Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The face that launched a thousand ships

As is the norm on our sojourns, My Beloved and I went shopping, as is our habit to do when we're on vacation. We're with friends and we hit some stores we might not normally hit when it's just the two of us. All in all I don't mind shopping when on vacation. It's only when I'm not that I hate it. Being a retail manager for sixty hours a week doesn't really allow me to enjoy being in stores when I'm not at work. It's kind of a hazard of the trade, so to speak.

Well, we hit a store that I'm sure I've been in before and with the recent topics of body shaming so prevalent in the news recently, this store gave cause for me to veer toward this topic. I like picking some clothing out for My Beloved, although most things I hold up, she just smiles and nods. The sizes were 0, 1, 2. Okay what the hell is this all about?

Then it struck me. All this body shaming is brought on not by the regular guys of the world. It's brought on by the women themselves and the fashion industry and style mongers they are so devoted to. The industry as a whole can't even put together a sizing guide. So often I've heard from the women in my life that sizes vary by store. What the hell? How am I supposed to buy something for her birthday or Christmas if I don't even know what size I'm supposed to buy? I once bought underwear based on the size of the pants she wears. Boy, was that a mistake.

All this shaming is ridiculous. I don't hear the men I've been around most of my life complaining about their woman's size. We value them for what they are, they way they are and we love them for that. The real men of the world don't particularly care. We're workers, businessmen, electricians, plumbers, truck drivers, managers and all the rest. We don't care. Women have done this to themselves.

When normal men see beautiful faces such as Ashley Graham's they think, that's the face that launched a thousand ships. If you don't know what that means, look it up. If you don't understand, you're part of the problem.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Horizon

There is nothing like seeing the horizon the way God made it. As a land-locked small town dweller it is something we are robbed of in our confined world. Although I love the sight of trees, earth-grown monsters filled with a catacomb of branches and leaves, one of the reasons My Beloved and I purchased our most recent home was the setting, however seeing the horizon where water meets sky is something that fills the imagination.

Do you see clouds within the mainland? I do, but nothing like horizon-filled cumulus puffs of cotton that stretch as high as the imagination will let them. I sit on the beach with my feet comfortably tucked into the white sands and let my mind wander. From here as the heavens open and fill with strings of cotton candy pulled beyond their breaking point, wisps of white litter the blue skies in all directions.

Their forms take all shapes as I see stuffed bears and running rabbits. Fierce dragons that roam the sky give way to alligators and lizards as their shapes meander from the upper winds I can not feel. In their haste, mighty steeds gallop beneath the solid blue walls, dark where the sun can not penetrate within their secretive confines.

It is these and a hundred other shapes that dance in their never-ending theater that hold my imagination this day. At the end of this week I will give up my view of the unending curvature of this earth and take with me that which I will carry only within my most cherished memories.

Until we meet again ...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Have a seat

No, I basically can't.
You can't what?
I can't sit down.

Having had a recent outpatient surgery for something very minor but something in an awkward place, I've essentially haven't been able to sit down for nearly two months. Sounds horrible you say? What's the big deal you say?

Well, in comparison to someone who is fighting a disease such as cancer or heart or kidney disease, it's nothing. It is however something I've never experienced before. I've never had any type of surgery in my life; heck, never been to a hospital. I think that's quite an achievement for someone of my advanced  years. One of the issues concerning this is ... I don't know how to react to this stuff.

Although I'm a very active person, as a retail manager who routinely walks thirty-five to forty miles a week on the job, you find out quickly how limited you are when you can't sit down, and I mean literally. Think of all the things you do during the day even while you're at work. You answer phones, work at a computer, have meetings, take conference calls, chat with customers and fellow employees.

Well, I can't do any of that sitting down. Ever try to do computer work standing up? It's not easy when the desks aren't built for that height. As a writer, one needs to work at a computer. For the first month I tried writing while standing at the island in my kitchen. I also flopped myself over my leather ottoman and tried to type with the computer on the floor. That's really hard on the neck and shoulders. The only other position is to lay down. That doesn't work too well either. Want to have some fun? It's a blast to go to a restaurant and eat standing up.

I did find out however that I am very tired at the end of the day and have slept very well. The reason? I've stood up all day. That gets exhausting. Those small breaks you get during your day when sitting down, no matter what you are doing lets you rest. You can't rest standing for sixteen to eighteen hours every day for two months.

Fortunately, my tushy is finally beginning to heal and though very uncomfortable, I'm starting to sit for very short periods of time. It's still not easy as this ramble is typed standing around the kitchen table. My writing has taken a hit as I had hoped to have the second science fiction title published by now. Oh well, that'll have to wait.

It's coming ... please keep the faith...and have a seat round the fire.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hobbled

I have been very lucky throughout my life. I've face no serious injuries nor had invasive surgeries to mar this awesome physique. I have always been able to fend for myself be it a physical or mental challenge. I've always been quite proud of that fact.

In my line of work I see a multitude of people coming and going. Most of them are fine on the surface. They seem to be able to have unfettered locomotion. I've always found it curious when someone needs me to carry something out to their car, especially when I'm several years their senior. I'm not one to ask for help in something like that. Why? Because I've always been fortunate to have my health.

Well, recently that feeling of invincibility has been stripped from my facade. My minor outpatient surgery of recent weeks has left me vulnerable to the slings and arrows of old age. Yes, I'm still a strapping and vibrant (cough, cough) young man approaching sixty, but I am not a person unable to lift anything over twenty pounds. It's a rude awakening when back in the day my normal workout was routinely tossing ten, 80 pound bags of concrete mix into someone's pickup truck, then running back to the other end of the store and loading fifty wet bags of mulch into someone else's trailer. Back in those days, most of the mulch bags were 3 cubic foot, not the twos you routinely see for sale now. It was a workout that rivaled any trip to the gym.

Now, My Beloved isn't fond of me picking up a loaf of bread unless I've had four slices of toast out of it. She worries, and with good reason. After twenty-five years she knows me. She knows I don't like restrictions. She knows I think I'm invulnerable to ravages of age, that I'll not face the foibles others face. It is humbling to have to walk past something on the ground and ask another person to pick it up. It's frustrating to ask someone in the store to climb up the ladder and get the heaviest damn thing up there and bring it down, because even though I'm the oldest person in the store, with few exceptions, they call me for that type of thing. 'Cause 'I'm the man!

Well, this 'man' has learned a humbling lesson. I have been around a few who needed my care to nurse them through their ailments and frailties, but I have never walked in their shoes. In the beginning, this rambling blog was dedicated to my life and observations, what I learn and feel as I walk through the decades of my life. Often I pass along thoughts on the world, but rarely do I pass along hard lessons learned. Consider this a hard lesson learned when it comes to the frailty of the body as time passes.

I have now walked a quarter mile in their shoes, and I have not enjoyed it one bit. This shall pass in a few weeks, but the lesson has been learned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Inside the rails

I am an aging, middle-class (I guess) male who has lived a healthy life. Now, don't take that to mean I've always made the best health choices throughout my life. For twenty-five years I smoked. I have been smoke-free now since January 5th, 2:15 am in 2002. My Beloved still thinks I eat like a nine year old, but most of what my diet consists of when she's not around is what I grew up with. I eat cereal nearly every morning, usually a sugar-coated concoction of some kind or Rice Chex filled with raisins. The breakfast meal also includes toast with butter and coffee when I'm not scheduled early for work.

The one thing I've always hung my hat on is that I have never (outside of having my tonsils out at the age of seven) been admitted to a hospital. Oh, I've taken the trip to the emergency room plenty of times over the years for a variety of broken bones, deep cuts and athletically ripped muscles, but I have not been on the inside of the bed rails.

On most of my trips to the hospital I have been on the outside of the bed rails looking in. Well, today I had my first inside the rails trip. The difference is significant way of looking at life. Now, I'm not struggling with an insidious disease or condition. I won't make that comparison. Many people face life and death on a daily basis due to their circumstances, often beyond their control. This is not one of those struggles, but what it did do for me was put me in a situation where I was not in control.

I am used to doing things. I'm not used to laying in a bed and forced to do nothing. I'm not used to nurses sticking me with needles and having leads taped to my body. I'm not used to being wheeled around the hallways of a surgical building with the breeze wafting up my gown. And boy, do they keep those hallways cold. Apparently my doctor told My Beloved during the after-consultation that I was a lightweight. I was out before I even entered the surgery room. Today starts several days now of recuperating; more sitting around doing nothing and forcing my wife to be my go-fer. Well, in my case it is more not sitting on my butt ... if you get my drift. However my ordeal will be over shortly and things will return to normal for me, and the quicker the better.

And speaking of people I know who are facing the struggle of their lives, my author friend Brandon Hale is winning in his battle with cancer. He has a different view on the world and is the author of the Day Soldiers series. I urge everyone to give it a read and discover a brilliant author.

Although I was inside the rails I can still make the claim of not being admitted to a hospital. (Hey, you take your claims to fame where you can get them).

Monday, June 27, 2016

The 1%

We have all been inundated by them. We hear about them constantly in the news. The term has leaped in popularity. The 1% ers.

But this ramble isn't about THAT one percent. It's about the other one percent. You don't know who they are? Most don't, but they have a tremendous influence on our lives ... a negative one.

Yesterday at the store I was working diligently to put product on the shelves. It's that time of year where we are getting ready for back to school. Yes kiddies, you haven't been out a month and already the notebooks are hitting the shelves. But I digress. One of the challenges to the volume of work to be done is speed. One must slice open boxes with precision, time after time after time. In the past, that was easy, but somewhere down the line, that changed.

Why? Because some asshole somewhere couldn't figure out how to properly use a sharp razor knife and likely cut himself into oblivion. By his (and I'm using that term as a general term for mankind) utter stupidity I am forced to now use a safety knife that couldn't cut wet butter. With my old handi-cutter, I can take the top off a box in literally three seconds. What a safety cutter does is shield the blade so you can barely get it to the cardboard. What we lose in productivity we make up for in the cost of the one percenter to keep his job which he isn't likely qualified to do. He not only costs the company money from lack of productivity, he also cost them money to pay for his workman's comp claim he brought on himself.

Think about the products you use around the house. Ever try to cut through scotch tape with the plastic cutter that comes with it? It stretches out most of the time and never cuts. You can thank the one percenter for that. Now-a-days we're forced to use products that don't work because someone stupid can't cut paper with scissors.

Ever wonder why lawnmowers have all those warning labels on them? There is a well-known story of two highly intelligent individuals who thought it was a good idea to trim their hedges with a running power mower. Yep, you guessed it; lawsuit. Now, I'm not against companies making safer products. Look at where the automobile has come from? The real problem is the one percenter who doesn't use a product the way it was intended and then points the finger at the manufacturer.

Even wonder why most commercials for products come with half the commercial filled with a man talking so fast not even his own mother could understand him? Warning labels.

It's time we take our products back from the one percenters and let natural selection take its rightful place again in the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Heavyweight Champion of the World

A couple years ago when Michael Jackson died I was wondering what towering figure would possibly cause more of a stir when they passed away. My immediate thought back then was Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately, the time has come and an inspiring figure from my life has now faded into memory.

It is debatable if Michael Jackson rose to the same level as Muhammad Ali. In my mind he was nowhere close. But, it was a different time and a different world when Ali, then Cassius Clay burst onto the scene. He was the first to be openly brash and the first to challenge the world with cockiness as the 'Mouth of the South' when he knocked out Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

The difference between then and now is simple; there was only one heavyweight champion of the world and nearly every living soul from Asia to Africa to America knew who it was. Boxing was a sport followed around the world and the heavyweight champ was king, not like now when there are about six different organizations who claim to have a heavyweight champ. Muhammad Ali defined a generation of fighters never before seen and perhaps, never to be seen again.

But unlike most who talk the talk, Ali walked the walk. Whether you liked him or not, believed in him or not, he followed his convictions which ultimately cost him the title. He wasn't perfect. Like all of us he knelt at times to his demons as we all do. But to his credit, he learned to rise above them and made a difference in the world and the lives of many. To me, so many of those who are called 'famous' or 'legends' of their genre never rose above what they did on stage or on the field.

Ali became someone who transcended the world of boxing and sport and became a true icon. The fact the he changed his name and religion never mattered to me. He used his name and his fame to become more than just a boxer. Now as I have said in this blog in the past, as a rule I have never been one to look up to famous people. They were not my heroes. However, I remember the days when boxing was on broadcast television. I was too young to go to venues to watch a fight. Hell, I was just a kid, but I remember vividly waiting for his fights on television. I remember the Frazier fights, the Foreman fight but I also remember the devastation I felt the night he lost to Leon Spinks. It was the fist time in my sporting life I can remember true heartbreak.

Muhammad Ali set the standard for the modern athlete who has become nothing more than a braggadocios sabre-rattler. Gone is the good-natured challenges between sportsmen. Their challenges are now nothing more than two bullies arguing in front of a camera just to be noticed in front of fans who are witless lemmings.

The Greatest is gone and I feel a little older because of it.