Monday, November 11, 2019

On the Eleventh hour

One hundred and one years ago today; "on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the war to end all wars ended."

This to me has always been a powerful sentence. It is history for all the right and wrong reasons. This nation has almost always been shrouded on a war footing. In the long-ago days of my youth I learned the reasons for most of them. Obviously the American Revolution that began this country was to overthrow rule from a land far away. Even then this country was becoming a melting pot and we were no longer 'English'. The next was 1812, often noted as the second war of independence. Along the way were various other skirmishes, not including the Civil War. That was a dark time all of itself.

And then the War to End all Wars. It was the first global conflagration, a scale almost unheard of on a historic level. Due to our involvement America was thrust onto the world stage teetering on the brink of becoming a world power. From there the country slid back into partial obscurity. Even though our military might turned the tide in WWI, this country was not part of the prevailing power structure.

But then the unthinkable happened. World War II almost made WWI look like a skirmish. With the advancement of technology, death was delivered on an unprecedented scale to both military and civilian populations.

So, what's the point of this ramble on Veteran's Day you ask? Perhaps it is my age, perhaps it is how my views have changed on the world and how I view the leaders of this nation. There was a time when I believed there was an underlying moral purpose to these conflicts and that this nation did what it needed to do. Perhaps it is simply naivete. But now in this day and age I no longer believe we hold the moral compass for engagement in a war. They have now come about due to political expediency and the whims of our national leaders. How else do you explain the protracted military presence in the middle eastern countries? Any visceral reaction due to 9/11 is to be expected, however our stay in that part of the world should have ended long ago.

It's time we thank all those who have served and served bravely in defense of this nation and the best way to do that is to pull them back to home shores. It's time we let our economic might as a nation defend our world policy and stop needlessly putting young men and women in harm's way. Our military might should be used when this nation is directly threatened and no longer be used as an instrument to police a world half a globe away.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Going Home

There's an old saying; you can't go home again.

Well, what does that really mean? I'm sure most people think it's about moving back into your parents home or revisiting family after a long absence and expecting, or at least hoping everything would be just like it used to be. I suppose that's one way to look at it.

I'm sure there are other scenarios that come to mind for many. I also think there are those who don't want to revisit 'home' or their past lives whether it refers to family or not. Perhaps that's why home isn't a place to revisit.

For me it takes on a different aspect. I've never been one to be tied to places or things. I've lived in several houses from childhood to adulthood. All of them have been 'home', but I don't have a longing to return to a specific place. It's like things, I'm not tied to specific things or items like personal belongings or cars. I simply don't wrap my identity around the tangible world. Houses are not my home, people from my past are my home.

I don't think that has ever been driven 'home' to me more so than it has recently. Although I have long time friends from school that I haven't seen in years there are several I could sit down with and have a conversation like I saw them a week ago. But I didn't grow up around them. We lived sort of off on our own from my school friends. None of them lived in my neighborhood. There, I had another group, two specifically that were like family and in the last month or so I have had the chance to reconnect with one of them.

Billy. I haven't seen him in years. We lost track of each other at some point in high school. He went off to the closest public school and I off to the Catholic school. Recently through the magic of Facebook we have been able to reconnect. To me, even though we are older, wiser and both grandfathers, it's almost like we were never away from each other. I can still hear his infectious laugh. Back in those days there were few times we weren't around each other. We rode our bicycles all over the place. We'd ride for miles and miles away from home even into surrounding suburbs. In those days no kid would have worn a helmet and our parents 'kinda' knew where we were...sort of. We ate meals at each other's home and slept out in tents in the back yard. Gee, no mischief to get into doing that.

We are different people than we were back in those days, obviously, our childhood up to early teen years. He is a successful entrepreneur who has built his own company and lives in a big city on the east coast. I live near where I grew up and have lived a comfortable life. There is one characteristic that I haven't mentioned; Billy is a Black man and I am a White man. Guess what, we were Black and White back then too. His was the first Black family that I can remember to move into our neighborhood. That was a shock to many who lived on the block and I'm sure his family felt the sting of that reality more than he ever recounted to me.

But that single fact never affected our friendship. We were nearly brothers for those years and reconnecting with him after all this time is really the point of this ramble. Some day we will get together, I have no doubt of that and when we do I know we'll be able to pick up a conversation like we saw each other two weeks ago.

My parents are long ago deceased and I miss them dearly, but to me, that is what it means to me to go home again.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hope springs eternal

Hope is something we all cling to for various reasons. Is it what drives us forward or just a random emotion that kicks in periodically? Is hope for you or for others? Let me tell you, it's for us all.

Tonight, a little boy with the biggest smile you ever saw did what everyone else hoped he would, hoped he could do.

Christopher; he's a little heavier than the other kids. He runs a little slower but his heart is as big as anyone's. Christopher plays little league baseball with my grandson Ragin Cage. He usually plays right field. He doesn't throw the ball very far but he's out there every practice and plays in every game. He plays football as well but his father and mother also wanted him to branch out and play other sports.

For two years now he has played baseball in the fall and in the spring. This season we are down to the last one or two games, tournament time before the boys of summer pack up their bats, stow their gloves in their packs and put them up in the garage or the basement until next year.

Every time Christopher stepped up to the plate his teammates and bystanders, coaches and former coaches held their collective breath in hopes that he would get a hit. Each time he swung and missed and each time he turned with a big smile on his face before he went to sit back down on the bench. But each time his swing got a little better. Each time his bat was a little swifter, but each time he struck out. But he kept at it, never down and never angry.

And tonight on this twenty-first day of October, this little boy of summer, this little engine with the big smile got his first hit, a rocket into the outfield that drove in two runs and pushed him all the way to second base. The diamond erupted on both sides of the field. Parents from both teams and coaches on the other side yelled and screamed and clapped for joy. His teammates stormed the field as he walked off the dirt infield and mobbed him, because they cared. They never doubted him, never doubted his heart.

In a world where we usually only hear about the negative aspects of youth sports and the stupid things their parents do, wonderful things do happen between the lines and that is what sports for little boys and girls should be.

Congratulations Christopher.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Shootout

I follow sports, multiple ones but my passion for viewing is college football. To me there is nothing like it; the rivalries, the passion, the events themselves. Although I have a favorite college team O H - I O, I can still watch games from around the country. Most hold my interest. I'd much rather watch two college teams I have no heavy connection to than most pro games.

Today, a rare Saturday off from my job and the Buckeyes having to play the notorious 'Bye' team I was able to settle in and watch the Oklahoma vs Texas Red River Shootout. The problem here is most people no longer call it that. In this world's climate of PC correctness, the RR Shootout is now called the RR Showdown. It's been call the Shootout for many years and is a fierce rivalry, so much so that before today's game even started the referees threw a penalty flag for unsportmanlike conduct on both teams...yeah, they can do that.

Somewhere in this whacked society the term shootout has become offensive to a group of people and their heightened and pathetic sensitivity has even invaded college football. I'm sorry to tell you PC people that I will never refer to it as that. Gee, you're offended...too damn bad. You have now disrespected (usually I hate that term) the life of the cowboy and the western culture. PC people want to have all cultures respected but in your zealousness to make everyone think the way you do you have now trampled on the toes of the culture that moved this country west. That's not being very inclusive, PC people. There is nothing wrong with the term shootout. It is a heritage, not something you can just wash away from history like you try to do with every other historical terms you disagree with.

College football has a history all its own, good and bad like nearly everything else. Though I root for a different team and conference, some things should be left alone. Oklahoma vs Texas football will always be the Red River Shootout.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A New Website

Welcome to my new and redesigned website. I have recently changed hosting providers as I was unhappy with my previous company. I guess who it was doesn't really make a difference. For what I have this site for their costs were significantly higher and were increasing every year. As well, their site was constantly changing and it was difficult to navigate even for someone who has been using it for several years.

I understand they are a business and that's what they do, but they must also realize they aren't the only kids on the block. There are now many more choices than there used to be. My new hosting provider, Wix is much easier to use and for that reason alone I will likely be updating the site on a more frequent basis.

I hope you follow along on my writing journey. Drop me a note, a line or sing me a song...okay, you really don't have to sing a song but I'll take feedback on any and all my books and writings. That's how we as writers improve. Not everyone likes everything and I will take constructive criticism under consideration but I know you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Thanks for following.

Robert Thomas ... author of some note (at least to myself)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Shake it up

Times change and culture changes. There is no denying that. What we used to take for granted such as simple gestures or greetings evolve over time. Sometimes those changes can be abrupt leaving some in limbo as to how to proceed.

What the heck are you talking about Robert?

Handshakes!

Huh?

Handshakes. I grew up in a world where people shook hands. It didn't matter if you were greeting your best friend, your uncle, your aunt or the guy who carried your mail. Okay, now don't everyone get there undies in a wad since I said 'guy'. Back in the olden days women weren't 'mailmen'. Men were mailmen.

These days, I have no idea how to greet someone. Everyone seems to have a different way to do this and I have no idea who does what. Some fist bump, some hug, some shake hands and then 'bring it in', some slap hands back and forth like they're swatting at a fly and the traditional handshake is becoming a thing of the past. Now, I'm not against anyone who wants to do some of these things with people they know or who they are close to, but all these other types of contact should fall away when you are acknowledging someone you don't know very well.

I greet people routinely at my job, especially when a person is applying for a job and when I reach out to shake their hand they almost have no idea what I'm doing. I see there eyes widen and they limply reach out with a hand about as firm as a wet noodle. Sometimes it is cultural as we invite more and more people into the US from other countries. I understand their hesitancy. However the youth of this country needs to be taught again how to shake hands. It's time for the fathers of this country to undertake this challenge and bring stability back to this once, tried and true greeting.

Now, bring it in...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Worlds apart

This ramble is actually a few states in the making. Over this last week I was out of town for a work conference. It was a jaunty trip over to the Jersey coast and Atlantic City. My buddy and I drove across the great, very, very wide state of Pennsylvania. It took us through the skyrise metropolis of Philadelphia and the hustle and bustle of a huge east coast city.

I reside outside what I believe now is the fourteenth largest city in the U.S., Columbus. But although they are perhaps only five-hundred miles apart, these two cities reside in different worlds. (Had I the time I would have looked up my child-hood friend Billy Wilson whom I believe resides somewhere in that area. Just for anyone who is interested,  he has started a company named On Doc. But that ramble is for another day).

The notion of this ramble didn't come to fruition until I sat waiting for my haircut. I picked up a magazine from the rack, one of the housekeeping genre with all the good stuff coming for the autumnal equinox. That's Fall for you unenlightened. Within its pages were the recipes and crafts of the upcoming season. It dawned on my from my recent trip that many of these pages seem to be geared to the Midwestern area of the country and/or the rural vastness of this great country. I pondered what it would be like to live in a highly urbanized area of the country and have these images before me.

I wouldn't think they would strike the same chord in places like Philly, New York City or any of the other megatropolises we have scattered around the country. Pictures of pumpkins and cornstalks, bales of straw and scarecrows somehow seem to ring hollow in my mind in these mega-cities.
Perhaps it is my own naivete of the world that leads me to this conclusion. I have only lived in this part of the country and my experience reflects that viewpoint. But what else it tells me is, though we are all Americans we might as well live in different countries sometimes. Their world is not my world and vice versa. My semi-rural upbringing has different roots and different customs. Perhaps one day I will again meet my friend Mr. Wilson and we will sit down to have a beer and discuss my notions.

I hope so. Even after forty years, he is a good friend.