Monday, October 16, 2017

1967 – 2017 = 50

Imagine, if you will, walking into a room full of strangers that you are suppose to know. After fifty years older faces on kids who walked the halls and sat next to you for three years brings little recognition.
Nametags are a start but if the names have not been spoken in that length of times what can be said with the handshake? There were two days and three occasions to reconnect or connect for the first time.
The first stop was a name brand famous in this city but not as familiar anymore. A clean establishment known for hickory smoked hams and Virginia peanuts became a gathering spot selected for a pizza party.  Beer was $2.00. Awkward attempts to recognize each other and find those of your high school clique were amazing to watch. Soon pockets of old friends starting sharing stories, taking selfies, and devouring pizza. The room filled with a buzz bouncing off the tiled walls. Should have been recorded.
The next event was going back to the high school attended (and luckily graduated) so long ago for a PowerPoint presentation to restore the school spirit and ask for alumni donations. It was a basic presentation skipping over the Art Deco design but emphasis on the students who served in the military. There were headshots of teachers but each person had their own memories. Where were the cadets? Where was the orchestra? Where were the cheerleaders? Where were the football players running through paper banners? Should we sing “Jeffersonian” now?
Before the box lunch in the cafeteria, there was time to wander the wide hallways and relive memories. The old building still had enough smells and sounds for flashbacks. What was my locker number? Where was my homeroom? So there was an elevator.
Each stop gave more time to view old classmates as they interact today.
The first reunion was after 5 years and was held at a community center with picnic tables and kegs. People only had stories of early employment, college or university, military service, marriage and babies and the best part was a fistfight in the parking lot.
The second reunion was after 20 years. Held in a downtown glass and chrome high-rise hotel the class had time to establish themselves. Men were starting to bald and bulge and the woman on their arm might not be the first wife. Instead of passing business cards trying to network like the first reunion, this one was about bragging on accomplishments. The musical soundtrack had not changed.
This reunion was about who has survived and the discussions were about family and extended family and physical ailments. It is what people of this age do.
The banquet dinner and dance held a larger venue with tables covered in 45 records and chairs draped to look fancy. There were china and silverware and the beer was up to $6.00. Most dressed up to impress with attempts to be selected to the Key Club or lead role in Oklahoma or Carousal. The DJ did agree to play a Frank Zappa song so mission accomplished. Checked the tables to find the cool kids, but finally settled near the music. The familiar faces kept up with over all these years said the same words and were all the same. One who had not been seen in a decade arrived and a brief conversation couldn’t fill in years apart. Another who had played guitar on the porch earlier entertaining the passing mother and carriage couldn’t attend to medical emergency. As the crowd thinned and the conga line formed my chariot got me home before mayhem could proceed.
At the end, my stranger classmates will depart to parts unknown and the dust will settle and the school will still stand proud a few blocks away and the next milestone will come. Back to normality the yearbooks will be put back on the shelf, the confusion of the chatter will become gossip and the rocker on the porch calls me. The soundtrack had not changed.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hey gang lets put on a show!

Hey gang! Lets put on a show!
I know it is a familiar subject but here we go again. Another dip-wad gathered a bunch of weapons and shot up the place. Lots of people are dead or wounded and stories fill the newsreels and the talking heads are taking every side while the president sends condolences and repeats scriptures. We’ve been here before.
So the people will moan and bring flowers and light candles and place cards and teddy bears where the blood was before being washed away by the same folks who clean the hotel rooms and pick the crops. Pictures of faces of strangers will fill the pages and interviews with grieving family only tell the same story.
Hands will be rung and balloons released into the air only to land in the waters with the rest of the plastic trash. Folks will rant but Halloween is coming on and got to get that costume and decorations. Our elected officials will make speeches but the lobbyist will quiet the anger with contributions.
Grassroots organizations will pop up with idealism but no power to persuade. Well meaning folk will walk the streets with placards and shouts of unification for a good cause. Some will be none violent and just a lot of time. Others will become destructive and prove only that we cannot control our emotions.
The sales of arms will rise and profits made from a slaughter of people just trying to have fun looking at all those cups on the ground. The pain and anguish attracts our attention focused by the media while other disasters happen around the world unnoticed.
I sit at night on my porch and hear the sirens and pops of gunfire but it is far away. If the sirens become louder and the crackle become more frequent, what will I do? Hide inside under the bed and hope it all goes away? Purchase a weapon (or several) to defend my peace and quiet and enjoyment of life?
Not me! Hey gang!! Lets put on a show!!
It will happen. A tribute to another catastrophe will be organized and list of stars will appear to offer their feelings and get good PR exposure while people will sing along and download the songs and feel righteous. 

Tom Petty won't be on the bill. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Off The Road Experience

We had no idea
In your youth you are invincible and strong willed but sometimes not very smart. This was one of those ‘not too smart’ off the road experiences.
In my youth, I was in a band. A bunch of kids would get together and make loud noises and we called it music. We would spend out weekends playing dances and parties and met some girls and didn’t make a lot of money but we had fun.
Well, as the story goes, we got this gig down at the beach. A little club we’d never heard of but it was an adventure. We loaded all the gear we could gather into two cars and started down the road. After a five hour tour we found one of the few buildings along the road was our destination.
We played a set but got kicked out because we didn’t make the age limit for working in a drinking establishment. Since it was getting dark, half the band loaded their gear and headed back home.
The singer/lead guitar player had hooked up with a couple of local girls so the rest of the band stayed. We loaded our car with our gear then mingled outside in the parking lot hoping for some action. Perhaps it was the free beer we had been paid with or the angry local boyfriends, but nothing ever happened.
Now it was late and dark and we were alone in a foreign town with no place to go. We put our fuzzy heads together and decided we would drive off the road and sleep on the beach.
What seemed like such a good idea turned out so bad. The massive car carried us onto the sand with ease. The windows were rolled down and we settled into an exhausted sleep. Then they came.
At first it was just a little nuisance of buzzing and slapping the mosquitoes. Then it became apparent THEY did not want US sleeping on THEIR beach. Not only were we tired and annoyed by the constant attack of these vampire bugs, we learned a sense of psychics. The over packed weighted car had sunk in the sand.
The next couple of hours in the dark were dedicated to unpacking guitars and amps and microphone stands and cords and wires and all kinds of stuff, then pushing the massive vehicle back and forth listening to the wheels spin. Somehow the gods were smiling on four guys who pushed and pulled our ride back to the asphalt road.
Repacking our vehicle and still no place to sleep we began to ride down the black ribbon of a road. Being teens we didn’t worry about running out of gas or getting lost or stopped by the local law enforcement.
Just when all seemed doomed, our driver remembered a family member who lived near by, so we had a new adventure ahead.
Of the four lads who ventured off the road, one has died and two other are off the radar. It was a brief bonding experience and a wonderful story to any musician who can immediately relate.
Sometimes just hearing ‘off the road’ can make you scratch and bring a smile to your face.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

How To Make A Friend

 A description of a friend might include an alter ego, an amigo, a buddy, a chum, a compadre, a comrade, a confidant, a crony, a familiar, an intimate, a mate, a musketeer, or a pal
Or perhaps an acquaintance, an associate, a cohort, a colleague, a companion, a fellow, a hearty, a hobnobber, a partner, a peer, a sport; a brother, a main man, an accomplice, a ally, a collaborator, a confederate; a pen pal, a benefactor, a supporter, a sympathizer, or a well-wisher.
Friends can also be an adversary, an antagonist, a competitor, an opponent, a rival and even a nemesis.
Some friendships continue through the ages and some fade away. Some can be reunited through technology and some will never happen again. Some are remembered and some are gone.

Here are some hints some say work to ‘make a friend’.

1. Follow your intuition. At any time or any place when you walk into a room you cannot help but scan the room. A face or stance or a look might attract your attention. Follow your intuition to introduce yourself to the person who has interested you. It may be only a physical attraction but it may turn into a friendship.

2. Engage your passion. Paint or play music or run or go to the gym and sooner or later your will find someone who also engages in the same passion. That may create a friendship.

3. Buy a puppy. If you really want to meet someone, get a puppy. I don’t recommend buying a puppy with all the shelter alternatives, but a puppy, unlike a cat, will bring the others to your door. Guaranteed. Pups are chick magnets. Dogs are a mans best friend, but when you are shouting at the television over a field goal, your dog will just look at your and smile.

4. Start a hobby. Hobbies are those fun things we like to do but you can also find a friend. Whether it is art or dancing or whatever turns you on, there is a group out there who also enjoy theses things. Taking a painting class or cooking class or go to the gym and you will meet others who enjoy the same things. It may be the passion or just a class; you share the attempt and may form a friendship.

5. Widen your age-range view. Sounds easy but then again a younger or perhaps older friend could be easy to get along with. As we age, age does not make as much difference as it did in our youth. Besides, a different focus on certain subjects may for an interesting friendship.

6. Build a community garden. Really? Well if you open up a plot of land and dig it up and put some greens in and water it and trim it and guess what. Other people will appreciate your effort and ask if they too can participate. Digging in the dirt is a great way to make a friend, whether it is human or animal.

7. Reconnect with people from your past. We all lose touch with old friends. They get married and focus on their families. They move away. They change their values or interest that once was. Yet the old bonds are still there. For whatever reasons, the reconnect can take place. We can be friends again.

8. If adventurous, use the Internet. There are lots of sites out there that can connect you with all kinds of “friends” who can be real or not real. Post some profiles and upload some pictures and hope for the best. Are you that desperate to make friends?

So to make a friend is just to be you and meet others in an un-stressful location and just see if there are any connections. If after a while you want to spend more time with this person, a friendship is starting.
A friend, a true friend, is someone you can sit quietly with in comfort. You do not need to entertain a friend or expect anything from a friend. A friend is like an old comfortable shoe. A friend has gone through enough experiences with you to offer assistance when needed and give advice when asked. A friend will laugh at your jokes and listen to your miseries. A friend will keep your secrets and won’t judge your actions.
Then there is that boyfriend/girlfriend thing. When a friend gets an emotional connection all values of friendship changes. 

I wrote that a number of years ago on an English website. I revisit the idea of friendship several times a year. Here is my update.

Where do friends come from? Other than family our first interaction with other kids is school. We are forced into conformity and start to relate with classmates by the color of our hair or similar names. We group in common areas like playgrounds and lunchrooms where we are free to talk freely with each other. We find the kids who go to the same church or live in the neighborhood or fathers work in similar industries or drive similar cars. We talk about family. We start forming teams and group activities and see some more than others. Of that lot we find a few who enjoy the same television shows or read the same books or laugh at the same jokes and thus friendships start.
As we grow our interest change as do our friends. Some adapt to the changes and stay with us but what holds us together is school.
Then romance hits our lives and the value of our friends shift on the priority list.
Our associations become more restrictive to qualify who can join and who cannot. We start to recognize discrimination and status inequality.
College breaks up many connections as friends go to different schools or travel out of state. Holidays are reasons to gather together again and compare new experiences while old reasons for friendships begin to fade.
Cards and letters try to convey thoughts but turn mostly into latest timeline events of work, family, or home. Marriages are events that can draw friends together but after the third, it becomes a bit too familiar. Divorces don’t have DJs. Baby showers are good excuses to bring other families together except for those without children.
Employment introduces a new set of strangers who can be picked through to find friends. Some of these people will spend more time with you than your family and cause you more stress and joy but there are restrictions.
If none of these people show any interest then there are no new friends.
All our friends are also finding names to add to their Rolodex and they see these people more often than they see you. Each friend has new wants and needs and will discuss more concerns with their neighbors than with you.
Brief excuses to gathering old friends can only bring back memories for there is no reason to share with these strangers.
Work can’t be a conversation subject because each works in a different environment with different languages others don’t understand. Unlike in school when dates and love interest were shared, family is too personal now, except for the kids. Television, movies, sports, music, books can only be topics if everyone has experienced them. Topics of spiritual or inner emotional or even philosophical beliefs are forbidden for these former friends would need too much history to understand. Politics can be shared online as memes or opinion pieces others write with the same intensity of sports.

Maybe this friendship thing is overrated.

If I’m going to move I’ll not call my friends to come into town to help lug heavy stuff around. They are too old with limited dexterity and mobility and they would probably drop something or break something or hurt themselves and sue me. Collaboration on a project is ridiculous for everyone is too self-indulged to take off the blinders and imagine possibilities once our youth fantasies. A gathering of old friends only descends into memories too long ago to revisit or insults and demeaning remarks not worthy of friendship, even fueled by mind alternating substances.
Some people with emotional (or even financial) connections will show up to your funeral but only stay long enough to eat the food and drink the booze. Friends will be forgotten. Even in the photos names and memories cannot match faces.
Perhaps the idea of people who volunteer to be trustworthy and loyal enough to share intimacy while displaying empathy and concern may be dead. If so then that cuts down on expectations for humanity.

Addendum: Last night a friend came by. Unexpected and uninvited but welcomed. If I’d been working on a project he would have volunteered to chip in but I was settling down to watch the sun go down and watch the moon come up. Offered a beer, which is as much hospitality, you get around here and we found comfortable seats on the porch. The small talk of “How are you doing?” and “What’s up with you?” were spattered between long pauses of silence. There wasn’t the need. After a while he came around to mentioning the subject he wanted to talk about. He didn’t want advice or opinion but just someone to listen and perhaps help get his thoughts together. It wasn’t a life-changing event but instead of a priest or a bartender he chose a friend.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Giving a beer to the power guy

It was worth the effort

With all the news of people being without power due to ice storms I thought of a story of a similar occurrence. I do feel for these folks shivering in the cold during a holiday. Trust me, I do understand no heat but what about the summertime.
There have been ice storms around here with the power cut off by falling branches. I even had my power line to the house buried thinking it would be safer. What a nimrod I am.
So when the power goes off in the winter, I light the stove with matches and have some heat. I move from the computer to the pencil and paper and snuggle under a few more blankets. Then again I don’t live in a place where there is a ton of snow and the grocery store within walking distance is closed. I guess we all learn how to survive.
Even with the power being out for several days after a hurricane, there was a rocking chair on the front porch, a radio headphone, and an acoustic guitar. It is actually exciting to adjust your daily habit from the mundane to the unexpected.
If the water is still running then the plumbing works and life does not get disgusting. Without electricity the refrigerator is emptied and when the sun goes down, it is time to go to sleep and when the sun comes up it is time to wake up. Reading by sunlight is still available as long as your battery last. Or you can go old school and open a printed book. Suddenly television doesn’t seem so important.
The point is one summer a transformer was blown in our neighborhood. Heard the explosion, the lights went out, the fans stopped and suddenly summer heat became more aware. As the beer warmed in the summer air, all the neighbors came outside to watch the repairs.
While we were in shorts and t-shirts sitting in lawn chairs, a large white truck from the electricity company pulled up the gravel alley. While we went about our frustration and sweat, these guys went about their usual routine of putting on rubber clothing, climbing ladders, checking connections that could immediately end existence is the wire was live, then making plans of the procedure to repair the problem.
One transformer was removed and another replace that also blew up. All this show was viewed as live television by the neighborhood. The electricity truck started up and rolled down the alley. There was an inaudible groan in the neighborhood. Had they been defeated?
On the hot summer day we contained our frustration with jokes and comments over fences and watching ice picked up from a store that had a generator melt. There was nothing else to do.
A short while later, the electricity truck returned and the neighborhood became anxious again. Perhaps there was hope for a fix. Again the actors to this play climbed up their ladders and did their ritual duty in a pattern practiced over and over again. A new transformer was bolted in place and the switch was thrown using a long yellow pole.
Eureka! There was power!
A roar rose in the neighborhood with clapping and cheers. It was if we had just won the war.
I stood up as I heard the fans starting up in the house and walked over to the guys who had spent so much time on a wooden pole trying to bring power to a bunch of over indulgent power users. As the sweating guys gathered around their truck planning their next assault on the outage, I handed each a warm beer and a warm “thank you”.
They seem to enjoy an acknowledgement of their efforts and we all raise a toast to their success. I knew they had to move on to their next mission, as I also was required.
Whether a warm beer on a hot summer day offered to workers who are hired and trained by companies we pay for every month made a difference or not but I had to do it. They waved as they went off to their next assignment and I felt good.

Friday, September 29, 2017

So what do we do now?

Well it has happened again. Another news breaking event of slaughter and each of us wonders, “What do we do now?”
In the ever more common frequency of these events, we have created a ritual to mourn.
First the media presents as much shocking images that the FCC will allow and what doesn’t make the established forms are spread all over the Internet. First hand accounts of survivors and the names of the dead are posted to detail the facts. Police give vague press conferences of an on-going investigation and additional resources being called into play. Then the ‘talking head’ will weigh in with their opinions and accusations to the horror.
Next we will gather at the site of the transgression to grieve. Balloons, hearts, teddy bears, flowers will be placed in a mound as some sort of pagan ritual to the sacrificed. Moments of silence moistened with tears as candles burn in cups. Hold hands and lean upon one another for these may have been friends or strangers, but we are all in this solemn response together.
Our choice of faith will offer counseling and condolences for they have practiced too many times. Our leaders will give emotional speeches trying to console the many for the fallen of the few. Our social media will pass along quotations to boaster our resolve.
Then the gloves come off. Our fear turns to anger and we post our frustrations wherever anyone will see or listen. Our inner most feelings and beliefs are commented on factual news reports or just against another’s thoughts on the situation. Some can be reasonable debates of opinions and many are just blasphemes ranting.
Then what can we do?
There are funds and charitable organizations and website set up to take your money promising to help those wounded by the tragedy. Yearly anniversaries will be written on the calendar, but unfortunately there will be another one tomorrow.
Today, we go back to work or school. We get back into our daily routine and the media will find another distraction for our attention. Our day-to-day existence will overcome our sorrow and the displays of empathy will be picked up by city workers and taken to the landfill.

Back in the day the sheriff would gather up a posse of farmers and store owners and blacksmiths and hotel clerks and even ole doc to strap on their guns and ride out to avenge the wrong, but we don’t do that anymore. Instead we have well armed uniformed police to protect us, so we can safely go home after a hard day at the office betting on our fantasy football teams to a processed dinner, yelling at each other, beating our kids and then sinking into a drunken stupor in front of the giant screen wasting time with reinforcement to questionable ideas or bloody murders in search of solutions. We will forget about the Missouri football teams power to change politics or the contestants for President statements on abortion or immigration or global warming or the Benghazi consultant or emails or gun control or the extermination of lions and rhinos and elephants or who won the latest talent contest or what the Kardashian’s are doing?

For we soon forget the Sandy Hook’s or the Virginia Tech’s or the Columbine’s for there will be another horrific act of mayhem to fill our minds with sorrow anew. History does repeat itself and the fact is, we don’t play well with others.
No matter what the reason or cause for the display of anger, our species willfully can destroy one another. Solutions abound, as do biases and bigotry.
If our religion is the cause for these horrendous actions, perhaps we should toss away previous books and teachings and create a new God that we all can believe in?

Saturday, September 23, 2017


I am an anal person. I should have been an accountant. I keep track of every penny I earn and every cent I spend. I’ve been this way for years.
I haven’t always accomplished the results I intended but I’ve made it a mission to record every receipt.
Why, you might ask?
I think I started from the little bank books recording my paycheck deposits, then I started keeping the little paper receipts shop owners place in the bag along with whatever you bought. Everyone does it, even today.
I may have picked up this habit from my father who kept an intense ledger of family expenditures. Many a night I’d see him sitting at the kitchen table going over receipts and writing them down. On Sunday’s he’d take me to his office and while I played on the typewriter, he’d work the tabulating machine meticulously checking numbers and cost and profit and salaries and however he was cooking the books.
On my meager salary I didn’t want to pay someone to prepare my taxes so I started saving receipts. At first a shoebox held the little wonders that were going to save me from paying taxes to legal folders crisply marked with “Grocery” or “Electricity” or “Illegal Substances”. If I had been raided, I had all the evidence neatly arranged.  
File cabinets were set up to hold the folders until the first of the year when the tax forms arrived. Technology had presented the calculator to help from counting fingers but all the numbers had to add up.
Each year the tax forms would change and the instructions (written in government lawyer speak) didn’t help much as to what could be deducted and what could be claimed. For those deductions you had to have proof in case you were audited, so another file cabinet had to be used for past years receipts.
To keep things organized these little thin strips of paper were stapled together to mark the month or place of business frequented or some sort of fashion that was worthy of a number cruncher.
When the purchase became larger, like a car or a house, the receipts also grew and additional filing had to accommodate the extra paperwork.
Some weeks were too busy so the pile would sit until later to sort and try to remember the store and the purchase. A written ledger was started to duplicate the receipts trying to make some sense of them.
At the end of the year the numbers never added up because receipts were lost or never received from the store.
To make matters worst, the ink on the receipts fades. After a year or two (or maybe a week) there is nothing to read. Now I had folders with stapled scraps of blank paper.
 Luckily computers came along and Bill Gates (in all his wisdom or luck) convince the world to stop using written ledgers and start using digital spreadsheets. Apple also had ‘numbers’ which is their spreadsheet app but it didn’t travel well to PC users, so I learned Microsoft (also available on the Mac). The accountants never understood how I could work in the Apple environment and send them spreadsheets that work on their PCs. Some people know the secrets.
The best part about spreadsheets is I could set up formulas to add, subtract, percentage, average, etc. I checked some other software when calculating time and cost doing freelancing but every year there would be an upgrade or a new faster, fancier version in the mail.
So today I keep a meticulous record of every penny I pay and it all adds up correctly. Logging expenditures has become a daily ritual to record the receipt while the ink is still readable. I even itemized the articles purchased but not each extra cost. I also keep track of every meal I have per day but not the calorie count thought I probably ought to start.
Taxes have become easier without all the deductions and saving receipts so the short form accomplished returns. Still I have a folder with my first tax returns.
Receipts? I save them for a year and then shred them. There are enough electronic backups so why hoard?
Why didn’t I learn this in economics class? Oh yeah, I took typing instead.

Friday, September 22, 2017

It is time to escape

Reality is tough so we like to escape.
Books, movies, theme parks, vacations, video games, music festivals, social media and much, much more are all escapism from what we do day-by-day. We travel to far off lands, venture into the future and review the past. We escape in a crowd or to solidarity. We escape the mundane with laughter, tears and maybe even love. We create all sorts of potions and concoctions to assist us escape.
Our escapes, however brief, are our expressions to others of how much fun we have. What books are you reading? What movies do you like? Have you seen this television show or heard this music?
Now that is a better discussion than dirty diapers and flat tires.
The joy of living on this planet is the unusual occurrences that happen everyday. That wallet that someone dropped creates an adventure. The crow baby in the road you pick up to move. Walking home in a storm and watching lightning knock a branch off a tree in front of you. Picking a branch of willow to wrap around your hat for a year. The laughter enjoyed folding laundry together. The once in a lifetime experience of lying on the wet grass and watching a meteor shower in the middle of the night are all momentary highlights that can’t be purchased.
These moments are just how life works. Maybe we think we are too busy to enjoy them but when we get older those are the memories that count.
At the end, the final escape, the money, houses, cars, travels, power and status won’t matter. The scrapbook holds the fun and pain and smiles and tears of life.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We live in a time of fear

We live in a time of fear. We fear we will be unpopular or outcaste by the majority. We fear for the weather and the raging fires. We fear for our jobs to be eliminated. We fear physical harm. We fear rejection. We fear our own self worth.
This is nothing new. We have lived in fear since time began. There was the fear of dinosaurs and space aliens so we created armies and the Bible.
I’ve written about this subject many times but this weekend brought a new chapter to my backyard. In my little city there were rumors of being invaded by Confederates. Well the sons of the sons of the sons or the maybe some kind of linage to a historical heritage announced they would be coming to town to rally about preservation of monuments to the generals who lost the war. The city turned to panic.
There was some reason for this fear. A month earlier a similar group marched into a small college town in the mountains carrying shields and bats and guns to confront a group of anti-protestors throwing bottles, paint and pepper spray and it proceeded to turn into a ruckus and an unfortunate death.
So our city prepared for the worst possible scenario and brought in troopers and heavy trucks and blocked streets and surrounded all participants with cities finest.
Luckily, this time, it was more of a hot air festival minus the music and the food trucks and civility prevailed.
The media went home without breaking news coverage and our emotions can fester for another day.
Social media is not so lucky. People with whatever opinions will comment with whatever potty mouth or in cogent statement with no recourse.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations of such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size, or ability.  Bullying done by a group is called mobbing.
Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has no legal definition of bullying, while some states in the United States have laws against it. Bullying is divided into four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion, such as intimidation.
Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying called mobbing, in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse. Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.
A bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. In a 2012 study of male adolescent American football players, “the strongest predictor [of bullying] was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player’s life would approve of the bullying behavior”.
Think about what an army does?
Intimidation (also called cowing) is intentional behavior that “would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities” to fear injury or harm. It is not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened.
Threat, criminal threatening (or threatening behavior) is the crime of intentionally or knowingly putting another person in fear of bodily injury. “Threat of harm generally involves a perception of injury...physical or mental damage...act or instance of injury, or a material and detriment or loss to a person.” “A terroristic threat is a crime generally involving a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize other.”
“Intimidation” is the name of a criminal offense in several U.S. states.

In human social affairs, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong rather than on individual attributes. Based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, “in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated”. It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction going on to influence the individual's actual behavior towards the group leader or the group, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.
Discriminatory traditions, policies, ideas, practices and laws exist in many countries and institutions in every part of the world, including in territories where discrimination is generally looked down. In some places, controversial attempts such as quotas have been used to benefit those believed to be current or past victims of discrimination—but have sometimes been called reverse discrimination. In the US, a government policy known as ‘affirmative action’ was instituted to encourage employers and universities to seek out and accept groups such as African Americans and women, who have been subject to discrimination for a long time.
Propaganda that repeated enough becomes true?
A joke is a display of humor in which words are used within a specific and well-defined narrative structure to make people laugh and not to be taken seriously. It takes the form of a story, usually with dialogue, and ends in a punch line. It is in the punch line that the audience becomes aware that the story contains a second, conflicting meaning. This can be done using a pun or other word play such as irony, a logical incompatibility, nonsense, or other means.
A joke is a short humorous piece of oral literature in which the funniness culminates in the final sentence, called the punch line… In fact, the main condition is that the tension should reach its highest level at the very end. No continuation relieving the tension should be added. As for its being “oral,” it is true that jokes may appear printed, but when further transferred, there is no obligation to reproduce the text verbatim, as in the case of poetry.
It is generally held that jokes benefit from brevity, containing no more detail than is needed to set the scene for the punch line at the end. In the case of riddle jokes or one-liners the setting is implicitly understood, leaving only the dialogue and punch line to be verbalized. However, subverting these and other common guidelines can also be a source of humor -- the shaggy dog story is in a class of its own as an anti-joke; although presenting as a joke, it contains a long drawn-out narrative of time, place and character, rambles through many pointless inclusions and finally fails to deliver a punch line. Jokes are a form of humor, but not all humor is a joke. Some humorous forms, which are not verbal jokes, are: involuntary humor, situational humor, practical jokes, slapstick and anecdotes.
They are told in both private and public settings; a single person tells a joke to his friend in the natural flow of conversation, or a set of jokes is told to a group as part of scripted entertainment. Jokes are also passed along in written form or, more recently, through the Internet.
Stand-up comics, comedians and slapstick work with comic timing, precision and rhythm in their performance, were relying as much on actions as on the verbal punch line to evoke laughter. This distinction has been formulated in the popular saying “A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny”.
Offensive to some while maybe the freedom of speech?
Slander as an oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another, which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages. Malicious intent are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements, such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease or being unable to perform one's occupation, are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much as if not more than printed publications.
Yet our fear might not be able to understand or comprehend the difference?
Defamation of character occurs when someone makes a false statement about you that causes you some type of harm. The statement must be published (meaning some third party must have heard it), false, and it must result in harm, usually to the reputation. Those essential components of a defamation claim are fairly straightforward. But what kinds of harm can result from a defamatory statement, and can you recover damages for those harms in a lawsuit?
Accusations can bring harm to a reputation?
The most obvious negative consequence that a defamatory statement can cause is harm to your professional reputation. Perhaps you are a local businessperson and someone made a statement about you to others indicating that you did something dishonest. Such allegations might cause your customers to take their business elsewhere. Perhaps the statement caused your employer to doubt whether you should remain employed. Those are clear-cut examples of harm to your reputation in your professional community.
When harm is presumed it still has results?
Some kinds of statements are automatically presumed to be defamatory. The recent Duke lacrosse scandal is definitely an example of that. There, a woman accused several young athletes of raping her at a party. It turned out that her account was not trustworthy, but the damage to those young men was profound. Any statement accusing another person of sexual misconduct, or of having a sexually transmitted disease, is “per se defamatory,” meaning that it will be presumed to constitute defamation if, in fact, it was false and maliciously or recklessly made.
Accusing someone of committing a crime can harm one’s personal or professional reputation.  An accusation of criminal conduct also is presumed to be defamatory. 
Similarly, an allegation that someone is racist or is otherwise prejudice likely will be presumed to be defamatory because it can cause strong reactions in the community. It is important to bear in mind, though, that expressions of opinion about you, even if they are negative, are not defamatory. Opinions are protected speech. Likewise, if someone relates an embarrassing incident involving you that is also not defamatory because embarrassment does not rise to the level of a defamatory statement and if the statement is true, your lawsuit will be barred.
Or bring in the lawyers?
Of course, financial consequences often go hand-in-hand with harm to reputation. If you lose some business or lose your job altogether, you could seek compensation for those financial losses. If you lose business opportunities and can tie that to the defamatory statements, that is also a form of financial harm for which you can seek recovery. If you incur expenses as a result of taking steps to repair your reputation, you may include those losses in a defamation lawsuit.
Bring in the doctors?
Another type of harm suffered by victims of defamation may well be health problems, ranging from insomnia, to depression and anxiety, to physical ailments.  Enduring someone’s publication of a false statement about you can take a toll on your mental and physical health, and those harms may be compensable.
Here comes the judge?
In many jurisdictions, if you can prove that someone made a false statement about you knowingly or recklessly, and published it to other parties, you have established a claim of defamation and it will be presumed that you have suffered harm. If, however, your jurisdiction does not follow that rule, or if you are a public figure or official who is in the public eye (someone who more routinely faces negative statements), you may have to prove you were in fact harmed by the defamatory statement. 
In order to establish that your reputation has suffered, in addition to your own testimony, you would need to provide witnesses who could testify that that effect. You could produce evidence that you lost your job, that you were demoted or passed over for a promotion, or suffered other adverse consequences that can be tied to the defamatory statement.
To prove financial harm, you could testify about the monetary effects of the defamation, but you may also need other documentation, such as bank statements, bills, or tax returns, to back up your claims.
To prove mental or physical anguish, you would testify about the severe effects the defamation has had on you. You would also need to provide lay witnesses, such as a spouse, a relative, and/or a close friend, to testify about the noticeable changes in you as a result of the incident. However, you most likely would also need your doctor or other treatment provider to testify about your treatment, if you have had any. You would need to show that any mental health or physical health consequences indeed resulted from the defamatory statement and were not pre-existing. If they were, your doctor would need to explain how the defamatory statement worsened your condition. You would also want to provide medical bills to show what the treatment cost you out of pocket.
If the opposing party is likely to claim that your reputation was already poor, or that whatever problems you are claiming to suffer from now weren’t caused by the alleged defamation, you will need to anticipate that and provide witnesses who can counter those arguments.
Remember that someone expressing a negative opinion about you, or even relating an embarrassing anecdote about you, is not the same as making a false and defamatory statement. To understand the nuances of defamation, you may want to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer, who can tell you whether you have solid legal grounds to file a defamation lawsuit.
Truth be told, we are not very nice to each other. We have created words so hideous that they cannot be used in a newscast but can be constantly chanted in music. If there is enough of ‘us’ and fewer of ‘them’ we create all sorts of atrocities in the name of whatever cause will support the behavior.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

End of Summer

The yard is quiet now. There are not as many faces at the daily buffet. There is not the flutter of activity. There are no wake-up calls in the morning. It is the end of summer.
Grey Jay left a few weeks ago back to Florida and might be rethinking that decision but with her the Robins left, the Blue jays became sparse and the Cardinals couple only come around at dusk. Only one bunny comes by as the sunsets and is skittish. Soon the little scooters will be scooting down their holes for a winter nap and the tree monkeys will pack their treetop houses with extra padding.
The seed is being left by the clean up crew and the blueberries have lost their favor leaving leftovers for the late night creatures. It is the end of summer.
The kids are back in school and the sound of constant lawnmowers and leaf blowers is limited to weekend mornings. There is still construction noise but it stops at five when the neighbors come home and fill the parking lot.
So as the temps are becoming more pleasant I rock on the porch at night and ponder the end of summer. What does it mean when summer is over?
Summer vacations and the logistics of packing the family into a vehicle to travel some distance to enjoy each other and bond through texting and selfies will be done with until next year. Enjoy medical mishaps like sunburn, snakebites, mosquitoes, and any assortment of stomach ailments keep the excitement of the unexpected. Not only returning home with shoes full of sand but additional t-shirts and tacky trinket never to be used again.
Summer is over so it is time to put away the shorts and bring out the big boy pants, strap on a sweatshirt and continue in the mundane life for everyday is a vacation.
So as I rock in the dark while everyone else sleeps I think of those tourist, vacationers, travelers who find it necessary to wander during their down time. Agree that you cannot fully experience the Grand Canyon until you are there but some just don’t want to see a big ditch. The ruins of Europe, Middle East, and Far East have been filmed and photographed but some feel the passion of being there. To get away from the monotony of everyday existence is more than a goal but is it necessary?
My mind wanders to a time when I did travel far and wide. The destination wasn’t nearly as interesting as the process. The traveling companions made the over-priced glass of wine or the plate of semi-cooked bland dishes enjoyable. Even traveling alone, my temperament is mellow enough to adjust with the hazards of long distance searches for another life. I’ve slept in airports, checked into roach hotels, eaten at greasy spoons and conversed with people I would avoid on a normal day.
So after all the summer travel is done and everyone has gone home, what is left? The locals are still there.
Some are called townies but they are the ones who live in the same location visited by others who then go away. The locals decided to stay in a location maybe for generations. They stock the grocery store. They bring you food and drink. They repair your car. They give you directions when the GPS is not good enough. They attend churches. They fill the potholes. They have BBQs and parades. They put out fires and teach the children.
In small rural areas they might be impressed by the city folk passing through in their fancy cars and chic couture that is unavailable in these parts. Beaches and amusement parks have a few months to make years salary from folks who will pay fee for a good time without worrying about what happens when they leave.
I’m a townie. A local. I’ve stayed in the same neighborhood, in the same city, in the same state for most of my life. I’ve attended schools I could walk to including university. I worked for a local company continually getting raises and titles and responsibilities until forced retirement. I live in a house a few blocks from where I grew up and am very happy here.
I could tell you the best places to eat but most of them have disappeared and become microbreweries. I could tell you the best places to stay but most of them are out-of-town chains now or a few expensive establishments. I could tell you sites to see and places to go but so can Google.
Again I live in a town that lost it’s relevance 150 years ago and can be easily by-passed.
So why do I stay?
Why not go off to some far off land seeking unknown adventures and wonders?
A city is pretty much a city to me. Skyscrapers, restaurants, traffic; pedestrians, local news, network shows, events and entertainment are pretty much the same. The bistros in New York are no better than the few hole-in-the-wall diners I frequent. A beer in San Francisco is no better than opening a can in the backyard.
While I don’t make a point of becoming familiar with other locals, some do recognize me from frequently seeing me on the street and wave.
Being a local I know the places to go to get good deals and recognize when old friends leave and the search will continue. I know parts of town to avoid and places that can be inspiring and relaxing. Being a local I’ve seen the changes and am satisfied in my place in the community.
While I can’t dig my toes in the sand, the weather is fairly mild with 4-seasons and an occasional storm or two. Life can be patterned by the season’s regularity and no complaints.
Tonight I rock in the dark and silence only missing the waves calling. This is what vacations are about; the freedom to relax.
As the night grows longer I’m entertained by the shadows and the moonlight and the realization that this could be Lebanon or Scottsville or Beaver Falls or Middleton or Locust Grove or a million other burgs and villages and waysides where families have settled and grew families and started businesses and watched their children grow and buried their dead and formed memories no outsider will ever understand.
There are a few places I’ve had enough time to spend with other townies of different localities and been accepted into their community. Those were very special times with amazing memories.
As the sun is starting to come up, this old local will have to retire for the evening feeling secure that staying was the right decision… at least for now.