Monday, October 30, 2017
The Me Of Now And The Me Of Another Time
This sometimes is brought to my attention by some comment made about one of my posts, articles, or poems. Usually in some form of disagreement, which is fine, by the way.
At a "negative" comment, first I feel something like "you don't know what you're talking about..."
Then, however, I think about the other person's point of view, and try to understand why they say what they say, and, unless it's entirely egregious, I try to grasp their point of view. Doesn't mean I have to agree with them or change my belief, just listen, and try to hear and understand what lies behind the words.
Sometimes, at this time, I realize that they have stated an opinion or belief that I held at some previous point of my existence. Perhaps myself as a younger man, more easily aroused to anger at injustice...real or perceived.
Perceptions, and reactions, change with age, and experience, for, if not made up of experience, action and reaction, what is age, but measurement of time.
It was once believed that age was, in some way, a rough equivalent of wisdom. Perhaps it's not wisdom so much as the accumulated scar tissue and the internal memoirs that come with having lived long...but, perhaps, not prospered.
Yet, we DO prosper in many ways, not just the material.
Maybe my "wisdom" is my perception of life.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
To College Or Not To College, That Is The Question
I'm retired, but they work.
Every morning, I hear them leave for work. Noises from downstairs identify the morning routine. The opening and closing of the front door, the hum of the garage door opener, let me know when they leave.
They are professionals with masters degrees and jobs of a professional level.
Proud of them.
I once lived in that world, but, gave it up and "went rogue", choosing to follow a different path. The 9 - 5, enclosed office, working world was just not my cup of tea.
We tell our kids, at least here in the U.S., that they NEED a college degree to "get ahead". We encourage even the most uninterested child to work towards that piece of paper that identifies them as a college graduate, a "professional" in some field.
Don't mean to belittle that pathway, but, I was one of the ones who never should have spent those years studying accounting, or working as an accountant.
Maybe there was another degree I could have earned that would have caught my imagination. I'll never know now.
I DO know that I spent a lot of my life chasing somebody else's dream.
I've met some really happy, and successful plumbers and mechanics. I treasure the times I was hot, sweaty, tired, and proud of what I was doing.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Context In More Than One Context
We all know it's easy to take things out of context, and, yet, hard at the same time.
We see a statement, an action, an event, as a discrete item and judge its "badness" or "goodness" based on some immediate evaluation. Yet, that event is formed, defined, and assigned value by the context in which it occurs.
However, we sometimes forget that our own evaluation is formed dependent upon a context of our own, one which is a part of us at all times.
What we have lived, experienced, learned, right or wrong, is going to influence our evaluation of that statement, action, or event. My life as a boy, roaming the woods along the edge of Pensacola Bay, swimming and snorkeling in the Sun, in Florida, has had a lifelong impact on how I view the world, for example.
Even "where" and "when" we have lived, in addition to "who" we are, has its impact on how we see and evaluate everything around us...including our own beliefs as well as the thoughts of others.
I think most of us can agree on some basic "bad" things...murder, theft, intimidation by violence, yet, many of the bad and good things we see daily are defined by our "contexts", by our "contextual apprehension" of what is being said or happening around us.
I read a lot about "mindfulness" in today's world, usually applied to weight loss, success in business, or personal relationships.
Perhaps mindfulness of our personal beliefs, thoughts, issues, and context, might serve a purpose in our daily lives.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Notes On The Sharing Of News
What the "news" leaves out, or fails to report on, is the millions of kind and wonderful and exciting things that happen every day.
Social media has a failing.
Anybody who wants to say anything can, and, often when they do, as the "news" does, they tell us all the horrible and nasty things about us humans.
Still, among and around all that, there's all the good news, the exciting developments, the progress, the kindnesses and good will that the "ordinary people" on social media sites care about, share, and express.
I hear of people getting burned out from all the negativity on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites, and, I get it. I have lived with a news junkie, and I got to where I just didn't want to hear of one more senseless act of violence or evil.
Finally, I decided to look at the world around me, and within myself, with a different goal in mind.
There's plenty of people telling us about the bad. So, sometimes it takes a little mindful looking and thinking to find the good, but, as I look and think, I find it.
Humans have done terrible things for millennia, and that's nothing to be proud of.
Yet, we've also managed to reach for stars, save lives, and, in places, made the world better. I'm good with that sort of thought, and news.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Dealing With Things
NOTE: This article was written a few weeks ago. I'm fine now.
I began dealing with the effects of a cold about two weeks ago. While I have had to do things that needed to be done during that time, I didn't really want to. I felt "sick" and, without even trying, my body and mind decided that was what I was going to be.
My brain, normally active as a squirrel in Fall, actually shut down.
Normally, for me, as I went through my day, I would have dozens of ideas about things I wanted to comment on, discuss, or just cogitate about.
However, during my sick days, my brain seemed only to be able to concentrate on how I felt, and, fuzzily at that, the task at hand.
It didn't used to be that way when I was a young whippersnapper. I could be sick as a dog and still get all kinds of stuff done. The "being sick" was just part of the daily deal back then.
I don't know if it has to do with age, or being retired, and not really having to function in the "real world" on a regular basis.
That's probably part of it.
Well, good news is that the cold is easing up, and, as I was driving around on errands yesterday I thought of dozens of topics of interest.
Of course, I had forgotten all of them long before I got home, but, it's nice to know the brain is working in its normal fashion again.
Comes up with ideas and then loses them.
Frustrating as always, but, it's nice to be back to normal.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Just One More Thing
Police homicide detective, Lieutenant Frank Columbo (Trivia: How can you know that's his first name?*) had a "catch phrase" that viewers waited for, "Just one more thing..."
In the midst of apparently bumbling and fumbling his way through solving a crime, he would spend time with the suspect, start to leave, and then turn and say it.
A few "one more things" added up to a conviction in the end.
While some of us suddenly have big things happen; plane crashes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, most of life is made up of "just one more thing".
We, whether asking, or being asked for a favor, or a little help, tend to think of it as "just one small thing". However, to the person being asked, it is "one more thing" that they have to add to their list of things to be done.
So, being refused for "such a simple thing" may not be as simple as it seems at the moment.
We seldom know all that is going on in someone's life, or that they have already had to deal with leading up to our request. They may already have a huge list of "one more things" to do, or that they have done, and, our simple little request, may not seem so simple or easy to them.
They may want very much to help you out, but simply cannot.
Maybe helping them out by not asking for "one more thing", or maybe by doing something for them instead, may help them solve their case and figure out how to get on with their life more easily.
*Oh, Lieutenant Columbo's first name? Although never actually part of any story, it shows up on his police credentials.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Thoughts On The Meaning Of Words
I don't know how many times I have seen big blow-ups over some statement, that was quoted over and over, but, without all the words that came with it, "what if", "could it be", "I suppose it's possible", and, "maybe", just to name a few.
People wonder, people speculate, people theorize possibilities (It's sometimes called "thinking", even "thinking out loud"...hmmmm.)
Anyway, they often do this, we all do this, without really meaning that the speculation whidh follows the modifying phrase, "maybe", and so on, be taken as our final and absolute say-so on any given subject.
Headlines, whether in the "news", or printed on images, are short to grab the reader's attention, and provoke interest. They seldom are meant to instruct or define.
So, if you see something on a social media site, or in the news, that sounds like a headline...it probably is...and, it's goal is NOT to inform, but, to hook your interest.
However, if you want to know the facts behind the headline, you'll have to do some "due diligence" and find out what actually was said or intended.
Do this a few times, and you might be surprised how many headlines don't really tell the truth.
Monday, October 23, 2017
The Limitations Of Words
For one, they are finite, combined in multitudinous patterns in attempts to define or describe a nearly infinite, set of events, emotions, experiences, things, actions...perhaps even that list is infinite.
Probably not, but, for most humans it might as well be.
I was recently thinking about a single word, "courage".
I have seen it defined as "the ability to do something frightening" and "strength in the face of pain or grief".
Good enough for most of us, most of the time. We can all come up with images or memories of our own acts, or those of others, that fit those definitions.
I am also sure that many of us can think of acts of "courage" that might not fit neatly into those definitions. I'm sure a lot of semantic quibbling would occur, but, still, people do courageous things, big, and small. every day.
I often feel that facing each new day is a pretty courageous act for some of us.
Going in to work, having a baby, burying a loved one...the list of commonly courageous stuff is endless it seems.
Don't get me wrong, I respect people who do the extremely courageous things, especially those who do so for the good of others. Think about police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, doctors, nurses, linemen after a storm...the list is long. Lots of people doing things requiring courage.
Still, a lot of you, moms, dads, "ordinary people" (no such thing, really) do courageous things without complaint or recognition daily.
Just want you to know I am aware that you're out there, and I try to spot you and thank you. If I miss you, here's a general "Thank you!" I know that's not perfect, but, would like to day it anyway.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
The Need To Be Yourself
You get up, do what you're supposed to do, and then go back to bed.
It's the middle part that gets confusing sometimes.
"What you're supposed to do..."
Seems everybody has a different idea about what that stuff in the middle is.
One person or group wants you to do this, another wants or expects you to do that. To make one group happy you do something, say something, or act one way. To make another group happy, you do or say something else.
That's where life gets confusing and frustrating.
It's easy to say that I want to do something, but, along comes someone else who says, "But, if you do that, then this will happen, and you don't want that, do you?"
And, you don't, but, you didn't intend that in the first place.
Adam ate an apple just intending to make his wife, Eve, happy, and look what happened.
It would be nice if we could just do what we think is right and enjoy being who we are, but, sometimes it seems as if everybody else wants us to be somebody else and act like somebody else.
Not to be a downer, but, sometimes that's how the day goes.
I have to do what I think is right today, and I know some people are going to be wanting me to change what I do and think. Talking about people who should be letting me be me.
Not you guys, I'm glad to say.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
The Pleasure Of Being Sick
Being sick, which I have been with some sort of cold or flu-like thing, for the last three days hasn't been as much fun as it was when I was a kid.
First, since I never got sick during summer vacation or on weekends, I always got sick so that I got to miss school.
Then, I got to stay in my pajamas all day, and sleep in my parents' big bed during the day. Sometimes a lady named Maggie would watch me if my mom had to work. She was nice and would do things for me, but never smiled.
I would fall asleep, with her sitting on the vanity chair in the room, doing nothing, and, when I woke up she would still be there. Hadn't moved. Watching me, which she was being paid to do, with the same look she had when I fell asleep.
Once, I remember telling my mom to wake me up to listen to Roy Rogers on the radio. When I woke up his show was over. I was mad, but, mom told me she thought it was better that I sleep.
Mom's gonna be 99 in two months, so, I guess I'll forgive her.
In those days, doctors made house calls, so, that was kind of fun, and, if I was congested, like the last few days, my mother would set the card table up on the bed, put a sheet over it like a tent and run the vaporizer to help me breathe better.
From time to time everybody in the family would stick their heads in and ask how I was, as I lay there being waited on hand and foot, lying in bed all day, with comic books scattered all around me.
Yeah, being sick was kind of fun back then, except for the feeling bad part.
Now, you just feel bad and wish it was over.
Wish I had some comic books.
Frank Was Drunk And Disorderly...Again
Nice enough people, except Frank M., one of Mrs. M's older sons. He could be nice too, but, he had this bad habit of getting drunk and disorderly...often.
My father, interested in radios and electronics, bought a police scanner so he could monitor the calls and maybe get some "news before it was news".
One of the first nights he had it on, there was a series of calls between Escambia County sheriff's deputies about something going on at the end of our street, Cary's Lane, in Warrington, Florida. Warrington was not part of Pensacola at the time.
That Summer night, with the windows open, we heard the sirens of multiple police cruisers converging. Flashing lights were bouncing red in the darkness (before blue lights).
We were glued to the exciting story unfolding before our ears, you might say.
Suddenly, a deputy came on the air, "It's okay. It's just Frank M. again. We're taking him home."
The lights went out, the night became still, the radio was silent, and the room suddenly lost the excitement it had held.
We heard knocking on Mrs. M's door as the deputies delivered Frank...again.
Today, he would be thrown in the lockup, go to trial, cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars, and have to pay a few hundred in fines...which he would get from his mother.
But, we were a smaller world back then, and, perhaps, neighbors more comfortable with each other's sins.
Friday, October 20, 2017
Time With A Historical Figure
The first time I was sent with a message, it was because the person who normally did this refused. She refused because the request was stupid and arrogant. She was a civilian and could get away with that. I was a soldier, and, despite agreeing with her, had to go.
The German Noncommissioned Officer I spoke to, was roughly the equivalent of an American Army Sergeant Major.
He was a nice guy, and, after we agreed that the request was stupid and arrogant, and he helped me come up with a reasonably diplomatic way of saying "get lost" to my commander, he gave me a little history lesson.
In his unit, he was known as "der Spiess", or "the pike", or some might say, "spear". As he explained it, the title dated back a few centuries when it would have been conferred on the lead, or head pike man.
"Old", historical stuff seems really "cool" to us Americans, even though we think "new" is best.
Still, each day, he moved among his troops, and was addressed by a title hundreds of years old.
One man, connected to history, on a line centuries long.
Maybe not the pope, or the Queen of England, still, interesting...or cool.
Take your pick. Felt very historical to me.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Boys Riding The Storm
Okay, maybe not so much stupid, as out of ignorance of consequences.
The recent hurricanes reminded me of some of the dumb things I did in Florida as a boy. Not just hurricanes, but, when other storms blew in, my friend and I would go swimming in Pensacola Bay.
I don't know what the attraction was, unless it was that moment in a storm, or just before, when the water is flat, unmoving, dull gray like lead, not quite shining like mercury, surreal, framed above by storm clouds.
I sensed something when I saw that. An odd feeling of something strangely different from the day to day experiences of water and life. The bay was usually blue or blue-green and moving, constantly moving. Before the storm it got flat and still.
Somehow that spoke to me of some awesome power that could make water, that water, be still, especially from some unknown distance.
My friend and I would climb slender trees, and hang on, riding them in the wind, swinging our weight in rhythm with the wind, at least having sense enough to head for home before that wind got too strong for mortal boys.
We didn't experience the powerful hurricanes you read about recently, but, still, wind and storm enough to strike fear and create havoc.
We were too young and, well, ignorant, to realize the forces we were toying with. Yet, wouldn't trade a moment of it.
Strong forces, plus a hint of danger, a dash of adventure, plus lots of ignorance equals some grand memories. Had a pretty good boyhood.
Don't know how I, or my parents, survived it.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Pleasures Of Reading The Old Stuff
I go back, and dip into the Iliad and the Odyssey, Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers, Tale of Two Cities, old Roman poetry, and so on, for many reasons.
One reason, of course, is that I had the good fortune to have had a bit of a classical education.
Three years of Latin at Pensacola Catholic High School: Caesar's Gallic Commentaries, some Cicero, etc. Confession; flunked third year Latin. Sorry, Mrs. Semmes. You did your best.
Most of it just remains jumbled bits and pieces these days, pushed out of my cerebral cortex by hurricanes, elections, practical college courses, tech manuals, too much alcohol on too many late nights, and life in general.
But, that's one reason I like to read the old stuff.
Before there were jet planes, cell phones, or men on the moon, there was a Moon, and men and women who enjoyed entertainment, thought about "stuff" even if not fully understanding it, had conversations with one another as they tried to understand themselves and the world around them, and the "stuff" in it.
Reading old stuff, not just "classics", but writing from earlier times, is about spending time with them...people...like you and me...in their time. Dressed funny, and talking weird, and probably drinking really bad wine, but, still, like you and me.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Poem: If Children Could Understand
The white sands I walked,
When but a boy.
Then, but a child, I knew not,
How deeply embedded in my soul
Was every grain of sand,
Each whisper of the wind,
Every roll of wave, and
The bending of each tree.
Now, half a century, and
Many hundred miles
Downwind from boyhood,
I see each sight,
Smell each smell,
The place I felt so happy,
To leave so far behind.
If children could understand
What the world they so little love,
Will mean to them in later years.
Perhaps then, they would live
In happier circumstances,
Enjoying at home
The passage of each day,
Rather than one far day
Longing to return,
To a time and place,
They truly loved.
NOTE: Photo was taken by me in 1971 of the Pensacola Yacht Club, from across the mouth of the Bayou Chico
Sunday, October 15, 2017
My High-Heel, Pointed Toe, Cowboy Boots...
Sorry about that, but he started it.
Here's how it happened.
I used to go horseback riding in Pensacola, Florida. This would have been about 1966.
The area is car dealerships now. Back then, there were fields, pecan orchards, and a riding stable. I went riding every week for several months.
At first, I rode wearing tennis shoes, until one day they gave me an ill-tempered horse, who had a habit of turning his head and trying to bite your feet.
They warned me. Told me to just kick him in the mouth and he would stop.
Well, seems this horse didn't mind if you kicked him with tennis shoes. So, I rode him up to their store, went inside, and bought a pair of pointy-toed, high heeled, cowboy boots.
Got back in the saddle.
He tried to bite one more time.
I kicked him one more time.
Problem solved, resolution achieved.
Of course, in those days I had no more use for the boots, except when I went riding.
However, I thought they made me look cool.
When the army sent me to Germany, I found they had a certain appeal to some Germans...especially of the female persuasion.
A lot of times we do things that seem to make sense at the time.
Sometimes, when the real reason has passed, we find other reasons to keep on doing what we do. Sometimes it doesn't really matter.
I could have switched horses, I guess, and never bought my fancy, pointed toe, high heel, cowboy boots.
Although they generated interest, I really didn't pick up more chicks, and they hurt my feet.
The horse won in the long run, I guess.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
When I Was A Fool...
People told me, and life demonstrated, it seemed, that I was a fool.
I wanted to argue my case, "prove" that I was right. Even more I wanted "them" to know that they were wrong.
Finally, I hit on the ultimate solution: I was going to outlive everybody! That way the time would come when I could laugh at them because they were dead, I was alive, and I was "right" by default.
Over time I came to realize a couple of problems with that plan.
First, being alive didn't make me right, and, them being dead sort of took all the fun out of being right...if I WAS right.
See, that was the problem.
Ninety-nine percent of the "rights" and "wrongs" in the equation were "beliefs" and "opinions"...not facts.
It was then I began to see the real solution. Proving that my "right" was the "right" right was impossible. In fact, I could even be wrong!
That wasn't right!
Then I figured out the real solution.
I can only live and enjoy life doing what I BELIEVE is right. It doesn't really matter what others think or say about my honest beliefs.
So, they can be right, I can be right, even though one of us may be wrong.
As long as I do what I think is right, I don't need to worry about what they think is right.
Opinions Are Like...
Unintended on my part, but, bound to happen upon occasion.
When I write, I seldom really write about "facts", factual things which can be proven. I write about my thoughts, which are usually within the realm of opinions, and, as they say, "Opinions are like (fill in the blank). Everybody's got one."
I try not to claim that MY opinions are "right", or the only possible opinions...just my opinions, beliefs, thoughts.
Of course, not everyone else is going to see things exactly as I see them. In fact, their point of view may be diametrically opposed to mine.
I used to get really upset when some of this opposition surfaced. It bothered me, and, I tried to find arguments and excuses.
But, over time, I came to realize that the commentator with the opposite view had just as much right to his or her "opinion" or "belief" as I did, and, I was just getting miffed because I wanted to be right, and, like most humans, wanted everybody to agree with me.
Well, the fact is that there are many times in our lives that "most humans" won't...agree with us, that is.
That's human. So's being upset by their open disagreement, and/or inability to see facts...or opinions and beliefs.
So, I'm over it...until the next time, of course, and, that's my opinion on that.
Friday, October 13, 2017
My Words Are Fair Game...
Chose "bummed out" as a play on one of the discussions since it dealt with hobos, bums, and tramps.
That choice means I'm reaching the point where I can laugh and joke about it.
Point is, when people go in a negative direction after one of my posts, I feel badly. But, that's part of the deal.
I publish MY thoughts, which are not always going to be everybody else's thoughts. Once I put my thoughts "out there", using the words that make sense to me at the time of writing (i.e. before fully awake, or on a flood of emotion), they are fair game.
Part of what I do when I write is expose myself, at least some of my thoughts, hoping that, while people may be amused, they will also think.
If they think they have other opinions, I welcome that, and respect it.
I usually welcome active discussion, even if it deviates from my original narrative or thoughts...which, sometimes, IS just a story.
However, if I write about having ice cream after having my tonsils out, someone who doesn't like doctors, or ice cream, or tonsils, may say something that I feel is negative.
Well, I'm the one who chose to set up the situation in the first place. I did it because I am who I am. How can I stay mad at them for being who they are? N
ot everybody likes rainbows and unicorns ALL the time.
Okay, where's the leprechaun with my coffee?
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Strange Things Hanging On A Family Tree...
This thing in the picture is one of mine.
It's a blackjack, or "cosh". It's made of leather, has a spring handle to enhance the effect, and a weight in the end. Its purpose is knocking people in the head.
It's okay, my great uncle on my father's side, Appleton Calhoun 1867-1926 (hence my middle name 'Appleton') was a security guard, I believe for the railroad.
There's a chance that he used this well-worn little head knocker to convince tramps and hobos (different people) NOT to try to get a free ride in a railway car.
I used to have his gun too, a .32 Smith & Wesson Model 2, but, lost that to medical bills for my daughter many years ago.
It's a nasty little thing, but, still, when I uncovered this in a tub in the garage this morning, I was happy. It's my only link back to that side of the family, and it was nice to know I hadn't lost it...despite the injuries it may have caused in the past.
That's one thing about links to the past.
The past may not have always been that great, but, it was real. We cannot overlook the reality or turn our backs on it.
Pretending it was something it was not, ignoring what it really was, is re-writing history to make yourself feel better.
I'll just forgive my family for being who they were at that time, and not condemn them because they aren't what I want them to be now.
Hope you'll do the same for me. I will if you will.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
The group of employees which closed up the store at night, was responsible for completing a list of tasks.
One of these closing tasks was vacuuming the showroom carpet.
It's amazing all the little bits of paper, hair, and "what the heck is that" which can accumulate in the course of a day.
Although most of us don't go around staring at the carpet when shopping for furniture, keeping it vacuumed kept if from becoming an eyesore which could detract from the presentation of the furniture, eventually causing loss of sales...and jobs.
We can probably agree that it needed to be done at least somewhat regularly, and, based on the amount of trash from one day, I think "daily" was a good thing.
Point is, when a group of people came in to open up the store in the morning, they didn't have to worry about cleaning the carpet.
It was already done.
They really didn't even have to think about it. I know I usually didn't when I opened.
Morning staff had a lot of other stuff to concentrate on and get done anyway.
Life can be like that.
Most of us contribute something that nobody else notices. They're not ignoring us, any more than we are ignoring people who do stuff for us...that we don't notice.
I like to take time to think about those people and what they do.
It's called being grateful, I think.
So, thank you!
The Danger Of Not Knowing Where You Want To Go
I made a mistake, got off at the wrong spot, but got back on in time. Two other young soldiers were not as lucky.
They were headed to Augsburg.
Unlike me, they did not speak any German.
They kept reading their orders, and repeating the word "Augsburg", reading every sign, seeking that word.
Suddenly, as the train stopped at a station, one grabbed the other's arm, said urgently, "This is it!", and they both jumped off the train just as it began to leave the station.
I knew we were not anywhere near Augsburg but, could not get to them in time to stop them.
As the train pulled out, I saw the sign the young soldier had seen. It said "Ausgang", which means "Exit", in German.
So, they exited into a strange place, stranger even than Augsburg, simply because it wasn't...Augsburg, that is.
I am sure they got where they were going eventually.
Many of us go through life so intent on getting somewhere, achieving something, focused so intently on our goal, that we overlook, or misread, the signs and symbols we really need to be looking for.
"A little learning is a dangerous thing." So's a lot of learning, if we apply it incorrectly.
Perhaps NOT knowing what we really want, and where we want to go, takes us to the wrong destination. When you're not really aware of those two things, you can get off a lot of wrong "exits", or "Ausgangs".
Thinking About Right And Wrong...
I know that I have at times.
A year or so ago, I canceled cable and switched to antenna TV.
While I do get many current TV programs, a lot of what's available goes back to much earlier times. Lassie and The Lone Ranger...stuff like that. Columbo, Adam-12, Emergency, and Quincy M.E. Shows from the 1950's, 60's, and 70's.
What's really interesting to me is the evidence of social groupings, commonly held beliefs, and "normal" activity that might get someone thrown in jail today.
Sure, it's fiction, but, it reflected the thought processes of the day, and, watching from my imperial height of 72 years, it becomes plain to me how, in many ways, and, in many minds, "right" and "wrong" have changed places been redefined or assigned new or different values.
While genuine right and wrong might not change, otherwise they would not be right or wrong, perceived right and wrong goes up and down, back and forth depending on the prevailing winds blowing through the society and government of the moment.
It can be confusing, even without the pressures of modern, multi-cultural society, to decide what to believe, who to support, and what virtue, or vice, to admit to.
I just do my best from day to day, and hope everything comes out okay.
I have lived through seven decades and am on my eighth, give me a break, please.
My concepts and definitions of right and wrong may not always be the same as yours.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Poem: The Shape Of Water
Who and what we are is in the shape
Of where we find ourselves in
Life, and space, and time.
Water ripples, or made to waves by wind,
As the loves and hates that blow on us,
Cause our surfaces to alter,
Changing our outer selves.
Within, as water wild or softly flowing,
We remain the same, little changed in fact,
By all the changes made on us;
Our essential molecules remain.
Still, within ourselves, as pebbles in a stream,
Are small bits of us becoming worn smooth,
Slowly changed by the flow of tiem,
Making us different each passing day.
Expletives Deleted And Not Needed...
Now, I've been around. I've worked construction, been a truck driver, and a U.S. Army platoon sergeant. Trust me, I know what those words mean. And, yes, true confessions here, I've used those a "few" times in my life, and some YOU may never have heard of.
However, as I have aged, I have come to understand that, in normal conversation and writing, you can usually say a lot more, a lot more effectively, without those words than with.
There was a time that we got along as a society just fine without these being a constant in our lives. In fact, there was a time that someone would have been thrown out of a store, or even, heaven forbid, "gotten in trouble" with people nearby if they had used them in the presence of children.
Over the years, I have actors, comedians, and authors become rich and famous, not for their skill or abilities, but, because of THEIR willingness, to use those words in society.
I saw society change and accept that as NORMAL.
I don't consider myself a prude, social leader or guru. Just sayin' there was a time we didn't need all that.
I will probably hit my thumb with a hammer and use some of those words again.
The hammer won't mind what I call it.
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Monday, October 09, 2017
Growing Up As Part Of A Neighborhood...
He found a home for us, Mom, my sister, and me, and brought us down to Florida six weeks later in a 1939 Ford, I believe.
We lived in an area called Warrington, which lay between Pensacola, and the Naval Air Station.
Warrington had a grocery, a drugstore, a hardware store, shoe repair, a barber, a gas station, and other amenities.
Dad drove to work through the shopping area daily for the next 30 years.
We moved three times over the next four years, but, in 1949, my parents bought the house I lived in for the next 20+ years. I went to school in Warrington. We shopped there. All my friends, until high school, lived there.
People in the drug store, the grocery, the gas station, knew me as "Mr. Baldwin's boy". I had identity and community.
I think that is one of the finest gifts I was given, with health, and a good education...that feeling of being known and identified as part of a neighborhood, a community, for all the years of my childhood and youth.
So many kids today don't get to know that.
Always sure of myself as "Mr. Baldwin's boy", I also got to be Tom Sawyer, running off with Huck Finn on the Mississippi, or sometimes Jim Hawkins, aboard the Hispañola, at sea in search of treasure, with adventurers and pirates.
I did try to build a raft. I climbed trees and sat in them staring out at the bay, dreaming of Treasure Island, and listening to the waves, and, for the voice of Long John Silver.
I got to be a boy, living among friends before "growing up"...or did I ever really grow up? Sometimes I wonder.
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Poem: If Not Within My Heart
That warm and tender grandeur,
Which takes my soul to the
Highest of the heights,
Filling me with wonder, and,
Making me, a mortal man immortal,
For who can die when bound to
Boundless ecstasies of wonderment?
Where does love reside?
When hidden from the view,
Of ordinary mortals, yet,
Visible within all spectrums,
To the wondering eyes of
I, the lover and, you, the loved,
Seeking, and reaching for,
One another, touching in all ways,
You, the one most loved and,
Sought after with all my soul.
Where does love reside,
If not within my heart?
Saturday, October 07, 2017
Just A Cheap Old Christmas Star...
It's a plain star, cut out of some unknown metal, and painted white. The paint is worn and dull, and slightly chipped in a place or two. The points of the star are very sharp and could injure a child.
Such a decoration could not be sold, or even allowed, today.
I know how sharp the points are because I've been poked by them innumerable times over the last 72 years.
My parents were newly married in the early 1940's and did not have much money> My father wanted to decorate a Christmas tree.
The war was on, and metal was at a premium. Somehow, he and a friend got some small pieces of scrap metal and cut out stars and painted them white.
Simple decorations for a new family with a cheap tree.
Still, to little kids, decorations just at pretty as "store bought", and, over the years, even more sentimental.
I only have one of those stars left. I think my sister has another.
I've forgotten details about a lot of Christmases over the years, but, I remember the pointy, poking, cheap white stars my dad made for his new family.
He's gone over 30 years now, but, at least, one star's still going strong.
That's what love does. It keeps on going. Not always big or fancy, it lasts.
All The Facts And Still Wrong...
About 1995, I was with Host Marriot, managing a Taco Bell Express at the airport in Austin, Texas.
The airport's been torn down since then, and moved elsewhere...to the old, deactivated Bergstrom Air Force Base, I believe.
Don't think it was my fault, but, who knows?
Anyway, one day, Cookie, one of my employees, called me over to deal with a complaint. Seems the gentleman's complaint was that he didn't think we were doing our jobs properly, because the meat in his taco was hot, but the lettuce and cheese were cold.
Well, that's how it's made and how it's served.
However, the gentleman, who WAS very polite, was adamant that his taco should be the same temperature all the way through.
I was polite as well, explained as best I could, and offered a refund.
I sometimes think of him when I'm dealing with a complaint, or have one of my own.
Sometimes we are/I am sure that we have all the facts and know what's what. If something doesn't fit our idea of what's right and proper, we get upset, and, sometimes complain...if not out loud, then maybe internally.
Fact is, that, though I feel that all of us may have a right to complain sometimes, we might not have all the facts.
It's easy to complain.
It's harder to get the facts...but, maybe, worth the effort.
Friday, October 06, 2017
How Small Is The Road Of My Past...
On those visits, I was struck by how small, how narrow, and how shady, Bayshore Drive is compared to my memories.
It was always peaceful and shady, but seemed even closer, narrower. After years of wondering about it, it struck me.
The train tracks were gone.
I knew the train tracks had been taken up decades ago, but had not realized the difference. The railroad had maintained a right-of-way for the tracks and the train. Since the tracks were taken up, good ol' Mother Nature, with the help of landscapers, had been allowed to reclaim her land.
Big things, little things.
Even we change.
As this change goes on, it's natural that perceptions change. I've been coming to think of Bayshore Drive in the "new" way.
Suddenly, remembering how it was, with the train running by once a day, brings back a flood of memories.
Not just how it looked, but, how life was back then.
Nice. Quiet, except for the train whistle, and the occasional jet from Pensacola Naval Air Station.
I was a kid again for a moment, seeing it with a kid's eyes, but, nice.
Wish I could wave at the engineer and get him to blow the whistle again.
But, Bayshore Drive looks nicer now...prettier.
Even trade, I guess.
Poem: Upon The Path Of Ulysses
Soul of wisdom,
Exemplar of courage,
Chosen of the gods!
One cannot help but wonder if perhaps
The travel, toil, and troubles
Of your homeward journey
Tempered tho' it must have been,
By the constant memory of
Your faithful wife,
Was not the exact consequence of sin,
Longed for by one such as yourself.
For, no matter how far away the home,
Nor, how loved the warrior be when there,
Or longed for when not,
No other feeling can move,
The heart and soul of such a one,
As the next turn of Fate's coin.
That is what makes the warrior wake,
Leaving the cold and lumpy bed, where gladly,
Tired soldier lay down the night before,
To face a day which brings new challenges,
Designed to try the willingness of
The most willing of them.
Still, the most potent drug of all,
Is the knowledge that, at end of day,
Each has done, or was prepared to do,
That which common folk can seldon,
Screw their strength or courage up to.
Thursday, October 05, 2017
A Fear Of Flying..And Other Things...
Not sure what got rid of it...maybe my first marriage. That was enough to make me think I could handle anything.
Anyway, on one flight, my boss, a PhD psychologist, tried to talk me out of it in a clinical way. He told me just to shut my eyes, and imagine myself riding horses with him on his little patch of land, which we had done a few days earlier.
After a minute of this, I burst out, "Shut up, Richard! We're in a metal coffin in the air and we're all gonna die!"
Said it rather loudly, so I wasn't too popular for the remainder of that flight. Kind of miffed my boss too.
He gave up, and I white-knuckled it to the destination.
Even I laugh at the story now, as I doze off while the plane's taking off, landing, or at any part of the flight.
The point is, that when we believe something, believe it to our very core, just throwing some words at us isn't going to make us change our minds.
Richard even tried to quote statistics about the safety of flying. I had heard them all. They didn't do anything to ease my irrational fear of flying.
I guess that's also the point.
If we believe, often even the facts won't be enough to change our fear of failure or expectation of defeat.
We don't want to let go of belief, even when we know we are wrong.
Still, the plane did land safely, and you and I have done a lot of things we thought we couldn't. Guess that's the real story here.
Poem: Old Sights Through New Eyes
Many years ago, as a small boy, already immersed in the age of automobiles and airplanes, I saw, a couple of times, an old farmer come into my hometown of Pensacola, Florida. He was riding in an old wagon drawn by an old mule.
Quite a sight for a young lad as I was.
The following poem came to me a few nights ago (8/14/2017), as I was thinking about that young boy and the old farmer with his mule.
Old dusty dirt-colored farmer,
In his old, frayed and, once blue, now faded, overalls,
Guiding his old, weary, dun-colored mule,
Pulling the old, unpainted wooden wagon,
With the old, rusty, iron-rimmed wheels,
Rattling on the old, gray, cobbled streets,
Of the dozing old, Gulf Coast town...
Old hat, to the old.
But, seen with the bright eyes of a boy,
A dazzling new sight.
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
News, Information, And Knowledge
Most of us cannot "manufacture" knowledge, we have to arrive at it by keeping up with news and information. But, there are a lot of people on the internet who are manufacturing "news" and "information".
There are websites which specialize in publishing parodies of real news.
In other words, fake news.
There are websites where people can publish almost any story they like...even here.
Many of these websites are very professional looking, and some even mimic "real" news and information sites.
That's bad enough, but, compounding the problem are those people who don't check the validity of the story they are reading or sharing, or the reliability of the site...many of which state on their home page that they publish parodies of the news.
Believing what you see on these so-called "news" sites is the same as believing a Saturday Night Live comedy routine is news.
Another problem is, that once it's on the internet, true or false, the story assumes its own life, grows its own followers, and, is promoted and passed to friends on social media and through email, by others who either do not know it's false, or don't care.
Do the legwork, folks. Do your "due diligence".
Before you post or re-post, check to see it that "information" and "news" that you like or hate so much, is actually the truth.
Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Perking Somebody Up Just Because...
Doesn't have to be over the phone, of course. Face-to-face, even a letter or postcard, from someone close can really pick up your day.
Obviously, the more intense the relationship, the more love and connection between the people, the more rewarding the message, but, even a thoughtful note from a friend can lift someone's spirits.
Honestly, as much as I write, I'm not too good at this "writing to people" stuff. So, I'm thinking and writing about this to remind myself, as much as anybody else, that, reaching out to touch someone may take an effort, but, if you really care about them, it may be worth the effort.
My mom, who is going to be 100 in December, says that every day she goes to the mailbox, and usually finds a letter from a friend who writes her almost every day. Other than that, however, it's mainly bills and advertisements.
Oh, I call once or twice a week.
Really should put a letter or postcard in the mail though. She needs to know somebody's thinking of her between phone calls.
I bet you know somebody who would love to hear from you.
Trust me, a few words, a note, from a loved one can change your whole day, week, maybe even your life.
Just musing in the morning.