Monday, November 30, 2015

Who The Hell Taught You That?

Everything we do; we’ve learned. Someone else either showed up how or we picked it up accidentally from listening or watching or experiencing along the way.
Our family was probably our first influence to knowledge. Our mom and dad (either together or separately) had to cover the basics of life. How to poop in a bowl or choose the correct utensil or sleep when we get cranky and wake up with the sun were all taught by our family first.
Then there were the secondary teachings no one documents. How mom and dad interact and their mannerisms and accents and vocal expressions mold our future society encounters. Even siblings form our small world and for better or worse are our closest friends. Brothers and sisters are not adults. The interplay of these people during our formative years teach us how to react to conflict, holidays, discipline, affection, conformity, values and even faith.
Cousins are our second teachers. They are still part of a family name but were raised by different adults in other locations. Cousins expand our society and whether we like them or not, we must accept them and their new ideas and ways.
Once of an age where we can dress ourselves the adults send us to formal education. In another building a group of kids that are the same age are assigned to sit at desk and follow a process of instruction and testing to accomplish a pre-determined curriculum. Basic skills of reading, writing, and math are repeatedly drummed into a classroom until we responded with the correct answer. Grades were given for parents to review how smart their kids were. For the first time, more than our behavior at home was judging us.
As we grew up and continued the routine of going to school in the fall and lasting through the winter only for a break in the summer, we followed more complicated instructions building upon what we should have learned in an early grade. We, mere children, were being asked to use our learned data and actually think.
Outside influences were also seeping into our knowledge base. Radio, television, new friends, books, magazines, and ultimately hormones were changing our views, ideas and shoe sizes. We started to focus on certain cultural, scientific, historical, artistic and even religionist thoughts that could become a future career. Chemistry might have been interesting but biology was much more curious in the backseat of a car.
University offered us the ideas of philosophy, sociality, psychology, and all the other ‘ologys that expanded our thought process, yet we were already biased by years of previous learning repetition filtering our conclusions. Unlike children who have no power to act on their thoughts, we have the aforementioned knowledge and now the age to make our own decisions. We can vote and find gainful employment and promote our skills and purchase expensive items and even decide or agree to live with another.
Unfortunately we never get taught how to raise a family or pay late charges or tolerate unpleasant neighbors or traffic jams or disinterested bosses or uncaring wives or naughty children….
Yet the question is ‘Who the hell taught you that?’
All those bad habits we have learned over the years along with algebra, strategic initiatives and quantum physics are part of our personality. A potty mouth could be associated to a cousin or a co-worker who didn’t have a complete understanding of the Queen’s English. Raising your leg when you fart could be an initiation to a team tradition or observed and copied from an adult. Even the worst or best meal may give us digestion discomfort but do we belch and laugh? Kids will flick boogers and enjoy the action until punished for bad behavior, but the lesson has already been learned.
The next cold or flu or just sinus infection may cause mucus to flow and we revert to our baby habits. Pick you nose with pride. Someone taught you that.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Did You Ever Wonder?

Not so much about the stars or the answer to a math question or how a pizza can get made and delivered in a half hour, but those strange questions that come to mind. This is why the Internet was created. This is what Google is for.
Not so much of why the city doesn’t fill that pothole at the end of the street but what is that stuff they fill it with and does it get into the water table and why doesn’t it last longer? Not if the window is leaking air but will the window last another year before replacing it? Not so much of wondering if Christmas will be on the 25th but thinking about those presents in the wrapped boxes and wondering is that enough?
The brain is an interesting organ that not only processes thousands of thoughts and sending answers to questions like should I poop now or is this hot or is this love or indigestion? The brain also comes up with poetry and songs and weird scientific ideas of gravity or the proper mixes of gravy.
Why do we question so many things? We want to solve the mysteries of Sherlock or ponder the interpretations of our beliefs or even ponder the instructions on the side of the box and think that is not enough time in the microwave.
We can numb our wanderings through the conscious but when it comes back, we start to wonder all over again. We can’t help ourselves. Is there a difference in signing in foreign languages? How do you apply an accent? Once a cake falls, can you get it back up? If a woman were the Pope, would she be the Popess? Why did you shoe size shift from 10 to 13 when they ere manufactured overseas? Does your grass grow faster than your hair?
Perhaps our specialized education is supposed to give us enough background on a particular field to focus on one subject to wonder. The more knowledge we gain only creates more questions than answers. Yet our intelligence can have conflicts with emotions and swayed by other influences.
So as long as we wonder we will keep our mind active and alive so I guess it is a good thing. Why is the sky blue? Is my blue the same as your blue? How high is the sky?
Our algorithms calculate a world of wonder to conceive and to contemplate. Could I wear a brown suit with black shoes? Could I wear a blue suit with brown shoes? If I say what she wants to hear, do I really mean it? Does she understand what I am trying to say? What am I trying to say?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Stink!

You can’t help it. We all have a certain aroma that defines us.
There is an industry to try and block our odor but they wash off and we come back to our own stink.
If we work out or even a struggle with yard work, our bodies can create a stench. Once the gnats start swirling and others move away it is time to take control of your own odor.
Yet our BO defines us as much as our height, hair or eyes color. Those close to us will accept our unique fragrance and tolerate our personal stink.
Animals seem to us personal stink to clarify items and situations and even individuals, but we try to disguise ourselves in acceptable scents. We even light candles and purchase devices to fill a room with vanilla or cinnamon or pine to cover our stink.
So enjoy this season of holly and wreaths and homemade goodies and oven cooking wafting through the air. It won’t smell this good until spring when the windows can be opened.
Until then lots of air fresheners and watch the burritos. That stink nobody likes.

Look In The Mirror

What do you see?

Everyone has them; some more than others. Some have them in every room. Everyone has them in the bathroom. Some are long and tall and some are on tables with lights.
And when you look in one what do you see?
Every morning we brush out teeth or shave or comb our hair or just stare to wakeup to that face. Everyday the image is a history of our time. That is unless you are a vampire.
What if you took all the looking glass away? How would you tell if your hair is combed or if you have a big pimple on your nose or if your tie is on straight? How would you know if that jacket fits with that blouse with that skirt? How in the world would you put on makeup or shave?
You could try and catch a glass in a store window or a car windshield or even a puddle. If people look at you and then avert their eyes, you know you did it wrong but it is too late.
All the looking glasses have been removed from my house for painting. I need to shave. How will I do that? Is there an app? Will the selfie camera on the phone work? Maybe it is time to grow a beard?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Knock! Knock!

Who’s there?

With all the talk of migrations and refugees and security concerns and all that, I’ve got to ask a personal question.
“Would you let them into your house?”
There is always a ‘them’ for if it was an ‘us’ we’d be knocking on the door.
I will not get into political wrangling or religious woes but will relate some personal experiences.
Back in the day, the census was taken by people going house-to-house knocking on the door with a clipboard of questions. Since you knew they were coming and the government said it was “OK” and they looked like ‘us’ we’d let them into our living rooms and offer them a cup of coffee while answering their questions that would now be termed personal surveillance. People selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners would also knock offering bargains not available at the local department store. Even people who were in traffic accidents would knock asking to use the landline phone (yes, kids, there was a time of no cell phones).
But at night the locks were latched providing safety to the family.
Neighbors and family were always welcomed into the house. Kids were brought in for birthday parties and sleepovers with no fear or anxiety. Business partners and their guest were invited to share the stores of alcohol and burn the carpet for it was what was necessary to climb the corporate ladder. Backyard barbeques welcome complete strangers to explore your sanctuary and use the facilities without question.
Some even adopted through churches or other charitable organizations strangers to become part of a family. It was a symbol of pride in our global conciseness and community compassion and personal humanity. There is probably something written in all those religious teachings about opening the door but I can’t give you chapter or verse.
There are also extended family members we welcome into our humble abodes to throw up hairballs and pee at the most inappropriate times but we love them.
There is a bit of trust that must be displayed to welcome a stranger into your personal space. It is human psychology to feel threaten by the unknown until a trusting association can be established; yet overwhelming fear and rejection only shows a cowards attempt to expand social understanding.
Remember you let these guys in and then call the exterminator.
So when ‘they’ come knocking, what will you do? Open the door with welcoming arms or turn out the lights and hide in silence until ‘they’ go away.
And next time ‘you’ might be on the other side of the door.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

You’re Entitled

If you have some extra money after your bills are paid or have good credit to purchase what you can’t afford or have a linage of someone who long ago was important or hold a position of power in an organization, are you entitled?
If you buy the ticket are you entitled to take a seat and watch a show? If you spend extra money, are you entitled to be closer to the stage? Your money entitles you to a better seat?
We all have egos but believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment goes a bit too far. We all come in the same way and we all go out the same way.
Yet there are some, perhaps too many, who feel they have a right to go to the front of the line. For whatever reason, the rest of us let them butt in and get away with it. We might complain, but we do not take any action. Who is at fault?
Being born into an accepting society without fear or want makes a difference. Having the privilege to attend the best schools and churches and shop at the finest retail establishments and be served at the acclaimed dining venues we held our heads up proud due to the color of your skin because it made a difference.
Our people have decided we were entitled to poke holes in our ground, disembowel our mountains, pollute our waters, slaughter our animal neighbors, make waste of our forest. Because we are entitled we can fill our lands with plastic non-biodegradable waste, choke our breathing in our insatiable need to travel and treat half our species as second-rate citizens of this blue marble.
With all our efforts and our well-earned accolades, we are all entitled to die. I guess that is the biggest reward of all.
PS. Those are some fine threads and jewelry folks.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


It is an interesting tradition to walk to the mailbox and peek inside hoping for a letter. With all the electronic communication and social media, there is still a thrill to find an envelope with your name written on it.
Someone has taken the time to put pen to paper and write down thoughts without wanting immediate response gratification. For letters take some focus to write without spell-check and a delete button. Even with an accomplished English vocabulary and firm knowledge of adjectives and adverbs, when a sentence doesn’t the piece of paper must be balled up and thrown in the trash and the message started all over again.
Receiving a handwritten letter is like a Christmas present. Inside that envelope is a mystery. Good news? Bad news? Random thoughts or a life changing comment could be within? You open the paper as if an ancient secret document.
To write a letter, you must have stationary and a pen (pencils are for notes) and a quiet place to gather your thoughts. Writing a letter is a reserved moment not a multi-tasking event. Each sentence is thought out before scratching ink to paper. A formal address and welcome plus  proper ending will format the page or two or three of reading for another.
A lick of a tongue like a kiss seals the message before delivering it to another who will promise to forward the stamped folder to the intended reader. Some will arrive on scented paper, some will posses small items of relevance, and some are just fluid message that can be read over and over again digesting each word with multiple meanings.
In most letters there are words not written between the lines to be deciphered by the reader. Replies must be thoughtfully written to ask the right questions without reveling too much of the answer.
Place in the post and await a reply. It is a strange game these letter present but when the long distant conversation is started can be most exciting and the possible return become a thrill to the mundane act of picking up the mail.
“To whom it may concern”


It stopped raining today. There was still enough humidity in the cool air to give a chill. Not a chill like a Halloween night where there is still a late feel of a summer evening but a chill to the bone that lets you know the dark days of winter are on the way.
With little peeks of sunshine, the adventurous were out trying to get in the exercise that was missed yesterday due to the rain. The same is true for me. A day without riding clogs up my sinuses doesn’t unkink my aches and pains and doesn’t really get my motor running. I thought I’d missed the church crowd, but there was a lot of traffic in the neighborhood. I guess drivers have to move the cars to unkink them too? I seem to remember a time when people would get in their cars just to ride around on Sunday. No particular place to go, just drive around to get out of the house.
The folks at the Tummy Temple seemed fairly glum. No smiling faces under all their layers of wool that made me think it must be colder than I thought. Maybe all their school’s teams lost yesterday?
Reload, check out and return home awaiting big boy football in my sweats. It is pure comfort of a winter Sunday afternoon. Gather some music and try to figure out a bass-line for a friend.
So what does any of this do with toothpaste?
Part of my daily routine is to brush my teeth. I’ve always brushed my teeth. It is nothing different everyday, just part of the routine. It is a activity that most of us do everyday without a thought. Of course the mussel and bustle of the household usually distract us.
So what does this daily activity promoted to children as a must hygiene habit have to do with anything?
As simple as the act of unscrewing the cap and squeezing out some goo onto a colored one sided brush to rub all over your mouth and then spit become routine and automatic, except when you are old and alone.
Do you remember the time it took for your grandmother to get dressed and prepare herself for the day? Every little detail is important. Tying shoes becomes a major accomplishment. Combing your hair can bond parent and child but it takes forever.
So for brushing your teeth some may need assistance. If they are not already in a jar, the same pattern of squeezing the tub and running the water and up and down and up and down and all around until the drool is spit.
Our promise to our dentist to floss and brush to maintain our pearly whites goes out the window when we started to smoke and drink and thought the latest gizmo with twirling electric brushes or strips made us feel we were doing out duty, once we found someone else who didn’t mind our bad breath, we put all those utensils in the medicine cabinet to catch dust.
There is an entire aisle of dental products with fancy glittering packages and false promises of eternal beauty but I buy the bargain brand (being my mother’s son). I religiously maintain the habit before I go out everyday and will continue for the only other thing I do in the bathroom should not get a mention.
All I ask is when you are standing in your skivvies looking at that odd face in the mirror churning away at a frothy mouth, cherish the chore as a wonderful activity that will become memorable as you grow older.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What is your agenda?

Everyone has one
What gets you going in the morning? Not the to-do list but the personal agenda you seek to accomplish. Besides the day-to-day chores, each of us has an agenda to drive us.
Our agenda may be to reach a goal or master a task or follow the heart. A meeting agenda can be a check off list of items to conclude before creating another agenda. A personal agenda may be a series of task to complete before watching the football game. An agenda can be self-defined or assigned by another.
 To become popular can be an agenda. To graduate from a prestigious school to impress a future employer can be an agenda. To buy a fancy car or watch or home can be an agenda. To make it thorough a hard workweek to party with your friends on weekends can be an agenda. To find the perfect mate can be an agenda. To please your parents can be an agenda. To get laid can be an agenda.
Our personality can be altered by our agenda. If our agenda is to promote a cause, for or against, our rationally thinking can be overwhelmed by our narrow focus to achieve our agenda. Like a one-trick-pony, we struggle to stay the course and not waver, for then our agenda would crumble.
Agendas can change as one after another is accomplished or they can be a constant reach for the golden ring that never comes. Two can have the same agenda causing friction, jealousy, stress and sometimes violence.
Like your day planner, make a list of what is most important to you. Then compare that with people who are close to you. Now zoom in on the number one point that keeps you going everyday. Is that your agenda?

Monday, November 2, 2015

War On Terrorism

Or how can we beat up the bullies?

Terrorism is any act designed to cause terror. BOO!
Is this Halloween?
Terrorism has been practiced by right-and left-wing political parties, nationalist groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.
What about the movies? What about amusement parks?
Maybe these bad guys are just bullies?
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. Bullying is repeated and habitual. Bullying asserts domination uses verbal harassment, threats or physical abuse. Differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size or ability can be rational for bullying. Bullies can form groups to become gangs or mobs. 
So are bullies terrorist?
If someone, a stranger, parks outside your house every night, is it an act of terror. If someone reports your dog barking to the police, is that an act of bullying?
There are so many examples when you feel fearful in a location that is not comfortable or see some people who radiate danger, real or unknown or become involved in a situation out of your control. It is all terrorism. 
Popeye used to open his can of spinach to beat up Blutto. How big is your can of spinach? With so much fear…. Excuse me terrorism, how will you protect yourself and your family against these bullies?
I’m not sure anyone I know believes themselves a terrorist, much less a bully….BUT….
Reading some of the comments on websites and responses to news stories astonishes me. How can there be so much hate? How can people throw around such anger? Are they bullies? Is this a form of terrorism?

Airing out your dirty laundry

It seems we like to do that. The juicer the conversation the more interest there is. It is in every checkout lane. There are magazines dedicated to it. Books, movies, songs and even plays are written to do it.
There is something about airing out our dirty laundry we all adore. If we are good at gossip we can hang out other’s dirty laundry. Sometimes the dirty laundry is real and sometimes it is just a factoid expanded upon by word of mouth.
No matter what a candidate for public office astounds to, the media digs through trash to find dirty laundry. Like skeletons in the closet, we all have some. Some have built a sizable wealth on displaying their dirty laundry.
So why do we love it so much?
Does it make us feel better that someone else has bigger problems than us? Knowing someone has had dirty laundry but has come through it and survived an admirable quality? Does sharing our dirty laundry bring us closer together?
Just be proud to air out your dirty laundry. It is what makes you interesting.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Turning out the light

Last night was Halloween…a night of wonder and pretend…a night of make believe and dress up… a night of fantasy.
Halloween, a made up holiday part religious and part excuse to celebrate silliness. It is also an excuse to feed your child (or inner child) with sugar just as the industry told you to do.
Last night I heard the laughter of the children. The neighbors were ready to receive a new batch of youngsters in a family setting that was protected from the woes and fear of this night.
Once upon a time, I’d sit on the porch and welcome the costumed kiddies with treats and enjoy their continuous parade, but something changed. It was not the pranks of Halloween but the constant pressure to provide for the dentist and doctors who must care for the overstuffed and obese youngsters.
There was a time when the holiday was reversed and it was called ‘Treat or Trick’. A group of older than children would go house-to-house and when the door was answered would give away treats instead of begging for handouts.
So as the kiddies get hyped up on candy and looking forward to the feast of Thanksgiving and then the opulence of Christmas, I turned out the light.

Word of Mouth

What is the truth?
Where do you get your information? You listen to people on the radio or television. You read newspapers, magazines, and books. You get bombarded with advertising, campaigns and questionable facts and figures supporting statements. You talk to friends and family and overhear strangers.
So much taken in and few filters to establish fact from fiction. What will you believe? How will you form your opinions?
Much of it is who do you believe. Does the person who is telling you information look like you? Do they fit into the acceptable genre? Do you trust they have presented their statement with reliable research? Do your friends confirm your interpretations of the information?
There are lots of comments on web-links agreeing or disagreeing with articles from established reporting sources. Some of these comments can be very rude and vulgar fogging the reader from the thought at hand. Like a Pavlov dog, enough of this nonsense can persuade someone to believe all sorts of crazy.
My advice is to listen closely to what is being said and who is saying it. Check out the facts if you question or scroll on for tomorrow there will be a whole new set of talking points.
Just smile, nod your head and move on, for in the long run, it just doesn’t matter.