onto mom to handle. Dad and I did have that “birds and bees” talk but only when I was on acid and had already impregnated three girls. Maybe I learned that silence was better than confrontation?
I never heard him talk about his family or knew any of his history? I never knew why he played violin? I never knew why he shifted to trumpet? Maybe he taught me to play music to get out of advance calculus or a foreign language? Because he was my dad, his stories are my stories.
These are just observations years after he is gone. My brother may have learned something else from him, but my dad mostly left me alone. He put me into organizations like scouts or camp or choir, he helped me get into college and provided my brother and I great weddings but never sat down teaching me how to drive a nail or ride a bike. Maybe he just wanted me to learn as I went along or thought he had nothing to teach me?
Two years after my dad died, I moved from my big brick house to a simpler life to deal with his leftovers. It is said we suffer from their absence so we lay them out, dig a hole, drop them in and walk away. Maybe that was his big lesson of how a son can become a husband to a wife and a mother? Maybe that was his big escape?
My dad did teach me how to use typography to draw signs and that came in handy in my professional career. I still have the book of hand lettered type fonts. So I guess I did learn something from my dad?
Thanks pop!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


The word prejudice refers to prejudgment.  Prejudgment can be taught or learned but is not engrained in our DNA when we are born. Parents can teach prejudice, the church can teach prejudice, the school can teach prejudice, friends can teach prejudice and even culture can teach prejudice.  Prejudgments toward people because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality or other personal characteristics affects our perceptions of those around us. Prejudice can be a negative influence or predispose an irrational experience.
Growing up in the 50’s, there was plenty of prejudice around. Our society was under the fear of nuclear war with the Commies, the Jim Crow south treated blacks as if they were third world aliens, women were second class citizens, anyone who did not speak English was suspicious, and homosexuality was never spoken of except in church. For that matter, sexuality was never spoken of except in the underground. Families accepted all this prejudgment as the status quo.
Through the next couple of decades many of these prejudgments were protested as irrational and laws made to change the way our country reacted. Of course laws can be made but human psyche takes time to change.
I remember seeing the one-room schools and shanty shacks on the side of the road when traveling in the rural south. I remember seeing chain gangs overviewed by guards with shotguns like slaves. All these were passing photo shoots back to my white bread existence. I had to read and watch movies to experience what was happening to those who lived on the other side of Broad Street.
I don’t remember my parents or any of their friends showing overt bigotry but I’m sure it was there. My schoolmates didn’t show any bigotry but our schools were still segregated. We played games in old civil war embankments. We had the confederate battle flag on our walls. We saw and talked to people who fought in the war or were children or wives of those who fought for the lost cause and owned slaves.
As our schools were integrated we looked at each other in wonder but did not intermingle. The little contact our two cultures had were polite and conjugal but brief. There was no personal fear or aggression but just little understanding of people who grew up on the other side of the city.
College brought a mingling of different ethnic backgrounds and perhaps our age began to understand and accept the changes. At the same time, our status quo mentality was changing to create yet another culture that caused prejudice against us for our different look, even by our parents.
So why do I mention this? Obliviously we all have our prejudices whether we admit it to ourselves or not.
The other day I saw an interracial couple and it made me uncomfortable. They could have been just good friends or married partners but it reminded me of my prejudice.
Unfortunately I knew too many girls who were damaged by their first interracial relationships so maybe that is why I was uncomfortable. Maybe it was my conservative dating techniques that were not equal to the assertive methods that I did not understand.
Whatever the reason or cause, I know it is part of who I am. I’m not a bigot or a racist but I accept that something’s will make me uncomfortable and I must live with it. I’ve always thought that it takes a generation to change a prejudice.
Wish the couple well and like so many changes that have come through my lifetime I will adapt but will carry my known and unknown prejudices to the grave.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What would happen if….?

We don’t think about the affects of our actions when we are young. Without the experience to know better, we go into bizarre and sometimes dangerous situations.
So now at an older age the thought turns to dementia. It may be termed as Alzheimer’s or cognitive deterioration. What it really means is if you wake up you don’t know what to do.
As scary as it sounds, this confusion may come to you. How do you plan for it? Do you have enough support groups to take care of you?
We all know the body wears out. The joints don’t work the way they did when you were 20. The food you eat doesn’t burn off as well as when your metabolism was churning. Walking up steps may present a problem breathing or just sleeping. Bones get brittle and age slows us down.
But not being able to recognize a family member or your own shoes is the most freighting experience I believe any human being can face. To one day wake up and not know where you are or who the people around you are is sheer terror.
Imagine being found wandering around without any knowledge to address or family? Your identity can be maybe found through fingerprints but even that may not give authorities any leads to family or friends.
Many of those we pass over or incarcerate can be categorizes as just homeless or crazy, but they are children and brothers and sisters and perhaps fathers and mothers who have lost their way. A vast amount of assistance is available for those who are “confused” but in the long run, there is no cure but death.
If you watch people who have mental illness you may see some patterns. People who are “confused” want to find a rhythm to a daily routine. Look back, if you can, to their normal routines before dementia took hold and you will see what makes them happy. These are daily processes that made their life worthwhile.
No one really wants to look forward to this, but it may become a reality. Some of us may go, or pass, or die or however you want to declare it before our mind starts to wander, but the rest of us must weight this option in our family and insurance.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So how is that working for you? The recent announcements that the government knows more about you than you had intended should not be such a surprise.
Don’t you remember the Internet? It is all about the freedom to talk to anyone anywhere at anytime. You could go to newspapers, videos, books, and even social meetings all around. And all you ever paid for was the cost of the transportation, like tolls on a highway. Did you really think that?
Perhaps you forgot that everywhere you went you were asked for information. “It’s free, just give us your email address and password.” What do they need with your email address? And did you notice that when you clicked on an ad or some websites that other similar ads show up? You didn’t think you were being tracked?
It started with mail. You would go into a store, purchase something, give your address to have it delivered, and the next thing you know you are getting junk mail. After that was the credit card. What a great offer. You get to spend money you don’t have but every time your card was swiped another company had your purchasing history. Maybe we forgot when the Internet is plugged in, your computer (or tablet or whatever) has an IP address. This is just like your street address or phone number. It tells whomever you see on your journey who you are and where you came from.
My first experience with this “tracking” was the telephone. As soon as everyone in the office had a personal telephone instead of a shared line, management started requesting printout records of the numbers of calls made, the number of minutes of the cal and the number connected. When employees were questioned about some calls, they did not realize they were being monitored on company telephones. Then cell phones came and there was no way for monitoring calls.
As we migrated to enterprise systems the computers could be checked as never before. As a management tool, I would do weekly reports of when the computer was turned on, how many functions it did and when, and when it had downtime. These reports showed patterns that sometimes presented opportunities for advancement and at times, disciplinary action was taken.
After personnel tools were used, the ingredients of the company, all the “stuff” that goes through the network and stacks up with no one knowing what it was or how important it was to keep, was focused on. From a total paper reserve to basic mainframe technology, the “stuff” was lost and recreated again and again. Quality and naming and size and usage was the circular for evaluating the “stuff” and performing the necessary for achieving or keeping active or an agreeable timeline to be purged. The metadata became a fluid process.
So are you worried about your privacy? Get over it. Sure you can drop off Facebook or change your email address or put filters and protection software on your devices but the damage is done. If you want to drop off the grid and live in a box just remember. So many people from the government to your bank to your browser know more about you than your friends.
Other than banking information, these are things we want people to know. Where did you go to school? How many children do you have? Who are you married to? What kind of car do you have? What is your favorite food? What music do you like? Where do you shop? Where do you work? Do you have any photos of your last vacation?
The next time you pick up the phone or log onto email remember, someone out there can be watching you.