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Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

You just don’t have it

“And we’ve gathered together the best minds in the world of manufacturing – and they’re all good friends of mine – and they’re going to give us some wonderful advice, through this manufacturing council, on how to bring more jobs into the manufacturing sector.”

Charlottesville occurs.

“And we’re disbanding the manufacturing council because the people who want to be on it, and there are a lot of great manufacturing minds who want to be on it – and they’re all close, great friends of mine – don’t want to be associated with the fake manufacturing people who conned their way onto it in the first place.”

Does this sound like a plausible scenario? When you’re anointed by little Donny J, you are the most brilliant mind in your field and a lifelong friend of Trump’s. The minute you back away or do something that displeases him, you’re ignorant and a grandstander who never knew how to do his or her job in the first place and, after all, he hardly even knew you. He reminds me of the man who paints himself into a corner and then gets really pissed because the paint doesn’t dry faster…not my fault; it’s the fault of the paint.

In this battle of unknown giants, I’m beginning to think that Kim Jong Un is the sensible adult in the room, particularly now that he’s called off plans to launch four missiles into the waters off Guam. In a show of defiance, Trump has refused to call off the war games exercises with South Korea, thus proving that he has the biggest bat in the battle of the schoolyard bullies.

It appears that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he doesn’t just put his foot in, he does it just to change feet. Presidents do not get into pissing contests with reporters. Presidents do not call press conferences and allow media representatives to set the agenda for the meeting. “I’ve asked you all to come here today in order that we may let you know how are plans are proceeding to rebuild the infrastructure of the country, one of the promises I made to America in the campaign. I will not be taking any questions, but I would like to introduce the folks who have worked very, very hard – many long hours and many meetings…and they’re very good people, and they will tell you what we will be doing over the next several months and years.” And then you introduce the people…no bullshit, no arguing, no telling reporters to shut up and sit down, no mention of anything about your previous remarks on another topic. Introduce your speakers, thank the reporters for coming and bid everyone a fond adieu…then get the hell out of there and fast as your little Donny legs will take you. In doing this you have achieved several goals: (1) You have demonstrated leadership by thinking the media for being there; (2) you have let everyone in the viewing area know that you are fulfilling a campaign promise; (3) you are showing confidence in your ‘team’ by letting them handle the briefing; (4) you are letting any remarks you may have made previously on any other subject speak for themselves by not addressing them no matter how much you are taunted to do so…this also gives you the appearance of being presidential…even though the rest of us know it’s just a façade; and (5) well, five never occurred because you screwed up one through four. Had I been your counsel, when we got back to the suite, I would have bitch slapped you upside the head and called you every nasty name I could think of

What Trump doesn’t understand is that while he may have gotten away with bullying and yelling in the board room, that attitude and that arrogance will not work with the American media. Hell, it’s even wearing thin with his support base. Did he have a point about Washington and Jefferson? Sure, they were slave owners. They were also founding fathers, and that carries a great deal more weight than a statue of “the boys who wore the gray.” Face facts Mr. Trump, there is no way in hell that you can justify the hate-filled neo-Nazi’s, White Supremacists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, outlaw biker gang members, and other racists who went to that rally in Charlottesville looking for trouble with the people who came to protest that hatred. Were the counter-protesters wearing helmets? Only if they were smart enough to realize who they were going to be facing. Obviously that black man who was beaten and spit on by eight members of the ‘free speech movement’ (that ought to make you gag) didn’t know what he was getting into…oh, wait, he wasn’t a part of either group. Why, then, should he have been attacked? The answer to that is that eight on one make it pretty clear that the ‘free speechers’ didn’t have to worry that he might kick the crap out of them if they were only two or three in number.

Donald, you have lost the support of nearly 70 percent of America. It is time for you to claim poor health, and step aside. You have lost the support of probably 90 percent of Congress, thus making it nearly impossible to get any part of your agenda passed during the next four years. It is time for you to admit that America was not (and probably never will be) ready for your management style. By your very words and actions, you have demonstrated your inability to govern effectively. Rather than uniting the nation, you have succeeded in emboldening a fringe element that wishes to tear it apart, thereby demonstrating your lack of understanding of how America progressed to its position of world leadership long before you were even born. I do not know, I do not care what excuses you may put forth to explain your recent behavior. You are not qualified under any circumstances to be the leader of this wonderful country of ours. Please, please go away and find something else to do with your life. It will make the rest of us feel much more secure.

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Hatred in America

The Civil War is not starting up again. There are too many good people there who understand what it was about and why the nation must move on. The spirit of hatred is the Pandora’s box that has, at last, been opened. The festering boil of discontent that has always been a part of America has finally cracked open and the poison of a part of its populace has risen to be seen by our society for all its ugliness, spite, and malevolence.

Ku Klux Klan, Nazism, White Supremacists, militia of all types and from many states, haters of Blacks, haters of people who are not exactly as they are, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and everyone who does not hate someone, must go, must be stomped on. Freedom of speech is only for those who hate. The problem is…that the hatred begins at the very top of America’s leadership. Donald Trump has now become America’s Hater-In-Chief. We saw it on the campaign trail. Then, it was his hatred of brown people, characterizing Mexicans as rapists, drug dealers, and other salacious names. His comments about Islamist terrorists crossing the border from Mexico demonstrated his lack of compassion for immigrants attempting to flee their own country to escape persecution. He followed that up with his attack on Muslim Gold Star parents. Even before Trump became a candidate, he was sued twice by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, the law suit alleging, “…that the company quoted different rental terms and conditions to black rental candidates than it did with white candidates, and that the company lied to black applicants about apartments not being available.” Although Trump called the allegations ridiculous, his company later, “Settled the original lawsuit two years later and promised not to discriminate against black people, Puerto Ricans or other minorities. Trump also agreed to send weekly vacancy lists for his 15,000 apartments to the New York Urban League, a civil rights group, and to allow the NYUL to present qualified applicants for vacancies in certain Trump properties.” It is this type of prejudice and racial hatred that has allowed the boil to split and its toxin release on those who welcome it.

It appears to me that America was racist and filled with hate long before it became “America.” After all, wouldn’t you call the Pilgrims white supremacists for their behavior toward the Native Americans. Chinese who came to this country in the 1700’s and 1800’s were treated horribly by other immigrant groups, all of which were white. Yet, even white immigrants were often greeted by those already established in the country as outsiders. “No Irish Need Apply” read the signs in Boston. For a long period, Irish and blacks were considered as the same class. With each new immigrant group that escaped their own country to what the early Chinese called “the Gold Mountain,” they were greeted with distrust and outright hatred. “They’ve come to steal our jobs,” was one cry that echoed across our land, and it’s true today. White farm workers won’t accept the pay that farmers are willing to give to harvest their crops so the farmers turn to those who will…and the white farm workers scream, “They’re stealing our jobs.” People like Dylan Roof see blacks becoming prosperous at their expense, and the answer is to kill nine black church-goers. Timothy McVeigh and his cohorts see a United States government they feel is infringing on their rights – whatever that means to them – and so they bomb the Alfred P. Murrah federal building that also housed a day-care center, killing 168 people and injuring another 680.

Hatred exists because the rest of us allow it to exist. And I’m just as guilty as everyone else. We tend not to speak out when someone else is attacked with words or worse. We’re fearful that we might become the next victim. We don’t want to get involved, and because of that, people like David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Nationalist Socialist Association, and 916 other hate groups are openly operating in America today.

Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The Senator from Alabama, now the Attorney General of the United States, claims that he and his colleagues are going after criminal illegals and deporting them. While they aren’t doing it as quickly as those in the last year of the last administration, I’m willing to cut them a little slack while the refine their methods. Perhaps they should set up a separate division, a hate crimes division, that can identify and bring to trial those people espousing hatred, bigotry, and racism…black, white, Asian, and Latino and expel them from our shores. Allow them to colonize Mars or Venus or Jupiter…perhaps without space suits?

In my dotage, I find it truly difficult to hate anybody. I don’t even hate James Alex Fields, Jr. I’d like to, but it’s not worth the effort. He’s a deranged animal who doesn’t deserve to breathe the air that was meant for Heather Heyer…but I don’t hate him. His punishment should be death, but we’re too politically correct in this country to kill him. In that belief, we are too damned naive. The world saw him commit a murder publicly. Instead, we will put him in an overcrowded prison, give him three meals a day and a bed to sleep on, and let him socialize with like-minded people. He will live to be old and gray, the we will forget all about him. That’s not right. People who kill should be killed. People who rob should be treated in an appropriate manner such that they will never wish to rob again. People who rape should be put in a cell with Bubba and some of his friends who have been confined for too long. No, that last is not right. Rapists, in my mind, deserve the same treatment as murderers, child abusers, and those who would beat the elderly and infirm…hang ‘em! I still don’t hate these people, but I firmly believe that our world, the world of good, is much better off without them in it.

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We all have our heroes. In the Revolutionary War, it was George Washington or Thomas Burnfoot Brown. Who? Thomas Brown was a hero to those who supported the British. Does that make him a pariah to 21st Century Americans? Of course not. Did the Americans tear down the statue of King George after the war? Sure. He was a leader of another country. However, did we tear down statues of George Washington because he was a slave owner and owning slaves was and is a terrible thing…except in professional sports? No, of course we didn’t. So why, pray tell, are we tearing down statues of Americans who fought valiantly to defend their beliefs during the war that has been called by so many names? If you were born and raised in the South, you know that war as the War for Southern Independence, the War for Southern Rights, the Yankee Invasion, and nearly 100 other names. Those of us who live in the north are, supposedly, over it. Many, many people from the south still believe that their rights were severely trampled upon. It’s not even so much about the slavery issue as it is the manner in which their ancestors were treated by the Union after the war was concluded.

The incident at Charlottesville had nothing to do with the Civil War. It had nothing to do with the statue of General Lee. It had everything to do with a bunch of people dissatisfied with their own lives and wishing to beat the crap out of those whom they feel has life a hell of a lot better than they do. These white supremacists and nationalists, and whatever other labels they wish to attach to themselves are only there to allow them to justify their attitudes toward others who don’t believe as they do. They are narrow minded bigots who cannot understand why others are not as narrow minded and as bigoted as they are. These are the same people who want dinner on the table at five every night; who want Saturday’s ‘supper’ to be beans and hot dogs because that’s what Saturday’s supper has always been. These are the same people who heard Donald Trump say that he was going to make America great again, and to them, it meant that their lives would improve – read as, “We’ll have more money and better cars and health care, and we won’t have to tolerate anyone we don’t like” …which, by the way, meant just about everyone around them.

Mark Powell, a Washington, DC writer and blogger, wrote, “Statues are important symbols. They are visual reminders of significant people who shaped our shared past. Toppling them can be a political statement. (Think Lenin’s likeness coming down in the Soviet Union’s final days and Saddam’s statue falling after Baghdad’s liberation.) They can be wartime morale boosters. (As in the case of George III in New York). And they can become lost legacies when they are snatched away from citizens who grow careless with their culture.” So it is with the statues of Robert E. Lee, Andrew Jackson, and many heroes of the south. What has caused this sudden upsurge in eliminating these heroes of this portion of American history? Are we saying that this part of our history never happened or should be swept under the rug? If so, that’s wrong. If so, then let’s chip away at Mt. Rushmore. After all, like Washington, Thomas Jefferson was a slave holder and even fathered children by his slaves. Let’s rip down Lincoln because he wasn’t totally against slavery, but it was a political tool to maintain his popularity in the north. And Teddy Roosevelt was a big game hunter, so he should be taken off the mountain to appease the animal rights folks. Let us remove every single statue that appears anywhere, because somehow, someone will find a reason for that statue not to belong.

The march on Charlottesville had, supposedly, been in the planning stages since last fall. Just exactly what does that mean? What was the march to accomplish? Who was doing the planning and why? What made Charlottesville such an attractive target? Since we know that the White Supremacists and the Nazis didn’t really give a damn about General Lee (or much of anything else other than smashing heads), why were they going to that beautiful Virginia town? You guessed it if you said they were hoping to find some young people whom they could beat up. You guessed it if you said they were hoping to find a town that they could trash. I find it difficult to believe that the Virginia state police or even some of the federal intelligence agencies didn’t see this on the horizon and warn the governor and his aides. Those people never should have made it to Charlottesville. They should have been met on its outskirts by the National Guard or troops of the Regular Army and told to turn around and go home. As I understand it, they had no permits to march, but they did have a permit to hold a rally in Emancipation Park, originally named Lee Park. I have yet to understand why a permit would be given to a confirmed white supremacist and motorcycle outlaw like Jason Kessler but what the hell, who am I to take issue with someone who is just as much a citizen of this country as I am.

Charlottesville should not have been allowed to happen. Heather Heyer did not have to die. James Fields, Jr., did not have to ram his car into a crowd of anti-right-wing demonstrators just because he is fascinated with the Nazis and Adolph Hitler. Haters, most of whom came from outside the state of Virginia, did not have to come to the state to express their displeasure with America.

While Donald Trump attempted to mollify his alt-right supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan by blaming both sides for the violence, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe put it best when he said: “It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly-out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property. I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state.”

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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I recalled the quote if not the author while I was pedaling my butt off on a bike at the gym this morning. What brought it to mind was the insane (and inane) comments by little Donny T regarding how he would respond to Kim Jong Un’s threat to drop a few missiles 20 kilometers off Guam. These two dictators have been going at it for a while now. It’s something like two bullies in the schoolyard, taunting each other but never throwing the first punch because they are fearful that the other will hit back harder.

Trump’s posturing is typical of his behavior in everything that he has shown us, both as a candidate and as an elected official – I cannot and will not ever refer to him by the title he claims to hold. He has made outrageous claims that cannot be substantiated. He has lied openly and boldly. He has shown no hesitation to turn on those who have supported him. He has demonstrated that his single goal in running for the most important office in this country is merely to make money for himself and for those who are currently in his circle of friends, eg, people in the fossil fuel industry.

I find it interesting that for the majority of people who preceded Trump as commander-in-chief, military options were always the option of last resort. For Trump, a man who never served in the military, and is thus ignorant of standard operating procedures, military options appear to be his first course of action. This can probably be attributed to his psychological profile. I’m willing to wager that his “win at all costs” mentality means going to the biggest weapon in his arsenal right at the outset, rather than trying to compromise in a manner that makes both his adversary and himself satisfied. Just take a look at where he has succeeded and where he has failed. The hotels have been successful not because of him, but despite him. Were he to be on the front desk, serving as the banquet manager, facilities supervisor, or even running the cleaning service, he abrasive personality would soon create sufficient friction to enrage union as well as non-union employees. His golf courses are successful because visitors do not have to deal with him directly. When it came to Trump University, his tactics were too close to his own management style and the results were disastrous. The same can be said for Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, and any other single business where he was closely allied to the name.

In addition to rattling his nuclear saber at North Korea, Trump has now set his sights on Venezuela, making claims about the chaos he sees in the New York Post or perhaps on Fox news. Heaven only knows what the intelligence agencies are sharing with him about activities in that country or any other. He cannot be trusted to keep his 140-character mouth from blabbing information, classified or not. However, if something does leak, you can bet your booties that he’ll find a way to blame some other innocent for his faux pas.

At the present time, I find it impossible to write a kind word about the man falsely elected to the top job in our nation. Donald J. Trump is a fraud and a con man. Many of those who put him into office are now regretting their vote. Others are big money brokers, looking to capitalize in the stock market, and then there are the few ignorant souls to whom he appealed because of his strong messages, not one of which has been fulfilled. “Does not play well with others” is one of the least offensive things that I can say about Trump. Heck, he’s thrown so many people under the bus that the Washington Transit Authority has changed their routes and hasn’t told anyone in the White House about it.

It has been apparent from the outset that Trump has no concept of how to work with other people. His attacks on Democrats in Congress as well as the shots he’s taken at members of his own party are destroying any possibility of getting his own legislative agenda passed. The job of Congress when it returns next month is fund the government to head off a shutdown and to raise the federal borrowing limit to avert a potentially devastating, first-ever default on US obligations. While these are critical, I don’t see how either can be accomplished unless Trump wakes up and learns how to act with others in a meaningful and polite manner. How he will reconcile with Mitch McConnell is a big unknown, but he will be required to do so if he is to have any hope of getting new health care legislation passed, not to mention what can be done about tax reform, infrastructure legislation, and nominees who must undergo Senate confirmation.

All in all, it seems to me that no person in the position in which Trump finds himself has ever done more to alienate both those on the Democratic side of the aisle as well as those on what is supposed to be “his” side of the aisle. Perhaps the first order of business for Congress would be to begin impeachment proceedings. I’m certain they would find Mike Pence a hell of a lot easier to work with than this caricature of a buffoon who doesn’t have a clue about running a country. In addition, the rest of us will sleep better at night.

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Push the hook

Push the hook through the hole; wrap the yarn around the hook; pull the hook back through the hole; make the latch, and release the hook…repeat, repeat, repeat…24,000 times, using different colors of yarn, following a pattern that will have you cross eyed if you stay with it for any single length of time, and you wind up with a beautiful latch hooked rug. Then you bind it with iron-on tape made for the purpose and give it as a present to someone who doesn’t know or doesn’t care just how long it took to make the bloody thing of which you’re so very proud.

I don’t know whether to call it “crafting,” “craftsy,” or just being a darned fool, but when one sees the finished product, it makes one feel pretty good. I figure if Rosie Greer (Los Angeles Rams for you non-football aficionados} can do needlepoint, I – not of football playing age or ability – can do latch hooking or candle-making or some other craft to keep my hands busy. Some say that it has a calming influence on the crafter. I don’t know that to be necessarily true, but it’s satisfying to the extent that when you give a rug to a friend or family member, you feel good about doing so.

Years ago, candles were my big thing. That was when we were living in Newton and the kids were young. It was not a craft that amused my wife. Melting wax in a double boiler, adding just the right amount of hardening, and then pouring said hot wax into rubber or tin molds without spilling it (while ensuring that the wick stayed in the center of the mold), wasn’t easy…as our kitchen floor could attest. In hindsight and with the wisdom that comes from looking back, I’d have to say that my candles sucked. How about that for an unbiased opinion. Really, the molds were good but I’d usually find a way to screw up the wick or some other thing. While you can mess up latch hooking, it’s not that easy to do so.

Some people have asked how I ever got interested in crafts in the first place. Well, it began a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…forget that. Actually, it happened after our Army Reserve unit was recalled to Washington for what was then known as the Berlin Crisis. Since our area of expertise was the then Soviet Union, we were assigned to the Pentagon to do some Soviet Studies. The evenings were filled with…nothing. One could either lay around the barracks, go to some of the bars in DC or go eat ice cream with friends at the greatest ice cream place I’ve ever found. It was called Gifford’s and if you could eat their jumbo sundae, it was free…no, I didn’t try. The alternative to this was a building on post where one could just hang out, get involved with weaving – they had a couple of big looms – lapidary or stone polishing to make jewelry, carpentry, ceramics, candle-making, and a few other crafty-type-thingies. I’m not really a “hang out” kinda guy so I got involved in making some jewelry for my wife, turned to ceramics, making coffee mugs, beer steins, and assorted other pieces, and finally tried my hand at candle-making. The whole place was run by one immensely talented woman who was a skilled teacher. Heck, if she could teach me, she must have known her stuff. This interest in crafts carried over after we were released from active duty, and I’ve been amusing myself with one craft or another ever since.

If I knew how to post pictures on the blog, you could rest assured that pictures of the rugs I’ve made would accompany this article, but since we’re not dealing with the brightest bulb on Broadway, I admit to not having the knowledge to post photos. If I get to that point, the article will be edited and amended. If you’re like me, and you enjoy staying busy, I heartily recommend crafting. Juli doesn’t care much for me talking about what she does in crafts, but let me sneak a couple of things in: She’s already knitted nearly 100 hats for her mother to take to a school in Nevada this year. She makes handbags, tote bags, clutch purses, wristlets, and backpacks, using fabric, vinyl and cork. Many of these will go to a silent auction to support a 4-H Club in California. She also has a small lapidary area downstairs and has been known to drill sea glass and stones to make some exquisite jewelry. She also crochets and does counted cross stitch. But, she doesn’t want me to talk about that…so I won’t. (Dick, shut up! Juli)
Yep, she actually edited that…what can I tell ya?

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I shall attempt to write this without resorting to the language of my youth on the streets of…well, you know what I’m saying. Anyway, a van rear ended a car the other day. When the driver of the car emerged to determine why he was hit, the three occupants of the van, he found, were passed out. They had, apparently, overdosed on drugs…not just drugs, but fentanyl, “…a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.” This is one of those drugs where a little dab won’t do ya, it will probably kill ya. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “High doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely, which can lead to death. The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases risk of overdose, especially if a person who uses drugs is unaware that a powder or pill contains fentanyl. Fentanyl sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers. But…I’m getting ahead of my story.

Now the driver of the car that had been hit knew a little bit more about the asshole idiot who hit him. The police and the fire department were called in an attempt to revive the three druggies. It took ten doses of Narcan to revive the three people. During the processing of their van, three police officers became exposed to the fentanyl and had to be taken to the hospital. Now, here’s my question: If one of those police officers had stopped breathing – in effect, overdosed by inhaling too much of the drug from the carpet or one of the seats – what would have happened if all of the Narcan was gone? Allow me to enlighten you…the cop would have died…not because he was a drug addict but because he was trying to do his job. That, to me, is as much murder as if one of those addicts had taken a gun and shot that cop, and that just happens to be murder.

Much has been made of the opioid crisis in America. Much has been made about helping the ‘poor people’ who overdose on opioids of any kinds. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tells us the we are in an epidemic of opioid abuse. Heck, we’ve been in the middle of a drug abuse fight for more than a century. We aren’t winning that fight, so what makes us think that we’re going to win the opioid abuse fight? Is Narcan the answer? It certainly doesn’t seem so when a local fire department is called to revive the same person three times in one week. Someone has to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is when we stop reviving you and allow you to kill yourself. If you are so stupid that you will not seek medical assistance and continue to take drugs like fentanyl, we will no longer be the crutch that you are dependent upon.”

Personal responsibility and accountability seem to be two things that are lacking in today’s generation, and we, as a society, are letting this generation get away with it. A teacher in a private school in Florida gave a student a failing grade…didn’t attend classes, didn’t pass in homework, failed each exam. The parents, who were major donors, protested on behalf of their daughter. The faculty member was told by the dean of faculty to change the grade. He refused and was suspended by the school. He no longer teaches. An athlete on scholarship at a major university no longer wanted to participate in her sport but wished to keep the scholarship money. Her coach refused. Again, parents intervened. Kid keeps scholarship and coach gets chewed out by the university president.

What is wrong with these situations. It seems that today, every kid who tries out for anything must be accepted, even if it’s the parents who want the child to perform, not the child. This whole idea of getting a trophy or a ribbon merely because one participates is nonsense. To quote one coach, “Athletics is one of the last fields in which meritocracy prevails.” Based on the university situation noted above, it’s conceivable that even that may be changing. When parents can bring pressure to bear to save little Johnny or Mary, there is something wrong. When will the child learn to stand on its own two feet, certainly not if someone is willing to fight their fights. When will the child learn the principles of accountability and responsibility, not while they have a champion in their corner. And what happens when the someone or the champion is no longer there, how will the child become an adult? How will the child learn the lessons of failure and success? The answer is that the child will not, and at that point, the child becomes a burden to the society in which we live.

Note to parents: Stay out of your kid’s lives after the age when they enter school. Allow them to rise or fall on their own merits. Kid didn’t make the team? Fine, kid wasn’t good enough. Kid is getting bullied? Fine, but if the school doesn’t respond, that’s when you step in. Kid gets a failing grade? Don’t accept, “My teacher is mean to me, or my teacher doesn’t like me, or my teacher picks on me.” Somewhere under there is a reason, a rationale. My question becomes, “Why is the teacher mean; why doesn’t the teacher like; why does the teacher pick.” Kids can be little shits, assholes, brats from the time they’re six until the time when some boss says, “You’re fired!” Or as one parent put it, “Put on your big girl panties and grow up!”

This is also true of opioid abusers. Fine, you had surgery and it hurt. Fine the doctor prescribed opioids and they made you feel better. Fine, you became addicted to them. Withdrawal is tough. Ask me, I’ve been through it with tobacco after 51 years of using it, and I am going through it again at age 82 with a benzodiazepine class of psychoactive drugs after using it for more than 20 years. My willpower is no stronger than the next person. I still have the drug…but I refuse to take it. My empathy for people who overdose on opioids is at an end. Yes, you may be revived one time…and one time only. Your life choices are yours and not the responsibility of those you feel should always help and protect you.

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“The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There probably isn’t a single retired person who hasn’t used that line at least once since entering the outer lobby of God’s waiting room. For example, my car is at the auto repair shop today. That shop is only three miles away. It would please me greatly to jog or walk, as the case might be, to pick up the car rather than have one of the mechanics drive to the house and my having to drive him back. Yes, it would please me greatly…ain’t gonna happen…no matter how much my mind would like to do this, I’m aware that I (a) I couldn’t jog down the driveway, (b) I couldn’t walk to the end of my own street, and (c) I could cause myself severe discomfort and probably hospitalization if I even thought too long or hard about doing it in the first place. This is fact. Old people don’t think of themselves as old. We believe we can run a 10K in 45 minutes…we can’t. We believe that we can still stand up at the plate and hit a curve ball…we can’t. We believe we can drive a golf ball 250 yards…we can’t. We believe, we believe, we believe.

There was a time when I could hit that curve…I could never drive a golf ball. As we age, it’s wonderful to have those expectations of ourselves, but the truth is, we are damned to lowering our expectations if we expect to survive to our next birthday. I asked a few friends how they felt about “getting up there,” and how they spend their time in the “days of dotage.” One pal wrote, ”My activities would be of no value to you as I lead a very dull lifestyle. My day starts at around 5:30 am, not because I want to be up at that hour, but nature calls, and I haven’t wet the bed in years. It’s only after relieving myself that I’m awake enough to understand that I hurt too much to go back to sleep. Morning coffee is next on the list, along with attempting the crossword puzzle that was in last night’s newspaper…this in an attempt to stave off senility…or to keep my current state of mind from wandering any further away. Usually, I say ‘to hell with it, and cheat on the crossword puzzle. Finally, I get to my e-mail, checking to see all the great things on which I can save money…but don’t need, and all the lonely hearts who are dying to meet me. My wife gets up and who knows when or where we will go or what time we’ll get back. Since she doesn’t allow me to go in most of the stores, I stand outside and pester other shoppers. Once we get home, I check the obits in the paper, and if I don’t find my name, it’s time for a drink…then dinner – in or out – and a little TV. Since most of the stuff sucks, I either fall asleep in the chair or head off to bed by 11, asking myself, “what the hell did I do all day to be so tired.?” Then I say thanks for the day and hope to hell I wake up to do it all again the next day.”

Other friends are not so fortunate. I have three friends whose spouses are in various stages of dementia. The days of spousal love are gone, and the days of care giver love have arrived. As I’ve mentioned in several pieces, being a care giver becomes a fulltime job. A great deal depends on the stage and the type of dementia through which the spouse is going, nonetheless, it becomes a burden that only true love can survive. I pray for my friends…and their spouses. Unlike caring for someone who is terminally ill from cancer, ALS, MS, or some other degenerative disease, all of these folks are ambulatory and must be watched carefully for wandering is a real possibility.

Heard from another friend, and this geezer – he’s older than I am – is still working. Well, he does volunteer fundraising for several organizations. That does not mean, however, that he neglects his golf game, still trudging around the 18 holes at least three times a week. Thankfully, his spouse is also an avid golfer, and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, is now challenging him around the greens.

I continue to insist that no one should retire without a plan to help keep them busy…in the short run, the medium period, and the long term. If someone wants to travel in their retirement, great, but you must have the cash as well as the desire. A woman at the gym just came back from touring Sweden and Norway. She found it difficult to believe that I’d never been to Europe. “I’d like to see more of our own country,” I told her. She seemed to find that rather parochial, and, I believe somewhat plebian, but that’s okay…guess I’m just a country boy at heart. I’m quite certain that the castles of Germany, France, Switzerland, and elsewhere, the pyramids of Egypt, and the jungles of the Amazon are thrilling to some. However, I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and I’ve stood atop Pike’s Peak, looking back to Kansas and its sparkling waves of grain. I’ve driven through the desert of the Southwest, and stood in the snow in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’ve walked on beaches in Florida and Maine, but the USA still holds a great deal of mystery to me. So, I guess I’ll just write a bit more in the blog, go to the gym, do a little gardening when I can, latch hook when I can’t, and just work like hell to stay alive. If that’s not to be, shoot, I’ve had a pretty good run. Hope everyone out there can say the same.

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