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I’m Trying to Stay Away from Political Posts, but…

October 23, 2020

Watched the final debate today. Much more civil than the first one. And so much to kibitz over but for some reason this is the quote that stood out to me:

Biden: I didn’t have to tell my daughter when stopped by police to put her hands on the wheel and speak politely and quietly, complying with the the officer’s commands, yet black fathers have to tell their kids…

Um, no. All this tells me is that Joe Biden was a negligent father.

I am as white as they come. My skin can be mistaken for the underbelly of a fish. As a kid I got away with a lot. A simple expression and whatever I did would be blamed on my sister. I was a guilty soul with an innocent face.

Still, when I turned 15, my dad sat me down and explained how to act when stopped by the police. Roll down the window, license out, hands in sight, either on the steering wheel or on the ledge of the door, and speak respectfully. Apologize if I was wrong, accept the ticket and sign it without question. Know my rights, if absolutely necessary, in a respectful tone ask for clarification and express my rights.

Being respectful to those in authority is not a racial thing. I had that talk with my children, all of whom are white upon white. This is what good fathers/mothers do.

I’m sure there are things unique to the black experience. I’m not going to judge someone who doesn’t agree with me or expresses a different view. When a person of color has a grievance, I want to listen to them to understand their experiences and thought processes.

I find it stunning, however, when a man who has voted for every oppressive law against people of color tries to pass himself off as a friend to such people.

Four years ago we had a buffoon running against an (IMO) evil political operator. Didn’t vote for either of them. This year we have a buffoon running against a buffoon.

Sad times, America.

High Cuisine

September 8, 2020

My dog is a connoisseur of high French and Cajun cuisine.

She loves frog legs. And the rest of the frog.

Dog frog : PewdiepieSubmissions
You are what you eat.

This first came to my attention when she was in the backyard tossing something in the air and catching it again in her teeth only to throw it back into the air. It wasn’t until the legs fell out of her mouth that I realized it was a frog.

This is the season where frogs leap into the streets when it rains. And are promptly flattened by cars. After the flies have their fill and the sun dries it out, they become barely visible on the road, little more than a dark outline. So I can be forgive for not always seeing them. McKinley is part bloodhound and I’m pretty sure the part is her nose. Her head dips down and she brings up what she refers to as Frog Jerky firmly clenched between her teeth.

Tonight was the height of dining. On our wet evening walk around the neighborhood we unknowingly walked amidst a migration of frogs the size of pencil erasers. I should point out that we use a halter with the ring in the middle of her back and a leash that has bungee properties with plenty of stretch (to prevent our 35 pound dog from yanking my arm out of its socket when changes direction, which is often). All that to say I can’t immediately bring her head up. That fleet of 1000 micro-frogs was probably 900 strong once she got finished with them.

She looked at me in love, wanting to lick me in devotion.

No way, dog, not for a long time to come.

The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story

August 30, 2020

This might sound like a post on writing, but it’s not, unless it’s posting on Facebook.

So many times now, we’ve heard people being condemned for what eventually is justified behavior.

It happens on both “sides.” We hear a news report and instantly make a judgment. We then post our outrage on social media, or find our blood boiling and act out, some violently, other’s with verbal lashing.

Stop. Hear a story and ask, “Is that all of it?” Worry about unconscious bias. “That fits my narrative! Grab it!” Be patient and wait for the facts.

Police run afoul of this a lot lately. Perhaps some really are brutality. If you stop and get the rest of the story, it will still be brutality.

Email and Social Media Etiquette Tip - DON'T SHOUT! - Hoax-Slayer
Better late than wrong

Also, consider context. We expect perfect behavior under stress, and make no mistake, that’s what even peaceful protests are, stressful, because you don’t know who’s coming to the protest. Most are compassionate, peaceful folks, some are willing to take advantage of the situation and those bad actors will reflect on the protest.

I know I jumped on one such story, because, hey, it looked bad. My mistake. There was so much more to it.

Rather than being the first to shout out, get your facts straight. I guarantee that if you ask ten people about “hot story of the day” you will get ten different answers. Try to be the one who actually knows before you pop off. Or for that matter, what you support. You may firmly agree with the concept and then find out the organization you didn’t even know about preaches some awful things you don’t agree with.

Let’s be wise out there.

I include myself in that admonition.

LockDown Delight!

April 13, 2020

I get it, Lock Down can be challenging. What to do with all that time?

I’ve got a suggestion! It deals with two of my favorite past times, reading and writing, and maybe a love of tech. You have a Kindle right? Right?

This week, that one of kind publisher, Prevail Press is offering all Kindle Editions for 99 cents each. That’s a $3 savings for each book! Buy all for $9 and save $28! I guarantee, you’ll find delights for your whole family!

The are some great reads!

Go to this link: and click the book covers of your choice to take advantage of this offer. While some books don’t have Kindle versions, all physical books are available at their regular price.

There is something for everyone: Fiction for all ages, non-fiction that will illuminate and delight you, and especially now in this time of close confinement, a marriage book with daily tips for romance to make those days together sizzle!

Fear Not! It’s All Puffery or It’s Not!

February 26, 2020

Remember when it was a long pair of legs that sells? Now it’s “Fear Sells!”

Everywhere you turn it’s “be afraid of this!” “be afraid of that!”

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It’s Wayne Manor!

  • I don’t fear climate change. It’s been changing since the planet formed. I don’t think it was dinosaur farts that started the first Ice Age and I doubt any of them rendered their buddies down to drive around. Ice Age happened anyway. Takeaway: Use it as a prompt to be better stewards, not because the planet will die if you don’t but because it’s the right thing to do, darn it!
  • I don’t fear a virus. Fear isn’t going to prevent me from getting it. Takeaway: Improve your health because STEWARDSHIP!
  • I don’t fear Trump. Buffoons have been around forever, and we’ve had worse policy in the White House and maybe even bigger buffoons who didn’t have the benefit detriment of social media. Takeaway: Don’t vote for buffoons, so write someone in!
  • I don’t fear Democrats. Four or eight years of bad policy isn’t going to destroy the planet. Takeaway: Write someone in!
  • I don’t fear old age. I don’t look forward to it, but the alternative means not seeing grandkids someday. Takeaway: There’s that health stewardship thing again.
  • I don’t fear Russia or the Chinese. I’m quite capable of thinking for myself and rejecting falsehood. Besides, I’m writing in someone who won’t get elected… Takeaway: If I’m going to learn another language it will be Spanish and Sign Language (but don’t hold your breath).
  • I don’t fear the reaper. I don’t mind holding death off for a long time, but I intend to look at it as a thrill ride, a little scary but eventually terrific. Takeaway: Health. Stewardship. Again.

There are some things you should fear. Badgers for one. I hear they’re nasty. Ticking off Charli for another. See the description of badgers. (I’ll miss her anyway).

Recently I saw a thing about removing “sorry” from your vocabulary and replacing it with gratitude. “Thanks for waiting” instead of “Sorry I’m late” stuff like that, not for actual offenses. “I’m sorry I maimed your mother” is still appropriate.

I propose replacing fear with HOPE. I hope the planet sustains us. I hope a non-buffoon, good policymaker is elected, I hope our medical professionals can defeat the virus.

The world needs hope.

I hope you agree.

My Opinion of Mike Bloomberg

February 24, 2020

To be honest, I don’t know much about him. He outlawed Big Gulps, a nice over-reach but at least it was on the state level that allows such nonsense.

My first real exposure to him was at the last Democratic Debate. I found the first several unwatchable, feeling too much like a boring SNL sketch than a real political event.

This last one though! It was like a hilarious SNL sketch. Clearly inspired by Tulsi Gabbard’s amazing takedown of Kamila Harris, Elizabeth Warren gleefully dismembered Bloomberg with a relentless barrage. He gained a single point by not slinking off the stage with his tail between his legs.

Image result for bloomberg cartoon
Dave Whamond for President!

The gloves were off in this debate. Bernie pummeled Pete, Biden made a concerted effort not to pummel himself, I think there were a few others on the stage, but I honestly don’t remember.

As I understand it, Bloomberg is funding his own campaign, clearly a testament that he has way too much money.

A co-worker wonders if Bloomberg and Trump have a bet that his billions could buy him the vote, too. Maybe, maybe.

A lesser, wiser, more intelligent man would have immediately withdrawn from the race. Instead, Bloomberg has double downed on his ads.

Warren is right about him. He a gross, power-hungry, misogynistic billionaire. He’s spoken off color amongst other men (most of us have, though not to his or Trump’s degree, I hope), treated women both abominably and illegally, settling out many if not all(?) complaints.  Chances are pretty good that you can’t become a billionaire without an “I can get away with anything” view on life.

Please note, I’m not defending that when I say you can’t apply today’s sentiments to the past. Bloomberg is old, the rules of the game were different in that the reprehensible was part of the earn-fast and build-strong days. Right? NO. Moral? Not even a little bit.

I hope to God that not all business tycoons behaved that way (I can’t see my grandfather doing that, and if he did, I never want to know).

Sexism was definitely a thing back then. Men and women were treated differently, even with good intentions that were understood and welcomed by some women (ok, sexist language alert: I was going to say “professional women” or “working women” but that has a connotation I don’t intend, yet there it is, sexism encoded in the vernacular). I don’t mean they welcomed the inappropriate, just that they were likely fine with a respectful hand on the shoulder, or “sweetheart” – and some women weren’t.

Absolutely Bloomberg and Trump should know better. That was then, this is now; are they still doing it? Today is more relevant than years ago in that rarefied atmosphere. Personally, I can’t vote for people with blatant moral failings they don’t see them as moral failings. I can’t vote Republican for that reason. Nor can I vote for people whose policy I completely disagree with…. Almost. I may vote for Tulsi Gabbard as a write-in. I disagree with a lot of her policy, agree wholeheartedly with some, and I think she is a fundamentally honest person with greater-than-average intelligence (Bernie is honest… that’s all I’ve got to say about that). I would prefer she run as an independent.

Back to Bloomberg, or more accurately, the conservative response, which has been horribly hypocritical. If you don’t judge your own guy by the same standard as the other guy, then shut up about it. Apply the same rigor to Trump as you do to Bloomberg and then you can have your mic back.

Bonus content: Who will be the Democrat’s candidate?

I’m betting the DNC or someone will pull the rug out from under him again. The guy is old and batty. That may not be a bad thing.

Biden vs Trump. Not as fun as Biden vs Graham, but still a cage match worth watching. I’m guessing it would come to literal blows. But I don’t think Biden has a chance.

Warren. Had her takedown of Bloomberg been an original, I’d have been more impressed. She copied Gabbard’s approach (masterfully, but still not her idea). And her economic plan is suspiciously like Trump’s if she hasn’t changed it.

Mayo Pete (SNL’s best gag). Don’t count this guy out. Bernie can bang on him like a drum, but he’s still likeable in that fresh-faced, eager kind of way. I think it’s down between Pete and Bernie, the first-name boys. In my dream world, they’d all claw each other to mud, leaving Tulsi the victor, but that’s…. probably… not going to happen.

Mea Culpa this Introvert

February 21, 2020

I was wrong, let me put it right out there. All these threats of creating automated fast food places sounded good to me. Who needs people?

I do, to my surprise.

A quick stop at the McDonalds on 434 in front of the Walmart and across from the Costco for a hot fudge sundae turned into the Mecca of introverts. It’s been completely redesigned to be as inhospitable to human life as possible.

You walk in and immediately notice it’s completely different. The tables, all filthy, are new, newly soiled, white under the crumbs, and very open. What used to have a near-inviting design now looks like cafeteria. The floor, a nice tile, is muddy from the last mopping. Then it gets weirder. If, like me, you’re not going to sit at a table with crumbs all over it, you’ll go for napkins to clean it off.

There are no napkins.

No straws. No drink station. No McDonald’s employees.

Just a large bank of touch-screen kiosks.

Where before you could see into the kitchen, now there’s a single unmanned point-of-sales system, a small counter with a dead fly on it, and walls that block the view of the kitchen. And employees. Assuming there are more than two, and there may not be.

You cannot order from a person. There is no person EXCEPT for a sprinter who runs out, drops your food next to the dead fly, shouts your receipt number, and runs back behind the wall before anyone can point out that the kiosk printer is out of paper and no one knows their receipt number. So, the waiting people pillage through the bag to see if it’s theirs.

No one smiles here. Maybe they offer an unhappy meal.

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Too true

Customers are waiting too long and there’s no one to complain to.

Perhaps refills are a thing of the past. There’s no way to get refills.

Finally, a woman who left her people skills in the kitchen comes out with two slightly melted sundaes with a little smear of hot fudge on them. She clearly resented being forced to look at us.

We got a plastic-wrapped spoon, but no napkin and she was gone before we could ask for one.

Let me point out that though there were several families waiting for food, NO ONE sat at the tables.

Perhaps I need to send back my introvert card.

OK, I admit it, I’ve never actually liked using the kiosk. I want my fries blistering hot and the kiosks don’t give you that option. I prefer ordering from a person. I even felt guilty about those bright, shiny Mickey D employees eager to teach me how to use a kiosk that would soon be taking their jobs. Besides, it’s not complicated. I may be a boomer, but I can figure out technology.

All those threats of raising the minimum wage to $15 kicked McDonalds into high automation gear. I admit I’m torn. I don’t think the feds have any right to establish a federal minimum wage, but I also don’t like companies automating kids out of the workforce. But then again, I don’t want a $12 Big Mac (which I don’t eat anymore, so a $2 hamburger). At the same time, this opens up the entry-level job market to surly people with no social skills.

Hmmm, no more fast food. Problem solved.

Justice System vs The Fourth Estate

February 12, 2020

Having recently gotten into podcasts, I stumbled across Chasing Cosby, a series by an L.A. Times reporter who had been investigating the Cosby allegations for decades.

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Clark Kent was more powerful with his hat on.

Since I had not followed the case at all when it was happening (life got in the way; amazing because Cosby is formative in my love of comedy), I eagerly listened.

Let me say up front, that I believe Bill Cosby is guilty. I think his celebrity got away from him, that he indulged in the most heinous of crimes and convinced himself that a drugged response is somehow a consenting response (it is not, in any way, consent) and he deserves his time in prison.

Having said that, this podcast would not have convinced me at all. It highlighted the difference between our Justice System and the Fourth Estate. In law, you’re innocent until proven guilty. In news reporting, you are guilty not matter what.

To be fair, he’d already be convicted and I guess it isn’t a reporters job to present legally sound evidence, but there was such glaring disregard for what is and isn’t evidence that it’s frightening.

  • A recorded phone call they took as confirming his guilt was the exact opposite. As a defense attorney I’d point out that a wealthy philanthropist offering to give a scholarship as long as a 3.0 GPA is maintained is the exact opposite of a confession. Tying it to a GPA hardly sounds like a payoff.
  • I absolutely believe the women the reporter interviewed, but they each admitted they don’t remember anything after they were drugged. You’d think a woman would know, but they each said they weren’t sure what happened. Again, he did it and I believe them. I do not believe all 60 women where telling the truth, hence….
  • The gravy train: It is so difficult to discern when someone is telling the truth when believing might mean million-dollar payouts. Simply by publicizing the case, they ensured some liars would see the upside. None of the women interviewed struck me that way, mind you, but claiming the sheer weight of 60 accusations meant it’s all true is specious.
  • The Cosby assistant who sent money orders to young women across the country (and, oh yeah) to young men and old men and women and charities, does not make them payouts. Maybe they were, but the reporter didn’t say they chased any of those paid women down and the assistant didn’t know what they were for, just that “he found it suspicious.”
  • The mother who recorded the second, non-incriminating phone call does not mean the first unrecorded call was incriminating.
  • Cosby’s refusal to comment is also not evidence.
  • The DA who failed to bring charges 15 years ago didn’t think he had a case. The DA who did a few years ago tried the case during a time of greater awareness and the Me Too movement. He also got things admitted the prior DA didn’t foresee getting admitted. And let’s remember that if that evil first DA had tried the case and lost; double jeopardy would have applied.

It isn’t a reporter’s job to try the case, but it IS a reporter’s job to connect the dots, which pre-supposes confirming a dot was indeed a dot. What concerns me is that simple allegations don’t an investigation make.

What if he was innocent (and again, he was convicted, so I believe he was guilty) and they reported like this? Reporters can destroy a person’s life whether guilty or not. That should concern us. Media overreach affects us all. Take Trump, for instance. I don’t like him, won’t vote for him, but I’m also convinced the media is lying, distorting the truth, and failing to report the whole story/both sides of the argument. That’s swaying an election, and you don’t have to be Russian to do it.

My news-junkie friends, please correct me where I’m wrong or defend the news organizations if you can. And let’s all rejoice that the legal system is Innocent until proven Guilty. It may get things wrong and be weighted in certain directions, but if it keeps IUPG in mind, it will work better than the other way.

Freedom is Messy

February 6, 2020

America was deemed The Great Experiment. The concept of “for the people, by the people” hadn’t really been tried before, and those accustomed to royalty figured it would fail under its own weight.

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It’s worth it

And it has failed. America is not a utopia, and it isn’t just because we have a professional political class (anathema to the Founders).

It’s because Freedom is Messy. People are Broken. They make stupid, selfish decisions that result in pain, suffering, and misery.

It’s undeniable. Racism abounds, gun violence is real, thieves break in, crime is rampant, and politeness, kindness, goodness is not legislated for or against. People can say hateful things and not go to jail. People can own guns and not go to jail.

Today, some people are saying ENOUGH! They think they are being liberal, but they are really being fascist. Legislate hate speech! It will make a better country. Take away guns, it will make a safer country.

Yes, freedom is messy, but America did something else that was new. We recognized God-given, inalienable rights. Not granted them, because we didn’t invent them, we just secure them. The Creator endows people with these rights, and we take them away at our peril. Because, yes, freedom is messy, but it’s also empowering. In the US, we weren’t supposed to create a nanny state where we can say, “Let the government take care of them.” Instead, we have to say, “We need to take care of them.”

You see, the government can only give to the minimum; it can’t afford more, but we can give abundantly.

We can say bad things, but we can also say blessed things. We can harbor hate, or we can harbor love. We get to define what we do with the only strictures being we can’t infringe on other people’s rights. Being broken, messy people, we often have a problem with that, but just think, when we grow out of negative behavior, we’re still free, but in a restrictive society, growth doesn’t matter, and it can’t be tested.

The Founders fully intended for each of us to be under voluntary “restraint” in the form of religion; something that keeps us from being too messy and offering an avenue of growth. That isn’t to be constructed to mean legalism or legislation, nor is religion the only retraining influence. Family, “society,” or even just civic philosophy can sort of stand in the gap.

Be a zealous defender of human rights and recognize there are no sub-sets of rights. All specialty interests fall under that protection. When we look to government for protection, we give up a little more of the rights we are supposed to have.

Freedom is messy. It requires accountability and responsibility, but freedom is worth it.

One more caveat: Don’t vote for anyone whose policies violate the 10th amendment, which means not voting democrat or republican. But do vote for someone.

Talking Out The Other Side of Your Mouth

January 16, 2020

My first act in front of an audience was as a ventriloquist. I learned from an album produced by Paul Winchell and spoke for my friends Charlie McCarthy and Mickey Mouse. I was a 5th grader then and Jr. High took me away from such childish endeavors.

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Man of a thousand voices
Paul Winchell

Yet it must not be so childish because, despite going in and out of favor over the years, it has made many people rich and famous. Nor are they all for children. Remember Madame with Wayland Flowers? Some of Jeff Dunham’s act is definitely for older folks.

Yet people like Edgar Bergen, Paul Winchell, Shari Lewis, and many more kept it at least kid-friendly.

Ventriloquists are always comedians, and they fall into a couple different flavors:

  • “I can’t believe you said that!” – The ventriloquist allows his dummy (really called “figures”) to say all the brazen things he couldn’t get away with saying himself. Typically, the ventriloquist apologies for and admonishes his dummy.
  • The Dummy or Genius – Figures first were dubbed dummies because they were ill-informed, naïve, or innocents needing correction from their speaker, such as Lewis’ Lambchop and Bergen’s Mortimer Snerd. The flipside was the genius, sophisticated, know-it-alls, such as Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy (snobby sophisticate), Flower’s Madame (wise to the ways of the horrifying world), and Dunham’s Walter (wise but cranky) and Achmed the Dead Terrorist (evil for laughs)
  • Who’s the Dummy? – More a theatrical trope, the ventriloquist believes the dummy to be real like Chuck in Soap, or in control and evil as in Anthony Perkins in Magic,  or the only one who can talk – I don’t remember the name and can’t find it online, but there was a “mute” ventriloquist who’s dummy spoke for him. Typically, the dummy trends toward evil because they serve as the ventriloquist’s Id.
  • A Friend Indeed – Neither smart nor dumb, brazen or innocent, just a couple guys talking, one flesh, one wood or plastic.

It’s a strange art form. A lot of people find dolls to be creepy; talking dolls even worse. But ventriloquism can be an introvert’s best friend. And it works. We saw a ventriloquist on a cruise ship and she was the best thing that trip (other than the food).

To keep it fresh and sustaining, ventriloquists are taking “throwing your voice” to new levels. The one who uses audience members as her dummies; the one who casts his voice into bottles and boxes, and today’s artists who are taking things to a whole new level

It seems we have only one or two ventriloquists on the national stage at a time, and normally a decade or more apart. They are often topical for a time. Burgen and McCarthy for the war years; Lewis and Lambchop for a more innocent time; Flower’s Madame for the turbulent 70s, the Muppets seemed to suck up the 80s, and Dunham’s Achmed the Dead Terrorist brought us into the new decade. There are dozens of ventriloquists at any given time, but it’s the superior, topical act that gets the spotlight. Dunham is working hard to keep his career going.

Most people I’ve talked to have had encounters with ventriloquists that have been highlights of their life. What are yours?