Queen’s Jubilee

June 10, 2012

Must be a Guinness world record.

Maybe it says a lot about the English diet.

Or why their teeth are so out-of-place.

But to be on the throne for 60 years, now that must be a record for sustained discomfort.

Guess that’s where the stiff upper lip comes from.



June 10, 2012

I think I had a revelation this morning.  A light bulb went off.

Went for an early walk this morning before it got hot.  The birds were out chirping and tweeting.  You could hear the squawk of a pair of blue jays calling out to each other in the distance.  The distinctive call of a two cardinals could be heard as they flew about.  I even recognized the variable call of the Sybil-like mockingbird constantly complaining about something.  They seemed to be saying to the other “I’m over here, where are you?”  The reply is “I’m here, you OK?”.  This “tweeting” goes back and forth in a seemingly endless loop.

Much like Twitter.

I admit I don’t get it.  I concede it is a form of communication.  But it is also a very egotistical medium.  If you think everyone is interested in your mundane life and hangs on every word, that’s sounds an ego issue to me.

So let’s try to learn something from the birds OK?  Save it for somethinbg important like survival.

Louie Zamperini-Just Another of the Greatest Generation of Americans

January 8, 2012

Just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s UnbrokenUnbroken was Unbelievable.  Probably won’t make a good movie since nobody would believe that so much happened to one person in his lifetime.

Won’t spoil the fun for you so just read the book.  What I take away from it is a few things. 

First of all, it continues to show how incredible Louie Zamperini and his generation is.  The World War II veterans are a unique bunch who heard the call and responded.  I am part of the next generation of Americans and an Army veteran but I don’t know if would have been able to survive and thrive as these men and women did.  Resiliency is what they had.

Secondly, the fact that I never heard of Mr. Zamperini before I read this book is a shame on me.  From Olympic participant to POW survivor, he has a truly incredible life.  Thank you Ms. Hillenbrand for providing subsequent generations of Americans with the reminder of how great we were and can be.  We need to be constantly reminded of their contributions and never forget how fortunate we all are to be an American.

Retirement Planning

April 15, 2011

As we get older, we all want to make sure that our later years will be worry free.  Financial security is important in attaining this goal.  This may not be totally possible of course.  But spending time planning where you want to go and how to get there is a required exercise for us all.  I am retired now and I thought I would pass on some strategies that I have found to be successful.  Hopefully, you can implement some of these suggestions.

First of all, you may need to consider how you will occupy your time when you do retire.  For some, this is spending more time with your spouse.  For others, it may mean continuing or beginning a new career.  Maybe you were doing something “on the side” for fun that you can turn into your new passion once retirement comes along.  For me, it was easy.  For the last 35+ years, I had a part-time job that I have successfully converted to a full-time venture. 

I used to drive my wife crazy on a part-time basis; now I do it full-time.  She’s thrilled.  What wife wouldn’t be.  You know, the 2 of us started out as soul-mates.  Now it is more like we are cell-mates!

Another thing to consider is how are you going to manage your expenses given that your income is reduced in retirement.  It takes planning to see where you cut back.  Food is one of those areas.  Obviously, you’ll be spending fewer nights out for dinner.  But you can also make changes at home.  We’ve found one significant way you can save money on food.  Here it is:

Attempt to acquire a taste for cat food.  Mixed grill on a Ritz cracker with a glass of chardonnay.  Not bad.  (Stay away from dog food; dogs palates are not developed enough).

Finally, the last thing anybody wants to happen when you retire is to outlive your nest egg.  You want to make sure that your funds will be available for you to use for as long as you are alive.  I have a strategy which addresses this problem.  It involves having knowledge as to your cash flows, both in and out, so you can project, in rough terms, when you make have exhausted your funds.  When you project that you may have just a few years left before the funds are gone, implement the final strategy as follows:

Take up smoking.  2 packs a day unfiltered cigarettes should do it just fine.

Implementing these strategy tips will go along way to a successful retirement.

Dog Obedience 101

March 27, 2011

The town I live in has classes on a variety of subjects.  You know, Salsa Dancing, Toddler Gymnastics, Jazzercise, etc.  The one that caught my eye was Dog Obedience 101, a basic class.  This interested me and I called up and found out the details of when the class was held.  I asked if I needed to bring anything with me.  The instructor said no; we’ll supply everything.  I went out and bought a new notebook, pens and my favorite, a yellow highlight marker anyway.  I’ll show them how to be overprepared for anything.

I arrived somewhat late for the first class.  Intentionally.  It was my way of avoiding the small talk that ensues when strangers meet for the first time.  I’m never comfortable in such situations so I thought this was the best way to go.  When I entered the room, I could see that the group was mingling and getting to know each other.  A lot of yelping and butt sniffing and the dogs were checking each other out too (insert ba-da-bum here).  I soon realized that everyone was staring at me.  Finally, the instructor came up to me.  He looked a little like a boxer to me and his name tag was shaped like a dog bone.  He asked:

“Where is your dog?”

I said “What dog?”

“The one you are going to train?”

So I started to explain to him my understanding of the situation.  I told him that if I was supposed to bring a dog, he should have told me so when I called him earlier in the week.  I reminded him of his statement that they “supply everything”.  If a dog was necessary, then the course shouldn’t be titled Dog Obedience 101 but Dog Obedience 102.  Class 101 I assumed was a theoretical class on Dog Obedience, hence my notebook and yellow highlighter.  I was expecting it to be in lecture form discussing things like Principles of Dog Obedience, Psychology of Dog Behavior, Carrot or Stick: Which Works Best.  I assumed the practical application of these principle would be put to use in the follow-on course.  If I liked Dog Obedience 101, then maybe I get a dog to practice with for DO 102.  If that went well, maybe I’d actually get a dog.  It made perfect sense to me.  Apparently it didn’t go so well with the instructor.

What I remember next was that the instructor’s face turned a reddish color, not unlike an Irish Setter.  He then said 2 words:

“Sic em!”

I learned something that night.  Never believe it when someone says you don’t need to bring anything.

Not With A Bang But A Whimper

January 22, 2011

So Iran breaks off nuke talks again.  Surprise!  Not really.  We all know they have no intention of changing their current position.  They sure are a pesky, dangerous world member, second only to those wacky North Koreans.  Russia and China are of no help since they rely on Iran as a trading partner.  The danger of Iran has its roots in the lessons they unfortunately learned back in 1979.

Their timing for the revolution was good.  They took over the US embassy while Carter, a very ineffective President, was in power.  The unfortunate thing they learned was lack of fear and respect towards the West and US in particular.  Their leaders who are now in power still think that way.

There is a matrix of fear/love/hate/respect that they and others haven’t mastered.  Here it is:

Like the US;  Have no fear—  Good for the World

Like the US but fear them– Good for the World

Don’t like the US but fear them— Good for the World

Don’t like the US but Have no fear— Bad situation, e.g. Iran

Iran has no fear of the US.  Too bad.  But how do we deal with them?  How about Graffiti Artists?

Stick with me on this.  Graffiti artists were very prolific in displaying their “art” all over public buildings/vehicles, etc.  They were annoying and a scourge to most people and public officials in particular.  But they do have a specialized talent.  So what was needed was to have them re-direct their art to a more socially accepted medium.  Instead of disgracing buildings, put them on canvasses.  Or creating outdoor murals.  Either way, society benefits. 

What does this have to do with Iran?  Well since we no longer manufacture things but are good with technology, why not put those techies to work for the good on mankind.  Instead of hacking corporate websites or posting YouTube videos, why not hack for the benefit of mankind?  Provide our best hackers with super computers, a cot, a Foremen grill, unlimited supply of Cheetos and Big Macs and have them work on wrecking the Iranian project that way.  The worm that the Israeli’s allegedly planted is the way to go.  Bombing their facilities won’t work.  If we done so already, let’s get our hackers working on this and other world problems.

Just my opinion

Blogsurfer US

McDonald’s World

January 7, 2011

I get a chuckle whenever I see certain McDonald’s commercials on TV.  They are the ones portraying life as they see it for their young 2o’s something guests.  The latest one shows two Generation OMG types drinking a McCafe Latte or whatever they are called and doing some sort of synchronized hand slapping.  You’ve seen that one.  What I find amusing is the disconnect that McD obviously has.  I’ve never seen any young adults like the one they show in any McDonald’s that I’ve been to.  This generation usually is at Starbucks and can be seen walking around with their head lowered staring blankly into their IPhones and occasionally rubbing their shins as they bump into things.  What I do see at McD’s are two extremes. 

The young one I see are the very young infants and toddlers brought there by their moms (and sometimes dads) who are there presumably because they believe that They Deserve A Break Today.  They use the playground for the kids to burn off their built up energy.  On the other end of the spectrum are our Elder Americans who use McDonald’s as a gathering place to discuss and decide the crucial political and economic issues of the day.  The Greatest Generation is drawn to McD’s for the atmosphere that allows them this forum.  They drink coffee all right but not the fancy ones, just the regular Joe.  Actually, it is the Senior Coffee that they are there for as it allows them unlimited refills.  This coffee is the fuel that propels most of their discussions.  But no young adults are to be seen.

I guess it is McD’s Field of Dreams motivation.  If they show it, they will come.  But it does make you wonder what they are thinking.

Just my opinion.


Food Snobbery/Prejudice

December 16, 2010

Food prejudice.  Yeah, there is such a thing.  Obviously not between foods themselves but how people perceive certain foods.  Sometimes they are positive and other times they are negative.  Take truffle for example.  People love them.  Well not really people, but gourmets do.  Part of the appeal is their price and rareness.  The flavor is incidental and subtle at best.  The cost is so much more so they have to be good.  Saffron is in a similar situation.  There is just that snob appeal factor.

Sometimes the names themselves are the problem.  Not many people would eat the fish called Slimehead.  How about Patagonian Toothfish?  Sounds gross, eh.  But the marketing folks step in and you get Orange Roughy and Chilean Sea Bass, respectively.  Yummy.

There is also a regional or international prejudice.  I am bi-lingual.  I speak both Northern and Southern American having lived an equal amount of my life in New York and Texas.  We often go to Charleston.  A must see for everyone.  Beautifully preserved historical architecture, warm, friendly people and a very lively culinary scene.  A signature dish of the region is Shrimp and Grits.  Just hearing the word “grits”, a typical New Yorker would cringe and gag.  Blame it on Flo from Alice who liked to tell people where to kiss them.  But place that same New Yorker in a fancy Italian restaurant and have Gamberetti e Polenta on the menu and they’d order it in a minute.  (I know Shrimp and Grits contains more than 2 ingredients but just play along for now).  It is basically the same dish. 

And that brings up another prejudice, the naming of Italian foods.  We Americans love Italian food.  We may go a bit overboard at times.  Pizza is supposed to have only 3 ingredients but we seem to want to increase that number exponentially and try to stuff cheese in many unnatural places.  But we love the food just the same and especially how food words sound.  Polenta is much more appealing than Grits.  Risotto sounds more exotic than Rice.  Penne con Pomodori tastes so much better than macaroni with tomatoes.  Another example of positive prejudice.

Eat up and enjoy no matter how it sounds.  Try not to be too biased.  Not a good way to go through life.


Proposed Changes to the Weather Channel

December 5, 2010


I love the weather channel.  It is especially good when you are just hanging around your hotel room.  You put it on and your mind goes blank.  The next thing you know, you are watching time-lapse videos of radars around the country.  All this accompanied by some jazz Muzak.  Very much like riding an elevator but you are horizontal in bed.  All this is good but lacking something.  I think I figured it out.  What it needs is this:


Not really R or X rated stuff.  Not talking about a Tony Soprano tirade.  Just PG 13+ language to spice things up.  Maybe like this:

Joe:  How are things out there tonight Jim?

Jim C:  This is one mo-fo of a storm.  Can’t tell you how crappy it is here now.

Joe:  That bastard storm!

Jim C:  You are right Joe.  I’m getting whipped around by the wind as we speak.  The storm is trying to make me its bitch but I won’t let it.

Joe:  Good for you.  You are one lucky bastard playing out their in the storm.  I envy you.

Jim C:  You son of a bitch.  Get out here!

Joe:  Can’t.  Gotta hold down the fort here.

Joe:  We’ll have more coverage of “Hurricane Bob The Bastard Storm” in a moment.

You get the idea.  It centers around using the word “bastard” more frequently.  It would make watching more exciting.  Let’s hope they are listening.

Just my opinion.

Try This Some Time Soon

October 4, 2010

My newspaper arrives each morning in a plastic sheath

I go for a walk each day and carrier the sheath with me

Along the way, I pick up recyclables (This is Texas where there is no 5 cent deposit)

When I return, the plastic containers and bottles go in the recycling bin to be picked up each week

The cans go in another container that I turn in for cash at a recycling center

The cash goes to charity

The sheath is returned to the supermarket with other plastic bags for recycling

The neighborhood is cleaner, the planet is cleaner and I get my exercise

Not sure how “win wins” that is but enough I guess

Try it sometimes; you’ll be glad you did