Archive for the ‘General’ Category


June 9, 2016

Sometimes I wonder how often I choose to do something that observers might consider, for lack of a more precise term, stupid.  I also ponder over whether these things are occurring more frequently as I’ve become a Golden Ager.

Let’s look at three related terms, “ignorant”, “dumb”, and “stupid”. To me, ignorant implies “uninformed”, there’s something going on about which one has no knowledge; in fact, the individual may even be vaguely aware that there’s something “out there”, but lacks the interest or motivation to investigate and educate one’s self to the events.

Dumb, to me, implies either an inability to fully understand a situation, sometimes due to the same lethargy indicated above, or on other occasions for a lack of ability to reason out the need for action.

But then there’s stupid. This is characterized in my world by such descriptors as, “He should have known better!”, or, “Knowing what he did, how could he have possibly gone ahead with that?”.

Actually, we see examples of each of these running rampant through the current Presidential political campaigns, particularly with reference to the followers of one specific candidate. This edges over into my last blog on “Denial”; we have facts being denied (dumb), voters going ahead in spite of having accurate information presented for them to consider (stupid), or are just not interested in finding out anything that might change their minds (ignorant).

In looking at my own situation, both past and present, numerous examples easily emerge and unfortunately, often frequently lean toward the “stupid” genre. “Knowing what you do about their unreliability, why did you buy another Jaguar?” “Knowing how your Jayhawks have a history of choking, why do you continue to support them?” “Knowing what you do about nutrition, why do you continue to eat Twinkies?”   As you can see, my examples can occur in almost any category of daily living. But this time, I may have overdone it!

On August 21, 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse (google it!); the path of totality passes directly over central Wyoming including my community of Thermopolis. As a result, the few communities in our sparsely-populated state are faced with two major issues: the first, how are we going to deal with the numbers of viewers flocking into our area, and the second, how can we fleece them out of as much $$$ as possible.

Consider: Wyoming probably has perhaps the cleanest air in the U.S. for viewing things in the sky, even in the daytime when all solar eclipses occur. Yes, we do have lots of oil, natural gas, trona, and coal extraction, leading the nation in several categories. But we send all of it elsewhere for your pollution pleasure; we keep our place clean.

In the past 20 years, there have only been two occasions when the area of viewing has been cloudy; most of our summer days are generally cloudless except for some occasional afternoon thunderstorms. The three hours of this eclipse around here will occur beginning at around 11:30 a.m.

The population of our whole state is only about 520,000; it is expected that as many as 100,000 Yellowstone tourists will zoom down to watch the totality, scientists will flock in from all over the world, and early predictions are that at least 300.000 extra souls will be visiting.

Well, how does this affect my own personal peace and quiet? Well, given that one of my college majors was Astronomy, and that for the past several years I’ve been a Chairperson/Board Member for the Big Horn Basin Foundation (the educational arm of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center), it seemed appropriate for me to get involved and maybe be on some kind of minor committee associated with this event. And so, yesterday I attended a meeting locally to see what I can do to help. And this is where Stupid rears its head.

Even after hearing that all of the five communities west of Casper are each planning a weekend of events, the eclipse to occur on a Monday, I remained silent.

When we were told that the Wyoming Highway Patrol will not allow any parking along U.S. highways 20/26 in spite of there being 175 miles of vacant space between the various small towns along the route, I sat quietly except for clearing my throat a few times and making a few moves in Words With Friends on my smart phone.

I began to fidget when a representative of one of the three State Parks in the area reported that his inquiry regarding the need for about 350 portapotties was met with an offer to sell us that many, there weren’t that many available to rent for three days.

As the meeting continued, we learned that no one community knows what the others are doing as far as entertainment and other activities are concerned; that there are six city police departments and four county sheriff departments in addition to the state patrol, to coordinate logistics.

Our large nearby Boysen reservoir, easily visible from 500 miles above the earth in NASA photos (and a mother lode for walleye fishing), is expected to be hosting hundreds of viewers in boats on the lake.

Many hotels already have all their rooms booked, even with this whole year to prepare. Most of these are for scientists from foreign countries.

Wyoming is not currently set up for the numbers expected (actually, that’s why I live here).

It occurred to me that there didn’t appear to be anyone actually coordinating or collecting information from all the communities and entities involved, so that some level of communication could be achieved. There is a need to identify as accurately as possible the potential problems to be addressed, as well as soliciting input from among the major players. And, since all the persons attending the meeting have “day jobs”, who was to do it?

Well of course, none other than Stupid! I suggested that there need to be appropriate sub -committees established specific to each identified task, and that their information and progress should be funneled through a central point to be distributed among all the groups. As another example of what we’re facing, I have made two unreturned phone calls to one of the community’s Chamber of Commerce; I hope this isn’t going to be characteristic of the road ahead.

So, wish me luck as this task unfolds. I’ve already run into a disagreement—When I suggested that in the event of bad weather on that day, we move the eclipse to a different day; I was met with blank stares.

During all of this, I hope to complete the draft of my book, “The Middle School Primer — An Owner’s Manual for Parents and Teachers” and solicit input to the draft through an announcement on this blog site. The outline has been reposing in my computer for more than a year.

I may even need some Divine Intervention periodically along the way. I note that Ramadan begins this weekend; if you know anyone of that persuasion, you might mention these tasks.

Always Be Happy   To Our Youth




May 31, 2016

Occasionally within some of the blogs I’ve written, I’ve toyed fleetingly with the concept of Denial. Several times I mentioned it in relation to my personal state of health; more recently in connection with the current political climate.

However, I recently recognized that I am not alone in this condition; suddenly it appeared important to me personally to spend some thoughtful moments (usually when driving long distances) probing into the condition, perhaps to help me overcome its negative consequences.

I think that what triggered this urgency was reading a beautifully written blog by one of my favorite informal writers, in which she listed a plethora of situations causing her to retreat from the continual erosion of what should be rational existence, into a smaller world where her focus on the Natural World and Faith provide sanctuary. Wars, political upheavals both overseas and here at home, inequality rampant throughout the economic situation, new diseases —– a veritable smorgasbord of nastiness throwing a cloak of confusion and intolerance over an easier pathway of living. By retreating from that world, she can find temporary solace of her own design, denying for the moment those other intrusions.

For me, the aging process has provided opportunities galore for denial, those things which keep popping up which I have earlier referred to as “The tarnish on the Golden Years”, and which seem almost universal among my peer group. Several of my friends, a bit younger and only in their 60’s, began playing a game called “pickleball”, sort of a variation of badminton and paddle tennis. They are learning that there are things which they no longer can or should do; three of them are on what the NFL refers to as “injured reserve” and it is questionable how capably any of them can return to the sport anytime soon, if at all. And, more importantly, it significantly interferes with their normal daily golf game. But I don’t think that the reality has actually yet set in.

I keep trying to do things which I’ve done before, and about which I may have at least a comfortable knowledge. I can no longer shoot baskets, being unable to do much of anything above my head due to my oft-described spinal conditions. Yet I bought a new basketball, thinking that perhaps someday soon I’ll be able to use it. Beyond that, I do daily physical therapy focusing primarily on the neuropathic problems in the feet and legs, but I still have my tennis racket and think I’m still able to do it. Even as I have trouble walking a straight line, or any major distance. Yes, I can walk nine holes carrying my golf clubs, but since I no longer hit the ball very far, I get to stop quite frequently and rest for my next shot. And play the forward tees.

I used to relish long distance road travel, and still plan sometimes-elaborate trips. Most recently, I decided that as long as I was having to go to a physiatrist 400 miles south of here, I might as well go on further south visiting friends in Pueblo, Colorado; Edgewood, New Mexico; Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona. I got as far as Pueblo and suddenly realized it would be driving long distances for six out of the next seven days, something that once would not have even occurred as a concern. And recent twinges in my hands and fingers await a couple of nerve conduction tests, making such driving more of an ordeal than a pleasure. Again, I am denying the reality of the situation. Add to that, I still plan how I can use all those frequent flier miles for a big trip, like Australia, New Zealand, Europe. But I probably can’t.

I have documented some of my volunteer activities at major golf tournaments. This year, after a particularly grueling air travel followed by a full weekend of activities watching my grandsons play baseball, basketball, and one of them compete in a swim meet, I did not realize how fatigued I had become until after the first lengthy day at the golf tournament. I began to get heart palpitations, benign in nature but unsettling. Apparently, I get these from extreme fatigue or dehydration; I was unable to complete the rest of my volunteer assignment. Knowing that the same thing had happened last September at another tournament, I should by now know better, but I didn’t. Denial.

Lesser examples occur frequently at restaurants. At one time in my life, I could eat as many as five hamburgers at my favorite Kansas City drive-in; now, I have trouble getting through one although I sometimes will forget, and order two. Even the Senior menu is usually more than I can handle. My mom used to say, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” when I was overly zealous in the food arena; I’m still doing that but on a greatly reduced scale. Buffets are a waste of money, but I still go to them.

So, in brief here are two kinds of denial; one in which the individual continues to deny the permanent deterioration of his physical state, and attempts unsuccessfully to pursue activities with which he is long familiar, and find satisfaction. The product of this is usually continued frustration and all of its companions, especially depression.

In the other example, and one which we share with many of our “brothers and sisters”, we withdraw from the normal involvements with “The Real World” and establish a personal niche in which, while showcasing ignorance of that “outer world”, one can find contentment and comfort. Some of the happiest folks I know have rarely, if ever, been out of our local area; as a result their level of interest in anything beyond is extremely limited, and quite naturally avoids the concerns and anxieties which many of us have from our “wealth of experience”. Most of this is centered around relationships rather than physical activity.

Of course, there are some things which I wish I could deny. The specter of Donald Trump possibly becoming President shakes my world to the base, and intrudes into my thoughts on a daily basis. And more so, it is difficult to understand how so many folks have emerged to be his flock. I can only believe that I, along with my professional colleagues, have failed as educators for the important things in life.

Maybe I’ll spiritually join that other writer, and seek sanctuary in nature and faith.

Always Be Happy      To Our Youth


April 9, 2016


Well, lots of things have been going on during the past couple of months, some of which deserve my usual keen analysis. None of the items I’m about to punish you with are related to one another, hence, the title of this short essay.

First, let me bring you up to date about my current state of health (that’s actually a priority topic among most members of my age group, and something all of us are eager to hear so that we can try and top the writer or speaker with our own maladies. My social group used to convene for coffee at McDonald’s; now we generally meet at the counter at the local pharmacy).

Anyway, two neurosurgeons said I didn’t need to have any cervical vertebrae fused; rather, I needed to see a neurologist and a physiatrist (specialty in physical therapy medicine), which I have done. The latter sent a “prescription” to our local rehab center, and one of the therapists has met with me three times to create a menu of exercises to both lessen all the back and neck pain, and to strengthen my neuropathic legs. His resume’ included a stint during the Spanish Inquisition, and I suspect he was ranked among the top three nationally during that era. At least from my initial results.

But I’m happy to be able to say that my leg strength has in fact improved sufficiently so that I am able to walk nine holes on the golf course, carrying my bag of clubs, without whining. I’m almost to the point that if I resume a bit of overseas travel, I should be able to navigate my usual six miles a day of gamboling about urban environs in faraway places with strange sounding names. I still have back pain at night, and throughout the day after a round of golf. I have to avoid overdoing. But the exercises and strengthening are really helping.

So much for that. I wish that the current political campaigning didn’t cause me additional pains, but it surely does. I can understand the GOP wanting to win an election, and it seems to me that there are two ways to go about it. The first is to offer to the voters something that they would like, but this doesn’t seem to be in the Republican election arsenal. The other option is to eliminate as many non-believers as possible, and that’s the route they’ve chosen by using many of the state legislatures to pass laws limiting participation among groups most likely to vote the other way. And if a legal challenge were to be mounted, eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, they also have that tied up so there would probably be a tie, effectively sending the case(s) back to lower court decisions. In listening to all the posturing and vilifying, the only one among their candidates who makes sense is Mr. Kasich, but he evidently is not crude enough to be among their frontrunners.

Quite traditionally, I lean to the left in my voting pattern although I voted Republican locally when my wife was running for County Commissioner years ago, and Senator Alan Simpson is a favorite of mine. I’m embarrassed to also admit I voted for Nixon, but I was only in my first election and really didn’t know any better. At least he didn’t win that one. Had he done so, there would not have been a Peace Corps, and having served that organization in its infancy, it established my goals in life toward a positive direction.

Looking at the two Dems running, I believe Ms. Clinton is the best qualified of all the candidates to run the country, but if Congress retains its present makeup, she would be faced with strong opposition just as we have now, toward achieving any meaningful improvements. Mr. Sanders has a good, but limited message, and I don’t see him being able to overcome the expected vitriol the opposition will be throwing at him if he’s the candidate. Hillary is tougher.

Enough of that. Today, I wasted the afternoon watching the Master’s Golf Tournament; you know, that one in which highly select commentators sit around in fancy suits days ahead of time, speaking in hushed tones about who might win, who has won, and who has screwed up. The golf course itself is probably the most restrictive one on the planet; knowing who some of the members are, I consider it a Republican enclave of the highest order. Granted, it’s probably the best run of all tournaments, and its members are so rich that they’re not out to make a profit on commercials or retail sales.

On my one trip to the site, I purchased a ticket from a scalper on the street outside the tournament gate, for $80 (1993!), during one of the practice round days preceding the competition. My purpose was wanting to walk the course to see how it compared with the beauty seen on tv, and it didn’t disappoint. I was impressed with the fact that the sandwiches at the concession stand, usually their traditional pimiento and cheese, were only $1.50, and still are. Drinks were $1. But some of that snootiness lingered in the air; I felt I was being sneered at secretly like when I’m in Loading Group 2 getting on an airplane, and in walking past the already-seated Group 1’s they don’t want to either acknowledge our presence, or make any eye contact. A similar feeling occurs here in Wyoming when folks from counties now having five digits on their license plates feel sorry for the rest of us, having only four.

Anyway, I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never play in the Master’s, probably not even get a ticket from the annual ticket lottery. I’ll be content to restrict my play to simpler venues, more in keeping with my style. Like not having to wear a collared shirt, or being able to wear jeans if I so choose!

Moving to another topic, I once again proved that if I make a prediction, others will bet the opposite way knowing that I usually am wrong. This year’s NCAA Tourney is a prime example, I picked Michigan State to win it, and West Virginia to get to the Final Four. I didn’t pick either my school, Kansas, or the other school associated with several family members, UNC. The former because they’ve disappointed me so many times, and the latter because although I think their coach is a really nice man, and a great recruiter, he has a history of not adjusting to circumstance during games when he was at Kansas and now at UNC. In this instance, both coaches were wrong. Coach Self, seeing in the first half that Ellis was being double-teamed in the center so that they weren’t able to get him the ball, he should have switched Ellis with Selden and moved Ellis to the wing where he could either drive, or take a 3, and Selden would occupy the defense in the middle and be able to rebound. Coach Williams should have had the two guards constantly drive to the hoop, with Johnson moving aside initially to create the spatial opening and then following in behind for rebounds. There would have been lots of free throws generated, especially with Paige. Wait until next year. And anyhow, I like teams that have four year players, like Wichita State and Villanova; it’s fun to see them improve from year to year with the same personnel.

At least my Broncos came through. We’ll just have to see what they do about a quarterback; the Chicago Bears seem to be taking all our players. I just hope the Cubs don’t get too good; after all, you may recall that I asked my various doctors to keep me around at least until the Cubs win a World Series, thinking that I would safely enjoy many more years on this planet. But maybe even that is in danger!

I’ve had some thoughts recently about advertising commercials, some on my Sirius XM radios and others on television. I’m strongly leaning toward cancelling my XM subscription, mainly due to hearing the same ads over and over, some of which I’ve heard for about five years. At times, I want to strangle Nick Sobelesky or Chuck Woolery about Select Quote Insurance or one of the medicinals Woolery pushes. Others start out by saying, “Be honest” and launching into a harangue about Rosetta Stone or another supplemental med; there are numerous ones having to do with financial matters such as you not having paid your income tax, or you’re in over your head with credit cards, or your home loan needs to be refinanced. And when I remember that I’m paying about $20/month for my two radios, I think about cancelling. Of course, most people get them to listen to music, which is commercial-free; but I listen to talk stuff ranging from sports to politics to health. All with those bad commercials. It wouldn’t be so bad if they changed them periodically, and I also wonder what kind of audience am I sharing the use of XM with, a bunch of unhealthy, underinsured, financial deadbeats?

TV commercials are okay, although some of my favorite programs like Rachel Maddow have far too many for continuity of thought. Cable and satellite seem to always be fighting; I’ve had both at various times and I greatly prefer cable for cost and programming. Their commercials aren’t as interesting; one of them has a nice young lady who looks like the Poster Child for anorexia, telling you about Charter. Direct TV gets well-known celebs to do some of their shows, and have a bit of humor injected.

Another thing I’ve noted is that there are lots of commercials that have a father-daughter theme such as Michelin, Chase, Lexus, etc, all in pleasant situations. But if it’s a mother-son ad, it’s probably for something unpleasant, like the State Farm ad where the boy put a dent in the car and his mom is less than sympathetic. Father-daughter must be something sacred.

Well, enough rambling. I will be flying to Charlotte at the end of this month, to once again work in the Wells Fargo Championship Golf Tournament of charity, my fourth time. And, if I can learn how to transfer a picture from my text messaging to my desktop, perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy pictures of my new granddaughter. She’s a Beaut!

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth


February 11, 2016

Last week, while watching the Democratic debate between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, a portion of the allotted time was wasted as the two argued over which one was” Progressive”, and which was “Moderate”. Now, as a potential voter for one of these (although it doesn’t make much difference in my case; I live in strongly Republican Wyoming and due to the vagaries of the Electoral College, my vote for any Presidential candidate other than a Republican won’t count), I really don’t give what some refer to as a “Rat’s Ass”. Rather, I would suggest that each one of these folks just “go ahead and do what you think is right”, and let someone else decide if it’s Progressive or Moderate. And let me decide if whatever is proposed makes sense, or not.

Of course, that measure can’t be reasonably applied to just about anything that the Republican candidates are ranting about, and again we are confronted with their War of Words. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush continue to argue over which one of them is the most Conservative, whatever that means. They sound like schoolyard kids saying “my dad can beat up your dad”, or something similar (I can speak to this, I was an elementary and middle school principal for about 30 years along with other duties). The TV pundits say that they are trying to appeal to the Conservative segment of the population in order to get their vote, and the more conservative they can present themselves, the greater chance of success.

They usually start off with the “reduce taxes” announcement, not bothering to say which taxes are being slashed. It’s quite natural to “not like taxes”, but at the same time we need to understand what those taxes are providing in the area of services. I want to know what to expect but to this point there have been few specifics mentioned. I need to say that I don’t like to be paying more taxes, or user fees for trash pickup, or water and sewer, or property tax, and etc., but in reality it’s really okay as long as we’re getting good “bang for the buck”. It should be our governmental entities responsibility to make sure that we are in fact getting good value for money spent.

As a registered “unaffiliated” (that’s Wyoming-ese for Independent) voter, I suspect that many of my colleagues are fiscally conservative while at the same time socially progressive; in other words we favor programs that provide quality service to as many as possible, for the best price. In my case, my favorite words are “Clearance”, “Discount”, and “Sale”, perhaps a legacy from my Dad who had an extensive flea market niche, but I apply these terms also to areas beyond retail. And I think most folks who consider themselves as conservative apply that primarily to fiscal and religious concerns, and at the same time welcome many of the social programs. “Don’t touch my Medicare!”

It’s somewhat amusing at some of the ranting against Senator Sanders for his announcement that he’s a Democratic Socialist. If one looks at those lists of the top 10 countries in the world for Medical, Life Expectancy, Quality of Life, General Satisfaction, etc., almost all of them are examples of Democratic Socialism. We have pockets of that here, big ones, with Social Security and Medicare, but they don’t quite go far enough. Opponents scream about the high taxes these other places have to pay (for that satisfaction!); I suggest that we may be paying as much for less quality if what we pay out for health insurance is added to the amount we pay in taxes. I know that when I worked in school administration, it cost around $17000 annually for family health insurance, over and above salaries paid. Sanders and Clinton are quite right that we are getting screwed by the pharmaceuticals and insurance corporations, compared to other places in the world, and our services are not near the top of the list in quality despite the costs.

For many years, I’ve complained about the oil companies being subsidized by the government in spite of their reaping in enormous profits. Well, now they’re having problems, and on a personal basis I see lots of folks in our state being laid off due to the massive decline in oil prices. If we were a democratic socialism society, the government could set a per gallon price and leave it there regardless of the ups and downs of the supply and demand. That would stabilize budgeting, not only for the oil companies but also for those of us consumers. I don’t know if that would be $2 or whatever per gallon, economists would have to figure that out, but it could remedy the “boom and bust” cycle in the petroleum industry, remove the big subsidies, and still allow them to function and retain full employment

I guess if voting for Socialism were an option in the U.S. I would be sorely tempted to go in that direction. People need to understand that Socialism is not a dictatorship, it is not Communism; rather it is a democracy which includes the possibility of capitalistic enterprises while providing more services to the greater number. Those countries to which I referred have their own millionaires, but more of the population is enjoying the benefits that are available. (they also have shorter work hours and more vacations!).

Another thought about Words. Small changes in what we say can have a dramatic effect. One such difference has really troubled me, not because I don’t understand the meaning and intent of the expression, but that I believe it could have been better if one more word were added. The phrase, “Black Lives Matter”, I think could have a more powerful meaning if the word, “too”, were added. Adding it would in my opinion more effectively have All of us share in a spirit of teamwork which recognizes that the lives of all of us are important, while at the same time emphasizing overcoming the many inequities suffered by our African-American brothers during the past 300 years. As the phrase stands, it may in fact create divisiveness with its “In Your Face” connotation. But maybe that’s what was intended.

A final thought about words. Their meanings can change over time, as they respond to new environments and understandings. A major case surrounds the use of the word, “insane”, as research and changes in social norms are progressing toward quite different perceptions of what is really happening within individuals, and especially as changes in the criminal justice system are being considered. One of my close friends has a blog site which has more on this topic, “the unashamedschizophenic” on; his viewpoints are particularly incisive due to his having been inaccurately diagnosed years ago and therefore was not receiving appropriate treatments for his real condition. Through his writing, I have a better understanding of the enormity of this problem, that there are many others having had similar experiences and unfortunately often with bad outcomes. I recommend this.

Well, it’s time to head for bed so that I can devote some pre-sleep time to savoring my Broncos’ win in last week’s Super Bowl. And to try and suppress my excitement as I look toward next year. After all, the neurosurgeon verified that I don’t need cervical spine surgery, so I’m headed south to play golf this weekend in Pueblo, Colorado, and hope the referral to a neurologist can solve the issues.

Always Be Happy         To Our Youth


February 4, 2016

Another Dilemma

In my last blog, I flirted with the topic of choices and some of the dilemmas created by having such a situation arise. Well, I now have one of an even more serious nature than the life or death occurrences that I’ve had to face recently (I’ve not yet heard from the neurosurgeon in Colorado, but during our brief visit last week he indicated that his first cursory glance at all the xrays, MRI’s, Myelograms, and my picture ID, didn’t show anything needing spinal surgery! He’s to have a closer look on the computer and call me this week).

So here’s my problem: The Super Bowl. Good fortune has placed my two favorite teams against one another, and the outcome might strain some family loyalties. I’ll explain.

During my collegiate years at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, I spent a lot of time in the old gym, shooting baskets and playing pickup games. Often, those activities included some of the school’s football players (yes, during those years they actually had a football team, even one which was in the Orange Bowl!). I sometimes played one-on-one with John Hadl, later to be the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers for many years. Some of our intramural games were against one team composed of subsequent pros; in one such game my forehead was contacted by the forearm of Curtis McClinton, running back for the Chiefs; I was stuck trying to guard Fred Hageman, later the center for the Redskins and about twice my size. Bert Coan, halfback for the Chiefs, and Doyle Schick, a Canadian League fullback, also contributed their fair share of bruises.

About the time we were graduating, the American Football League came into being, and I focused my loyalties on the Kansas City Chiefs, and Lennie Dawson, Otis Taylor, Curly Culp and their colleagues. In those early days, games were played in the Triple AAA Kansas City Blues baseball stadium, and tickets were cheap. However, my being frugal, I would buy the cheapest end zone ticket for $2 (yes, $2!) and as soon as I entered go to the concession stand. There, I would buy two cups of coffee and head to the stairs around the 50 yd. line. As I ascended, the ushers never questioned me, as I “obviously” was returning to my seat with coffee for “my friend” and me. I would find an empty seat and enjoy the game. And I was alone, except for two cups of coffee.

As I left KC, my focus dwindled a bit on football through the years I moved about the country and the world. Ultimately, I met my wife and we moved to Colorado shortly after our wedding so that I could work on a graduate degree. During that time, we had little money so our entertainment was working jigsaw puzzles bought at the local Skaggs drug store, or watching rabbit ears TV. And with little latitude to watch anything else, began to follow the Broncos. We became stalwart fans, and I didn’t suffer too many pangs of guilt when the Broncos played my formerly beloved Chiefs. And we even experienced near-grief when the Broncos lost two Super Bowl appearances in the late 70’s.

By this time, we had produced two sons and they were rapidly indoctrinated along the path of righteousness relative to whom to support in the pigskin world, even without waterboarding. My older son and I even dropped in at a pre-season training camp in Greeley, where he got lots of autographs. Unknowingly, I was wearing the same blue shorts and white shirt that the coaches wore, and several folks approached me for autographs. I didn’t give my right name.

Well, the boys grew up and set about finding their own places in the world. And as they did so, this is where the roots of my current crisis were formed. You see, our older son is an attorney in Charlotte, home of the Panthers, and has one of their more prominent players among his clients. So naturally, this past Christmas I was the recipient of a new Panthers’ hoodie to wear throughout the playoffs. panther hoodie

My other son was pursuing a career as a construction superintendent for large projects, centered in the Dallas area but also in a few other locations such as the new International terminal at LAX, or a 34 story hotel/condo in Ft. Worth. He met his wife in Dallas, spying her wearing a Bronco shirt in an overwhelmingly Cowboy environment. He quickly made his moves with his own Denver outfit, and the two were happily married a couple of years later. The wedding itself was a Bronco celebration; her garter was orange and blue and after removal, stretched around a football to throw to the groomsmen. Each table had a different player’s name, the head table being the Elway table. We sat at the Gradishar table, and in fact Gradishar’s daughter was the wedding photographer! But the ultimate emphasis on this theme came from our daughter-in-law’s mom——she was formerly a Denver Broncos Cheerleader!

And so, at the same time I was receiving that Panther hoodie, I gained another Bronco hoodie to add to my closet, this one from my other son.  broncos hoodie

I wore these on game days throughout the playoffs and had to quickly change between games on Championship Sunday. If one is superstitious, then it could be assumed that it is necessary to don one of these garments in order to assure a victory for the chosen team.


Always Be Happy   To Our Youth



CHOICES ——quandaries and dilemmas

January 19, 2016



One of the basic activities of living is surviving through numerous choice-making situations, some daily and some long-term. Important ones fall into the quandary or dilemma category, being significant enough to generate anxiety in considering the effects of the final choice. I’m dealing with at least one of these now, but won’t be faced with making the final choice until more information is gathered.

More often, one deals with minor choices, usually made quickly and which really don’t have much in the way of negative consequences regardless of the route taken. An example of this is that for those of us living in the Denver Bronco region, we annually receive in the mail prior to the start of the season a coupon book and a key tag, the latter allowing us to purchase either a Big Mac or a Sausage Egg McMuffin for $1, the day after a Bronco’s game. Most weeks, including this one, I’ve chosen not to take advantage of this offer —— I really don’t like either one of these offerings very much. And actually, eating one of them might in fact bring on negative consequences, perhaps I did make the right choice!

Anyway, as I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, most decisions are based on opinions, and hopefully those spring from a productive interpretation of facts germane to the particular situation. Interpretation fundamentally relies on one’s background of education and experience, so it’s to be expected that opinions will vary among individuals. It’s to be hoped that folks will make the effort to establish a rational basis for opinions; unfortunately, too many people merely adopt someone else’s opinion so they can avoid “the work” of doing it themselves. One needs only to look at all the outright lies being put forth as facts and adopted by followers during the political debates, to see how this is true (it’s too bad that The Annenberg Foundation’s website doesn’t have a weekly TV show to reach more people with their non-partisan analysis of campaign claims and assaults).

As a “corollary” to this, the true political conservatives rarely change an opinion regardless of any new information or data to which they’re exposed, an attitude that is at the root of congressional gridlock over the past decade or so.

So, what’s happening in my world to cause unwelcome concern? Naturally you might guess that it probably has something to do with age, and you’d be right! As we get along in years, new things seem to crop up almost randomly, unconnected to anything we’ve faced in the past. I refer to these as “The Tarnish on the Golden Years”, and they certainly cast a pall over much of our daily living. In my particular case, I’ve written before of being afflicted with some form of peripheral neuropathy, with a protein-based disease (MGUS), and other less popular conditions. One which causes me extreme bouts of pain, especially while lying in bed, is a combination of arthritis from top to bottom of the spine accompanied by degeneration of the vertebrae and the areas between (I prefer the term, “deterioration”; “degeneration” has unwelcome connotations).

I sought relief from this intrusion into my contentment by providing a series of MRI’s, X-Rays, and Mylegrams to a neurosurgeon at a locally well-respected neurological clinic. I believe I already wrote about the lack of success from two administrations of epidural injections into the cervical and lumbar spine; the first lasted about three weeks and the second, only two weeks. The surgeon recommended fusion of four cervical vertebrae, a procedure which would be followed by about a year of recovery through varying levels of restrictions of my activity. A date was set for the surgery and other arrangements made for post-operative help in dealing with daily activities; however, it was postponed pending the resolution of the appearance of frequent skips of my heart rhythm in spite of an in-depth cardiological exam indicating that I’m in the lowest risk group for a heart attack. I wasn’t comfortable with having the surgery, regardless of what the various doctors said.

So, the surgery was to be in early January. However, when our extended family gathered for a few days before Christmas, one of my sons’ wives asked me what was being proposed and she became quite animated in questioning the proposed procedure. You see, she works alongside surgeons who are doing cervical fusions, and to her it appeared to possibly be an overly-aggressive plan given that two of the vertebrae were already fusing “on their own”. With my permission, she showed my radiological reports to one of the surgeons, and he agreed but wanted to see the actual films. Those were sent, and the “bottom line” is that while he agreed that one of the vertebra (C3-4) appears to be threatening the spinal cord, and might need surgery, he thinks in fact that no surgery may be necessary without further examination. My family, upon hearing this, urged a second postponement and to seek a further opinion. My sons say they don’t want me to be unable to “play golf with my grandsons or my sons”, evidently wanting to assure themselves that there will be someone around whom they can still beat.

This then goes back to “opinions” ——whose do you trust? Here are two certified surgeons, one a neurosurgeon and the other an orthopedic surgeon, both widely experienced and recognized for dealing successfully with cervical fusions. Each had the same films and patient information, but their conclusions varied widely.

Did I make a choice? No, on the basis of a suggestion from a physician friend of mine, and corroborated by a local surgeon I’ve known for years, I’m headed next week to Ft. Collins, Colorado, to get a third look and possible treatment at a major spine treatment center associated with the University of Colorado Medical School. Oh, by the way, the initial neurosurgeon informed me that I should find another doctor, he no longer wants to do the procedure given that my family members have raised too many issues which essentially question his professional expertise, and could cause major problems for him if the surgery is unsatisfactory. At this point, I much prefer the other doctor’s suggestion of “no surgery”, anyway!


So much for Health topics. In another area of my life, as Chairperson for the Big Horn Basin Foundation Board (the non-profit educational arm of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center) I’m pleased to announce that beginning tomorrow, our new website will be available online.  should get you there; if not, just Google the foundation’s name. All of our programs are described, from one-day Kids Digs and Dig For A Day, through Summer 5-day institutes for high schoolers, to Roads Scholars (Elderhostel) week long sessions throughout the summer and fall. We also have a few “intergenerational sessions” for grandparents and grandchildren, but there may be a waiting list if all the places are taken early. We can also arrange free “skype” sessions to classrooms and provide virtual tours by our Director.

The Dinosaur Center was included last fall as one of the 10 best dinosaur museums in the world along with those in Paris, Chicago, Atlanta, Sydney, and others; and as the best in the United States. And this in a town of 3000!

So far, we’ve been blessed with a relatively mild winter; all but one snowstorm were powder, easily pushed off the sidewalks. Historically, the last week of December and first two weeks of January are the coldest, with temperatures plunging sometimes to -30 F, at night. Not this year; we had a few -6 or -7, but daytime highs are lurking in the high 30’s and 40’s. I think it’s because I bought an expensive down-filled Eddie Bauer coat, in preparation for the cold that’s never come. Ubiquitous deer roam the town, and two nights ago as I was heading out the back door a very large, well-conditioned four point buck was posing in the shadows. He sauntered off as I headed down the back walk.


Assuming I’m still vertical, and can find a pain medication that my body tolerates, I’m planning on some minor travel.

18th hole, St. Andrews "Auld Course"

18th hole, St. Andrews “Auld Course”

In February, we are to be graced with a new grandchild in the Texas arm of the family, and I’ll go there for a couple of days, a week or so after the new arrival.

In March, I’ve once again been invited to work as a volunteer in the Founder’s Cup LPGA tournament, in North Phoenix. I really enjoyed my first experience with a ladies’ event, last year. I’ll probably do some visiting with a variety of friends and relatives, on the way there and back. My nephew is now at Mesa Verde National Park, and I’d like to get an in-depth look at that park.

April has no plans yet.

May has the Wells Fargo Championship Tournament again in Charlotte, offering me the bonus of seeing my grandsons, wife, and sons while volunteering for this charitable event.

And I’ve applied to renew my passport that expires in August, in case I’m able to use some of those frequent flier miles.

All of this, of course, is contingent upon what I find out about the need for surgery. And post-surgery restrictions. I’m quite concerned about pain medication; I seem to have various allergic reactions to any we’ve tried so far, including the opiates. In order to see if some of my reactions might be associated with a beta blocker, a new-to-me med to harness the skipping heart beats, I’m not on any pain meds until after meeting next week for follow-up with the cardiologist. If that seems okay, then it must be the pain meds creating the problems. Right now, I HURT!

Finally, I’m quite upset with the unveiling of major pockets of bigotry, intolerance, and just plain hatred spurred on through the political campaigns. What is most alarming is not so much the candidates, most of whom are bad, but the huge number of people supporting them. Has that been lying there under cover for years, and only emerged with the florescence of social media and the ability to remain anonymous?
I guess that I was right when I met with President Truman in the mid-60’s—-When He asked me what I had learned in living in Africa while in the Peace Corps, I told him “ I saw some things that are wrong with this country”. He said, “You’re in a helluva shape if you think there’s anything wrong with this country”, to which I replied, “It’s not the country, it’s some of the people in it.”

Always Be Happy    To Our Youth



November 8, 2015

Well, it’s finally arrived—SNOW! And it’s not pretty, it’s some of that heavy, slushy kind in which one is in danger of getting some of the melting stuff down the back of your collar as it slides off your car’s roof when you exit. As happened already once today. And all against a somber, gray background the mere sight of which makes me wonder if my decision to remain here through the winter is really a wise move.

However, I’m pretty much stuck at least for the worst part of the season, as my forthcoming cervical spinal fusion event has been postponed until January 4, after which I shall be significantly restricted from my usual roaming and visiting. The delay is in order to identify some occasional irregular heart beats by using a 30-day monitor; the cardiologist, surgeon, and anesthesiologist are comfortable with all the other tests which showed the heart is strong, clear, and functioning well as is the ascending aorta, a genetic troublespot in my mother’s lineage. However, I need reassurance so they allowed the postponement. I’ll have to live with all the pain a bit longer but will enter into the activity with a bit more mental comfort. The surgeon’s PA optimistically commented that “you’ll be able to catch up on all those TV series you’ve missed, and read all those books that have slid by”. Hah! I never watch any TV series, restricting my only scheduled viewing to CBS Sunday Morning, news, weather, and sports. Nor am I interested in expanding the scope of my viewing pleasure to include Two and a Half Men.

Last year I bought one of those “Smart TV’s” to add to my four or five other sets, thinking I could lie in bed at night and watch some of those free movies through Amazon Prime. Huh! After several attempts to select one, I gave up; the ones of interest I had already seen sometime in the past ten years, or there were none. I’ve retreated to watching the Weather Channel, I’ve become addicted to the music during the “on the 8’s” segments.

More recently I ordered the latest Kindle Fire, and downloaded Marcus Borg’s Convictions, in which he explores his personal development of faith within the Christian context. As I move through the text, there are some similarities which I first saw in another publication, Jesus: Prophet of Islam, by Muhammed Ata Ur-Rahim, which views Jesus as a non-divine prophet along with Islam’s own Muhammed. The Borg writing presents examples within the Bible that support or deny that divinity while at the same time preserving the essence of Jesus’ teachings. Interesting read. I’ve developed some curiosity about this area during the past few years; I hope it’s not due to advancing age and what may lie fairly close, ahead. Not having been raised in a religion, it’s been left to me to work out my beliefs; I’ve fairly well done so but continue to explore and can modify my beliefs as it appears to make sense.

And speaking of that kind of change, here’s a thought: Does it make sense to think that all of us are natural conservatives, at least in the beginning? To be conservative is to create a structure within the mind that allows one to function without having to deal continually with decisions. Many things are “cut and dried” whether it is a habitual traffic route that one takes daily to work, or a political stance that says “No New Taxes”! But upon reflection, many of us change over time, or at least entertain the option to modify existing beliefs. In today’s world, those persons are known as Liberals or Progressives. In my view, many Conservatives either refuse to make changes even when confronted with new data, or they continue to adopt opinions and beliefs created by others. In either case, they do not have to go through the mental gymnastics of revising opinions and beliefs.

And, taken to the extreme, each step forward in our attempts to understand the Universe is basically a continuing exercise in modification, and from a spiritual perspective, progress toward understanding the Essence of Creation. We may never reach full understanding, just as we have difficulty in fully internalizing the concept of Infinity; but miring our beliefs in conservative perceptions provides little help toward assimilating a genuine appreciation for that Supreme Power, whatever it might be.

Enough of this kind of chatter; I had thought I had left it back in my rooming house during college in the late 50’s. Of course it only took place during commercials; western melodramas like “Sugarfoot”, “The Rifleman”, “Have Gun, Will Travel”, and others were our top priorities. Term papers were several notches down the list.

Always Be Happy    To Our Youth

Ah, October!

October 18, 2015

Ah, October! As I’ve done each fall since I’ve been writing a blog, I always pause and congratulate myself that I’m still around and able to enjoy its wonders. Each day begins with some chilly warnings of what lies ahead in another month or two, cold enough that one has to wear long sleeves and long pants but not too cold so that you still have the motivation to complete a lot of tasks still to be done outside.

Early on, sunbeams try to thread their way through the rapidly changing colors of all the leaves on trees; casting a shimmering gold as the wind stirs the branches and urges them to seek the still-green grass below. Cloudless, startlingly blue skies are the rule, accompanying temperatures soaring upward to the mid-70’s. A daily temperature range of 40 degrees is not uncommon, and often encourages wardrobe modifications to meet each new nuance.

In other words, it’s great for golf! Last week, I managed to complete, over a two day stretch, a fine 76 which also happened to be both the temperature and my age! I no longer have the stamina to comfortably complete 18 holes in a day, so I play the front nine on one day and the back nine on another. Needless to say, I was very pleased as it was my lowest score in two years. Finally I feel I’ve regained the control that I had years ago when I was quite competitive, but I’ll never again see any long drives soaring skyward down the fairway. I’m now playing the “forward tees” and am quite happy. But alas, given the impending winter and surgeries, I’ll just have to start over again next spring.

I’ve finished preparing the patio for winter, having removed the vines that annually take over the two trellis-like structures providing shade throughout the summer. Cut back, they eagerly look forward to the warming rays in the springtime so they can once more begin their ascent. The outdoor carpet has been rolled up so as not to be soaked by melting snow; the grill is covered and the chairs stored. I still need to check all the stuff in the garages and storage sheds, to make sure I don’t leave anything that freezing will damage irrevocably. Paint, adhesives, various liquid solvents are shelved in abundance; my problem will be where to put them.

For the rest of autumn, I’ll follow the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Royals as they each pursue some measure of immortality. I suspect that the latter will have more success than the former, unless the Broncs can get some kind of offense going. I’ll suffer, but it’s no different than in most years past. I look at the two Super Bowls in the late 90’s, and the arrival of Peyton Manning, as true anomalies!

With the prospect of some time devoted to healing from the cervical surgery, I can catch up on lots of reading using my new Kindle; I’ve already dipped into some commentary on Christianity (Convictions by Marcus Borg), which questions some of the fundamental “beliefs” of that religion in spite of himself being a staunch believer in Christianity’s Essence. I suspect that as I get farther into the reading, I’ll find that he actually is looking for commonalities among the fundamentals of religions much as Einstein sought a Universal Field Theory in Science.

Among my several “idea activities”, I’m working on a Recipe to Reduce Gun Violence, a menu that incorporates both short and long term recommendations, and even involves the NRA in a positive contribution. Mental Health, schools, legislation, and commitment all play a role, and I hope to have it completed very soon.

Until then, I’ll try to enjoy the rest of this autumn, and continue to learn new things. For instance, did you know that if the plastic headlight lenses on your car become clouded, just spray them with a DEET bug repellent, and the residue wipes off without sanding. That tidbit may have been worth having to have read all of the above!

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth



October 11, 2015

In several of my past blogs, I’ve made reference to Shakespeare’s phrase, “Sweet are the uses of adversity” which I’m told lies among the pages of his Richard III. This was a fancy way of saying “If you have lemons, then make lemonade”, and is useful in almost any setting except possibly playing golf. I doubt if he ever played the game although it was in existence at that time; Mary Queen of Scots was noted to be an avid golfer, and the game was so popular that James III banned it because his archers were spending too much time at it instead of practicing their archery.

Anyway, I’ve tried to keep these two phrases in the forefront as I’ve not had what one would consider to be a good couple of months. Let’s begin with my back issues.

Readers may recall that I was to receive epidural injections into the cervical and lumbar areas of my spine, to relieve the constant pain generated by spinal deterioration from age along with its cousin, arthritis up and down the length including one spur trying to poke its way to the spinal cord. Well, the first attempt lasted about three weeks, so it was recommended to repeat the process; justified due to a second try having a more lasting effect in a number of individuals. Alas, these only lasted two weeks and a return visit to the neurosurgeon indicated that fusing of the cervical vertebrae and one of the lumbar vertebrae would be the next step.

The initial description of the proposed surgery had an anterior (front) entry into the neck, fusing the offending vertebrae on that side; then, two days later, do a posterior (rear of neck) repeat to the back side of the vertebrae. A lengthy recovery period was pictured including several days in the hospital followed by maybe a week or so in a rehab facility; then home and arrangements for someone to help out around the house as I would not be able to drive until pain medicine was no longer part of the diet.

We decided to consider all of this for a few weeks before making a commitment; in the meantime I readied myself for a drive across country from my home in Wyoming to North Carolina, to visit my wife and grandsons’ family and watch the boys play in several athletic events. I was driving my new car, one with which I am highly satisfied as to comfort and mpg. I was transporting some large objects, the biggest being a piece of driftwood we had collected years ago on the Greybull River and which my wife thought would look nice in the small landscaped area around her townhouse. Although not looking forward to the drive, a departure from my past excitement in preparing for a long trip, I was able to visit a number of old friends both on the way to Charlotte and returning home.

Before I left on the trip, I received an email seeking volunteers to work in a golf tournament in Davidson, a short drive from Charlotte and within the dates I would be visiting. This invitation had the added bonus of my being able to deduct my travel costs for charitable purposes; most of those big events raise lots of money for good causes. Anyway, I included the tournament in my plans, and headed out, having a reasonably pleasant and uneventful trip for four days including a stop in Atlanta to play golf with a longtime friend from my Peace Corps days in the early 60’s.

Arriving on the Sunday before the tournament, I checked in and picked up my credentials and “uniform”, a logoed knit shirt and a cap, and returned to Charlotte and my wife’s place. The next day I headed back for my first day of work at the tourney, and was assigned to keep the practice chipping green area clear of golf balls as the players practiced before beginning play on Wednesday. And this is where the next major problem began. I spent 7 hours in the hot sun, actively clearing the area and raking the sand bunkers. That night, around midnight, my heart began having some unwelcome issues jumping around and pausing uncharacteristically between series of beats. When this had happened on other occasions, it stemmed from dehydration, so I downed some electrolytes and got it settled down. In the morning, I went to the Emergency Room at a hospital and was checked over several hours. The verdict was yes, I had become dehydrated as shown by a very low potassium level; the good news was no heart attack and my enzymes were fine. I was released with instructions to return in a couple of days to report on my condition.

I won’t dwell on the next nine days of the visit, particularly not mentioning my bad golf game toward the end of the stay; however, I did have another brief episode that seemed related to reflux in the esophagus/stomach juncture. A return visit to the ER gave the same results as before, along with instructions to see a cardiologist. I watched one grandson play a baseball game and his brother play two football and two basketball games. My wife and I had several nice walks and meals out. I can’t say I would like living in the Eastern Time Zone; it seems everyone stays up until midnight and doesn’t get started until late the next morning. I was physically worn out most of the time from lack of sleep.

Finally, I departed for home and the first day drove from Charlotte to St. Louis, where I reconnected with wonderful folks from many years ago. One of the highlights of that visit in addition to renewal of friendships were some conversations around the meanings of faith and religion in one’s life, certainly something that those of us getting along in years pay a bit more attention to. As a result, I’m looking forward to reading a book, “Convictions”, by Marcus Borg, which was highly recommended.

The next day was easy, a late breakfast with my friends followed by an easy drive across Missouri to Lawrence, Kansas, to stay once again with friends on their “farm” (weekend retreat) overnight. I planned to leave early the next morning so I could reach Colorado before evening in order to watch the Bronco game on TV. And another event reared its head.

My friend’s farm is in highly wooded area and, in the morning darkness as I was backing my car, I heard a thump. Although I have a backup camera and screen, and knew there were trees somewhere behind, I couldn’t see anything because my backup lights were reflecting off the morning mist thus “blotting out” the viewing screen. Thinking little of it, I left for the half hour drive into town to get gas and continue on my trip. Well, when I reached the lighted gas station I discovered that the thump represented an uncooperative tree knocking the rear window out of my CR-V.

So, returning to the farm and spending some hours fitting a piece of cardboard to the opening and anchored with duct tape, I finally got on the way. I reached my Ft. Collins destination in time to check in to the hotel and turn on the game.

The next day was to be the last, with a brief stopover in Casper to see some folks attending an education conference and to make arrangements to have my rear window replaced. As I drove, I activated my Bluetooth phone and called my insurance agent. She contacted the glass insurance folks who called me, and we arranged for me to have the glass replaced the next morning, requiring me to stay overnight at a hotel. I stopped at the glass place, and was told to be there at 9 a.m. the next day. I spent the rest of the day visiting with colleagues from former educational activities and I went to bed early. The next morning, I reported at 9 a.m. and discovered that the glass company hadn’t realized that the glass had to be ordered from Honda, so they couldn’t fix it until they could get it several days hence. In other words, I wouldn’t have had to spend $$$ at a hotel, I could have made it home the night before. Waiting until the following week was no problem as I already had an appointment with the Neurosurgeon scheduled, in Casper. I left for home and decided to spend most of the next day resting.

The saga continues. I went about my usual activities, laundry, yard, golf, etc. until Sunday morning, when the erratic heartbeat returned as I began eating breakfast, and I spent several hours in the local ER. Same results, even after two EKG’s. No heart attack. My primary care physician appointment scheduled for Wednesday had been postponed until Monday due to a death in her family, so it wasn’t until Monday when I could schedule a visit to the cardiologist. That was done, it was to be on the same day as the neurosurgeon appointment and the replacement of the rear window in my car. Along with it, an additional medical session was arranged, this time with an ENT to look at some lingering discomfort in my mandibular area to see if it might be associated with the cervical vertebrae problem or might possibly be something nasty on its own. My dentist thinks there’s something there that’s not a dental problem, maybe even a tumor or lymphatic issue.

So, here I am with an appointment for a nuclear echocardiogram Tuesday a.m., followed by a session with the ENT. Next week, a follow up with the cardiologist, to see if I’m okay for the neck surgery. Same with the ENT. The neurosurgeon has decided that the posterior surgery is not necessary, only the anterior. The lumbar would be sometime later after the other has healed. No golf for at least six months, no driving while on pain meds. Next neuro on the 27th, surgery tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9.

After all these setbacks, my question is, “Where’s the damned lemonade?”

To be continued

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth


July 28, 2015


Those few of you who have followed my little blogs over the past few years know that I like to write, even though the quality varies between the levels of success enjoyed by the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees. I must admit that I hope to see the Cubs maintain their usual performance, not that I have any personal animosity such as my feeling toward the Oakland Raiders, but because I’ve informed my doctors of various maladies to expand their arena of operations, “please keep me alive until the Cubs win the World Series”. I figured that would safely take me near the century mark although I was a bit nervous at the outset of the present season, as they were winning more regularly than usual. Fortunately, they seem to have settled back into their comfortable traditions.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of difficulty beginning this blog. You see, the last five or six weeks have been chock full of activities and events, many which triggered the writing response but were overwhelmed by further happenings also leading me down other avenues of thought and reflection. A partial list of these things would include:

Progress report on the two spinal epidural injections from early June

Buying a new car, my first new one since 1987.

A road trip to Arizona (to buy the car)

A road trip to the Kansas City area, to visit an ill friend and see other friends from my checkered past

Reflections on an in-depth essay about the personal meaning of the recent Ramadan, to a treasured Islamic former acquaintance

Disgust at the continuing saga of the GOP and that party’s romance with Mr. Trump and Fox News.

An introduction to the importance of mental health treatment, from a significantly bipolar friend who is able to express thoughts about this in a highly articulate manner.

Depression that there is currently no candidate for whom I would vote for President, even if my vote counted (Wyoming is so Republican that if you vote for any other candidate, it’s forgotten).

Tired of Hilary

Tired of bigotry

Personal reflections on Same Sex marriage and abortion

Now that I’ve mastered golf, should I turn to Curling?

And so on. These along with others compete for my attention and given the long hours on the road, it’s left for me to work out the answers myself without having anyone else to help me identify a core. At one time in recent years, I had a correspondence with someone with whom I exchanged deeper thoughts and viewpoints, the interaction acting as a catalyst to lead my mind down new pathways of exploration. Unfortunately that is no longer an option, and I’m left generally associating with folks who are nice, but are not eager to explore options because it’s outside their comfort zone.

Let me comment briefly on several of these, and maybe go into some depth on a few others.

  • Epidurals—the promised relief came quickly, and departed almost as fast. The doctor said they can do it again and see if it will last longer. So, August 3 can’t come too soon.
  • Bought a new Honda CR-V EX-L, easier to get in to, and more significantly to get out of, than the low slung sedan I had. Arthritis sometimes shouts out for attention; this is one way to address it.
  • My ill friend is recovering and will be released from the hospital on August 3, to return home after four months.
  • If people don’t like Same Sex marriage or abortion, then they don’t have to do it, and leave the rest of the world alone. The marriage thing can be easily resolved if one considers marriage to be an economic arrangement in which two persons commit to a shared existence. I guess what troubles the conservatives is that they assume there is always sex involved, which may or may not be the case, and which really shouldn’t concern them. Many of them try to refer to the Bible in some fashion, ignoring the fact that it was put together from many sources over many years, with lots of conflicting perspectives. The claim that it is “The Word of God” is a catchy way to sell books, but it was written by men. Many men. And often not “on the same page”.
  • Abortion is sometimes necessary, and that fact needs to be recognized. Maybe what defines “necessary” is up for grabs, but when I worked in the inner cities I saw frequent cases where it might have been better than sentencing a human being to a lifetime of poverty, neglect, and major health issues. There’s some argument whether to consider the union of the egg and sperm to be a person; the most that can be said is that it has the capacity to become a person, over time. And generally, I’m not in favor of abortion when it is only for personal comfort although that raises the issue of relationship issues when one of the procreators wants the child and the other one doesn’t. Major guilt and resentment from carrying out the procedure may linger throughout their lifetimes.
  • As my bipolar friend points out, he himself has had violent episodes but fortunately brought no harm to others. At the same time, he received a variety of treatment protocols, most based on wrong diagnoses, some in institutional settings and with greater or lesser success. He is now actively promoting more attention to identification and treatment in order to minimize events such as those we’ve been faced with in recent months and years. He emphasizes that these “culminating tragedies” could be eliminated in many cases, if we would greatly increase the treatment resources available in lieu of incarceration.
  • I have a personal perspective that I’ve developed over a career of working with all kinds of people, and strongly believe that everyone needs to have some area of their life when they feel “in charge”. School counselors and teachers should be identifying the “loner” child, and make every effort to get the child into constructive activities in which he or she can enjoy success and a feeling of self worth. If the activities don’t exist, then create them, tailored to children’s needs, abilities, and interests. Andy Warhol talked of “everyone’s 15 minutes of fame” but didn’t specify positive or negative. If we look at the backgrounds of many of those who take the lives of innocent folks, they often are loners and have no area of their life when they feel they are important to themselves or others. Such a sense of being powerless may result from social isolation, from living in a highly-restricted environment such as a fundamentalist religious organization, or other situations in which individual expression is minimized. As each of these tragedies has occurred, I have always looked at the perpetrator’s life history and it comes as no surprise that one of the first two is usually present.

As a corollary, as I was involved with evaluating schools in our state and around the globe, those that were the most successful were those in which everyone has ownership of a program’s success, and that includes all staff, parents, and students. When their input was sought and used, each felt important and obligated to work together toward mutually accepted goals.

  • These are indeed confusing times, with events seemingly in direct conflict with rationality and understanding. We can look at this theme from minor concerns, to some which are overwhelmingly ridiculous. As an example of the former, take the pharmaceutical Cialis. Notwithstanding my wondering what young children want to know about the meaning behind the constant barrage of commercials, if the stuff really works then why do we see the two partners sitting in separate bathtubs at the end of the ad? I would think that the whole purpose is to get both of them into the same unit.

Which leads me to a more significant paradox. For many recent years, Republican leaders in government urged upon us two wars, passed legislation enhancing the wealthy while putting more financial and social burdens on the middle class and poor, applauded Supreme Court decisions that serve to maintain those situations using the election funding process, and all the collateral damage that each of these engenders throughout the social fabric of the nation. My confusion? Why do people directly affected by these maladies continue to vote for those politicians? They are representing lobbyists, billionaires, and ultra-conservative clusters of an array of organizations such as the NRA, Koch Industries, Big Oil (which is subsidized in spite of having their greatest profits ever!), pharmaceuticals, and others.

And when I see the ridiculous number of GOP stalwarts contending for the Presidential nomination, I gain admiration for the British whose political parties establish their platforms as the first step in the election process, then choose which individual will be that party’s leader. Citizens vote for the platform, not the individual. We’re stuck with 20 ambitious but inept competitors vying with each other through negative attacks upon each other and on the current President. To my knowledge, none have proposed any programs or perspectives, just vitriolic bombast.

Sadly, Fox News is encouraging all of this chaos, and has garnered that network considerable financial gains through political commercials. But even worse, we have this cable tv network actually dictating a major component of our election process. WHY?

  • In reading an essay My Ramadan on the blog site, “It’s a Halal Life”, the writer reveals how the month of fasting and reflection allows her to focus intensely on her personal faith and beliefs, while at the same time offering a renewal of spirit, social and physical well being. It points me toward a glimmer of understanding that True Faith lies within the individual, dormant as a resource to which the person can turn in times of need. But its existence needs first to be recognized, to be drawn forth, and that is what constitutes Faith. I need to spend some further effort to explore this thought; I personally don’t believe in prayer but I do know that there are “hidden depths” within each of us that can yield great rewards when finally understood. I also recognize that regardless of one’s cultural setting, there is an almost universal need to explore and unite with our Universe at the spiritual level, whether we call that unity God, Allah, or simply a Supreme Power. I guess it’s only natural that as one begins the last act of living, that this topic becomes more important and of greater interest.
  • As for curling, I don’t think I can easily lift one of those 40+ lb. stones. Maybe I should stick with golf, especially now that I’ve apparently mastered the art of hitting a variety of high wedge shots directly at the flag, and have adopted a somewhat successful new approach to putting. Age and infirmity has robbed me of leg strength and therefore, distance of my drives. But I’ve adjusted psychologically finally to the fact that I need to be secure within myself. After all, the sports pundits don’t really understand the fundamental concept of golf. They’re wrong when they talk about “rivalries” between various golfers. The actual rivalry is between a golfer and the landscape; this sport has no offense or defense directly toward an opponent. All one is saying is that “I can hit this ball around the pasture in fewer shots than you”. Defense could marginally be making crude noises while your opponent is in the middle of a backswing, little more. My par for 9 holes is 41; that’s attainable. And I’ll be content.

Always Be Happy    To Our Youth