Friday, November 15, 2013

Road To Redemption

                                                         

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?
And, accordingly, can a life be redeemed
If you divorce yourself from the forces that  thrive,
On opening old wounds?

Having spent a lifetime contemplating old sins,
Can one finally declare "enough!" 
And live for today and tomorrow
And say I am done with reliving ancient nightmares?

Can one life be redeemed and any kindnesses extended
Be met with the purity of motive?
Or must we bear a cross of guilt, a crown of thorns
And peace comes only in the grave?

When the vindictive brew is prepared by others
Who must destroy your peace to achieve theirs
Can one find a peaceful harbor
To lay by until the storm has passed?

When all the sincere "mea culpas"
Have been offered and accepted or rejected
How much longer must one pay for a past
In a world where one no longer dwells?

Can one then sail once more on calm and peaceful waters
And wake each day with a freshening wind in our face
Or must we wear the mask of "ogre"
Assigned to us by others long ago?

Having, regrettably, baptized myself in fire and pain
At this age, can I finally immerse myself in cool and healing waters
Can I finally deny those who would adorn me forever in mourning clothes
Or have I, at last, earned the right to redemption?






Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Are You Reading?

                                                           

Since I no longer have cable, I miss C-Spans's Book TV.  They always have great author interviews and they covered book festivals all over the country, but my favorite feature was a little doing called "What Are You Reading"...C-Span would query public figures and ask what they were reading these days.  The answers were all an eclectic collection of books.

So, I thought I'd ask my readers what they have been reading lately, what they liked and didn't like, and why.

I've been busy with my Kindle e-reader all year.  Of late my reading selections have been all over the place.  I have been borrowing Ian Fleming's James Bond books and re-visiting the summer of my 16th year when I read all of the Bond books while waiting anxiously for Sean Connery to appear in the next Bond blockbuster in theaters.  The books have proven to be fun reads even today.

I've also read David McCullough's "In the Course of Human Events", a fascinating recounting of our founding fathers working their way through firming up a form of government that has lasted for two hundred plus years.  McCullough also scored big with "The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris, a fascinating study of famous and not so famous people journeying to Paris in the early 19th century, their impressions of the most civilized and most glorious city on earth.  
                                                                  

Bill Bryson has another "non-travel" book out this summer.  Titled "One Summer" we have Bryson reminding us of the eventful year of 1927, when Babe Ruth set the Home Run record that some argue still stands, Lindbergh's crossing the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis, as well as other tumultuous events, to include the stock market boom that would come crashing down a couple of years later.  Bryson always makes for interesting reading but I'm still waiting for him to get off his aging ass and write another one of those travel books where he's stumbling around the great unknown...he's the only author today who can make me laugh out loud with his humor.

I've also read all three of the Robert B. Parker "legacy authors" who are carrying on with Parker's Spencer and Jesse Stone characters.  Most deserving of high praise is Ace Atkins who has nailed Parker's sparkling dialogue and sense of plot.

I also plowed through about a dozen of Amazon's "free" books, some good, none great and a few being a total waste of time.

Just now I am wrapping up another Bond book and will be reading the new Johnny Carson bio by his former financial advisor, Henry Bushkin.

So, what are you reading, folks?  Got any recommendations for me?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Up On The Housetop, Ruff, Ruff, Ruff"

                                                         

I got my annual 10% off holiday Petco coupon in the mail yesterday...and since my Chi's are going to be my only companions this Christmas I ought to buy "the kids" something or other for Christmas, lest they too flit off to a ski lodge in Vail or a week on the beach at Rocky Point for Christmas week.

One of the things I enjoy about owning dogs is you can screw em up real good, train them into near retardation and, unlike children, you won't be "owning"your mistakes by having them live with you into your Social Security years.   I mean, after all, you drive a dog into total wackiness, ya got em for ten years or so, they wander over the Rainbow Bridge, and you can bring in two more puppies to wack out at your leisure.

Of course some of the dog's "uniqueness" has nothing at all to do with you.  We learned quite by accident that my dear Rocky, now passed, loved to sing...and did whenever prompted.  His favorites were "Happy Birthday", and strangely, the Neil Diamond tune "Song Sung Blue".  Our old girl Ginger is by nature a grand thief, has no qualms about eating our supper if she has access to it, and loves her coffee and cream in the morning, a practice no longer allowed since half a cup gives her the jitters so profoundly she looks (pardon me please this bit of cruelty) like Michael J. Fox an hour late on his medicine.

Still, much of the strange and quirky behavior stems from my own personal torturing and teasing.  For instance, I've learned that, while washing my face with a wash cloth in the morning, if I slide it up on my head to look a little silly my two dogs upon seeing it will both join in a cacophony of wild barking.  I can achieve that same effect by covering my face with the clear plastic salad spinner bowl and peering at them through it....even a stare through the slats of a spatula sends them into delirious mayhem.  

And both Chi's can be half asleep on their day bed, ready for slumberland, and if I, in crossing the room, do a little side jig with my feet they are instantly on their feet in pursuit of the offending feet.
One of my Chi's hates the vacuum cleaner and will disappear under a bed in the furthest room as soon as I fire up the vacuum...the other will sleep right through the commotion.

Rosie, the young Chi is quite the hunter, having learned early that my backyard quail leave their eggs in the Texas Sage where Rosie seeks them out like a kid at Easter.  When she first started hunting them she would bring the quail eggs in whole, not sure of the texture and not decided on what she wanted to do with it.  When she would bring on in I would work it out of her mouth and return it to the nest.  Rosie soon learned to "eat out", crunching those quail eggs when found and eating the yolk on the spot.  Ginger is not, nor has never been much of a hunter, tending instead to stand guard on the food bowl, often shoving it around the room until she's got my attention, then ruefully demanding a refill.

Now, anyone who owns dogs knows that none of this is special; every dog exhibits their own unique set of talents and displays of craziness.  My Uncle Floyd once had a mixed breed spaniel who would sit at the end of the couch on his back haunches like a human, watch tv, and if you favored him with a lit cigarette he would hold it in his mouth until it was but a stub.  Another Uncle Floyd canine prodigy was taught to pursue and bite you if he thought anyone was making fun of his "manhood". ..he was the canine version of the "socks in the crotch" crowd of the 1990's.

So the dogs and I, and all their quirks, will be hanging around together for the holidays.  It's just too bad that my dear troubadour, Rocky, is no longer with us...if he were still around perhaps i could learn him a round or two of "Up On The Housetop"....:)



Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Trivia Treasure, Pt 1

                                                             

When I was a kid I had a little wagon that I had rescued from the garbage heap.  I used it to sometimes pull my little brother around, would once in a while tote my sister's dolls once around the yard...mostly it was used to pull up and down the street to retrieve pop bottles, to be redeemed for candy at the Norcross Grocery.

But I never had a Radio Flyer...the Cadillac of little red wagons.  My folks were so poor even I knew enough not to wish, or ask for such a marvelous thing.  I might ask for Roy Rogers guns and holsters but nothing so fine as a Radio Flyer.   I had come across a few Radio Flyers in my childhood and could only stand frozen in awe as one rolled by.  Radio Flyers were incredibly strong, had solid rubber rimmed wheels and a pulling tongue serious about hauling a load.  You could put three six year olds in that wagon, lift that tongue and you knew the Radio Flyer was ready to roll, handling the load with ease, wheels spinning smoothly and quietly.

There were two toys that one dreamed would be under the Christmas tree some fantastic morning; a Lionel Train set or a Radio Flyer...but only in your wildest dreams...you didn't dare even contemplate owning either in the stark reality of daytime.  

And wonder of wonders!..the Radio Flyer was probably the first "unitoy", an equal opportunity toy lusted after by both girls and boys!  I once saw a little girl coming down the sidewalk, her Radio Flyer hauling her entire doll collection...and I nearly cried at the waste of such a fine conveyance.  

A kid could head out on a Saturday morning, Radio Flyer equipped, and come home that afternoon with interesting rocks, scraps of balsa wood from a toy airplane, broken roller skates whose wheels would work on your home made box scooter, a bunch of purple violets to placate mom...an abject apology for sticky fingers from the lingerings of a Sugar Daddy and a pack of Neccos.  Or, for a nickel, you could haul the old ladies trash to the alley with that trusty Radio Flyer.

Nowadays, kids don't spend much time outside.  They are too busy exploring Star Wars on a gaming machine to explore the grand world outside.  Radio Flyers have now been jazzed up with digital consoles and bright whirligigs to attract the easily bored.  That seems incredibly sad to me.

Most of the Radio Flyers I see these days are in some elderly fellow's antique toy collection...or in some old lady's back yard where she uses it to move her potted plants from here to there.  

But hope lingers...last Christmas I sent my grandson a little red wagon, along with a book about little read wagons...and the reliable word came back that he was thrilled with it....

Life is good..and even better as Christmas nears...an early Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Carpe Diem; Seize the Day

                                                               

Today is October 30th, the 303rd day of the year.  It holds no special meaning except that it is your first chance of the day to brush a loved one's cheek with the softness of your lips, to whisper in their ear "I love you".  

You may have said "I love you" a thousand times, but it is always the last one you utter that means the most.  Let no time pass before you've expressed your love to a dear one for it may be the last time you'll ever have time to say it.  

I just read a heart breaking story about a mother's loss of her son.  She worked nights, and upon returning home, she found her son waiting in his car for her to return so that he might take her out for a late night breakfast.  Mom was thrilled at the sweet and spontaneous gesture coming from her teenage son.  The two drove down to the diner and ate pancakes and eggs and first of the morning coffee.  

The diner was quiet at that hour and they sat across from each other in the booth, their reflections dancing in the night darkened window, as they spoke of the doings of their day, of their plans for tomorrow, spoke of memories, often repeated but no less valued for their repetition.  Sleepy-eyed at last they drove home, hugged and kissed goodnight, then retreated to their own rooms.  It would be their last night together for the next morning the son was killed in an accident on his way to work.

Few of us will ever be as fortunate as that mother and son.  To have experienced the mutual joy of a spontaneous act of love and kindness, to have had one last chance to ruminate about a treasured past and to express dreams that will never be.  

When my own son died all I had was a Saturday morning phone call, loving and caring, but mundane in matter; how the new job was going, asking about his new apartment, the weather up there..with a sweetening at the end of the call with his recently inevitable reminder of how much he loved me...as I reciprocated in kind.

When my sister died I had just returned from Saudi Arabia and had driven down to my little hometown for reunion with my family.  We had just arrived at my mother's house when sis' husband, ashen faced, walked through the door and told us that sis was just taken by ambulance to the hospital and things didn't look good.  We arrived at the hospital within minutes but she was already gone..a victim of a violent heart attack in the car en route to us.  We missed the last kiss and hug from her by no more than a minute or two..

When my dear uncle Floyd died, a man more a father than uncle, I could not be with him either.  But the pain of losing him was eased by the memories of the last magical night we were together.  On that last night we had sat up until late in the night, talking softly of the things and people who mattered to us, of our joys and our sorrows.  We mourned those who had passed on and we rejoiced in our love for both the living and the dead.  And we openly spoke of our love and respect for each other...then retreated to our beds, our feelings spent, our sleep no doubt blessed with soft dreams.

When my mother died we were all blessed in knowing her time was near.  We had, if not all the time we wanted, at least the time we needed to express our love and what she meant to our lives.  We were with her when she took her last breath and we graciously let her go...let her begin her new journey, free of worry and pain, no longer fatigued by old age and the ravages of disease.  

But, fortune rarely smiles on us, in the manner we wish to say goodbye to those we love.  We are rarely given that one last chance to say "I love you", to embrace for one last time.  

So, dear readers, carpe diem, seize this day, to get on your knees, put your arms around that beautiful child, draw them to you, feel the delicacy of their tiny bodies...as delicate and fragile as the promise of life itself, and whisper in their ear that you love them above all things.  Spend an hour with them as they take every single toy from their toy box, be kind enough to marvel at every wondrous plaything...and if you're lucky enough there will be a tomorrow for you to do it again.

And to those who are lucky enough to still have a mother or father with you, get on your knees beside their chair, massage and oil their feet, hold their hand, and when bed time comes, feel the coolness of their lips as you kiss them goodnight....love them as if it will be the last time you see them...

Seize the day....every day that is given you...and when it is "your" time, you can close your eyes and go in peace, knowing you have given all the love you could give.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Maddening Crowd

                                                           

Behaviorists have studied rats for years.  They put the creatures through various environments to study the effects of environment on both the mental and physical.  One of the more solid and oft repeated experiments has been studying rat behavior under normal conditions, then how they behave under overcrowded conditions.  

It seems the rats get along just fine when they have a little privacy, can move around freely, and where adequate food supplies are available.  However, crowd them and they grow longer fangs, become very aggressive, will savage each other and behave erratically.  Researchers have extended the theory of rat behavior to man and find similar results.

One researcher proposes that Americans were more "civilized" fifty years ago because fully half of Americans were still farmers which precluded the crowded urban conditions which exist today.  Without getting into a social sciences study, on why urban population exploded, I just want to say that I agree with those lab rat guys.  Having grown up in a small town in California that had nearly any crime, I can now see the ugly results of a quintupling of the population of my hometown.  

I now live in Phoenix and am frankly fascinated by the truly weird behavior of many who live here now.  I hear tales from the old hands who say Phoenix was a wonderful place to live in a few decades ago.  Of course, like everywhere else, Phoenix has grown exponentially and suffers from that kind of rapid growth.

Just this week our morning papers brought us stories of a long back up on I-17 because some wacko was hanging from a highway overpass and threatening to jump.  Now, while bizarre, this act has been repeated over and over for years now...so much so that many of us would prefer the jumper just go ahead and jump, become a bump in the road for the next car, and spare us the long traffic delays.

Also this week, we had a mom over on the east side who grounded her sixteen year old son for some manner of infraction.  This didn't sit well with the kid so he buddied up with his teen friend, came home and beat momma to death with a hammer and frying pan.  Again, in these days of bath salts and crystal meth, killing your parents is no longer a novel way to protest parental correction.

We also had a little brougha erupt over a barking dog.  It seems one family had a dog that had, more or less, been barking incessantly for about four years.  Apparently this dog barking got on the nerves of an otherwise law abiding fellow who snapped, grabbed his Glock 21, went out into the backyard and confronted the neighbors about the dogs.  I guess the "over the fence" confrontation wasn't satisfactory, causing the fellow to hop the fence, shoot two in the offending family on the backyard, spun and shot the two dogs, then entered the home and killed two more.  The frustrated shooter then went back to his own apartment, plopped down into his recliner, took a deep breath, all the suppressed anger now released, then killed himself.

Lest you think Phoenix is any different that any other major city, let me offer that we have all the other typical crime; rape, robbery, murder, Circle K beer holdups, etc.  We do, sadly, experience more than our fair share of home invasions, as Mexican drug cartel thugs average at least once a night invading a home and settling the score with some poor soul who didn't pay for his drugs in a timely manner.

I have lived here nearly a decade now and have been fascinated by drive by shootings of horses, cows, dogs, sheep and other farm animals.  Speaking of farm animals, we have had several individuals caught fornicating with a farmers cow or horse, and of course we have our fair share of Craig's Listers posting the need for a good ole human/dog lovemaking session.

I gotta say, the rats are outta control here, folks...long fangs and really wack behavior.  Whew!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Front Porch Bliss

                                                       
I just read a wonderful article in the paper this morning.  It seems there is an older community in Phoenix (and I'm sorry I don't recall which one) that is blessed with homes that all have front porches. So the folks that live in those houses are planning to "time travel" back when front porches were the center of neighborhood socializing.  The residents here are turning off their televisions and setting aside a night to just set outside and get to know their neighbors!  

Alternately, some neighbors will "host"...pass out the tea, or coffee, or lemonade and sit back in lawn chairs and chew the fat a bit.  Others will "cruise" the neighborhood, making brief stops at each porch to break the ice, say hello, have a cup of joe before moving on to the next house.

I think that's just wonderful.  While we don't have formal front porches in Sun City, when I first moved here I did join two of my neighbors in sitting out on the front stoops, quaffing an evening beer and telling old war stories.  I enjoyed it very much.

In the 50's and 60's it was quite normal to sit out on the front porch in the evening and say hello to your neighbors, out for an evening walk.  Back then you would have been considered a weird shut-in if you didn't at least know everyone on both sides of the street of your home block.  That was back when everyone kept an eye on the kids, when they didn't talk back to any adult, and when any known adult felt it in his right to threaten to whip a kid's ass if he didn't act right.  Frankly, Hillary Clinton and her "it take a village" liberal approach to child-raising is for the birds, there was nothing like a good kick in ass, or at minimum a harsh warning from a neighborhood adult to set you right.

But I digress.  Porch sitting was a regular and pleasant thing to enjoy back when we had porches.  I've read often that it's coming back.  There are whole new housing projects being built that are being deemed "pedestrian friendly"..featuring wide pedestrian sidewalks, neighborhood parks and green belts designed in, with the garages placed in the back and bringing the front porch back into vogue.

I do know that when builders stopped making front porches an awful lot of folks missed them greatly.  They began trying to re-capture that sense of "neighborhood" by throwing block parties where they would barricade each end of the street and roll out gas and barbecue grills and set up picnic tables right in the middle of the street.  I would guess that ended when some sourpuss complained about community access...or that someone was having more fun than them.

Anyway, I envy those folks down there in front porch land....I can still remember those old Andy Griffith shows where he, guitar in hand, and Aunt Bee, and Opie, and Barney, having polished off a pork chop dinner, loosened their belt a notch, have all gathered on the porch watching fireflies and listening to crickets.  Then Andy begins to quietly strum his guitar for a rousing rendition of "shoo fly pie"....front porch bliss.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Lingering Afternoon Dream

                                                       

I ran around doing errands this morning.  When I got home I had a bite of lunch, checked my email and read the news of the day.  Phoenix today is again giving us one of those beautiful fall days, temps in low 70's and enough breeze to send the scent of Asian Jasmine wafting through my bedroom window.

Like the sirens who enticed ancient sailors, the beauty of the afternoon enticed me to my bed and I laid down for an afternoon nap.  And happily, it was one of those rare naps that transport me back decades, to childhood when the skies were never so blue and sun was never so warm on my back.  

I was back in my childhood hometown and was running down the football field at the old Garfield Elementary School.  I was twisting and turning, always moving the waist adorn flag away from my pursuers.  I was running on ten year old legs, no longer hampered by sixty-five year old cottage cheese thighs, my breathing strong and deep, my lungs no longer cancer ridden, no longer abused by pollutants spewing from ten thousand cars.  It was fall because I could smell the wood smoke from nearby fireplaces and the leaves were a golden hue, raining down with just the hint of a breeze, then scooting across the grassy field to be tromped on by ancient Keds and blanketing our fall when we tumbled somewhere down the field.  

As I rose to see the triumphant grab of a yellow football flag, I could still see Jimmy and Junior and my kid brother, still wearing summer shorts, skinny legs akimbo and hair too short to grab onto in sibling rivalry or in play.  As I waited for then next play I turned to look across McCall Avenue and see the church that housed our school curriculum blessed religion classes.  It was also where we went for ballroom dance, a silly thing indeed for a fifth grader.  Just past the church the funeral home was quiet, no death to mar an otherwise perfect fall day.  

My attention is drawn back to the game as I see, too late, my skinny little bare-footed brother scooting past me...and I know he'll carry it all the way as he's too fleet footed for the rest of us.  He runs like a little Indian boy...luckily for him..and me..that he's not a "hollerer, a boaster" of small triumphs...he'll simply cross over the end zone and bring the ball back, a little shit-eaten grin on his face.

We'll run up and down that field for hours on that sweet Saturday morning, grabbing ass or flag, whichever was easier..and we'll feel the pure joy of just being alive.  Soon the drive-in, fully two blocks south of us, will have fired up the grill and sending the aroma of hamburger and fries down our way...reminding us of our own hungers.  So we gather up the ball and the flags and head home.  

The Nelson home, estate of the town's "hardware king" is across the street just north of the field.  As we head home we hear someone fire up the lawn mower and the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air.  
We wipe our sweaty brows on the sleeve of a t-shirt and head home, naively believing that these joyful days of youth will never end.

I am proof of the ephemeral delicacy of those boyhood days as I wake from my afternoon nap, refreshed from the rest, but saddened that the dream didn't last a few moments longer, that I couldn't rise on ten year old legs and breathe through ten year old lungs...and sense the joy of anticipation of all the years to come.  Of taking for granted the simple joy of playing on green fields forever.

I suppose I should thank my creator that he has stored reel after reel of life once lived way back there in my head...and that I still own the clarity to pull them out, to be aired again in an afternoon nap.  Life is sweet and my creator is good to me.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One-Man Memorial Militia

                                                         

His name is Chris Cox.  You won't find a thing about him in Wikipedia.  He's a unknown American that had heard a million vets were on their way to Washington for the Million Vet March.   And he knew the National Park Service was taking some time off....with pay.  But Chris has a lot of respect for our nation's vets and he wanted their memorials to look nice for them when they got here.

So he rolled in from the suburbs, his Briggs and Stratton home lawnmower in hand, rake and garbage bags, leaf blower handy, and began pushing that fool mower up and down that mammoth lawn that fronts the Lincoln Memorial.   On another night Chris was spotted cleaning up the World War II Memorial.

                                             

  It didn't take long for someone to notice the lone guy, a single concerned soul who set about to clean up the entire National Mall all by himself.  A local radio stationed dispatched a reporter to interview him.  He stopped the mower long enough to say:

“These are our memorials. Do they think that we’re just going to let them go to hell? No,” Cox said to the radio station. “If they shut down our memorials, we’re still going to take the trash out, we’re going to clean the windows, we’re going to cut the grass, we’re going to pull the weeds, we’re going to do the tree work.”
Chris says there's no politics involved in this at all.  He did say that the politicians, when this is over, will all be patting themselves on the back for opening up the memorials....he says their mistaken because Americans are never going to be turned away from what they choose to honor.

Chris said he'd surely welcome the help if anyone else wants to come out and help with the cleanup.

Then, as expected, police from the National Park Service detained Chris and evicted him from the premises.  It seems that, while Obama and company are desperately trying to inflict public pain, Chris was bringing only tears of pride and joy.

Sigh..............................

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Vietnam "Wailing" Wall

                                                             

I was just reading that Obama's federal stormtroopers deployed to the Vietnam War Memorial to oust visiting Vietnam Vets from the open air wall memorial.  Unlike those 90 year old World War II vets, these Vietnam Vets were deemed young enough to be physically ousted from their memorial.  I guess Obama gambled that publicity to beat up 60 somethings would be better than beating up the 90 year olds.

As a Vietnam Vet myself I can see that those Vietnam vets probably needed to visit their memorial even more than the World War II vets.  World War II was a victory.  American troops came home to bask in the glory and admiration if American citizens.  Vietnam was a failure and we all know "victory has many fathers...and failure is an orphan".   At the Vietnam Wall there are no flag poles being raised in triumph.  Lyndon Johnson is long dead and all his underlings lay low, fearful to come forward and admit the mistakes in their war strategy.

So, just as it was in Vietnam, it is the American soldier left to face the slings and arrows of an angry citizenry.  Unlike the folks today who worship our military, as we came home from Vietnam we were shouted at, called baby killers and spit at since we were the most readily available object to receive the scorn.

As soon as the Vietnam War ended politicians were quick to forget it, to hush it up.  No one wants to wear their failures and politicians are particularly in favor of burying their mistakes as deeply as they could.  And with those political burials, they buried the vets who returned from that war.  When confronted with the very real problem of tens of thousands of vets with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, they turned their heads in denial.  When tens of thousands of Vietnam Vets began turning up at VA Hospitals with Agent Orange connected cancers the VA denied any connection between the two...and again, the politicians looked the other way.  

And America herself took great care to bury Vietnam.  They refused to see the thousands of homeless Vietnam Vets living in the streets or under freeway overpasses.  Failure is an orphan indeed.

So when a decade later enough consciences were bothered, it was decided to build a Vietnam War Memorial.  A national design competition was held and a young 21 year old Maya Lin, an Asian student of architecture at Yale University won the competition.  

Ms Lin's design was simply a wall that would list all 58,000 plus names of those who had given their life for this war...for their country.  The design was so modest, so simple in design, that the politicians hated it.  One Congressman on the Department of the Interior committee refused to allocate federal land space for it.  There were no victory pools, no dramatic lighting, no flags and no battle glorified.

But Ms. Lin's original design won over all the opposition, and I believe rightly so.  I believe Ms. Lin designed this memorial to glorify only those who offered the ultimate sacrifice, thus the simplicity of displaying the names.  When all is said and done, when all the histories are written, when all the politicians who waged the war from a desk in Congress, or from the Oval Office are dead and buried, when all the mistakes are buried as deeply as possible, we should remember only one thing; the names of the young men and women who paid the ultimate price.

Unlike today's volunteer force, those young men and women were drafted by their government, forced into service a war, whether they agreed to it or not.  Some burned their draft cards, some fled to Canada....but there were enough of those young men and women who loved America greatly, who were willing to fight for her when America demanded it.  And so they went to war.  A quarter million of them would come home without arms or legs, or both.  Tens of thousands more would die of cancer in their 40s, having been drenched with Agent Orange showers in Asian rice paddies.

And more than 58,000 gave all.  They were placed in body bags, put in a metal coffin, and brought into Dover Air Force base in the dead of night, to be processed, cleaned up as much as possible, then sent home to ten thousand American towns and hamlets, to their final rest.

The Vietnam Wall assures them that their story will not be forgotten.  It says, when everyone else ran away from war, when the politicians buried it, that wall stands tall in all eternity and reminds us of the real costs of war.

And God forgive Obama for not understanding any of that as he turned those warriors away yesterday.
                                                       



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Old Grudges"

                                                         

When my two dear aunts were alive, they lived, as widows, close to one another.  So close in fact that they shared something of a silly living arrangement.  Aunt Mandy lived on the left side of a duplex, while my Aunt Icie lived on the right side.  However, my Aunt Mandy spent most of her day and evening with my Aunt Icie in her duplex, thus making the need to pay rent on two duplexes absolutely silly.  I guess, in looking back, each of them was trying to maintain something of their independence, by holding a space where the mementos of half a century of life, and marriage could be housed and held and fondly remembered.

But the two sweet ladies were simply two peas in a pod.  When my family and I would come to visit the two old ladies were inevitably watching soap operas.  They lived for Edge of Night and As The World Turns, and General Hospital and so many others.  At their advanced age, and possessing rather old fashioned morals, I would guess the racy adultery portrayed on that 20 inch TV screen was their generation's equivalent of pornography.  

When we arrived at their front door, and inevitably interrupted their soaps, I always felt like we were intruding.  But the two lovelies always greeted us with smiles of love and warmth and kisses and offerings of my Aunt Icie's wonderful pies.  We would sit there eating pie and conversing, mostly during the soap commercials until a programming gap afforded us full eye contact and serious conversation.  It was always at that point when one or another of the aunts would begin telling a story, only to have the other one interrupt to correct some inconsistency.  This was always the beginning of a mutual see-sawing where one would talk over the other, issue sighs of mild disgust, or a rolling of the eyes to demonstrate just how wrong the other one was.  The lobbying back and forth was never hate-filled; it was simply a public airing of those little things that surely bugged each other, airings and differences that were most likely never discussed in the privacy of their two hearts-two heads little world.  

Now I am approaching their ages but I live alone.  But not entirely alone.  I have two chi's, one of whom has now reached the golden dog age of 100.  Ginger, particularly in the last year, has proven to be somewhat of a pain in the butt for me.  I am constantly torn by the urge to swat her ass with a fly swatter or hug her to me in appreciation that she's still here.

Ginger has gone through two cancer surgeries, the loss of her husband, now suffers a bit from old age dimming of her faculties, diminished hearing and eyesight and sometime suffers from tremors.  A fawn reindeer Chihuahua, she has always had remarkable leaping ability.  Sadly, her leaping ability has severely diminished so that when she leaps into a chair, she makes it half way, only to fall back to the floor, at which time she looks over at me sheepishly, much embarrassed.  She is other wise well and gets around quite nicely.  There is the occasional scary moment when she tries to rise from her bed and falls to the floor, all four legs splayed out like limp noodles.  It would be funny to any casual observer who holds no love for her; for me it is a reminder that she'll not be with me much longer.  

Ginger also scares me with her coma like sleep sessions.  Sometimes, upon arriving home, and pulling into the garage, I will hear a hail of barking from my younger Chi...the traditional greeting and admonition for having left home at all.  However, upon entering the home I will find Ginger splayed out on the tile floor in deep sleep, the commotion not waking her at all.  These days I will hurry to her and pet her and give her a peremptory nudge to wake her and assure me that she's still with us.

However, as much as I love her, the last year has seen a torrent of irritants issuing from my old girl.  She is always ravenous and I have to continually monitoring her diet.  She gets half a cup of low carb/high fiber dog food in the morning and another half a cup in the evening.  She gobbles her food and it is gone in half a minute, at which time she tries to steal the other dog's rations.  Sometimes Ginger chooses to fill her day doing the opposite of everything I expect her to do, whether it is vacating a room so that I can clean it...or going to bed when I tell her too.  

I first threatened her with fly swatter but she held no fear of it.  Then I started applying mild thumps to her haunches; it is at that time that she will begin screaming like a banshee and then rolling into a ball and pretending that I'm beating her to death.  She will then look at me with a look so pitiful that I feel like the worst of ogres.  She will then pout for hours, ignoring my affections and turning her back to me when we are in the same room.  

So, like my two dear Aunts, Ginger and I nurse old, sometimes deeply buried grudges.  We both have our own distinct views of the world and sometimes these views clash at just the wrong moment.  But there are times, when she's laying in my lap in early evening, and I'm stroking her head and rubbing her ears, that we both fondly remember the long morning walks, the chase of rabbits and birds, and the unending ball toss sessions many years ago when she saved me from a debilitating depression.

So, I guess we'll continue to co-habitate and cooperate as much as our ego's will allow.  The mutual love and respect we have built for nearly sixteen years has been a good salve to heal old grudges.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oink! Today Is National Bacon Day

                                                         

Today is National Bacon Day across America and there are hundreds of exhibitions and festivals being held today in many American cities.  Phoenix is no different.  A local restaurant called "Oink" is sponsoring an "all you can eat" bacon contest and will feature their eight different bacon varieties.

More power to all the bacon lovers.  Bacon gets a bad rap with the nutrition nazi's.   First of all, a quality slice of bacon is not all that fat if cooked correctly.  An average slice of bacon is only 60 calories and a good third of the fat is cooked away as long as you cook it to crispness.  And ounce for ounce you can't beat the taste of bacon to liven up a breakfast of eggs and toast, or as an accompaniment to a double stack of pancakes.

And is there a better tasting lunch sandwich than a bacon lettuce and tomato?  Crispy and fresh, the crunch of crispy bacon and cold crispy lettuce, with fresh tomato is "manna" on earth!  My bacon fetish involves preparing a bowl of oatmeal, melt in a tab of butter and a dollop of milk, then crumble a slice of bacon over the top.  You have the sweetness of the oatmeal marrying with the saltiness of the bacon and you have a savory and delicious and healthy breakfast!

Lets's forego those artificial bacon bits and cook a slice of applewood smoked bacon, crumble it up and spread it over your garden salad at dinner.  It goes nicely with the cold, crispy salad and a good ranch dressing.  

Now there are those who like their bacon half cooked; limp, rubbery, with far too much fat to the slice. I cannot eat bacon cook in this manner.  I gag on those rubbery fat pellets...gotta have my bacon cooked to a good crispness.

Until a few months ago there was a bacon place in San Francisco called Bacon Bacon...as I remember it was up in the Haight area...the restaurant was bacon crazy and served bacon in a hundred different ways, including bacon coffee (ugh).  But, as with everything else that proves fun in San Francisco, the vegan and nutritionist nazi's decided they just couldn't tolerate the smell of bacon that emanated from the place.  They raised some George Soros serious amount of money, sued the restaurant and got it closed down.  I understand the bacon lovers there rallied to the cause and Bacon Bacon now operates off of a food truck.  Sad that these food nazi's could close down a good business....but I'll bet you a pound of Oscar Meyer Smoked, Center Cut that the nazi bastards found it hard to resist the smell of that bacon cooking, so forced the "evil" away from them!

Oh sure, being America, we are more than capable of taking a bacon craze to vulgar and excessive levels; once while watching the food network I watched an episode featuring far out road diners.  The diner featured a one pound bacon cheeseburger.  The sandwich was as big around as a pie plate and a good foot high.  They showed a chubby pre-teen kid trying to get his hands around the monstrosity, with little success.

Surely the "bacon Nero's' and the nutrition nazi's can come to a compromise.  Two or three strips of bacon, nestled nicely beside your eggs on a weekend breakfast is not going to kill anyone.  So, America, it's still early!  Go out and get yourself a pound of the good stuff and make yourself a great breakfast!  Viva National Bacon Day!




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Vietnam War; A Cloud Over Our Youth

                                                           

I've often been asked what the Vietnam War was like.  Even more often I'm
 asked what it was like growing up during that long war.  I think of all the truths I could offer about growing up during Vietnam it was that the long Vietnam War was like a dark cloud, hovering over every young man in America.

At that time America still had the draft.  Unlike today's volunteer force we had no choice on whether to serve or not; it was a given that at some point we'd be in uniform.  Yes, you could buy a little time by attending college, but Vietnam promised to linger and endure, and surely be there when all of your youthful options had expired.

Back then you might be at a football game, or at a spring dance, or attending a school play...and the prospect of Vietnam, and far away rice paddies, and the thunder of guns, would come roaring into the forefront of your thoughts.  It always clouded our future...you couldn't just lay plans for an education and then assume a transition into a career and having a family.  That angry war was always there to intervene, a massive obstacle to overcome before you could hope to begin your life.  The Vietnam War machine, 550,000 men strong, required a steady influx of 18 and 19 year old bodies to man the bunkers and fill the unending flow of coffins, brought home to be buried forever, a young life snuffed out before life really began.

As I recall, the first casualty in my little California town was a quiet fellow, a Hispanic boy named Santos Santos.  I remember him as a quiet little guy who was good in track and who always had a shy quick smile when spoken to.  When his obituary appeared in our local paper  the accompanying picture was of Santos in Marine Uniform.  He died on some forlorn hill known only by an assigned number and located in a village with a foreign name.

Seeing that first casualty, I mourned for a young man and I mourned for my own future.  Soon our little town got around to mounting a ten feet by ten feet board and inscribing the names of those serving in Vietnam.  Soon there were so many young men serving there that they had to take the board down, paint it clean, then began to list only those who had died there.  Even then the board space became precious as our little town gave more than our share of young men to that long and costly war.

Soon it was my turn to go.  I arrived in Vietnam three days before Christmas in 1968.  I would not leave Vietnam for good until three years later on 2 November 1971.  During those many months our home town paper sent all of us serving in Vietnam a free copy.  It promised to keep us up to date on what was happening in our town in our absence.  And of course the paper listed the obituaries of those who died in Vietnam during the past week.  I was not in Vietnam a month when I opened my home town paper and learned that one of my high school friends had been killed just 24 days after my own arrival.  I would read more of those tragedies in the months and years ahead.

When we finally did come home we came back to an America transformed.  Those who demanded peace had only the visible presence of the war, us, to inflict their anger upon.  We were spit upon, screamed at, labelled "baby killers", any honor of service buried by the praise for those who burned their draft cards or fled to Canada.  

So, as before the war, when the storm clouds of war marred our youthful dreams for the future, we came home in the aftermath of war under even darker clouds; the disdain and persecution of those Americans we sought to serve and protect.

Many of us survive with hearts scarred.  Many of us never survived that awful war; many of those that somehow have survived still sleep on park benches and under highway overpasses and have now begun to die in shelters and grubby rooms in the coldest and loneliest part of the city...their dreams finally surrendered for the grave.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Tragedy Of Epic Proportion

                                                       
The news this morning brought another sad story of a young woman who succumbed to Ovarian Cancer.  It was newsworthy because the victim happened to be the lovely daughter of actor Pierce Brosnan.  Mr. Brosnan's tragedy of losing a daughter is made more forlorn since Pierce's first wife, the mother of the now deceased daughter, had also died from Ovarian cancer at a tragically young age.  And, sadly, there are millions of women who will die from this scourge.

I can't think of anything that saddens me more than reading of another brutal death of a woman by Ovarian or Breast Cancer.  It sickens me beyond reason.  When I see lovely young women like Angela Jolie forced to make the decision to mutilate herself in order to give her a chance to live into her golden years I am heart broken.  Angela Jolie (nee "pretty angel") carries the same cancer gene that killed her mother in the bloom of youth and I can think of nothing more cruel.

I believe that what saddens and angers us about this is that women hold such a special place in our hearts, in our minds, and in our society as a whole.  These victims are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our wives.  From birth, they are our caretakers, our nurturers and always our last best hope for unconditional love in a world that can be cruel indeed.  They are the center of our universe and, when they leave us, they leave us drifting in twin states of confusion and the most extreme sense of loss one can experience.

This cruel scourge shows no mercy.  When the Angela Jolie radical mastectomy was reported I read other stories of equal concern.  Most notable was the story of five sisters, all carrying the dreaded death gene. Sisters who had all undergone mastectomies to extend their lives.  They spoke of heartbreaking losses of their mothers and grandmothers and aunts, all who succumbed to this nasty and frightening disease.

And so, when I read of Pierce Brosnan's daughter passing I couldn't help but mourn his loss; I still remember his bravery and dignity as he offered love and support to his pretty young wife a few years ago.  And now, thanks to a nasty, cruel, unyielding cancer gene, he must now bury a child, the last vestige of a love ended far too soon.

Surely God will guide the hands of our disease researchers.  While random cases of cancer are tragic enough, it is simply not fair to embed a death sentence in a newborn little girl.  May our creator serve as "muse", creating in the brilliance of a medical researcher, the spark that will show us how to destroy this embedded savagery that takes our dearest hearts, and the centers of our universe.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shi*t Or Get Off The Pot

                                                   

Well, it had to be coming soon.  After California passed legislation that demanded that all Home Depots in California build rest and lunch kiosks for illegal day workers who hang around their parking lots, Big Government is now commandeering more of your tax dollars to build out "separate but equal" restrooms for trans genders who don't feel comfortable doing their "business" in either the Men's or Women's facilities.

Boise State is raising student fees and floating public bonds in order to fund a complete "re-do" of all restroom facilities across campus.  Extra restrooms designated for "transgendered only" are to be built so that no one need to feel uncomfortable on a public throne.

Grant High School in Oregon has chosen to show their "enlightenment" by confiscating a number of student and faculty restrooms and designating them "transgendered only".

The city of Philadelphia has gone them all one better.  Pledging to be the "champion" of the LGBT community Philadelphia has pledge to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to construct "transgender only" restrooms across the cityscape...and damn the costs!

Both Congress and state legislatures across America are deeply involved as well.  Legislation is working its way through Congress and the State Houses that will designate funding for public transgender restrooms in every public facility across America.  Our public officials are also preparing legislation that requires all places of employment set aside a sufficient number of restrooms for "transgender only" employees.  Many of the larger companies have tried to get around this legislation by suggesting that employees use the appropriate men or women's restroom that best describes their current outward appearance but our legislators are insisting this compromise will simply not fly.

On June 12th the Supreme Court of The State of Maine has declared transgender equality to be the next major civil rights campaign.  "Forcing a female to male transgendered to endure females applying makeup and having to endure the scent of perfume is just too ghastly to contemplate".  We must legislate, we must expend any amount of funding to insure our transgendered are treated equally and with the respect they deserve.

I'm still betting that the next "equality wave" is going to somehow involve human-canine marriage.

Sigh.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father Knows Best?

                                                       

Back in the late fifties, early 60's, there was a TV show called Father Knows Best.  The family lived in a small town in a modest middle class home on Mulberry Street or such.  The father was an insurance salesman and mom was a stay at home mom, as were most moms back then.  Each episode had the son and two daughters heading off on some life trek that might prove to be both treacherous and heartbreaking.  And while the father comes to realize his need to intervene to save his children, he must do so from sufficient distance to allow for a life lesson.  And after 24 minutes of "show" and six minutes of commercials, old Dad inevitably comes through...and proves that Father Knows Best.

Were real life only like that.  I've been the father of four and during the child raising years probably hovered more closely to the Homer Simpson model than old Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best.  It probably didn't help that I had three kids before I turned 23 years old.  Hell, at 23 you're just learning to be an adult yourself, much less having the wisdom to guide those who are in most need of your guidance.  Nor was having no father figure myself to emulate I probably relied on those "ideal TV dad models" too much and too often.  If I'd only known then that the actor who played good old Jim Anderson suffered so severely with depression that he contemplated suicide each day of his waking life...or that the Dad in the Brady Bunch was gay, or that no one is as good as "Pa" on Little House On the Prairie, I might have done better as a Dad.

All I can say is I did the best I could possibly do at the time.  I played "horsie" and let them all ride me around the living room as I snorted and bucked to the sound of shrieks and giggles.  There was always time for ice cream cones and TV tray nights and movies that kids liked, even as I pretended to be engrossed with "Nova" or "Frontline".  But we did observe the tradition of having dinner together every single night, sitting at the kitchen table and feeling out how their little lives were unfolding.

There were Grandma visits and trips to Grandma and vacations to the big Island of Hawaii and to Disneyland and beach weekends at Bellows Beach.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas meant a feast and a giant grab of happiness.  There were weekends at the beach with Huli Huli chicken and swimming in aqua blue waters and naps under huge Banyan trees.  

And there were long, long periods when I wasn't there for them, year long remote tours to Korea or long months in some form of military training.  There were years where part time jobs ate up all of my weekends, days when I should have been with them, days that are now lost forever.  

And like most of God's blessings, little children are not forever.  They grow up and leave you long before they leave home.  They begin stretching their wings and begin the process of leaving, even as you protest their growth...for that growth spurt eventually means their leaving is imminent.

Then they go out on their own, form their own friendships, find the loves of their lives and begin to have families of their own.  After that you and they are on your own.  Whatever you gave them will remain with them; some will carry a part of you throughout their lives, while to others you are no more than a thought on a Father's Day card once a year.

By the time your children have reached middle age, you are more or less a "ghost", occupying a corner of the room at Thanksgiving or Christmas, a "has been", once strong and vibrant and "with it", but now just an old creature who can't relate to the sibling discussions of the latest fad, music icon, or movie marvel.  Some are given so little notice that the most generous personal gesture is no more than the absent minded petting of a favored dog, let in to ease the qualms of extended apathy.

And when you're not occupying their physical space, when you're back home to the distant hovel, they are analyzing the hell out of the latest, maturing, version of "you".  "Does Dad seemed a bit depressed to you?"..."do you think Dad is happy living out there?"  "Did you notice Dad seems to be losing a bit of his hearing?"

And, with each reunion, father and child are measuring each other...the father measuring his children by what they have learned since he last saw them, what they have "gained"...while children seemed to measuring "Dad" on what he might have lost since the last visit.  And that is the greatest frustration.

As with every living creature, even us old Dads are still evolving, gaining more wisdom, finding a balance between "entering the arena of life" and/or choosing not to; happier with a mellowing, with greater time to contemplate and assess his life progress.  While it is true that we lose some of our vigor, some of our taste for the wild side, some of our patience for tolerating silliness, we are never the less still traveling down life's road and happy to still be here, as we hope to still be relevant.

So do Fathers Know Best?  Hell no!  There were times when we hadn't a clue!  Times when we worried about what we'd feed you on the next day, times when we felt bad at the scarcity of "things" we could give you, times we agonized over some child raising mistakes we knew we had made. times when we got out of bed and walked to yours, bent and kissed your cheek because the last word to you before bed time was a harsh one.

Yet, despite all the drama of then and now, despite the distance between us, both mental and physical, despite the shortcomings we assign to each other, we Fathers can be bought off with a hug once or twice a year, an occasional phone call or a random endearing thought expressed at just the right time.  Because we're fathers...diminished somewhat by time and space, but fathers just the same.  And we'll never "know best" but we carry in our hearts the "any age children", the "no age children".  Like a prism we can see you in all of your manifestations, two year old child, or mature and growing adult, and we love all of those images all the same.  Never diminished and never less than you ever were.



Friday, June 7, 2013

Tattoos And Self Esteem; A Ratio Analysis

                                                         

When I was a kid the only folks bearing tattoos seemed to be Hells Angels and Navy folks.  If you saw someone with a tattoo you pretty much knocked your estimate of his I.Q. down ten points or so. Now it seems everyone and his brother has a tattoo; it seems to be the thing to do.  Never the less, I've never gotten over my dislike of them.  I kind of get the idea that folks who cover their bodies in ink are somehow flaunting their creator; it's as if what the big guy upstairs gave you just wasn't good enough.

That's just my personal opinion about them.  With that opinion I have a theory about why people get them and that there own personal self esteem is in direct ratio to the number and size of the tattoos they paint their body with.  People that put one small discreet tattoo somewhere on their body seem mildly acceptable to me.  They may be commemorating a special event or person in their life.  It's the people that cover their entire arm or leg with acres of ink that causes me to suspect some fairly low self esteem,  holding some fear that somehow they don't measure up with others.  Perhaps a failure to articulate their own thoughts in an effective way, perhaps to make up for a bland personality or a failure to accumulate sufficient knowledge to get one through life.

Perhaps these tattoo maniacs find themselves so conforming to the cultural whims, so lacking in their own personal sense of taste, they rebel by throwing up a gaggle of tattoos over their body to show they are somehow "different" and therefore "special".  Of course the obvious conclusion to that conundrum is that, with so many of the bloated masses now getting tattoos, one finds themselves not at all "special" or "different".

Again, I remind you that this is my own personal opinion.  I can think of a thousand various ways to express my "special-ness" without painting my body like an African zombie.  Personally, when I see someone with a whole passel of tattoos I always perceive the wearer as someone who needs a good bath.  They look dirty and nasty to me.

Setting aside the personal aspects of tattoos, if I were hiring someone for a job the guy with tattoos all over his arms and neck and face is going to be the last guy I hire.  

If I've offended anyone with this brief essay, well, I don't give a shit.  You are free to start your own blog glorifying the tattoo culture all you wish.  I just simply find them nasty and dirty and consider those who cover their bodies with them as lacking in self esteem.

Now, let's get to the subject of nose rings, eyelid rings, pierced tongues.....

Nuff Said.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chinese Takeout...Human Fingers In Your Sausage?

                                                       

Do you confidently have Smithfield Foods bacon or sausage with your morning eggs?  Have you been known to bring a Smithfield ham to your Christmas dinner?  How about John Morrell or Armour or Ekrich hot dogs?...do you grill them for the 4th of July?    Well...start worrying boys and girls.

Shingwai (or Shineway), a Chinese food conglomerate, has just announced the purchase of U.S. owned Smithfield Foods.  Smithfield is one of America's largest food producer and processor and brings much of your pork products to the American table.  

The Wall Street Journal reported the Chinese takeout of one America's food giants is that country's biggest encroachment yet into the American business establishment.

Well, we all knew this was coming.  China has had two things going for them for more than two decades; they've manipulated their currency by keeping exchange rates artificially low, and they also just happened to own over a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  This makes it highly unlikely that the U.S. government is going to intervene as China, now infamous for producing and selling tainted retail products, begins to take over American food processing.  After all, when you are drowning in debt, you don't do anything to piss off your "banker".

We've all read the horror stories about tainted Chinese food processing.  Remember the infant deaths attributable to tainted baby formula?  Remember when we learned that Walmart dog food was made in China?  Yeah, the one that killed hundreds of our beloved pets?  Can anyone recall a "little problem" China had with Swine Flu?  Bird flu anyone?

China's food processing standards have proven to be pretty well non-existent.  Not two months ago I read that tiny trading partner Vietnam has executed a boycott against China's meat and fresh produce products.  The Vietnamese tired of getting sick and dying over Chinese fruits and vegetables being injected with poisoned chemicals that extended the shelf life of  Chinese produce but shorten that of the human who consumes it.  They tired of trying to overlook the Chinese practice of using bleach to cover the smell of rotten shrimp.  

So, get ready folks!  Be ready to be far more vigilant about the food you buy and consume.  Its's gonna be hard to avoid the heavy Chinese hand on your food supply because Smithfield Foods occupies a hell of a lot of shelf space in our local grocery store.   

You want to start inspecting your breakfast sausage lest you find a little "finger food" you didn't anticipate....how about a little trichinella in your ham?  And are you ready to accept more than chicken, turkey, beef or pork in your July 4th hot dogs?  Will we find a little "canine" in our hot dogs in the future?  After all, something has to be done with all that dog flesh made available from tainted dog food!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Breasts In Politics; A New Political Theorem

                                                   
Since I have dedicated three of my blogs to the subject of women's breasts during the past two years,  I guess I could be accused of having a fetish about them, and could easily be labelled a "dirty old man".  However, I beg your patience as I offer both a social, and political theorem about these wonderful globular protuberances.

But before I do, let me first say that breasts need not be large to command one's admiration.  I've seen breasts that are small and perky and ultimately lovely.  I've seen breasts that provide a lovely cleavage at the center of the chest, made even more lovely as they adorn a low cut dress.  I've seen breasts that are wide apart and seemed to want to "go their own way", heading in opposite directions...and yet still very attractive.

You see folks?   I am an equal opportunity breast lover.  And why not?  They command our attention at work (though you must never comment, nor allow your stare to linger, lest you find yourself without a job in an era of the crumbling "glass ceiling), we admire them in grocery stores, day care centers, gas stations, hardware stores and most especially in night clubs and bars where they are often presented in grand splendor.

I have deemed this as "breast power" because all a woman need do is swing their "chests" in our direction and we are under a spell.

So it is my contention that women need to do more with their "assets".  I am firmly convinced that we can elect a woman President if she'll just show a modicum of intelligence and generous cleavage.  There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah Palin could have swung the election in John McCain's favor just by shutting up and unbuttoning the top two buttons on her blouse.

And I'm telling you right now that if Speaker of The House John Boehner was sitting across the table from a President with nice cleavage we would have already had a budget agreement.

But please, no silicone or botox.  Nancy Pelosi has already shone what a disaster that can be.

Breast Power Baby!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

What I'll Do With My Power Ball Winnings

                                                   

Well, I finally "bit" and went down and bought a ticket to the Power Ball drawing this evening.  I came back home and tucked my ticket away and turned on the Channel 15 news.  Coincidently, the two young weekend reporters were talking about the big drawing tonight, then they ran an interview piece about past big winners.  I was shocked to learn that 70% of all big winners have gone bankrupt!  WTF?

That shook me to my foundation!  So, I sat back and gave some serious thought about what I'll do with that winning ticket sitting in front of me.  Well, first, I won't do a thing.  I'll report Monday morning and present my ticket and opt for the lump sum payment.  

That should give me about $400,000,000 dollars.  I'll then take my check and deposit it to my credit union account and let it sit for a few weeks.  Having already thought this out, I plan to establish a $1 million dollar education fund for each of my young grandchildren.  The ones who have already reached maturity will receive a million dollar trust fund, made available to them in monthly installments when they are 25.  I do this so that they'll not sit back and wait for the money, but will pursue a career that will bring them both happiness and satisfaction.  I will then pay off the home mortgages and all outstanding debts for all of my children as well as my brother and his wife....and I would buy my brother all the Giant and 49er sports garb that he wants!

I will also write million dollar checks to St. Jude's Children Research Hospital and the Humane Society.

At this point I will stop and evaluate my next moves.  I will look closely at my circle of friends and the rest of my family.  If I begin to receive calls from friends or family who haven't called me in the last ten years I'll immediately remove them from possible charity.

To my other dear ones, I'll look at each family and friend and decide how I can best improve their lives without having money and/or greed ruin their lives, giving money where it would do the most good.

My wife wants to establish a charity in Vietnam.  It would support Vietnam war veterans and the country's orphans.  She would like to dedicate the rest of her life to ease the pain and suffering of those most vulnerable.  I would write her a check for tens of millions in order for her to achieve these lofty goals.

I would then donate my fifty-three year old house and buy two modest homes, no more than 2,000 square feet and furnished modestly with art deco and danish furniture; perhaps one in Florida, the other in Virginia where I could see my grandkids as much as I like.  Once re-settled, I would coordinate my time with my family's schedule and we would all set out to complete a bucket list I wrote a while back; taking them to places I most wish for them to see in their lifetimes.  What a joyous trip that would be!

I would set up a charity that supports the educations of the  most hard-working young people in our country.  One of the fields that would receive scholarship support would be for those who are willing to become animal vets.  

Lastly, I would buy one brand spanking new Mini-RV like I used to own and I would hit America's roads to see this great country one more time before I pass on.

Hey, someone's got to have the winning ticket!....it just might be this one sitting in front of me at the moment.





Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Most Sublime Feeling

                                                     

The other day I was thinking about moments in your life that provided the most sublime feelings; those times when you feel fulfilled and living the role you were meant to play in this lifetime.  I thought about the many times I have sung for an appreciate audience, or wrote and gave a humorous speech that had every one in uproarious glee.  Those were wonderful moments but the satisfaction was fleeting, ending about the moment the time of the last hand clapping.

Then I thought on the deeper and more spiritual and more meaningful moments when I felt satisfied and pleasured by my place in the world.  And then I thought about the sublime pleasure I used to feel in having one of my children asleep in my arms.  When they were babies, they would settle into my arms, peer sleepily up at me, smack their little lips, then fall into the sleep of the innocents.  I can't tell you why but the feeling of your babes nestled into your arms is such a sensual and intimate experience.

Even when my babes were older I felt such power as I lifted them from the car, having fallen asleep after a night at the movies or a dinner out.  You bent down, lifted them gently into your arms and ferried them off to their beds.  And the level of trust they bestowed upon you was greater than the most glorious praise from anyone else.  

Even the simple act of looking in on them before you went to bed was so empowering.  As they lay in their beds sleeping, and dreaming of games and tomorrows joys, you look down to them, bend to kiss their cheek, loving them more for their quiet nighttime grace, you feel like you've done your job this day.  You've seen to their needs; you've provided a safe home for them, your work has put nourishment on their table, and you've done your best this day to guide them down a road that shows promise and happiness.

We had four children and we had them when we were too young.  That promises that you'll make many mistakes.  For all that, you look back on the times when you got it right, when your day ended and you were satisfied with that day.  

And when they are grown, or nearly grown, your child is fighting for adulthood, for their own unique identities, and your own personal views may not be those of your child.  The inevitable clashes will occur and the loss of intimacy between parent and child will often feel like a chasm so wide it will never be breached.  But, thank God, most often love and time and life experience will bring parent and child together again.

But once your children are grown, you will never, ever achieve those moments of sublime bliss when you cradled that babe nestled so incredibly in your arms.   Never again will you have little arms wrapped about your neck, head on your chest,  as you carry them off to bed.  

Perhaps the only experience that might approximate those moments is when you lay helpless in old age, with death near, as your child, now grown, lifts you up in your aging frailty, kisses your cheek and whispers both love and thanks for a time when the roles were reversed.

The sublime cycle of life...never to be denied.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Geesh! More Shopping Advice?

                                                   

Yesterday the Department of Agriculture released their latest surveys on the average costs to feed a family of four.  They wisely broke the numbers down, based on a thrifty shopper, and then one for those who pay no attention to sales, coupons or discounts.  The range was wide indeed.  The thrifty family reported spending about $ 760 per month while the "free spender" spent almost double that at over $1300 per month.

When my wife and I were raising our kids there was no question that we would be "thrifty shoppers".  Military pay back in those days was far less than what the troops are paid now.  Even after ten years of service, and after having achieved commissioned office status, my pay was less than $600 dollars per month.  The six of us had to live on that so my wife sewed clothes for the kids and we ate a lot of hamburger.

I can still remember when our first foray into financial freedom was reached when we could go to the commissary and buy our food on any day of the month.  That meant we had sufficient money in the bank to cover the food bill....and didn't have to wait until payday to shop.  We weren't alone.  Pay day at the commissary was a circus as most military families also lived payday to payday.

The next rung on the "financial freedom" ladder did not come until after I retired and began working in lucrative civilian positions.  That was when we had reached the point where we could write any reasonable amount on a check and not have to check the balance.

Now I'm back to "thrifty shopper" status.  I'm retired, live on a fixed income and cost of living increases are rare, if they come at all.  So, as real inflation creeps into my "personal economy", i.e., the 15% annual increases in the price of food, in increased utility costs and increased service costs, I have to learn each year to live with a little less.

To date, I'm giving myself an A- for a grade on managing my finances.  I continually seek out ways to save money.  I try to time my gas fill-ups as the price of oil declines (I monitor this on line).  I seek out and clip coupons whenever possible, I sign up for rewards programs, and I'll wait until as late as possible in the season to turn on the Air Conditioning or the Heat.

I'm a bit perplexed about why folks don't bother with coupons.  This week I went into my local Fry's grocery store armed with coupons and my Kroger reward coupons, some of them include free items.
I was able to buy over $100 dollars worth of groceries for $32 dollars.  And no, I did not buy a single item that I would not have bought without the coupons.  Now, I know most folks, if someone handed them $62 dollars and change would not turn it down!  So why not clip those coupons!

I also hold back coupons to use in conjunction with a sale on items I need.  For example, every month 
Fry's sends me loyalty rewards coupons that are general in nature that gives me flexibility when choosing what to buy.  About once a month Fry's offers bone-in chicken breasts for .99 cents per pound.  By using my $1.50 off any meat selection coupon I'm able to bring the costs of those chicken breasts down to less than .70 cents per pound.  Fry's also gives me a coupon for a free dozen eggs.
I always wait until the price of eggs spikes up before I use that coupon and buy when eggs are on sale.  Fry's also offers up to .40 cents per gallon discounts on their gas when you spend a hundred dollars during any month.  I use these discounts and use my USAA credit card to buy my gas because USAA gives me back .3 cents for each dollar I spend on gas!

Speaking of USAA, I'm retired military and fortunate that I qualify for car and home insurance with USAA, at costs about half of what any other insurance company charges!

I have also learned that store brand merchandise has significantly improved their quality over the last few years.  I buy store brands whenever possible and find many of them superior to other well known, advertised brands.

Finally, even though I am often just cooking for one, I will, whenever possible, prepare food in bulk, then portion meals out in tupperware for freezing and eating later.  This is a huge savings winner!

I am by no means a "coupon queen"....I've witnessed women in the check out line in front of me run two carts of groceries through checkout, hand over a satchel of coupons, and have them walk out without spending a dime, and often with cash back!  That would probably be just to hard for me to manage but coupons and rewards programs are well worth using.

I do admit to one failure.  For years my daughter has been after me to join Amazon Prime, with Amazon.com.  I am a big Amazon customer but just never wanted to shell out the annual $79 dollar annual costs for membership.  Then one day last month I finally engaged my brain and added up all the rewards for Amazon Prime.  For $79 bucks a year Amazon gives you free two day shipping, they offer free loans of thousands of books, free video streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV programs.  They actually give you too much for this price and I suspect that some day they'll raise the fee!

But last month I gave up my $140 dollar cable bill, bought a ROKU unit and watch free streaming movies and even the new TV shows for free from Amazon and the hundreds of other ROKU channels!  Score!

Shop wisely folks!  Take advantage of what folks are willing to give you!