Monday, September 18, 2017
Examining Unbrewed Thought
After all the "BC" could stand for "Before Cogitation" despite actually meaning "Before Coffee".
Honestly, my intention is to, in most early morning cases, examine my thoughts while they are still, like the coffee, "unbrewed", as it were.
Normally, our thoughts get massaged, and messaged, as we move through our days. They get layered over with "facts", real and unreal, information, opinion, and our own thinking process.
It's not that I consider these morning musings to be somehow "more pure" in some way, as I am curious, about what the brain is really chewing on before it gets served its daily dose of caffeine and variouls meals and snacks.
I have to honestly say, that, sometimes, there ain't much meat there.
On the other hand, sometimes I find jewels in the residue of my night's sleep or yesterday's leftover cogitation.
I am one who enjoys the hunt, the creation, the creative process. That's why I have a notebook, and several index cards, which I carry around in my shirt pocket, that are filled with notes and ideas about things I would like to say, on the table beside me.
I think one of the lessons I have learned from writing these morning musings, and others throughout the day, is that THIS is where a lot of my ideas come from.
I stir up the pot of thought-grounds, pour a little typing-water over them and "Voila!", richer, fuller thoughts, and poems, that come later in the day.
Caution, writer brewing thoughts...
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Pleasure Of The Great Outdoors
Big thunderstorm, or, as I have heard them called in this part of Texas, "thunder boomer".
I grew up in Florida, on Pensacola Bay along the Florida Gulf Coast, so, thunderstorms are not new to me.
However, in this part of Texas, dreaded "water from the sky" is not as common as it was down on the coast.
Over the decades, I have worked many jobs that took me outside a lot. Mama Nature and I are old friends, if not always good friends, in my boyhood, on beaches, in woods, and as a working man. Even my "fun" activities often occurred outside.
(Side note: If you are not from the coast and love on the beach sounds romantic to you, ditch that idea. Sand gets into everything....everything.)
Anyway, I have gotten away from Lady Nature, what with advancing age and other responsibilities.
It's always (Except when it's Summer in Texas...) a pleasure to reconnect with the Great Outdoors.
Most days, these days, it's through my sitting room window. However, today, I am taking the trailer to nearby Benbrook Lake, and am going to renew my friendship with Ol' Ms. Nature for a week.
Comments may not be as often as normal, but, expect the pleasure meter to be near the top of the scale. Nothing like a little quality time with Mother Nature to make you feel you're home, and whole, again.
NOTE: The above comment was written several weeks prior to being posted here, and I have been back from that pleasurable outing for several weeks.
Friday, September 15, 2017
It Sounds Like Poetry To Me
I write poetry.
Well, I mean, I intentionally sit down and write what I intend to be recognized and evaluated as poetry. In communications with others, I often read, "I wish I could write poetry..."
Also often, in those same communications, I read lines, honest lines of romantic thought, personal dreams, experiences, which sound like poetry to me.
In fact, I have come to believe that many people in this world, many more than those who believe they are poets, have poetry in their souls.
They are writing poetry in their minds and on their hearts.
Look at a mother nursing a new born baby, or a father teaching his son to ride a bike for the first time. There is poetry in the hearts and souls of those persons also at those times. It will probably be a long and well remembered poem, even though the words may never be completely formed into a formal poem, or even recalled in the same way.
I claim to be a poet and try to write poetry, but, so many of you, who wish you could be a poet, already are.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
My Father And Father Keating
Eventually, I wind up wondering what I am going to write about today.
Sometimes, I actually have an idea! Maybe I made notes to remind me the day before, but, often, when I begin typing the first words each morning, my mind is a blank as far as topics go.
Usually, something appears.
Father Jules Keating "appeared" this morning.
A kind and gentle priest, loving and caring, he forever was locking himself out of the rectory at Saint Thomas More parish in Warrington, Florida, or locking his keys in his car.
In his youth, my father had spent some time as a locksmith, and, since we lived only a block away, when Father Keating knocked at our door, we knew that Daddy had to go break into the rectory, or his car.
Not a whole lot of lesson there, but, for me at least, a good memory.
A boy watching his father emulate a cat burglar.
Actually, it was "neat" knowing my dad, to the right, could do such things.
He had been a concert violinist, had fenced, knew shorthand, and taught himself a myriad of other skills. A secret man the world never knew.
I bet there are neighbors on this street with interesting skills. I bet some of you could surprise us. Really.
Morning, just musing about good times and good people.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
We All Have Stories
I often (at least twice a day) write about myself.
Even when referencing other people and events, I am, at the least, presenting MY thoughts, just as I am now.
Most of us will never be famous, although, in today's world, we will leave a much more defined "trail" than most of our ancestors.
I do genealogy, and, before the mid-1800's, at least here in the U.S., it's hard to find out much about people unless they did something extraordinary, or, were lucky enough to get their existence recorded.
We all have stories.
In talking to people over the last 72 years, and reading their descriptions of their lives, I have found most people to be very interesting. Even so, I was a bit surprised to find how many people were interested in, or amused by, events in what I considered my mundane existence.
I write, they read...and some seem to like.
Each of you has a story.
Why not write it up?
Even if your children and grandchildren are the only ones who read it, at some point it will be valuable, interesting, informative, and, perhaps, even instructional to them.
I repeat, we all have stories, and most of us are as important as the most famous, but, are not going to have our stories told, so, let's tell our stories ourselves.
Trust In A Small Texas Town
This little display of trust reminded me the first time, about 1972, I was asked to give a piece of identification for a check/cheque at a local grocery store.
Until then, I had written a check, handed it to the clerk, took my groceries and left...as did every other patron.
However, hot checks had become such an issue, people writing worthless paper, and businesses were losing so much money, they had to begin requesting identification.
In bigger cities this had been a practice even before I encountered it in my small southern city of Pensacola, Florida.
Over the years, we've lost trust.
At least a lot of it.
You know, years ago, before identity theft became such a big issue you could find people's social security numbers on lots of things. Many organizations, such as the U.S. military services figured out that, instead of issuing individual service numbers to each soldier, sailor, or Marine, they could just use social security numbers for identification numbers instead.
Well, because of identity theft, the military has gone back to issuing individual identification that does not use social security numbers as have many other businesses and government agencies.
I believe most of us still WANT to trust one another, but, every day, we are reminded of bad people doing bad things, and, because of those bad things we have to surrender more of our personal data, and freedoms.
Still, trust is one of the most powerful components of freedom.
I'll keep on trusting until I just cannot anymore.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Praise For Not Doing The Work
It's surprising to learn that many a famous, revered, historical figure in scientific circles did not invent the knowledge with which they, and their fame, are associated.
Oh, the gravity of the situation.
In many instances, the "sung" hero of the literature is praised for recognizing, compiling, labeling, categorizing, the knowledge and lore of "unsung" experts.
Whether doctor, engineer, or astronomer; some poor shaman, witch, carpenter, mason, or sailor; i.e. the "common man", often had, and used, the knowledge for decades, or centuries, long before philosopher, mathematician, scribe, and printer joined forces to elucidate equations and theorems on paper.
In high school, I studied Algebra (I & II), Geometry (Plane & Solid), and Trigonometry, but, never understood the application, OR theory, so much as the day a nearly illiterate journeyman carpenter demonstrated, AND EXPLAINED IN PLAIN LANGUAGE, how to find the center of a 3 3/4 inch board by dividing a whole number by 2, because the two edges were parallel lines.
Science, and scientific data, are important, and powerful, yet, but, at bottom, most computers use a system of "ones" and "zeros", to accurately perform many of their most complex functions.
I guess the moral is, "Don't let scientific theory, academia, and intelligentsia, overshadow common sense and practical application."
Meeting Minimum Standards
I'm not talking about tough stuff like a rocket launch, or, when a surgical operation goes awry. Those can be tricky at the best of times...even for the experts.
Nor, am I talking about the fact that things sometimes just go wrong for one reason or another.
But, when a company, or individual, has a simple job to do, does not do it, and then doesn't bother to tell the customer (Yes, me.) that they didn't do it, or why they couldn't, then I have a problem.
I let my RV storage company know last week that I needed my holding tanks flushed, and my travel trailer ready to go at 10:00 AM today.
Drove up...no trailer.
Went inside, and people started rushing back and forth...without giving me any explanation of the delay or confusion.
Long story short, tanks had not been flushed, and, because of renovations being done to their building, they were unable to do it.
Quote, "Totally impossible, Mr. Baldwin."
I complained to the manager, and he had it done in 10 minutes.
I was not even so much upset that it wasn't ready as I was about the attitude of the guy who was supposed to get it done...
Another quote, "Not my fault. Nobody told me."
Sorry, Scott, yes it WAS your fault. It was your responsibility to make sure it got done, and you didn't. You even sent me a text message days earlier that you would take care of it.
Don't lay it off on someone else. I started looking for another place to store my trailer as soon as you said those words.
Wife got sick in the meantime and we had to come home anyway, but, still, people!!!
It Might Not Be Your Fault
For some unknown reason, as I started typing this, with, as normal, no idea where I was going to go, the letters of the first word were reversed, spelling, "gninroM".
I erased it and tried again, getting the same results.
Then I tried a trick which I had used before and it worked so I moved on.
Frustrating at first, but, it gave me something to talk about, right?
Many times in life, things don't come out the way we expect on the first try, or even the second. Doesn't mean WE are necessarily at fault, although a lot of people assume so.
Maybe something is going on that you don't know about or cannot even imagine. When something doesn't work out the way you expected, even if you seem to be doing everything right, YOU are not always the problem.
Sure, accept the blame and move on when you screw stuff up, but, don't just BLAME yourself because something went wrong and you don't know why.
Usually, unless you just drove over a cliff, the problem is solvable.
I think, once se get over the initial, "Oh no!" moment, which is normal, we should try to figure out what the problem is and try to solve it, not just give up and sit wallowing in self-pity, or self recrimination.
We all make mistakes sometimes.
We all do things wrong sometimes.
But, sometimes WE ARE doing everything right and something else is causing the problem. Solve the problem, if you can, and move on.
Monday, September 11, 2017
The Dinosaur At The Drive Up Window
To mix metaphors a bit, like Howard the Duck, I'm trapped in a world I never made.
In keeping with something I posted on another site this morning, we all are "stuck here", to some extent. We must learn how to survive, and thrive in the world which was given us.
I tend to live in the 50's, and 60's..
I get in trouble at drive-up windows quite often, because I ask for something simple, such as "an ice cream cone", or, "a hamburger", and then have to answer 20 questions...or more.
I walked into a donut shop the other day and asked for a Kolache, which is, essentially, a "pig in a blanket", a hot dog in a roll or croissant. I stormed out after dueling for several minutes with the guy who could not understand WHICH kolache, out of the nearly 20 available, I REALLY wanted.
Me at the Dairy Queen...
"I want a chocolate ice cream cone, please."
"What KIND of cone?"
"An ice cream cone."
"We have five different cones and umpty-ump flavors."
"Do you want cheese on that hamburger?"
"No. That would be a cheeseburger. I ordered a hamburger."
Life used to be simpler, but, science, and marketing, has managed to make life more complicated sometimes.
Ask yourself; "Have computers REALLY made my life that much easier...or free of paper?"
C'mon. Tell the truth.
Anyway, it's no wonder teenage kids can't even get a simple fast food order right.
Life's just not that simple any more...even ice cream's complicated.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
The Perspective of Time And The History Of The Future
Sometimes, this perspective is introspective, as in a great little article, which coincidentally, I read a bit later this morning, written by a close friend of mine, Olive Javier, titled "A Hundred Years To Live".
Approaching from a slightly different angle, I was thinking about how time allows us, as different individuals with different perspectives, to see progress and change, not always the same.
For some of us, this is history.
I remember kids in iron lungs, because we could not control Polio.
I remember my premature baby sister dying because, in 1949, we did not have the interventions which kept my grandson, much more premature, alive in 2005.
I remember when the word, "Cancer", was the same as, "This is going to kill you painfully, horribly, and certainly".
These days, I am looking back at "cancer" as a Cancer survivor, as are several members of my family. You don't hear much about iron lungs or Polio these days, and, fortunately, many more premature babies survive, living long and healthy lives.
People living in one era, and of one age, tend to see what is happening now as important, and what is past as ancient history. Well, history affects nations, groups, families, and even individuals directly and indirectly.
You AND I are the "history" of future generations. They cannot go back and re-write history any more than we can.
Maybe the future will turn out better if we write its history correctly in the first place.
Saturday, September 09, 2017
Nature, The Great Relaxer
Conversation With The Moon
Even though I was "busy", just being there for a few moments, in the shade of a tree with a stream running by, was relaxing.
Even I, the guru of "peace, calm, and tranquility" had forgotten how a few quiet moments, sitting in the shade by a stream, with trees around and a blue sky above with a few white clouds, can soothe and ease the cares of the world. It can make the sun seem brighter and love seem warmer.
You can go to the library and find all kinds of books on relaxation, meditation, centering, balancing, and so on. Years ago, climbing trees and swimming in the bay, I was relaxed, centered, and balanced, and, yes, those hours on the beach watching the waves, or in the woods as the breeze blew through the limbs and leaves, was meditation.
People have come to me and asked, "How can I learn to meditate?"
I guess one simple answer would be to go find a tree by a stream. Sit under the one, and watch the other. You'll learn fairly fast how to relax.
Nature can be the great relaxer, and, it doesn't require a prescription. There are no classes to attend, no lessons to learn or practice, and it's free.
Ah. I think I'll just stretch out here for a while, and relax.
Friday, September 08, 2017
Learning And Sharing Never End
When I was a child, I assumed that someday, LEARNING would be done.
I hated learning stuff, at least the stuff I didn't WANT to learn.
You know how this story ends.
I never stopped learning. I suppose, even at the moment of death, I'll be "learning" what that experience is like. Pity I won't be able to share it in my musings.
Half Price Books store in Arlington, TX), I was thinking.
It's what I do. I read some pages in a book...learned a little about love. Shared witty repartee with a dear friend, and learned a little about our relationship, and my feelings (all good).
Outside the bookstore, I saw a fountain with galloping horses, and learned, perhaps re-learned, how deep is my enjoyment for art, animals, blue skies, and that same bookstore, which recently has assumed a greater meaning in my life.
As all this happened, I learned, or, perhaps, re-learned, an old lesson.
I have never stopped learning. With even the tiniest things I see, or think about, or experience, I am learning.
At one point, yesterday, I was driving through Arlington, Texas, ticking off the ideas, impressions, and things I was learning, and wanted to share with you lucky people.
Don't stop learning...and sharing.
Thursday, September 07, 2017
Knowing The Facts or The Secret Of Kevin's Glasses
We in-truck instructors would meet our assigned students, two or three to an instructor, on Tuesday. We instructors would walk in the classroom, identify our students, and take them down to the cafeteria for a little conversation before leading them out to the truck for training.
Students were nervous, even afraid, some terrified, and we all had different methods for relaxing them and breaking the ice.
One instructor, Kevin, had found and old pair of exceedingly thick glasses. When we entered the room, he would be wearing them, holding on to the wall for guidance, and being "helped" by the other instructors.
The students, most of whom were already at some level of terror, and not knowing really what to expect from a bunch of "truck drivers" would get the most horrified looks on their faces, wondering who was going to get the, apparently, nearly blind instructor.
We would let the joke run until Kevin picked his students, and then, after letting them "stew" for a moment, and the other students breathe a sigh of relief, we would reveal the truth. Usually got a good laugh...especially from Kevin's students.
Often in life, even if we are not happy with everything that's going on in our lives, at least knowing the truth can make us feel a little better. It's easier to deal with most things when we have the facts.
So much non-fact information is made available in our world today. Instead of just getting angrier and more terrified, maybe taking the time to check facts might help us remain a bit calmer.
Anyway, it's easier to cope with, and, make decisions about, a situation when you know the facts rather than acting on uncertain information.
I guess, in a way, Kevin's thick glasses made some things a bit clearer.
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
Let's Blame It All On Them
Even more interesting to me is that we forget to remember that "they" also did it when the good stuff happens...or, even harder to deduce, when bad stuff didn't happen.
House didn't catch on fire today?
Maybe that's because there are laws, bothersome and expensive, sometimes, about the materials used in construction.
I am a caregiver. I do most of what gets done around here. Fact of life. When meals are on time, coffee is hot, laundry gets done, it's not noticed. When someone's out of socks because I forgot to pick up the laundry...that gets noticed.
Ask any mom how that works.
I get mad at governments and corporations, just like anybody else, when my desires and wants are not met, or seem to be ignored, or when their actions seem inexcusably intrusive or even destructive, but, I never seem to notice when my plane doesn't crash, or my milk provides the amount of calcium or protein I expect it to...or that rock concert happens on time, just like it was supposed to.
Actually, being an old guy who loves his peace and quiet, I might complain about that last one.
Continue to complain and blame "them". I intend to. But, every once in a while, look around and think about all the good stuff that happens too...like the internet.
Tuesday, September 05, 2017
When The World Pushes Back
Well, that's great, but, sometimes who we are, want to be, or the image we convey, doesn't fit well in the world, and we get pushback.
I have heard many people, including my daughter say, "Well, they just need to accept me for who I am.", and then complain about how people were NOT accepting her.
I had a truck driver friend who, that when he arrived at a busy loading dock, in the rumpled, slept-in attire of many truck drivers, he had to wait, and was ignored by warehouse staff. So, he started making sure he was clean shaven, hair combed, and, instead of a t-shirt, wore a simple, button up the front shirt.
When he got to his destination, he would put on a cheap sport coat, and clip-on tie, and go to the dock.
People came up to him and asked how they could help him, gave him directions and assistance, sent him to THEIR break room sometimes, and, often, unloaded his load sooner, thanks in part to his genuinely cheerful mien and pleasant disposition.
Didn't work all the time, but, sometimes, it just made him feel better to present a "better", or more professional image.
We can be "who we really are", and still make ourselves more acceptable to others. It's not a lifestyle change, just an adaptation for acceptance.
Monday, September 04, 2017
Where My Thoughts, And Life, Lead Me
I'm still waking up and, at my age, don't want to break anything, including brain cells.
So, when I start, I often have no idea where my thoughts and comments are going to take me. Even with planning; notes on the pad by my chair, or lingering thoughts from my last moments in bed, the actual pathway of thought and comment is generally as hidden to me as it is to you...until it's actually on the screen.
It's good that I can go back and edit. I can change words, structure, flow, content, and so on.
My musings are a bit like life. I know what's happened in the past, and maybe even a general idea of what's coming, but, the details are never positive until "down on paper", you might say.
Unfortunately, in life, unlike writing down musings, "The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: Nor all thy piety nor wit, shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."
Here, I can diddle around with my words, and thoughts, but, in life, we are stuck with what has been set down.
While there may be other "authors" writing parts of our story, we still have great power in our input. It behooves us to write the story of our life in a more planned and careful manner.
Sunday, September 03, 2017
How Messages Come To Us
We chat, text, make phone calls.
Heck! We can talk to almost anybody in the world with the technology available these days. We just have to install it and learn how to use it.
Of course, the media we use to transmit the message is never as important as the message itself.
For those of my era, I'm not trying to be Marshall McLuhan, here. "The medium is the message" was HIS message, but, I'm meandering in a slightly different direction. However, I've got to admit that the availability of the "medium" used makes the message more important, in a way.
One reason I write is because my mouth and brain are not too well connected. Get me on a phone, and you're likely to hear "er", "um", an occasional non sequitur, and just plain "I wonder why he said THAT?"
In other words, written here, I don't do well talking. I guess (See, I'm confusing myself.), that I am coming back to a common theme I have touched on before. Sometimes we have to look past the words in the message, or whatever else it contained, and look at the heart of the messenger.
If we know that love, admiration, and respect are there, and theirs, why be concerned if the words don't quite measure up? It's the thoughts, the person, and the thoughts of THAT person, that matter. Right?
Saturday, September 02, 2017
Getting Stuff Done
Lassie is busily saving animals while two park rangers ride up and down the beach engaging in meaningless chit-chat dialogue about how wonderful the world is and needs to be taken care of.
Not real, but, in a strange way, believable.
Animals can be surprisingly effective in getting stuff done, and humans can be equally amazing in their ability to overlook reality and concentrate on the "narrative", to steal a word from an exchange of comments with Chloe Flanagan, on LinkedIn, a few weeks ago.
In fact, while influenced by fear and instinct, which may be wrong, of course, animals often tend to operate based on accomplishing what needs to be done, rather than what they "think" about stuff, and what MAY happen.
You can talk to an animal all day long about the consequences of actions, or what they SHOULD do, but, they are just going to assess the facts as they sense them and act on that.
I am not saying we human animals should opt for one way or the other. In fact, we've somehow managed to be a walking, talking, thinking combination of skills somewhere between animals and angels.
They call us homo sapiens, and, it's good to think, but, sometimes we need to stop debating, talking, overthinking the Universe and just get stuff done.
Friday, September 01, 2017
Be The Person You Wish To Find
Some changes in my life, some internal, some external, have pushed me off the path of pity I've been on for some time.
Somebody came along and helped. Not a superhero, just a real good friend.
Sometimes, that's what we need.
Sometimes it's a big shove, sometimes it's gentle nudges. Usually it's from someone who cares. Someone who sees a different "you" than the "you" that YOU see in the mirror, or, in your mind.
Oh, it can take a while to find that person that we need, and, to tell the truth, I'm not sure what kind of bait it takes to attract them and keep them.
Gonna hazard a guess, however.
If you try to be the kind of person you want to find, I think you're a bit more likely to find the kind of person you want to find.
Could be wrong. Have been before, and will be again.
But, you know, "Somewhere out there..." They're there. You've just got to set out the bait so they can know you're looking for them.
Man, I need my coffee this morning. It's the weekend.
Ya'll stay safe, okay?