Monday, March 30, 2020

A Price for Charity

Note: This was originally published in Issue 294 of the Newsletter in April 2000.

* * * * *

The capabilities and limitations of people vary from person to person. Each of us, though, has both, and they change throughout our lives. For example, the lady at the gas pump trying to balance on her one remaining leg* that I helped had no problem pumping her own gas before she lost her leg in an accident. Though she was limited in her ability to stand without some sort of aid, she also has capabilities that other people don't have.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Just When I Needed It Most

Note: This was originally published in Issue 284 of the Newsletter put out by the family business. This issue was published in June 1999.

* * * * *

I was feeling stressed. I was behind schedule (as usual) with more things to do than time to do them in (as usual). I pulled up to a red light next to a car with one of those clear decals like many people use to name their college. It read "Your College Sucks!" I chuckled.

Not a mile down the road, I got stopped at another red light. On the corner was a young lady with a sign advertising pizzas for $5 each. While I often get a kick out of watching creative people holding these signs, my attention was drawn to two young girls standing on either side of her. They were dressed up like pizza slices, and dancing in circles with great big smiles on their faces. I laughed.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Parrothead Looks at 40

Note: This is an article written for the Newsletter, which was a monthly publication put out by the family business. It was published in January 1998.

* * * * *

I recently found a lode of music that included an 8-track recording of a live performance by Jimmy Buffett called You Had to be There. It sent me into another Parrothead phase.

For those of you who don't know what a Parrothead is, it is simply a devout Jimmy Buffett fan. He has looked at life humorously through his music for more than 30 years. Being a Parrothead requires an attitude that life is good even when things aren't. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Kids Are Back!

Note: This was originally an article in the Newsletter that our company published. This particular article was in Issue 286 from August 1999.

* * * * * 

As hard as it is to raise two daughters (one a teenager, and the other on the verge), it is always harder for me when they leave for the east coast to visit their mother during the summer. The 46 consecutive weeks of "I need this" and "I want that" should probably prelude a welcome 6 week break, but there's a hollow feeling when the kids are gone.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Engineer and His Apprentice

It was only a garage roof, but, after years of admiring Jack, the engineer in the family, I would finally have the opportunity to work beside and for him as an apprentice, albeit for one rather small job. Still, this was my chance to cast away the doubts I seem to have over everything, and learn how to be certain about everything based on an engineering degree like Jack has from the local state college.

Now, I have a bit of experience with some things involving maintenance, but Jack suggested that he oversee the job from afar to make certain that my uncertainty about almost everything did not hinder the project. He assured me that it would not be a problem for him provided I sent him pictures and information so he could tell me what was certainly the correct way to do the job. He even offered that he was dealing with a project where he lives that was quite similar to this particular garage roofing project.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

You Hold Him Down; I'll Tie It To Him

Dave and I go back many years. There were thousands of times of getting stoned, playing darts, and having a drink or two. However, there were two nights that were memorable because instead of being stoned on pot, we were taking hallucinogens.

Dean and Bob joined us on the mushroom adventure. We went to the new Stadium Bowl that got washed away. We got what we needed and got out of there so we wouldn't get caught with our haul. It was off to J Street where we added 'shrooms to some cheap frozen pizza and made some terrible tasting tea. We weren't after the taste, and soon we were tripping.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Are We Equal?

It would be both nice and convenient if the answer to the question of whether or not we are equal were a simple "yes." However, that will not stand up to scrutiny, even to the most liberal of minds. Ultimately, the answer is "no," we are not equal except that we each are only one person. Once we get beyond that similarity, the differences begin indiscriminately.

Sometimes, though, the differences are discriminatory. We would all like to think that we are either exempt from the possibility of discrimination, or that our discrimination is more justifiable than other discriminations, but it is still discrimination.

There is truth in measuring things in degrees or in amounts, and some discrimination is more justifiable than other discriminations. To wit: it is more justifiable to discriminate against people with disabilities if the disability means they cannot fulfill the needs for the job, like lifting or climbing requirements, than it is to discriminate against them because they don't fit the image of the company.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Depressing Tale of Empathy

There was no particular significance to that Tuesday. I had no other plans for the day, so it fit into the schedule. I hadn't told anyone about my plans, but I didn't on those other occasions, either. It all worked out okay those times. I know that one of these times it won't, but I still think selecting how and when we die has its advantages.

That Tuesday I chose to take an overdose of sleeping pills washed down with some whiskey. This time felt different than all those other times, though. In fact, I could point to the differences. 

All those other visions of hanging myself, blowing my brains out, and jumping off bridges were just things that seem to go through my mind. I find it hard to believe that everyone hasn't at some point thought about suicide. If they do, and they rid themselves of the thought, then we do it the same way. A few people have claimed to never have thought about it, but even denying the thoughts requires some level of contemplation about it, or so it would seem. 

Like I said, I mostly just get rid of the thoughts. Often. Really often.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Problem With Knowing It All

Aside from the obvious levity in the title, and the preposterous notion that any individual has the answers to all truth, the biggest problem with knowing it all is that then the conclusions must be accepted and evidence must not contradict the conclusions. After all, if we accept evidence contrary to that which we know, then we cannot have known it all. That creates a shorted circuit in the brains of some people. Seriously. They cannot get past the point of looping confirmation bias once a preconceived notion, long held and somewhat sacred, is challenged for truth.

I suspect there will be people who think I am talking about them in particular, and there will be others who think I am talking about other people and not them. However, I am talking about everyone in general and no one in particular. We all are susceptible to thinking we have the answers even though we don't fully understand the questions. Besides, even if we don't have the answers, we can have opinions that we don't fully understand.

And the loop begins anew.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

If You Are Tired of Politics, Lose Your Opinion, Too

Every four years we see the people poke their heads out to state again how tired they are of politics. Some of it is actually okay. There are people who simply are not into politics, who don't want to discuss politics, and who don't want to be dragged into political discussions. There is consistency when the person whose head pokes out to tell someone that they don't discuss politics when everyone is talking about politics.

However, there are those people who feel the need to follow the declaration by offering their opinions on politics. Then, they claim their opinions on politics are valid. 

What do they mean when they aren't interested in politics, but they think their opinions on political matters are valid? That is like saying they aren't interested in cooking, but they have opinions on how we can improve our recipes. How would they know if they don't know our recipes? They can't know. They can't support the reasons for the improvements if they don't know what already goes into it. 

The same goes with politics. If someone doesn't want to know what went into the political discussions, how can they possibly offer anything of value to improve it? They can't. They shouldn't. If it's you who does it, don't.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

I'm Sorry Limbaugh is Sick; I Wish He Were Dead

I was saddened to read recently that Rush Limbaugh has lung cancer. I was hoping to read his obituary.

I caught some flack from friends for posting things like that on social media as the articles were shared. Some of my friends were concerned that me wishing death upon someone would bring me bad karma. First of all, if karma had any effect with regard to Rush Limbaugh, he would have drown in locust puke by now. We all are going to die. Some deaths are just more beneficial to humanity than others, and I believe that Rush Limbaugh's death and consequential silence will be a good thing for humanity.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Remembering Dad: His Magic Garage

Dad was both an introvert and creative. He loved the time he spent downstairs reading, in his darkroom developing black and white family photos, and out in his yard making park-like scenes for family relaxation.

Despite his thousands of books, hundreds of cameras, and dozens of silent movies, his grandchildren loved his magic garage most! He had various sets up in the rafters that depicted different holidays or scenes of Americana. It was all controlled by a box with about two dozen plugs and switches wired into a framework that was about 12 inches by 18 inches and built from 2X4s. It worked, and also probably frightened any electrician who ever saw it!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

If Schools Taught Life Skills in 1980

Many people have suggested that schools should teach children life skills rather than wild math and humanities concepts they will rarely use in life. I wonder how differently my life might have been had the schools emphasized teaching us how to deal with the problems our parents were facing, rather than teaching us how to convert problems stated in sentence form into mathematical equations.

I was personally cast into adulthood in the mid-'70s. I have never had an occasion to try to figure out how far apart two trains traveling in opposite directions would be after a certain amount of time. Instead, I had to deal with the same adult matters that my parents had been dealing with all along.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Beating Coley in Whiffle Ball

My first friend in Tacoma was Chris Coley. He and his family lived next door to the house my family moved into when I was four years old. He and I were never best friends. It was more like he was the big guy next door who let me hang out, and I was probably a bit like the little brother who he permitted to hang out when older kids were not around.

I was really small as a child. Chris was not only a year older than me, he was also a three-sport varsity athlete. My second friend in town, Todd Grimm, was two years older than me. The three of us created imaginary baseball and basketball leagues that we played with cards and table games. I could compete with them when the game was won by pulling the lever in Basket, or flipping a home run card that came in a pack of baseball cards. 

We also really played sports. Though I could never beat Chris or Todd in those games, they still let me play. Todd was a year older than Chris, but Chris was the best athlete of the three of us. He was also the most ferocious of the three of us. We all wanted to win, but Chris hated to lose. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Ms. Woodstock: An Apathon Legend

Her name was Tauni Stone, but we all knew her as Ms. Woodstock on the Seattle Apathons bulletin board. She took the name because she lived in upper-New York, not too far from Max Yasgur's farm where the famous concert took place. It was an appropriate name for her. She related well to the hippie movement, even if she really was a bit too young to have participated. That was the case for most of us Apathons.

She was open about her battle with multiple sclerosis. She and fellow Apathon, Alizarinred, taught many of us about the struggles posed by the disease through their regular chats about the topic. They talked about the side effects of some of the medications and the pain they suffered on the bad days. They talked of trying to lead normal lives, but we all saw them as extraordinary people.