Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dollars and Sex

                        Image result for man with rich wife college degree
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I was browsing several economic blogs, satisfying my prurient interest in money, when I came across an unexpected book, Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love,by Dr. Marina Adshade.  Yeah, the title caught me.  I have not yet finished reading it, so this is not a review but an exploration of the lesson I learned at this point.

I saw a statistic in the book that says, more or less, that there are more women enrolled in college than men.  That seems to be the case for women of all races and backgrounds.  So there are more Black, White, and Hispanic women in college than men of the same race.

I presume that if there are more women in college, then there will, at some future date, be more women with degrees than men.  More women doctors, lawyers, engineers, more women everything!

In the past, women were told to go to college to find and marry a professional man ("getting an M.R.S. degree," as it was known in those days).  This insured the women's security and well-being during their motherhood years as well as also securing their retirement into grandmotherhood.  But, somewhere along the line, women got the odd idea that while they were in college, they may as well do some studying too.  Next thing you know, women got ambitious and now female students outnumber male students.

What’s a guy to do?  Let me tell you -- guys should start going to college to pick their wives.

Guys, take advantage of this opportunity and pick one of these fine women as your new wife.  No longer will you be looking for a trophy wife instead you will become the trophy husband.  Look for women with that raw entrepreneurial spirit and the potential to earn high incomes.  You will end up a house dad but you will be well taken care off and you will secure your retirement into grandfatherhood.

So fellas, go to college.  You will meet a better class of women there.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Seeking a Second Medical Opinion

                              Image result for ASKING THE DOCTOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN

By The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I am sick.  I ran my symptoms, the same symptoms that I would have told my doctor, through an internet search.

I got several possibilities.  After reading the search results, I learned how to make a better distinction amongst the same symptoms.  There are many finer points to symptoms.  Take the simple matter of a headache.  You will get hundreds of diagnoses for that.  You need to add a few more symptoms like  swelling sinuses, runny nose, nosebleeds, and so on.  It took several searches, refining my symptoms each time, and I was able to diagnose my ailment.  Don't ask what my ailment is, as that is you being just too nosy. 

Now that’s when my real problem started.  The treatment offered on the internet requires a doctor.  Apparently, I cannot get the medicines I need without a prescription and only a doctor can do that.  If my diagnosis needed blood tests or a scan of some sort, I could not get them either without a doctor’s approval.  Well, maybe I could get them on my own but I would have to pay for the tests myself.  My health insurance would not pay unless a doctor ordered it.

So it’s off to my doctor to get his second opinion of my diagnosis.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of White

                        
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It's kinda obvious but most people don't know that white people did not become white until they met the first black African.  Until that moment, white people thought that the world had only white people and none other.  What a shock for them!  So white people decided to create white people just so that they could say that they were white.  It worked.

But before the creation of white people, white people had problem, "There are no black people in the world and so how do we create a pecking order?"  To solve the problem, white people convened The Great Council of the Known Western World.  After much discussion and haranguing and fighting including years of wars, pillaging and murdering of villagers, The Great Council of the Known Western World found a solution -- they would create different kinds of white people.

At the top of the pecking order would be the Really Really White people, then the Look Like White people, then the Swarthy people, and finally those with Very Long and Unpronounceable Names.

Those of us with a discerning eye would have immediately notice that some folks were really pink.  These pink ones claimed that they are white but with thin white skin, so thin that the pink came from seeing red blood through their white skins.  We can visually identify this new pecking order as true albino types to a sort of pinkish types to those with slight brown undertones and eventually to those with very long and unpronounceable names.

The people at the bottom of the pecking order were unhappy to be there and wanted to move up.  They started to take milk bath everyday to make themselves whiter but it did not work.  The milk bath only served to make the diary farmers rich through price gouging.

White people continued to squabble amongst themselves for centuries about their place on the pecking order until the discovery of black people who were immediately put at the bottom of the pecking order.

Unsurprisingly, the discovery of black people caused problems.  Those already at the bottom of the pecking order, the Swarthy and those with Very Long and Unpronounceable Names, soon found that when they were standing next to black people, they looked white.  A rumpus broke out leading to the reconvening of The Great Council of the Known Western World and the creation of a single group of people that we know today as white people.

A few years later, The Great Council of the Known Western World had to convene once again.   It seems that the white men took a fancy to black women (see Marriage in Black and White) resulting in children.  The Great Council of the Known Western World now had to figure out what to do with the children.  They came up with the "Rooney" system that split the black people at the bottom of pecking order into more groupings: Mulatto, half white; Quarteroon, three quarter white; and Octoroon, seven eights white.

Conceivably, black people having children with white people and then the children having more children with more white people will eventually end up with white children.  The key here is to insure that the white parent is always one of the Really Really White people so that the children will end up at the top of the pecking order.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Transgender Etiquette Made Very, Very Simple

                              
I'll start with a disclaimer. I am not transgender. Most likely, I never will be. But yes, I've thought about it. There's a photo of me, floating around among my extended family somewhere, of me as a toddler, with a square face and very thick hair, dressed in a cowboy ensemble and a hat. The same child, clad in a frilly chiffon dress, looked like a cross-dresser.  Drag Baby. Certain impressions stayed with me as I grew: A lot of family members had a habit of saying "Attaboy!" to me as a means of encouragement. I don't know what that was all about ... but for whatever reason, deep inside, for much of my life, there was a feeling of dissonance between the physical me and the mental me. There were plenty of things that confused me, and it's only within the past 10-20 years that they've started to make sense.

I'm delighted with the wide dissemination, via the Internet and other media, of information regarding sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual expression, and sexual orientation. There's been a wonderful meeting of the minds that's helped us understand that the above terms are part of a spectrum, a continuum, which makes it possible for that funny-looking toddler to feel like a guy on the inside, look very much like a woman on the outside, and still feel exclusively attracted to men. Caitlyn Jenner is only the most high-profile celebrity to be out and open about their transition. Back in my teen years, we had Christine Jorgensen and Renee Richards.  Now we understand that many, many people don't feel like the insides match the outsides, and finally, they're becoming more accepted.

We still have a Transgender Day of Remembrance, however (November 20 this year), to commemorate the many hundreds of people who are murdered because not enough of the world accepts it yet.

Because this topic holds some personal significance to me, I spend a lot of time online reading articles that address the problem of etiquette. The societal changes have come with relative suddenness, so that there's a bit of confusion and hesitation and committing of faux pas that gets a lot of play in blogs and comment sections. A lot of this has to do with pronouns.

Here's the Emily Post version of things: Caitlyn Jenner is the name; she, her and hers are the pronouns. Yes, at one time, she was known as Bruce and vital documents said "He." In numerous places around the world, it will take a great deal of time, effort and money to get those changes legally accepted. But for those who want to do the right thing, you meet the person where they are now, in the place where they have struggled so hard to get to. You don't try to force them to revisit the place where they no longer are.

And here's an easier way to understand this:

Imagine that, as a young child, you were a slow learner, socially awkward, non-athletic and just basically unpopular. Aha -- I sense numerous readers can instantly identify with some or all of that. Good. Read on...

So this young child version of you earned some none-too-flattering nicknames. Moose, perhaps. Stinky. Klutzy. Loser. Martian. I can go on, but won't. Why bother? If you are identifying with this, the names are yours, they're personal, and you'd no doubt be delighted to forget them forever and wipe them from the memories of all your classmates.

But time, in its way, enabled you to move on from that early unpromising identity. You grew, improved your physical abilities, got better at reading, found your hidden talent, started to get more comfortable with your academic subjects, and gradually learned the secrets to making and keeping friends. Perhaps your family called you Dick, but with gentle persistence, you got them to listen to you, take you seriously, and call you Richard exclusively. First your family dropped the "pet" names, then your former classmates gained some maturity and empathy, and came to respect your efforts to remake your public persona. No doubt, they were also struggling with some of their own issues.

Now - it's true that way back in those early years, they called you "Freaky." But now they don't. Now they call you Marianne. Because that's the name you like and use exclusively, and the one that fits your identity. "Freaky" happened, of course, and it may even exist somewhere in an old notebook, a photo caption, or a teacher's files. But to you, now, it's irrelevant, and annoying when others insist on bringing it up because, well, why actually?

Do you want people continually arguing "'Marianne?' Why on earth should I call you that? It sounds so unfamiliar. I've always known you as 'Freaky.'" Wouldn't it make you wonder why this person can't just get with the here-and-now and meet you where you are in your life? Is it that difficult to give up "Freaky" and get into the habit of using "Marianne?"

If you're that kid who needed a few years to gain dignity and self-esteem, you will understand the importance of people respecting your preferences in your name, label, and identity.

And exactly the same is true for someone who has transitioned in terms of gender. Sure, you knew Caitlyn once as "Bruce." So what? We accommodate the wishes of women who marry and give up their maiden names...we sometimes do that as soon as we hear that a couple is engaged. So to claim that "Caitlyn" sounds so wrong, so unfamiliar, as to make it impossible to give up "Bruce" is a clear indicator that it's about something other than the name. It's about respect and empathy and good manners.

Or lack thereof.

---
by Vol-E



Saturday, July 4, 2015

An Olympic Punishment

                                     
Ben Franklin Schumpeter VIII

My inspiration for this story came from this Youtube video, Subway Long Jump.  
 ---------------------------------------------------------

Jamon Cardom Smith was arrested two months ago at the Wall Street station for jumping the turnstile of the New York City Subway system and for not paying the subway fare.  It was his fourth arrest this year for the crime.  When questioned by Judge Wayne McDonald why an employed well paid stock broker like himself would jump the turnstile, Jamon replied, “Because it goes against my Wall Street training to pay for something that I can get for free.” 

The minute he said it, Jamon knew he made a mistake.  It was a snarky and too arrogant thing to say to a Judge.  One should have expressed regret and contrition but those emotions are foreign to Wall Streeters.  To the Wall Street sharks, regret and contrition for your sins is just blood in the water and you should be devoured by your peers for such weakness.  Now he would pay for his stupidity.

Judge McDonald frowned on the answer and then delivered up his punishment, “It is clear from Mr. Smith’s multiple arrests that he is an aficionado of jumping.  I therefore sentence him to enter the US Olympic Trials and to qualify for the High Jump event or to be remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a 30-day incarceration.”   It was an unexpected punishment.  When the law historians research the history of this case, they will be disappointed as Judge McDonald did not include in the case notes his reasons for this sentence.  At most, historians could claim that it was a throwback to the days when judges ordered guilty defendants into the Army.

Jamon elected to accept the Judge’s leniency and to enter the Olympic trials.  His only comment to the Court on his sentence was, “I hope to do my best and to represent the Country in an honorable way.”  Yes, too late for regret and contrition.

So what if Jamon knew nothing about high jump?  He would learn.  The first step was to get to a bookstore to read up on high jump.  There had to be a book by some former Olympic gold medalist.  After all, that's what those guys did, write books about their athletic prowess, although nobody read them.  Amend that, almost nobody read them.  Jamon would read them and he was not a nobody.  The book would explain the techniques and he would learn them.  How hard could that be?

Hard work was Jamon’s normal.  He worked hard at all his learning, his friendliness, his charm, for hours on hours, until he made it look natural and effortless.  He made sure that he would always win, always beating his competition, by working harder than everyone else and then he still did not stop when he had surpassed them all.  He knew that there was always someone better somewhere in the world, and when he met that person, he intended to win over them too.  Sure, he would meet others who could best him in a narrow skill, after all, there are people like math or dancing geniuses and he certainly could not match them.  But none -- and he meant that to be a capital NONE -- could match him at everything.  Beat him at one skill and he would beat you at nine others.  Learning high jump did not seem to be… a high hurdle.

Jamon had the body for athletics but he never took it up.  Jamon preferred to spend his time on finance, economics and Wall Street internships.  Sure athletes did made lots of money, some as much as 100 million a year but for how long?  An athlete was good for ten years of high earnings on average.  Jamon intended to make $100 million per year for the rest of his life and that life led to Wall Street.  Apparently, that life also put him on the path to the Olympic high jump trials.

Jamon learned all about high jump.  The key to high jump was to get your bottom (center of gravity in sport-speak) up and over the bar, then every other part would follow.  Good thing he had a flat bottom.  His flat bottom was a sore spot for him because he did not fill out his skinny jeans in that space as he would have liked.  He though that girls preferred something more there.  Now he appreciated his flat bottom.  Perhaps he could improve his chances in the high jump with some surgery to make his bottom smaller still?  Something to think about.

Now the question arose, how much practice time was needed?  There is an idea in some places that one needs 10,000 hours of practice to become great at any task.  Jamon did not want to believe this true, as that meant he could only be great some five years hence, and his trial was only months away.  If he was to win, he would have to rely on his natural athletic talent as the Judge sarcastically claimed he possessed.

The next step was to think about a coach.  In Jamon’s business, that of stockbroker and investment management, it is said that a broker who represented himself has a fool for a client or is it a fool for an investment adviser?  It didn’t matter.  Jamon was his own investment adviser and as far as he was concerned, he did better than anyone else would have done for him.  Jamon did not feel the need for a coach.  He had read the high jump books and knew what to do.  It was only a matter of doing.  If one wanted to play golf, just swing a club.  If one wanted to run a marathon, just run.  If one wanted to learn to high jump, just jump.  In truth, it is easy to learn techniques.  The difficulty came in repeatability -- can he do it ten times in a row to the same high level of skill?

He did need a coach as a separate pair of eyes to see what he was doing and what might need to change.  So, he bought six cameras.  He would record and play back his practice until he got the techniques textbook perfect.

Jamon’s plan went quite well except that he could not jump more than six feet ten inches.  To win the trials, he needed to add at least six or seven more inches.  In desperation, Jamon hired a coach to review his practice video.  The coach’s analysis was simple: Jamon had great technique but he did not have the leg strength to power him upwards, leg strength that comes from many months of work outs, months he did not have.  He would not win the high jump trials.

Jamon Cardom Smith, along with the crowd, applauded as the winner of the high jump trials ascended the podium to receive his gold medal.  Jamon was disappointed, distressed, and angry.  He hated the results of this event, for you see, he came in last place, twenty-nine of twenty-nine. 

One could say that he was better at this event than everyone in the country but for the twenty-eight in front of him, but not everyone in the country was interested in this event.  At least he was better than the thirtieth person, but that person was not here.  So Jamon did not know who he was.  Knowing the person, placing a face to the person, mattered; otherwise, that person may not exist and may turn out to be wishful thinking on his part.  There may in reality be only twenty-nine participants in the whole country and that made him the one in last place.

Jamon had never finished last place in anything in his life.  Not always first, but never ever last place.  The ignominy of it!  He was so irritated and angry that he contemplated quitting his job to take up high jump full time so that he would be there to win the next Olympic trials in four years.  It was truly a dumb idea and he recognized it as so.  Now, Jamon had to learn how to let go of his failure.  He had to learn that there are tasks that will be unfinished and must stay that way and be replaced with other tasks of far more importance and he would not be a lesser man for it.   Judge McDonald certainly knew what he was doing when he imposed this sentence.  

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sharing and sharing a "like"



Now that I have my interwebs back, I am really eager to post on this blog (yes, Urban Blabbermouth, you read that correctly!!).

All this time away, I've been stashing things on Evernote -- if you have not heard of Evernote, please check it out:
https://evernote.com/

In fact, I have stored web articles going back to 2009, but figured I'd list a few from June for anyone who's looking for something to read. As always, think "incurably eclectic."

And if any of these lights up regions in your brain, consider sharing them on your blog too.

Cheers!

/v


  1. Two Underrated Skills in the Workplace
  2. The Essential Cyberpunk Reading List
  3. What Tom DeLay thinks is going to happen now that marriage equality is the law of the land
  4. 12 Habits of the Super Successful and Wealthy You Need to Adopt
  5. How a Narcissist Can Turn a Conversation
  6. 12 daily habits that will make you smarter
  7. The ultimate guide to learning anything faster
  8. How science is helping America tackle police racism
  9. This is how you store t-shirts in a drawer
  10. Top 10 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn for PR




Friday, June 26, 2015

Brian Williams - Warrior

                      

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
By now we have all heard about television newsman Brian Williams's return to work after his suspension for telling tall tales about his military adventures in Afghanistan.  Turns out that his telling of tall tales is a sign of a deeper issue - we now have a large number of professional men who have never served in the military.

One of the Rites of Passage to manhood is to prove your strength and courage.  Becoming a warrior is the traditional way to do this.  It is rather obvious why; standing tall in the face of an enemy who threatens your life requires strength and courage.  Now, that enemy need not be another warrior.  When there is no war, when there is no human warrior to face, we can substitute another life threatening activity such as catching and killing a lion, a tiger, or some other equally dangerous predator.

That professional men avoid military service is not a new phenomenon.  During the American Civil War, wealthy men could buy their way out of military service.  This caused riots during the Civil War.  The irony is that for a long time, the ruling class of many western countries came from the military.  In England, it is still expected that the male members of the Royal house serve in some capacity in the military.  Here in the United States, we have reached a time when we are closer to none of the members of Congress, all four hundred and thirty-five of them, never having served in the military.

Today with the US Military deployed in active battle zones all over the world, men are back to facing another warrior to prove their strength and courage.  Professional men have avoided this test and are considered less than true men.  No one speaks of it openly but they do think it.  Some men now feel shame for avoiding military service.  So it is not surprising that professional men, like Brian Williams, make up tall tales to compensate.  

We do not need to return to mandatory military service.  What we do need is a modern version of the Rite of Passage to prove young men’s strength and courage.  We need the modern equivalent of hunting and capturing a lion.  Making billions of dollars or playing paintball does not cut it.  Well, there is always the ancient gladiator sport of Boxing. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hello...

                                    

Yes, it's really me.

Here's what's been happening:

In October 2014, my son came to stay with us. Yay!
In November, I had the opportunity to purchase a used Windows 7 desktop computer from my employer for a very reasonable sum. I sold my old 2006 Windows XP computer on Craigslist.Yay!
Day after Christmas, the hard drive on the new computer died. Boo!
Soon after, we cancelled our internet service. I mean, who needed it with no computer?Boo!
In February 2015, my cellphone carrier told me I was using way too much data on my unlimited plan and kindly offered to buy me out. The amount they were offering would have been enough to pay for a nice new computer. Mostly Yay!
Except we ended up using it to buy a new refrigerator, which we'd been needing for about 11 months.Yay!
I switched cell providers but could not get unlimited data. Boo!All I could get was 5GB per month, which I managed to use up within about 2 weeks.Boo!
Everyone kept telling me about this thing called wi-fi, which sounded way too complicated for me.Boo!
But then somebody finally explained it. Yay!
At about the same time, a friend from church got rid of her old computer and now I have it.Yay!
Time to revisit the internet situation...
One of the BIG providers was running a special, which gives me a year of very affordable internet, and a wi-fi router, which I can use with my phone and not use so much data.Yay!
Which means I can post here again (hard to blog from a smartphone keyboard).Yay!

Meanwhile...
My son got:
A girlfriend in February,
A good-paying job in May,
And (with the aforementioned girlfriend), his own apartment in May.
...all Yay!

It's a new day. 

Now tell me: What's new with you? Use the comments!

Ta for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love on the Hudson Line - A Nicholas Sparks inspiration


                                                   photo: The Ballerina Project

By Ben Franklin Schumpeter VIII

After many years of watching bits of "The Notebook" movie, I have finally managed to see it all.  The ending was too sentimental.  How many couples die of a broken heart at the same time?  Be that as it may, the movie inspired this little story, maybe as a counterpoint to all that sentimentality.
----

She stood on the train platform patiently waiting for him to arrive.  She had been doing this every morning for the last five years.

It started by accident.  On that day, she arrived early at the platform and waited in her usual spot, and she chanced to see him.  She had chosen a special standing spot on the train platform, one that would make it easy for her to exit at her stop.  New Yorkers are like that, always working on ways to quickly get in and out of the train.  She stood ten feet to the left of the Canandaigua Station sign.  The sign reminded her that the Indians were here first and that she was now a part of Indian history.

She had been leaving early for work.  She particularly like her latest project, a study of the voting habits of middle age women, and was eager to get started each day.  She saw him as she entered the train car.  She did not think of him much except that he was handsome and well dressed.   He wore a beautiful grey suit cut close Mad Men style.  She liked that it showed his slim fit body.  He had the look of an actor, handsome and rugged, and she was sure that she had seen him in a movie at one time.   An unexpected side effect of leaving early for work was that she saw him in the mornings.  Not every time, mind you, but enough so that he came to register in her mind and became unique from all the anonymous passengers she saw on her train.

She enjoyed seeing him.  It was a cheery start to her day to see this handsome man.  She did not know why she found him attractive.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined his beard would tickle if she were to kiss him.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined his body would feel if she were to hug him.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined how his hair would fall if she were to muss it.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined he would laugh if she were to tell him her favorite joke.  All she could say was that he captivated her and that was that. 

She decided that she wanted to start every day with a view of him.  She needed to work out his travel pattern.   First, she arrived early at the train station.  She would then stand in her spot and wait for the train to come.  As each train arrived, she looked in to see if he was there.  If not, she let the train pass and waited for the next one.  When she saw him, she entered the train.  On the train, she noted where he stood so she could be close to him or at least within easy viewing distance.  She would just look at him for the duration of her trip.  She left the train at her stop and he went on to a further stop.  She never knew where he left the train and to follow him onwards seemed obsessive and creepy.  

She continued this way week after week until his travel pattern emerged and she could, with reasonable accuracy, be assured that she would meet his train.   Then, she started to plan her trip to work to match his travel times.  She would leave her home ten minutes early to just to be sure that if he chanced to be one train early, she would be there when he arrived.  On the days when she did not see him, she forced herself into her train for work instead of following her desire to remain on the platform waiting and hoping for him to appear.       

Some days, when she felt adventurous, she stood next to him.  She never spoke to him no matter how often she did stand next to him.  She did not know what to say to him.  As friendly as she was, she did not know how to break the ice.  It was an odd thing to her that she could be tongue-tied and feel intimidated by this man.  She could not think of any reason for this and as far as she could tell, he posed no threat to her safety.  Occasionally, as she stood next to him, the urge would rise up in her to say "Hello".  And each time, her breathing shallowed and sped up while weird wobblies came to her stomach.  She just stood there stuck on the consequences of such a simple word as "Hello".

"Hello" was such a treacherous word.  "Hello" was a risky chance to learn that he did not have a beautiful personality.  Then, his beauty would be destroyed.  His handsomeness needed to be attached to a beautiful personality.  "Hello" was a risky chance to learn that he was not compatible to her own personality.   Knowing that he was on the wrong side of these truths would have destroyed him for her and he would have returned to the pack of anonymous passengers on her train. 

She did wonder if he noticed her.  She stood next to him often enough for him to have noticed her but he never spoke.  She did chuckle once at the idea that perhaps, and this was the deepest thought she ever gave to her situation, just maybe, she intimidated him too.

So, every morning for the next five years, she just looked at him, enjoying him as he existed in front of her: his handsomeness, his sartorial magnificence, his elegant and graceful movements and the hints of personality that flickered across his face.  

Suddenly, he was gone.  She did not see him at all for three weeks.  She felt the lack of him in her life and the disruption to her feelings.  Every morning, she would leave her home in hopes that he had returned but it was not to be.  She trudged through her days, distracted and impatient, snapping at her colleagues, but always ending her evenings in rising hope for the next morning.   Had she fallen in love with a stranger?  Was that possible?  How can this happen with a man she didn't know, never spoke to, knew nothing of his personality or of his likes?  Had she foolishly let her imagination run away with her?  Was that the danger she fell into unawares, the trap that catches women like herself?  Love, after all, must go somewhere.

After three months of waiting on the platform and not seeing him, she resigned herself that he was gone forever.  She always knew that this was possible.  Events happened in people lives and some event happened to him.  She accepted that the hand of fate had moved against her.  It was inevitable.  They were still strangers and there was no connection between them to keep them together. 

She changed her way of traveling to work.  She returned to catching a train that minimized her travel time.  A month later, as she settled into her new routine, a shock came to her.  She saw him again.  He was getting off her train two stops before hers.  He had changed jobs and now took this train.

He looked just as fine to her as he did on the first day she saw him five years ago.  He was still handsome and he still wore those beautiful suits.  She still could not comprehend loving a stranger but it was only on seeing him again that the ache of having missed him so much overcame her.  She held on hard to the bar by the door and took several long slow breaths.  Her cheeks warmed and she nearly smiled at him.

She moved to stand next to him.  She desperately wanted to say "Hello" and to not let him get away from her again.  But, she said nothing.  When he got off the train, she immediately set to working out his travel pattern - the train he was on, which stop he got off, and the time she would have to leave her home to be on the station platform to wait for him.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Years resolutions that I will not make.

                  
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
What can I say, every year I make resolutions and every year they don't pan out.  This year I shall ease my guilty conscience and not make any of these resolutions:
  • "I resolve to lose weight."  This is the number one resolution failure.  I never lose the weight.  I cannot escape the annual eating season that runs from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  The best I can hope for at year's end is to weigh the same as I did at the beginning of the year.
  • "I resolve to save money."  Every year I plan to increase my saving.  This year I asked myself why?  The money goes into the bank and I get zero interest rate.  All it does is make some banker richer.  So I plan to spend my money on me.  I shall buy a big screen TV or a large glittery bauble for my wife.
  • "I resolve to be nicer to my wife."  I am always nice to my wife and I cannot be any nicer.  I will not share this resolution with her for she will “beg to differ” and cause all kinds of marital discord.
  • "I resolve to buy myself a Mercedes-Benz."  I always liked this one very much.  I so want to tell my neighbors that they are dragging down the neighborhood with their Toyotas.  I can brag that they are not keeping up with me.  Of  course, I will have to load up on debt and get a third mortgage to buy the Mercedes-Benz. 
  • "I resolve to be more interesting."  Huh, my life has gotten boring.  There have been no visits from Russian spies trying to squeeze state secrets from me. Nor have there been any bodyguards around protecting me from my overly enthusiastic adoring fans.  Maybe boring is good after all.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The State of My Year Speech

                           
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Every year, the President of the United States gives a State of the Union speech.  Following in his example, I shall give a State of My Year speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Universe, the State of My Year was good.  The first thing is that I made it to the end of the year in one piece. I am still alive and well.  Whatever the good time or the bad time, here I am and to me this is the best news.  Interestingly enough, I feel that have gotten wiser but I could not tell you one wise thing.  I don't know how that is.  My car also made it to the end of the year alive and well.  It's ten years old.  That like sixty in people years.  I can relate.

First the bad news.  There has been lots of illness in my family, from cancer, to knees, to back, and some other things.  We are still here and working on improving our health. This year, we have run up against the limits of The Science of Medicine and crossed into The Art of Medicine.  We ran into the limits of what doctors truly know and entered into the trial and error phase. "Let's do this and see what happens, then we will react to the results."  Scary, but what other choice do we have?  Doctors do not know everything as much as try try.

My father's treatments have worked so far.  Knock wood.  He is in good spirits and we expect that he will recover.  My health has not gotten any worse but I do have some aches and pains that come from aging.  I am the knees previously mentioned.  Just getting older and slower.  I like to go ooh and aah as I get started moving.  My own personal sound effects.  It sounds worse than it is.   

I had little personal troubles other than my ailments, at least nothing out of the ordinary.  Just the usual stuff of life.  One of the utility companies did some stupid billing, some dumb thing with the meter.  I am still struggling with them on that.  My credit card was stolen in the breach of Home Depot, Target, or some other place.  I don't know where the theft came from but I did shop in those places.  The bank caught it and dealt with it.  I ask them for more information but they did not want to say fearing that the thieves learn from it.

The good news is that I have started going to church in the middle of the week.  I go to the big church in the downtown area.  It is a huge Cathedral with the ancient architecture of spires and gothic trimmings.  The place is always full of people.  I light a candle and offer prayers for my family, friends, and even those people with whom I am in dispute starting with the utility company.

I am still married.  Not that there was any threat in this area but I want to acknowledge my wonderful wife and how much I still love her and want to keep her around for some more years.

The company where I work had improved economics and so management announced some pay increases .  This is the first increases since the pay freezes when the downturn began seven or more years ago.  Hopefully it is a good sign that the economy is getting better all across the country and the world.  I have gotten used to living with limited means and don't plan to change no matter what pay increases come my way.

I have met some nice people particularly the interns in my office.  They seem so young and so lost.  They are going to school but have no real definite shape to their future.  They go to college and hope that their future works out in some way.   I wonder if some person many years older than me would have said same of me.  There is one fellow who wants to be a Fashion Designer.  That's unusual but here he is studying business.  I would have advised him to give up the business study for now and concentrate on clothes.  He can always take up a business career later if designing doesn't work out.  One intern wants to be a lawyer.  Sheesh, we have enough of those but who am I to say otherwise.

Lastly, blogging has been interesting.  I can write anything I want and there is at least a handful of people who want to read it.  Blogging has been tougher than I thought.  It takes so much time to get it right.  So many times I have had to start over or to throw out an idea because I ran out of something to say after three sentences.   I now have a fine appreciation for those authors who turn out book after book every year. 

I do not know what will happen in the new year but right now, I feel blessed.  Maybe that extra week day visit to Church to pray has more to do with it.  One never really knows where and when God decides to show up to deliver His Blessing but you do know that He is always there.

Happy New Year and may God bless you all

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Awaken your Dreams

                               
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I am asleep and I am dreaming.  It's the beginning of Prohibition and two families start smuggling whiskey from Canada.  I don't remember their names so let's call them Crime Family One and Crime Family Two,  shortened to CF1 and CF2.  It's dangerous but there is lots of work for everybody so the two families are happy.  Prohibition ends and the two families take up other crime work.  They start expanding and are fighting, hurting and killing each other.

The two crime families decide to consult a self-help author (let's call him Dr. Smith) for a solution.  Dr. Smith says the solution is for CF1-Son to marry CF2-Daughter.  Everyone think that this is a great idea.  Problem is that the children are still children.  CF1 and CF2 agree to wait twenty years and to keep out of each other's way.  The two families keep expanding.  CF1 goes eastward and CF2 goes westward.  They fight, hurt and kill other crime families instead of each other.

Twenty years later, CF1-Son meets CF2-Daughter and they have no spark.  They like each other fine but no romance.  They don't want to get married.  The families are in a dilemma.

Some time later, Dr. Smith shows up and invites CF1 to his son's wedding.  They accept.  CF1 goes to the wedding and finds that Dr. Smith's son is marrying CF2-Daughter.  CF1-Son meets Dr. Smith's daughter and there are sparks.  They fall in love.  The CF1-Son marries Dr. Smith's daughter on the spot.

No need to interpret this dream.  It's a crime romance drama mashup of Mario Puzo and Nicholas Sparks.  See, I dream in novels.  There is some dialogue, people faces, and scenery but that is hazy in my mind and has passed from me.   I am lucky to remember this much.  One day my dream will stick and I will write my first book.

Good-night and sweet dreams.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Women rule the Airwaves

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
For this fall's television season, I see more shows on network TV with women in the lead role.  There is The Good Wife, Scandal, How to get away with Murder, Madam Secretary, and in State of Affairs, not only are there women leads, the President of the United States is a woman.  In Person of Interest, the woman, Ms. Shaw, is an equal not a supporting role.  She gets to beat up and shoot up just as many people as the male lead.

These TV roles are so juicy.  The women get to strut their stuff and let their ambition run amok. They can be bossy, be mean and nasty, be clever and sneaky, and the viewers just love them.  The TV roles are so unlike movies roles where women are to only look pretty and show cleavage.  The TV roles are so good that movie stars are now grabbing them up.  You need name recognition to successfully audition for a role.  Think Tea Leoni and Oscar winner Halle Berry just to throw some names at you.

This is probably the first season on network TV with so many shows with women leads.  This is significant.  Women in lead roles are common fare on cable TV but cable shows get fairly low ratings, something less than one million viewers per showing.  One showing on network TV is seen by more people - twenty million or more - than a month of shows on any cable channel.  That the high ratings hold up week after week is proof that these women leaders are accepted by America.

All these shows on network TV are changing America.  The country is getting used to seeing women in power positions.  The women are setting an example for women in regular life to follow.  Young women do not have to search for a role model any more.  Young women now have role models thrust in their faces.  Measure up, step up, to your future. 

We see women in power over and over and over, every week.  We see them and start to think, "A woman can do this."  The viewers can imagine women succeeding in non-traditional jobs.  If it's OK in fantasy, it will be OK in real life.  So, in the next election, we may yet choose a woman as President of the United States.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Money

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Can money buy happiness?  Most of us say no.  But money does more than buy things.  Where and how one spends money sends messages and those messages can make us happy.

Money turns out to have more value than its economic use.  Economists look at money as a medium of exchange, that is, I can use it to buy goods and services.  Economists also say that money is a store of value, that is, I can save it up to use for some future purchase.  Economists completely miss the aspect where money stores social goodwill, that is, my deep friendship for you.

Let's say I take you to lunch.  We can eat, tell each other bad jokes, and gossip about everybody we know.  By treating you to lunch, have I bought your friendship or bought your time?  Sure I can buy your company but if that’s all there is then the happiness fades when I stop taking you to lunch.

Taking you to lunch sends subtle messages -- that I value you more than I do my money.  My money is important to me because I spend much of my time, knowledge, and skills at a job to get it.  I put up with annoying customers, demanding bosses and uncooperative co-workers to earn my money.  Now I am spending it on you.  I am telling you in deeds without telling you in words that, for all the effort that I put into earning my money, I like you enough to spend my hard earned money on buying lunch.  It makes me happy to buy lunch for my friend.  Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Money does not stop at just friendship.  Money has other social uses.  There is a weird ritual, Potlatch, where people destroy wealth to show their greatness.  It's an odd idea that one can gain great status and praise because one is so rich that one can destroy a Mercedes Benz automobile and not care.  I prefer to take you to lunch.  We can enjoy good food, drink too much, get fat together, and that is worth all the money in the world. 

But why stop at lunch?  For those of us who are friends with benefits, we can substitute money for physical intimacy in those times when, well… we just can't get a room.  We can go on a wild abandoned shopping spree, spending money outrageously, and then engage in an orgy of gift giving with each other.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Arms of Love

                  

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
While at lunch in the office, a woman blurted out that she offered her forearm to her boyfriend to play with rather than her breast.  She said, "My arm is attached to me just like my breast, has the same feel and touch and the exact same skin as my breast.  So what difference does it make to him?"

A good point.  At one time, women wore long skirts.  The sight of an ankle would drive men wild and they would think very amorous thoughts.  Well, I dare say that today, we see lots of ankles and yet no one, at least the normal amongst us, think much about them.  We are too busy thinking about other covered body parts to be bothered about ankles.

As ankles became more visible, we have trained ourselves not to think of ankles as sexy.  They might be nicely shaped but not worthy of amorous thoughts.  We have trained ourselves to think of red six inch spike heel pumps as sexy.  Put your unsexy ankles in shoes like that and suddenly your ankles get a whole lot sexier.  Our mind begins to think amorous thoughts.  Clearly, our mind likes to make up stories about our feelings.

Let's take this a bit further.  Suppose I train you to feel that forearms are an erogenous area.  How would you respond when touched?  Excited!  That is what this woman is doing.  She is training her boyfriend to think of her forearm as sexy.  He will be imaging her enjoying his touch there and he will imagine his pleasure at her pleasure.  Soon, it will make a difference to him and she will have to pick another bodily part to offer him.  Eventually, she will run out of parts.

Ahhh, how much more simpler her life would have been if she had just offered him her breast.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What's in a Name?

                               
This article by Vol-E was previously published elsewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the debate over whether children benefit more from a common name or an unusual one, it is necessary to examine what we mean by "common."  With a world population of over 7 billion souls, could there possibly be many names left that are entirely unique?  There are a lot of other Baracks in the world, and plenty more people named Britney, Halle, Khloe and Shaquille.  Parents who think they can beat the odds and raise the only individual on the planet with a particular name are setting themselves up for disappointment. 

Wait (I heard you asking) -- what about "Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz?"  

Nope, sorry. Charles Manson and Susan Atkins beat ya to it back around 1968 or so...

My parents often told me that they chose my name to avoid the "Kathy-Debbie" phenomenon that seemed quite popular in the late 1950s.  I managed to be the only Elaine in my school, all the way through 12th grade, but I also suffered the continual indignity of being called "Eileen," "Ellen,"Eleanor" and even "Heléneby people who had never heard of the name Elaine.  But by the time I reached my early 20s, the name had apparently caught on.  At the camp where I worked one summer, someone with a twisted sense of humor assigned me to a cabin with a CIT named Elayne and a camper named Elain.  Since then, nearly every environment has provided me with a name-twin.  The name is still unusual enough in these cases to cause confusion.  E-mails meant for "the other Elaine" find their way to me, and vice versa, invariably followed by "Oh -- that's right, we have two Elaines." 

Another advantage that the more well-represented Kathys and Debbie have is what I think of as a "convertible" name.  A Kathy of sneakers and jeans can transform into a regal Katherine for occasions such as interviews and formal dinners.  The same is true for Debbie/Deborah, Frank/Francis, Bill/William and even Millie, who can become a Millicent or a Mildred.  This is why I am often puzzled when parents intentionally give their child the shortened version of a name, right off the bat. "Jack," "Sam," and "Peggy" never get a chance to opt for the more formal "John," "Samuel," and "Margaret." Sometimes we need a dash of gravitas.

On the other hand, quite a few people have strong negative reactions to the common diminutives, under any circumstances. We all know a Susan who will threaten bodily harm toward anyone who dares call her "Sue," and a Michael who could probably stand to loosen up now and then and tolerate being called "Mike." 

An unusual name should, at the very least, provide some ease of pronunciation.  As many of us learned in high school English class, the word "ghoti" is actually pronounced "fish," using common spelling conventions.  But it is unfair and burdensome for a child to have to explain, day after day, how to pronounce one's name, especially if the spelling clearly implies one thing and the pronunciation comes as a surprise every time.  We live in a fast-paced, abbreviated sort of world where children are just as rushed and short on time as adults.  A child of a certain temperament will relish the spotlight and the momentary fascination of teachers and classmates, but children typically like to feel that they blend in and share common ground with their peers.  

The best place for exotica is the safe territory between the first and last name.  This is where parents can open themselves to creativity and pay homage to cherished ancestors or even admired celebrities.  There's also no limit to the number of middle names a child can have.  Middle names are handy for those unforeseen changes of identity that many children come up against.  A good example is a child christened Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda, who is today known as anything but a "plain" Jane. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Year Resolutions

             

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It's that time of the year again when I start to think about what became of this year's New Year Resolutions.  Last January, I was stingy and I made only two resolutions on the belief that I could concentrate on only these two items and improve my chances of succeeding.  It did not turn out that way. 

The first and I suppose the most common New Year's resolution is to lose weight.  We all make that one and we all seem to fail at it.  I am no different and I want to make some excuses for my failure.  Obviously I cannot claim that the dog ate my lunch since I don't have a dog, so what kind of excuse can I give and yet sound reasonable.  I can always blame someone else - my wife.  If she did not cook so well then I would have lost the weight.  She made the most scrumptious roasted Rosemary Chicken, Coq au Vin, Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Piccata, Jerk Chicken,  and, Curry Chicken, and that was just week one.   If I did not eat her cooking, she would think that she was a terrible cook and I would feel so guilty.   I did not want her to eat alone so I ate with her.  I ate her portion and mine, to save her from herself, you understand, so that she could lose weight too.  See what a thoughtful husband I have turned out to be.

My other resolution was to save more money.  Well, that did not work either.  Here I really do have a legitimate excuse, two of them really.  One, I just do not make enough money.  It's simple, if my boss paid me more, then I would have more money to save.  Second, my bills got bigger, much against my will.  The worst is always the cable bill followed closely by the cell phone bill.  We all know about the cable lament -- 1000 channels for hundreds of dollars each month and not a decent show to watch.  Now the cell phone is second but is working hard to replace the cable bill as my most irritating bill.  Used to be that cell phones were only to call people.  Now, there are data plans, texting, and apps for shopping, travel, games, pictures and some for rather nefarious purposes, all of which cost much more money.  The least thing done with a modern cell phone is to call people.

My next year's resolution will be the same as last.  This is the fifth year in a row, an anniversary of a sort, that I have made the same two resolutions.  All I can say is that I am in good company with the Lord on this.  You know how the Lord works, keep repeating the same experience until we learn His lesson.  I will keep repeating my resolutions until I learn my own lesson.  Don't bother me with what that lesson is as I haven't yet learned it.

So, see you next year at this time.
___________________________________
Note: Photograph shows the world-famous Maru.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Daily Sexist Commute

                          

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
My commuter railroad has new cars.  They are beautiful, fabulous and a joy to ride.

I don't know how they did it, but the inside of the new cars is wider with lots more space,  and the train still fits in the station.  Looks like they re-arranged the seats to create more seating.  What I like most is that there is a hand rail down the center aisle for those times that I get caught out of position and cannot hold on to the rails above the seats.

The new cars have gadgetry.  There is an electronic map with all the stations and it shows you where in the world you are on the train route.  Looks like a version of Google maps.  There is also a video screen that tells you the next station, the estimated time of arrival, and shows safety messages.  No commercials, at least not yet, unless you include the railroad's shameless self promotions, "We are the greatest railroad you have ever been on.  Here is our latest project to..."

The train still has audio announcements.  It a beautiful voice, very soothing, and the diction is perfect.  The station announcements sound so interesting that I am tempted to get off at every stop.  Clearly professionals,  you know, actors, the ones who do voice overs for radio commercials.

But here's the odd thing.  The voice that give us directions, that announces the next station and the transfer points is female.  The voice that give us instructions, the voice of command that tell us "Watch the closing doors" or "Get your fat ass inside" if we are too slow in obeying, is male.

Who knew that this iron horse, dripping in modernity, and completely devoid of gender, could be so sexist.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Training Bra

                     
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I still remember my first struggles with the clasp of a bra.  It is a rite of passage for young men just learning about relationships and women to struggle to open a bra.   Bras, in general, are like chastity belts for the breasts. They have a special lock, the clasp, and of course, are ridiculously difficult to open.

On the  eventful day, things started out normally enough with my girlfriend.  Let's call her by another name, Beverly, to protect her virtue (probably long gone by now).  Beverly liked to wear turtleneck sweaters.  You know how turtleneck sweaters just show off the female form.  Well, I got to noticing her soft round breasts, which lead to me taking liberties and having a wonderful squeeze.  Beverly's response to this was, "Did you enjoy yourself?"  Duh!!  Anyway, somehow I ended up trying to unclasp her bra.

Not so simple.  The clasps that close a bra are designed to frustrate us. Perhaps it is women's way of testing us. If you can open this mechanism, then you are manly, virile, and worthy of its contents. Yes, bra clasps are a conspiracy led by women. It’s not like Beverly needed to wear a bra.  She only had her breasts for a few years and they were perky enough to easily stand up on their own. Nope, she wore a bra to test me.