Category: life

So, What’s In Your Future?

You have the same future as I. You will not make it out of this world alive.

I went shopping at Walmart this afternoon for some odds and ends, including some anti-acid stomach medicine. Walmart usually has good prices for this kind of stuff, and I will occasionally find some other bargains while just roaming around the store. While I was perusing the shelves in the pharmacy area, I began to wax a bit philosophic about all the products and their uses.

There were medicines to take care of indigestion and other digestive problems. There were some prominent displays of medicants to take care of the other end, too.

Then there was the big pharmacy counter where there was always a line of people waiting to pick up their prescriptions. I was musing that these drugs would be meant for mitigating high blood pressure, correcting heart rhythms, combating cholesterol, prohibiting conception, helping to expel waste, correct coughs, and make things generally upright. Medical science has come a long way in the last fifty years, and now there is a medication for almost every possible ailment, and some conditions that are not ailments.

Of course none of this is surprising to anyone at all. I realized that people rarely die from insanity or other mental problems. The brain can become diseased, i.e., tumors or Alzheimer’s. Generally speaking, the brain probably has a wear mechanism such that it, too, will quit working after a while. It seems that if the brain, like the rest of the body, is exercised continually, that organ most likely will last longer than otherwise.

What kills people is that our bodies wear out. We are like automobiles that are being driven varying distances under varying conditions. Along the way, cars get tune ups, but we don’t . There is no way to replace our spark plugs. However, there are ways to clean our fuel lines, but they are not very safe. You can replace a fuel pump on an automobile, but we have yet to learn how to reliably replace hearts. Kidneys, livers, and other organs can be handled, but they are in perpetual short supply.

So, we find ourselves wearing out and running down with one system after another in partial or total failure. Our internal computer does not automatically understand what is happening to our hearts, bellies, or kidneys. It only feels what the sensors were designed to tell us. We only know about the pain, and we sometimes don’t know the source of that pain.

Internal organs don’t usually have nerve endings like those on the skin. I am not sure how pain is signaled to the brain, but I do know that my former cancerous kidney was almost asymptomatic. There was no pain, and there were no symptoms.

Our hearts wear out. Our abused livers and kidneys falter. Our mufflers develop problems, and our emissions become critical.

What does not change for many people is how they think, and how they look at life. I have often said that attitude is everything, and sometimes it is. When we face life and our progression into eternity with a positive attitude, treating others as we would wish to be treated, then we can say that life is worth living. Life around others has a synergy. We feed off each other, positively or negatively.

We are important to each other.

Rain, Rain, Stay A While

Now that the Chick-fil-A crisis has blown over, we can get back to living our lives. Today is Saturday, and it is raining. To most people, it is a bad thing to have a weekend messed up with rain, but I am sitting here in my little office rejoicing that I don’t have to go outside and work in the yard.

You see, I have had to do yard work all my life, and I don’t enjoy it one bit. When I was growing up in Memphis, Tennessee my Dad refused to spend money on a gasoline mower, and we had to use an old-fashioned push mower. It is amazing how strong one’s arms can get using a manual mower in deep grass. We had to do that all the time. Plus, our corner lot was rimmed with hedges on three sides.

The lot was one hundred feet wide by one hundred fifty feet deep, giving a total length of hedges at about three hundred fifty feet counting walkways and driveway. Folks, that was a LOT of hedges to trim with hand shears. My Dad was too cheap to buy electric shears. My brothers and I were strong little boys.

If you have ever been to Memphis in the summer you know how hot things get. It is always hot, and the humidity is high, making it one of the most miserable places to play or work outside in the summer time.

Since I am older and wiser, I hire local kids to cut my grass. They don’t do a great job, and they don’t show up to work unless they need money. I pay the young man who lives across the street $25  to cut the front yard, and he never seems to trim up against bushes and flower beds. That’s the way kids are but it beats doing the job myself.

So, here I sit typing away, listening to the rain on the windows. Life is good.

Life’s Lessons Crashing Around You

Last night while watching some unremembered show on the television, there was a huge, crashing sound. There was no severe weather, or even a mild wind. Even so, we knew immediately that it was a pine tree giving up the ghost.

Pine trees are like that. They go down easily compared to other trees. In the state of Georgia it is almost impossible to buy a house without pine trees threatening your life. We have learned to live with them, but wise people have the things cut down.

Daylight revealed that the tree had broken at almost ground level, and that its’ trunk was hollow. Yes, it had live branches, but its core was rotten. A pine can look perfectly healthy this minute, and can kill you in the next.

There’s a lesson in here, somewhere. People can be like pine trees, outwardly appealing but rotten at the core.  How many people have you known like that? Admittedly, I have known only a few of that ilk, and I have learned to stay away from people who call me buddy, and men who hug a lot.

One lesson learned is to stay away from pine trees, especially when the wind is blowing. Pines are sneaky vegetables, and can do you great harm. After all, they are all food for the paper mill and they know it.

The most important lesson learned is that pines and people can be no damned good. Stay away from both if you can, and make sure your core is solid.

How Do You Take Your Mondays?

Monday Monday, can’t trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Love that Mamas and Papas song. These lyrics are from the second verse, and I think they capture how many feel about Monday.

How do you take your Mondays? I like them sweet and rich. Many people greet Mondays with black coffee, cigarettes, and a feeling that things were going to get tense. Mondays are just naturally tense days, anyway.

It’s the first work day of the week, and the boss has had all weekend to dream up weird stuff to terrorize the employees. That is called management, and entire universities have been founded to teach managers to terrorize employees. Monday is the day of the week for managers to remind employees that they are the boss.

You can overcome some of this Monday madness manufactured by mediocre managers. First, show up early. I don’t mean fifteen minutes early. Show up four hours early and be at your workplace when the boss gets there. This takes some of the fire out of their boilers.

Take some time and plan your day. Always pick the hardest and most onerous task to do first. That way, things will get better as the day goes on.

Work through lunch. Do not join the Monday lunch crowd. Have a sandwich at your desk or workplace. This sounds like a suck-up, and it is one of those tactics. If you are smart you will have noticed that the office brown-noses don’t have as much to do as the rest. You can better position yourself by being a part-time brown nose without going completely over to the brown dark side. Anything to relieve the pressure on a Monday is considered fair.

Notice that you haven’t had that cup of coffee, yet. There’s a reason. That first cup of coffee at the work place is just another dodge to put off doing work. The sooner you get the unpleasant things done, the sooner you can have a celebratory cup. Save that cup for a moment when you can truly enjoy it, not slurping it as you dread what you have to do that day.

I have known people who would rather be in an automobile crash than go to work on a Monday. If things are that bad, you need to find another job. If it is your boss causing the agony, remember that managers are there to be ignored, not get in the way. If you fear the jerk, either teach him some manners, or go to greener pastures.

I am writing this on a Monday morning. I don’t have to fight traffic, get up early, or answer to some obnoxious boss. Since I was involuntarily retired some years ago, I have mostly worked out of my home, and can now give everybody else advice on what to do on Monday mornings.

Have a great Monday, and have a wonderful week. Now is the time to be thankful you have a workplace to go to, and a boss to gripe about. Be kind to that boss, you can never tell what he is going through with his management, either.

It is time to have another cup. Gotta go…

Galactic Abortions?

artist conceptual drawing of the Bussard Instellar Ramjet Engine
PIcture of Bussard Ramjet Engine from Wikipedia

As I was re-entering Earth’s atmosphere last night about midnight after a quick trip to the far-side of  the moon,  I had one of those flash-backs from my childhood better left un-flashed. Sometimes, things can be painful.

You see, my poor mother was a woman beset with a multitude of ills and pains in the posterior, most of which were children. I was the last issue of a prolific set of parents, and therein lies the tale.

Adjusting my anti-gravity drives as I set my craft down in my driveway, I remembered that little comment my mom made to me when I was about ten years old.

“I thought you were a tumor”, she said.

Back then, I had no idea what she was talking about, and went about my business of killing ants, or whatever ten-year old boys did. I was really good at getting them with a magnifying glass in the midday sun. I never could get the family cat to stay still long enough to see what I could do to that species.

It was not until years later, many years, that I recalled that comment, and started to wonder exactly what my mom meant. Originally, I did not know what a tumor was. In those days there was no such thing as a legal abortion, either. So, it took a while to put the pieces of the puzzle together about my mom’s meaning.

The poor woman had so  many kids, and her age was such that she thought her childbearing years were over. When that new lump appeared (me), she really thought, or hoped, that it was a tumor and not another baby. God knows, she had enough little monsters running around the house. I know, because I had to fend for myself against all those hungry siblings.

While stowing the stubby atmosphere wings on my T-91 stellcraft, I was grateful that abortions were not legal when I was born. Otherwise, you never know what would have happened. What my mother really meant was that she was afraid she had a tumor, and was really glad to learn she was pregnant. I think.

As my individual interstellar craft finished morphing back into looking like a 1991 Ford Taurus, I was at peace with myself and my mother. There is no way she would have aborted me. I am too important, and she could foresee that. Instead of becoming a doctor, as she fervently wished, I became something even more impressive and important.

I am the representative for Planet Earth to the Galactic Federation, as my nightly flights to the stars would seem to indicate. The fate of Planet Earth rests in my hands.

You should be very thankful that I was not aborted.

Journeys Make Me Sick

Picture of travel luggageAlmost every day on some television show, or in some publication, we find the metaphor, “life is a journey” being offered as literature, wisdom, or just fill-some-time dialog. I’m getting tired of hearing about it, myself.

If life is a journey then I am going down a one-way street in the wrong direction. Maybe life is more of a wreck than a journey. Why can’t we say that life is interesting, or comforting, or an opportunity to make friends and money? Why does life always have to be a journey?:

In our speech not only has life morphed into a journey, but almost everything else is becoming journey-ized. Television writers are particularly bad about this. Let’s see where this is leading.

  • Life is a journey.
  • A relationship is a journey.
  • A continuing education class is a journey.
  • A bottle of booze is a journey.
  • A joint of pot is a journey (technically, a trip).
  • A speech is a journey.
  • A political campaign is a journey.

We don’t take trips, anymore. That word has become a verb, having special meaning to potheads and crackheads.

Here are some other life metaphors.

  • Life is an opportunity.
  • Life is a game.
  • Life is a wreck.
  • Life is a bowl of cherries.
  • Life is a bitch.

Well, maybe not all metaphors are as useful.

Anyway, please stop using the life-as-a-journey metaphor. It is starting to make me sick.

Retirement’s Not Easy

picture of a broomA few years ago I was involuntarily retired with about six hundred other people from a telecom company. Since that time, I have been a stock broker, an insurance salesman, a car salesman, and a web site developer. I am still in the web site game, and I think I will stick with that.

The problem is that I have been so busy in my retirement, that I don’t have time for business. This doesn’t sound right, but that’s the way it works.

The day starts at 6:oo AM with me gently prodding my wife to get to work. It is important that her paychecks keep coming. I rely on her income to buy my computers and other toys.

Then, it is time for me to prepare for the day with an hour or two of cable news. I am particularly interested in the stock market futures as they can portend whether I will have a profitable day or not. You gotta keep up with your money, you know.

Of course, in the mid-morning hours there is always the opportunity to journey to the nearest coffee-house or other WiFi equipped establishment, and socialize for a bit. Using the cell phone for an office phone is the normal way to conduct business as you surf your laptop and chat with people at the other tables. It is a great place for people watching, too.

Lunch is just around the corner, and the buddy you have scheduled has to be reminded or he may miss it. Sometimes, it is a local group of like-minded conversationalist you accompany for the mid-day meal. This is called networking.

One must be careful to keep the afternoons open as much as possible because you can never tell when you will stumble across a real business opportunity, or if you are called on to babysit the grandkids. I always try to be flexible with my schedule.

I forgot the doctors. Every week , there is a doctor you must feed. If you are a senior, chances are you have multiple doctors to support.

First, there is the primary care physician whose job is to look at you and draw blood for all the tests necessary to keep the medical labs profitable. The primary care physician cannot treat you for anything. If you are diagnosed with an illness, they send you to specialists like surgeons, hematologists, proctologists, rheumatologists, and plastic surgeons or astrologers. Doctors are born under the dollar sign.

If you have anytime left, you probably need to do some shopping. Wednesdays are the best for grocery shopping because some stores give senior discounts that day. You might have to devote some time Wednesday mornings to organizing your coupon collection. If you watch the program, Extreme Couponing, you know this can be a really big deal.

I was able to exercise some control over my life until my wife announced she was retiring at the end of this year. Talk about rugs being pulled from under you! This not only a life changing event for her, but I am the one who is likely to suffer the most.

How can she do this to me? What about all those years I slaved away, traveling extensively, and having to stay at five-star hotels? Let me tell you, those were tough years. Where’s the justice in this retirement thing of hers?

She claims that she wants to travel. Yeah, sure. Now, she will want to stay in bed until eight o’clock, and will be at Starbucks at 10:00 AM to meet with her retired teacher buddies. If I catch her ogling at any of those sissy guys that hang out there, well, you know…

What’s a guy to do? Does she expect me to wash the dishes, vacuum the floors, and sweep the garage? Oh, the indignity of it all.

Work, woman, work!

My Daddy Was A Big Man

picture of my daddy
Daddy - circa 1940

He was a big man, and he was a religious man. He never cursed around strangers. He reserved that delightful pastime for us kids when we worked us on his construction jobs. He did not curse at home, just on the job. Daddy was a Deacon in Trinity Baptist Church, the kind of  basic hell-fire and brimstone Southern Baptist church found all over Dixie.

Daddy did not drink. He learned his lesson during Prohibition when, as a young man, he got hold of some stuff affectionately known as Jake Leg, which was bootleg alcohol that could make you very sick, or even paralyzed. He was sick for days, and my mother gave him such a dressing down that he straightened up, fast.

He did not put up with others drinking around his family. Most of all, my mother would not let him put up with anything that smacked of non-religious behavior. There was no drinking, dancing, partying, or breathing outside of the Baptist Church allowed in my young life.

We lived at the last house on a dead-end street. Occasionally somebody would drive into our little neighborhood out of confusion, and turn around in one of the nearby driveways, and leave. One Saturday morning, things got exciting.

Running down our dead-end street, being chased by a dilapidated  pickup truck was an old man, huffing and puffing for all he was worth. There was an old, ugly, toothless woman driving the truck, cussing the old man to beat the band. The old man was drunker than three sailors on leave, cussing back at her while running, and drinking from a bottle of whiskey at the same time.

It was a sight to behold, and a scene for the ages. It was a testament to the ravages of alcohol on man and woman, alike.

The old lady’s name was Mrs. Theade, and the man was her husband. I don’t know what the problem was. How in the world they ever got married was probably a mystery, even to themselves.

There was a bunch of us dead-end kids playing in the street that Saturday morning. With all the noise and commotion, we got out-of-the-way real quick. My, oh my! Was there ever a commotion. All the dogs, children, and parents in the neighborhood knew something was going on. We never got anything like this on our street.

At the very end of our street was a big, stout wooden fence painted in white and black stripes to warn wayward motorists that  they could not go any further. The old woman managed to crash the truck into that fence, breaking the top two-by-twelve-inch plank. The old man was even louder in his cussing, now. I think it was his truck, and one of the headlights  was smashed.

My Daddy didn’t like what he heard. As a good Christian, and a man with a family to protect, he took action. Did he ever take action.

Daddy took to the street faster than a two-hundred forty pound man should have been able. You see, he was a carpenter, and worked everyday in an environment that demanded heavy physical activity. He was still relatively young, and possessed great strength. People did not mess with my old man.

Before we knew what was happening, Daddy had snatched the whiskey bottle away from the old man, and  smashed it on the sidewalk in front of our neighbor’s house. I can still smell it. I think my mother could, too. She didn’t like whiskey, or those associated with it.

After his whiskey bottle and truck had been smashed, the old man increased the level of cussing, and made my Daddy the target.

You didn’t cuss my Daddy.

After breaking the old man’s whiskey bottle and taking a cussing, Dad picked up the old man by the collar with one hand and shoved him into the cab of the pickup. It took quite a man to pick somebody up by the scruff of the neck with one hand. That was my Dad. Then, he made sure the old woman got herself, her man, and the truck out of our neighborhood, pronto.

Mom was really embarrassed by the whole affair. She was a Super Baptist, and whiskey was high on her list of sins. Even possessing the stuff was bad. Having to smell it was not on her list of pleasantries, either.

She made Daddy sweep up the broken glass, and wash off the sidewalk, making sure the crime scene was clean.

Several weeks later, Mrs. Theade killed the old man. Daddy felt pretty bad about that. He felt that the old man might have been running for his life, and he had intervened in such a way that the old man’s early demise was guaranteed.

My Daddy was a big man, and a good man.

I miss him.

Bucket Lists – Can You Find Yours?

Picture of Angelina Jolie
Some Bucket, Some List

No. I have not seen the movie. It may be a comedy. It sounds like something with which I would identify, but much too closely. You see, I am an old fart, and the thought of dying, much less planning my activities before I die, is a little too…

All of this bucket list stuff is tantamount to planning one’s own funeral. It may be the smart thing to do, but it is a little scary.

These are my thoughts on a bucket list.

  • Mount Everest – I will never climb that mountain. Indeed, I don’t even like mountains.
  • Climb the Washington Monument, or The Statue of Liberty, or The Eiffel Tower – Remember the mountain thing? Same kind of thing, here.
  • Fly An Ultra-Light Aircraft – Remember John Denver? I don’t think falling from the sky was on his bucket list, either.
  • Fly To The Moon – There are not enough bathrooms or rest stops between the earth and the moon for me to do this.
  • A Date With Angelina Jolie – Get serious!
  • Run For President of The United States – I could not survive the background checks.

As you can see, the average bucket list can take money, time, and youthful strength and energy. Most people need to set their sights a little lower.

Some simple things come to mind with the less ambitious bucket list.

  • Take a trip to the World Trader  Center Ground Zero in New York City – Say, “Thanks!” to every NYPD, NYFD, or US milatary service person you see.
  • Forgive Your Enemies – This is a Biblical thing.
  • Trade Up With Your Booze – Life is too short for cheap whiskey or light beer.
  • Go Meet Your Neighbors – This will give you some leverage when complaining about their children doing wheelies in your yard. If they start with bicycles, they will carry this behavior forward to their motorcycle and car phase. A little effort can save a lot of pain.
  • Go To Church – This is important. Your immortal soul is important, and your family won’t have to beg a minister to conduct your funeral. Plus, with a good church membership, you are almost guaranteed to have pall bearers, and lots of people at your funeral.
  • Spend All Your Money, Now! – First of all, the dollar is worth less everyday. Secondly, it seems a bit crass to think of somebody marrying your widow, and drinking beer on your money. Drink ‘er up!

You see that with a little thought, a much more reasonable bucket list can be created. Just don’t forget where you put it.

They say the memory is the first to go.

Epiphanies And Games



3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience

Epiphanies happen all the time. This sudden insight can be a bold, extreme flash of realization. Some call it a BGO, a Blinding Glimpse of The Obvious.

This morning while in that narrow, hazy world between sleep and waking, I had one of those epiphanies. I realized that it doesn’t matter whether the universe began with a big bang, or that believing in biological evolution makes any difference whatsoever to the eventual fate of the universe. All this stuff just doesn’t matter.

The epiphany is that life is a game. Live is a brutal game. I think it is all about life and death, power and wealth, love and hate, etc. Note that there are different games you can play, and you can make up your own game!

Some of us chose to concentrate on power and wealth. Others go the love/hate route. I have always gone the game of random occurrence, or accepting whatever would come along.

At some age, we make a choice of the game we will play for the rest of our lives, and a lot of that depends on who we are, and what game our parents played. No surprise, there, but we don’t have to play our parents’ game. Even after we have been molded early in life, we can choose to change our game.

We are not tied to the game we started, and we don’t have to settle for one game. We can play several of them, and most people do.

So, what game are you playing, and who wrote the rules? Or, are there even any rules, whatsoever, for our life games?

Many of these rules change from country to country, culture to culture, and from time to time. Most people and cultures have a rules against killing other people, or stealing, or adultery.

Killing one’s enemies, or lying to those outside our culture or religion is acceptable to some, especially those tribal cultures with whom we are battling terrorism. They are just playing the same game their parents played. So, who is right?

If we don’t like the game we are playing, we can find another one, or we can change the rules. Why should we be constricted by such ideas as honesty, or ethical behavior whatever that is?

On the other hand, when it is all over and the universe has either blown up or collapsed, what will it matter what game we played in life, and who won?

Maybe it really is not about who won or lost. Maybe it really is all about how you played the game. Maybe it is all about the rules you follow.