Monday, February 27, 2017

Tell Me A Story

Do you remember an elderly person opening a dusty book and reading you a bedtime story? With a small bedside light the story was at a slow pace full of sounds and voices and make-believe as you snuggled under piles of blankets. Sometimes the story was stopped and accented by remarkable tales not printed.
No book you sit down with to read can compare to being read to. Reading a story by yourself means you have to use your own experiences and imagination to visualize the characters, but the spoken voice inflections point your thoughts into new realms of wonder. Like an old radio series that held our breathless attention for hours, pirates have a certain voice and cowboys have a certain sound and you held on tight during a car chase.
When there is no book or reader we have several options. We can lose ourselves in the mass of the macabre called media or close our eyes to be engulfed in music that is just another form of reading black dots. Another option is to sit face-to-face with another human being and tell each other stories.
For telling stories is how we communicate. All the plays and books (even that technical stuff) and movies and television (even the commercials) are just stories. Tall tales or factual historical documentaries, everyone has a story.
Meeting a new person is to find out their story. Once you get passed the labels and become interested enough due to their presentation, you ask to hear their story. Each one is different and though maybe some cross referencing, like a fingerprint is unique to only one.
Some say the 10 best ways to ‘write’ a story is:
1.      Write In One Sitting

2.      Develop Your Protagonist

3.      Create Suspense and Drama

4.      Show, Don’t Tell

5.      Write Good Dialogue

6.      Write About Death

7.      Edit Like a Pro

8.      Know the Rules, Then Break Them

9.      Defeat Writer’s Block

10.   Share Your Work

This may be well to think of before you share your story is a bit of preparation. What do you want to achieve from telling your story? Do you intend to impress the other person with your accoutrements or prestige or knowledge or wealth? Do you wish to impart emotional baggage?

What do you hope to get in return? A sale? Employment? A laugh? A person who will follow you home to perform illicit acts of devious behavior until exhaustion sets in?

Remember you are the protagonist of your story so make it worth the listen. Get your details straight. Was it Rome or Paris? Was she a red head or a blonde? Add points that you think your listener might relate to. It keeps them interested.

If you are going to relay an overheard story, put your spin on it or it is just a boring carbon copy. Don’t use audio visual aids but include landmarks, seasons, locations and events that relate to the story. If you need pie charts and graphs you will probably need a fact check and footnotes.

A good story can make others laugh or cry or bond or ponder or find an idea to reply to. A bad story is just blowing out words filling up the air and wasting time so know when to draw the curtain.

So tell me a good story while I slip off to la-la-land. No Moonlight.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


After a normal night of a few two-hour naps, the sun appears and the coffee pours the potion to start the morning. The daily ride turned from summer to fall after a hailstorm but the sun is out and another layer will tolerate the change. Feeding the yard and contemplating the next move, change to a different hydration.
Being alone, not lonely because that is a pathetic self-absorption, I study the next move like a chess player. Picking up piles of pine mulch? Moving more timber? Prying up 50lb. cement blocks? There will be no more cutting due to the fact that all trashcans are full even without the cassette racks and broken storage bins.
Contemplating the many options of a single project can take hours or days and then another version to deal with the problem can and will cause procrastination until you just strap on your gloves and get your hands dirty. A simple move of a bucket or piles of bricks can alter a critters landscape. That is not the object but hope they will adapt.
Having the time and space to ponder deep thoughts unfortunately doesn’t turn off. Every shadow, breeze, sound will offer possibilities that will give new thoughts, opinions and a redraw of plans. Repairing a gate can turn into replacing the fence. Nike had it right with ‘Just Do It’.
Contemplation can bring some interesting ideas from a simple word or sentence overheard on an entirely different topic. Recently I heard a story about two girls who were switched at birth. One of the statements made in the story was how their rooms differed. Try picturing the details of the room you grew up in. Then think how that room changed as you grew up. Broaden that picture to your family patterns. Where did you go on vacation? Did you parents watch you participate in athletics or other school activities? Did your siblings participate? How do your friends families compare to your upbringing?
Some decisions are made at the spur of the moment but some are analyzed, scrutinized, examined, studied, reflected upon and deliberated until it is too late. If you wait to ask that girl to dance she will get tired of waiting. If you wait to buy that pair of shoes they will go out of fashion or won’t have your size. If you wait to buy that toy whether it be the latest, greatest hit or your children’s most important cherished dream will become obsolete in a matter of minutes.
Contemplation has a place in pondering the unknown like all the stars in the sky but there are those who take it too fair and becoming scientist who conjure up hypothecs which is only making up an answer that cannot be proven; sort of like politics or religion. Instead of reading your trashy tabloids on the throne try some contemplation during your defecation.
As many nights of warmth that are available hopefully will give me the time and space to contemplate, I will ponder and wonder and feed my bizarre dreams. There are no plans on changing the world or even my simple life but it keeps the mind active.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Decision Maker

Who decides? What is right and what is wrong? What is good and what is bad?
Maybe it is the judge that has to mediate every action and reaction? Maybe it is the professional broker who is chosen to represent the people of the area to make new laws that all must abide by? Maybe it is the one who holds the scepter?
When we are young, we cannot make the decisions. The big people around us do that. They tell us what to wear, when to eat, where to sleep. They tell us when to play and what to learn. It is not our choice.
As we grow we are given more responsibility to make our own decisions whether or not we should and the real learning process starts. Still bombarded by outside influences individuals we start to decide what colors we prefer, what food taste the best, which ones will be our friends and when we make incorrect decisions we are punished.
There are consequences to our decisions.
Each day is filled with decisions. We decide to go down the hall to the potty knowing if we do not we will be carrying a stinky with us. We decide to start the day off with a pot of coffee, a cup of tea or a shot of bourbon. We decide what to wear either by what is pressed and arranged in our closet or which piece of clothing on the floor is the least repulsive. We even are able to decide which shoe to put on first.
After the decision of how we make enough to survive and where we can shelter and whom possibility would live with us, we can settle down to the real important stuff. We can surf through the channels to decide what to waste our time on.
Our educational decisions will determine our future career(s) and many will require others to make the decisions for us. Some are content to take the orders and complain about them later while some may want to move up to make those decisions that affect others.
Other life choices may be life changing. The person you agreed upon marrying and living your life with might turn out to have been a bad decision. The next decision will cost you emotional pain and money.
Soldiers go where told to point their weapons. The command might come from on high but each individual has to make the life or death decisions. There is no ‘time out’ to analyze the situation and ponder the results.
We can’t decide to die but we all know we will. Some have the decision made and others will ponder if there was an option, but ultimately there isn’t.
The decision to give birth is another matter. The decision to become pregnant is not always mutual but once the process has succeeded life alters. The cards are laid on the table and the deal has been made so the players must decide the next move.
Do they stay together and perhaps marry so the offspring will not be shunned? Will he decide to split and leave her alone with the next decision?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Awards Show

Acknowledgement of an achievement; is this what life is all about?
Don’t know if it is the time of year or just a group of award shows on television but we sure like to pat our selves on the back.
Were we that good?
There are awards for best music, movies, television, sports, sales, driving, horses, sheep, looking, fashion…. The list goes on and on.
So after we have accomplished something special like a perfect attendance in school or prom king or most likely to get knocked up before graduation, we get a piece of paper or a badge or button or ribbon or a really nice hunk of wood with your name engraved on a piece of metal or a silver cup or chalice or a painting on the wall.
Then what?
Employers immediately forget last year and turn to the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ Even the movie stars fade away.
The highest most prodigious awards like the Olympics gold metal winners or record breakers will someday be passed by and forgotten.
Like many other high points in our lives, we forget the words to our favorite song or the names of our lost loves or why we hang onto all of this trash. That was then and this is now.
Having memorabilia around to remind us of when we were great is as phony to our hopes that old school mates will come by and put flowers on our graves for that long pass during homecoming game.
Still your name might wind up in the Wikipedia database so people can see how important you were with a footnote.
Winning could just be a simple act of kindness.

It may not get you to the finish line first or get you an award but will be remembered.

You choose.

The Gentlemen’s Club

My dad ran a ‘Gentlemen’s Club’. He wasn’t the owner or on the board of directors, but the manager. He just got hired to keep it all together.
The clubhouse was across the street from the austere capital building Thomas Jefferson designed that survived the civil war. Attached to a hotel, the club was ‘private’. Members only. Restricted to the male gender. No women allowed (except in the cooking staff, but they was colored).
I always thought of ‘the club’ as a place where prestigious movers and shakers of the power brokers went to relax in a secluded atmosphere where they could make deals and drink brandy. The Declaration of Independence was writ in places like this, fueled with emotions and alcohol and away from feminine distractions.
The surroundings were very posh. I know because our house was filled with their leftovers. Thanks dad.
The ‘club’ had a bar area and a lounge area with stuffed chairs and heavy tables and private meeting rooms. The walls were covered in paintings of horses and historical figures. The rooms were dark and almost foreboding. Soft muzak played while colored waiters in black slacks and white waistcoats brought trays of alcoholic refreshments (before liquor by the drink) and were subjected to servitude treatment not unfamiliar with the Jim Crow south.
My dad’s job was to keep each and every member who entered the private men’s-only haven well fed, well entertained, and well lubed with as much alcohol as the member’s bottle allowed the bartender to pour (unless there was a little something special the manager had to stoke the fire as it was). He would cover phone calls from worried wives and make sure the member got to the next destination in proper fashion.
Dad had the ear of the governor, assemblymen, bankers, lawyers, tobacco magnates, the media moguls, and even some rich and famous locals and nationwide celebrities. His ‘club’ was the first in the area other than the country clubs. It was the place for the high and mighty to go and revel in their personal wealth and power to flaunt.
Then the gals wanted to be part of the party. The women’s movement broke the code of silence and members started bringing their wives. My father always had a line like “I see you are here with your daughter” if the lady on the members arm was much younger and not familiar, or my dad would recognize the member’s wife and say, “It is so good to see you brought your bride, can I get you a drink?”
Then when the government declared that the people who could only work in the kitchen were allowed to join as members. The ‘private’ club started to fold.
Other establishments offered dining and wine and dancing as the youth moved away from the stuffy old-fashioned gentlemen’s club downtown to the suburbs. That is history.

But suddenly I wondered? Why was it a ‘Men’s Only Club’?
When I was introduced to members my father kept a pretty tight grip so I wouldn’t linger. I just figured we were not worthy to be in the member’s company any longer than the staff. My dad was only hired help.

Since LGBTXY&Z… was never talked about in the 50’s, I’d never thought that these drunk old white haired men stuffed into their vest and herringbone suits puffing on their cigars were just a bunch of screaming queens. Why would a bunch of guys want to just sit around drinking together if it doesn’t involve girls in tight outfits and football on the screen?

My father died before disco took off and the whole gay/straight movement evolved and it was probably a blessing.
I always thought of my dad as a John Wayne - Henry Fonda - James Arness (yes, I met him at ‘the club’) kind of guy but even now there are rumors. What is a guy to believe?
I still like the whip.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Don’t have time for that

A social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from individuals’ interaction form the basis of a social structure.
Social philosophy is the study of questions about social behavior and interpretations of society and social institutions in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. Social philosophers place new emphasis on understanding the social contexts for political, legal, moral, and cultural questions, and to the development of novel theoretical frameworks, from social ontology to care ethics to cosmopolitan theories of democracy, human rights, gender equity and global justice.
There is often a considerable overlap between the questions addressed by social philosophy and ethics or value theory. Social philosophy includes political philosophy and jurisprudence, which are largely concerned with the societies of state and government and their functioning.
Social philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy all share intimate connections with the social sciences.

Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one’s own interests by society or institutions such as the government. Individualism is often defined in contrast to totalitarianism, collectivism and more corporate social forms.
Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts “with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation.” Classical liberalism, existentialism, and anarchism are examples of movements that take the human individual as a central unit of analysis. Individualism thus involves “the right of the individual to freedom and self-realization”.
Individualism is thus also associated with artistic and bohemian interests and lifestyles where there is a tendency towards self-creation and experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors as so also with humanist philosophical positions and ethics.

Ideology is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations. An ideology is a comprehensive normative vision that is followed by people, governments, or other groups that is considered the correct way by the majority of the population, as argued in several philosophical tendencies. It can also be a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of society such as the elite to all members of society as suggested in some Marxist and critical-theory accounts. While the concept of “ideology” describes a set of ideas broad in its normative reach, an ideology is less encompassing than the ideas expressed in concepts such as worldview, imaginary and ontology.
Ideology refers to the system of abstracted meaning applied to public matters, thus making this concept central to politics. Implicitly, in societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails ideology. Ideology is “the imaginary relation to the real conditions of existence”.

With all that said (no, I did not include footnotes) there is much more to the conversation than just the weather, recent purchases, and health.
Social media and in some sense the established journalism have dumb-down the importance of what we, as human beings, really want to know from each other. Are we worth more than a drunken selfie, pet photos, captured quote from someone we might have respected like Martin Luther King or Mark Twain or Pee Wee Herman or worst yet, an angry and evil shout out based on nonsense and uneducated bias?
As friends we wish to hear similar yet variations of ideas to broaden your beliefs and ideology. Those with opposing views are worth the time to listen to if the message is coherent and based on actual facts. Otherwise, why do we bother?

What is most important between people?
That sunset you photographed with your phone and posted for all to see, did it make you feel better?
The solitude of watching that sunset with your own thoughts is what really captured that moment in time.
To share that particular moment is an experience connecting humans. It can be a silent pair sitting on a bench or a group celebrating the day passing; it is meaningful and bonding.

In our youth we tried so hard to become part of the overall social structure we bowed down to the requirements of water cooler talk about television shows or complaints about working hours or critiques of a disastrous movie we all witness but are ashamed of now or that tight sweater worn by the secretary in HR. With groups of ‘friends’ we continued the bland references to life with some sort of mental altering substance.
Those brief moments of honest inter-connections were few but memorable.

With political correctness restrictions it is difficult to speak your thoughts possibly offending another. If the bond is worth the effort, both will try to find the reason for the discourse and take appropriate actions to resolve the offense. Could we end war?
Or has society become so affluent to disregard anything ideas but what has been established in government and religion? Are we so jaded to our own selfish ideologies that we have forgotten how to learn from a different point-of-view. Have we stopped our social education? Have we stopped evolving?

Why do we wait until it is too late to say the things we really mean? Are we such posers that original thoughts established on readings and listening and experiences cannot be expressed? Can we take the conclusion of our intelligence creating an ideology that becomes our personality and thus our perceived persona?
How difficult is it to ask someone to dance with your? How easy is it to express the feeling of that sunset without saying a word?
Do we want to hear quotations from an ancient scripture or a repeated statement from some notable or a replay of a television show?

It is frustrating trying to find the truth in souls for they might not accept the challenge or maybe not worth the time?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beatle Boots

I wore Beatle boots. I wore them for a couple of years. They hurt my feet.
After the Beatles hit Ed Sullivan in 1964 and watching the girls screaming, every boy wanted to be ‘a Beatle’.
The hair had to grow and put up with the parents and teachers. The collarless suits were too expensive for teenagers and unavailable in most cities department stores.
Then there were the boots.
The Spanish leather heeled black boots with the pointed toes. The first ones had zippers on the sides and later had expandable elastic to slide them on. They just came up over the ankle and slide under tight pants.
Living in a conservative southern town the normal stores for men’s wear only carried wingtips, loafers or tennis or sailing shoes. There were no mail order or online merchandising so creativity took over.
Crossing the main street in town that separated the two skin tones there were a series of shops that marketed to different taste. The same Jewish merchants who ran established department stores also owned little boutique shops and pawn broker establishments on the other side of the street.
For the adventurous one could pick up some colorful accessories and mingle with people you normally see in white aprons in the kitchen.
As the story goes I found a store that carried these Italian pointed boots. Not sure if they were even the right size, I bought them.
With my black socks I squeezed into the soft leather and stood up. The wooden heel pushed your toes down into a wedge but it didn’t matter. Just putting them on was to become a Beatle.
Walking across the room was the same as Paul or kicking up the heels was the same as John or a quick little slide was just like George in the movies. Didn’t have to worry about Ringo because you couldn’t see his feet behind the drums.
Not driving much and then none, I walked. As painful as those boots were they made me feel cool and felt so good when I took them off.
The plus side of looking cool was the leather soles were great for dancing. The down side was the soft leather wore out quick.
I bought at least two pair and they were part of my band uniform until the next fashion craze came along.

What’s That On Your Shirt?

If you ever wonder who you are, check your t-shirts.
A T-shirt (or tee shirt, or tee) is a style of unisex fabric shirt, named after the T shape of the body and sleeves. It is normally associated with short sleeves, a round neckline known as a crew neck, with no collar. T-shirts are generally made of a light, inexpensive fabric, and are easy to clean.
Typically made of cotton textile in a jersey knit, it has a distinctively pliable texture compared to shirts made of woven cloth. The majority of modern versions have a body made from a continuously woven tube, on a circular loom, so that the torso has no side seams. The manufacture of T-shirts has become highly automated, and may include fabric cutting by laser or water jet.
A V-neck T-shirt has a V-shaped neckline, as opposed to the round neckline of the more common crew neck shirt (also called a U-neck). V-necks were introduced so that the neckline of the shirt does not stand out when an outer shirt is worn over it, thus reducing or eliminating the visible cloth above the outer shirt of a crew neck shirt.
The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century and were adopted by miners and stevedores due to hot working conditions, and in the mid-20th century transitioned from undergarment to general-use casual clothing.
As slip-on garments without buttons, the earliest T-shirt dates back to sometime between the 1898 Spanish–American War and 1913, when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as undergarments. These were a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under a uniform. It became common for sailors and Marines in work parties, the early submarines, and tropical climates to remove their uniform jacket, wearing (and soiling) only the undershirt.
They soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries, including agriculture. The T-shirt was easily fitted, easily cleaned, and inexpensive, and for those reasons it became the shirt of choice for young boys. Boys' shirts were made in various colors and patterns.
By the Great Depression, the T-shirt was often the default garment to be worn when doing farm or ranch chores, as well as other times when modesty called for a torso covering but conditions called for lightweight fabrics. Following World War II, it became common to see veterans wearing their uniform trousers with their T-shirts as casual clothing. The shirts became even more popular in the 1950s after Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire, finally achieving status as fashionable, stand-alone, outerwear garments. Often boys wore them while doing chores and playing outside, eventually opening up the idea of wearing them as general-purpose casual clothing.
Printed T-shirts were in limited use by 1942 when an Air Corps Gunnery School T-shirt appeared on the cover of Life magazine. In the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs.
Current versions are available in many different designs and fabrics, and styles include crew-neck and V-neck shirts.
The first time I saw tee-shirts was at the beach in the local drinking establishment where World War II veterans would sit on wooden stools in their sailor hats and white t-shirts smoking cigarettes, drinking a assortment of vile potions and showing off their fading wrinkled tattoos.
No one I knew wore t-shirts. No one wore t-shirts under their dress shirts and instead had to put on jackets to cover their sweaty armpits. A t-shirt was the sign of the lower blue-collar class, but the fad was catching on. Like pajama tops, t-shirts were becoming popular in the middle-class for the boys were ripping their oxford shirts and they were cheap and easy to clean. There were horizontal stripes but no patterns or colors.
By college the artsy types were starting to draw on t-shirts. Thought they were hard to lay flat they could be illustrated with markers while being worn, though the person wearing it usually had to wash off the tattoo that bled through the material. Kids started silk-screening messages and symbols but the paints would quickly fade after washing. Then there was tie-dye.
Putting aside the collared shirts and ties (a collar is a device of any material worn by a person around the neck to indicate their submissive or slave status) and pulling on the easy to wear and replace t-shirt became a counterculture uniform. Madison Avenue caught the trend of the Boomers and started making the t-shirt more fashionable. T-shirts showed the logo of your favorite band or rock concert or shoe as the marketing exploded until everyone was a walking billboard. Even the tank top t-shirt that give more room for the arms to breath shrunk for the muscle bound and oversized for the basketball court.
Go to any retirement village and notice what the elderly wear. It is so much trouble to put on fancy clothing so easy-to-wear is the norm. Don’t be concerned if patterns and colors don’t match, wear what is comfortable.
Maybe that is the way fashion should be?


At night I rock on the porch and listen to the sirens.
Sirens signal where danger is. I listen to where they are coming from and where they are going. I’ve learned the different tones from security to rescue to emergency service.
If they drive by quickly there is something bad happening. If they drive slower they are looking for trouble. If they stop, I worry.
If the problem is really serious there will be lots of sirens. If it is a car chase I can listen to it travel around the city without a scanner.
I was walking home one night when three police cars sirens wailing stopped and the officers jumped out with guns drawn as some woman came running out of a house screaming. I walked across the street.
If I hear a siren I try to go the opposite direction. That loud sound just tells me to avoid at all cost.
In Greek mythology, the Siren were dangerous creatures, who lured sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
Sirens are usually daughters of the river god Achelous, with Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, or Chthon (the Earth).  Sirens are found in many Greek stories, notably in Homer's Odyssey.
Their number is variously reported as from two to five. In the Odyssey, Homer says nothing of their origin or names, but gives the number of the Sirens as two. Later writers mention both their names and number as Peisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepeia.
No matter of the origin or the names or the reasons, sirens should be avoided like flashing lights in the rearview mirror.

Monday, February 13, 2017


I won’t get into some of the stuff I’ve been reading because it is pretty deep but I will ask this question: What is your life?
Not the when you were born and when you die stuff, but what is your life when you are alive. What is your philosophy of life as you live it?
It will change with age and experiences but you have to find feelings, knowledge, travels and interaction with others that gives you that unique personality that you carry around.
At the end of the day you are either content with what you have done and where you have gone and how you have been treated and treated others. Is this what life is all about?
We will all have our ideas of what makes life worth living. Some may need assistance from mystical unknown or worldly riches but in the end we are all the same in our eternal search for the meaning of living.
My personal idea is ‘Life is a Movie’. It may be a play but the same thing.
We are all cast for a part and the script is constantly being rewritten. Most of us will just be extras in the background but we are still on the screen. Sometimes we get speaking roles and some become leading stars whose names appear on the marquee and faces appear in the glossy magazines for the rest of us to idolize.
Simplistic philosophies for sure but just contemplate this: Who are you when you walk into a room of strangers?
There is no perceived information about you so you must express yourself. Your attire, cosmetics, swagger; the true YOU must appear.
Some will peruse the room for familiar faces. Some will enter a space with an arrogance of superiority. Some will search out the bar.
I, personally, am an observer.
I will find a quiet spot and watch what is going on in the play of life. As being thrown on a stage and the play is already in Act III, I need to see where I’m to fit in. I wasn’t handed a script or got the memo about rehearsal times so I must observe to find my place.
As an observer I can enjoy the play like the audience until I have to participate. I can handle the speaking roles even by the seat of my pants but know there is never applause.
As an observer I can join in the entertainment but do not require the spotlight. I’ve noticed the stardom is fleeting and another will take your place. That is the way this game is played.
As an observer I can write my reflections of time and the curiosity of strangers. It is all about how I view life.
So many of us exist through family, church, work and health with associations through organizations only to be listed in an obituary. Like the leaves on the trees we bloom in the spring and fade in the fall only to disintegrate under the snow.
Maybe it is age, maybe it is solitude, and maybe it is a change in seasons? You have to find your own path and make your own decisions.
When is intermission?

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Syllable that is what it is all about.
A syllable is a unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants, forming the whole or a part of a word; e.g., there are two syllables in water and three in inferno.
What does this have to do with all the price of tea in China? The syllable is the cause of all our stress and tension of the past year. It is that simple.
I wake every morning to the sound of the radio and from 5AM on to the news and the news tells me over and over again a one-syllable word. It is actually a name. The one-syllable name is repeated again and again and has been for over a year and I’m tired of hearing it but it won’t go away.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
You get the idea. It is in every magazine, newspaper, television and radio show. There is no way to get away from it.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
It is not a bad word or hard to say. It is one-syllable like ‘door’ or ‘home’ or ‘dog’ or ‘wife’ or ‘car’; words we use everyday without causing any problems. So why does this word cause so much anxiety?
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
Trump didn’t need any advertising because he was already a television celebrity and a household name. When he said he would run for president, everyone guffawed for how would this media mogul transform into the position of the most powerful figure on the planet?
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
Yet he did it and the news media found him as astonishing as the public so he upped his brand without a campaign mission or vision to game plan much to the benighted marketing folks.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
It is like gum stuck to your shoe.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
And NOW he IS president!
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
But the media is still crying out.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...  
Instead of President Trump or Mister President or even Donald Trump. It is all that one-syllable word pounding my brain like Pavlov’s Dog.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
So I did a history research study to find the other presidents with a one-syllable name. Here is what I found.

Polk, or ‘Ole Hickory’ had his hands full during the great Irish potato famine that brought starving immigrants to the U.S., the Mormons migrated to Utah, he declared war on Mexico, the Smithsonian Institute was established, ‘Declaration of Sentiments’ women’s suffrage was shaking, the Department of the Interior was created, the liberty bell didn’t ring anymore because it was cracked, he got most of the southwest and when gold was found in California it helped move everyone west.
Pierce, or ‘Young Hickory of the Granite Hills’ dealt the Gadsden Purchase (more land grabs), ‘Bleeding Kansas’ civil war between slavery and non-slavery gripped the state for two years, the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society encouraged anti-slavery folks to move to Kansas, the Kansas – Nebraska Act gave territories sovereignty on the slavery issue, State of Disunion Convention was held all showing the beginnings of the Civil War, and made a treaty with Japan that had been in isolation for three centuries.
Grant, or the ‘Hero of Appomattox’ completed the Transcontinental Railway, ‘Black Friday’ financial panic due to over speculation and railroad monopolies, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began, southern states were readmitted to the union, the Federal Election Law giving voting rights to everyone, The Indian Appropriation Act (another treaty), the Ku Klux Klan bill trying to stop bullying was passed, the Civil Service Commission was founded, silver currency was stopped, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was formed trying to halt spirits from dry states,  the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and Little Big Horn all happened on his watch.
Hayes, or the ‘Dark Horse President’ withdrew Federal troops from south ending reconstruction, sent troops to squash the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Knights of Labor (unions) was established, retirement of all Civil War bonds in 1979 was enacted, efforts to limit Chinese immigration taking American jobs, had the first telephone installed in the White House and had the first egg roll on the White House lawn.
Taft who had no nickname was president when Peary reached the North Pole (and didn’t find Santa Claus), corruption in the government ran rampant, The Mann Act was passed so women would not be transported for ‘immoral purposes’, National Urban League was formed, The Triangle Shirtwaist Co. burns in deplorable working conditions, Standard Oil Co. dissolves, American Tobacco Co. found in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and ordered dissolution by the Supreme Court, sues U.S. Steel for violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Carnegie Corporation  was formed, Children’s Bureau in the Dept. of Commerce was begun, the Titanic sank, troops were sent to Mexico, China and Cuba to protect American interests, the 8-hour working day was authorized and the 16th Amendment was ratified for taxation.
Ford also known as ‘Jerry’, pardoned a former president, gave amnesty to Vietnam draft evaders or deserters, tried to tackle a high inflation legacy which cause a major recession, was the target of failed assassination attempts twice and was the first president to visit Japan.
The Father and Son team: Bush & Bush
H.W. Bush nicknamed ‘Poppy’ offered a banking bail-out, watched the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Berlin wall came down, sent troops to Panama to capture Manuel Antonio Noriega, promoted ‘No New Taxes’, approved the Disabilities Act, Clean Air Act, and Immigration Act, worked for Nuclear Arms Reduction as the Soviet Union dissolved, set up the Unemployment Compensation, started the ‘Operation Restore Hope’ in Somalia and went to war with Saddam Hussein but didn’t end it.
W. Bush of  ‘W’ had 9/11, went to war with the Middle East, watched Hurricane Katrina and helped create the economic crisis before the bubble burst.
And now…
As you can see these one-syllable named presidents had some hard times and we may be in for more. I’m not saying the others didn’t either.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
So how do we get over this Trump thing? We could use initials like LBJ or JFK but DJT just doesn’t roll off the tongue. We could make a nickname like ‘Ike’ because saying Eisenhower was just too long? He could change his name to Trumpenstein or Trumpson or Trumpberg but he’d be losing his branding and he doesn’t want to lose his brand.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
Must have some respect for the name due to the position of the employment so maybe I’ll just have to deal with it like when I hear a ‘dirty word’ and just replace it with a ‘silly’ replacement.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump…...
Or I could stick my head in the sand and turn off all social and news media for four years?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Waking Up Blind

Somewhere between the dreams of home invasion and terrible service at a fast food taco stand the mind wanders to this thought. Suppose I woke up blind?
It wouldn’t have to be an accident or some terrible disease but just in the morning when I opened my eyes it was as dark as when they were closed. The typical response to blink and rub doesn’t seem to alter the darkness.
There are also other bodily functions that need immediate attention so I feel my way down the hallway as I’ve done thousands of time but have to double check the position of the toilet before I let loose. One step over to the sink and wash my hands. No need to look at the mirror. A splash of water on my face awakens me to this new reality.
Slowly retracing my steps I find my pants for it is cool and my slippers for they never change positions. My next normal routine is to go into the kitchen to make coffee.
Only using one mug and one bowl and one plate, they will either be in the drying rack or the sink. I find the water heater and fill then press the bar to heat. All this is automatic and never needs to be watched. The sugar package is torn open and poured and measured by weight. There is always one spoonful of coffee and one spoonful of creamer so as long as I’ve emptied them into the mug instead of on the counter I can wait for the water to boil.
After the water is poured listening to the sound and hoping now to pour it all over the floor, I steady myself and weave back to my office chair. Feeling for the rubber coaster I place the warm mug and turn to the computer. What did I expect? I can turn it on but cannot see anything. The keyboard I could handle from memory but the mouse won’t do me any good. Probably got that email I’ve been waiting for but will never know. I turn to view the sun come up but seems it will always be midnight now.
As I sip the warm morning drink I try to assemble my daily chores with this new situation. I guess I can take replacing the windows off my ‘to-do’ list because windows now are just glass walls.
What will I have for lunch today? I have some soup that I could probably fumble around with and put in my heating cup, but how do I cook it. I have to see the microwave to punch in the right numbers. I could bake a pizza but same problem on setting the bake temperature. I could call out for a pizza but how do I find the pizza shop number? Again I’d have to touch screen the phone. I can’t even call for help because I’m not familiar enough to know the placement of the numbers.
At this point of the morning I usually go outside, get out my bike, check the yard and then ride to the grocery store. I can struggle my way out the door and gingerly walk across the uneven path trying not to run into a tree or get turned around. No matter how many repetitive times we do our usual patterns we use out senses as reference to time and space.
I unlock the door by feeling the key shapes and find my chair. It would probably be a bad idea to put on my helmet and wander out in traffic peddling only by sound where a car swerving or a pothole could be the end?
Don’t think I’ll be writing any blog post today. Don’t think I’ll be using any electrical saws today. Don’t think I’ll be able to pay bills since I write checks.
I can still play the guitar and listen to the radio. I can still wash myself and find the bed but eventually I’ll starve to death.
As an artist having nothing but black to look at would be worst than losing a hand or hearing or speech. Every sight from now on would have to be from memory.
Then I hear the classical music end and the news comes on the radio and I open my eyes and I’m back in the world I expected to find. I chug along to my daily routine with a brief stop here and there to view the wonders I try to appreciate each and every day.
Here’s looking at you.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What is with all this DEBT?

  Now it is time to start thinking about taxes. Remember them? Then look at the news and wonder.
  I keep reading about all this debt and wonder. Student debt is approx. $1.3 trillion. National gross debt is approx. $20 trillion.
  Now whether you understand math or not a ‘trillion’ is (1,000,000,000,000; one million million; 1012; SI prefix: tera-). And a million is a thousand times one thousand. A thousand is equal to 10 hundreds.
  You can get your calculator out and wear the battery out but that is a lot of cold hard cash.
  Who came up with this process?
  How is some poor kid out of high school going to pay for all that tuition, even with government assistance that is just another loan? How many years will a bright young mind have to be burdened with paying back (with interest) loans on a minimal salary? Beginners trying to start a life blockaded with overwhelming debt.
  Not an economic major, I remember when the plastic card arrived at my college apartment. I didn’t ask for it but the bank said I could use this instead of the amount in my account to pay for whatever I wanted. They said I could pay them back later and in real small print declared the massive interest on payment.
  It was like FREE CASH. Then another bank and another sent me these pieces of plastic and my lottery had come in. After a few minimum payments did I realize the balance wasn’t shrinking?
  A few decades later I dug my way out of all the FREE money but I wondered why everyone didn’t fall to the temptation in this banking trap. Then the recession hit and I realized everyone did.
  The promise of more money than you earn is very tempting. To possess things you can’t afford is a drug and America took the bait.
  I am certainly not knowledgeable enough to place blame on our cultural delusions. The banks and credit companies are only being capitalist making money on interest with the threat of late payments to reprocessing of property.
  I know as well as the next smuck out there that if money is being given away I’ll stand in line, but there is no FREE lunch. Even investors (those are the folks with the bucks in their wallets) want to have a return on investment. Solid agreements of “I want to borrow this amount and will pay it back by this time” don’t always work. People have other monetary problems or may lose employment or unforeseen crisis that disturbs the normal pattern of payments. Financial organizations appear to understand knowing the longer the loan the more interest. Even refinancing will extend the loan at a higher interest rate.
  That is my common take on the problem, but how did we get to these numbers? I remember when $100 was a lot of dough. A couple of $100 could buy a car, paid in cash on delivery. Having $1,000 in the bank account showed you saved more than you spent so the bank sent you a credit card. A loan for a house seemed like the most massive debt a family could ever have to suffer and accepted with the commitment to spend years paying the bank back for their shelter.
  My folks who lived through the depression knew how to budget but they never passed that knowledge on to me. Always trying to provide better for their kids than they had, they forgot the banks were plying them away from austerity.
  So there were millionaires. There was even a show on TV about a old fat guy going around handing out checks for one million dollars to complete strangers and everyone watch the show wanting in. It was a big deal and those were the rich and famous.
  Then came the billionaires. Folks that had so much money (real or fake) to choke on the millionaires and brush them aside appeared on the scene. Companies stopped counting in thousands or millions but went up to billions. It was like Monopoly money that didn’t mean anything to the common slob working for saw bucks. There was no comprehension of what a jet plane cost or an aircraft carrier or a restoration of the Washington monument or a government official’s office. No one reports that our country is going to war and it will cost $$$$.
  Most folks aren’t bean counters and just try to get by but wonder what a ‘trillion’ is. How can this country have so much debt? Who do we own money to? How long will it take to pay it back? Will we ever pay it back? Will that affect my taxes?
  On the local economy the community reports deficits in revenue so they can’t pick up the leaves or the trash or cut the services to fill the potholes and then hire another administrator to decide how to balance the books. Sorry I’m too busy getting the kids to school and paying the sitter and taking the dog to the vet and paying for the gym fees that I never go to, so go ahead and juggle the numbers and the newspaper will report the disparities that we will not read.
  Now with our bleeding hearts we turn to governmental officials to relieve this overwhelming debt and they talk about committees that will investigate the options and form plausible actions while the kids are strained on paying they way.
  Do we really want to get out of debt or just keep going down the road to despair? What will we do when the banker calls in our loan and we cannot pay?
What is 'Gross National Product - GNP'
Gross national product (GNP) is an estimate of total value of all the final products and services produced in a given period by the means of production owned by a country's residents. GNP is commonly calculated by taking the sum of personal consumption expenditures, private domestic investment, government expenditure, net exports, and any income earned by residents from overseas investments, minus income earned within the domestic economy by foreign residents. Net exports represent the difference between what a country exports minus any imports of goods and services.
GNP is related to another important economic measure called gross domestic product (GDP), which takes into account all output produced within a country's borders regardless of who owns the means of production. GNP starts with GDP, adds residents' investment income from overseas investments, and subtracts foreign residents' investment income earned within a country.
GNP measures the total monetary value of the total output produced by a country's residents. Therefore, any output produced by foreign residents within the country's borders must be excluded in calculations of GNP, while any output produced by the country's residents outside of its borders must be counted. GNP does not include intermediary goods and services to avoid double counting since they are already incorporated in the value of final products and services.
GNP and GDP are very closely related concepts, and the main differences between them comes from the fact that there may be companies owned by foreign residents that produce goods in the country, and companies owned by domestic residents that produce products for the rest of the world and revert earned income to domestic residents. For example, there are a number of foreign companies that produce products and services in the United States and transfer any income earned to their foreign residents. Likewise, many U.S. corporations produce goods and services outside of the U.S. borders and earn profits for U.S. residents. If income earned by domestic corporations outside of the United States exceeds income earned within the United States by corporations owned by foreign residents, the U.S. GNP is higher than its GDP.
While GDP is the most widely followed measure of a country's economic activity, GNP is still worth looking at because large differences between GNP and GDP may indicate that a country is getting more engaged in international trade, production or financial operations. Finally, real GNP may prove to be a more useful measure, since it factors out any changes in national income due to inflation. The real GNP takes nominal GNP measured in current prices and adjusts for any changes in price level for goods and services included in the calculation of GNP.