Saturday, March 18, 2017

Street Performers

              
                  Image result for pedestrians on city street
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I like people-watching. Some others watch Keeping up with the Kardashians reality TV show, but I prefer the real thing, watching the people around me.

This morning, I am loitering on a street corner, in front of Starbucks, sipping my coffee. I watch a sea of humanity stream out of the Subway across the street into the station's courtyard. So many people. The stream comes in waves lasting two minutes or so. It’s as if the train is having the heaves and is coughing up passengers.

The first thing I notice is everyone reaching for their cell phone as they emerge from underground into the sunshine. Gotta check for messages just in case it's the end of the world and someone must save it, like the teen-age girl always does in a disaster movie.

I watch a pair of blonde women holding hands as they exit the station. They look pretty and professional in their light grey suits and white blouses. I take them to be finance types, bankers maybe? They intimately kiss, much lip touching, the kind you only see with new love, then each goes off in separate directions. This is the new normal in America.

A young black woman drops her scarf as she crosses the street. An older white man calls out, “Miss!” He struggles to pick up the scarf - his beer belly paunch in the way - and hands it to her. She smiles and thanks him. We have terrible race problems in America but there is still lots of kindness too.

A Chinese woman splits from the crowd crossing the street, and approaches me. She is middle aged, slender, and short enough that I can see the top of her head and her thinning black hair. She looks up at me, hands me a business card, and says an accented, “Where?” It’s for some home health care office nearby. I guess that her English is poor, so I point towards the backside of the building, saying "two blocks," and gesture two fingers in a V. I hope she gets it. She says, “Thank you, thank you,“ and walks on toward the back of the building.

I am not the only one watching the crowd. The police are there too, a Sergeant and three officers, standing near the station's exit. They are wearing puffy bulletproof vests that make them look like barrel-chested body builders. Their riot helmets remind me of the ones skateboarders wear - round with slots on the side and probably on top too for cooling air to pass. They are armed with rifles, M16s I think, slung on their shoulders with the muzzles pointing to the ground. It’s a position from which they can instantly swing up the rifles and shoot if necessary. Another new normal in America -- police officers on city streets who look like soldiers in a war zone. This is a mirror of Israel's city streets.

Inevitably, my people-watching turns into girl watching. It’s at moments like this that I appreciate the sartorial splendor of women in short skirts and women, including the thick women, wearing spandex leggings to work.

A parade of pretty women walk by. I wonder if pretty girls are lonely. It’s the idea that beautiful women attract handsome men and unless you are handsome, don’t bother. This intimidates guys that the girls would have welcomed to approach them. You rise to your level of beauty or fall to your level of ugliness. How do I think up such strange notions?

The women are guy-watching too. It's fair. One or two look me over as I look them over. Wonder what passes through their minds, “Hmm, yummy!”

My reverie is disturbed by a couple arguing. They are yelling at each other. The lady screams, “Take a look at this pussy,” and she pulls up her tee and pulls down her sweat pants. I see lady bits that I should not see. She flashed so quickly it’s all over before I can take a picture. I am guessing the man has other female interests and the lady wanted to show him what he would miss after she threw him out.

My cell phone chimes in the midst of this excitement. Work calls. It’s a text of my daily To Do list from the Company.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Drama Queen

           Related image
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
To become a good writer, to write interesting stories, I have to write drama.

I have spent my adult life avoiding drama. I plan out events, including simple matters like food shopping, to insure low drama. I go to the supermarket when the crowd is less so I don't fight for parking spaces nor battle other shoppers to get a short check-out line.

My drama avoiding strategy includes people too. I discourage those with drama from drawing me into their “shit”. You know them, those folks who are not happy unless they are sharing and telling you for the tenth time every instance of drama in their lives. And, when there isn't enough drama to chat about, they create it.

I find myself thinking that I have to somehow become like them, at least in thoughts.

Now, some drama is easy. I can drum up romantic drama. I have experience in this area. As unusual as it is, these days anyways, I have had romantic dramas with my beloved wife. You will have to read my stories to find out more on that.

The harder drama is the kind that goes against my grain. If I want to write a murder mystery, I have to think hard thoughts like killing a fellow human being and how I can get away with it. What awful thoughts I have to think to write of a criminal who tortures his victims or of a serial killer of women.

I am beginning to appreciate someone like Meryl Streep who can play movie characters so different from herself. It is an amazing talent and she deserves all the Oscar nominations bestowed on her.

There is no art without sacrifice. I will work to become a Drama Queen. Won't it be a surprise to my family and friends when I throw my first hissy-fit.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rite of Passage

                    Image result for 1965 blackout
by the Urban Blabbermouth
~
"Wheeeeee!" Crock screamed as his spaceship accelerated out of Saturn's orbit headed towards Jupiter. 
 
"Awwwwesome!" screamed Pot, Crock's best friend. "Once more around Jupiter and we will double our speed." 
 
The two green Martian friends were in the midst a of a Martian boys' rite of passage, that of borrowing Crock's dad's spaceship and speeding well beyond the interplanetary speed limit. Of course, a critical component of the ritual was to avoid the Venusian space cops and indulging in copious amount of Hydro 3, an intoxicating heavy water beverage imported from Earth, simply called H3.

"We need more speed," said Pot. "Come in closer to the Jupiter boundary layer."

"On it," said Crock as he altered the ship's trajectory by two degrees.

This was the trickiest part of Dynamic Soaring - that of using the pull of planetary gravity just above the atmosphere to accelerate the ship speed. Each time round a planet, the gravitational pull add more speed, but you had to get the angles right.

"That's it, that's it," exclaimed Pot, "speed climbing," as he elbowed Crock and took another chug of the H3. He handed the H3 pouch to Crock who took a swig.

As the spaceship approached Jupiter, the ship skimmed the boundary layer at a three degree angle and bounced off into space.

"Hey, whatcha doing?" said Pot. The spaceship rocketed straight rather than rounding the planet pulled in by Jupiter's gravity.

"Just a little woozy, but I got it under control," replied Crock.

Crock turned the ship five degrees, but the ship was moving too fast and would not get back on course. They were headed straight towards Earth.

"Turn the damn ship more," said Pot.

"I am, I am, you nitwit," said Crock.

The ship, not responding well, entered the earth's atmosphere and headed for the surface.

"We're going to crash, we're going to die," screamed a panicking Pot.

Crock pulled harder and harder on the ship's controls to pull up.

"It's turning, it's turning!" screamed Crock.

"It's not enough, we are going to die!" Pot yelled back.

The earth's surface loomed up in the view screen. A giant river surrounded by a forest was clearly visible.

"I don't want to die!" screamed Pot. Crock was too busy pulling up on the ship's controls to notice him.

Amazingly, the ship turned and now was flying parallel to the surface, crashing into the forest, banging and making loud crunching noises, as the ship turned upward back towards space.

"We are safe, we made it," said Crock. "We are not going to die. I saved us."

"Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God," Pot could not stop repeating.

"I think we hit something on Earth and I think the ship is dented. How am going to explain the dents to dad?" asked Crock.

"What did you hit?" asked Pot.

"I don't know," replied Crock. "I think it was some trees. Nothing important."

As the boys flew home, the entire east coast of the United States began to go dark. For you see, it was not trees they mowed down, but power transmission towers for Niagara Power and Electric. Thus began the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents' Day 2017

                              Image result for trump question mark
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Many Americans have been protesting against President Trump and his policies.  The protesters have said that he is not the president who represents them.  Whatever they may say, he is the president for the next four years. The question to me is, how can we take advantage of his presidency?  Are there policies that only Trump can do?

The first thing that comes to my mind is immigration.  Trump has great political capital here.  Thanks to Trump's campaign rhetoric and most recent actions on the Muslim ban, Trump can do anything in immigration he wants, and his supporters will accept it.  

One morning, Trump gets up and tweets that he will allow a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.  I don't know what sort of plan he might think of but let's say that if you can prove you have been here in America for ten years, have paid income taxes, and have no criminal record, you can get a green card.  

I think that Trump's supporters would accept this plan because they trust him and have faith that he is looking out for them.  So if Trump says that this is good, then Congress will follow him.  It's like Nixon in China.  For those younger folks, Nixon was a devout anti-Communist but he went to China and opened US relations there, and his supporters trusted him not to cave in to the evil Communists.

The second thing is that Trump can change the free trade economic theory that runs America.  Assume for this discussion that the economists are correct and free trade is good for America in the long run.  Economists have not given enough thought to, and have no theory to deal with, worker displacement (i.e. losing your job to China), that comes with free trade.  


Trump's emphasis on worker displacement will force economists to think about job loss.  Trump can assign the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department, and the Council of Economic Advisors to work on policies that mitigate job loss. He can also give grants to academics to work on economic theory.
 
There may be more issues that Trump can work on, but these two are the biggest.  If he does just these two, he will help the country, for all Americans, as a president should do. 

Now, the question before us is, how to move him in this direction.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Please Pass the DNA

                    Image result for dna ancestry criminal evidence
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
There you are, a professional criminal, and you go to all the trouble to keep yourself from the attention of the Law.  Then, your cousin gives you away.

Your cousin was interested in his ancestry.  He gave some cheek cells to an ancestry company so that they could do a DNA trace.  T
he ancestry company sends your cousin a report and stores his DNA profile in its database.  Your cousin is not a happy man.  He learns that he is a mutt, full of the bits and pieces of every race.  

Off you go and commit your crime.  You, the balding criminal, suffering from hair loss, leave a single strand of hair behind.  The police find the strand and run a DNA check.  Your DNA is not in the police database because you have made sure that the police never ever have a tissue sample from you.

Unknown to you, the police go to the ancestry company and run your hair strand through the company's database and they get a match with your cousin.  Next thing you know, the police are breaking down your door and arresting you.  The police traced you through your familial connection to your cousin.

Technology can be so annoying.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Soulmate

             Image result for well-dressed strangers meet across a crowded room

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
She wanted to fuck him, this man not her husband, right now, at her daughter's wedding, in the bridal party's dressing room.

Kathy saw him for the first time as he entered the reception room and greeted her daughter. A warm feeling formed in her chest, her heart fluttered and her breathing quickened. The feeling moved to her stomach where she felt a hunger for him and could have hugged and held him to her for eternity. The feeling moved lower still and she felt him there too.

Her daughter introduced him as Jerry, a colleague, and Kathy recognized that she had just met one of her soulmates. It was a fortuitous encounter. Although she had numerous soulmates all over the world - a situation we all share - they are exceedingly hard to find. Her last had been her husband and that had been twenty-two years earlier.

She wondered about the differences between her husband and this man. Her husband was a family man, a quiet man, a hard-working man, and a moderately passionate man. Jerry was a handsome man, wore an expensive suit, so there was some money there, and a very sociable man about-the-world. He wore no ring. She wondered what kind of person she would have become, had she married this man.

Kathy freed her imagination to build on what little she knew of him and imagined a happier life than she had now. Unhappiness had entered her marriage years before when her husband had betrayed their marriage with another woman, one whom he could not claim as one of his soulmates.

After much champagne, dancing, and giggling, she took Jerry's hand and led him to the dressing room.

She was happy. The wrongness of this made a rightness, a re-balancing in her marriage. There remained only one more ritual.  Later, Kathy brought her husband to the dressing room for her encore performance.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Celebrity Infidelity

                        Image result for celebrity infidelity arnold

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I remember the moment I learned Arnold Schwarzenegger had a child with his housekeeper.  In a split second, Arnold became a fallen man, an unworthy husband, and no longer the hero.

In the same split second, his wife, Maria, went from happily married to unhappily married.

For five years or so, I marveled at Arnold's and Maria's instantaneous transformation and I was puzzled how easily it happened.  Last month, l stumbled on an explanation. I present to you, The Past by Juan Carlos Botero from Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World.

source https://books.google.com/
 




Time Travel

Image result for looking back to the past

By Vol-E

I recently skimmed an article about financial and personal goals. The author said that while it is, obviously, useful to set goals, work toward them, and measure your progress, that can be discouraging when you feel you haven't gotten there as fast as you'd like to. It also has the drawback of focusing you too hard on a future that hasn't arrived yet (and may never arrive), to the neglect of the present and real successes that you ought to acknowledge.

The author goes on to recommend that you periodically look back 2, 5, 10, even 20 years or longer to where you were -- in which areas were you feeling a lack? What were you aiming and striving for then? How has it worked out? Better than you expected? Did you fail at achieving a goal? Or did your objective perhaps shift to something else? Did one or more goals simply peter out as you realized it wasn't what you really wanted?

I found this article encouraging. I've always been far, far more adept at looking backward than trying to plan for the future -- though once I understood that shortcoming, I set about trying to correct it. As someone who obsessively keeps up a journal, it's almost inevitable to look back and compare. I even set up a "reverse chronology" on a spreadsheet, in which I list each year and "freeze" the current date, then record my age and what significant thing was transpiring at the time. Usually it comes out to "Working for ___" and a note about family life or some memorable event.

It still astonishes me that I can look back 10 years and see that I was working for the same company I am now. A great deal has changed there, almost all for the better. I was also in the same house. Things were far different for my son -- he was still a teenager, wrestling with his future. For him, everything is drastically different from what he had in mind at the time. And nearly all of it is way better, too.

Twenty years ago, life was settling down somewhat, following a divorce, a year living in a tiny apartment with a kindergartner, a move to a spacious condo, a bout of adult chicken pox, and a wreck that totaled my car. My job was stable but not terribly joy-inspiring.

Thirty years ago was another settling-down time. In 1987, Doug and I were approaching the one-year anniversary of our move from New York to Atlanta. I was working at a new job that I'd actually campaigned to get; he was between jobs and probably far more homesick than I realized at the time. We had no kids yet. About half a year later, my basic dissatisfaction with my life would lead me to a religious lifestyle. I kept that up for 15 years, then arrived at a self-examination point, and concluded quite abruptly that I was better off as a happy heathen.

Forty years ago, I was a college freshman. With no car at my disposal, I traveled the seven miles between home and school by bus. It was about that time that I vowed to leave the icy winter cold of New York and find a home with a milder climate. I started collecting catalogs from places like Knoxville Tennessee, Tulsa Oklahoma, and Oxford Mississippi. But it was another nine years before I'd make good on that promise to myself, by which time I was married and no longer in school.

Fifty years ago, I was in third grade. And five years prior to that, I was three years old and a notorious chatterbox.

Still chattering away... nowadays, I let my fingers do the talking.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Encyclopedia Brown Bear

   Image result for child bear detective
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
At an age when other children decide to set up lemonade stands, Baby Bear decided to start a detective agency. His decision resulted from his experience in the Goldilocks home invasion. If you don't know this well-publicized crime case, Google Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Baby Bear wanted to become a policeman to help the other denizens of the Forest with their troubles and to maintain justice for all. Alas, the police did not accept children as applicants. 

Baby Bear ran to his community library and borrowed the renowned guide, The Hardy Boys' Detective Handbook. Baby Bear spent the next twenty days, the library's lending period, studying the text. He chose the business name of "Encyclopedia Brown Bear Detective Agency" after his hero, Leroy "Encyclopedia” Brown. Baby Bear's dad hung the business sign across the garage door and opened a folding card table and four chairs in the entrance below.


On the first day, the Big Bad Wolf came to see Encyclopedia Bear. The wolf was rather tall, walking on his hind legs and he carried a black walking stick that matched his black fur. He swung the stick back and forth as if limbering up just before he was ready to beat someone with it.

"Hey, you the detective?" asked the Big Bad Wolf as he put his front paws on Encyclopedia Brown's desk and leaned in.

Encyclopedia Bear looked up at the wolf towering over him and replied, "That's me. How may I be of service?"

The wolf sat down and put his feet up on Encyclopedia Bear's desk. "You kinda young for a detective?"

"Young is better in this business. We run faster. Plus, old detectives get, well, old and get forgetful."

"What, you a wise guy?" snarled the wolf.

"What can I do for you?" asked Encyclopedia Bear.

"I've been accused of blowing down the houses of the three little pigs. I'm innocent and I want you to prove it."

"Tell me what happened."

"I was walking through the forest, passing by the first pig's house, minding my own business, when this wind came up and the straw house fell over. Same at the second pig's stick house. I did go by the third pig's brick house and he was having a party. I smelled some legal Colorado weed coming out the chimney. I thought about going in but I didn't want to be late meeting up with Little Red Riding Hood, so I went the other way. Then the cops grabbed me by Spring Creek."

"Hmm. Anything else?

"Yeah, something really strange, I kept hearing a car horn in the forest. Makes no sense. You can't drive a car in that part of the forest. I didn't hear any car horns at the third pig's house. It was the loud music. He kept playing Brick House, the Rick James version, over and over. It was so noisy that I almost went deaf."

"Aha! I know who the guilty party is," declared Encyclopedia Bear as he enthusiastically jumped up and down on his chair. "It is Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius. The beep beep you heard was Road Runner. No doubt Wile E.Coyote was using an ACME Wind machine and foolishly blew down the pigs' houses."

"The rat. I will have to pay Wile E. Coyote a friendly visit," grinned Big Bad Wolf with a large display of teeth.

"Leave it to the police. I will email my report to the police commissioner."

"Maybe, replied the wolf.  "How much do I owe you?"

"That will be One Dollar."

The Big Bad Wolf paid Encyclopedia Bear and went on his merry way to look for Little Red Riding Hood.

On the second day, Miss Piggy came to see Encyclopedia Bear. This was an unexpected pleasure.  Encyclopedia Bear expected only forest creatures as clients. Now here stood a famous celebrity and movie star.

Miss Piggy sat down, covered her face with her hands and softly sobbed. She retrieved a hankie from the pocket of her green jerkin - sort of made her look like Maid Marion of Robin Hood fame - and dabbed her eyes.

Encyclopedia Bear waited a moment then asked, "How may I be of service?"

"I have lost my glass slippers and I need to find them pronto. I borrowed them from Chrissy Louboutin of the Red Sole store for the Prince's Red Carpet Ball and if I don't return it, I will have to pay for it. It's soo expensive."

Dabbing her eyes, Miss Piggy continued, "They are so beautiful, etchings of Arc de Lilacs and a magnificent six-inch stiletto heel. They matched my ball gown. My gown wasn't glass. That would be silly. You cannot dance in a glass gown. Besides, your underwear would show. It was an An Wang gown, you know, the computer guy, go figure. My gown was silver and embroidered with pearls. It shimmered in the moonlight."

"I am sure you were the most beautiful belle at the ball. Now, tell me about the slippers."

"It was dark, about midnight and I was going home when I fell asleep in the carriage. Then there was this racket that woke me up. The carriage shook, then a huge puff of smoke.  A giant pumpkin blocked the road.  When I tried to get out of the carriage to get a better look, I found myself in stocking feet. I searched the carriage but and the glass slippers were gone."

Miss Piggy leaned forward slightly and with a small smile looked Encyclopedia Bear in his face, "Ohhh, you must help me. You must find them for me. You would be my hero."

"Hmm," escaped from Encyclopedia Bear as he blushed. One could not see him blushing under his fur but his nose did darken a bit. "Let me ask you, were you drinking champagne at the ball?"

"Why yes, lots of it. I love Asti Spumante. It's light and sweet. I hate dry champagne. Yuk!" and Miss Piggy scrunched up her nose.

"Who were you drinking with?"

"Just the Prince. He drank every glass he could find. What a lush, no head for Champagne."


 "Aha, I know where your slippers are. The Prince has them. He drank too much and mistook your glass slippers for champagne glasses."

Miss Piggy gushed happily, "Oh thank you, thank you. I will rush over there, right now, to get them." She stood up and ran around the desk, hugged Encyclopedia Bear and planted a sweet kiss upon his cheek. There was more hidden blushing from our hero.

Miss Piggy paid the One Dollar fee and departed for the castle.

On the third day, Foghorn Leghorn came to see...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good, Better, Best

                 Image result for children who are praised best
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
At the end of each episode of America's Top Model, Tyra Banks critiques the contestants.  In one episode, the losing person, the one eliminated from the show, lets call her Louise, had only one look.  Whatever the pose, she looked the same.  Tyra explained that Louise needed to have different looks for different poses. As Tyra likes to do, she then flashed off several poses and looks -- sad, sadder, saddest; mysterious, mysterious-er and mysterious-est; sexy, sexier, and sexiest.

As I watched Tyra's amazing performance, the ease that she did her demonstration, I wondered why Louise did not do this in the first place.  Why didn't Louise spend time practicing the poses and facial expressions.  It's not like it was a surprise to her.  After all, America's Top Model has been on television for fourteen years.  They do the same thing every season: select women, put them in curious poses, and photograph them.  Plain as day.  Louise could have binge-watched the episodes until the judging criteria became obvious to her.  Louise could then run out to Home Depot, buy a wall-mounted floor-to-ceiling mirror for her home, stand in front of it and begin to practice, practice, practice her poses and facial expressions.

I know why she did not: Louise was told by friends and family that she was great.  She was indeed great.  She was greater than all her friends and family and did not see the need to practice. But that is not enough.  Louise ended up on America's Top Model, competing with all the other contestants who were told by their friends and family that they are great too.  She was among the best candidates selected.  Louise began to look ordinary.

You can see the opposite side of this phenomenon in women's tennis.  Serena Williams regularly beats her opponents.  All the women that Serena defeats can play tennis better than 99.9 percent of the people in the world.  Sometimes, Serena plays well beyond her opponents' ability and the match is over quickly with a lopsided score.  Yet, Serena goes out and hires a coach to make her tennis game better still.

Have you looked at yourself, at what you do well, and how you may do it better?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Money Baby

                  Image result for tax money fly away


By The Urban Blabbermouth
~
The Social Security Administration sent me an estimate of my retirement benefits. I did not request it. Maybe the nice folks in my Company's HR Department requested it on my behalf. Maybe the thoughtful folks at Social Security randomly selected me or maybe the old folks AARP arranged for it as one of their recruiting strategies. I just don't know.

Included was a Statement Of Earnings, every dollar I ever made from my first year of work to last year's pay. My economic biography in black and white.

In my first year of work, and I shall not mention what year that was, I made $704. I was a teenager then and I was working at McDonald's Hamburger Restaurant. McDonald's back then was the biggest employer of teenagers in the world. My father saw a hiring sign as he drove by the McDonald's. He pushed me to go and apply, "Get a job, my beloved son!" That's how parents are, always training their kids to work hard and do well for themselves.

I remember the job interview. The manager asked the usual hiring questions: Where do you go to school? What are your grades? What do you want to be when you grow up? The last question was, "A customer's bill comes to $1.47 and he gives you $2.00. How much change would you give back?"

I stumbled on this question for a while and finally told him, "Fifty-three cents."

He said, "Good, but you will have to do that faster. We will teach you how to count up. Come back next Tuesday to fill out paperwork."

Yippeee, on my way to millions.

I remember my first McDonald's pay check. I was expecting tons of money and I kept imagining of all the things I would buy. When I got the check, I was shocked. It was half what I expected. I went to see that manager and complained that there was a mistake.

He took my check, looked it over, and said, "No it's right," and handed it back to me.

I said, "No it's too little. Something is not right. It should be..." and I named some number.

He looked me straight in the face and said, "Nooo, it's right. You don't get the full pay. You have to pay taxes and other deductions."

I took the check from him, cashed it, but I felt cheated and disappointed. It's been like that ever since.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review

                     Image result for links to blog posts
By Vol-E

First, I need to express the wish that 2017 won't be "Same as it Ever Was" when it comes to the stuff we didn't like about 2016. For many, the political landscape looks bleak, but many of those people are resolving to either keep a positive attitude and do what they can, or go flat-out Resolution: Revolution! and throw everything they've got into encouraging the Good and fighting the Bad. So I hope everyone gets their wish in that area, and that on a personal level, 2017 brings many delights.

I made a tally of the posts The Urban Blabbermouth and I did for 2016; like many of the favorite blogs I read, I'm going to use today to comment and provide links, in the hopes that you will go back and check them out if you haven't, or go back to enjoy them a second time.

First and foremost, this blog probably would have ceased to exist about four years ago if The Urban Blabbermouth hadn't started sending me posts. I am really grateful to him for this and hope he will never dream of stopping. He's a funny guy!  This year we met Lilly, a woman of a certain age who isn't easily fooled or impressed by the dating scene or popular trends in social relationships. She can give most 20-somethings a run for their money and some free wisdom.

The Urban Blabbermouth speculated on what a lottery win would look like, something we've all done at least once in our lives. He described a scenario in which sex workers went on strike, and what their demands might be.

My co-author made several forays into pure fiction, mostly of the speculative type, but also a dandy little noir offering called "Death By Romance." My personal favorite among this subset is "How the Cow Jumped Over the Moon."

I shared a fable that I first heard from the former minister at the UU church I attend. I liked it back then and still do. Hope you will as well.

"Office spouses" were spotlighted, as well as fashion trends, personality assessments and bathroom woes, all common threads for us working folks. Neither of us is getting any younger, so there were reflections on age, loss, and the passage of time, as well as retirement and what kind of Baby Boomers we are. Pop culture and technology were often on our minds.

Some advice was dispensed, having to do with keeping journals and lists, and the proper use of GPS. About 45 years ago, a friend's mother gave me advice that has stayed with me ever since -- I'll bet she never knew the effect it had.

Since neither of us here at Same As it Ever Was has much money, we had a lot to say about it. We both like to share morsels about our everyday lives, but not with too much intrusive detail, so you got to hear about our spouses, kids, friends, and childhoods.

There's just a lot going on all the time. We hope we did our best to enliven this blog and contribute to your reading pleasure. If any topics occur to you, let us know in the comments, and we will be very appreciative of not having to come up with all the ideas. Sometimes it's OK to rummage around among old papers, but usually not.

The very best to you in 2017!
Vol-E
The Urban Blabbermouth

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yoga Asanas ... Doing it right at Om

by Vol-E
                     Image result for shilpa shetty
                                                   Shilpa Shetty

I started doing yoga asanas, or postures, back in July, and while it hasn't been an everyday practice, it's still made a huge difference for me this year.

The lady pictured above is Shilpa Shetty, known primarily as a Bollywood actress, but also deeply involved with yoga. It was her video on YouTube, Total Body 40-minute Workout, that helped me to actually maintain a good habit.

Most people think of "yoga" as the positions, sometimes along with breathing and meditation, but it is actually a complete life system with eight components that include right conduct and mindfulness. So out of respect, I'll specifically refer to asanas, since I haven't (so far) adopted most of the other parts of the path.

The following is entirely my own view of the practice, but I'm hoping this might be helpful to anyone who has shied away from it due to misconceptions.

1. Yoga asanas are nice to look at, but they are NOT designed to be a spectator sport. Having been working on this for nearly 6 months now, I am no closer to putting on a leotard and joining a class than I was back then. I cannot imagine how clunky and clumsy I look as I stretch and bend ... and I don't want to imagine it. How one looks makes absolutely no difference. It's about how you feel. And I ... feel ... mahvelous, as Billy Crystal often said back in the 1980s.

2. Asanas are also not a competitive practice. Our Western values are so tied up in how we stack up next to the next person. I'm especially aware of this because I apparently was born with some muscle issues that are very challenging in most athletic settings. I can't stretch or bend as well as other folks -- at the age of 5 I discovered that situps were not in my repertoire (and they're still not). But when I exclude the comparison factor from consideration, what the practice boils down to is...

I'm having a conversation with my body.

I stretch out a leg.  That leg, its mate, and my back have a comment to make. It's either "Ooh, thanks, I needed that--hey, me too!" or "Whoa, lady, what have you been doing? Want to rethink that?" First thing in the morning, there's nothing like 15-30 minutes of back, stomach, sitting and standing postures to wake up your joints, bones, skin, digestion, nerves and circulation. I can do roughly 35 postures -- not all the ones in the video, but most to a degree. The routine is designed to introduce you to each part of your body, one by one and learn to respect it. 

To me, this conversation is just as intimate as what you might say to your partner on a quiet morning over coffee. Neither of you is quite awake, but you know each other's rhythms and have enough respect for each other to encourage them to wake up gradually and take a positive attitude toward the day. This is in total contrast to most "public" situations, where you know little or nothing about the people around you and have no real connection to them -- so why on earth would you care what they think of you and your postures, or whether you do them as well?

My co-worker said "I'm not flexible enough to do yoga." Do enough of it and you might become more flexible over time. I'm somewhat surprised at how far back I can bend. My mom was an acrobatic dancer in her youth. She could bend all the way back and touch the ground. Me? Never, but I can see the clock on the wall behind me, and that's an accomplishment. 

Some of the postures are fun and whimsical. My two felines like watching me do the Cat Pose, and they always seem impressed when my leg goes up and transforms me into the mighty Tiger. I picture someone I don't like when I assume the Warrior Pose -- don't mess with me!

You can cool it down with breathing exercises and a bit of chanting and meditation if you like. 

Do it for YOU. And if you ever wondered what "Namaste" really means, it's about honoring the unique spirit of everyone you meet. 

But you start with yourself.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Free(d) Music

Image result for digital music
by Vol-E

Ahh...technology. I do love it so. Like this morning. Today during meditation, I had Pandora set for my WAVES channel. "Waves" is a great song by Mr. Probz, and if you check it out, you'll find about half a dozen versions of the same piece -- some very slow and soft, others more brisk with more percussion, with various other featured artists. It enchanted me the first time I heard it on the car radio and promptly set up this Pandora channel. The channel has since acquired artists such as the Grateful Dead and The Werks. Similar, yet different. They're all good for meditation -- for me, at any rate.

So, as I was sitting there, blissing out to the station, it occurred to me how nice it is to listen to music this way. The only drawback for us stingy folks who don't want to pay for commercial-free is, um, the commercials. But it's ok. They're not long, and when one knows to expect them, they are not intrusive. You can use them for bathroom or coffee runs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Do you write English

               Image result for typo autocorrect
By The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Now that I have spent several years writing for this blog, I have, quite unintentionally I assure you, turned into a writer.

I know this because I have come to notice how tricky words are. As write, I type as fast as I can to get my thoughts on screen before I forget what I want to say. I am a terrible typist so I make mucho mistakes. I hit the key next to the key I wanted, I transpose letters, or worse, I just simply misspell words. Every once in a while, I hit one of those control keys and a mysterious window opens, or weird characters appear on my screen, or my document starts to print out.

I rely heavily on my spell checker to catch my typing mistakes. But the English language being what the English language is, the spell checker catches the mistakes and substitutes the wrong word. I am really annoyed by this. Here I am typing furiously trying to get what I hope is an amazing story out of my head before I lose my idea, and my concentration is interrupted by the wrong words. My writing folder is full of ideas that went, poof, into thin air.

Somewhere in repeated cursing at my spell checker, I began to notice how simply changing one letter changes a word. For instance, cork so easily becomes dork and short becomes shot. Close but such different meanings and usages. Sometimes I combine mistakes, change a letter with a transposition of another letter and end up with an unexpected and quite saucy result, boost into boobs. You can see why that one stuck in my mind.

If the word has many letters, then it becomes harder to spot, previous becomes pervious. I found out that there are words when reversed spell another word. I have no idea what they are called but here is one: star reversed turns into rats.

I have started to wonder where words come from. I was writing the word tomorrow, messed up the spelling and the spell checker came up with to morrow. The spell checker guessed I wanted to write two words instead of one. I didn't realize that tomorrow was composed of two words until then. It's probably a phrase from a poetic Shakespearean speech - for to morrow may bring such sweet sorrow - that eventually got mispronounced into one word.

It's ironic that as I write this post, my spell checker is throwing up curious words that I did not intend. I give you a hint: hint became hing and where became whee. You figure out the rest.

Now that I have discovered that I like words and their formations, I am starting to feel like a writer. I am getting ambitious too. I want my stories to be more interesting and fabulous than they already are. I will enroll in a writing course. I want to move to the next level, from an amateur writer to a hack writer.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

History is Fragile

                        
by Vol-E

On Facebook today, a friend close to my age commented that "we didn't learn about Pearl Harbor in school."  A shame, right?

Well, actually, no. It's more a shame that "kids today" need to have someone in school teach them about it. And it's a shame that a lot of them are going to pay scant attention, more interested in the latest missives from SnapChat. Just five years after 9/11, I was sitting in a car repair shop waiting room, and on the TV, the news station was showing the annual reading of the names in remembrance. One young woman looked at the screen and said "What's ...? Oh, it's that thing in NY with the towers and all." And then she went back to her phone or magazine or whatever had claimed her attention. I was kind of outraged. That was 10 years ago; the number of people like her must have multiplied tenfold by now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

American Lottery

      Image result for roulette wheel with trump face

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
America elected a Black man as President of the Unites States. Twice!  Black people did not do this.  If all the black people voted for Barack Obama, he would only get 13 percent of the vote.  Throw in the Hispanics, the brown ones, not the white ones, and the vote would bloom to 21 percent. Not enough.  So it was the white Americans who elected Barack Obama. 

It is slowly becoming clearer why they would do that instead of electing the other white guy who ran against Barack Obama.  Obama stood for change.  His campaign slogan was "Change we can believe in" and "Yes We Can".  The white people wanted him to change America to bring back their good old days. 

There is a trend here starting with Barack Obama, the election of an improbable candidate, a black man, by white people in a unresolved racially divided America, who spoke of hope, change and an improved America ... to Donald Trump, another improbable candidate, white man with old 1950s white man tendencies, who spoke of improving white people's lives.  Trump's  campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" spoke to the white people of a return to their good old days.  

The desire for a return to their good old days by white Americans has grown stronger since Obama, leading to the election of Donald Trump.  If you look hard enough, and I didn't, you can find some experts who predicted that this trend exists and maybe what some of the implications might be.  Just as easily, you can find experts who said that the trend was unimportant.  How would anyone know who was right?   Everyone was guessing differently and they were all looking at the same America.  We can only know years later when it is plain as it is today that the trend was important.  We will now bless those who are right and castigate those who are wrong.

The odd thing is that the experts who were right, were right by sheer luck.  They won the Guessing Lottery.  But that is not the point to take from this.  The point is what trends are happening right now that we cannot tell are important, or which expert is right.  This particularly applies to Donald Trump as there now abound many trends from his election and from his future actions. The answer will not be known for many years yet, long after Donald Trump leaves office.




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Boring is Good

       Image result for space alien with magnifying glass
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Louie muttered to himself, "I'm so bored.  I wish something interesting would happen."


A green Martian stepped though the wall of Louie's bedroom, zapped him with a ray gun.  "Gotcha," said the Martian as he picked up Louie and threw him into the hunting bag.

The Martian, Gork, was a procurer.  The scientists on Mars hired him to gather humans for their experiments and they paid well for it.  Gork muttered to himself, "Hunting humans is boring.  I wish to hunt Venusians.  At least their telepathy told them you were coming before you got here. More challenging to catch."

A yellow Uranian stepped through the wall of Gork's spaceship and threw a net over him.  "Gotcha," said the Uranian as the net was dragged by a cable through the ship's wall. 

The Uranian, Kork, was a procurer.  The anthropologists on Uranus hired him to gather specimens for their zoo and they paid well for it.  Kork muttered to himself, "I love hunting Martians.  They are so easy to catch.  I hate hunting Venusians. Their telepathy told them you were coming before you got here.  Too challenging to catch."

If you must know, Louie, the human, eventually died, forgotten on the Martian spaceship.

 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Locomotive Heart

                            pic:  http://www.longliveny.org/

 
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
“How's my heart ticking, Doc?” asked the Tin Man.
Wavy lines appeared on Dr. Konigsberg's forehead as his mouth turned down, “Hmm, not so good."
The doctor disconnected the sphygmomanometer from the patient on lying on the exam table and closed the access panel in Tin Mans’ chest. Tin Man was fortunate. His doctor was Alvin Konigsberg, chairman of the Cardiac Engineering Department at Saint Joseph Plumbing Hospital and the All-England Doctor of the Year in 1884 and 1885.
"You are maintaining a steady 80 psi but there is some deterioration in the valves. Are you changing the air intake filter? The valves are sensitive to dust contamination.”
“Yeah Doc. I am using the same HEPA filters as the ones in my vacuum cleaner.”

Friday, November 11, 2016

Economists elected Trump

               Image result for dollar bill flying off into the sunset
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Many political experts have said that white people elected Donald Trump.  Well, they did vote for him but that missed the reason why white people voted for him.  I think the reason is the failure of economists.

Let's talk about jobs.  We all understand what can happen if we lose our jobs.   Where did the jobs go?  Well, Mr. Trump says that they went to Mexico and to China through various trade agreements like NAFTA.  He calls the trade agreements a disaster.  On the other hand, economists keep telling us that trade agreements are good for America.  Maybe so but economists have not shown us how. 

We can see the jobs going to Mexico or China and economists have no issue with that as they can see it too. But, how do economists explain that as beneficial?  Economists have said that the products made in Mexico or China come back to America and cost the American consumers less to buy.  The American consumers will have more money to spend on other things and that will create more jobs America.  That is how it is beneficial.  So, because I save at Home Depot on some pipes made in China, I can afford to take my kids to Disney World in Orlando and to stay in a Hilton hotel.  Disney World and Hilton hotel will now have more business and have more jobs.

Economists have failed to prove this point.  They cannot point to a job (maybe two or three more?) created in other parts of the America as a result of any job going to Mexico or China.  Without this direct link, how can we know that economists are telling us the truth.  It is just a theory.  The economists themselves still don't know if this is the truth.   Since economists cannot prove their theory, the white voters remembered the jobs going to Mexico or China and ignored the unproven parts.

A side thought.  Mr. Trump has said that illegal immigrants are taking jobs.  That is only a piece of this story.  At one time, factory jobs were well-paying jobs, say $25/hour, and the illegal immigrant had the $5/hour landscaping jobs.  The $25/hour jobs went to Mexico or China to become $5/hour jobs there.  American workers went looking for another job and found the $5/hour landscaping jobs already held by illegal immigrants.  So there arose the call that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans.  The untold part of this story is that it was not an illegal immigrant who made the decision to send jobs Mexico or China, it was one of those corporate chieftains.  Direct your anger there.