Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My eyes are full

I hate my brother-in-law.

I have recently lost about fifteen pounds. I suppose at my age, that's a good thing. Okay, I have been trying, somewhat. I was doing fairly well last winter up until about February. Then, I swelled like a dried sponge in a Jacuzzi. I wasn't out of control, mind you. With my job, I'm on my feet almost all day. I likely walk forty miles a week. And mind you, it's not a stroll down the aisle.

I decided it was time to lessen the waistband. One of my problems over the years is I eat with my eyes. (It really hurts when I get a fork caught in one though). I'm not a big guy, five-eight, but I can eat a large pizza without any issues. That, is the problem. When I've eaten, I eat to fill up. Then, I go on my way. I'm not a snacker when I'm at work, which is a lot, although I do tend to 'graze' when home. It's something my wife snickers about. Fridge to basket of candy to cupboard with snacks to juice... When's dinner?

Did I mention I hate my brother-in-law?

Anyway. I began to taper off. Quit eating with what my eyes saw. Portion control. As the weather warmed and the pool opened, I was able to start swimming again, although that has fallen off due to work. My ten year old weight machine was uncovered, the clothes and everything else hanging from it were removed and it was taken to the basement. There, it's usable. I began working out again. I was consistent a couple years ago until a foot and other nagging joint injuries got in the way. I decided, I will always have those nagging 'slow-me-downs' as I'm not getting any younger. Along the way, I've dropped fifteen pounds.

My brother-in-law sucks!

My Beloved and I went to dinner the other week with friends, to a family-friendly restaurant with plenty of televisions. Then, the food was put before me. That's the issue we all have in fat America. More and more eat out on a regular basis. The entree should be the biggest part of the meal, but all the sides and salads are just as big as the entree. The potatoes are as big as the steak which is as big as the fries which are as big as the appetizer and the desert as well. And we eat it all. That's why we are all overweight. We eat it all.

Now, my brother-in-law has always outweighed me. He is just a bigger, stockier guy. He has often had twenty to thirty pounds on me, yet he always wore a smaller pant size. We were together with our wives the other night at a festival in the heart of the city. He has lost weight as well, and he still has a smaller pant size than I do even though he still his heavier than I. I lose fifteen and my pant size remains the same. It's just not fair. I've had the same clothing size for over twenty years. Sometimes I just stretch it out more.

Did I mention I hate my brother-in-law?

Sunday, August 24, 2014


It is evident by simply watching the news, social media and nearly everything else that pushes stories and incidents toward us, we have become a nation of OVER REACTORS!!!!! REALLY? HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN? OMG!!!!!

So, how did this happen? Well, several ways actually. We are assaulted by news and stories every hour of our day. It comes from the news, internet, social media. Nearly everyone is connected 24/7. With that, comes opinions; knee jerk reactions to all of these stories. Social media itself is the great unfiltered media the world has never seen. Everyone has a say, and too often, those 'says' are without the facts. We react solely on the first evidence we see and hear. Too many puts their thoughts and reactions out for consumption without validation.

Everyone is guilty at some point. Take the incident in Missouri for instance. How many people really know what happened? How many picked sides based on scant evidence or simply word of mouth? A white cop shoots and kills a black teen. The black community shouts outrage. How much evidence has been presented as fact? The shouts of a cover-up are everywhere. Well, police don't release all the evidence to the public in any investigation. But, it's not the black community that is always at fault. How many white citizens sat on their couches and just assumed the black teen was breaking the law and has to face the reality of his choice. Don't break the law; don't get shot by a cop.

As well, the recent 'no tolerance' rules is schools is as much at fault. No tolerance means there is no gray area. That premise in itself is completely flawed. A young man was recently suspended from school because he wrote an assignment for class that included him killing a dinosaur with a gun. The no tolerance rule for guns was thus violated. If that is a sample of the lack of intelligence of our teachers and instructors in schools, no wonder our kids are turning out dumber and dumber. If that story is to be believed, then all the schools are guilty of being hypocritical. They couldn't teach most of the subjects they are mandated. Just consider how teachers and staff can and do act at school sporting events. Often their actions are significantly worse than a student writing a story about a gun. Is it tragic that there is any violent acts committed at a school? Sure, but bullying is a trait of humanity.

Think about this; all history books would have to be removed from the schools because every one of them contains our history; the history of warfare, world-wide. Guess what a war has ... guns. Can't teach that. Can't teach American history, a history of a country rising up and shooting their masters. Can't teach Civil War history, the story of, as most believe, a revolt against slavery. With guns. Can't teach world history; every country is and has been at war. The geography books would likely also have to go for the same reasons. Any course that teaches religion would also have to be removed. Religion? Really? Yep. There is more persecution based on religion that any other factor in world history. Perhaps the math books might be saved. They might be the only ones without references to guns and warfare.

Our world is never just a case of black and white. It is always filled with gray shadows that lurk just beyond what we can grasp.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Slouch potato

I jumped in another car the other day to move it, and I almost ended up in the back seat. What-the-heck, I thought. How in the world does anyone drive like this? Then I started to think about it in a larger role. We (not me) have become a world of slouchers.

Think I'm kidding? Look around you the next time you are: 1. shopping in a grocery store; 2. driving down the road; 3. sitting at a gathering with your family and friends, or 4. just walking down the street.

People don't stand up straight any more. They slouch. They're spines are curved from bending over too much. They're chests are sunken because they don't keep their shoulders back and their heads up. It's become more than just poor posture. It's 'the thing'. Slouch and try and look cool. Somehow, I missed the memo that slumping down is cool.

Have you ever seen people sit in chairs they are trying to out to buy? It's pathetic. Men specifically, throw back the seat as far as they can. They need to put their feet up on something. If it's an office chair, they lower it as far as it goes. I've seen guys 6'3 trying to sit looking cool with their knees up their noses. To me, they just look stupid.

It's almost as if guys are in a movie and are trying to scope out the scene. Yeah, I'm cool. Let's pretend we're cops and scan the bar for bad guys. It's definitely a man thing. Of course, I don't think much of that. I say it's time to 'man up' and stand up. And for the women? Do you actually think any of this is cool? Or sly? Or whatever the current word is now?

I say unto you, men of America, it's time to stand up and take back your trousers! Of course, they don't call the them trousers anymore either. I guess I'm just old. Well, at least I stand up straight.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Sea of Doubt

It is with great sadness we hear about the passing of Robin Williams. His is nearly an immeasurable talent. I am old enough to remember his start back in the seventies on the sitcom Happy Days. Now, I don't follow celebrities, but he was one of the few I would stop and take note of when I happened to come across him.

He became much more than just a comedian. He was able to launch himself into a world of television, film and stage with equal success. His dramatic performances were as punctuating as his comedic routines. Few in any field of endeavor are able to perform at such a high level at both ends of the spectrum. Think about your favorite dramatic actor or actress. Could they pull of, regularly, the histrionics of Robin Williams? To do it once is an accomplishment. To do it for a lifetime and improvise at the drop of a hat is something completely different.

We all know he suffered from his demons. However, it is nearly unfathomable for the average Joe, myself included, to understand the depths of emotional trauma he suffered throughout his life. We all ask ourselves, how can a man who has such a gift, a gift freely given to others suffer such pangs in a sea of doubt and depression? When one encounters another in life who is spontaneous, we are instantly drawn to that person. They have the 'it' factor we all dream about at some point in our lives.

But for these people, there always seems to be an underlying 'miss' in their lives. Even the personalities of John Belushi and those of his ilk, suffer from illnesses most of us are simply unable to understand. Our minds can't grasp how one who makes us laugh, only seems to be crying on the inside.

There are others whose stature rises above Robin Williams, though I don't know that there are many that are more beloved for the profound intrusion he made into our lives. It should keep us all on guard. Sometimes the funny man on the outside, is the sad man on the inside.

His voice is now quiet, but his memory shall never be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


It's starting yet again. It has been many years since I felt the pangs in my stomach, the thought of returning to school after a fun summer, gut-wrenching. It's not that I didn't like school, but I had a lot more fun not being there.

Of course, it was different 'back in the day'. We went back much later than kids today. It has only been a few years since the first day has migrated back to August. For me and my siblings, after Labor Day was the norm. I'm not sure why the change, but, oh well. In the retail game which I play now, it gives me a little more time between school and getting ready for Christmas. The more time between, the better.

Of course, back in my day (oh lord, here it comes), we didn't have air conditioning in any school I went to. We opened the windows. I was in an elementary school last year that had no windows on two sides of the building. I felt so closed in in that place. It was ridiculous, not to mention architecturally an awful design. (Since I was in architecture in college, I can say that). Gone are the days of staring out the windows or just letting the sun come in.

Perhaps that is one of the problems with schools. They seem so sterile now, almost like hospitals. With air conditioning, I suppose school in hot August days would be acceptable, but what fun is that. Of course you do get out earlier and enjoy the last week of May. We didn't get out until after June 7th, as a general rule. (It just rains in the last week of May around here anyway).

Speaking of BTS, it's a huge shopping season. Take it easy on us poor workers who are flooded by customers. You outnumber us ten to one. We can't be everywhere at once and help everyone every second of their trip in. We are there to give you wonderful service, not to be your servant. We'll run out of things because everyone wants all the same stuff. Don't blame the staff, it's not their fault. Didn't get that eraser for ten cents? Get over it. It's an eraser.

And one more thing I had in school you likely didn't; nuns. God bless them, every one.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who am I?

It occurred to me sometime this evening that many (or some, outside of my family) may not know who I am. And by that I mean, who is this rambling50 guy?

As this blog has been going for nearly seven years, I think most have a respectable idea of what I am about. However, it isn't always easy to read between the lines for some. So, I thought I'd make this fairly simple ... this is me. (Wow, seven years).

I am an aging, 56 years old by last count, husband, father and grandfather. My family means everything to me. I would not be anything without the love and support of My Beloved; she is my world. Well, other than someone who doesn't sit still long enough to have a normal conversation. I am a grinder. I push. I set my eye on a job to do, and I go after it. Case in point, over the past couple days, I (aided by My Beloved) have ripped off a house full of cedar siding and pulled up room after room of carpet. I am a very hands-on kinda guy. I'd rather get my hands dirty when it comes to work. It is serenity; a mind-easing state of bliss. A good work-up of sweat is a beautiful thing.

I have been a retail manager for thirty years. It is hard work with a demanding schedule that changes from week to week. This type of work means having your eye on many things at once. Running a store is a complicated task. But, it has been a good life, one that keeps me up with the times. Training a new generation what it means to 'go to work' has had its rewards. In turn, they keep me on the ball. Otherwise, I wouldn't know an iPad from a crescent wrench. (Yeah, I used to run a hardware store. An awesome job, by-the-way).

I am fairly conservative by nature. I believe the world doesn't owe you anything. To help the poor is noble, but to help the lazy and intolerant is ridiculous. As a Catholic who doesn't really go to church, I still hold the beliefs instilled in the days of my youth. Nuns can make a deep impression on the heart of a little boy. They did with me. The religious world is by its nature, a man-made institution trying to explain a Godly existence. They fail often, because they are human. Clergy aren't divine. They suffer from the same failings as the rest of us, but to cover up what the Church systematically seems to have done, makes me hang my head in shame. THAT, is not a failure of religion, that is a failure of faith.

As I cast my eyes on the upcoming decades, I know my world will change. The world spins below us and our memories recede, and those close to us fade with it. However, what should never fail us is a spirit of adventure; a spirit of learning. Move forward or coalesce into nothingness. I believe one should strive to learn something new every day. I see the world these days often through the eyes of my grandson. He's five years old. Nearly every day is an adventure, a new experience, a new way to see the world.

It is through his eyes, his spirit of learning and adventure that I try to experience the last decades of my footfalls on this blue marble. His eyes have invigorated my spirit these past few years and to a point, influenced my writing. As an author, it gives perspective; it gives enthusiasm to the solitary existence of writing, for writing is just that; a lonely proposition where you rely on yourself to pull the load.

I am a writer, along with all the responsibilities that come with every thing else we face in this world. I hope those who read these pages continue to follow along on my thoughts on just about anything ... in no particular order.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's a racket

Now, I don't usually get steamed up about many things too quickly, but this did it to me today.

It has been a long-running argument over the years on whether the price of gasoline is true or if it is just a big racket, a hoax on the American public. There have been studies over the years by official government sources and the like that says, no no no. I find it strange that almost every year there seems to be a refinery problem that suddenly drives up the price of gas when the American public begins to get back out onto the highway after a long winter.

Here's my thought ... it's a rip-off. Why? Well today we found gas for $3.18 a gallon. I haven't seen that price in ages. My Beloved said, it's Thursday, and gas always goes up just before the weekend. I looked at the gauge and we were sitting just above 1/4 of a tank, and she hates to go below a quarter. We filled up and drove a couple miles down the road as we were on our way to rip ceder shingles off my son's house. It was a wonderful day for it; beautiful weather. Anyway, we stopped at an intersection close to his home. The price on the electronic marquee read the same as the station down the road, $3.18. As we sat there waiting for the light to change, guess what else changed.

Yup, you got it. The price of unleaded gas shot up to $3.55 per gallon. Now, I can see gas going up some, but to increase the price nearly 12% in the blink of an eye is just a sham on the public. It is nothing more than price-gouging, plain and simple. I'm all for free market, but it's about time the oil companies fess up and admit they are in collusion to fix the prices at the retail pump. That's illegal.

Perhaps it's time they are regulated like utilities as that is what gasoline has truly become. If government is that blind to what is happening, then they are part of the problem. Hmmm. Government that doesn't know what it's doing ... naw, that just COULDN'T happen.