Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Religious Convictions and Modern Life

Lot's of upset in society due to daily mass shootings. The latest being 100 people in a club in Orlando Florida. Turns out the guy (1 man) was a Muslim, hated many groups, but especially gays. Pretty horrible, anyway you slice it.

The attitude displayed by the fringe "religious" folk underscores a big source of the problem. Texas' own Lt. Governor (he who does not deserve to be named) was quick to tweet a bible verse, suggesting the shooting victims had it coming.

The do-nothing congress continues in their hot streak of Doing Nothing (well, they always have rhetoric to spare) .

But, back to religious groups who are fighting (politically) to preserve their right to smite people not of their own persuasion. Every religion that refers to "The God of Abraham" has a long list of nasty things to say about "others". "Others" being anybody who isn't 'one of us'. Oh, the other 10,000 belief systems probably have plenty of faults, but I am going to keep it to the "Big Three" for this discussion.

I'm thinking people who are attracted to the idea of behaving badly under sanction of the Holy Book (whichever one you choose) represent the sad, sick part of society - ours or any.

Western society, North America, Western Europe, etc. have plenty of these people although in the minority and just tolerated  by the majority. Your third world countries in the Middle East - Northern Africa, etc. seem to have sanctioned these nasty scripture passages into civil law, and created whole sick, dysfunctional societies.

So we have examples of life under religious dictates. Kinda makes you want to ban religion (ha, just kidding folks!). Perhaps the real answer is to make critical thinking cool, and reactionary behavior totally not cool.

Monday, January 4, 2016

HIgh End Madness?

I had a bit of time on my hands this afternoon, so I thought to walk through an Outlet Mall on the far NW side of town. I had last been there about 5 years ago, and since it was a smashing success, wanted to see how it had grown.
Oh, it had grown . . . about 4 times the size as when I last saw it.
Still packed, even on a Monday afternoon, not easy to find a parking space.

So I browsed through looking at the "bargains" ($280. rubber shoes for $180.) and I started to fantasize what it would be to look like the fashionista male who wore clothing just from these stores. Why obviously I would be the coolest guy I know... or maybe just look the coolest??
Feel like the coolest, but inside know it's not me, it's just the threads.

I have never been a customer of the High-End Outlet Mall or The Galleria, I buy most of my clothing from resale shops. For the first time I began to wonder why people were lining up to buy the 'designer' shops bargains-that-were-still-way-out-of-my-price-range.

Taking a closer look at my fellow shoppers (BTW, we do this more at Walmart than anywhere else - right?). I took a look at my finely-tailored fellow shoppers; most wearing the same shoes, pants, shirts, etc. that they were there to buy. Some of these folks were comfortable enough dropping 500-600. for a casual outfit, but there were plenty others for whom (I suspect) this represented a chunk of change.

I am good with people doing what people do, here's the thing: This mall is full of people who bought the Mad Men created lie. They one that says if you wear the right names, it will

bring up your status in the world,
make you whole,
change your life. 

Sorry about that. I don't believe it.

Since this was written, I was invited to pick out a custom suit with my son. This was at a place called Sid Mashburn - a high end store I would likely never go in (not even to browse). Yes, I did choose a very nice new suit, and it was an amazing experience. Son and I did some talking about clothes and suits in particular and were in agreement that a quality suit and shoes does change the way you are perceived by many people. 
Now, I want to draw a distinction between what I said above and what I am saying now: I still believe the hat with the swoosh, loud expensive sneakers, and that type of clothing don't cause your stock to rise with most of society. It could be that that whole scene is just out of my demographic...

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Personal Year in Review

     Okay, so I decided to first post my recollections about the year in month by month form from memory, then go back and look at old posts, etc. to see how that compared.

January - Went on ski trip to Colorado. Attended son's company party. Both offered a good time, both were opportunities for spouse to display disregard for me and our marriage.

February - Planned event to promote U Bar U. Saw old friends and had a good time. Moderate financial success. Also attended Bid Fest (Texas Ski Council) in San Antonio. Learned that even though I had been attending meetings and events for 2.5 years, no one had ever seen me before.

March - Had party for spouse 60th birthday. Based on one she threw me (assuming that is what she would like).

April - Rehearsed with First Unitarian choir for concert piece delivered on Easter. Great experience.

May - Visit with daughter and B.F. in Bay Area. Great 4 day trip. Also Men's retreat at UBU

June - Began attending Zoomers Meet Up events. Went to Child Advocates training, decided it was not for me.

July - Tenant lease ends, I move out of my home into rent house. Begin fixing it up. Saw Bernie Sanders at UH.  Saw Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, then EWF + Chicago.

August - Started singing in choir at FUC, went on weekend camp/DG trip in hill country, started attending weekly small group meetings from church.

September - Met Karen Price went on first date Sat. Sept 5 Skeeters baseball. Second date Sun. Sept 13 Last Concert Cafe, third date Sat Sept. 19 Cave Stock

October - Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, Halloween on FM1960, followed by Ren Fair.

November - Started playing Wed. at Michelangelo, Men's retreat, Prohibition date.

December - Lot's O work. A few nice dates, Jones Hall concert, SCSC gala dinner/dance, Broadway show at Wortham, finish the month/year at the beach Port Aransas

Now, highlights from my journal.

January - Deep concern for my primary relationship, spouse zoned out, moved our of bedroom, etc.

February - Had "The Conversation" that led to Rita lowering the boom ("I want a divorce"). Got support from my friends, and a therapist. Tough month

March - Started thinking of Rita as V4.0 - not the version of life partner I have had for many years. Helps a bit. Did not have party for spouse birthday, that was last year.

April - Started working on splitting the assets. Negotiating who gets what. Deciding where I want to live. Looking at options.

May - Still of two minds on many issues of the future.

June - Busy at work, nice camping weekend with the fellas

July - Vowing to file divorce papers by September, started looking at dating apps.

August - Trailer wreck, flirting on Tinder.

September - Met Karen, went on date, broke a tooth, worried about Herpes.

October - things ramping up with Karen, enjoy weekly singing in choir

November - Started weekly at Michelangelo appreciating relationship with Karen.

December - Working 7 days a week, and almost as many nights.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

So Many Things to be Thankful For...

I know, EVERYBODY does this around mid November. What we really need, is to make every Wednesday Thanksgiving.
The blessings we take for granted could fill the *Astrodome.
or might as well for all they are doing with it.

For the record, I have been doing "I'm thankful fors" in my journal for a good couple of months now.

Tonight I want to be thankful for Family in my life.

Wow, so many wonderful people...


Joanne- Almost more of a big sister, shared adventures, dramas, received lessons from one another.
Bill- Big, rugged, man's man sort of guy. Fearless. The type you enjoy having a beer with.

Minnie Lee- Nobody could care more for me. Dramatic, smothering, yet able to back off when need be.
John- Like my first best friend. A real peer. Connected very early in my life, stayed great friends till the end.
The Living
Starting with my (one day) ex wife Rita.
Thankful for the years we were true partners. Which, (I believe) were most of the 35 years we were married.

Thankful for my great children, Christopher and Meagan.
Wow, If you know these people, I don't have to go into how wonderful they are. If you don't know these people, well . . . better get on it. You just   can't. do. better.

Siblings: Barbara, my first sib. I was Looking at some (very) old photos of when you and I were the only children of Joanne and Bill.  All the 7 years it was us... that is bonding baby.

Kim: I was 7 when you joined us. OMG it was the most exciting thing ever! It was/has been/is cool being your big brother. A pleasure and an honor.

Candace- not the first hidden sib I was introduced to, (that was Carol), but the one that was cute, funny and really welcoming.

Laura- first child of the Next Generation (who would play Data?) Wow, what can I say, the one I most relate to as a person. Don't know why, don't care why.

Tara-Next child of T.N.G. always great to be around, cute, funny, missed your mark not going into show biz. Sorry I harshed your mellow at your first divorce, hope you forgive me.

Martin- Next child of T.N.G. like part of my own family. It was/is/shall be great being your uncle. Proud of you and the life you have created.

Natalie- Talented, worthy, Always a sweetheart, a real chip off the ol' block.

Jonathan- My fondest memory of you was a conversation we had around 1979. You were in your playpen, I gave you advice for your future.
I'm glad you listened.

Tiffany- don't know well, but would like to. Seems to have grown and matured into a fine woman.

Ashley- Hard worker, apple of her mother's eye. Admirer from afar. Watching your progress, and wishing you all the best.

From here it branches off into still the next generation of great nieces and nephews. People I hope to know well, and encourage and benefit from knowing.

Grandchild on the way...  I am about to explode with joy over that.

Got to give props to my honey and squeeze. Karen Jane Leeson. Honey, you are absolutely a gift from heaven. SO the right girl at the right time, I hope I have been as good for you as you have been for me.

I sound like a guy who thinks he is dying right?

Here's the shocking part: Yes, because we are all dying. Tonight when you go to bed, understand you just used up another of your precious days here on Earth.
One day, if I'm living or dead, somebody may look at this and get something positive from it. Well, good. That's what I'm here for folks.

* fun fact: "Astrodome" is not a word as spellcheck sees it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Paul McCartney Lived at MY HOUSE!

The funny thing was he was there about a week before it really dawned on me that it was PAUL MCCARTNEY living in my house.
When it sunk in, I mentioned to my son that Paul was like part of the family now and maybe you should call him "Uncle Paul". He said "I do".

We assumed he was living with us because of some project he was working on, but didn't know for sure.
As a side story, we had a distant family member running for public office. Guys wearing sunglasses were visiting all the relations homes. Looking for embarrassing stuff I suppose. I wouldn't be embarrassed about Paul, but you never know... To be sure,
"our house" was bigger and cooler than our actual house. I was impressed when I walked through it.
I wish I could say I remember a conversation we had, but no, he was just there walking through a room, or sitting in the back reading the paper...

Still don't know why I dreamed Paul McCartney lived in my house, but there ya go!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Even THINKING This Would Get You Horse Whipped in MY Day!

Okay, so during a service at my Unitarian church, Michael Servetus was mentioned as a guy (in history) that read the Bible and noticed there was no call for us to accept a "Holy Trinity" in our theology. So he printed a pamphlet to help people realize their mistake call "On The Errors of the Trinity". This promptly got him on the sh*t list of several people, and the Christian version of a fatwa was called as a response. Upshot: M.S. = BBQ

This got me to thinking about the things that have gotten people riled up to call for a lynching (or at least a sever beating) for offending the public's sensibilities.

Being an old guy, I search my memory for things that people held near and dear when I was a child. We are talking about the 50's here.

What I remember personally is this:

  • "Whites and Blacks do not mix" (not talking about laundry here)
  • There was a weird attitude towards "Jews". Tried to figure that one out, but never could make any sense of it.
  • "Only people of low morals get divorced"
  • I am pretty sure everybody "loved the lord with all their heart" at least in public.
  • Homosexual people only existed in Europe
These are a few of the things things I remember. I'm sure generations before mine have other forms of behavior that were demanded from people in general. The further back you go, the sillier they seem. Yet, people lived and died on 'The Rules'.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Adventures in Chinese Food Delivery - Chicago Style

If you wonder where I got my work ethic, it was from the knowledge that if I wanted something, I could get it, but I would have to work for it.
I worked Saturdays on my father's used car lot to earn enough to buy a banana seat for my bicycle (age 9), and by age 11 I was ready for the big time: a job at the neighborhood supermarket. I got my Dad to front me in by telling them I was 13 when I was only 11. I had my growth spurt, so you couldn't tell. That was followed by a position as "Super Scooper" (I gave myself that name, even used it on my tax return) I might have earned $1/per hour, but it was probably less.

Finally I was 17 going into my last year of high school. I needed a job. My landlord, Clifford Royce got me in at this factory in Addison IL. We made things out of wire. I made it through the winter, then got fired that spring when I asked the owner for a raise.

The Shanghai Inn did a brisk delivery business in downtown Chicago, and they paid daily. Sounded good to me. So now, we present, a few adventures of *"Chinese Food Delivery Guy".

Howard Dong, the owner and bossman, handed me a menu and said "put this on your dashboard and you will never get a parking ticket". Being 17, I believed him, and that menu became my talisman that protected me from all harm: Parking tickets, mugging, etc. Just to be safe, I always parked as close to the door of the building as possible. This often meant double parking, but sometimes meant triple parking. I wasn't taking any unnecessary chances.

Among some of the fun times; Waiting at the main post office for someone to meet you and pick up their order. This was not desirable on account of those people NEVER tipped. One time I went with a big order and waited / /  and waited / / then decided  I must be in the wrong location and drove to the other end of the block. The guy I was waiting for came up to my window all out of breath screaming at me. "Didn't you hear me? I was yelling at you from down the block!!" He was furious. How could I hear him with my extra cool Blankeput radio going at 90db? I thought he was going to reach in and strangle me!

Then there was the time I was at the welfare hotel with an order. This was a place where the desk clerk was behind a thick window and you push your little green pieces of paper through a special slot, and they pushed your key back at you.
Well, there was somebody ahead of me, it was around midnight, so I patiently waited my turn. After about 5 minutes or so, he wandered away and I approached the window.
Two big church ladies were behind the glass.
They said "Did you SEE what that man did?!?"
I said "No mame, Shanghai Chinese Delivery"
Ignoring that, they replied : "He was pushing his Rodney at us through the change slot!"
Ignoring that, I said "Can I take this order up to the customer, or can you call them to come down?"
It was only later in the elevator their words sank in and I about pissed myself laughing.

There are dozens of stories from this time; cars catching fire, taxi cabs crashing into me and so on.

18 months of this nonsense without ever being robbed. Somehow in the back of my mind I knew the odds were stacking up against me. One bright sunny afternoon, I was walking across a field to a low income highrise when I was struck with a panic attack.

It was time to find a new career.

* I lost my publicist from the ice cream days, hence, no fancy titles with this one.