Friday, December 27, 2013

Religion and Me

I posted this as a response over at Ashok's blog to his avowed atheism coupled with appreciation of the beauty of spirit shone him by some believers:

I am not an atheist, but I do not believe in “an omnipotent person looking over you,” for there are very different ways to construct being and its roots. Indeed, I have never seen any of the descriptions of ultimate reality to match my vision in any of the religions, but I can see all of them as local representations of it, each with greater or lesser distortion and none of them complete. I am nonetheless appreciative of the truth of the serious believer when shone in love and humility.

And, I love that we all share seats in a magnificent mystery!

For once, I expressed well what I feel within.  I am like the new Pope, if a person is atheist and lives well, with compassion, caring and justice, I have embrace them.  If a person is a believer and lives poorly in terms of caring and love, I don't see salvation in their belief.


This is a sad post.  We as a family have been incredibly blessed this holiday season with the healthy birth of our newest addition, Newbie Fossil.  We had a much closer flirt with disaster, however, with the drowning and resuscitation of Innocence Fokker, my daughter's neice.  The doctors said she only had a 7% chance of even survival, so we count her full recovery as blessing beyond belief!  Our experience with Innocence made us very sensitive to the plight of kids in danger and, unfortunately, of kids dying.  

On the same day that Innocence drowned, 2 other children drowned in the same area.  Innocence was the only one to survive.

On the day that Innocence was released from the hospital, a 13 year-old girl was brought into the same hospital for a routine tonsillectomy.  But, routine or not, she began bleeding and went into cardiac arrest over the next few days.  She has been declared brain dead by several specialists.  Still,the family refuses to have her removed from life support and now it has been announced (as I've been typing this piece) that she will be transferred to a long term care facility.

The sadness we feel and the empathy runs VERY deep!  However, the scientist in me no longer has any hope, for brain death cannot be recovered from.  If ever she recovers, it will indeed be miraculous.  Short of that miracle, I fear that this will be a source of further pain for the family in ways hard to imagine.

Rarely, something like the recovery of Innocence happens.  Unfortunately, all too often, broken is broken and there is no repair available.  And there is no broken worse than that which happens to your child.

I hope that the other members of the Loose Blogger Consortium, listed on the right, have happier takes on this topic.  Nothing in me would be happier than being wrong about this 13 year-old.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


In this holiday season - and a quite unusual, intense and busy one for me and mine, I might add - I am running a bit late on my LBC blogging.  But, Maria / Gaelikaa brought this topic to us and I am determined to do my part!  Today, I will be channeling another person, a little person who will be a regular participant from this point forward.

Hi, I'm the newest member of the family, Newbie Fossil!  It isn't easy coming out of one of the nicest spas in the universe to the harsh light of day.  The responsibilities they lay on a kid!  Wake up.  Eat.  Poop.  Sleep.  Repeat.  I mean, it is unending!

Oh, and did I tell you that they packed me up from the hospital and brought me to some place they call home?

I think this is more work than it's supposed to be, right?  I mean, it even wears out my Dad:

I mean, Mom is carrying a load right now and I get how she could be tired:

Still, all of us women in this family hang together and she seems to be doing great in spite of it all!

If they can do it, I can do it!  I'm determined!

But, there are times ...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Is Global Peace Possible?

Ramana can at times throw a hard one at the LBC for the weekly topic.  Wow.  Well, here goes.

The optimist and the realist in me live in different time periods on this one.  In the present, there seems to be no viable path to global peace.  Human evolution just isn't at that stage and I can only see it happening with a few more millennia of progress.  If we can possibly survive to that point.

There is the rub.  Survival to the point that peace could be global.  We are on several collision courses in the path to global peace, and the most alarming is the one capable of triggering all the other disasters we fear most, the one that can truly bring the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse - Conquest (or Pestilence), War, Famine and Death - into our presence.  That single source is not JUST iniquity, although the true believers of the literal will no doubt fault me on this, it is the inevitable collision with reality that an unsupportable population brings.

At our current acceleration of population, we are heading for a collapse of the bridge to the human future, for we will be unable to supply the resources necessary to sustain ourselves.  This, under present reckoning, is an unavoidable fact.  The result is the entrance of the Four Horsemen and the less literal interpretation is that these are the necessary forces that will come into play as the conflict of over populating hits the full tipping point.

We are already well on our way and can see the results all around us.  We have global warming.  We are polluting.  People are starving.  We have wars.  Ultimately, many people will die on a mass scale.

But ... this is where the optimist in me walks in, my internal version of the True Believer.  Given mankind's drive to survive, it will become apparent even to the ignorant that extinction is a very real possibility.  Existence itself will become intolerable on a more massive scale and humankind will either need to mount a massive defense of its viability ... or die.  When confronted with these options, it is amazing what people can do.

Is global peace possible?  Yes, I think so.  But it looks like a great deal of trauma may be necessary to truly awaken us to a better potential.  Do you agree?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Brain of Innocence ...

... suffered no damage!  The word just came in from the neurologist.

And, more good news: she is now walking around on her own!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Innocence's Hero

If you have not read the prior article on what happened to Innocence Fokker, I encourage you to read so that you can appreciate what is to follow.

When Innocence was discovered not breathing and without a pulse floating in the pool, she was immediately brought inside by her father.  An immediate call was made to 911 and her grandfather began doing cpr.

What was unknown to the family was that two experts were walking in their neighborhood at that time, a firefighter and his wife, a nurse.  American firefighters are very fit, very strong people capable of fighting fires in the greatest of extremity.  But, as I have been told in the past, over 90% of their calls are EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment) calls and they are very advanced in emergency treatment.

As this firefighter received the call on the radio attached to his belt, he realized the address was close by.  He immediately took off at a sprint with his wife following.  He arrived at the home and entered, immediately beginning emergency medical treatment of Innocence.  I do not know the details, but I know that he was maintaining a regimen of 100 compressions per minute and sustained that until the ambulance could arrive and even in the ambulance, then going with the ambulance to the hospital. From there, the earlier story picks up the narrative.

As Ramana commented: "At a cynical age when the medical profession is getting flack for negligence, this is a welcome change."  Agreed, but there are those around us ready to be heroic at a moment's notice, people geared to act and help.  There is not enough gratitude in the world for what they do for people they have never met just because it is the right thing to do, because they have huge hearts and great courage!

To a man I have never met, to a man I do not know, "Thank you!"

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Death and Resurrection of Innocence

This week, our whole family has gone through Hell and returned to tell the tale.  Everything I am going to tell you is the truth as reported to and experienced by me and only the names have been changed, because I don't want anyone unfamiliar with the people to invade their privacy at any level.

My son-in-law, Flash Fokker, has a twin brother, Twin Fokker, and Twin and his wife, TwinWife Fokker, have a beautiful little girl, Innocence Fokker.  This story is so poignant and so troubling that I am going to give you the spoiler that the ending is pretty good, because I don't want it to tear you up like it did us.

This past Sunday, the Lady Fossil came down the hall with cell phone in hand to tell me that Innocence Fokker had been found in the swimming pool unbreathing and with no pulse!  Lafawnda and Flash had been at a shopping center shopping for Christmas gifts when they heard and they had immediately set out for the home of Twin.  They learned on the way that Innocence was being airlifted to a regional children's medical center about 15 miles from our home.  All of us had started the trip to Hell.

Lafawnda and Flash actually arrived at the medical center before anyone else, including the copter with Innocence.  Soon, the direct grandparents gathered along with Twin and TwinWife.  Innocence arrived and was taken in for emergency treatment.

The doctor emerged to tell everyone that the chances were high that Innocence would not make it.  No one knew how long she had been in the pool and she was discovered clinically dead.  She was intubated and a pulse had been restored, but there were no guarantees of survival or of safety from severe brain damage if survive she did.

The doctors fought like the warriors of peace that they are with this little girl and by the morning, she was stabilized in a medically induced coma.  She had tubes and IV's everywhere and she was wrapped in a special cold blanket designed to keep the body temperature low.  Her temperature in the pool had dropped to 83 degrees Fahrenheit and it had returned to the normal 98.6 degrees.  This hypothermia was a possible saving grace for one so young, because it can prevent brain damage and tissue deterioration.

For the next two days, she was kept unconscious.  She was on a ventilator, but the doctors noted that her organs were still functioning.

The next day was her second birthday (can you think of anything more poignant) and the staff and other parents of very ill children brought her all kinds of presents.

A brain scan was conducted for 12 hours and the neurologist only said that during that time, she had no seizures.  Still, everything was looking as good as possible.

The next day, they started lowering the sedation and she began waking up.  And she smiled at her Daddy!  She had a long way to go, but she was able to recognize the people around her before she lapsed back into a deep sleep!

Well, each day has involved all of us watching the recovery of Innocence and helping our kids with the experience they were having every evening.  It is one of the more taxing stretches we have ever experienced, for none of us were in a situation to falter.

Innocence is exhausted as I write this, but she is out of the ICU and has started going through rehab, and the team working with her are some of the best in the world.  We are soooo relieved even though we don't know still if she will have any damage and aftereffects.  We know that she watches her favorite movies and laughs at her favorite spots.

Now I show you Innocence Fokker, a little girl who has been dead and has returned, as she looked yesterday:

And THAT is beauty!  Thank you Delores for bringing this topic to the LBC this week.  Your sychronicity was perfect!

I will have a followup, for there is a true hero in this story and I want him to get his due.  But, for now, this is enough.

Friday, November 29, 2013


When I was a child, daydreaming was a delightful habit.  My mind would just take off for the hinterlands and I could construct my own internal novel at will.  Indeed, I at times would construct a fantasy story line that I would essentially pause when my attention was needed for the "real" world and then restarted at that point as I returned to it.

Those internal stories had super heroes and I was, oddly enough, an observer, almost as though it was a movie.  It made me an easy child to take places, because I didn't need my parents or other adults keep me entertained.

Don't get me wrong, I was not a withdrawn child and I only enjoyed my inner landscape in this way when there was nothing of interest for involvement at the time.  Now, I don't daydream in that manner at all, but that doesn't mean that I don't use the same inner tools for adult purposes.  I am involved in a project that requires me to imagine lighting fixtures oriented in space and what it takes to turn this into an input system for a salesperson and an output system for a manufacturing facility.  Different use, same tools.

I also use a more freeform version of this for my spiritual questing.  Instead of directing inner imagery, I try to present an inner medium awaiting spontaneous "projection" as it were.

I'm sure all of us have some version of this.  I am curious.  What is your version?

Check out the other writers of our Loose Blogger Consortium to see what they have produced for this topic.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Favorite Book

This topic brought to the LBC this morning by shackman.  It seemed impossible at first, but with a little thought and consideration …

It was 50 years ago today.  It seems so long ago and yet it seems like yesterday.  Every American can remember where they were.

It was in June of 2011 when word came to me that my father had fallen and would not recover.  It seems so long ago and it seems like yesterday.

It was about 4 1/2 years or so ago.  An idea came into my head that sprouted into the Loose Blogger Consortium.  It seems so … well, you know the rest.

What ties these together?  Emotion, caring and personal impact.  Jack Kennedy’s assassination is etched in every American’s psyche indelibly because we embraced him.  He had impact just by being and acting out who he was.  His charisma and his family’s ushered in a new vision of America.

My father and I shared many memories and reflections on JFK over the decades just as we shared so much else.  Both of their losses impacted me deeply, not to speak of the impact on my mother, who shared 63 loving years with my dad.

Now let’s close this circle.  Along with the LBC came relationships of a type that I would never have anticipated at the time.  We were few at the beginning, but we were very much into the idea of trying an experiment where each blogger would simultaneously write on a single topic and THEN go see what the others had written.  The core group was really Ramana, myself – and this long legged lass from the Emerald Isle.

Well, over time and over sharing and over caring, we all became closer and began communication on the side in a variety of ways.  We have had a surprising number of ups and downs over this period, for that is the lot of mortals.  And the loss of my father to me and my mother was no exception.

What most don’t realize is that one of the true stabilizing forces for my mother at that time was this lady that I became acquainted with on the Internet, this charter member of the LBC.  Marie – Grannymar – talked on many occasions through those early days on Skype with my mother and helped her through.  And helped me through.

Now, this lady of Ireland who has become what we think of as our cousin for we are almost half Irish, is hanging up her LBC pen on this the 50th anniversary of the death of our Irish President.  There is a poignancy to that, and I want to deeply and humbly thank my friend for all that she has done and all that she has meant.

And that brings me back to our original topic with this choice as my favorite book:

Friday, November 15, 2013

When I Was Young ...

... this baseball uniform actually fit!  Now, you can see that the only thing allowing me to keep the pants on was to use a belt at Halloween.

... I had hair.

... I had many friends and I had my parents ... but I still felt lonely in some ways.

Who needs to be young?  I am happy right as I am.

This topic was brought to us by the ever youngun, Grannymar!  May her eternal youth serve her well for a long time!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Road Rage

Of all the people who might bring this topic for the LBC consideration, Padmini Natarajan seems one of the least likely to suffer from the aflliction of any of the people I know.  Then again, people get behind the wheel and you don't know them ...

You go out, get in your car, take a simple ride to work or a granddaughter's soccer game or for groceries.   You've done it a thousand other times, but this time!!! This time, a fool is driving about 40 mph over the speed limit, cuts you off and almost causes you to crash, then goes off weaving through traffic like there is no tomorrow.

Your blood starts to boil and adrenalin is shooting through your system as the body responds for fight or flight.  Nothing would please you more than to see the two-bit SOB bite the guardrail on a tight curve.  Where is a cop when you need one!

The truth is, most of us have experienced this.  It is a primitive response, which, of course, means that it is one of the harder ones to control.  I'm sure it comes out of the reptilian complex, somewhere deep and dark where dastardly potential lurks.  Part of you is glad you don't have a gun right now.  But, if intent encourages reality, this person is definitely not destined for Heaven!  Not after the invective you just hurled at him.

Well, the bad news is that some people ARE carrying guns and are willing to stop and use them.  Short of that, many people are willing to do things in a car that they would never think of in another setting.  I mean, what is the last time you saw someone pushing through the line waiting to get in to a movie?  But, get that same person in a car and all social niceties fly right out the window.

Oddly enough, I've read that studies show that people who personalize their cars the most are the most likely to be abusive on the roadways.  So, is it an ego thing or a sense of entitlement?  Please tell me what you think.

In the meantime, I will try to tame this stupid reptile that lives in my head.  He's a pretty crappy driver.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Into the Night

This topic was brought to us by Will Knott.  I am late to the party and will probably be posting on Saturdays for awhile, since I am just that busy.  It is good busy, though. :)

We have just celebrated All Hallows' Eve (Halloween) in many of our cultures.  In Mexico, Dia de Los Muertes is celebrated.  It is a visit to the night of our psyche, the dark side that fascinates and frightens us.

As children, many want a light on in the room at certain ages, because in the dark our imaginations fill in the gaps, quite often with our fears.  The mystic, on the other hand, embraces the night for much the same reason with wonder substituted for fear.

In the same manner, we confront the penultimate trip into the night.  Death!  We wrap it in the nightlight of religion and philosophy, but ultimately we get to experience it in fact.  Some go to it as children fearing the dark and others go as mystics embracing the wonder.

I'm thinking the mystic has less difficulty going to sleep.  And better dreams!

Friday, October 25, 2013




  • 1 : recompense, reward
  • 2 : the dispensing or receiving of reward or punishment especially in the hereafter
  • 3 : something given or exacted in recompense; especially: punishment

Now Maria, why did you bring this topic to the LBC?  Oh, wait, it has as the first definition as a positive note, recompense or reward, not the way I usually think of it.  I usually think of it more like the 3rd entry and sometimes like the 2nd.  So, let's see what my fevered brain can reward me with ...

I used to think of the afterlife as somewhat a reward for a good life or punishment for a bad one.  I was young and life progresses in stages; as I experienced more I was much less inclined to view the "hereafter" this way.

Instead, I progressed to a belief in karma, kind of a more immediate and comprehensive understanding of moral cause and effect.  It made sense to me that the good and bad you did was directly connected with a result.  It still does, in a way!  However, I don't think of it in terms of karma as most people use it.  I think our beliefs themselves are the causative agent.

Life has these ladders of development for everyone.  I am not preaching or telling you that I am right.  What I am saying is that understandings and philosophies grow with life experience and our choices.  Personally, I find retribution to be emotionally tempting at times, but overall a poor choice of focus.  It doesn't bring back loss and the desire for it is only evidence of an internal struggle that someone is losing with reality.

I don't castigate anyone for wanting it unless it leads to something destructive aimed at another.  It might come in the form of terrorism or war.  It might come in the form of spousal abuse.  It might come in the form of cheating or theft for personal gain.  It might come in the form of excessive litigation.

Whatever its form, I'm sure that we can do better.  Have the ladders of life experience led anyone else out there to a similar conclusion like mine?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mobile Telephony

I'm writing this on the close cousin of my iPhone, my iPad.  There are advantages, but ... my friend Ramana was right to make this a topic for the Loose Blogger Consortium.  And, here's my take ...

My son has an iPhone.  My daughter has an iPhone.  Almost all the people I know have a mobile telephone.  So, we can always be in touch.  Too much in touch.

The electronic leash was apparent at my granddaughter's soccer match last Saturday, for her dad was on the sidelines with a conspicuous phone given him by the company he works for.  He is now totally in charge of all the plumbing of a major hospital wing construction here in the Bay Area.  It is the reward for responsibility and competence, the electronic leash!

It makes no sense in this day and age to not confer it upon him.  He must immediately respond if something springs a leak, for literally millions of dollars are at stake.  He has moved into the rarified atmosphere that used to be occupied only by doctors with their pagers in earlier times.  He has become the attached stopper, the one who handles the emergencies no one else is outfitted for.  He is like the President, always followed with the ultimate red emergency phone, the phone used only in the time that the world was trying to find an exit!

So, one would think he would be the easiest person in the world to reach by good old dad and mom, right?  I mean, in the old days you had to rely upon someone actually being home to reach them, but if they were, you knew they would answer the phone.  It was one of the rules of life: if the phone rings, you answer.

Ah, the irony!  If the phone is always on you, if you are tied to it, there is only one possible escape from it. You don't answer!  So, continuous availability yields NO availability.

Come on, kid!  Answer!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Greatest Fear

What was Delirious thinking bringing this topic to us?  You know it would be a tough one.  Oh, wait, answer my own question!

Anyway, I have a lot of local fears, the fears of the body, the fears that any creature aware of danger and mortality has.  I fear falling when I lean precariously from a great height.  I fear dying painfully.  These are normal fears of the body.

They aren't my greatest fear, though.  My greatest fear is not so immediate and neither do I think it will happen.  Still, it is the driving force of my life.  So let me step back and explain it.

Like Ramana, I believe in sychronicity.  I believe it is an indicator of meaning in a life, an indicator that connected events tell a story, much as a novel does.  If it has meaning, it means that one is born to a meaning, to a purpose, to a life task.

My biggest fear is to miss the point of my life, to live it only to find on the other side that I was born to do something that I simply didn't perceive or was too lazy or too cowardly to carry out.

I really don't want that to happen.  Really!

Wonder what the other characters of the Loose Bloggers Consortium fear.  Click them on the right side of the page and go check them out!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Funny!  But Wrong

It feels good, LOL.  But it's a bit like saying that I have a list of people that gravity didn't hold down.  Some things don't miss!

Friday, October 4, 2013


I suggested this topic to the LBC sometime way back when.  I really don’t know what my ego had in mind back then, but let’s see where it goes right now and where the other members of the Loose Blogger Consortium take it.  They are listed on the right hand side of the page where you can simply click, go and be delighted.















According to Freud, the ego is part of personality that mediates the demands of the id, the superego and reality.

- Kendra Cherry

Ahhh, science.  We lose perspective on it’s observations in a multitude of ways and one of the most dangerous ways is in taking its descriptions as primarily real.  As Einstein said when a colleague challenge an assertion that he made with, “That can’t be, it violates the laws of nature!”, he replied that nature has no laws, only physicists have laws.

In other words, a scientist tries to make observations of reality in a disciplined and empirical manner (as much as possible) and then describes it in a way that should be reproducible.  Each description is subject to change as it is found to not be wholly consistent with new observations.  The description is not to be confused with reality itself.

So the ego is what?  It is a description, quite a useful description in many settings.  But, it is nothing more than a description and there are times when it is a limiting description.  Science at all levels is being forced to come to grips with the idea that reality isn’t something separate from our consciousness but rather a part of the tapestry of consciousness itself.

While new descriptions will be woven into that tapestry over what we perceive as time, meditation can remove all descriptions momentarily.  Then, the iceberg above simply melts into the sea of being.  The ego, which was simply a construct to begin with, is gone.


Friday, September 27, 2013

My Favorite Movie

shackman brought this topic to the LBC and he knows that there is no way that I can pick one cinematic wonder.  But, he left the door open to other understandings, something that all of our topics do, so here goes:

I'm in the middle of my favority movie.  My wife and I are touring the Boston area and we are bit players in this great historical drama and loving every minute of it.  We walk the Freedom Trail and see The Old North Church, where the lanterns were hung warning of the British approach.  Then we saw Paul Revere's house with the history of the man and the family.

We've been to Fenway Park and atop the Green Monster, taking in the staggering distance to a red chair in right field 536 feet from home plate where Ted Williams hit a home run.  The man who was sitting in the chair said afterward, "How far do you have to get away from the batter to be safe in this stadium?"

We've seen where Ben Franklin went to school, where the first public school in America stands to this day.  And the location where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the American people.  Firsts are around every corner!

We've sat in the Great Hall at Faneuil Hall and listened to the movement of history that took place in that great assemblage location.  Not only the Patriots, but also later great orators like Frederick Douglas.  It was here that the concept of our nation gestated and the understanding of freedom has evolved for more than 200 years.

We took a tour above and below deck of Old Ironsides and learned how the early battles were fought and the significance of the growth of the American Navy.

We went to the Kennedy Library and saw a stunning exhibit of his life and of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  We spent four hours entranced.  And chilled by how close we actually came.  They have secret recordings I'd never heard of that you can play as the players decide each move right on the brink of all out nuclear war!  And they showed how his heart was pulled to Ireland, which he promised to return to in the spring ... a promise unfulfilled.

We've been to Salem and taken in the witches there.  As you read this, we will be going to Plymouth.

We are going to Bunker Hill and to Harvard, America's first college and still one of the top educational instituions on the planet.

No, this is my favorite movie and it is named, "Right Now!"

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One if by land, two if by sea ...

This is a picture from the Old North Church where Paul Revere and the boys hung the lanterns telling the militia where the English were attacking from.  It really wasn't by sea, it was by the Charles River and Paul didn't actually hang any lanterns, but he was the key planner and rode the horse warning all the countryside that the British were coming.

Overseeing all this now from a corner of the church is George Washington with a look I've never seen for him in a painting:

Now THAT looks like a general!

We saw more, but I need to have separate time to do many of the other famous sites!  Until we meet again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wait a minute ...

We are on vacation and flying to Boston tomorrow for a week off the grid! 

Woo Hoo!!!

Thanks, Grannymar, for tossing in the topic for the LBC.  We would have gone on the trip anyway, though.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Can Men Cook Daily Meals

Well, of course.  All of us guys can cook daily meals.  I do it all the time.  Daily.  But, unfortunately, this is the wrong question.  The question should be whether any given man can cook daily meals that anyone else can eat!

But that wasn't what the question was about, was it?  The question Padmini asked of the Loose Blogger Consortium it seems to me is rather, "Can a man do any mundane, essential, nurturing and boring activity on a sustained basis?"

And here is my answer, "You know we can't!  However, we are very good for lifting heavy objects and mowing lawns.  And watching sports!  Not to mention that we are eye candy."

The wonder is that we can get out of the cave and write on a blog. :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wrong Fit


Will Knott brought this topic to the LBC and I am WAAAY past Friday.  The world rolled over me and then backed up last week.  Nothing bad, just very occupied.  Oh, life!

I’ve actually struggled with this topic for days.  All that I produced was a bunch of wrong fits unworthy of a post.  It’s ironic, but unsatisfying.

What is more important, though, was the post that shackman made.  Due to the circumstances in his life, he is feeling the need to leave the LBC.  He said he was a wrong fit, something with which I heartily disagree.  He has always been a breath of fresh air to all of us.  As sad as I am to see him leave our group, I am much more sad because of the circumstances. 

The door of the LBC will always be open to you, shackman.  And it is a door shaped perfectly to fit you!

Friday, August 30, 2013


imageRamana recently put the old and valuable wisdom of the mystic who dreamed he was a butterfly and then awakened to wonder if he was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly or whether he was a butterfly now dreaming he was a man.

Einstein said that relativity was a statement of all that is relative to your frame of reference.  Although his theory becomes complex, the underlying theme was that he was really uncovering that which was truly irrelative regardless of the point of view.

And such is my view of distraction.  Am I distracted these days because I have so many people needs during my work time or am I distracted because I have so much work during necessary people time?  It is a beautiful example of relativity.  It depends upon the frame of reference and the frame of reference chosen depends upon what a person values and what necessities life presents.  I value the people, but supporting them and myself requires taking care of economic necessities.  I value taking care of my own needs as much as possible so that I don't become a burden to others, but diverting to people are personal necessities.  So, am I a man or a butterfly?

No wonder Vonnegut summed  the universal meaning as "Busy, busy, busy."

There was a time when I had extra time laying around, when I needed to fill it with meaning.  So, I started a blog and started expressing.  Then I became acquainted with others in the blogging community that I found myself attracted to for the understandings of the world they expressed.  So, I had this bright idea that maybe we could form a consortium of friends expressing on the same topic each week.  It was a great idea and has worked out marvelously.

Then life intervened and loaded me up with care giving and business.  From my perspective, it all makes sense.  That means I only post one blog posting a week in honor of those friends that I love and respect yet take time with those in need of my assist in one sense or another.

So life goes full circle.  Am I a distracted blogger or am I a distracted businessman or am I a distracted caregiver or am I a distracted mate?

Who cares?  Life is what it is and life is good!  Isn't that the true irrelative answer, the level at which none of it is distraction?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Modern Addictions

Instant communication in general is also a modern addiction.  I am listening to my daughter right now as she talks about her day with her internship while I'm typing this on my iPad.  I have a mobile hotspot so that I can tune in almost anywhere.

But, like all addictions, you know what the problem is.  Addictions unmoderated are unhealthy, even the positive addictions.  That is why the Lady and I kicked our modern addictions from last Thursday thru this Tuesday.  We headed into the back country around Mendocino, CA and did a lot of hiking, a lot of appreciation of forest and ocean and beautiful plants.  And food.  We got off the modern grid!


Friday, August 16, 2013

My Best Friend

I am on vacation tossing in from my iPad and I found I have no picture of him available.  It is probably just as well.  My friendship is not based upon his appearance.

One year older than I am, we initially thought we were within one week of each other in age.  But, that is because there was a confusion in paperwork when he came from Panama to America at the age of 12.

He did something for his adopted country that is an amazing statement, for he didn't use it to gain citizenship, he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do.  He joined the Marines at 17 and went  to Viet Nam!

He became the point man of his squad and was seriously wounded twice, once being the only survivor of the battle.  Past that point, I will not tell you how bad it really was or what the details were, for he would not.  Not unless he had a reason and because he knew you very well.  He sees himself as having just done his job and is grateful that the main difficulty he experiences is during cold weather when the pain affects him.  From my experience with him I can testify that it must be a lot of pain, because he is one of the toughest people I've ever known.  The pain never stops him.

Yet, that toughness is coupled with compassion for others.  Disciplined compassion to say the least, but the deep compassion of one who has been there.  We met in the church and worked our way to becoming church elders.  We taught children together for years.  We walked away from the church when we felt it time to leave.  Our spirituality is not at all bound by the church, yet we have no regret for the way we served.

We can discuss anything.  We spend too little time together these days, for he moved to the mountains with his wife who is also my wife's best friend.  It is extremely rare what we have shared, can share and look forward to sharing.  We have camped together in the Sierras, driving his jeep back into distant back country.  We have sat together and taken in the beauty.  We have experienced our vision of God's wonder with no need to speak.

This post is intentionally free flowing and disjointed.  That is how it often is when connecting with a best friend, for you ride the tossing waves of life together and share the peace and the tumult in equal measure.  And I know that you, the reader, knows exactly what I am talking about.  Each of us (hopefully) has someone like this in our lives.

Thank you, Delirious, for bringing this topic to the Loose Blogger Consortium!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Dad's Car Went to Lafawnda

This was Dad's car:

You are seeing it at it's new digs, in front of Lafawnda and Flash's apartment in Clovis, CA.  Why?  Multiple reasons.  This was the car that was going to Lafawnda:

This car came from Dad's Mother-in-law a couple of years ago.  It needed work, both cosmetic and mechanical, but was basically pretty sound and definitely was originally a luxury vehicle.  It was to go to Lafawnda as she started her Dietetic Internship today, since she would need independent transportation from Flash.

Then we took it to our mechanic to spiff it up mechanically before taking it to her.  However, he did such a fantastic job that Dad fell in love with it.  So, at the last minute we changed the lineup and took the burgundy Honda to Lafawnda and not just because the two names rhyme in the alternate universe of this blog.

Lafawnda was delighted because she learned to drive on the Honda and loved the car.  So now everyone is happy!  And happy is very important to a daughter undertaking a new adventure that can be a bit daunting at first.

The Lady F and I are really excited!  This is a big deal and we are excited for and with our daughter.  May her journey be on happy roads!

Friday, August 9, 2013


The above T-Shirt was originally posted by “Funny Shit” on Facebook and I passed along the sharing.  I figure if it is shareable there, it is shareable here.  I like the point it makes, for it is easy to forget that our moods are part of us that leak into the public square and all of us have been buoyed or afflicted by the moods of those around us.

Everyone gets mood poisoning from time to time.  It is a stupid indulgence to simply let it remain and take no account of the price others pay along with you.  Humor is one of the best cures for it.

My wife and I have known from the beginning that a shared sense of humor was more important to our marriage’s well-being than sex.  Both create a special social bond, but humor has longer lasting legs and is definitely more portable!

On a bigger scale, we have an intimate public square in my country.  We are a country of immigrants and hatred rears its ugly head in various spots.  We hate “others” all too often and it spoils the body politic.  So, how do we deal with that?  We use our free speech rights.  My old mentor from college, the late Dr. Leon Rappoport, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Kansas State University was a fine Social Psychologist and he addressed this issue head on in what I believe was his last book:



It is through our humor that we uncover and deal with our prejudices in a constructive way, especially if we let go of our own pretensions about who we are as well as who the “others” are.  The Broadway musical “Avenue Q” dealt with it beautifully with this song:

We're All a Little Bit Racist

Humor, a nice antidote to mood poisoning.  Seriously.

See what the other members of the Loose Blogger Consortium think about this topic by clicking on the links on the right side of the page.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Great Weekend in the Napa Valley

The above picture of the Beringer Winery's Rhine House is typical of the Napa Valley and its beauty.  Beringer is the oldest continually operating active winery in the valley - I think - and they do have some very fine selections onsite, some special selection of Cabernet Sauvignon running about $750 per bottle.  But, the Lady F and I are in Napa so often caring for her mother's needs that we very seldom go out to the wineries, for it tends to be an expensive experience.

Then family comes into town from out of state and it becomes worth it.  The shared experience is better than the wine!  If you look at the left side of the house, that is where the following discussion of life was taking place:

You can tell by the animation that the conversation was lively and amenable - and it was for the entire weekend.  Many are the events in extended family and the relatives were from Salt Lake City, Utah, so a lot of catching up and learning about family was had.  The lady above with the Lady F is a cousin we had not even met before this trip and she was with another inlaw that we have known for many years.

Let us just say that everyone has not had the easiest life, but that a lot of knowledge and support has been shared between good hearts.  I can't think of a more worthwhile way to spend a weekend.

And we are heading home with two very nice bottles of Cabernet with a mild blend of Petite something that sounded kind of like Petite Fredo, but perhaps is Petite Verdot (you know an American and his understanding of foreign words, so I apologize).  Life is very busy, but it is very good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

If you could only hear 5 more songs what would they be and why?

This topic was brought to us this week by shackman, the true master of songs!  Would that I were the same …


shackman, I love you, I consider you part of my inner circle in so many ways.  So, it pains me to see your challenge and know that I am totally inadequate to the task!  I wrestled with this over the past couple of days, literally.  Every time I came up with a few candidates, it evolved almost immediately into a new set.  And the set wasn’t always five.

However, here goes:

  1. Ave Maria, the version that was used in Fantasia.  And, I’d like to have the video along with it.  It just moves my inner feelings in a good way and since it is one of my last five, I’m assuming I’m on the way out.  I’d like to go with the feeling it engenders in me.
  2. Thus Spake Zarathustra, 2001 Space Odyssey version.  I’m on the way out and this might inspire me to evolve in a good way, LOL.
  3. I Did it My Way by Frank Sinatra.  I do not like Sinatra the man, but I like this song as my last salute to the life and ego I leave behind.
  4. I Fall to Pieces by Patsy Cline.  I have always liked music by Patsy Cline and besides … one way or another I’m getting ready to fall to pieces!
  5. How Great Thou Art or Amazing Grace.  I don’t know which.  There is a part of me that welcomes my soul’s reconnection with the All and these songs evoke that in me.  I am sure there are some atheists out there thinking me a fool, but so be it.

Ask me again in ten minutes and it will be totally different.  I am worthless at this!

Hey, wait, don’t take me yet.  I forgot to include any Rock and Roll or Blues.  Can I see the menu again?  Maybe a little Billie Holiday or side of …

Friday, July 26, 2013

What you see out the window

Today's Friday Loose Blogger Consortium topic is brought to us by Grannymar (who I'm willing to believe has some beautiful views!).  Wonder what the other members of the Consortium see??  I'll be interested in finding out and I bet you will, too!

I was surprised to find how many of my pictures are taken out through windows.  Looking through a window it is almost a picture fully framed to begin with, packaged  and categorized, sitting in a pigeon hole ready to be pulled out and appreciated!  It might be a storm that has blown in ...

Or, maybe the picture frame is the car window, like this picture of California Poppies on a hillside going over the Grapevine heading to San Diego to see our daughter.

Or something whimsical like a funny rock shape on a hillside.

Maybe it is fog through the window  in our wooden door.

Or a vineyard beside the road.

Sometimes it is scary like the ambulance taking your neighbor to the hospital!  Fortunately, it had a happy ending.

Whatever it is, viewing it through a window is almost a perfect metaphor for how life events appear to us, sitting comfortably housed in the present looking through the window of memory at the past or the window of imagination at the future.  We adjust our moods and emotions like  the adjustments of a thermostat as the howling storm outside passes through and the beauty of the subsequent rainbow beckons us forth.

The insulated view informs us, lets us plan and prepare before joining in once again.  Then someone watches us through their window.  We are social, visual creatures, after all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Shopping/Shopping Online

This is a topic brought to the Friday LBC marketplace by Padmini.  Wonder what she will be getting online in the future?  Check her blog and the others on the right side of the page to see what their hearts materially desire.

I used to think that Amazon was nuts, going from book sales to ... well, to everything else!  I thought they would crater, because who would go to Amazon to buy clothes or electronics or barbeques or cameras?

The jury is in and I have been found to be phenomenally ignorant on the topic!  But, never accuse me of not jumping on a bandwagon once it gets going.  I now buy so many different things (or at least a high percentage of the things I buy at all) on Amazon that it is ridiculous.  Books are the start, for I have a Kindle.  Why so many of the other things, though?  Because they have made the shopping experience the easiest and most efficient on the planet.

With one click, I buy something that is automatically charged to my credit card which is on record and the item is mailed to my address, also on record.  I love waffles for breakfast, so I have a subscription to a waffle mix called Kodiak Cakes, 6 boxes of which automatically ship to me once every three months.  Once every two months, decaf coffee for our Keurig coffemaker automatically ships.  It is easy and the prices are usually very competitive.

Of course, there are a few downsides.  It, like Walmart stores, is killing the neighborhood shopping experience.  Killing the neighborhood shopping experience is to some extent killing the sense of community.  Killing the sense of community is making us more isolated and leading to less employment.  Shopping for a book online has none of the warmth of shopping for one in the neighborhood bookstore.

Who would have thought you could do all of that with one click??

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not Over Yet

This topic was brought to the Loose Blogger Consortium by Will Knott.  It is fascinating to see a group of people blog on the same topic at the same time and I encourage you to use the clickable links on the right to see what the others have done with this topic.  After you read this, of course!


It very seldom happens to me – how many men have begun a sentence that way? – but last night I wrote a post on this topic and it was truly dreadful.  In my own eyes it was dreadful, that is how truly awful it was.  So, I decided it was better to be late than awful.

So, as is my way (and a few others of our group), I just cast the topic to the universe or my subconscious - which really are not separate – to see what would return.  As our Bible says, cast your bread upon the water.  This is the haul that I brought in:

1.  We had a crash landing right across the Bay from us which caught the attention of the world.  They smacked a Korean jet into the sea wall separating the runway area from the water.  They were extremely lucky they did not kill everyone, but the news just came in that another passenger, the third, has died.  The story here is that you must pay attention right to the completion of the landing, for until you are fully down, it’s not over yet.  But, for the dead, it unfortunately is.

2.  I just received word a half hour ago that the only girl in my elementary school class has had cancer spread to her bones and that she will need to go to a nursing home.  I am so hoping and praying that it is not over yet.

3.  On a lighter note, my solution for a customer seemed complete last night.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t complete and it has taken me all day to finish it to full satisfaction.  It was not over yet.

4.  John Madden is a legendary coach and TV sports broadcast personality in America and lives locally.  He has a program each morning on the local station.  One of the things he has talked about is retirement and he says that a person should not look at retirement until it is time to fully retire – then do it! – because it is ineffective and makes you unhappy to have one foot in each world.  I am thinking he is right and my work life is not over yet!

5.  And, last, how do you know when your mission is complete?  If you are still alive, IT’S NOT OVER YET!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some days are like this …


I am not experiencing this now.  But … I have.  And … so have you.

It always swings back into place!  So far, at least.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Am an American

Photo presented for the Fourth of July by our Department of the Interior

Above, you see our flag flying with the great mountain Denali in the background in Alaska.  We are a land with great scenic beauty and wonder.  We are also a land with urban blight and despoiled nature.  The scenic beauty is more common than the blight, but I have no desire to deny realities that need to be worked on.  That is why I worked for years with a homeless shelter.

I am speaking of no other nation when I speak of these things.  I wish each nation on this shrinking planet the absolute best version and vision of itself.  But ... and this is important ... beyond wishing those nations the absolute best, it is folly for me to think that I really know them.  3/8 of my blood flowed from the shores of Ireland and Scotland, but that doesn't mean I know anything about being Irish.  I read Grannymar's blog, but I don't walk her streets or wander through her countryside.  I don't walk into Irish pubs or stores and speak with the locals.  I may read many perceptive pieces on Ireland, I might ache with what I hear of her travails or glory in what I hear of her accomplishments, but I cannot tell you what it is to be Irish.

Here is the ironic part: I can't even fully tell you what it is to be American, I can only be one.  I have not lived in Maine or Wisconsin or Alabama.  But, I have lived on the Great Plains of Kansas and I have lived in beautiful California.  Yet, something about growing up here, something I can't fully understand, something that comes from living in America my whole life binds me to all these people quite deeply.  Einstein was right when he said the fish is the last one you want ask about water, for he lives in it and thus filters out perception of it.  Still, that fish knows water in ways that a landlubber like me never can.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate the fact that living as an American stamps you as American (as, no doubt living in France stamps you irrevocably as French).  I knew a young woman who worked for one of my customers.  She grew up in Mexico and, as she said, her accent and her knowledge of the culture are totally authentic.  She came to the United States in her late teens.  By the time she had reached her mid-twenties, to travel back to Mexico to see her family was to be greeted in places where they did not personally know her with the description "Americana!"  She was amazed.  Then she asked one of her friends how people knew right off that she had become American when her clothes and her accent did not give her away.  He told her that she now carried herself as an American.

It is something about the culture we each grow up in and I am not sure what it is.  All I know is that all of us are what we are and I really doubt that we ever figure out the whys or the whats.  And, I also know that others are going to be quite willing to give us the answer with great certainty.  And I also know that the answer they give won't be it, because they don't walk our streets, don't live in our homes.  And on and on it goes.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Today’s topic was brought to the LBC by Maria.  Please check out hers and the other bloggers of the LBC by using the active links on the right side of the page.

Ummm … after you read my take.  Of course.


A free society and covert activity: they contradict one another by their very natures and America is having a dialog regarding it right now.

How can you stop hostile forces and plots from attacking innocent people and simultaneously maintain personal freedom?  Well, I think part of the answer is that freedom in a free society is limited regardless of the fantasies some believers like to bring to the table.  I am not free to attack another citizen without consequence, nor am I free to say something about another that causes them danger or harm in many situations.  At the same time, my government is not given free license to search my house without cause or confiscate my property without similar cause as approved by the courts.

Our Constitution and court system is our national effort to resolve these freedoms and it was written in the midst of many freedoms denied – often directly and specifically by the men who wrote it – and the future will continually evolve understandings of inappropriately denied freedoms.  It is an imperfect document developed by imperfect people or there would be no amendments necessary.  Ever.  But, imperfect though it is, it is really pretty damn good!

I put these statements in the public domain as soon as I post this blog entry.  It would be naïve of me to think that individuals would have the freedom, unlimited, to read it from anywhere at any time and that my government would not.  And not just my government, but the governments of both allies and enemies.  On top of that, it is certain that they will not tell me that they have looked at or examined or archived it.  I have no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover and his crew created a dossier on me and my friends during the late 60’s and early 70’s.  I’m sure those dossiers would have been juicier if they could have hovered small drones recording information through the window at some of our parties!

Contrary to some of my fellow citizens and my younger self, I don’t see this as particularly nefarious (although that is subject to change as regimes come into power and potential abuses increase).  I don’t feel the need to arm myself to keep the government from taking over my home or my life.  Neither does it particularly bother me that we have been spying on our friends.  I expect and hope that they are still spying on us like they always have and are just putting out faux outrage to mollify their constituencies.

To be totally honest, at this stage of human development, I think that nations with good spy networks letting them know what is going on with one another more fully mutually guarantee that they are not surprised by or misgauging a situation leading to harm. 

I am less blasé about dirty tricks and at no point do I forfeit my right of protest over activities I see crossing the line and simply invading privacy.  By personal education, votes, protests and discussions with my fellow citizens, I try to resist violations.

How do you see it, oh national and international audience?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Heat Tolerance

I didn't move to the San Francisco Bay Area until the age of 29 and, oddly enough, besides my family and friends, the thing I missed the most was the extreme weather.  You would think that would be something that was a blessing, as all native Northern California residents believe, but it was actually the opposite.

In the summer, Kansas is a sauna.   In the winter, it is a refrigerator with wind.  I never tolerated the cold very well (I freeze!!!), having inherited those genes from my maternal grandfather whose ancestry was Irish, yet the same genes gave me a marvelous tolerance of heat.  Go figure.  Ireland isn't exactly the tropics, as Grannymar can attest.  Some of our relatives also say there is Cherokee blood in that line, which might explain it.

In the summers, I always worked in fields or doing physical labor jobs in hot places when I was in my teens and early twenties.  Working in the heat of a feed mill, they would put me up top in the warehouse pulling and stacking the 50 pound bags of feed, because the temperature up there would top 120 F and this would make the regular guy that did it sick.  I could do it all day long with no ill effects whatsoever and go out after work to drink prodigious amounts of 3.2% beer at the local tavern.  The only day I had to bail out was scooping grain with a power scoop from a railroad car when the temperature outside was 113 F and there was no telling how hot it was in the rail car.  The sweat poured off in a steady running stream, literally, and I finally had to tell the boss that I was fine but within the hour would not be!  He agreed and we shelved that task til the next morning.

When I was 39, I paddled a paddle boat all around Lake Havasu with my son for 2 1/2 hrs in 116 degree heat.  Again, no ill effects at all, just got tired legs and weary of being a human sweatball!  He was only nine and I couldn't get much work out of him.

That extreme heat tolerance led me to appreciate what I read this morning from a guy who lives in Death Valley.  He actually went jogging yesterday when the temperature was 127 F !!!  What caused him to stop was not the effect of the heat on his body, but that his running shoes were literally melting and falling apart.  Now, as they say, THAT is nuts.

This is the extent of the work I do in 109 F heat now:

I'm far less nuts than once I was.  At least about heat.

Friday, June 28, 2013

This is why we don't live in Death Valley!

This is the temperature at 9:00 this evening.  In Metric for the sane measurers among us:

It is going to get hotter.  The predicted high in a couple of days is 129 degrees!  But, that's OK, it will cool down to a nice, mild 98 degrees at night.  Here is the 15 day forecast:

Death Valley, CA has now been officially certified as the hottest place on the planet.  In two weeks, it will be precisely one century since it set the all-time record for reliably recorded high temperature: 134 degrees!  A news reporter traveled one day with a State Trooper whose job it was to patrol Death Valley and the reporter recorded that the cop drank 32 quarts of water that day.  He said that as long as you stay hydrated, you have a fighting chance.

The Lady F and I don't want that kind of heat, so we are staying this weekend in Fresno, CA, where Lafawnda has her internship.  The predicted high for here is only 109 tomorrow, but it will be up to 111 by Wednesday.  It was still 101 at 8:30!

I'm kind of glad I grew up in Kansas so I know what to expect.  At least I don't have on full pads for a two-a-day, shackman!

Puppy Love

This topic was brought to the LBC this week by one of the originals - in most every sense - and has two obvious meanings.  I want you to know at the outset that I know the other meaning of Puppy Love, but choose a different path for the post.  This is one of the delights of the LBC, a group of people writing on a topic simultaneously and following different paths.

This is a cabinet in one corner of our family room and on it we pay homage to some of the dogs we have had as part of our pack.  I was raised in a dog culture that went back to my parents and beyond.  Nostalgia takes me back ...

Taig and Jiggs: these were the dogs of my grandparents on each side.  Both could be a bit ornery with kids, so my memories of them are not all that positive.

Pedro: my mother brought home a dog when we lived in Manchester that she was told was a chihuahua mix.  Well, maybe, but he would have needed to be mixed with a dinosaur of some kind to achieve the size he did.  He became so big (and docile), we kids used to ride him!  We had to give him to a farmer, because he was simply to big for the house.

King: one of the most beautiful collies imaginable.  Looked just like Lassie.  I loved that dog and unfortunately at the age of five got to watch from the front yard as a stranger pulled up to my grandparents house, called King to his car, and stole him!  Tore me up!

Squirt: one of Taig's pups.  A fox terrier with amazing speed and athletic ability, he lived to be 16!  Squirt was so named because he squirted on things as a pup and I named him based on that.  A great family dog, he had the unfortunate habit of biting strangers and we had to keep him isolated for that reason.

Munchkin: named for the little people in The Wizard of Oz, which as Kansas children we watched religiously every year!  I have seen it about 20 to 25 times.  Munch was about 25 pounds, long hair, water spaniel of some type, great temperament and good buddy for Squirt.

Honey: a Brittany Spaniel given to me by someone after college because she had a fine pedigree to be a hunting dog, but she was afraid of guns.  A sweet dog, she made a great companion and eventually ended up with my parents.

Maggie: a magnificently loyal and loving German Shepherd that I had in my mid-twenties.  She gave the world a couple of fine litters until she was unfortunately killed in traffic trying to follow me in a car one day. That was a sad day indeed!

Jake: the pick of Maggie's last litter, I kept Jake.  Jake grew up to be quite a dog!  He weighed about 110 lbs and was very powerful.  When I moved to California, I could not bring him with me and gave him to the son of the Governor of Kansas.  Later, I heard that Jake had take umbrage to a guy going past the house on a Harley Davidson and had pulled the guy off the bike in midstream!  That turned into quite a controversial affair!

Lady: the Lady F and my first dog as a couple.  As with each of the dogs we've had, each was a rescue of some kind.  Her claim to fame was that she would try to smile when you smiled at her and it was quite a sight!

Trapper: a husky mix.  Good, big dog!  At least we thought he was big until we had his fur trimmed one summer to tolerate the heat better.  We then realized that he was a medium sized dog, LOL.

Scooby: the most idiosynchratic hound we have ever had.  We thought she hardly had a personality when we first got her at the age of seven, but thought we could give her a few good years.  Wrong on both fronts!  One of the most expressive and eccentric hounds ever, she had become a legend by the time she passed at the ripe age of 18!

Rascal: one of the best "dog" dogs to ever grace the planet.  He was powerful, brave and as loving as any pet we have ever had.  He summarily dispatched any other creature that made its way into the yard, though.

Eligh: our last dog.  Pit Bull.  Eligh was left to us by our son and we played with him and took him for walks a lot in his seven years.  He is the only dog we ever had to put down for behavior, though.

And, the last of the bunch was Louie, who adopted us for 90 hours.  I've written about Louie before.  I was sad when his owner showed up to claim him.

Are you getting the gist of this?  We are dog people.  Life has us so busy and on the go right now that we have no dog, but I'm sure another will  find us.  Have the rest of you had your love affairs with pups?

Late as a way of life for awhile

For awhile, you will see my Friday posts late on and off.  Such as today.  I will probably post later today or this weekend.

Don’t confuse this with lack of respect for the LBC, for it definitely isn’t.  I have had a load of various kinds of business drop into my lap and all of it is good.  It is just taking a lot of my time and energy.

One friend sent me an email wondering why I had not been appearing on Facebook, fearing I was unwell.  I am happy to proclaim that is definitely not the case and I am doing well.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My First Kiss

This devilishly clever topic was brought to us by Delirious.  Oh, girl, this should be interesting around the LBC ...

My first kiss was with a woman who is a reader and commenter on this blog.  Of course, being the gentleman I am, I would never kiss and tell.  Heh, heh ...

Well, except for this ... I was awful!  First kisses almost always are!  That is the main reason that the appeal of 72 virgins has always been a mystery.

And, second observation, I've never been to Ireland, so you can rule out the obvious candidate!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Feel the Spirit

Nandu and I have been discussing fine scotches lately while our friend Ramana has foregone this pleasure because of spiritual pursuits.  Indeed, he has told us of gurus coming to the home through books and other sources, so we felt like we needed to follow his fine example.  We even decided to go the hard path to do the traditional mountain climb to find a guru and here is a picture from our journey:

We are glad we followed Ramana's advice.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What I Do (Did) For a Living

The array of jobs a person has in a lifetime is both formative and reflective of a life path.  My wife has only done one kind of job ... ever!  She has always worked in a dental office, since the age of 16.  She has worked at her current position for over 35 years.  It pays well, it has been recession proof and she likes the patients she works with.  The downside is that she has become so tired of cleaning teeth that she could spit!

I'm from the other end of the spectrum, the person who has moved from position to position freely thoughout his life, having worked at 45 different places in a variety of fields.  For the past 20 years, I've had my own company and have done software application development for various corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area, but even that has had a wide range of variability.

For your entertainment, I list below the jobs I can remember:

Nursery field worker
Souvenir Shop Assistant
Grocery Bagger
Door-to-door Bible Salesman
Feed Mill Worker
Cab Driver
McCall's Pattern Company factory worker
Meat Packing plant hamburger mixer
Playground supervisor
Jr. High Science Teacher
Substitute Teacher system wide
High School Chemistry Teacher
State Mental Hospital Teacher
Menninger's Institute Child Care Counselor
Emotionally Disturbed Children Counselor in San Francisco
Pine Tree Nursery Foreman
Construction Worker
Oil Rig worker
Railroad Gandy Dancer
Rock Quarry Worker
Adult Computer Educator
Computer Technical Support
Type shop programmer
Customer Support for Graphics / Typography system in Silicon Valley
Manager of that Customer Support
Started my own software development company

I think that is fewer than 30, but give me allowance for age, LOL.  Also, if it didn't hit the list, it is probably so boring I just can't remember it!

I'm late with this entry, but I need to get around to the other members of the Loose Blogger Consortium - with clickable links on the right - to see what they came up with last Friday.  Since we all write on the same topic totally independently, you never know what any member will bring out.  I think I'll go see right now ...

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Friday post will be unavoidably late

Please forgive me, but appreciate the irony.  Those of you making the rounds know today’s topic and that yours truly brought it to the Consortium.  Know also that it is the very current substance of that topic that is preventing the writing.  Right now.

But, soon.  Very soon.

Friday, June 7, 2013

National Healthcare vs Private

shackman brought us a topic hashed and rehashed over the past five years here in America.  And I don't have a good answer.  How can that be?

The problem is obvious.  A rare piece of good journalism - let's face it, this isn't exactly the age of Murrow - followed the path our healthcare dollars often take right now.  They followed a guy who needed some hospitalization, something that wasn't life threatening, but needed to be attended to.  They also asked for a detailed breakdown of all expenses incurred.  What they found was ridiculous padding.  For example, one ibuprofen tablet cost our patient well over $100.00!

So, they took this outrage to the management, expecting a little shame or contrition - or at least some effort at distraction, a little mendacity.  What they got was bald faced honesty.  The hospital said this was the only way they could recoup the huge losses being incurred with the uninsured.  The ER has become the doctor's office for a huge number of uninsured patients.  The hospitals incur the expense without any choice, for they are mandated by law that they must accept people who come to these rooms for help.  It becomes worse if the person is admitted, for they cannot release those who have no place to be released to for care.

So, they went to the insurance company and asked why they didn't do something to stop this waste of money.  The insurance company said they didn't even examine any claims of less than $100,000.00.  Basically, they cover it with high insurance rates and high deductibles.  In other words, the burden is on the shoulders of those of us who ARE insured.

So, what has happened here?  Why doesn't the free market solve this issue like so many insist it can?  I'm thinking that it is because it is not and cannot be a fully free market situation for one thing.  It is not just to simply let the uninsured die and I don't think any of us want that as our solution.  And, we don't want the insurance companies working to solve this by dictating what treatments each patient is to get, something far too many of us are facing from time to time, treatment prescribed based upon judgment of cost rather than as a medical decision.  So, unless someone can plainly explain to me how the free market is supposed to solve this, I am at a loss to see how it can work.

And that last comment by me is part of the problem I have with this whole situation.  The national debate has not been helpful!  I don't want attack politics on this.  I don't want ideology and I'm tired of nasty substituting for knowledge.  This is too important for the health of people and the health of the economy.

Friday, May 31, 2013


This is the topic brought to us from sometime in the past by Grannymar.  Oh, that's rich with irony!  Just as I started considering the topic, I ran across the eventual rebirth of GM's first response to the idea of the Loose Blogger Consortium as it resurfaced on Facebook.  It was yours truly who originally had the brainstorm and Ramana has rightly said that only three of us originals still contribute on a regular basis.  Of course, now you know who the three are.

So, GM suggests "Tomorrow" as a topic from sometime yesterday and I get ready to deal with the inspiration from yesterday of "Tomorrow," but a message from yesterday reemerges that has every bearing on tomorrow, causing my earlier ideas to terminate before I even reach the now of writing.  Is that clear?  As she makes the transition to a new blog format using Wordpress, her past resurfaces as posts convert over and this one came due at the perfect time!  GM was a bit intimidated back then which I now find pretty humorous.  The woman, my cuz (cousin), is an all-star writer in a league few can match, but I don't think she could fully realize that without taking a bold stride into her tomorrow.  She's made a life out of doing that!

This is a microcosm of what the LBC has done to those of us who have taken it to heart.  It upsets our preconceptions, it keeps tomorrow a mystery gestating some new excitement.  Sometimes, it is even a bit scary.  After all, you lay out your ideas and people comment, then you go see what the others, all talented and creative, have come up with.  Put on your helmet poor ego.

Tomorrow doesn't get any better than that!

Here was Grannymar's original post:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What Keeps Me Busy

I promised my friend Ramana to lay out those positive, creative things I'm involved with that are keeping me occupied right now.  So, here goes a shot at it:

The above picture is of a new, proprietary product that a group of us are developing primarily for businesses.  I don't want to be very descriptive since we have all promised to keep the lid on it at this developmental stage, but we have gathered a nice collection of media specialists and educational experts in collaboration.  My part is the development of the processes that will deliver information in a new way that blends needs.  What you see above is one of many flowcharts that I am currently working on.

I am really finding it exciting to be working with some of the quality thinkers around me.  If we succeed, it could really improve educational processes across large corporations and we have some large corporations very interested.  If it succeeds, it could also be an income stream that continues into my retirement and that might allow me to come to exotic places like Ireland or India!

The second project taking a very large amount of my time is the development of software to allow input of orders into a computer system that generates bills of materials, assembly diagrams, accounting needs, etc., for a new type of lighting product that is taking off like wildfire:

Essentially, we are needing to develop a custom autocad system that can allow sales to input an order in three dimensions and they told me yesterday that if I can put in 50 hours a week, they would accept it.  It will occupy me projected pretty much through October and my other customers don't go away.  And they have another product needing development right after this one!

At the same time, I am working with another company to enhance order processing from 8 different internet sources and communication with a newly installed accounting system on a SQL Server.

Usually, I tell you about my family and the exciting and involving developments there.  Now, you know another side of the picture.  It is kind of holding some of my LBC interactions down, but I am still able to faithfully post each Friday at least.  I find time to read.  I find time spend with my wife.  I find time to walk.  I find time to talk each evening with my daughter or my mother or my friend going through trying times or ... on and on.  The good part is that it is all positive, creative, growing and flourishing.

I'm a busy and very lucky man!