Thursday, June 22, 2017

Withering Weather Wilts Writhing Woman

I was making chit chat with a customer at my favorite grocery store on North Main the other day and of course, the weather was casually mentioned by me. We both agreed it was hot and summer had arrived. The lady suffered from DVM - defective voice modulation and was talking real loud and I didn't realize she could be heard at the far end of the aisle. She was also hard of hearing and repeated the word "humidity" a number of times. She walked away and I proceeded to shop.

We were in the cold food section and when I first spotted HER, she was neck deep in the burrito case and as I perused the various frigid delicacies, I couldn't help but notice she remained frozen in place. I pretended to take an interest in the plethora of fish stick options as I obliquely observed her. Her dress was rather large and loose-fitting and she was wearing those old school thick brown nylons and heavy boots.

I couldn't stick around too long, or she might suspect I was doing something nefarious. I imagine a woman dressed like she was, suspects she attracts a certain amount of lewd glances. As if a premonition took her, she jerked her head out and facing me, gave me an icy glare. Now normally, I would have looked away and shuffled past, but as she pulled her head out of the frosty case, she had a package of frozen taquitos stuck to her forehead.

Being a responsible Baytonian and a past State certified emergency care attendant, I did the only thing I knew to do and that is laugh. Well as the frosty package fell away from her head, she deftly snatched it mid-air and like Otis Thorpe in his prime, she slammed it home with the other tasty treats.
 "You can have your humidity any day of the week," she said and pointed a bony ring-clad finger at me. I found it peculiar that the knuckle on my side of the ring was at least twice as big as the jewelry.

Holy smokes, this lady was not a fan of humidity! Is anyone a fan of humidity? The more she talked, the more I envisioned the wicked witch of the west when Dorothy threw water on her. Mind you, the sweating woman looked nothing like the gorgeous Margaret Hamilton... this lady was blond and missing her front teeth. "My humidity?" was all I could muster. I am usually pretty quick on my feet and back in the day, when it came to fast responses, I could go all night like a lumberjack.
"Yea, your danged humidity! I plan to move somewhere that I won't be sweating like this and do it soon!" With that, she opened the case and snatched two 3-pound packages of beef and bean burritos and put one under each arm. This effectively not only repulsed me, because I like bean burritos, but drove home her point astoundingly well.

"Ma'am, with all due respect, I happen to have a keen interest in our weather and checked it on the Interweb (I used this phrase to gain advantage and most likely convince her that I was indeed educated - possibly past her own level of study) before I left home. The humidity is low today at 48% because the wind is coming out of the north." I had just about decided the woman was afflicted with that aging virus women get somewhere in their 40's and attempted to deftly maneuver past her.

I guess my grin was taken wrong and she stuck her brown size 12 brogan out and blocked my buggy. "So you say. My great uncle was a radio weatherman and he always got the weather right and it runs in our family!" She drove home her point by raising her voice an octave and 10 decibels. 

Well, I've never been one to turn down a sound argument and I explained to her that I spent 2 years in the tropics and "this is really not that bad!"
With that, she opened the chilled case and with skills Tony Romo would admire, she launched them 2 bean and tortilla-wrapped projectiles back with solidly impressive impact.  I could see it in her eyes. The lady was heat stoned! I looked around for a manager and indeed I saw 2, but both of them had been observing the heated exchange and they took off like they were on a water slide.

Now I have quite a bit of grappling experience, but this was clearly a case of fight or flight and the person in front of me was beginning to assume charge mode. When a person drops into a 3-point stance and places their knuckles on the floor, it is a sound bet, they plan to go for it.  I've seen hormone-imbalanced women get this same look and everyone knows how unpredictable and violent they get.

She lunged and I side-stepped and she went down and such was her launch at me, that she slid a good 10 feet before piling up in front of the frozen pizza cases.  The last thing I heard her yell as I zoomed my cart toward the check-out line was "I'm moving back to god's country... Channelview!"

Thursday, June 15, 2017

You get out what you put in

 My dad was a man of many talents, but conveying them was not his strong suit. I've written about this before that I learned more from him by accident than instruction. It wasn't because he didn't try. I just couldn't see it the way he presented it. I suppose it was the same way he and his dad interacted.

My son in law and I were sitting on the back patio the other day after my grandson's fourth birthday party and we were tying knots. Mike Sievers is an Eagle Scout and I was a Scout master of sorts, but never learned all the stuff he did to get to that level.

I was showing him a short-cut to tie a clove hitch and realized my dad taught it to me. It is a quick way to make the knot and only works if the rope can be slipped over the end of whatever you are tying. I first realized this was odd when I did it during a training session at the chemical plant where I was employed and the goal of training was to educate us fire fighter/rescue team members to use rope for rescue.

Some of these guys prided themselves on their knot knowledge and with all of us being alpha personalities, it was difficult to admit they had never seen it. There was precious little actual mentoring present. It was basically every person for themselves. Learn it or not - who cares?

I asked Mike about a knot he used earlier to tie off a tarp and he called it a fisherman's knot and demonstrated it. I said "huh," and then showed him the way (once again) my dad showed me to tie that knot.  He looked at it and admitted it was superior. We talked about various knots for a bit and then got off onto other subjects.

The thing about Mike and I is he knows a lot of stuff that I don't and in this environment we both learn from each other. It is my experience that there is precious little of this one on one sharing of knowledge going on. What we have substituted is electronic instruction. Want to learn something? Watch a YouTube video. If you get it, fine. If not, fine. You can fake it till you make it.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin  Old Ben once again comes through with the simplicity of sharing knowledge.

When a person decides to become a mentor, things don't always go the direction they hope and here is a humorous example. My grandson who just turned 4 and I were having a one-sided serious discussion about dinosaurs, as he was having that theme at his birthday party. He has two small dogs that he really hasn't connected with, so to attempt to raise his understanding, I began like this, "What if you could have two little animals like dinosaurs living in your house to play with? These type of animals have been around for millions of years. Would you like that?" He looked me in the eye and just as serious as he could be, he said... "6 dollars!" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

The key is connecting and this is the hard part.  I like this quote to explain it: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

The last few years of my career in the Chemical Plant industry, I observed there was precious little mentoring. It was completely absent at the top and of course, trickled down to the bottom rung. No one appeared willing to give anyone a boost. I mainly worked with chemical engineers and watched the new engineers flounder and fail and all because none of the veterans were willing to throw them a lifeline. When I questioned my friends, they shrugged. "Sink or swim".

The reality is they didn't need a simple lifeline, they needed someone to tie off next to them and teach them how to fight off the sharks until they could float on their own. Is it because people don't care anymore, or they simply don't have time? There must be some logical reason the golden rule is ignored. Way back in 1977 when I hired on with ARCO, I heard young guys like myself complain "No one will show you anything because they don't want you to take their job." Some of that was true I guess, but pales in comparison to modern times.

William Arthur Ward would spin like one of them newfangled gizmos if he could see the absence of compassionate instruction in today's society. Many appear to have had no guidance whatsoever. We met a considerate person of maybe 25 years the other day and my bride commented that they must have been taught to be polite from childhood. It was obvious that they "got it" and in their day to day interaction with other living creatures, they proved it. Each one, reach one, teach one. Boy, I wish it were that simple.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

No news is good news

Boy howdy, watching or reading the news is a bummer. Can I say bummer and not sound like a 70's hippie? Bummer: A - used to express frustration or disappointment, typically sympathetically. B - a thing that is annoying or disappointing. Yea, the second definition describes my reaction to what is being reported.

I'm a news junkie and gather my information from a wide range of sources, hopefully steering away from the wide right or left reports. The reason for this is I don't trust them to report the news, but interpret and spin them and the reason they do this is because they believe I am too stupid to decipher what I hear and read.

Bummer.  I might not be a genius, but I think I can read facts and based on the validity of said facts, draw a fairly accurate conclusion. I'm not a "Trump said it, so it must be right," or "Whatever Bernie likes, I like," kind of voter.

As a voter and a blue collar American worker, I found enough evidence in the last 8 years of Obama's administration to believe we did not share the same vision of where my tax dollars should have been spent. At no time did I feel like doing something violent. I just voted and wrote the politicians I felt would hear me.

When I saw a Obama sticker on a shirt or hat, I just walked past it or them and figured they were for his policies. During the last election, I saw precious few Trump bumper stickers and I did the math and surmised they didn't want their car keyed. Please explain to me that I got that wrong and that the Liberal party is truly tolerant of anyone who doesn't believe what they do and embrace, cause I ain't seen it.

There is so much finger-pointing and hatred in the news right now that it is confusing and painful to watch. I've decided its more fun to simply talk to strangers I meet and talk about the weather, traffic, or their pets. I was at Home Depot the other day and one of the employees looked at the sky and announced his next job was going to be a weatherman.  "I don't ever have to be right and I get paid like I am," he said and we laughed. I have no idea what he thinks about global warming or the Paris agreement or who he voted for. It didn't matter.

We chatted a few minutes like old friends. To be honest, I would rather talk to an interesting person, like a Rastafarian veteran vegetarian veterinarian, than argue with dogmatic people over their brand of politics. At least that hairy Vet person could talk with authority on a number of subjects and be believable.
Stock photo, but this is an example of how strangers can interact without arguing.
An hour later in the pet aisle of my favorite supermarket, a lady and I shared humorous tales of our dogs. It was a pleasant distraction from the bombardment of negative news I had earlier subjected myself to. Amazingly, the question of Donald Trump's tax returns were not discussed. Surprisingly, heavy relevant news, like Kathy Griffin and Ariana Grande baggy blue jeans never came up.

I helped a newbie at the gym get her spin bike set up before class and then we talked about fitness goals and not once did either of us suggest Vladimir Putin got the upper hand over Megyn Kelly in the must watch interview that lasted maybe 5 minutes or if the current President would stifle James Comey's testimony. I found this remarkable, because according to the press, these are things everyone is discussing.

Most of us are more worried about the price of avocados than most of these nail-biting world events that we can't do a thing to change. At least with the avocados, we can stop buying them and force the price down.

These world events that are pumped into our homes and computer screens give us a feeling of helplessness. If all the people in charge can't see mutual solutions, what chance do we have to make a difference? I am continually perplexed that the surrounding cradle of civilization is in constant war, turmoil, discontent, and various levels of destruction. Isn't this the oldest civilization on earth? They are killing each other and fomenting violence all around the world, even as I write this. You would think that after thousands of years, they would be an example of advanced civilization, right? Instead, many of them still live in dirt homes. Dirt homes mind you.

I would rather talk about my dogs, thank you.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Why is illegal entry into this country an issue?

Let me start off with a bold logical statement. If you as a voting US citizen feel so strongly about allowing illegal entry into this country, show it to everyone by letting a bunch of them live in your house and subsidize them with your own money. Of course, this is also illegal, but ponder it just the same. I would appreciate your taxes funding them over my own.

In this scenario, it is okay to let them work outside your property for profit, but also in this scenario, you don't see a dime of the money they make. Being the generous and sympathetic soul that you are, you furnish everything for a husband and wife and a year later, you suddenly realize they have moved 8 other "relatives" into your house and 3 of the women are pregnant, which by law, you will adopt.

You of course will pay their medical expenses, diaper bills, education and everything else associated with having 10 people under your roof besides your family. You feel so strongly about their right to be here that you literally bankrupt your resources and make a trip to Austin to lobby for them to stay.

Now the question we've all been waiting to hear answered. How in God's name is this even a scenario anyone would agree to?

Months pass and many of the 28 people now living under your roof are good and hard-working people, who show how good they are by sending 90% of their earnings home to wherever their home country is. Their family's deserve to benefit from their hard work in the US, right? On top of that, because you have so much, you deserve to foot the bill. I mean, after all, nothing is more garish and vulgar than American privilege. You are rich and when it comes right down to it, you should literally be forced to share.

We can each save the world, one undocumented human at a time no matter the cost or our current set of laws!

Why can't other US citizens just understand that our hard-earned standard of living should be shared with the less fortunate? All the fat kids in America speak volumes of nutrition abuse to the hungry kid living elsewhere. Take from us obese US citizens and give it to that kid who simply cannot afford to eat at the Lone Steak Outhouse cafe every day. Because if we don't, they will be forced to consume the local food that has successfully sustained their ancestors for thousands of years.

I could cite instance after instance and lengthy articles explaining how allowing illegal entry into this country is both good and bad and people are so passionate about it that they are ready to kill each other over the issue, but forget all that. Seriously, forget about it!

Let's simply draw a line in the dirt right now. Let's change the immigration laws to allow anyone sympathetic to allowing illegals into this country (read undocumented citizens - forget the workers part) to let them move as many people into their house(s) as they can initially financially support. They must sign a binding contract to cover their food, transportation, medical bills, insurance (because everyone has to have insurance for god's sake), utilities usage, and all associated taxes with living in this country.

They must also sign a binding contract that if at any time they cannot fulfill this, they will face a non-negotiable 5 year jail visit per person. If the person they are funding commits a felony, they will share in the punishment. Also, the people they are funding will not be liable to pay back anything they receive from their sponsor and can send 90% of it home. This will allow their distant families to enjoy the same standard of living as their sponsor once did before being so financially burdened that they are in ruin.

To make it fair to the sponsor, each contract would expire after 5 years and must be renewed or the sponsored inhabitants will be deported at your expense.

I think it's a wonderful plan of compromise and I cannot for the life of me see how anyone sympathetic to the plight of illegals could find it offensive or - God forbid...racist!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

We don't know our left from our right.

I got my first real lesson on what being out of step means when I in was in Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio Texas. It was so obvious, a cave catfish could see it. I had many lessons prior to this, but marching drove home the point and further on, I'll explain.

When I am warming up a spin class I like to say. "Right arm out!' and then demonstrate it. I hold out my left arm and pull it across my chest and take my right hand and place it behind my elbow and stretch my arm. After ten seconds, I say, "Now your other right arm!" and perform the opposite exercise. The reason I do the opposite is I am facing them and I am a mirror image of what I want. The reason I say "the other right arm" is because no matter which arm you tell people, some of them will do the wrong arm.

One of my brothers would always take a turn to the opposite direction when we were driving someplace as a group. Because of this, we learned to point where he should turn, rather than speak "take a right at the next street." The reason for this is he is ambidextrous and right and left made less sense to him than most other people. When we played sandlot baseball, he was always the one that got the right-hand mitt if there was a spare glove and he throws and catches just as well with either hand.

Have you ever stopped and asked for directions and this well-intentioned person is the last individual on earth you should have queried?  "Yea, go down yonder and take three rights, a left after the curve, then two lefts, and blah, blah blah?"  Marco Polo would have become lost after listening to that fellow.

In BMT - Basic Military Training, we marched and marched and then we marched. When everyone was in step, magic took place. We moved as a unit and with each sharp step you heard the heel of one giant combat boot strike the ground with a precision you learned to love. It is music and the view is harmonious, as each head in front of you sways to the left and right until... What in tha?

Your head is going the opposite way of everyone else's? Is this a good thing under these circumstances? I would think not and I understand the various arguments about being your own person and sticking to what you believe is right, but sometimes, walking in agreement is the simple and best answer.

As a country, we have lost sight of this philosophy. Remember the old adage, united we stand, divided we fall? How about a biblical reference of, "... if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand"? We have went so far to the right or left that people are sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling, "La la la la!" rather than trying to find common ground. Geeze, folks, isn't common ground life, liberty, and the right to choose which App you load to your smartphone?
Is there anything we can agree on anymore without fighting, shooting the finger, and yelling the F word? People have become so passionate that they've forgotten that true happiness and peace comes from the simple things like a soft conversation with the one you love, or a sunset, or sitting around a campfire and adding a new log.

As a nation representing freedom, we have become a concern to our neighboring countries who fear we are ripping ourselves apart and I am with them on this. When a person is afraid to publicly admit who they voted for because they think someone will become violent, we have lost something as a nation. Sure, fisticuffs have went on for decades, but then again, you didn't get ran over by a car after they followed you for four miles either.

Lee College's professor Susan Cummings and I have debated social issues and politics for about 15 years and rarely have we agreed on anything, but you know what?  I like the lady and on many other issues we have chatted like old buddies.  Years ago, she made the statement that we have agreed to disagree and it is the truth. I would rush across the street to help her out of a bind if she needed me and this is how things are supposed to work in this country. We as a nation have lost more than we have gained by bickering and trash-talking each other and it is reaching a very destructive point where we will have to decide if we can actually walk in step or divide.

Debating has turned an ugly course where a brick in hand is needed as punctuation. In my mind, Ted Kaczynski was right in so many ways, but his methods were criminal.  Raise the red flag if you feel like something is wrong and pray for change, but don't become violent and destructive as a means to accomplish your goals. "Then join in hand, brave Americans all— By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!" John Dickinson's "Liberty Song" published 18 July 1768, in the Boston Gazette.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You ain't seen nothing yet!

I remember when people failed a grade in school they had two options. Go to summer school, or repeat the grade. If they tried out for the cheer-leading squad and didn't make it, they had two options. Try again next year or try something else. If they applied for a job and were denied employment, they either went and took a couple courses to sharpen their skills or they applied for a different job doing something else.

If they attempted to join the Air Force and for some reason were denied entry, they went to the Navy and then the Army and as a last resort, they became Marines (no insult intended or implied). Not everyone will make a good Marine and my hat is off to them for their mission. My point is, they applied around until they got satisfaction.

How many times in a working career do we experience failure to get a position we believe we not only desire, but deserve? When we don't get it, what is our response? Do we become antagonistic and combative or (egads) subversive? Would we rather see the whole business collapse than move forward without us being in the position we felt we should have filled? Do we whine and cry and rally everyone we can persuade to overturn the decision or wreck havoc to show the travesty?

Are we so self assured and righteous to believe that only we can do the job to the point that we would physically strike the other person or wish them and their family harm? Should we hire a attorney to go after them, or a blogger to put into motion a constant barrage of slander against the person who did the interview or better yet, the person who was chosen over us? Would we refuse to accept defeat even though we clearly were not selected, elected, but rejected?

Would we justify our actions by believing everyone got it wrong, but us and those who supported us knowing full well, it would make the company, school, or business less effective because of our well planned public stunts? Would the end justify the means, even if it meant dividing everyone against each other? Would creating a hostile situation satisfy us or be acceptable restitution because we were not selected?

Whatever happened to just accepting the fact that we were not chosen and either go back to the drawing board, or find another occupation?  Why is it, that people who claim to be accepting of almost anything and everything are so outspoken against other things to the point that they turn to violence to get their message across. They claim to be champions of human rights and the first amendment, but they behave in just the opposite manner when arguing their point. They demand to be heard, but scream down anyone who won't agree with them. They proudly crash into assemblies rudely shouting out "My team is better than your team", but pummel anyone wearing a button, hat, or t-shirt with the opposing view stamped on it.

But the greatest weapon they possess is using the misogyny or race card to slander anyone who has the ignorant temerity to disagree with them. This automatically buys them time, as the very implication of this heinous malady makes the person guilty in the eyes of other people like them and for the most part, the Press. Never mind that many people on both sides of the argument do not reach for actual facts; they just follow. What, me read? Why should I read when I can listen to Limbaugh or Pelosi? They will tell me what to think, right?

It's sad, sad, sad days we are living in when people don't have enough moral and ethical history to think for themselves. This is why if you were to pull a random protestor out of any hostile group and have them explain whey there are really protesting, it would be a joke. It would sound like this, "It is history man! I mean, like, look at all the people out here making history!" "What are you specifically protesting against"

"Racism, misogyny, hatred, violence, repealing Obamacare, man!" "Do you have insurance?" "Heck no!  I can't afford it!  Now stand back.  Watch me throw this brick at that racist!"

No, sadly, the day when people backed up, licked their wounds and went quietly into the shadows are gone. They would rather release the dogs of war and rip apart the throat of the nation than let things go a different way than they would have chosen. The liberal and tolerant idealism is a facade that many people sincerely believe is a benevolent philosophy.

The traditional definition was a person open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values. The new definition is one who wants to tear down traditional values and replace it with radical change and do both at any cost.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

There are no sounds of silence

I took a comfortable seat on my patio the other day just about sundown and closed my eyes. It took almost a full minute before I could begin to hear the ambient sounds and shut down my dependence on vision. Most were indistinct because I am used to seeing what makes these sounds. The wind picked up and moved the leaves in the bald cypress, and water oak trees I planted 25 years ago when I moved here. I turned my head and homed in on this sound I usually miss.

I opened my eyes and watched the fresh green foliage caress each and every leaf and wondered if they feel as soft as they look. Off in the distance I recognize the sound of a car revving its powerful motor and I again close my eyes and try and envision the driver, excited about the adrenaline rush they are experiencing. My mind drifts back to 1970 when I came to Texas from St. Louis in a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350.

At 18, the muscle car had a lot of energy and I pushed the car quite hard a number of times. With eyes closed, I hear this modern car blast down Blue Heron Parkway and wonder if an LEO is running radar at the park. I open my eyes and watch 5 white ibis silently fly over me and they are most likely coming from the pond close by. Lately I've seen a pretty good variety of birds there, including wild ducks.

A distant siren cries out and it sounds like it is on (what I still call) Loop 201. It's most likely going to take the Garth Road exit and closing my eyes, I follow its progress as it goes past North Main. I hope I am never a passenger in one of those and I run a few scenarios through my mind before another sound attracts me.

"Erack erack erak!" The sound is coming from the corner of my house. Its a green tree frog male looking for a mate. I would get up and walk over to find it, but I know its between the gutter and the side of house. Its a beautiful green color and happily undisturbed. Besides, I am comfortable where I am, sitting at the table under the umbrella with my feet up.

A train blows it's mega horn and it drones its deep and lonely announcement of passage.  The German Shepard pup next door imitates its sound and rattles the chain link fence of its enclosure. This sets off my Pomeranian/Papillion mix  and Shi Tzu and they run around the patio screaming in dog language that this is their yard and to stay out. A plane takes off from the Baytown Airport and I open my eyes to watch it. I can't help that I was in the Air Force and want to see every single aircraft that flies over me. I will myself to close my eyes and resume my adventure.

A radio comes on from a few houses down and it's "coun-tree" like they used to play and I wonder if its a CD or maybe better yet, a cassette tape. Shortly after that, I smell meat cooking and there are few smells more welcome than barbecued meat. I sub a class at a gym in Midtown and when I exit that gym usually around 0700, I smell BBQ and donuts and that, my friend, trumps straight BBQ every time. In this case, its almost a sin because the smell is outside a gym. I award myself 10 calories each time I smell it.

Whoa!  The motorcycles these days are incredible machines. I sure hope that fellow can control that missile. Blue Heron's straightaway sure is a tempting quarter mile. I listen and thankfully I do not hear the sound of the bike t-boning a car pulling out of the parking area at the park. I figure it is only a matter of time. The chimney swallows make a hurried pass overhead and I know they are gulping down mosquitoes. Why do the danged blood-sucking insects only attack me and not my bride?

Hank Williams turn into Aerosmith and the pungent odor of cooked meat causes me to open my eyes just as a blue jay lands ten feet away from me and loudly squawks. "I have nothing to give you old friend," I say and it looks at me and launches off like it was shot from a gun.

I wonder what it would be like to have my bride lead me out on the patio early in the morning, say about 0600 and I stay out there with a cover over my eyes until sunset. I bet it would be the experience of a lifetime. I'm reminded that there is a lot more to life than I am currently experiencing and that this simple experiment in vision deprivation, really opened my eyes. I challenge my readers to give it a go.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

What is it that makes you jump?

Phobias, the scary, very real feeling we experience that can be terrifying, right? One definition takes it further: "an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something." We all have one or more whether we will admit it or not.  I know I have one to be sure, maybe two. Seeing a person wildly react to something that doesn't bother us, can be hilarious, I admit.

However, whenever I meet someone who has what many believe to be an irrational fear, I treat it as real, because no matter how bizarre it may appear to me - it is real to them and I try to empathize.

Now before you decide where I'm going with this and you are scared to death of clowns, snakes, and spiders that I plan to dangle in front of you because I'm mean, hang on and let me elaborate. Look at the title of this week's column. What makes you jump? What gets you going? What does it for you when nothing else will? What is your thrill fix?

Scary movies? Death defying stunts? Maximum horsepower with fat under-aired tires smoking rubber on asphalt and you without ear plugs so you can really feel the moment? How about a steaming plate of fajitas and onions that causes your jaws to ache as saliva is released? Maybe it's that beautiful woman you've been married to for (x-amount) of years that really makes your Webley tremble.

You are in control until that 14 point Boone & Crockett whitetail buck steps out into the open and provides you with that once in a lifetime side view shot and you raise your rifle or bow and let one fly! It is quite possible that none of these wonders are what make you jump.  Maybe it's a timely scriptural verse or one of the inspiration parables published each week in the Sun that really gets your shouting shoes tapping.

Jumping is good.  Jumping is what defines us. Every morning I hop out of bed and run to the coffee pot for my first jump. I want that blast of energy from caffeine. It is an amazing drug that enhances my day. My next jump is when I open the Drudge website followed by Google News, and then the Baytown Sun. I want to see what has happened in the world and in my city since I went to bed. It's like a cathartic drug to me.

Sure, irrational fears make us jump and exposing ourselves to them can be both detrimental and beneficial, but why indulge in them when there are so many other good jumps out there? Personally I think people mistake bucket list items as the only viable jump. Experiencing places and things have their place, but if we use them as the standard for a jump, we are setting the mark a bit too high for daily living.  I mean after all, daily living is what we do, right?

Why hobble ourselves with achievements that only come occasionally when we can get all jiggy over life's simple pleasures?  Speaking of simple pleasures, the other day I made a big pot of potato soup with bacon, butter, cheese, onions, and canned milk and then I made a big fat pan of sweet cornbread to go with it.  Holy cow! Boom! I jumped!

Every day of every week we are given the opportunity to make leaps forward. The trick is to seize the moment and not miss it. The other day I was near the VA off Holcombe Avenue exiting 288 and I needed to get in the far left number 1 lane.  I was in lane 3 and came to a halt in the heavy traffic, or I would miss my turn a hundred yards up the road. The fellow behind me didn't understand that I needed to wait and began blowing his horn in what was a very annoying manner. I sat and waited and when the rushing cars finally passed, I moved over and drove unrestricted at least a hundred yards to make my turn. He moved up three whole cars. I jumped and he didn't and I was so proud of myself for being a cool head. It was a victory for me and I loved the feeling I got for not responding.

So, jumping can be everything from responding to irrational fear to keeping a cool head when life throws you a curve and to be honest, all of them are learning experiences. Some are fun and some are not. One last jump I need to cover is the one I get by fulfilling my responsibilities. It is the most satisfying of all of them.

For the past month, I've adopted a new strategy that is possibly driving my bride crazy. Cradle to grave. Anything I can do to completion, I do. I do not procrastinate. A simple example is carrying a coffee cup to the kitchen and placing it on the counter. An hour later, I walk by and put it in the sink. That evening, I put it in the dish washer. Now I walk in and put it in the dish washer. Once again, I made a satisfactory jump and this time, in efficiency. Now, start jumping.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Last week, many of my readers responded very positively to my column concerning pain and pain management. It appears from feedback that severe pain is very common and a real problem to control and treatment and management can be very costly. Our politicians are making some pain drugs much more difficult to obtain for people who are sincerely dependent upon it to carry on a semi-normal life.

For a long time I've made the claim that anyone who challenges me to define what I believe is my friend. It is the easiest path to throw up your hands anytime you don't agree with something and say, "Sorry, but that's the way I see it and I'm not going to change my mind." I want to challenge you with this column and I want you to ruminate on what I am about to assert.

Steve Wold, better known as Seasick Steve wrote these insightful lyrics in the song, Can't teach an old dog new tricks:
"There must be something wrong with me
What it is I can't quite see
I can't seem to do nothing right.
Maybe I need to change my style
Been this way for a long long while
Maybe there's a few things I ought to fix.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?"

Before you judge me on what you are about to read watch this amazing video and then chew the cud.
In this video, a man with Parkinson's disease is shaking so badly, he couldn't take a drink of water to save himself. He is offered a marijuana solution and he puts ONE drop under the tongue. Within ONE minute, he begins to calm down. In FIVE he sits up with no shakes and comments that his voice is coming back and then sings. The transformation is incredible or miraculous and the man appears healthy.

If after watching what one drop of this plant's extract can do for just one single disease, you cannot see the need to open it up for expansive research, then Steve's got another set of lyrics for you to embrace.

"Maybe I should leave well enough alone
I might not be perfect but I'm me to the bone
I don't need to change my style
Been this way for a long long while
There ain't nothing that I got to fix
You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

At 65 I do not want to be this old dog that simply refuses to adjust my thinking to adjust to science's onward march, especially when the original information was flawed.  Reefer madness is one of the biggest lies ever pushed on the American public, except maybe the need for underarm deodorant. BO as an advertising term was invented by Odo-Ro-No in 1919 (wisely targeting women's critical self-consciousness) to buy deodorant when all they needed was to bath regularly and wear clean clothes. Offensive body odor is caused by a buildup of bacteria and it simply does not grow that fast. However, stinking is not a crime. Maybe it should be. To substantiate my claim, I haven't used deodorant since 1977.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic in the same category as heroin due to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. What idiot pushed this one past reasoning people? Heroin yes, cannabis, no. I can't substantiate my next statement with cold hard facts, but I am pretty danged sure no one has ever overdosed on marijuana alone. They may have laughed themselves to death, but overdose? Nope.
Now in the early 70's, I smoked this stuff like a chimney every single chance I got, so I am backing up my claims with personal experience. I quit because I turned my life over to Jesus and I felt like it was a bad witness. I haven't smoked it since. However, it is illegal and on top of that and I'll be honest with you here, even if it was legalized - I still will not smoke it again for recreational purposes.

The reason for this is twofold. One, pot or Mary Jane, etcetera, makes a person complacent or lazy, or content to the point that for many, including myself, I become unmotivated. Why go to the beach, when you can go to the beach in your head? Two, it gives you the munchies and that's all I need is to want to eat more than I already am.

But let's look at the hundreds of illnesses, aches and pains that engineered cannabis extracts can cure or remove. I ask those of us who have been led to believe that the medical use of opium derivatives is okay, but marijuana is not, to do a little research. Watch videos of people being given this plant and see for yourself that it is high time to declare medical marijuana legal and pursue it to the nth degree. Remember what I said in my column last week; when putting a gun to your head seems like a viable option to stop pain, you will take whatever you can get, to stop it.

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