Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Paris learning?

If Hitler were around today he might ask that question too. The mind boggles so at the continuing saga of America’s sweet tart, that there are few words left to describe it, but I'll try.

Once again our beloved heroine was caught with her hands in the cocaine jar. Stopped by Las Vegas police because of a strange “vapor” emanating from the vehicle in which she was traveling, .08 grams of cocaine was subsequently found in her purse. It fell out while she was pulling out some lip balm. I know the first thing I’d be concerned with if I’m pulled over is chapped lips. The errorless heiress claimed that she had borrowed the purse from a friend because the one she'd brought didn’t match her outfit. I hate it when that happens.  At some point she even explained that she thought that package of white powder was gum. Maybe the chiclets had chiclets, I don't know. Anyway, aside from trying to throw a friend under the bus, she rolled out her usual “it’s someone else fault” excuse.

Of course, the larger issue here is how in today's society, we don't have to accept any responsibility for our mistakes. But that's a topic for another blog.

In the meantime, the Paris/Britney/Lindsey sweepstakes continue. We don’t need to wait for the World Series or March Madness to come around just to start an office pool.  This is a natural. Just pick the day and month when one of these “players” will get busted again and the closest one wins.

I make light of this but it is deadly serious. The comparison to watching a train wreck is very real. All too often we have witnessed the downward spiral of celebrities until that inevitable bulletin flashes across the bottom of our TV screens. Maybe if they had to serve real jail time like an average citizen there would be more rehabilitation and fewer funeral services. For her part, Paris says she is not worried about this latest incident.

Worry Paris, please. We're running out of eulogies.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ego unchecked?

Are you suffering from an overactive ego? Big head? Lack of humility? Do I have a cure for you.


If you've reached that point where there just isn't anything that you can't do well and boredom is setting in, heed this advice. Tee it up. If you've forgotten what its like to be humble, take up the gentle-person's game and find out the true meaning of chagrin.

Now you're probably thinking that this game presents no real challenge. After all, that little white spheroid is just sitting there, perfectly still, waiting for you to smite it. Unlike so may other sports, your opponent is not trying to alter it's flight, steal it, or smash you up against the glass while you're hitting. In fact, they are hushed and polite to the point of smugness. No, it's just you against that cute little thing with all the dimples.

As for your competitor, it's the toughest one you'll ever face - you! That's right, nothing your opponent actually does with his shot has the slightest affect on what you can do with yours. It's not like tennis, where the rival is trying to make you miss your shot. The only affect the opponent's shot can have on yours is mental. Ah, there's the rub. It falls to you to become your own psychologist. What will it be, confidence or self-doubt? There's an old axiom that says "whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right".

This game will lift you up and throw you down like King Kong dispatching one of Fay Wray's other suitors. One day you have it figured out, the next you are clueless. Look at Tiger Woods' recent play resembling that of a weekend hacker. But one thing you can be sure of; just when you say to yourself  "that's it, I've had enough of this degradation", your last shot of the day will be spectacular and you'll be chomping at the bit to get back out there. It's one of Murphy's immutable laws.

Fore! Enjoy your humble pie.

Friday, August 27, 2010

P. T. Barnum said it best.......

We're human. We want to be liked. We want to be thought of as caring individuals. We are concerned about what our legacy might be. Though noble qualities, they also make us vulnerable. Less scrupulous people will take advantage of that. This is exactly what is happening with the global warming hoax.

Credit where it is due, Al Gore saw this vulnerability. Disappointed at the "ignorance" of Americans that couldn't see that he was the obvious choice to lead us, he saw a way to turn this perceived ignorance to his advantage. Hence, the climate change scare. Joe McCarthy had similar insight and exploited it for all it was worth. Gore has cleverly set up global warming as the culprit for any atmospheric event that occurs. If there are more hurricanes than usual, it's global warming. If there are less hurricanes, it's global warming. If it's hotter now - global warming. If it's colder, - global warming! Floods? Global warming. Drought? Global warming. The list goes on. It's as if these things had never happened before until Mr. Gore discovered them.

By enlisting the support of scientists who wanted to believe in this and ignoring any evidence to the contrary, he put together an admittedly polished presentation. And, much like the hula hoop of the 50's, it became an instant craze. Never mind that it was later proven that these scientists had an agenda; this was gospel!

I have had the good fortune to befriend a retired professor of climatology. He has a PhD in meteorology, has published several books about human affect on weather and has even testified before congress on man's intentional attempts to control the weather. He also has a special on the Discovery channel about animal communication, the study of which is an avocation of his.

He is saddened by how the scientific community has "sold out", no longer doing  impartial research but looking solely for support of their own theories. Those who dissent from the climate change mantra are being blacklisted. For his part, he is not biased. He doesn't speculate whether humans have or have not caused warming, but simply states there is no conclusive evidence either way!

As a layman, I can only think about what this planet has endured over the past billions of years. At one time or another the earth had been a ball of fire, a giant ice cube, and completely covered with water. The continents have smashed into each other and drifted apart again like an ongoing game of billiards. All of this without man's help. Activity within the earth's core or changes in the sun's radiation couldn't possibly have anything to do with warming, we and we alone are responsible.

Politicians are a clever lot. They know if they can make us feel guilty enough, we'll do anything to assuage that guilt. Translated, that means part with our money. Politics is ALWAYS about power and money. You will see taxes and surcharges galore down the road. Cap and trade is only the tip of the melting iceberg.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So when did this happen?

A friend and I were talking today and we suddenly realized that something major had changed in our lives. We were no longer mesmerized by hardware stores. This fascination with all things mechanical and gadgets and gizmos that had been with us since boyhood had been usurped. The days when we would wander aimlessly around the hardware store daydreaming about what great project we might attempt if only we had all of these neat devices were gone.

We were now wandering aimlessly around computer stores pretending that we were technically savvy and understood boot sequences and cross platforms. This was now the most pleasant of pastimes. Why would you want to worry about threading pipe, beveling wood or laying tile when there were downloads, uploads, upgrades, updates to be attended to. There were people out there in cyberspace that needed us much more than that cracked paint on the shed or that harmless little drip from the faucet. Did it matter that we didn't even know who they were? Of course not. Without our input, how could their day possibly be complete?

And the software, my God, the software. Little had we realized how deprived our lives had been until now. We could now become experts at things we didn't even know existed before. With a slight move of the wrist we controlled the world of law, medicine, landscaping, geography, publishing and most other facets of life. Trying doing that with a ball pein hammer and a Phillips head screwdriver.

There is so much more about this new world that I could tell you about if only I had the time. However, haven't you heard about that new program that morphs you into an interstellar traveler and takes you back to the time of the Big Bang?

Staples awaits!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good morning...and don't let the bed bugs bite.

Have you seen the news about New York City having a bed bug infestation? How weird is that? There are several office buildings in the city that have had to have multiple exterminator visits (no, not by Arnold Schwarzenegger – real exterminators). Some have infestations in just a few cubicles, some on entire floors and some in the entire building. I don’t know about you, but this is very puzzling to me.

Do these little pests not read entomology journals? What part of “bed” do they not understand? Is there some kind of invasion of the body snatchers going on here? Maybe they were taken over by alien insects that never go to bed at night. I mean if we expected them to show up at our work places wouldn’t we have called them office bugs?

I’m all for every one of God’s creatures having a chance to make a living. We’re prepared to do battle with them in  our bedchambers so it’s kind of a fair fight.  I mean, if we’re crazy enough to lie around in a state of semi-consciousness for 8 hours where a known predator can have its way with us, that’s one thing. But we don’t sleep at the office. Well, most of us don’t anyway.

If you're thinking about looking bed bugs up on the internet now, you don’t want to go there. Seeing blown up pictures of these microscopic Freddy Kruegers is not going to help you sleep at night. Suffice it to say there are 5 nymph stages until a bed bug becomes an adult. Each of those stages produces a voracious appetite that makes the little fella want to intensely ravish the nearest blood vessel . And the adult is about the most patient thing on the planet. They can go up to a year without eating. But when it’s chow time you’re a walking smorgasbord.

OK. That's more than you wanted to know. Just thought you might want to rethink that weekend shopping trip to the Big Apple, especially since they are equally at home in your luggage. They'd hop a ride with you in a New York minute.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My darn car - it's always on the blink!

I'm sure you have all experienced this. You get behind a driver with his/her turn signal on for miles and miles and miles. I know I have and I may have even uttered a disparaging remark like "that guy doesn't belong on the road". Well now, sad to say, I am that guy.

Due to hearing loss in the upper ranges, I have difficulty with sounds that are high pitched, such as car directional signals. Oh, thankfully, I'm not deaf. My lower range hearing is perfect and fortunately that encompasses the majority of sounds and noises of everyday life. Like you, I have to cover my ears when I pull up next to a car whose driver feels I need to know every note and lyric of the latest rap hit.

You may or may not know this, but human speech falls into the high range hearing spectrum. Women are tougher than men to understand. I know guys, you're saying to yourself "and this is a bad thing because....?"
Well, I happened to enjoy conversing with women. How else would I know that 90% of the things I say are wrong.

Children are also hard for me. My granddaughters get a good laugh almost every day when they tell me something and then wait for me to tell them what I heard. It's like I have translated it into a foreign language. You know the game where a person tells another person a story and that person passes it on to another and so on and so on and it completely changes. Well, I can do that with a one on one conversation. Cool, huh? Teenage girls might as well be speaking Sanskrit. They talk like they are taking a final exam in a speed reading course.

I know what you're thinking. Duh! Hearing aids! I'm on my second generation of state of the art hearing aids. While it helps some, it does not "fix" your hearing like glasses "fix" your eyesight. Basically, with hearing aids, I just misunderstand people more clearly. And while it may make the directional signal louder, it also amplifies the road noise thereby nullifying the benefit.

So the next time you get behind one of "those" people, strike a blow for senior citizens and cut them some slack. Just think of your old pal, Al.  Hear, hear!

Friday, August 20, 2010

This just in.....

George W. Bush is fast approaching the mid-point of his 3rd term as President.

Although governing in absentia this term, his policies are still responsible for most of the nation's ills. Barack Obama, titular President since January 20th 2009, continues to point out how Dubya’s refusal to give up the office makes his job so difficult that only 41% of Americans think Obama is actually President.

As a case in point, Mr. Obama is facing stiff criticism for his plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire. In today's prepared remarks, the interim President stated: “how the American people think having more money in their paycheck is a good thing is beyond me! This money could be doing much more good for the folks out there who have better things to do than work”.

When reached for comment, Mr. Bush, in his typical self-effacing manner, said: “I hold Mr. Obama blameless for the poor polling numbers he is experiencing. If I was doing my job instead of playing cowboy out here in Texas, maybe the voters wouldn’t be at each others throats over this capitalism vs. socialism brouhaha”.

For his part, Mr. Obama, as he was leaving for his 4th vacation of the summer, said rather smugly: “don’t worry, we know we will defeat him in the 2012 election and we will be shed of him for good”.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I had the strangest dream last night...

Does anyone know an expert in dream interpretation? Could you send me their phone number? I really need help with this nightmare.

Last night I dreamt that the Speaker of the House of Representatives encouraged an investigation into a group of people who were protesting what they believed to be an immoral act. The 3rd person in line to the Presidency, who takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, was disquieted that this group of people were not really upset but were being funded by unknown sources to pretend to be upset. As I recall this group had suffered some kind of loss. I don't remember exactly what the loss was because it wasn't as important as the fact that this group was "rabble rousing" and causing politicians to have to take a position on a very delicate issue. The immoral act they were mad about was something about resurrecting painful memories of some terrible thing that had happened years and years ago. In essence, she felt this group was making a big deal out of nothing.

Anyway, in this dream the Constitution, which states that people have the right to assembly and free speech, didn't matter anymore. This distraction was keeping politicians in power from running around telling their constituents what great things they were doing for them. Things like taking money from some people to give to other people and making people buy things they didn't want.

Well fortunately, I woke up before I started screaming and startling the neighbors. I thanked my lucky stars that this was a dream and it couldn't really happen in real life. But I'd still like to know what it all means.

Anyone got that number yet?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ameican History 101 by auto

Joseph J. Ellis wrote a fascinating book called  Founding Brothers. It's an absorbing take on the time that America was just a fledgling country.

I live about two miles from the entrance to Jefferson’s Monticello. In fact, almost daily my wife and I hike up the trail to his grounds and back. Another three miles down the road stands Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe. Yes, they were literally neighbors. In the winter time, with the leaves gone, you can see one home from the other. Another 40 minutes farther north is Montpelier, renowned home of James Madison. If you had a full day, you could drive another hour to Mount Vernon and visit the home of another very esteemed patriot. A two hour drive from here in another direction would take you to Williamsburg and Yorktown. 

Not a day goes by when I don’t think about and appreciate being privileged to live in this historical area. But that’s not all of it.

We are literally surrounded by famous battlefields in the nation's struggle to make all men truly free and equal. Within an hour from here are such places as Richmond, Petersburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Appomattox.  In under two hours you can be at The Peninsula, Antietam or Bull Run.  Only one half hour away is a place where a then little known union officer won what was called the most lopsided victory of the entire war. His name was George A. Custer.

These statesmen and soldiers were from all walks of life, ranging from aristocracy to dirt farmer. They gave us everything that makes us the great nation we are; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Monroe Doctrine and later, emancipation.  All had one thing in common. They believed in doing something to better the lives all men. They did this by making sacrifices of life and property and most importantly, owning their destiny. 

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already to visit this area and take in the aura of history. That includes those who already live here but take it for granted.  It can be overwhelming, but I think one might come away with a greater appreciation of what this country went through to have all that it does.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thanks for the memories

I saw an interesting interview with a doctor the other day. He was discussing the relatively new medical procedure which can actually predict whether you will eventually develop Alzheimer's. By way of a spinal tap, they will check for a specific protein present that accurately determines if this disease will appear. It is extremely rare to have this protein and NOT develop Alzheimer's. This test is appropriate if a person is going to the doctor because they are displaying memory loss symptoms. There can be many other less ominous causes for these symptoms and this test allows the doctor to give the patient a definitive diagnosis. I certainly don't envy the physician who has to tell a patient "yes, you will have full blown Alzheimer's".

Here is the moral dilemma. Should a person who has Alzheimer's in their family history, but is perfectly healthy memory-wise, want to have this test? Unfortunately, researchers are still not close to a cure for this dread disease. Is there a point at which we should pronounce death sentences on people who will then live even their productive years with this heavy cloud over them? Some might say having this foreknowledge would help them live each day better. There are certainly good arguments on both sides. We always hear that early detection is important. That's true for cancer, heart disease, etc, where treatment, lifestyle changes and preventive measures can mean the difference between life and death. Not so here.

As some of you know, I recently lost my brother to Early Onset Alzheimer's. He was less than 60 when his first symptoms appeared. I still remember him describing what it was like when the doctor looked at him and said, "Gary, you have Alzheimer's". Gary faced this awful affliction head on. He never went into denial and was willing to discuss what it meant to him and his family. At each stage, when we had to move him or arrange for additional assistance he cooperated, sometimes begrudgingly, but always knowing it was for the best. At the end stage, when he had to be placed in a nursing facility, he could not abide with the prospect of having to have help with every intimate detail of daily living. Within a month he quit eating and drinking and a week later he was gone. That, to me, is heroic.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Golf or goof?

I've been playing and watching golf for over 50 years and have never seen an incident like the one that happened yesterday at the PGA Championship. Bottom line: it's up to the player and his caddie to make sure they are following the strict rules promulgated by the PGA and USGA.

Having said that, I can't imagine a more confusing scenario for a golfer who is in thick of contention on the last hole. No way did that look like a sand trap. And if it was, why were spectators actually standing and yes, SITTING in the sand trap? If the officials had done their job, they would have told Johnson to wait until they cleared the spectators out of the hazard before he hit. That was a mob reminiscent of the hordes of spectators that used to charge up the fairway after the last shot on the last hole of the British Open.

I would be ashamed if I were the PGA in the way they: 1. allowed that area of the course to get so trampled 2. were no-shows on the most important shot of the tournament and 3. embarrassed the golfer while he was still on the green. Why did they not wait until he was in the scorers tent to confront him since they hadn't done their own job back on the course?

Tradition and integrity are important. But just once I would like to see the PGA come out like the other major sports and say "our officials blew this one". Apparently this is one sport where some people are perfect.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Need money?

No political comment today. Just two pieces of wisdom for those that want to be rich.

1. 90% of all wealth is inherited, so choose your parents wisely.

2. If you've already blown #1, remember this: You can marry more money in 5 minutes than you can earn in a lifetime.

Bonus tip: A penny saved belongs to the government.                         

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Once more, with feeling please!

Let me first say that Obama's take on the mosque being built near ground zero is dead on. They have every right and privilege to build where they want. What was lacking was any indication that he cares about the Americans that suffered such tremendous loss on 9/11. He claims he "understands" the emotions surrounding the issue. Then why didn't he at least suggest to the Muslim parties that they might want to rethink the sensitivity of the site. Also, no mention of the 9/11 families and what pain they must be reliving as a result of this. Just more of the "in your face" approach he has taken toward a vast majority of Americans.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You call this OJT?

I just can't say enough about the mettle of our service men and women. They are showing such courage and class as they try to keep terrorism off our shores.

You can argue all you want about the justification of these two wars, but George Bush showed us what a dignified President does when he and Laura greeted the homecoming troops last week. Obama just doesn't understand how the majority of Americans feel about tributes and tradition.

He chose a fund raiser over the Memorial Day tribute to the Unknown soldier. He chose a photo op on "The View" over the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts celebration. In an economy desperately in need of an infusion of money, he sends his family to spend nearly $100,000.00 taxpayer dollars on a European vacation! C'mon Mr. President. At least make a veiled attempt at supporting this economy yourself.

He is treating this Presidency like a someone who just won an unlimited free shopping spree at the local department store. Change? More like slight of hand. Hope? More like hype. Transparency? More like invisibility.

Where are the press conferences? Non existent because they can't be scripted and no teleprompters. Our presidents are supposed to mature in office not regress!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sad irony

Is it just me? Is this administration bailing out people who have overspent their income by overspending the government's income? Let's all chip in and send Obama to a debt counseling course.