April 2011


I’m in a hurry to get things done

Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die

But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

                                                                             Alabama, I’m in a Hurry

Are you in a hurry? Are you doing the things you really want to do?

One of the joys or retired life is having more time to do the things you enjoy. Of course there are financial limits, individual responsibilities, and other limitations that impose restrictions on our choices. I, for example, am not writing this from my yacht in the Caribbean. The Swedish Bikini Team is no where in sight. I just put down my guitar and it did not sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan. But all is not lost.

The point of this brief blog is to suggest we do have a great deal of control over our time in retired life. I’m always surprised when I hear someone complain about having to visit a certain relative or having to do something they vehemently dislike. My advice: Don’t do it.

There was a time in my work life in which I did all the cooking for our family. I would visit the super market every day on my way home and as I walked in the door I would ask myself one question: What do I want to eat today? Very simple. I didn’t keep a lot of fresh foods in the refrigerator that I felt obligated to use up. Life was busy, but other than a couple of kids still living at home, there was no company to impress. The choice was mine. It was a very freeing and fulfilling experience.

Retired life is very much like that. What do you want to do? Who would you like to meet? Is there someone you would like to help? Is there a skill you would like to acquire? Write out and come up with your own questions. It’s sort of a dream “to do” list. I have two. One for the grander goals such as potential travel destinations and an everyday list that I keep on my iPhone. Sometimes it’s as simple as a reminder to listen to a song I want to hear again. That was the inspiration for this blog. Thanks Alabama. Well said.

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Well, Spring is here and Easter is upon us. While this is a special time of year for many folks, and I would normally be inclined to be positive, today I feel like venting. I’m trying very hard to stave off grumpy old man syndrome, but it’s just not working.

Do you ever get the feeling our culture has flipped upside down? I’m convinced the inmates are running the place. Our leaders are off on holiday while we are borrowing 3.5 billion dollars per day. That’s over 2 million dollars per minute. Pretty soon we’ll be talking real money. If I max out my credit cards buying stuff I can’t afford, would it be a good idea to borrow more money to buy more stuff? I am also offended when politicians use the phrase, “We can’t afford tax cuts.” Hey there Mr. Politician, we aren’t getting the money from you, you’re getting it from us. It’s our money. And one more thing, you work for us, not vice versa.

Some would even say we don’t pay enough in taxes. Does anyone agree with that? If you do, there’s a box you can check on your IRS form and then write the government as big a check as you wish. I was driving on a California freeway today and saw our highest-in-the-country gas taxes at work. The road was so rough you had to hold the wheel tightly to keep from losing control. Where is all that money going? It’s insanity.

Later today, I overheard a conversation concerning the television program Dancing With The Stars. The topic was a young woman named Kendra who now appears on the show. If you aren’t familiar with this person, let me give you some background. At 19 she attended a Playboy party and let her nude body be covered in paint. This is how she spent the evening. She then gratefully accepted an offer by Hugh Hefner to be one of his “girlfriends.” This was followed by two reality shows, a marriage to an NFL player, a child, and release of personal sex tapes in which her own company helped to promote. She makes millions from advertisers who want to be featured on her Twitter account. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the financial success of this young woman. But the fact that someone who has the morals of an alley cat, and is as dumb as a box of rocks, can be so admired and financially rewarded in our culture is breathtaking. As my buddy Don King would say, “Only in America.”

My point is this: Why is this woman on Dancing With The Stars. How could our society lift someone like her to celebrity status? We are currently fighting three wars. Do we ever read any stories about our military heroes? Do we ever see any truly great and inspirational people featured by our media? What has happened to our cultural compass? Many of the dregs of our society are on the top, while the good and decent hard-working people are scorned and ridiculed. I don’t like it, but I don’t see a change in the wind. Go out into a public place and listen well. Not long ago I was waiting for my wife while she did some banking. The high school nearby had just let out. Mind you I am a former Air Force sergeant, and I’ve never heard so much profanity, vulgarity, and blatant sexual references in my life. Not exactly happy days.

What does all this mean? From my perspective, we live in a very coarse society that often rewards the most vulgar and immoral among us. Not a message I enjoy sending during a holy week, but one I believe is true. We are tilting upside down and better begin turning things around before it’s too late. That’s one grumpy old man’s opinion.

If you haven’t heard, there’s trouble brewing. Last week, a Giant fan was knocked down and seriously injured outside Dodger Stadium. He’s currently in an induced coma and believed to have suffered brain damage. No one could or should excuse the thugs that did this horrible thing.

In listening to some of the commentary this week, I’m struck by the nonsensical arguments. Your fans are mean, our fans are saints. Teams are teams and fans are fans. There isn’t any real difference between them. I’m in a unique position to observe this low point in sports history. As a Dodger fan living the last twenty years in the bay area, the plain truth is there are plenty of thugs to go around. Both cities have them, and unfortunately, some of these cretins go to baseball games. There is nothing inherently good or bad about either team or their fans.

Right now, Giants fans are howling because one of their own was struck down. I agree. Catch the s.o.b.’s who did this and hang them. The fact is, upon our arrival in the bay area, my wife and I were excited to take my parents to a Giants-Dodger game at Candlestick Park. Being Dodger fans, and used to the friendly atmosphere of Dodger stadium at that time, we weren’t ready for the abuse we received that night. After returning to the car, my parents thanked us for the game, but advised we should not invite them again. They’d had enough.

Then there is my nephew Robert. Several years ago, he took his girlfriend to a Giants-Dodger game and wore his Dodger hat. As they were walking across the parking lot, he was blindsided and struck in the head. Nearly unconscious and on the ground, he looked up and saw his girlfriend chase down the thug and jump on his back while punching him in the head. Robert decided to marry that girl.

I also have to admit to a brief encounter with a Giant fan several years ago. During the game, he insisted on turning around each time a Giant got a hit and would put his hands in my face while taunting me. I was there to watch a game and not get into a fight, so I simply let him enjoy his fun. By the end of the game, with a few beers under his belt for courage, he decided to give me a shove as we excited. I’m not proud of it, but I did cross-check him into the exit wall. I said I wasn’t proud of it.

Is my point that Giants fans are bad? Not at all. In fact, most of the ones I’ve encountered since they built the new beautiful stadium look like the frat boys from college. Mostly corporate types with sweaters tied around their necks and wearing penny loafers. Not particularly intimidating. The point is most everyone who goes to a sporting event is there to have a good time and enjoy the game. Unfortunately, there is a growing subculture of thugs, who on a daily basis, can be seen everywhere in our world. They also attend sporting events. At the first sign of trouble, these jerks should be unceremoniously thrown out. For a myriad of reasons, violence has always been around sports. While living in Italy many years ago, I remember a game in which a soccer official made a call that went against the home team. Several men jumped the fence and stabbed the official to death. I couldn’t believe it happened.

Our society has this odd notion that we must tolerate everyone. I disagree. I’m all for freedom of expression, but in public we need to raise our standards and expectations. I know I’m an old guy who probably doesn’t get the modern culture. For instance, I don’t understand why a person needs to tatoo every square inch of their bodies, pierce body parts, and swear with every other word. And those are just the girls. I would just like a return to the days when you had friendly rivalries among sports fans. Believe it or not, back in the day, there were many times I witnessed a Dodger fan buy a rival fan a beer and shake hands during the game. It had become a bit of a Dodger Stadium tradition. Times have changed. But good people are still good, and the bad ones have become worse. Our teams are our teams, and mindless thugs have no place stealing our good times. The color of their hat means nothing.

These are two different views of time. I wonder if the old Stones still think time is on their side?  The obvious fact is, none of us, young or old know how much time we have left on mother earth. It then follows we should  spend our time in ways in which we give some serious consideration. Just yesterday I watched a young mother walk by my window holding the hand of her precious young child. It caught my eye because she walked by twice, and during the entire walk, her cellphone never left her ear. The child looked tired and a bit confused. I could not help but think someday she will regret not savoring every minute of time she had to spend with her young son.

Remember, The Cat’s In The Cradle, a song about a father who didn’t have time for his son, then when he got old, his son didn’t have time for him? That song was written and performed by Harry Chapin. He and his wife co-wrote the song about their relationships with their own fathers. As luck would have it, it’s believed Chapin had a heart attack while driving and died in the resulting traffic accident. He was 39. On his tombstone are the words from one of his songs: “Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth, and prove before he died, what one man’s life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world.”

Truth be known, I actually take a very libertarian view of how one should spend his or her time. If you choose to lie on a tropical beach and ponder cloud formations, that’s fine with me. I do, however, hope that people give their choices due consideration. As we grow older the sands truly do run through our hourglass more quickly.

Is Journalism Dead?

Have you heard about the George Washington University sports story reported on their website? The writer of the story spent six paragraphs describing the GWU baseball team’s 2-0 loss in a recent game. Finally, in paragraph seven, the writer finally shares the fact the opposing pitcher had pitched a perfect game, only the eighth perfect game pitched in NCAA Division 1 history. Here is the link:

Strong Pitching By GW Not Enough In 2-0 Loss To No. 1 Virginia – GEORGE WASHIN

Funny

The elderly married couple had argued and fought their entire life together. Finally, they had gotten so old they had to move to a care facility. They still continued to argue and fight. The management of the place called them in and informed them the arguing and fighting would have to cease or they would be thrown out. Sensing the seriousness of the situation, the wife suggested to her husband they kneel and pray for one of them to die. “What then,” said the husband. “Then I’m going to move in with my sister,” replied the wife.