Thursday, December 31, 2015

Many Thanks

As this here blog wraps up another year, I want to thank regular readers and part-time lurkers. Total views now approach half a million. I'm flattered you have stuck around for what can only be truthfully called a miasma of ranting and pondering spanning now, nine years . . .

That's Mr. Natural up there, courtesy of Mr. J. Crumb. Not the mudflap version, but it's been years since those days in Tunica.

Happiest of New Years to all. An update on my continuing adventures, next week.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Day in a Birdcage


Local culture comes in all forms - social, dietary, linguistic, artistic . . . You name it, there are variations from continent to country to region, state, district and even neighborhoods. In Florida, and I assume in other tropical areas, there exists an architectural and cultural anomaly called "the birdcage." An open air, screened area, typically on the back of a house and often facing the golf course, lake or manicured yard.

Here in The Villages, the majority of the homes are built with an attached lanai or Florida room. The design begs for and the other thousands of homes almost demand that new owners add their own birdcage. And since there are half a dozen or more contractors specializing in the task.



My brother and sister-in-law made the caging move since I was here last year. Now there is an additional 400 square feet of indoor/outdoor living space. Most days are now under 80 degrees (a mere 70 when we shot these photos).I often spend part of each day writing under the birdcage.



The azaleas and hibiscus are in bloom. An occasional bird lands in the palm tree, driving the cats into near apoplexy. Rain does fall here quite often but it's only a few steps from the screened cage to the sheltered lanai area, which does get humid but not moist.

There's a book or at least a poem here somewhere.

A Caged Life

A Day in the Cage

Why Does the Caged Bird Write?



Here's hoping all is well in your corner of the world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Long Ago But Not So Very Far Away


Forty-eight years ago this week, I had an Arlo Guthrie day at the old weathered Fort Wayne in Detroit. It was there I failed my draft physical and became ineligible to join the young men and women of my generation in Vietnam. To those who served, those who did not return and those who never were again. I offer these musical thoughts from John Prine.

You can listen along here.

Sam Stone came home,
To the wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served,
Had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knees.
But the morphine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back.
There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.
Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long.
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And soon he took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.
And the gold roared through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes...
There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.
Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon,
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair.
Well, he played his last request,
While the room smelled just like death,
With an overdose hovering in the air.
But life had lost it's fun,
There was nothing to be done,
But trade his house that he bought on the GI bill,
For a flag-draped casket on a local hero's hill.
There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Internet Addiction or not . . .


It doesn't matter whether we're talking Facebook, smart phone, games or just flat-out online addiction; we collectively have a problem. Blah, blah you've it all heard it before. 

However, let me ramble in the opposite direction today.

Here in The Villages, Florida* it's the counter example, with health care online for free medical advice, insurance, vision testing etc. It's all there but not accessed by those who need it most. The cyber revolution doesn't penetrate as deeply into the elder community as you might think. Or at least not as much as my hooked-up friends and cyber acquaintances would indicate.

I have heard statements like: "I can send my grandkid a eBirthday card, well actually my wife does that." and "I can make a tee time but I only learned that because they never answer the phone at the golf course."

Last week I focused on what the huge medical community has done with online access. You can see your test results in real time, just as your physician does. I was able to access my brother's knee X-rays from a few years back both before and after this replacement surgery. 

Questions get answered the same day when posted in a private forum with your doctor and/or nurse practitioner. Appointments are made, rescheduled and confirmed electronically. 

But when I asked at three local clinics about usage, I was told it's no better than 50% among the 'youngsters' (under 70) but rapidly decreases as the patient's age goes up.

Personally, I know more than your average patient, being that I do not subscribe to the god/physician myth; yet, I was able to locate detailed information on medications and treatments via the various cyber-access ports, information I had previously had to search as far as medical journals to find.

The internet is a incredible resource for medical information, an informed patient really is a boon to the medical establishment not a hinderance as you might think. Yet, the information waiting out there is not being accessed by those most in need.

End today's rambling ponder.

_______________________


*The US Census ranked The Villages as the fastest-growing U.S. city for the third year in a row (during the 12 months ended July 2015); The Villages nearly tripled in size since 2010: about 120,000 people now live in the community. The development lies in central Florida, 45 miles northwest of Orlando.

**2017 update for The Villages, Florida: 1800 new homes being added this year and next and next. Population now 135,000.




Friday, November 20, 2015

The Benefits of Writing


Write two paragraphs and call me in the morning.

"Science has good news for people who write: The consequences of putting pen to paper go beyond hand cramps and furrowed eyebrows. 
Study after study has linked the act of writing to myriad mental and physical health benefits, including elevated mood and emotional well-being, decreased stress, an improved ability to deal with trauma and even physical healing."

FULL ARTICLE from whence come these conclusions.

Friday, November 13, 2015

For Profit


Just so we begin here in the same place. The United States of America is not a country founded on the principles of capitalism. In theory, this is a representative democracy with a federalist system of governance.

We all know we are not operating as a representative democracy these days. We are, in fact, a wholly owned nation under the dehumanizing yoke of runaway capitalism.

'For-Profit' has become an obscene scepter of what the 'free market' might have been in the best of times.

I cite three prime examples: For-Profit Prisons, For-Profit Schools and most horribly For-Profit Hospitals, Nursing Homes and even Hospice.

Prisoners being housed like slaughterhouse animals. Rotted, unsafe food served to inmates. Cruelty and dehumanizing tactics by guards, these are all hallmarks of For-Profit Prisons. In addition, laws are passed that add to the growing U.S. prison population, only to keep the For-Profits in business.

Contributions to anti-marijuana laws come from the tobacco industry, the alcohol beverage industry and for profit prisons. Defending the right not to have equal justice and equal protection under the law but only to increase their corporate bottomline.

For-profit schools are even a bigger ripoff. Federally backed student loan programs are hugely in default because of the predatory enrollments in for-profit colleges and trade schools. I have first-hand experience with these degree mills. There is absolutely zero concern for what is being taught, if students are learning or even if they are participating in classes and doing the work. Students are never failed, degrees are alway awarded and student loan payments are always cashed.

But the most shocking examples come from the medical industries. For-profit nursing homes abuse and neglect elderly patients. Staff are overworked, underpaid and routinely fired for helping the patients. Food is barely about prison grade.

For-Profit Hospice abuse is almost too gross to imagine. In the end stages of life, we should at least expect comfort and care. Medications should be delivered, in particular, pain medication. But more and more investigations are turning up massive patient abuse and neglect.

For-Profit has become a dirty phrase. We have to recognize that corporate decisions that demand ever larger profits must be excluded from certain phases of our society. Leading that list of Non-Profit activities must be hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, schools and prisons.

Greed is not good. In the hands of heartless, soulless people we are trading profits for our humanity.

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Sunshine State



Part three of my 2015 wandering finds me in Florida. The Villages to be exact. Over the next several months, I'll be adding more reviews of this Boomer retirement mecca. Last year's commentaries can be found here, here (the book), here and a family update with pictures here.

This year I promise more pictures, more stories and more on my potential to become a complete nomad and go 100% undomiciled.

More soon.


Friday, October 30, 2015

A Great Harper Lee Quote


Fear not, there will be no assessment of the current Harper Lee novel, nor any of the comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird. I simply want to toss your way a two line quote from Go Set a Watchman.

"But the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: 
they both begin where reason ends."

It's the second sentence, of course, that contains the thought for the millennium. Is it any wonder that faith at the extremes leads to prejudice. Why not, they both begin with the abandonment of rational thought. 

"Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: 
they both begin where reason ends."

Thanks to my friend Marcia for reading this to us the other evening. This is going into my repertoire of quotable quotes. My conservative friends and a few of the liberals are not going to like it when I pull this one out. At least I can say, my friends will get the comparison. Think any of the current candidates would?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Just a Thought and a Feeling



"Writing is a socially acceptable form of 
getting naked in public."
- Paul Coelho


". . . even more so these days is the act of blogging."
- me




Friday, October 16, 2015

A Question (#1 in a series)


“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” -- John Steinbeck


How do you, how does anyone defend the right of the 1% to be greedy, avaristic bastards?

I asked that question of a friend of a friend, a known moderate republican. Okay, so I might have softened the wording just a bit, but I got an immediate answer.

"I don't know why anyone begrudges another person the right to make a lot of money."

I let that sit for awhile and then followed up with this: "Don't you think someone who has become wealthy based in this system of free enterprise. Don't you think they owe something to country that gave them the freedom to make all that money?"

"What exactly did the government give them?"

I had to go with the obvious answer: "Well let's see. Roads and railways to transport their goods, the Internet to advertise and make sales. An educated workforce via the public school system. Tax breaks . . . shall I go on?"

"What do you think they should give back?"

"Well, first it would be nice if they paid taxes and didn't ship jobs out of the country."

"But both of those are legal."

"So, you're okay with someone dodging taxes using IRS loopholes, while you pay your fair share and you don't come home to a swimming pool, a vacation villa and half a dozen luxury cars?"

"I am perfectly find with it. It's called the American Dream."

Clearly, this lady and others like her have a very different Dream than I do. Though their view of fairness does remind me of what happens some  dark nights, only I call them -- nightmares.

art credit: timeline photos

Friday, October 09, 2015

I wish I had said that . . .


One of the benefits of wandering/visiting about the country is the literature. Everyone reads different books and subscribes to a wide variety of magazine and periodicals. I currently have several years of The Atlantic and The New Yorker to leaf through, which leads to today's little gem.

From The Atlantic issue October 2014 an article on the Creation Museum in Kentucky. The author interviews various members of the staff and at one point poses this question. Hint: It's the response that's worth the read.

Did he ever wake up in the morning and have doubts about the truth of the Bible?, I wondered.

"No," he said. "Show me another book in the world that claims to be the word of one who knows everything, who has always been there, that tell us the origin of time, matter, space, the origin of the Earth, the origin of water, the origin of the sun, moon, and stars, the origin of dry land, the origin of plants, the origin of animals, the origin of marriage, of death and sin," he said.

"Lord of the Rings?", I answered, tepidly.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Like many of my generation I have some very strong feelings about the American war in Vietnam. Now forty years since the withdrawal of U.S. forces, not everyone has mellowed at the same pace. Some not at all.

I have for some years taken a literary path, reading dozens of books about the war. For those who have not heard this recommendation before - A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan is the quintessential book on the subject. I should probably do a separate post of the top ten Vietnam War books, maybe later.

What nearly everyone from that era will tell you is that Vietnam was frustrating, maddening and horrifying. That sense of frustration was captured again for me last night as I read yet another book on the war. A new novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer. What got me up to grab a pencil and paper was this line:


". . . swimmers doing the backstroke towards a waterfall."


The line was in context of a several chapter description of the chaos surrounding the final days of American withdrawal from Saigon viewed from the perspective of those Vietnamese who had supported (collaborated) with the U.S.

The sense of frustration and powerlessness from decades ago, came back in a most uncomfortable reality. And I had to wonder, why don't we feel the same about Iraq and Afghanistan?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Not a Movie Review -- Everest


Everest the motion picture is being released today. I was going to launch into my previously vented rant about the idiots who climb the WORLD'S HIGHEST PEAK!!!

You know the thought process that goes: these are rich, stupid people who spend tens of thousands of dollars to go up a mountain into what they call "The Dead Zone" and in the process walk, stumble and crawl past the bodies of previous climbers. Previous dead climbers.

I was going to express those thoughts again, until I found a few reviews. Check out these snippets.


This brusquely visualized, choppily played epic serves as the latest cinematic opportunity for Mother Nature to flaunt her utter indifference to human survival. 
Justin Chang· Variety
The best argument in favor of what otherwise would be a pointlessly cruel loss of human life are the sweeping, heart-stoppingly beautiful mountain vistas.
Katie Rife - A.V. Club
Still, there's only one star in this movie: Everest.
Peter Travers· Rolling Stone

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pondering On The Road

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Second stop on my Fall '15 road trip. Feeling less than evenly distributed, but this is the life I have chosen. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder why I gave that guy so much say in how I lead my life and where I spend my time.

Spending time -- Now there's a concept.

Hey buddy, can you lend me a fortnight?




Friday, September 11, 2015

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing


 “I try to keep deep love out of my stories because, once that particular subject comes up, it is almost impossible to talk about anything else. Readers don’t want to hear about anything else. They go gaga about love. If a lover in a story wins his true love, that’s the end of the tale, even if World War III is about to begin, and the sky is black with flying saucers.”    To the Paris Review, 1977.




Friday, September 04, 2015

Electoral Numbers


As we stumble and mumble towards a presidential selection still 14 months off. I wonder, what does it mean to win an election?

Generally speaking, the winner gets more votes than his or her opponent. The American Presidential election system does create the possibility that someone with fewer votes could be elected. In fact, it happened in 2000; when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore. But this post is not about the number of votes, but rather about the number of voters.

In the 2014 mid-term elections the republican party got 52% of the vote. But since only 35% of the voters turned out to cast their ballots, in fact, the winning party got 17% of the voters to show up on elections day to support them.

Yes, you can make the argument that "those who show up make the decisions." And there's always the old, tired saying about "those who don't vote got no right to complain." Blah, blah, bullshit!

My position is that a huge segment of the population are so sick of the gridlock in Washington. So tired of being so baldly lied to by politicians and their minions, they've stopped participating. Who can blame citizens for believing their votes mean nothing. Or worse, they are offered alternatives that are so gut-wrenchingly weak, they would rather stay home than support either of the two major parties.

So, long-time readers, expecting a third party pitch here? Nope, not yet, too early.

But I would like to offer some perspective from 31 years ago. The last time we had an actual landslide in a presidential election was 1984. Ronald Reagan the great and powerful  savior of the conservative right won a stunning victory over Walter Mondale.

Let me ask you four questions about that election:

1) How many of the 50 states + the District of Columbia did Reagan win?

2) What percent of the vote did Reagan receive?

3) What percent of eligible citizens were registered to vote?

4) What percent of citizens cast their ballot for Ronald Reagan in this landslide election?

Got your answers? You know there's a trick in there somewhere right?


1) How many of the 50 states + the District of Columbia did Reagan win?

Walter Mondale won this home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Reagan won the other 49 states and Puerto Rico. Now that's a landslide, right?

2) What percent of the vote did Reagan receive?

58.8% for Ronnie. Mondale barely eked out 40%.

3) What percent of eligible citizens were registered to vote?

In 1980, over 124 million voters were registered, which represents 71% of those eligible to vote.

4) What percent of citizens eligible to vote, cast their ballot for Ronald Reagan in this landslide election?

Of all those 18 years of age or older and not restricted by felonies or a few other legal barriers to voting, only 53% cast ballots in the 1980 Presidential election. Since Reagan won my a landslide margin of 58.8%, that means of those who could vote to elect the President of the United States, just of 31% of them elected Ronald Reagan in a "landslide."

Would you feel like you had a mandate to rule the country if you got 31% of the people behind you?

p.s. Donald Trump the current darling of American politics is hovering around 25% of potential republican primary voters, if you believe some questionable math. First, the polls do not discriminate between registered voters and just someone who picked up the phone and answered a few questions. What if a democrat gets the call? Why not say you're a republican and support Trump. Polls take the opinion of the voice at the end of the call, without any verification. Taking all the pseudo-math into account, somewhere round 9% of possible, perhaps, maybe voters are supporting Trump on a phone call. Frontrunner?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dylan Lyrics


I've had Dylan's 'My Back Pages' in my ear for several days now. So naturally I had to go looking for something about it.

I've been down the Bob Dylan lyric rabbit hole before. Trust me, it is a very strange place; but should you be brave enough, try this site. It holds a lot of nostalgic pleasure.

If you'd just like to experience an extremely pleasant ear worm, might I suggest you listen to this rendition on video with Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn -- all being backed by Booker T & the MGs. A true delight.

Don't recognize the song 'My Back Pages'. Perhaps the refrain will jog your memory. These are the words that have echoed in my head for days.

I was so much older then, 
I'm younger then that now.


Yes I was and thankfully, yes I am.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Another Road Trip


The long and winding road beckons again. I'm off on another four month sojourn. This journey might well be a final rehearsal for a new adventure. I am seriously considering going completely undomiciled again. I have half a dozen friends and family who seem to think they can tolerate my extended presence in their space. So based on this fall's beta test, I might just divest one more time and strike out into the vast expanse of spare bedrooms around the country.

For now, I will chronicle my chautuaqua here. First stop -- Mt. Shasta/Weed, California, I arrived two days ago. I've been visiting, vacationing and retreating here for over 25 years; they really, really know me here. Further stops along the road, well, we shall see. More from the the long and winding as I meander.

Next stop, Ann Arbor. We have all been there before.


Friday, August 07, 2015

100 Things About Me (2015)


This is the fifth annual edition of "100 Things About Me". It's been five years since I updated my self-reflective "facts." Some things have changed, others have dimmed in memory. This started out as a "blogger thing" now it's almost entirely ego-driven, but what else is a blog for?

There has been about an 20% update this time around, mostly because I appear to be getting a tad wiser and perhaps a bit mellower. Perhaps I should ask around to see if those observations are congruent to outside observers. Anyway, this is me, as I see me, 1948 to 2015.

1. This here blog totals more than 1,200 posts since 2007. I have disclosed more to the void of the internet ether than I have to my closest friends and they are not reticent about telling me that sternly and often.
2. For 15 months in 2009-10, I was undomiciled (not homeless) while traveling in my Cube to see family and friends around the country.
3. One year from now, I am hitting the road going undomiciled again, this time with no end date in mind. I did a three month test of this plan last fall and plan to do so again beginning later this month. Gotta give everyone another chance to deal with the in-their-face reality of my long-term presence in their space.
4. I'm going to write a book/guide about baby boomers & others living with friends, relatives, old college roommates and lovers. Working title: Undomiciled: A guide to being a great houseguest.
5. As of June 2016, my permanent address will be very impermanent.
6. Yes, I'm going to convert this blog to annotate my renewed on-the-road lifestyle.

~~~~~~


7. I grew up in a rural village in Michigan. Part of my future wandering will be in that general vicinity.
8. I am the middle child of five; I am typical of a middle child. Also an Aquarius, double Capricorn, Tarot: Emperor-Fool, Meyers-Briggs: INFP.
9. I have lived with four women in my life; this total does not include lesbian housemates, my mother, sister or my various roomies while on the road next year.



10. Only one relationship ever mutually got anywhere near the marriage conversation. 

There were several others that got that close for her but not for me or so I was later informed. For future reference -- this is not information you should withhold, who knows where it might have gone. (p.s. the one that got close just celebrated becoming a grandmother)
11. I got my undergraduate degree in political science from Kalamazoo College in 1969.
12. I received a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology in 1999 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. 


13. I was Jane Fonda’s bodyguard for a day (1973).
14. I once grew my hair for two years, it never reached my collar. These days I clip rather than shave, but there is much less acreage supporting hair growth now.

15. My first book was published in May of 2009, it has sold about 30,000 copies; the screenplay still languishes in Hollywood; though I have quite a good one on laptop.
16. The title of the book I am actively shopping to my agent is: Grey Angel. Several readers tell me it has a chance.

~~~~~~~~

17. I went to a Catholic grade school. The school, church, rectory, convent, playground and the big field were on the same block as our house. 

18. I skipped from the 4th to the 5th grade mid-year. 


19. I do not have a tattoo or any piercings and only four major scars from a broken baby bottle, a high speed clothesline, a surgeon's scalpel and a redhead's heart. 

20. I don’t wear jewelry, cologne, boxers, pelts or chartreuse. 


21. 97.3% of my clothes are cotton. 


22. A Google search on my name will find a lot of papers presented to the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.
23. The most important feature of a car is head room; come to think of it, that may be the most important feature in life.
24. I have been told I have really great hands. I have not been told that often enough in the past decade.
25. I was mesmerized twice during an Easter weekend in Paris in 1968. No sentient beings were involved, other than me. 


26. There were seventeen academic awards for boys given out my senior year in high school. I received seventeen. 


27. I have written about poker, intergenerational living and meditation under several pseudonyms. 

 


28. The first live poker tournament I ever played was raided by the Ohio State Police. 


29. I worked as a media writer at the World Series of Poker for four years: ’06-’09; Most of those who worked with me agree, it's an interesting memory.
30. I once received a job evaluation while working in Silicon Valley, it read: “Not completely sure what Tim does; prefer not to ask. Overall rating: Excellent, perhaps.”


31. I ran several political campaigns in the 70’s; none of my candidates won but none of them served time in prison either. 


32. I have voted in every presidential election. I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate. I have voted for one democrat and no republicans -- George McGovern 1972. Next year might be tempting.
33. Obama is not a liberal, nor is he a socialist. I disagree with all of my friends on the left and the right about him.
34. I have a lengthy rant/tirade on third party voting, which no one is required to hear more than once. I would add that several friends have come back years, even decades later and asked me to repeat my argument.
35. The last presidential speech I heard was Richard Nixon’s resignation. I enjoyed it much too much. I tried to listen to Obama on election night 2008 but years of poker make it too easy to read the facial expressions that go with political half-truths.

~~~~~~~

36. I don’t believe in the Cartesian mind/body split.
37. I do believe in Karma and perhaps Reincarnation, this time around. 


38. From the age of ten to twenty-six, I had the key to a pharmacy in my pocket. I refer to those as my “chemically formative years.”


39. My father was a naval officer, small business owner, pharmacist, village councilman and volunteer fire chief. 

40. I have a not so deeply repressed attraction to redheads. 


41. I have about six dozen favorite quotes. Among them: "True wisdom needs decades to ripen."
42. I think that The Simpsons remains “a brilliant commentary on American culture” and so is the woman who first said that to me.
43. When anyone says their family is dysfunctional, I ask if they have ever seen The Osbournes; available on DVD.
44. I do believe we are living in the true golden age of television. There are shows running today I would have enjoyed immensely in the 80s or 90s, now they don't even make it to the DVR. A feast from the boob tube.
45. A country needs jesters; we have had John Stewart and Steven Colbert. I await replacements.
46. I have many qualities that resemble a hibernating bear. 
47. There is a sign on my front door that reads: “Arouse only as necessary. At your own risk or pleasure.” 


48. I have had several “families” over the years; the one in L.A. will always be the most memorable, we lost our center and drifted apart in 1990. 


49. I have never been arrested. I have put up bail several times, but not recently. Well done friends.

50. I have only three addictions: chocolate, oxygen and that other one. 

~~~~~~~~~~

51. Apocalypse Now is my favorite movie but not the director’s cut. I have a blog post: Movies of My Life that may interest movie buffs.
52. Catch-22 was once my favorite book. These days my favorite changes often.
53. Annie Lennox is my favorite female singer (still), though I really like Pink's voice.
54. I adore cats of all sizes and I am fond of manatees.
55. In the last eight years I have discovered the answer to several of life’s questions. However, I have also realized that an equal number of previously 'revealed’ answers, no longer seem to be valid.
56. Three of the most remarkable women I have ever met all live in Texas.
57. The other three I met in San Francisco. I am open to expanding this list.
58. I have lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Germany, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, San Francisco, Las Vegas and now Berkeley. Over the next year or five I will be adding Florida, Texas and perhaps a few more yet-to-be-explored venues.
59. Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley has been a real re-learning experience over the last five years.
60. A lot of my daily life decisions are made based on the current operational condition of my lower back. This reality sucks and at times dominates my life. The sacrum is clearly an evolutionary design flaw and proof that there is no such thing as intelligent design when it comes to humanoids.

~~~~~~~~ 

61. (2010) I have many more conservative friends than I used to, but most of them tend to not know about my previous incarnations. (2015) My facebook comments seem to be costing me more and more of my former friends. Facts can do that, particularly when they run smack into someone's beliefs.
62. I have become convinced by scientific research that conservative & liberal brains are genetically wired differently and never the twain shall meet.
63. The best vacation of my life was in Bali. The second was Key West. The third is still out there.
64. I would like to see New Zealand and much more of Canada; plus there are parts of the U.S. I want to visit again, a few are on my list for next year.
65. Favorite Band: I am rethinking this one, again.
66. Favorite Music: Nessun Dorma from Turandot. Hey, I like Impressionist painting too.
67. Tiger, Clarence, Sam, Gisele, Geniver, Samson,Truman, Wally, Armistead, Honey, Rascal, Smokey, Midnight, Kerry, Shane, Mama, Grendel.
68. I discovered I was buddhist in Singapore. I seem to have misplaced that discovery.
69. I am not going to be here next year. 
70. “Here” is not an easy term to define, particularly in the context I use it here.
71. I hope #'s 69 & 70 cause less consternation than they did five years ago.

~~~~~~~~


72. The most important part of a movie is the dialogue.
73. After the writing comes the music, except Koyaanisqatsi.
74. I am fascinated by images from the Hubble Space Telescope eagerly await it's replacement. Come on NASA, we need more depth, clarity and alien artifacts.
75. “Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” is empirically, if painfully, true.
77. I don't play any musical instruments and can't carry a tune. Prose is my vehicle.
78. I gave up chocolate for a time, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the winter of much discontent.
79. Omnivore with predilections for turkey, avocado, asparagus, barbeque, crusty loaves and pineapple based smoothies.
80. I have never participated in sports where your legs randomly go in opposite directions.
81. I was employed for several years as a benevolent demi-god in a virtual reality world. It was typecasting. I never smote anyone.

~~~~~

82. I believe that U.S. America post-1492 can genetically be a country of origin. I have officially declared myself an albus americanus.
83. As my friends approach retirement, I offer each of them this advice: "Fix up your guest room and no twin beds please." This advice takes on much more significance next year.
84. Is my favorite number but not my lucky number.
85. Grey is my favorite color; followed closely by gray.
86. I lived in Hell for several years in the 70s. 
87. Until I was 35 everyone thought I was older than I was.
88. After I was 35 everyone thinks I am younger than I am, even now.
89. I lived in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach but I never, ever lay on a sunny beach.
90. 1984 was the first book I ever stayed up all night to read.
91. About the only pastime that keeps me from writing is reading.
92. My favorite job is the one I have now; teaching is a close second and working with my dad in the pharmacy made both of those possible.
93. I lived with a woman named Faith. I got hit by a car driven by Hope. Was asked to have coffee by a hooker named Charity, she really did want to have coffee (some years later she asked me to be her daughter's godfather.)
94. I will eat a hot dog, sausage or link no matter how many snouts and lips are in it. Prefer the links be barbeque, the sausage in an omelette and only the occasional weenie.
95. I travel with the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.
96. I once camped for a weekend with seven gay men, six lesbians, and four newborn kittens. I had a distinct preference for one of those groups.
97. I met the perfect woman in Kalamazoo in 1965, in Ann Arbor in 1971, in Hermosa Beach in 1976, in San Francisco in 1992, in Indiana in 2006, next in 20## . . .
98. I have two lingering regrets in my life. Both involve relationships I screwed up. One when I was too young, the other I couldn't break through the shimmering walls of her past.
99. I have one prejudice; I abhor voluntary stupidity.
100. I will listen to almost any thoughtful position, unless it violates the limits referenced in #99, lot of that violating goes on in politics these days.

One Hundred Things About Me [2010 edition]
One Hundred Things About Me [first version 2007]

Friday, July 31, 2015

Donald Trump is NOT Running for President


Donald Trump may or may not be a good businessman. (See multiple bankruptcies). But he is damn good at getting rich, which is why he is pseudo-running for President.

That's right folks, The Donald and several other republican candidates, are not actually in the race to win it. The presidential primaries have become a get rich quick scheme.

Let's start with the Political Action Committees (PACs). Here's all you need to know about PACs, they can make unlimited contributions in and out of the electoral process independently of a candidate or a political party. Even though a PAC calls itself  something uplifting and patriotic, there just money pits for the candidates to plunder.

Here are just a few of the current PACs:

Opportunity and Freedom (Rick Perry)
Keep the Promise (Ted Cruz) -there are 3 of these to spread out the donations
Pursuing America's Greatness (Mike Huckabee)
Our American Revival (Scott Walker)
America Leads (Chris Christie)
Right to Rise (Jeb Bush) - shouldn't it be: The Right Shall Rise Again
Make American Great Again (Trump) Wait! You thought he was using his own money?

You see if you don't get the nomination, as 20 or so candidates with PACs will not, then the money can be spent on other things. Remember the PAC can make "unlimited contributions in or OUT of the electoral process." So, lose the nomination and then after a much needed vacation, which the PAC will pay for; you go on a speaking tour. Say ten speeches at $100K each, that's a cool million. Who pays that much for a speech from a loser? How about your PAC.

Then we have the book deals. You (ghost)write a book, sell thousands of copies to your PAC, which makes your book a best-seller. Then have the PAC give them away at your rallies, which creates a tax write-off for your PAC. Want an example?

Ben Carson a black republican without the street cred of Colin Powell and no chance in hell of winning the nomination. He's a black republican!  A couple of his books -- One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future and America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great currently an Amazon #1 in the Civics category. Plus you can get a "free" copy of Dr. Carson's autobiography, if you donate $25 to his campaign. Interesting use of the term -- free.

My point? Follow the Money. Donald Trump knows how to get rich and he is making a fortune off his bogus run for the republican nomination. Why bogus? Because nearly 70% of the electorate have already said they wouldn't vote for him under any circumstances. 


So why run? 

Besides being good for his enormous ego, it's really just because he can. The other reason is money. Donald Trump will come out of this charade richer than he went in and so will at least a dozen other "candidate$." Hillary did it in 2008 or did you miss that little bit of information.

So while The Donald is crushing the polls 15 months before the election in a field that no longer resembles a clown car but has bloated to a boatload of buffoons. Mr Trump isn't getting the nomination because he ain't actually running for president.


Friday, July 24, 2015

First World Wonders


I'm going to go out on a small limb and say that you would not hear any of my friends or acquaintances refer to me as a complainer. A ranter, yes. A critic, sure. And, most descriptively, a connoisseur of certain tastes, flavors and sins. Top of my vice list is chocolate, in particular the many variations of chocolate ice cream.

However, for some time I have apparently been remiss in keeping up with the decadent offerings in the grocery freezer. Because . . . late one night recently, I stopped at an all-night market and drooled my way to the frozen sugar aisle. There I found the great and powerful combo of Messrs. Ben and Jerry had come up with several versions of what they are calling Core Ice Creams.

Reading the various labels risked a minor case of frost bite but just in the nip of time, I settled on Peanut Butter Fudge Core. One-half of the pint is chocolate ice cream, the other a mild peanut butter ice cream. Mixed throughout are mini-peanut better cups but in the center is a rich, dark, smooth dollop of chocolate peanut butter fudge or "The Core."

Such sweetness hath not crossed my tongue since . . . well, never you mind.

Other offerings to temp you:

Salted Caramel Core
That's My Jam Core [raspberry]
Hazed and Confused Core [hazelnut]
Karamel Sutra Core [2 kinds of caramel]
Peanut Butter Me Up Core (crunchy peanut butter chips]
Dough-ble Whammy Core
Blondie Brownie Core
Spectacular Speculoss Cookie Core [cinnamony speculoss cookies]
Boom Chocolotta Cookie Core [mocha, caramel, fudge flakes]

Those bastards at Safeway, with all their store card savings and special shopper discounts. This week Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream = $2.25 a pint.