Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memoriam

It is the end of another year and the list come out. What were the favorite books or music or movies in the past year?
Then we list all the folks who croaked. No, that doesn’t sound sensitive enough for the New Year.
The list of famous folks who won’t be around for the coming year is a yearly ritual of remembrance. The ones who have passed or gone to the great beyond or crossed over or gone to live with Pa-Pa and Nana or sitting at the side of Jesus.
Here is the celebrity list:
Pat Harrington Jr. Known for being a super, David Bowie Androgynous singer from Mars, René Angélil Rich guy who paid for his wife to become famous, Alan Rickman British bad man in kids movies, Dan Haggerty Aka Grizzly Adams, Glenn Frey One eagle, Abe Vigoda For real this time, Paul Kantner Hippy who couldn’t fly, Joe Alaskey Aka Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Maurice White Not Barry and not white, Dave Mirra Big boy riding little boy bikes, Edgar Mitchell Sixth man on the moon but who is counting after the first, Vanity Who wanted to be Prince but was really Denise Katrina Matthews, Antonin Scalia Conservative judge, George Gaynes  Aka Punky Brewster, Boutros Boutros-Ghali Egyptian diplomat, Angela “Big Ang” Raiola From Mad Wives, (see how you start forgetting about them), Harper Lee Who used a child’s eye view to racism, Umberto Eco Italian author, Sonny James Turned pop songs into country hits, Tony Burton Aka Apollo Creed, George Kennedy Not related to Jack or Bobby, Lee Reherman An American gladiator, Joey Feek ½ of Joey & Rory, Pat Conroy Another author, Nancy Reagan Gone on to be with Ronnie, George Martin Who some say created the Beatle’s sound, Keith Emerson Who rocked Bach, shortly followed by Greg Lake, Frank Sinatra Jr. Who couldn’t live up to his father’s expectations, Bob Ebeling Who worked on the Challenger rocket-booster, Phife Dawg Witty wordplay lyrist, Rob Ford Politician who was a better comedian, Joe Garagiola The godfather of baseball, Garry Shandling Some thought he was funny, Jim Harrison
Fiction writer, poet and outdoorsman, Mother Mary Angelica Nun who started a television show, Patty Duke Best known for being blind and deaf and dumb, not Tommy, Erik Bauersfeld Voice of Star Wars character, Merle Haggard Country singer/outlaw, David Gest Married to Judy Garland’s daughter, David Gest Played Raymond’s meddling mother,
Les Waas Created the Mr Softee jingle, Chyna Female wrestler, Prince The ‘other’ Michael Jackson, Michelle McNamara Crime writer,
Isabelle Dinoire French woman who got a partial face transplant, Papa Wemba The king of the Congolese rumba, Billy Paul Jazz and soul singer,
Afeni Shakur Davis Former Black Panther and mother of Tupac, Jane Little The world’s longest serving symphony player, Emilio Navaira King of Tejano music, Guy Clark Mentor to a generation of songwriters, Morley Safer One of the early voices of 60 Minutes, Alan Young Famous for talking to a horse, Nick Menza Former drummer for Megadeath, Muhammad Ali Silver tongued boxer and civil right activist, Kimbo Slice
Street fighter, Theresa Saldana Survived a stalker’s attack to become a crime victim’s advocate, Gordie Howe Mr. Hockey, Christina Grimmie Gained popularity on The Voice, Anton Yelchin Chekov replacement, Ralph Stanley The godfather of traditional bluegrass music, Bernie Worrell
The Wizard of Woo defining Parliament Funkadelic sound, Bill Cunningham New York Times street style photographer, Alvin Toffler The guru of the post-industrial age predicting the transformations of the digital technology, Buddy Ryan Longtime football coach, Scotty Moore Elvis’ guitar player, Pat Summitt The winningest coach in Division I basketball history, Elie Wiesel Holocaust survivor and humanitarian, Michael Cimino Oscar winning film director, Noel Neill The first real Lois Lane, Abbas Kiarostami Iranian director who work through governmental resistance, Garry Marshall Writer and director of popular television shows, Mark Takai Long-time U.S. representative and war veteran, Rev. Tim LaHaye Co-author of end-time prophecy, Miss Cleo
Television actress playing Jamaican psychic, David Huddleston Character actor in the movies, Pete Fountain Dixieland jazz virtuoso clarinetist, Barry Jenner Veteran character actor, Kenny Baker Played droid R2-D2, Fyvush Finkel Emmy winning actor of stage and screen, John McLaughlin
Conservative moderator, Lou Pearlman Boy band mogul, Matt Roberts
Guitarist for 3 Doors Down, Toots Thielemans Belgian harmonica player of jazz and film scores, Steven Hill Versatile actor of theater, film and television, Sonia Rykiel French designer called the Queen of Knitwear,
Juan Gabriel Mexican singer/songwriter and Latin music icon, Gene Wilder Comedic movie actor, Jon Polito Raspy voiced character actor, Jerry Heller Recording impresario, Phyllis Schlafly Outspoken conservative activist, Lady Chablis Transgender performer, Greta Zimmer Friedman
Photographed the sailor smooching the nurse at the end of WWII, Alexis Arqueete Pioneering transgender actress, Edward Albee Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, W.P. Kinsella Canadian novelist and lover of baseball,
Curtis Hanson Oscar winning screenwriter, Shawty Lo Atlanta rapper aka Carlos Walker, Bill Nunn Veteran character actor, José Fernández Miami Marlins’ pitcher, Arnold Palmer Golfing great, Shimon Peres Israeli president and prime minister, Tommy Ford Television actor, King Bhumibol Adulyadej Thailand’s longest reining monarch, Steve Dillon Comic book artist, Janet Reno The first woman U.S. Attorney General,
Leonard Cohen Canadian singer/songwriter, Robert Vaughn Screen and television actor, Leon Russell Singer/songwriter and pianist, Gwen Ifill Veteran journalist and PBS news anchor, Holly Dunn Country singer,
Sharon Jones Singer who shepherded a soul revival, Florence Henderson
Broadway star and momma Brady, Fidel Castro Bearded revolutionary who defied the United States, Ron Glass Veteran film and television actor, Grant Tinker Television broadcasting legend and former NBC chairman, Greg Lake Guitarist, singer/songwriter for progressive rock bands, John Glenn U.S. Senator and the first person to orbit the earth, Joseph Mascolo Iconic villain Stefano DiMera, E.R. Braithwaite Guyanese author, educator and diplomat, Alan Thicke Versatile television actor, Craig Sager Longtime sports broadcaster with a passion for colorful attire, China Machado
Groundbreaking model and fashion editor, Zsa Zsa Gabor Hungarian beauty queen turned Hollywood icon, George Michael Pop singer and heartthrob, Ricky Harris Comedian, actor, hip-hop artist, Richard Adams British author of children’s books, Barbara Tarbuck Television actress, Carrie Fisher Aka Princess Lela, Debbie Reynolds Mother of Princess Lela

Now these are just the celebrities who get their write-ups in the magazines but there are lots of others. The list goes on and on and on. The exodus that ended in the ocean for refugees from war, the soldiers in multi-wars and their victims, distracted drivers, senseless acts of violence just add up to a longer list.
  What about:

Gabriel Robert Edward CARRILLO Jr., our angel, who was born September 28, 2016, spread his wings and went back to be with the Lord on December 27, 2016. Glenna Mae LOVING, of Richmond, Virginia, departed this life December 27, 2016. Mrs. Edna B. WALKER, age 96, of South Hill, died Friday, December 30, 2016. Jean W. GREGORY, 78, passed away peacefully in her home in Chester, Va., on December 28, 2016, surrounded by her children

The celebrities we have some back story to because we’ve read all the tabloids about who they married and where they party and what they wear and how bad they look in bathing suits, but Gabriel wasn’t here very long and Glenna Mae may have fascinating interest that only her family and friends know and Edna lived through the depression and Jean might have had some problems that will never be discussed.
There are more and more every day because life in finite. While the grim reaper continues to gather us up, we give pause at the end of the year to remember those who have gone before us into the unknown.
There will be Obituaries and Ceremonies and Eulogies and the holding hands and burning candles and lots of tears. Then the dark clothing will be put away and those of us who are left move on.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Lord Moves In Mysterious Ways


The doorbell rings and then a knock on the door. I open the door and there stands a short little wisp of a guy his red hair and scruffy beard sticking out from under a stocking cap, dirty layers of sweats, gloves and a big toothless grin. “Hi. I’m Rooster.”
I’d heard some voices next door as my neighbor was working on his motorcycle. They kept yelling at him and he couldn’t hear them. Finally they got his attention but I didn’t listen to their conversation.
“We are doing some tree work for your neighbor and wanted to know if we could get into your yard.” Rooster said as quickly as the words could be formed. “If you need any work done around here…” he started his pitch but I stopped him by saying, “Well, there is something you can do.” Rooster’s wild eyes perked up and I showed him the side of the house.
“Here are some crape myrtles that, as you see, I’ve been cutting back. Could you give me a price on finishing the job and removing the branches?” I turned back around and Rooster was gone and a large black man was looking up nervously. I look over the fence and another group are gathering and another guy walks up and says, “Hi I’m your neighbor.”
In the mist of the growing confusion, Rooster calls out. I walk toward him and he gives me an estimate. “We can cut all that down for five.” “Five?” I reply. “Five for the whole job.” “Five hundred?” I searched for details. Rooster while starting to direct his ever growing crew replied, “Yes sir.”
A few years ago I’d hired a reputable tree service to do the same job for $400, but this task had been on my ‘to-do’ list for some time. I figured I could do it myself and had started but these fifty-foot branches were awkward and hard to handle when I also had a power saw in my hands. I had plans to do some more cutting today but when I heard my neighbor working on his cycle I decided to wait. I didn’t want these swaying branches come crashing down on his fence or possibly hitting his house while he is there.
“Sir, this tree has some serious wood bores and we can cut that down too while we are here. I’ll throw that in for another 5.” Rooster is speaking as fast as any speed freak but I got the drift. “I’ll even trim back these bushes so you can….”
“Whom do I make the check to?”
When I come back from my morning bike ride, Rooster is up in the neighbor’s tree dangling from ropes directing his cutting crew on how the branches will swing amid the roar of chain saws and flying sawdust. Branches and stumps were being dragged in both yards to several pickup trucks parked in the alley. There was no shredder or grinder, just a pile of sticks.
Rooster and his motley crew, who were all very pleasant or possibly high, did their work, packed up most of their tools and were on their way by early afternoon.
I picked up the remainder branches that didn’t make the truck. Next spring there will be a lot lighter in my sunrises.
Also on my ‘to-do’ list was to remove the landline for a service I cancelled years ago. The cord was chopped and removed at the same time so another project checked off. Even with all the strangers trampling about the yard, the anxiety and payment was worth it.
The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Protest


How is that working for you?
You don’t like something and you protest.
Rally or demonstration: Demonstration, rally, etc. without reference to marching or walking in a picket line or standing in a vigil. Reference to speeches, speakers, singing, preaching, often verified by indication of sound equipment of PA and sometimes by a platform or stage. Ordinarily will include worship services, speeches, briefings.
March: Reference to moving from one location to another; to be distinguished from rotating or walking in a circle with picket signs that by definition, constitutes a picket.
Vigil: These are almost always designated as such, although sometimes “silent witness,” and “meditation” are code words; also see candlelight vigil; hunger/fasting vigil; If you find no designations re: vigils, meditations, silent witness, etc., but also no reference to sound systems or to marches, it may well be a vigil. Most vigils have banners, placards, or leaflets so that people passing by, despite silence from participants, can ascertain for what the vigil stands.
Picket: The modal activity is picketing; there may be references to picket line, to informational picketing; holding signs; “carrying signs and walking around in a circle”. Holding signs or placards or banners is not the defining criteria; rather, it is holding or carrying those items and walking a circular route, a phrase sometimes surprisingly found in the permit application.
Civil disobedience: Explicit protest that involves crossing barricade, sit-in of blacks where prohibited, use of “colored” bathrooms, voter registration drives, crossing barricades, tying up phone lines.
Ceremony: These celebrate or protest status transitions ranging from birth, death dates of individuals, organizations or nations, seasons, to re-enlistment or commissioning of military personnel, to the anniversaries of it. These are sometimes referenced by presenting flowers or wreaths commemorating or dedicating or celebrating status transitions or its anniversary; e.g., annual Merchant Marine memorial service; celebrate Chanukah, Easter, birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.);
Dramaturgical demonstration
Motorcade: (Electoral campaign and other issues)
Information distribution: tabling/ petition gathering, lobbying, letter-writing campaign, teach-ins.
Symbolic display: e.g. Menorah, Creche Scene, graffiti, cross burnings, signs, standing displays
Attack by instigators: Ethnic group victim of physical attack, by collective group (not-one-on-one assault, crime, rape). Boundary motivating attack is “other group's identity,” as in gay-bashing, lynching. Can also include verbal attack and/or threats, too.
Riot, melee, mob violence: Large-scale (50+), use of violence by instigators against persons, property, police, or buildings separately or in combination, lasting several hours.
Strike, slow down and sick-ins employee work protest of any kind: Regular airstrike through failure of negotiations, or wildcat airstrike.
Boycott: Organized refusal to buy or use a product or service, rent strikes.
Press conference: If specifically named as such in report, and must be the predominant activity form. Could involve disclosure of information to “educate the public” or influence various decision-makers.
Organization formation announcement or meeting announcement: meeting or press conference to announce the formation of a new organization.
Conflict, attack or clash, no instigator: This includes any boundary conflict in which no instigator can be identified, i.e. black/white conflicts, abortion/anti-abortion conflicts.
Lawsuit: legal maneuver by social movement organization or group.
Sit-ins, letters, riots, hunger strikes, conscientious objector, flag desecration, walkouts, soap boxing, boycotts, lectures, graffiti, occupation, book burning, self sacrifice and many more methods of protest.
Does it work to protest?
This country was built on protest. Unfair taxation, oppression by a standing army, and suppression by the government forced the general public to protest. Was it a rebellion? Was it an act of treason? Was it a revolution?
Once the dust settled people had to decide what to do next. That meant creating a new governmental democracy. That meant declaring the way forward that everyone agreed on.
Of course not everyone agreed on everything.
We even divided again to have a civil war only to be patched up later and still not everyone agreed on everything.
As we grew or aged, whichever is the better definition, we noticed others who agreed with our dislikes and protested to change our culture. The voting right act trying to reconcile the enslavement of people even after a proclamation by the president but still a work in progress. Women decided to go topless to get attention and society adjusted to their demands but still didn’t pay them equally. Gays, who had been underground for years, came out and complained about discrimination of their sexual preferences against all the established religious restrictions.
Protest can bring attention to an issue but can it change majority opinion?
Let us reflect on the Anti-War protest. There always seems to be a war and there always seems to be a movement against the war. Mothers and fathers who protest sending their children off to be shot at because of government whelm.
I personally remember my friends making signs and marching and shouting slogans and going to rallies and even sit-ins to change the flow of body bags coming home. Even the most fanatical would shelter themselves back into a quiet corner to read Tolstoy, Khomyakov, Rozanov, Aksakov, or even Socrates, Jefferson, Gandhi, Marx, and Sartre.
Fill the mind with philosophies of ‘what could be if…’ and many will follow the thread and expand on the thought. We are pretty good at that. We even invented religion.
Back to the point, our friends gather around and get all aroused and are ready to take on an issue they do not like. As the masses grow the group can disrupt traffic patterns, be tear gassed and even shot. If the violence escalates then it is war.
During my recollection of the 60’s protest against the war, I thought the point was people who didn’t know were getting drafted for a reason they didn’t understand and swept up and sent to a place that was foreign to fodder the targets. Others just didn’t want to have to interrupt their fun years to be shot at. The ‘silent majority’ who were our parents and what was referred to ‘middle America’ went blindly behind the propaganda until the body bags piled up with their children and grandchildren.
I knew times had changed when my father grew sideburns. So did Lawrence Welk and John Wayne.
All I can say is beat your drums and shout and scream but keep some restrained against civil disobedience because that solves nothing. After your throat is sore and your feet are tired, then what do you do?
Join all the organizations that promise they will lobby the power mongers to make thing better. Don’t forget to send a check because it is not all volunteer and remember to tell your friends to join too. Does that make you feel better?
The seals are still being clubbed; the whales are still being slaughtered; the nuclear waste still sits cooking; the atmosphere is still getting harder to breathe and the water murkier. Sign that petition and post an awareness of something that is deplorable that logically shouldn’t be and hope for the best. Hope you feel better.
That is my temper tantrum.

Where do we come up with this stuff?


Our species as flawed and apparently uncoordinated have a propensity for curiosity. We just don’t seem to be content with the way things are and are always looking for something different. Maybe that is how we evolved?
You’ve seen the videos on YouTube. People skiing off roofs or jumping into an inflatable pools from a ladder or blowing things up make us laugh. I don’t know if that says something about our mental understanding of the laws of physic or a slur on our society in general?
Yet we have invented electricity, telecommunications, filtration, and transportation by being curious. “What if” should be our motto? Our innovation continues to amaze with all the unique perspectives and interest of everything from outer space to insects to clothing fibers to skyscrapers. Our curiosity has manufactured concoctions that can ease our pain and weapons that can be propelled through our bodies.
Our constant investigation and documentation of findings will be passed down to other generations who will examine the conclusions. They will continue to analyze and redefined and will eventually we will find a cure to life threatening scare only to have another one follow.
It seems as long as we are curious we will poke our head down the rabbit hole or look up and ponder the meaning of the stars or still wonder how far we can leap off a roof without testing our hospitalization insurance.

Monday, December 26, 2016

What will you miss?


Have you ever considered what you would miss when you die?
I know it is a morbid thought and most people don’t want to go there but I have a point so bare with me.
All the rulebooks say you will miss your family and friends and your pets and all those worldly goods, but that ain’t true. That is what your friends and family and pets do to grieve while dividing up your worldly goods.
As you write your will or have a moment of peace during the hectic season of gift giving, you might want to think about this. For what is life all about but those memories?
While we keep photos around to remind us of experiences and times with others, what is the core moments that have affected our being.
Is it the feeling of sunshine on your face, the dampness of morning dew, the sound of falling leaves, the smell of spring flowers, the birds song awakening the morning, the sound of laughter of children on Christmas morning, the click-clack of horses hooves, the crackle of an open fire, the smell of coffee brewing, the scent of her hair, the delight of a summer rain, or the comforting warmth of a warm sweater on a frosty day?  
All these and many more may seem like insignificant details but they are the finer points of living. Take the time at night to stop and look up at the light show painting the darkness of our universe. Sit in a rocking chair and watch the trees dance during a storm. Take time to listen to the silence for it may not be there forever. Or maybe it will?
If the violence in the news, movies and books of today show, we may need to appreciate these wonders of life before it is too late.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Dinner For One


December 25, 2016: Sort of gray and cloudy and not very welcoming; a carry over from the raining day yesterday. Temperatures expected in the upper 40’s and dry today. No tree. No presents. No wrapping paper. No lights. No nativity figures. No carols. Morning coffee at 7AM and a search for “Deck the halls with Boston Charlie”. Even the late night eve shows of world music, progressive rock and blues were saturated with Christmas carols but I’d never heard this song before. I used to love Pogo for the pen style but never fully understood the content. Found a video copy and posted on social media and then back to bed for another nap until “This American Life”. More Christmas stories but they were wonderfully presented and thought provoking. The sun peaked through so I popped out of bed with a mission to do on this day. One more cup of Joe and I’m out the door with my bag of goodies. Stretching to prepare for my ride since I’d been idle yesterday I examined the neighborhood. Some houses were lifeless and dark even thought cars were parked in front. The silence was formidable and rather wonderful. I put on my usual uniform and went out to the vacant street with not another soul in sight. Then I noticed a person walking their dog. There is life on Christmas day. Wandering the damp streets I have time to notice decorations and changes to houses and yards without the worry of being run over. Some nice tasteful garnishes to houses along with the tacky inflatable items and seems like people in the neighborhood are starting to get into landscaping islands. Maybe humanity has some culture after all? My first destination was locked. I had a suspicion that it would be but I had to try. Plan B was easy to adjust to find a quiet spot with trees and water available for our neighbors. I spread out the feast and stepped back to watch. One by one the explorers find the buffet delicious and the word gets out. Soon before me all sorts of fuzzy and feathered friends are sharing the unexpected abundance. My job here is done. Now it is onto the next destination. The air is clear without all the additional traffic and the pace is casual. There shouldn’t be stress on Christmas day. Company 18. I lock up my bike not knowing how long I’ll stay but the entrance door opens and an inquisitive black man peers out. “Station 18” I ask. “Yes sir” he responds opening the door wider. I explain my mission is to forward a gift made to me by a neighbor and this year this fire station is the recipient. I offered a coffee cake made by Nessie, Cooper, and Jan to the fireman with compliments of appreciation for their duty and hoped they didn’t have to work today. It seemed to bring a smile to his face and I bid adieu. My mission was almost complete as I headed back home. Passing a few strangers walking the neighborhood parking lot no one acknowledge a greeting of the day. At the barely repaired back gate I had another delivery. Should I wait until dark and place the stocking of doggie treats on the front door but no; I found a branch on a tree that would easily fit the surprise to the pups and nice neighbor. I was also finished but there was still family to feed. They had been patiently waiting when I left and since the buffet hadn’t been opened yesterday. After stabling my pony I proceeded to spread out an array of sunflower seed, raw peanuts, and a new surprise of mixed-nuts with a variety they had never seen. The an assembly went to their familiar first but soon gathered their new gifts and proceed to take them away or bury them for later. Either way it was a very entertaining show all for the price of peanuts. Settling in for the rest of the dreary afternoon awaiting a late night football game and listening to Frank Zappa’s “The Evil Prince” to cleanse my ears of the Christmas carols dribble and relax in elastic pants while re-hydrating. Now that all the gifts have been delivered I have to remember that tomorrow is Monday and I’ll have to take out the trash. Will they pick-up tomorrow? Best to be prepared. The only other decision of the day will be what to have for the Christmas meal. After eating lots in the past couple of days due to the cool weather and the excitement of the season perhaps I should make something simple? Pancakes? Eggs with biscuits? Fruit plate? Will have to see what the cook has on the menu.
It is just another day in Just Another Life.

The Worst Christmas Ever


I tried but one year the dog ate my homework. It was beyond busy to hectic and there was no time for frivolous stuff like shopping for Christmas.
I had already ignored my family by the constant meetings and travel and unexpected requirements of a new job assignment. Planning was a luxury for every day there were new requirements and task that overwhelmed my time and effort.
Sure I knew Christmas was coming. It is on the calendar. Same date every year with the same expectations to provide gifts for those you love.
This year was different.
Each day I would try and set aside a moment to find some kind of a gift of meaning for the 25th day of December. Summer turned to fall then turned to December and there was barely time to sleep. The first week went by and then the second and Christmas was fast approaching. It was unavoidable and still I could not find a way to spend countless hours pushing a cart through hundreds of aisles packed with panicking folks in huge coats ransacking shelves of useless plastic toys and cheap clothing. The countdown had begun. 22-23-24. Times up.
On the eve of Christmas I left work late (as usual) and everything was closed. Even the bus ride home was mostly empty. I had to decide, “Do I go home empty handed” or “Do I find a way to at least show I made the effort”?
I got off the bus before my stop and went to the nearby 7-11.
These convenience stores are fine for the last minute purchasing of a quart of overpriced sugar drink or waiting in line behind the purchase of a dozen-lottery ticket with a slurpee melting in your hand, but they do not offer much of a selection for a meaningful Christmas present. I forgot what I bought but I tried to think of a funny story I could attach to the item that might get me out of the doghouse. Some magazine and candy and some treats for the four-legged members probably were my Santa bag items. As I paid for these memorable gifts I felt sorry for the immigrant working the register for I knew he or another like him would be working tomorrow, just as I would be too.
I made a hasty attempt to secretly wrap these marvelous and meaningful gifts then place them under the tree before a brief nap and an early alarm call to welcome Christmas.
A quick unwrapping over a cup of coffee and I was off to work leaving a household of piles of paper and a confused wife. What was I to do? I didn’t even have time later to make it up over a candlelit dinner or some time on the couch watching a movie.
Luckily the job calmed down and fell back into a manageable routine instead of an emergency. Did she ever understand that my life was out-of-control and forgive me? I’ll never know, but that was the worst Christmas ever.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Collaboration


Do you need somebody else to make you whole?
Whether the title is friend or associate or significant other or a million other titles, this other person makes you better than you are by yourself.
As a species we seem to tend to find another to be with because it is hard to do it alone. Thus the norm is to have a partner.
Being a couple fits in with parties and family gatherings and even occasions like weddings or funerals. We seem to need another person to lean on.
At work they are call partners or associates or some title that bonds you together. If there is good collaboration projects get done on time and profits are made and everyone enjoys the bonus of working together.
Like any team or group or organization, if there is no collaboration ideals fail and people will lose their jobs.
If you find a way to fit in with another and accept there differences collaboration can be accomplished.
In a personal relationship, a divorce may be the way to find a better solution. Collaboration must be an agreement of coordinating the best of both to make the union better.
Teams have to collaborate to accomplish plays and win games. Orchestras need to collaborate for the proper audio experience. A play is only successful if all the actors collaborate.
Seems like it is more productive to work with each other.
Have you learned your lesson yet?

New Friendly Resolution


It is never too early to start and plan your new year’s resolutions.
You can open the junk drawer and dust off last years list of eating less, exercising more, spending time with family and getting your chores done but they will still not get completed after the first week.
I checked my 2016 list and the major point was ‘respect others’.
Then we had the campaign for president and the on-going violence, hatred, bigotry. I questioned my resolution.
So I redefined my respect of people I knew to the values they showed during the year. This also meant reevaluation of the term ‘friend’.
 Trimming out my contact list I began to feel the world had gone mad until a guy at the grocery store renewed my faith in humanity.
My little interaction with other people is usually standing in a checkout line and a few words before I get my receipt. Most of these uniformed associates working at minimal wages on ever changing hours and somewhat mundane task are usually unresponsive but I still thank them (with respect) for the job they do supplying me with nutrition.
Still every now and then there is a flicker of customer service. A guy who bags and moves carts always seems in a good mood. Smiling with a friendly repertoire he quickly and pleasantly completes his duties as if he is having fun.
Every time I see this guy he waves and says, “Hello friend”. After a few brief conversations he noticed I ride a bike and he rides a scooter. Still I don’t know this guy anymore than Singing Sammy or Crazy Eddie, but when I see him he always has a positive attitude and a “Hello Friend” greeting.
So my new year’s resolution will be adding ‘friend’ to my vocabulary again. After a contentious year of bitterness I decided not to use proper names but just call people ‘friend’.

Publik Transport


Do you fly? Then you take publik transportation (unless you own your own plane).
When you board publik transport you lose your control and put your faith into someone else to get you to your destination safely and hopefully on time. The altitude of a metal cylinder propelled by propellers can be up to 39,000 feet, and folks that is 7 miles up in the air. If you get to land without falling out of the sky and getting your own set of wings, you might consider giving the pilot a tip.
Of course self-control is the goal so we invented the automobile. That monster metal mobile machine allows you and you alone to be in control of your travel, but not everyone has access to this delivery system.
If you don’t how do you move from place to place. There is a choice of riding another animal (if allowed) or pedal a bike or walk (the method we used to explore the globe and still the most reliable).  
So to solve the sore feet, we created the mode of publik transportation. Wagons, trolleys, trains and buses were produced to get our bodies from place to place on solid soil.
Yet the same lack of control keeps many from even considering the use. You have to wait, many time out in the element for the transport to arrive. You have to have the proper fee to pay and only have enough space to sit one or stand. Don’t plan on bringing any baggage or pets. Even with the tightest schedules there is always breakdowns and traffic backups and overbooking and detours to make your trip unpleasant.
Wait! The same things happen if you drive? Stacked up on a highway creating road rage or worse. The same is true for mechanical problems that make a quick trip to grandmas house an expensive ordeal, stressing out all the occupants.
So what is good about publik transport? It is inexpensive, there is no stress because someone else is driving, you get to meet lots of different people and the best part, become part of a quick movie drama for every trip has a different cast of characters.
I used publik transport to deliver me to and from my occupation for years and found it a dependable and many enjoyable few minutes to gather my thoughts before facing the challenges of the day. I could focus on myself or have a conversation with a stranger or overhear some bazaar communications between fellow passengers. It got me through snow drifts and was air-conditioned in the summer heat.
Try it sometime.

Friday, December 23, 2016

I Married A Hurricane


For the past couple of years I’ve been deconstructing. Now I’m to the point of constructing and after a summer of thinning out the yard and house for manageability, I look around and see “I married a hurricane”.
Sometimes we must pause and look back at life to appreciate what just happened. On reflection, I married a hurricane.
This woman went in so many different directions with such intensity I don’t know how I kept up. Everything that she found interest in she became engulfed in to the point of obsession. I may not have recognize or acknowledged her efforts at the time, but I was in the eye of the hurricane.
It was a gradual change in life. The bedroom would be moved to another room. The kitchen would be taken out. The entire house would be painted.
Small little variations became more expressive ventures. Gastronomy, Handcrafting, Art, Literature, Fashion, Ornithology, Ichthyology, Botany, Origami, Ethnobiology, Anthrozoology were just a few.
A furious reader she devoured everything she could get here hands on and immediately understood the nuance. Constantly curious from a spoken phrase or a passage, she would continuously explore.
While my days were filled with my own adventure called ‘work’ with it’s own challenges, to come home was always an unexpected surprise. On Valentine’s Day she would put paper hearts out on the sidewalk from the bus stop to the front door. When M*A*S*H had it’s last episode she built a army camp in the living room complete with sheets for tents and camo-shorts and dog tags and the road signs. Even the ferrets and cats were wearing khaki t-shirts.
Not all the surprises were welcomed and the relationship was volatile at times but there were those times like being woken up in the middle of the night to walk out to a local field and lay in the dew to watch a meteor shower or getting up at 3AM to go to shoot hoops and talk out a problem.
There are probably many more women like this but she was the first one I found with such intensity. As I excavate and unravel artifacts of her efforts I must take my hat off to her determination against all odds.
So tonight which would have been our thirty-third anniversary I will sip some hot mulled cider, eat powered Danish almond cookies and marvel what she brought into my life.

What I DON’T want for Christmas




Dear Santa,

Here is an amendment to my first wish list request.
These are the things I DON’T want for Christmas.

1.    A Power Outage. Now I know you got connections with all the local utilities so can you keep the power running? The seasonal decorations and all take a lot of wattage so if you can make sure we don’t have a blackout that would be swell. You know what it is like to have family and friends over and then the lights go out. Scented candles are romantic but not in a room full of drunk adults and bored children. I’ll try to store up on every type of battery but if the power goes off, I’m not responsible for the chaos.
2.    Computer Problems. Even as a technological knowledgeable person it is hard to keep up with all the different apps and requirements necessary to keep the youngsters connected. I probably don’t have the latest streaming network but finding a technician on Christmas day would be impossible so the kids would probably just go out to a neighbor’s house or the closest Wi-Fi and we’ll never see them again.
3.    Alcohol. While wine and beer and other spirits fuel the holiday, there is never enough. While I’ve stocked up on every beverage, there is always a request for a special concoction and I never have the right ingredients. Unexpected guest require libations and many stay longer than stores are open.
4.    Car Problems. Even if I get the tank filled up and everything checked before the holidays, there are those unexpected snows or leaky oil lines or even an unfriendly fender bender to slow down the experience. If you let your best friend take a test ride in your brand new shiny flaming red XZ-280, he will come back complaining about a noise and how the handling doesn’t feel right. What has he done to your new car? Finding a mechanic is like #2 and a self-fix will require a computer diagnostic hookup and I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone with a MIT degree in the neighborhood. Plus if the car can’t get my many family guest to the airport on time, they will probably permanently move in and I definitely don’t have enough #3.
5.    Fire. While no one wants a fire at anytime the holiday requires candles and fireplaces and shrubbery brought indoors. There is always drunk cooking, over plugged outlets and all that paper on packages under a dry tree. So if you can see fit not to bring the gift that keeps on giving.
6.    Diarrhea. The season demands that we gorge more than normal and some of the spices we use only for this season sometimes don’t agree with our delicate tummy. Having all these people in the house with one bathroom could easily become a problem. I’ll stock up on the toilet paper and get plenty of air freshener but if anyone gets stomach concerns I’ll have to rent a port-o-potty.
7.    Death. My last request for you Santa is if you could see clear not to bring the grim reaper to my door during the holidays. Death is a bummer at anytime but during Christmas it puts a kibosh on the whole atmosphere. If Uncle Jack keels over between Margie’s string beans and mom’s pecan pie, well it just makes the celebrations a bit unpleasant for everyone. It will get folks to leave early solving #3 but it is so messy having a corpse under the tree.

So Santa if you can possibly bring me all the good stuff and not the bad stuff, this will be a wonderful Christmas and all I’ll have to worry about is cleaning up afterwards and preparing for the next holiday, which is? New Years!! Which brings us back to #3 again.

Your favorite elf

PS. I’ve got a bottle of Jim Beam devil’s cut for you along with a dozen whacky cigarettes you like to help you with all those cookies you got to eat in one night.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Give The Gift That Keeps On Giving


What will you find under the Christmas tree Sunday? Plastic toys and electronic gizmos and underwear and socks and phones and televisions and computer controllers to your future but by Tuesday, the wrapping paper is in the trash, the toys are losing their charm and the electronic gizmos are still frustrating even with the help lines.
It is time to check the calendar for the next holiday and another reason to break the mundane existences of everyday life.
May I suggest you give the gift that keeps on giving?
If you have the space and a bit of dirt and a shovel then a few minutes you can plant a tree. There are many varieties and a good family project to research which ones are compatible to your area. If you delve deep you can test the soil and get advice from environmental organizations on the best time and places to plant. Your kids might even get extra credit in school?
Trees are less trouble than children or pets, but they do require a little attention. A regular watering and some proper fertilizer to get it started but once rooted watch it grow. Established trees will surprise you every year.
Trees will provide shade in the summer and leaves in the fall. Might require a bit of raking depending on the size of the forest or they can be mulched for the spring. Trees dance when the wind blows and provide for creatures that would be homeless without them. Some may provide for special guest like an owl who will come visit for a year before moving on.
Trees may need pruning or cutting or replacing. Trees can fall causing problems but if planned right and maintained they will provide that wonderful sound on a fall evening casting shadows on the ground. Some trees will stand bare in the winter waiting for the spring to start their engine while evergreens will soften the cold hard gray winters with soft needles that catch the snow
The next time you go on vacation to a park or resort take a look around at your neighbors. The majestic trees some born before recorded time stand straight and tall providing witness to adventures shared through the ages.
The best part they help clean the air you breathe.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bah-Humbug!


I’m done. I’ve had enough. No more can I tolerate.
I’m talking about Christmas music and I’ve had enough.
I’m not being a Grinch for if you like Christmas music, and I suppose you do because it is everywhere you turn during this season, you get in the spirit and it makes you feel merry.
Some of the compositions are very impressive and if performed correctly can be most moving, but I’ve heard them over and over and over again for almost 7 decades and I’ve had enough.
Every year about this time my collection of CD's, mixed-tapes, and assortment of mediums get dusted off and played in continuum for the month and maybe more. Every variation that has been found and a few new ones every year fill my ears with repetitive songs from when Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk to family celebrations trying to disguise the tension.
There is nothing like raising a glass of grog to a hearty singing of “Deck the Halls” but “Little Drummer Boy” done by Buddy Rich or Motley Crew gets tiring after awhile. Songs of Santa, snowmen, sleigh rides and decorating trees are the music that will be put away in the attic and brought back out like a magic potion to make this cold month tolerable with gifts and drink.
It seems mandatory for every musician to have a seasonal song for it seems the public consumes Christmas music. Elvis, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and maybe Beyoncé (does she have one out yet?) have Christmas tunes to spread the cheer. It is a certain hit on the charts.
Like videos with a puppy playing in snow, a Christmas or seasonal variation will get attention this time of year. Everyone puts on a Santa hat and ugly sweaters to sing these classics like “Jingle Bells”, “Good King Wencesles” and “Adeste Fideles” but versions in heavy metal, big band, reggae, rap, and whatever else don’t make the tunes any better.
So this year, I will play each and every one again, then they go into the trash. If next year I get a hankering for Christmas music, I can go to the mall or turn on the radio or go online or just close my eyes because these songs are engrained in my life soundtrack like “Louie-Louie” and “Stairway to Heaven”.
I will still have to deal with Kim Kardashian singing “Auld Lang Syne” to some nasty selfie or a chorus of the Black Lives Matters march singing “Go Tell It On The Mountain”. Cars will still be zooming through the snow to entice you to purchase them to a tune of “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer” and I don’t want to think about the bad harmonies of the family around the golden tree in the golden tower. 
So “Good bye” Christmas music; I’ve heard you for years and now I’ve had enough. 
To everyone else, enjoy the spending season of debt with your flashing lights and inflatable nativity scene and enjoy your special music. I’ll be playing Frank Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage”.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Adopt Me Now


Being the season of giving and emotional there is a bombardment of photos and ads and pleas to adopt animals. Puppies and kittens with big wide eyes looking up at the camera with soft voices speaking of what a wonderful and thoughtful act it would be to adopt me. It really pulls at your heartstrings.
Then social media is full of people’s pets decorated in seasonal costumes to make the desire even more intense. What could be more adorable than a puppy stuffed in a stocking?
Being the normal kid I wanted a dog. Our family had a dog but I never paid any attention to it, then it was gone. My father was smart enough to realize what a dog requirements were and knew I wouldn’t provide them so he got me a stuffed dog like a prize at the state fair. I was disappointed but like any other kid, I found another fascination for the ‘want’ list.
None of my friends had a dog or a cat so I don’t know why I got the idea. I just think it was a boy must have a dog like Rin-Tin-Tin or Lassie. There was never any thought of food or walks or ticks or any of that disgusting stuff that comes with keeping an animal.  
My family tried to accommodate my pet wish with a turtle purchased in the basement of a drug store that turned all green and moldy and died in it’s plastic pond with a palm tree and a hamster in a wire cage given to me by a friend who’s mother knew better.  The hamster as it turned out was a pregnant mommy who had babies the next day and then ate them and then died.
After that I moved onto other interest.
Some of my friends as they married got dogs and cats. My roommate in college had a cat but I tried to avoid it whenever possible. My first wife had a cat and fleas and litter box and all the stuff that comes with a cat, but I referred the care to my wife and I just had to deal with it.
For a few years I went ‘pet-less’ and it was enjoyable. No critter to attack in the middle of the night or cry for food or poop on the bathroom floor was a relaxing.
I’m not against pets. I even kept a girl’s cat while she was moving. It was nice to have that soft purrrrr in my lap but I knew it was a temporary situation.
Then all hell broke loose.
I got married again.
She came with some furniture, clothing, a broken down car and a chipmunk in a wire cage and squeaky wheel. That was a sign of things to come but I was an innocent.
Pets, I consider, live within the walls of your home. Critters live outside in nature and do what they do without restrictions of walls and requirements of litter boxes.
With that said, I moved into a world of rabbits, cats, ferrets, fish, lizards, a squirrel and raccoons. They were all ‘pets’.
Then some kind of logic told me I should get a dog.
Now remember the dog from the 50’s was not my responsibility so I had no idea what was to come, but it was probably still a lost want.
A woman at work would find strays and adopt them and then find them homes. I’m a sucker for a 6-week old golden mix with big eyes, so she became part of our family.
I quickly learned dogs are different from parrots and turtles and snakes and fish and even cats.
Even with an established family of furry children, this one made her mark. The others immediately accepted her. It wasn’t her size or her different culture; she became part of the family.
 I had the best intentions for this puppy to be trained and be a service dog, but things don’t always happen as intended. Dogs have a mystical attachment that consumes logic.
So what is the point?
It is the seasonal time when people are vulnerable to this weakness of emotions without thinking of the consequences.
The first few days of the cute puppy in a bow collar or a kitten pawing a ball of yarn look fine for Christmas post, and then they start peeing on everything and tearing down the tree and becoming annoying.
The kitten that jumps on your computer and deletes your emails or the dog that chews through your electrical cords. After a few days of shedding and pooping and crying and barking will make most families rethink their acceptance to this new member.
The point is when we fall for an emotional connection with a furry friend if we decide it is not the best decision it will be winter outside and you can’t throw these creatures away.