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Archive for January, 2016

America’s Hitler

Remember the good old days, right after WWII, when smoking was cool and getting drunk as a skunk on anything and everything you could get your hands on was considered a trip? Do you recall the days when your cough was treated with terpenhydrate and codeine or Cheracol cough syrup, another one loaded with codeine. Boy, those were the days…well, at least until ‘terps’ was pulled from drug store shelves and Cheracol became a prescription item. With all of the crap that was passed off as good and cool, it’s a wonder any of us lived to 65 and yet, somehow, many of us made it.

“Drug abuse has plagued the American continent since the 1800s, when morphine, heroin and cocaine were hailed for their amazing curative properties. By the mid-20th century, however, illicit drug use was all but eradicated in the US through focused national and global suppression of the industry. All that changed in the 1960s when many new and exotic drugs, such as LSD and other hallucinogens, amphetamines and marijuana, became more readily available.” Today, the war on drugs in the US appears to be a losing battle as the cartels south of the border create newer and more lethal potions and find better ways of getting their drugs across borders and into the United States.

We now have a new drug sweeping the country. It is a drug that, in some way, shape, or form, affects every single citizen. It’s known by many names. Some call it anger; others call it fear; a few call it jealousy or envy, while still more don’t even have a name for it. I’ve named it “stupidity.” That’s right, stupidity is the drug of choice for Americans in this, the earliest decades of the 21st Century.

The worst part of the stupidity drug is that we don’t even know that we’re becoming addicted to it. We have stopped using our own brains and allowed others to tell us what we should or should not believe, and that, my friends, is stupidity. When a candidate seeking to become his party’s candidate for the highest office in the land, tells us that we are a nation without borders, we accept it, rather than saying, “Hey, our border on the east is the Atlantic Ocean; on the west it’s the Pacific; on the north it’s the nation of Canada, our friends. Yes, on the south we have some problems, but please, don’t try to tell me that we don’t have borders because that is an idiotic, stupid, fear-mongering statement that is just not true. Of course it’s Donald Trump. It’s Trump because he’s a panderer and a carpet bagger who can appeal to the basest instincts of stupid and fear-infected people.

No one wants to be told they are stupid. Not a soul wants to be told that they are afraid. It’s insulting and an invitation to violent reaction. The trouble is that it’s true. This is evidenced by the number of people who are attending the meetings that Trump holds to promote his desire to be the Republican nominee for President. Will all of the people who are attending his meetings go to the polls and vote for him or are they there just to watch a circus performer in action? There are those who say, “Pay him no mind and he will destroy himself.” Good God, he’s said enough to destroy himself over and over and over again, yet his poll numbers continue to rise, and people turn out to see him. He’s afraid to show up at a debate and the news media hop all over what else it is that he’ll be doing. “Pay him not mind?” He is a media whore, and the only way to make him disappear is to stop covering his inane actions. Trump says that he will make money for the veterans when he skips the last debate. Veterans’ organizations say, “We don’t want any money that is merely the attempt of a political figure to draw attention.”

Here I am, writing about this prima donna…again. Does that mean that I’m one of those whores covering his actions? Oh, Lord, I certainly hope not. I just hope that the nation will come to its senses and stop considering America’s Hitler a viable candidate for President of the United States.

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Up, up in the air

The New England Patriots flew to Denver on Saturday morning ‘prepared’ to challenge the Denver Broncos for the AFC football championship. That’s a joke folks.

I’m quite certain you’ve heard the old expression, “Man plans and God laughs.” It truly fits in this situation. Bill Belichik and his coaching staff had, in all probability, a game plan that was adequate to surpass the game plan of Gary Kubiak and the Broncos staff.  However, for some unknown reason, the Patriots’ brain trust failed to take into account one factor that is the difference between playing at sea level and playing a mile above sea level.

Anyone who has ever been to Denver or its surroundings for a day, a week, or months will explain that it takes a bit of time to get used to the altitude change. And please, please do not use that worn out cliché that these are professional athletes who are so conditioned that altitude would make no difference to them; that’s a bunch of malarkey. I don’t care who you are, e.g., Gronkowski and his leg cramps, you are affected by Denver’s altitude.

I was shocked that the Patriots stayed in Foxboro until Saturday morning. I found it difficult to believe that there wasn’t a single soul in that organization that considered the altitude change. This is not by way of making excuses for the Patriots; they were beaten fair and square by the Broncos. They weren’t beaten by Peyton Manning or by the Denver defense or special teams; they were beaten because Denver, on January 24, 2016 was the better team. Would traveling to Denver on Tuesday or Wednesday of the week following their victory over the Chiefs have mattered? I really don’t know, but it couldn’t have hurt to practice at altitude.

If you’ve never been to the mile high city, let me tell you a couple of things: The first thing you notice as you’re walking through the airport…and it’s a big, big airport, is that you find yourself catching your breath a bit more often. If you are, were, or even if never a smoker, things get worse. You also will find that you’re thirsty. Drink water, my friend, drink lots and lots of water! Some people will, after a short period of time, actually develop nosebleeds. I’m not kidding. Altitude changes from sea level to a mile ‘up’ can be quite intense.

My son worked for USA Swimming outside of Denver. He was there for approximately four years. As a coach and former athlete, he knows the importance of keeping in shape, and even during his stint in Colorado, he would go for daily runs. When he would come back to New England to visit friends, they would often say, “Let’s go for a run.” It was a statement they inevitably regretted. When one has trained or even just adapted to altitude training, the difference is remarkable. As he said, he’d just be getting started when his fellow runners were “sucking wind.”

So, don’t hold it against the New England Patriots football team that they lost in Denver. Would they have won had the game been played in New England? I have no idea. Certainly, the Broncos players would have adapted better to playing at sea level, but who can honestly say that this just wasn’t a game the Patriots were supposed to win. Personally, I believe that if the New England team had trained at some place like the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the outcome might have been different.

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They tell me that America is angry. “At what,” I ask, but they won’t answer.

They tell me that they’re going to make America great again. “How,” I ask, and they give me bullshit platitudes that don’t answer my question.

They tell me that they will make Wall Street pay their fair share of taxes. I didn’t realize that streets paid taxes, and if they’re talking about the people on Wall Street who have made money by making wise investments, I have to ask, “Just because those people may be more intelligent than the rest of us, why are you going to penalize them? Will you go after everyone who has made millions because they created something or invested wisely? Or are you saying that everyone who works on Wall Street is a criminal?”

They say they will “stand up to Wall Street.” Okay, stand up…then what are you going to do? After all, Wall Street has made significant contributions to a number of campaigns.

They say that they will break up the big banks, and again, I ask, “How will you do that?” but no one seems to hear my question.

They say that they will ensure that everyone has health care, but don’t we already have an Affordable Health Care Act that needs just a bit of tweaking? Are they saying that they will throw out one plan and bring in another? Hell, it took seven Presidents attempts before we even got the one we have now.

They say that we will build a wall all along our southern border to prevent illegal aliens and drugs from coming into the country, but that border is nearly 2,000 miles long. Although the Great Wall of China is nearly twice that length, it took thousands of years to build. What if the next President doesn’t see the necessity of such a wall? Second, it seems to me that alien and drug smuggling is done more by tunnels now. How deep will the foundation be for this wall…pyramid deep?

They say, “We will take care of the veterans?” What does that mean?

They say, “We will take care of our service men? Same question.

In other words, politicians, whether in office or merely running to become a party candidate for the top job in the nation are nothing more than preying on the gullible American public. Are people in America angry? Of course, they are. I can walk into the gym on any morning during the week and find half a dozen people who are pissed off about something. Blacks are angry because they get shot by white police officers. If a black police officer kills anyone, black or white, there won’t be a hue and cry…not unless someone happens to catch the police in the act as in the case of Freddie Gray. Whites are angry because they don’t have the education to get anything but shit jobs, and they want a minimum wage that will help to make a living wage, and I can’t argue with that. Employers are angry because if they have to increase the wages, they’ll have to increase the prices. That means two things: (1) they won’t net as much money for themselves; and, (2) they will lose customers to some place that won’t raise wages.

The world is one vicious cycle after another. There is no Utopia. What there is cannot be cured by campaign slogans or vague promises. It does not matter who says what. Americans are among the most impatient people in the world. “Now” is not soon enough. Well, let me tell you something my fellow citizens; in the two-hundred and twenty-eight years since we banished the British from our shores, we have done pretty goddamned well compared to a number of other nations, and just because you can’t afford to buy an Apple watch or a Tesla motor car or send your kid to an Ivy League college, that’s your problem. It is not a problem for the nation. Own it, you dumb son-of-a-bitch. Take a little bit of responsibility for your own shortcomings.

When I coached Little League Baseball, not everyone who tried out made a team. Kids learned to live with disappointment. Today, everyone must play on a team, even if it’s the parents and not the children who wish to play. Today, kid’s lives are so programmed that if they were told, “Go out in the backyard and play until dinner is ready,” they wouldn’t have a clue about what they should do. “Here, this is called a doll; play with it.” You’d shatter their world. “What does it do? Where’s the on switch for the computer in it?” Does it walk, talk, and crawl on its belly like a reptile?” It’s a friggin’ doll, kid. Do what your grandmother did with hers. You’d expect to see the kid’s hair go up in smoke and the top of its head pop off.

Yes, of course America has problems; of course there will always be anger. We are not a perfect country, thank God. I say that because for all of our imperfections, there are always people in our country who are trying to make things better. They are not the politicians. They are the citizens of Flint, Michigan who said, “Enough is enough. We’re not going to let our kids drink water that will kill them,” and they have made enough of a stink that something is being done. They are the ranchers who have taken over the Oregon wild life refuge compound in defense of others and who claim that the government is unfairly taking their land. They are the blacks in Chicago who saw a child get shot 16 times and who refused to allow a police cover-up.  But…and that is a huge “but,” these are the same people who will listen to bullshit politicians and keep electing them to office because of their vague promises to make changes that just never seem to happen. They don’t happen and the bullshit politicians won’t accept responsibility. Oh, they blame others, but they never blame themselves…and no one holds them accountable for not delivering on their vague promises.

When a politician makes a promise, ask him or her how they will accomplish change? Ask that question five times. Each time they try to say exactly how, ask again…and again….and again…and again. Don’t allow them to get away with dismissing you or not answering. When they do that, their true character comes out, and that character says, “You are a pain in the ass and I really don’t care about you. Go away because you’re too intelligent for me, and I don’t have the answer!”

And the truth is, that is the best answer they could give.

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By ???

But I am just an old, old man and I cannot make things change.

When I was young I didn’t care; the world could get along without my becoming irritated at the things I didn’t like. It did…and I watched…and I didn’t make my voice heard…and I didn’t see all the ills of the world, and if I did, they didn’t seem to affect me. Me, me, me, that was my world, and I couldn’t see that it wasn’t just me.

I didn’t march when I should have marched, but what good would it have done. I should have recognized the Vietnam ‘conflict’ for what it was, but I was a ‘hawk’ and too stupid to realize that even hawks can make mistakes.  I should have cried out for women’s rights, but I was a sole voice in the crowd…and what good would it have done. I should have become a better writer, to scream at the wrongs that were never put right, but what good would it have done?

I grew up in a time when you listened to your folks when they told you not to speak out; I grew up in a time when my Dad could be fired for what I might say…so I said nothing…and I was wrong. And now; now I am just an old, old man and it’s getting too late for me to cry loudly enough to make change.

Yet, if I don’t speak out, how will they know? Mine cannot be the only voice or brain or whatever that remembers what happened when we were not allowed to speak out. And so I speak; I speak out and say my piece…but they laugh. “You are just an old, old man. You know nothing. Things were different. You are too old to know.” As though I was never young; as though I never saw; as though I have nothing to say.

Should I die…no, when I die and go before the almighty judge or judges, what will they say? Will they look at me and say “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. You did not speak out when you were meant to speak. You did not tell them the importance of caring for the blue marble; you did not tell them that the third rock can be beaten only so many times before it will rebel and refuse to satisfy them; you did not tell them that they are caretakers who own nothing; who have only what the terrestrial sphere generously gives back to them; you did not tell them these things. Perhaps you did not tell them because you did not care; perhaps you did not tell them because you did not think; perhaps you did not tell them…because no one had ever told you…and now…now, it is too late for you. You cannot tell them.

“For millennia, we have tried to tell them of their singular responsibility. We have shown them how a species can become extinct with one blow…but what have they done? They have hunted other species until they, too, have become extinct, and they continue to do so despite warnings from those like them that this is not good…but they will not listen. We have shown them the horrors of war and persecution, yet they continue to wage war and to persecute those unlike them. We have provided them with examples of the terror of natural disaster – famine, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes – but they dismiss these events with a bow of their heads as if to avoid looking at the disaster.

“But you, you…old man…what did you do? You did nothing and therefore, you are nothing. Go, leave and be nothing. We will try harder; we will find the someone who will do something, hopefully, this will occur before the blue marble cracks; the rock rebels in such a way that it will destroy itself and all those upon it…but we will try; yes, we will try.”

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“In the online age, we live our lives openly and loudly rather than with dignity.” That’s a line, somewhat paraphrased from The Heist by Daniel Silva. It’s one of those novels that the pure academics would call “trash,” but which I chose to call enjoyable reading. I read these books for the very same reason that I write essays for this blog and latch hook rugs. I do these things so that I won’t kill people. Juli, on the other hand, has her knitting, crocheting, jewelry-making, silver-smithing, and reading a variety of books so that she will not join me in killing people.

While killing people may sound rather extreme, there are times when it appears to be the last recourse against stupidity and downright “assholedness” to which we are exposed on a far too regular basis. As one example, I would cite the Netflix series, “Making a Murderer,” which is based on the 2005 Wisconsin case in which Stephen Avery was convicted of killing Teresa Halbeck. The series is presented as a documentary but in such a manner as to paint Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey as the victims rather than as the killers. The result has been a White House petition signed by 300,000 to free the two men and to demand an investigation of the police department which did the legwork and prepared the case against Dassey and Avery. The series has also resulted in the prosecuting attorney receiving over 3,000 e-mails with death threats against him and his family as well as disgusting actions to be taken against his family. Let’s just take a minute to examine this: First, it’s a documentary that has a slant because it did not present all of the evidence used in the trial against the two men. Second, anyone who knows anything about how prosecutors work, particularly in murder cases, there is generally a backlog of evidence that is held back until it’s absolutely needed. This was not the case in the Avery/Dassey trial. It was laid out meticulously at trial, but not in the documentary. Third, DNA evidence, given at trial, was not given in the documentary. In other words, what the unknowing American public has signed as a petition and has used as a basis for threatening the prosecutor is a single, one-sided, prejudiced view of what really happened, Remember the old adage, “Believe nothing of what you read and only half of what you see.” It was coined, as I recall, at a time when newspapers were notorious for slanted journalism (oh, gee, and they’re not today?). In today’s world of instant news because of television and the many satellites circling our planet, we also must be cautious when we watch television news or supposed “in-depth stories” about anything. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that Netflix didn’t do its homework…or if they did due diligence on the story, they elected to sensationalize and glorify two obvious killers, and in the process, have created 303,000 people who actually believe the bullshit they have shoveled. That’s 303,000 sheep who have been told what to believe, accepted it, and have not bothered to do any of their own research; they are also 303,000 sheep who breed and who vote…scary, huh?

There are more of these sheep who believe that Donald Trump should be President because he’s telling them exactly what they want to hear. He tells us that he will keep the Muslims out of America. Does that mean that he will deport the more than 20,000 Muslim doctors in the U.S.? Does it mean that he will close the Muslim charities, including Helping Hand for Relief and Development which, in 2013 was rated as one of the top ten charities in the United States? Yet, the sheep will follow and vote for a bombastic, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, bully who appears to believe that even when he’s wrong, he’s right. The person who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not a dictator who can make and keep such idiotic promises as building a wall to keep the drug smugglers and emigres out of our country…and have the country from which they are coming pay for said wall. People….think. Stop listening to nonsense and begin to think for yourselves.

Donald Trump’s appeal to certain groups is understandable. After all, Congressional politicians have been using his formula for years. If you tell the people in your district what they want to hear; put their needs ahead of the needs of the country; bullshit them into believing that you can get them what they want, they will vote for you without fully knowing the difficulties of meeting their needs. Is this dishonest? Sure, but if the sheep believe what you’re shoveling at them, what the hell, it gets you back into office. Too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads.

Ours is a nation of checks and balances. Surely, everyone knows that from the Constitution. Therefore, any candidate for any office may make any kind of promise to his or her constituents. However, unless they are promises that will be approved by another branch or successfully tested by the third branch, they are just so much hot air blowin’ in the wind.

Sheep are everywhere and easily lead. It’s those of you and those of us who think independently and don’t believe everything we are told or even see, who will determine the future of America.

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Retirement is not for the faint of heart. There, I’ve said it, and if you wish, I will repeat it…oh, screw that; you can just reread the first sentence. For a while, retirement really seemed a great thing. Go places you’ve never been participate in activities you wish you had had the time to get into while you were working; actually meeting new people and learning about their lives; finding new hobbies that were extremely interesting…for a while.

I’ve said it before, and I believe it’s important to understand that retirement should not be considered as a time when one just sits on one’s proverbial butt and watch as it expands to fill the width of a chair. Retirement is a time when you should be able to do all of those things you cursed about because you couldn’t do them when that nasty thing called “work” interfered. Perhaps, it was a solid round of 18 holes that was played on weekends, but you were positive you could break 90 if only you had the chance to play a couple of times during the week. Maybe it was spending a week touring a national park but that wasn’t possible even during vacation…because you were never able to work in a full vacation. There were a thousand ideas, things you’d do when you retired; when the house was paid off; when the summer place could be put to good use without having to make a few calls to the office while you were supposed to be relaxing. Just wait until retirement. Ah, yes, the things to which you were looking forward without having to worry that someone, anyone would call and ask you your opinion on something or a request to give a couple of hours on a certain project…those would be the days.

The big day arrives and out the door you go. Maybe you think you might miss a few of the old crowd. Promises to say in touch are exchanged; sometimes they may even be kept, but really, those people only serve to remind you of the work you once did, and that’s the thing you want furthest from your mind. You get in those 18 holes every few days, but you find that it’s not as easy to walk around the course as it used to be so you get a cart. That makes the distance between holes a little shorter but the game doesn’t improve the way you thought it might. You learn from your doctor that the pain in your shoulder is a torn rotator cuff and you should probably have it repaired. That will keep you off the course for a while. You continue to do different things. Heck, the surgery means you’ll get a chance to catch up on your reading, but you need new glasses, bifocals this time, and they’re a pain in the ass to use, but you catch on…after a while.

After a few years, the summer place becomes more of a burden than a pleasure and you announce your intention to sell it. This sets up a bit of a dispute between you and the kids…who use it with their children now and who enjoy going there but not the cost of the upkeep. You offer to sell it or even give it to them, but when the chips are down, they really don’t believe it’s worth it. With luck, you sell at a profit, and hope that you can do something productive with the monies you receive, but it just goes into the bank and gets spent in other ways.

As you age in your retirement, one of you gets a diagnosis of a terminal illness. While I haven’t experienced getting kicked in the chest by a mule, it seems to me that getting that diagnosis must feel the same way…except for being longer lasting. The one who is not ill goes from being a spouse to being a care-giver, and I guarantee you, the roles are quite different. If your spouse asks to die at home and you can accommodate that request, do it; no matter what it takes, do it. If you can afford round the clock nursing care, do it. Most people I know can’t afford that, but they can afford to have someone come in one, possibly two days a week…do it. The care-giver is on duty 24/7/365. The illness consumes your live, even unto death and for years after that.

After a while, retirement becomes more of a drudge than a thing of beauty and a joy forever. You get old. Your knees – at least those that haven’t been replaced – begin to hurt like the devil. Your golf game, if that was your big desire, slows down considerably. In fact, there are days when you can hardly wait to get home and lay down. Traveling is more of a burden than a delight, and while the sights are pretty, so is that bottle of Aleve or something stronger.

In his book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King wrote, “An old man’s body is nothing but a sack in which he carries aches and indignities.” He may have a point, but that same sack carries memories that are so beautiful as to defy some of those aches. English actress, Judy Parfitt, says, “The thing about growing old is you have to accept it – if you don’t, you’ll be as miserable as sin. You’ve got to try and find the few good things about it.” And there are good things about aging. The best of these lies in being constantly amazed at the advances that have been made in your lifetime. Technology, science, medicine, aviation, have seen remarkable advances, and yes, even golf clubs have been improved. When I look at my smart phone of today and think that it possesses more power than the computers that put men on the moon several decades back, I’m both amazed and delighted. When I see photographs depicting other galaxies with planets that are potentially capable of supporting human life as we see it daily, I’m in awe. On and on and on it goes, and in my retirement, as much as I dislike the aches and pains, the things I can no longer do, I am delighted that in the later years of retirement I can see such progress in our shrinking world.

I can only hope for one more thing before I die. If would be truly grand if Boston could get it’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to go through one single year without breakdowns, delays and excuses that are somewhat akin to “The dog ate my homework!”

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Welcome to the 16th year of the Third Millennium…or the 17th year since we began 2000.  For the Hebrews it is the year 5776. The Chinese calendar is different yet. It does not count years, but repeats certain signs or symbols every 60 years. This, for example, is the year of the sheep. No, I am not going to go any further into Islamic, Persian, or Mayan calendars. Heck, I have enough trouble remembering what day it is on my own little Gregorian date sheet!

What do we have to look forward to in 2016, anyway? After all, the economy seems to be recovering, although Social Security didn’t see fit to give me a raise this year. My health insurance didn’t increase, but my property taxes did. We have a new Wegman’s supermarket in town which, unless I’m sadly mistaken, will see a sharp decrease in my monthly grocery bills. The old grocery store is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to hold on to their shoppers, but, as they say, “money talks; bullshit walks,” and after suffering through the high prices of the one grocery store in town, the new Wegman’s is a welcome sight. However, just as work expands to fill the time available, purchases will expand to meet the expected cost of groceries. It’s sort of an adaptation of Parkinson’s Law to another field.

Let me see; ah, yes, we will have a Presidential election this year…possibly a madman versus a mad woman. That ought to prove an entertaining event. It’s also quite possible that there will be more room in the United States for refugees as Americans flee to other countries for protection…but then, who am I to judge what might or might not happen. About the only prediction I’m really willing to make is that the University of Alabama will be crowned NCAA champions in the BCS. The game will be held in the Glendale Stadium at the University of Phoenix – I thought that was an online school; oh, well.

This will be another year when we should plan on losing at least six celebrities, a least one musical band member to a drug overdose, and probably three more school shootings that kill yet another crop of kids. Tragedy will once more strike the airline industry and lone wolf killers or bombers will visit the United States and several other countries. Am I trying to be a wiseass here? No, not in the least; this is the world in which we live in today…and we encourage it. How? Was that the question…”how?” As far as the celebrities are concerned, the stars of my youth are going, going, gone. They are as old as or older than I, and have one foot on a banana peel and the other on an open grave; age will take several. As far as the musician is concerned, drugs in America are too easily obtainable and while druggies die every day of overdoses, nobody seems to give a damn about the average Joe or Jane, but if it’s some drummer or lead guitarist in a fashionably identifiable band, the moans and groans will be loud and long.

We do have a number of gun laws in the United States, however, we are woefully poor in enforcing them. I have no quarrel with anyone who wishes to own a gun for the purpose of protecting his or her home or for putting food on the table. However, I’m also a big believer in background checks, whether the weapons be sold in a store or at a gun show.  Please, do not tell me that all of these killers who have done mass shootings are mentally ill. I won’t believe you, and I will tell you that you are full of crap. The word, “evil,” is not used sufficiently to describe these people. Evil exists and many of these people are just evil. Calling them mentally ill is attempting to excuse their actions for some other reason.

People who are jihadists, whether home grown or trained abroad will continue to attract attention in 2016 because they are here, there, and everywhere. Terrorist groups today are much better at recruiting and radicalizing young people using social media than others who wish to talk sense rather than nonsense and what could be more fun than blowing yourself up at 32,000 feet along with a plane load of complete strangers? Sure doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense to me, but then, I’m quite happy with the manner in which my life has chugged along for as long as it has.

If you are an American and you are reading this, I think you know precisely what I’m getting at with this tirade. We, you and I, live in an absolutely fantastic country. It has plenty of things wrong with it, and if you listen to the politicians, they’ll tell you that they will fix those things…but they lie. There will always be things “wrong” in America, at least by someone’s definition. And isn’t that great; we are free to express our views about what is wrong with our country without the fear that we’ll get hauled away to jail just for expressing our opinions. People talk about the American Dream. I’ve often wondered just how that is supposed to be defined. To someone who is living under a bridge somewhere or even worse, living in an alley, the definition is far different from that of the person who owns four houses, six cars, and has a personal staff to see to every need. I’d like to think that my definition of the American Dream is somewhat fair. I believe the American Dream is to have a roof over your head, a family that loves you; food on the table each and every day; a job that pays you a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work; the opportunity for promotion and increases in salary that allow you to take a vacation every year; a car in the garage that starts up every morning and takes you where you want to go; and friends. I think that last is important. After all, if you don’t have friends to whom you can bitch about your job, family, and car, what’s life all about?  The American Dream: It means so many different things to so many different people. When you get right down to it, the dream is to be able to do what you want, when you want to do it, and with whomever you please to do it with…and life just doesn’t work that way. Funny, but that’s the way it is.

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