Archive for July, 2017

Don’t you think it’s kind of cool that Don Donald has hired Anthony Scaramucci to be his consiglieri in the WH communications office? Good jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, it’s like something right out of the Sopranos. Where the hell is “Fat Freddy” and “Gumbo the Greek,” or whatever titles we’re now using. Even Spicer, the kid from Rhode Island, is getting the hell out of Dodge as fast as he can. About the only things missing are Larry, Curley, and Moe, along with the Keystone Kops. On second thought, I shouldn’t be denigrating either of the latter groups. If this wasn’t such serious business, it might have made a fine Fatty Arbuckle film or something for George Roy Hill, director of The Sting to play with.

I have visions of the next news headline reading, “Mueller finds bloody horse head on his bed sheets.” And when they take James Comey for a ride to the New Jersey bulrushes, it will be, “…leave the gun; take the cannoli’s.” Do you suppose we’ll get to the scene where the Don kisses his son on the lips and says, “I know it was you, Donny,” and then someone takes junior on a one-way canoe ride along the Potomac? I do believe that Kushner will be okay, if only for the fact that he’s married to the Don’s nurse and dosage coordinator.

Think about all that has happened. The Teflon Donald made campaign promises he hasn’t been able to keep, but he’s been able to deflect them by either attacking “The failing New York Times,” to which he gives interviews, the latest using another deflecting technique, ie, throwing the first US Senator to endorse his campaign, the man he appointed to be his Attorney General, under the bus. Now he says that he’s having the Russia episodes – please note the plural – investigators investigated by his own crew of investigators…probably another crew of his mafioso buddies, which, again, deflects attention directly away from him and his family. It’s just plain un-mother-loving-believable!

You must feel badly for Pee-Wee Sessions. After the tremendous loyalty he exhibited toward Trump, coming out early and endorsing his candidacy, practically pledging fealty toward him and genuflecting whenever he passed by, only now to have that loyalty repaid by Trump calling him “weak” for recusing himself during the Russia investigations, and castigating him for not pursuing criminal charges against Trump’s presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.

When Jared ‘Oops-I-forgot-the-$10.7-mil-in-assets’ Kushner testified before Congress on the first day, Trump tweeted that (a) Kushner was honest and forthright and (b) that he had showed the committee just how transparent he was…and that was that. He said the same thing about his son. That doesn’t mean that what Trump said is true. I have concluded than Donald Trump doesn’t even know when he’s lying. He appears to believe that whatever he says, whenever he says it, is the truth. It is the only way in which to justify the number of outright falsehoods in which he’s been caught by the news media…oops, sorry…the ‘fake’ news media, such as “the failing” New York Times to which he is now granting interviews.
Perhaps the reason that the political hacks in Congress aren’t getting much legislation written or passed is because they are too busy taking notes from the grifter-turned-politician. The Don is showing them dance moves they have never even considered. This is a charlatan who can change his mind between mouthfuls and never spill a slop…no, that’s drop.

I speak of Trump as “The Don,” and now that Gotti is gone, it could be “The Teflon Don,” but his ties to the mob are well documented by David Cay Johnston, a highly respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In his book, “Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business.” Johnston claims that over the years he has “encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime.” Even Ted Cruz questioned Trump’s ties to the mob during his attempt to win the nomination away from Trump. Why the Clinton campaign did not push this connection harder during the campaign is beyond me, but that’s all water over the dam, or in Trump’s case, under the table.

Mr. Trump has demonstrated by past actions that he will lie about others, turn on friends, and deal with disreputable people just to make a profit. His narcissistic behavior, his total lack of caring for others, demonstrates his lack of leadership ability and therefore he should be removed from office.

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I truly wish that I had the political cartoon ability of Herb Block of the Washington Post, Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dan Wasserman of The Boston Globe, or anyone else with the skill to tell a really great story with one drawing. I know the exact picture I would draw. It’s right here, full-on in my mind, yet I lack the skill to put it to paper.

In my drawing, the South lawn of the White House is just a bit in the foreground, but the main characters are six Secret Service agents carrying a fat Donald Trump from the building, his blond hair mussed, and tags hanging from him announcing “Russia Investigation,” “Obstruction Charges,” “Comey Firing,” “Putin Sellout,” “CIA Interference,” and many more. Trump, meanwhile, in a balloon above his head, preceded by $@#%&* and a few other profane symbols, is shouting, “You can’t fire me; I’m firing all of you!” or words to that effect. This is a cartoon that is just begging to be drawn. Given enough space, there could even be a series of police cars lined up with the faces of Donald, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Steve Bannon peering out the back or side windows. If we really want detail, this cartoon could show Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions standing on a White House balcony, smiling, and waving goodbye to lard belly and his crew of crooks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone knows that I wear my “Make America Great Again” red underwear every place I go. I also believe that Mr. Trump is doing a hell of a job getting no legislation passed, and that he could give lessons to the world on how to throw one’s friends under oncoming public transportation. As so many comedians have said, “With Trump in the White House, I have job security.” It’s true. With every tweet he sends, I have fodder for another blog piece. I’m getting tired about old Roly-Poly – I think he’s gone up a couple of sizes since January 20th – but there’s so little else of interest to the American public. Husbands and wives come home from work, turn on the tube and ask their teenage children, “Okay, what did Trump fuck up today?” Well, they probably don’t put it quite like that but with teenagers today, anything’s possible.

The only other funny news on the horizon is that O.J. is going to be paroled from prison after serving nine of his 33-year sentence. Oh, and you don’t think Fred Goldman and his family won’t be hunting him like the dog he is. Can you believe he had the chutzpah to tell a parole hearing that he had lead a truly uneventful life? Let’s see…he was arrested in Florida in 2001 for a road rage incident, but his celebrity got him off on that one. He has been arrested on domestic violence charges, ie, beating his wife. He lost the Brown/Goldman civil suit but was jailed for armed robbery and kidnapping. Yup, that’s sure is an uneventful life. Now, he wants to move back to Florida…probably wants to go speeding along in his boat to kill manatees…oh, sorry, he’s already been arrested for that once, so he’ll probably stay away from that one. Perhaps Mr. Goldman put in best in his appearance on CBS This Morning. In speaking of Simpson, he said, “He doesn’t belong in a society of decent people.” Agreed, Mr. G; one hundred percent agreed.

On the good news/bad news front, victim #25 of John Wayne Gacy has been identified. With that news, perhaps, some peace of mind can be given to the Haakenson family about what happened to the 16-year-old runaway son. That still leaves six victims unidentified in the Gacy murders.

And on that cheery note, I wish you all a pleasant summer.

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Time to break the rules?

After 82 years, I have decided to stop playing by the rules of law and to begin playing by the rules of the world. “Why?” you ask. “What happened?” you inquire. Truth to tell, it’s been a build-up of things that have brought me to the realization that most people just don’t give a damn about anyone other than themselves, covering their own back sides, and wouldn’t go out on a limb for others no matter what. The most recent example of this occurred yesterday. I went to visit my ‘new’ primary care physician, an appointment that had been scheduled three months ago. First, he was half an hour late for our appointment with no explanation. I could hear him chatting with someone in his office – the walls are very thin – and he was telling her more what he couldn’t do for her rather than what he was willing to do. When he arrived to speak with me, he came armed with all sorts of paperwork, indicating that a medication I had been taking for over 20 years was dangerous and could kill me. Hmm. His answer to my question about having taken the medication for some time and wouldn’t it already have killed me if it was going to…in addition to which, I’m 82 and really couldn’t care less if it killed me because right now it was helping me sleep [whew…long sentence] was, “It would be unethical of me to continue to continue to prescribe this medication and further a mistake that was made 20 years ago.” There it was…I don’t care if this medication helps you. I don’t care if you’ve taken it for 20 years without consequence. I don’t care if you’re 82 and don’t want to live forever. I care that these studies say the medication will kill you if you take it. Oh, gee, I guess I should lay down and die. I walked out of the office with a one month prescription for the medication that has been helping me for 20 years, all of his paperwork, his promise to help “wean” me from this very dangerous drug (that I’ve been taking for 20 years) and on my lips, were the words, “Fuck you, asshole.” I didn’t say that, of course, because I’m much too much of a gentleman, and there were several ladies within earshot. Is he right to cover his ass? Of course, he is. Why didn’t my other doctors over the past 20 years tell me that this drug could be killing me? Got me, but perhaps they saw that it hadn’t the side effects and that it was helping. Not this one; it’s his way or the highway. It’s, “We have to study the issues underlying this rebound insomnia that you have when you don’t take the medication.” I’m eighty-two-goddamned-years old, you idiot. I am not some thirty-year-old who has fifty or so years to discover his frigging “issues.” You’re not trying to be of help to me. You’re covering your ass with the insurance companies who are trying to get you to stop prescribing drugs of any kind to anyone. You aren’t looking out for the interests of your geriatric patients. You have become a victim of “the art of health care in America.”

So, after losing 61 pounds over the course of a year; after becoming more concerned about the foods that I eat; after increasing my exercise program to feel better; after doing this and so much more, I’m just going to say, “Fuck it, I’m gonna do what everyone else does.” I’m going to start running red lights and hopefully get hit by a truck. I’m going to say to hell with stop signs if I see that no one is coming from the opposite direction. I’m going to stop holding doors for others. I’m going to give the finger to people who pass me when I’m driving. I’m going to cut into lines in supermarkets and other stores. I’m going to interrupt clerks attempting to help other people because I’m more important than whoever the hell it is they’re trying to help. I’m going to do as I goddamned well please, and fuck you, society; it’s me first and get the hell out of my way!

Is this really going to happen? Hell, no. After 82 years on this earth obeying my laws and the laws as set forth by others, I’m not going to become the same kind of asshole that this ‘new’ doctor demonstrated to me that he is. That’s just not the way mom and dad brought me up. That’s not the way Sy Sheehan taught me to be when I first went to work for him in the A&P at age 16. That’s not the way Carolyn ‘Pat’ Patillo of Curtis Publishing Company, taught me to behave in the advertising business world of the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Country Gentleman, and Holiday Magazine. It’s not what I was taught by a series of wonderful people like Al Everett and Gurth Abercrombie at Northeastern’s Evening School of Business, or by Asa Knowles, Ralph Sorenson, Bill Dill, or Bill Glavin, all terrific college presidents and outstanding people, each and every one of them, with integrity beyond question and with wisdom far beyond anything I will ever hope to achieve.

Therefore, I will continue to behave as I have behaved for the rest of my life. I won’t run red lights or stop signs or cut in lines or give the finger. Instead, I will simply search for another doctor who is not quite so certain that he is God and knows what’s best for everyone. I may not find him or her, but I will search. Perhaps this doctor is right and perhaps I’ve been playing Russian roulette with this medication for 20 years. Hell, I quit smoking because it was time. I even quit drinking because it was time. Shucks, now that I’m 82, I’ve even quit…well, you have no reason to hear any more of that story, so we’ll just move ahead. You may be asking yourself, “If he’s done all that, what the hell does he want to go on living for anyway?” Aside from your poor grammar, let me answer in this manner. I love the fact that I can walk out the back door, sit in a chair on the patio, breathe the fresh air and smell the perfume of the many flowers in our backyard. I love the fact that I can sit there and watch those crazy, fluffy clouds in that blue, blue sky and even those big airliners that go over every so often. I love to look at the squash and the cucumbers and the tomatoes…and even that purple bell pepper…as these grow into things that can nourish not only Juli and me, but that, because of their abundance, I can take to the gym and give away to others who can enjoy them. It’s seeing that enjoyment on the faces of people I hardly know that makes me want to go on living. I enjoy being able to modestly support several charities that I know are helping others. All of these things plus much, much more are the reasons that I want to keep on Keeping on, as they say. Life is one big beautiful thing and I’ll continue to love every minute of it, more because every so often I get a reminder that there are others so concerned about their own teeny, tiny world that they fail to see anyone or anything else.

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“If ethical behavior is lacking at the top of the organization, it will eventually filter down and poison the entire operation.” I do not know who said that, but I figure that someone far more intelligent than I must have said it somewhere along the line. Consequently, and not wanting to be cited for plagiarism, I thought it should be in quotation marks. What is ethical behavior anyway. Well, according to Business Directory, it’s, “Acting in ways consistent with what society and individuals typically think are good values.”

Aristotle defined ethics as “practical wisdom.” Despite a tendency to reduce everything to a mathematical formula or solution, Aristotle appears to have believed in the fundamental goodness of people. That is, given the opportunity, people would do things that would aid others as well as themselves without being harmful to any group. Over the years, we have learned, tragically, that not to be the case, but the basic idea of treating ethics as “practical wisdom” continues. In other words, ethics and ethical behavior means doing what is right rather than wrong, for example, using a poor-quality concrete to make a building foundation, treating one group of employees differently from another group, doing anything which violates the accepted social values of the population.

There is a part of our society that will always believe that Hillary Clinton is the devil-incarnate, that she gave away classified information via her own private server, that she was cuckolded by her husband and did nothing about it, that she would have made a terribly weak president, and those people will maintain that to the end of their days. They may be right. Who knows? She never became president; therefore, we will never learn how well or poorly she might have done. To balance that, the Electoral College selected Donald Trump, a businessman with a background of questionable ethical values, but a hardline, loud-talking, television celebrity who promised to “make America great again.” To anyone who questioned why America wasn’t already great, this ethics-less candidate would not readily provide an answer, but would castigate the questioner with words like “hater,” “un-American,” “weak,” and should the questioner be from a legitimate news outlet, “a fake reporter from fake news.” Candidate Trump promised his supporters exactly what they wanted to hear. His rhetoric excited his voter base. “At last we have a Savior who will throw out all the neer-do-wells; who will give us back our jobs on the farms and in the factories; who will get us a better health program at a reduced cost; who will raise our wages and lower our taxes; my God, it’s a dream come true.”

As some comedian might ask, “Just how’s that workin’ out fer ya?” To answer the question succinctly, I would have to say that it’s not working out that well. I don’t see construction on any wall to prevent illegals from entering the country on our southern border, and I most assuredly don’t see any deposits in American banks from Mexico…you know, the country that’s supposed to pay for the wall. Meanwhile, his attempt to keep people of the Muslim religion from entering the country has been shot down not once, not twice, but three times by various courts, until finally, he had to get the Supreme Court to allow a bit of what he wanted…on a temporary basis…so the justices could all go home for the summer. I do see some deportations, but the ones that I read about are all illegal, successful business folks who have been paying taxes and whose only crime is that they came here years ago to pursue this thing we call, “the American Dream” and have done damned well doing so. I don’t read about any big round-ups of illegals who rape, rob, deal drugs, and murder people. How many of those have we sent back to wherever the hell they came from. As far as the jobs on the farms and at the factories, well, most “real” Americans won’t accept the wages that the farmers can afford to pay. And the factories, well, they’ve eliminated many jobs because of a little thing called robotics. While those robots may be expensive at the outset, they pay for themselves in a matter of months, ergo, the jobs you thought were lost to other people were lost to advances in technology. Now, about that better health care program…The House of Representatives proposed a plan that the new loud mouth called “great” at a celebratory occasion on the South lawn of the White House. When critics began tearing it apart, the new Oval Office occupier called the plan “mean.” From “great” to “mean” in a week or less just indicates how quickly Donny T is willing to throw anything or anyone under the 18-wheeler…crunch, crunch. Never one to be thwarted, however, he went on to explain to the assembled “fake news media,” wait until you see the great health care plan that the Senate is preparing. Oops, that didn’t make it either. It looks right now as though he’s batting 0 for 2 on campaign promises.

What has Donald Trump accomplished in his first six months in office? Well, let’s see he’s signed bills eliminating rules and regulations of the Obama administration. He’s signed bills that name something or encourage flag-flying. He’s signed some legislation that modifies a few programs or that extends some Obama-era programs. However, all-in-all, he has not signed one piece of major legislation in his first six months in office. He’s lied about the number of bills signed and has exaggerated the importance of the legislation that has been signed. Another sign that he is not particularly ethical or even honest when it comes to his behavior.

Mr. Trump’s overall behavior since his election is worrisome to many Americans who love this country. The meetings his staff had with others from a nation hostile to our own country; his firing on an FBI director who was questioning whether that hostile nation attempted to influence our 2016 presidential election; his consistent deflection of difficult questions by labeling those asking as members of the “fake media;” his denials about anything and everything dealing with our most openly hostile nation. All of this and what has yet to come out make this writer one who would enjoy seeing Mr. Trump forced from office and back into his burrow.

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“I’ve decided that I’m not going to school for nursing.”

“Oh, really. What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to join the Air Force.”

“The Air Force could train you to be a nurse.”

“Yeah, but I don’t know if that’s what I want to do.”

“Then why do you want to join the Air Force?”

“I want to serve my country.”

“You weren’t born here. Why is this your country?”

“I just love America, and I want to help defend it.”

“What, you want to be a pilot or something?”

“No, no, I don’t want to fight or get shot or anything like that.”

“Well then, I think your decision is great. The Air Force has a lot of programs that can train you to do what you want.”

This is the gist of a conversation I had recently with the young woman who opens the gym on weekends. She had told me earlier of her desire to go to school for nursing. I thought that was also a great idea. I’m not certain she was ever that committed to it however. She showed more excitement about the Air Force than she ever showed about going to her choice for a nursing school.

This is not a fantasy conversation. It actually happened, and I’m really happy that she had enough faith in my opinion to tell me the “why’s” and “wherefores” of what led to her decision. She lives next door to a family where everyone has been a US Marine…. mom and dad, I gather, met in the corps. The son and daughter also served. They had talked of how great it was to be in the service, and I gather this was what…let’s call her Sam…what Sam decided she wanted to do.

She was very candid. “I don’t want to finish boot camp and then be somewhere where I’ll get shot,” she said. I couldn’t blame her for that and told her so. I also mentioned that only about ten percent of people in the military ever see combat. I’ve read that for every soldier in combat there are twelve people who are supporting him or her.

I never asked why, if the neighbors with whom she’d been speaking had all been marines, why she hadn’t considered “The Corps.” Having met many marines while in the service and having a number of friends who served in the marines, I can say that Sam is not marine material. I really can’t say if she’ll make it through Air Force boot camp. What I can and do think is that her desire to serve her country is truly admirable.

We hear so much chatter about deporting illegals and building walls and even getting rid of people who are living productive lives here in this country, but who sound funny, dress differently, speak another language, or whose skin color is different that I sometimes believe we just haven’t taken the time to get to know these folks. The clear majority, I’m certain, are very happy to be “livin’ the dream” as it were. As far as illegals are concerned, shouldn’t we be finding ways to help them become legal if they haven’t committed crimes? And shouldn’t we stop deporting those whose past records indicate that they have been law-abiding men and women worthy of becoming citizens? Don’t get me wrong. I have no quarrel with deporting people who are members of gangs in the US, who have committed crimes because that’s how they wish to live, who wish to suck at the government teat and make no positive contribution to the welfare of the nation…and that includes those who call themselves citizens just because they were born here to illegal parents. “Kick ‘em out,” I say. Sound merciless? Perhaps, but if these so-called ‘citizens-because-they-were-born-here’ have nothing but trouble on their minds, send them back to their native nations and let’s see just how tough they really are.

For Sam, the Air Force is going to be a great adventure. She’s promised to keep me updated by e-mail as her adventure continues. I really hope she does. She’s a high school honors graduate, and I’m certain she will be a great contributor to the defense of America.

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I believe it was Mark Twain who was among the first to say, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Based on this, it would appear that every member of the current administration that speaks out for publication must be carrying a pocket tape recorder to help them remember what they last said.

First, it was a case of no one from the Trump presidential campaign ever meeting with representatives of the Russian government. Then Attorney General got caught up in an uh-oh moment when he suddenly recalled his “chance encounter” with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Then, campaign manager Paul Manafort finally admits that he had a multi-million-dollar contract with a Russian Oligarch. After that, of course, we had presidential national security advisor, Mike Flynn’s picture-perfect photos with Russian politicians. And now, well…and now, might not even be the right way to put it. It would appear that the Trump family and the nation of Russia have something akin to a strong relationship. Donald Trump, Jr.’s admission of taking a meeting (a) to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, and/or (b) to talk about Russian adoption is so odiferous as to make the farm’s pig sty smell like a Chanel show room. Initially, it was Donald, Jr., his brother-in-law, and Manafort. Now, the cast of characters is growing like something out of an Alan Drury novel. With the number now mentioned, you couldn’t even get all of the introductions done in the 20 minutes the meeting was supposed to have lasted.

There was a time when the joke was, “How do you know when a politician is lying?” “His lips are moving.” I guess we can now add celebrities into that mix. Think about it. What qualifications did Donald Trump actually have to qualify him to run for the presidency of the United States? In truth, the answer is, “None.” Was he a successful businessman who began with nothing and created something? No, he was not. Was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth to advantage of what his father had accomplished? Yes. Does an undergraduate degree from Wharton mean any more than an undergraduate degree from any other business school in the country? I suppose it’s possible, but having done my time as a teacher and administrator at two pretty damned good schools, I would say probably not, particularly because of the manner in which Mr. Trump has comported himself since his election. It wouldn’t surprise me if he bribed others, both for class notes and to take exams under his name, ie, cheated his way to an undergraduate degree. Were his businesses successful because of him? This, too, is open to question. Certainly, several of his ventures were borderline, and others just didn’t make it, but his real estate deals and golf clubs certainly enriched his larder. But, was it Trump or those in his employ who made him a billionaire. If you hire people who are smarter than you are, they will, almost inevitably, make you look good. Based on the hires Trump has made since assuming the Oval Office, I think he had a pretty good HR department when he was doing business out of New York. How many “smarter people” are actually responsible for Trump’s success? How much of his fortune was achieved in spite of his efforts rather than because of them?

No one appears to know the true origin of, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but ask yourself this one question, “Why did so many Americans vote for Donald Trump?” Yes, I know it’s akin to the question in the above paragraph. We know that he had nothing but bluster and slogans, bullying tactics and big lies with which to con Mr. & Mrs. America, but why did they buy into it? No, worse yet, why did “we” buy into it? Personally, I believe it was for two reasons: (1) Americans everywhere were sick and tired of a US Congress that didn’t seem to be doing one thing but bitch against at their counterparts across the aisle, and we had a lame duck president who could hardly wait to get the hell out of town. As a result of this, Americans were up for a radical change and were willing to believe that this man who looked so good on television when he fired people, he had the chutzpah to get things done. Here was someone willing to take on Congress, kick butt and take names. Americans thought this a fine idea. We can get the country moving again – whatever the hell that meant – so let’s kick out those whom we call “politicians” and bring in the equivalent of John Wayne in a baseball cap, who kept saying to us, “America is in decline, but I will make America great again.” I don’t believe he ever said that we, as a nation, were in decline. That was merely suggested by the last part of the statement. The second reason I have already alluded to, that is that Washington, the seat of our national leaders, is filled with fat cat politicians and politician, singular or plural, is a dirty word in many, many parts of the country. The answer was to kick out someone with a political background whose prior actions were open to question, and to bring in the snake oil salesman who is already demonstrating just what a shady and shadowy figure he can be.

I’ve known people like Donald Trump. In some cases, I’ve had to work with them. I resigned rather than work for someone like him. There are all sorts of management acronyms used in business, including MBO – management by objective; MBWA – management by walking around; MBT – management by teamwork; and a whole pile of initials that can be tossed into successful and unsuccessful companies. Management by fear is a style of which I’ve never approved. You may achieve a few short-term goals with this style but eventually, that manager will be found out and find him or herself looking in from the outside.

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I overheard someone say this morning, “I don’t have a life.” If I were to take that literally, of course, I would probably conclude that they should lie down because if one does not have a life, they must be dead. Yes, yes, I know, that’s not what the expression means, but I find it rather sad that someone would reach that point where they have that feeling. On the opposite end of that spectrum is another expression, “Get a life.” I’ve heard a number of explanations for that one, including “You’re boring; You’re spending too much time with the person who made the statement; you’re too serious about life; or you live too much in the past or worry too much about the future.”

Being concerned about “not having a life,” or “getting a life,” when you look at it objectively, is really depressing. Life, itself, is a thing of beauty and a joy for however long you hang on to it. Think about this for a minute: Life offers you the opportunity to listen to bees as they go from flower to flower, pollinating so that something new can be created. Life allows you to look at clouds in a blue sky that remind you of the old car your dad used to drive, or maybe it’s the silhouette of your dad…or mom…or that first boss you had who was such a rotten bastard…or, as in my case, was such a great teacher…while still being a bastard…whew, Sy, you were hard! Life offers you the opportunity to listen to the sound of waves crashing on a beach, a fog horn while you’re trying to go to sleep, the smell of those flowers that the bees were sniffing around earlier in the day. Life offers you sound, smell, taste, touch, and sight. If you have these, you have “a life.” Think for a moment, if you will, about those who have lost any of these senses, and then compare them to you. Wow, you’re pretty fortunate, aren’t you? You have five things that many other people do not have. We had a friend with no sense of smell. If something was burning on the stove, she couldn’t smell it. If there was smoke in her apartment, from another room, she couldn’t smell it. She didn’t know if her apartment smelled sweet or rancid. Kind of a bitch, when you think about it, eh? Do you know anyone who is blind? I don’t, so I ask the question out of sincere interest. I don’t pity blind people. They are who they are. But take the time to recognize that you, if you are reading this, have a sense that eludes millions, and that means you have a gift in your life that you should appreciate.

Is this another one of Bishop’s soapbox rants? Nah, I’m just a bit tired of people who say things like, “I have no life,” or tell someone else to “get a life.” Forty members of my high school class of about 75 are no longer living. Are they better off? I don’t have a clue. Well, that’s not entirely correct. I know that several of them died of debilitating diseases, and having watched that happen to my late wife, I’d have to say, “Yes, they are better off.” I don’t know whether cancer, ALS, MS, MD, or any of the other horrible diseases are plagues sent by God or what, but being the care giver and watching the pain which so many must endure to leave “life” behind makes me feel darned lucky about my own “life.”

When you come right down to it, we all view our lives through a variety of lenses. Juli maintains that I always look for the good in people while her background…well, let’s just say that she has another way of looking at the folks who come into our lives. Enough of that, however, because the lens I’m using at present says that I have a life that is terrific! It allows me to do just about anything I desire. I’ll never run a road race but that’s okay because I did it once, and if I should go to one, I can always applaud those who still have the legs, upper bodies (and no brains) who still enjoy doing it. Think about what I just wrote: “I can go to the race and I can see the runners, hear the applause, smell the sweat, taste the beer, and shake hands with those I know who just finished.” All five senses of my life being used on just that one occasion…how great is that? I figure if I can haul my butt out of bed in the morning, pee and poop at my leisure, brush my own teeth, meet friends – or at the very least, other nuts like me – at the gym, and actually use the equipment for an hour and a half or more, then drive home, my day has started out great. I can sit at the computer and write, or I can read a book. I can watch TV, or I can latch hook one of my rugs. I can drive to the lake up by St. Timothy’s Church and watch the water or sit in a chair in the backyard, close my eyes, and feel the sun on my face. Do I worry about money? Doesn’t everyone? But, if I can’t afford it, I don’t need it. If something’s broken and I can’t afford to have it fixed, I’ll find a way…don’t know how…but…I will. The way I look at it is that I haven’t gotten this far without having a great life. Of course, there has been tragedy and setbacks along the way. Life isn’t a bed of roses. For many, it’s been a bed that’s been largely composed of thorns. Somehow though, we still manage to have our “life.”

It’s your call, really, but if you ask me, I would say that as long as you have those five senses, and as long as you don’t have one of those “plagues,” you’re doing pretty darned well, so suck it up…because you do have a life. Maybe you just haven’t found out how to appreciate it quite yet.

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