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Oh to be Great just Once

I’ve never been great at anything.  Maybe, in the perfect world of my mind, I can reach that lofty plateau.   It’s something to strive for and hope to attain.  However, at my age, I’m just happy to walk down the stairs in the morning.

I thought I was great at eating cereal when I was a teenager…3 bowls a day of Coco Krispies, Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran.  Alas, I was just hoped-up on sugar; but at least I got my daily dose of calcium.   In high school, I was really good at History Jeopardy, but not great.  Later on, I thought I might be great because I was flying F-14s for the Navy.   Then I realized we had 20 squadrons flying those beasts and we all can’t be great.   When I got selected to go to TOPGUN,  I was pretty sure I was close to greatness…then Woody and I got our asses handed to us for 5 weeks, flying against the Best of the Best.   We did get much better, but we weren’t great.

I wonder, aloud sometimes (freaks out my kids),  if greatness is an ideal, like perfection.   Then I think: “No, it can be attained, just on a personal level.”   You can think you’re great or someone  else can think you’re great, right?  Nobody ever thinks I’m perfect, not even Thunderball.    I often hope that my kids think I’m ‘great’, but I’m Dad; someone to complain to and borrow money from.   But ‘Great’? Maybe…just once?

I remember having a beer with my buddies at the Miramar Officer’s Club back in ’86.  We had just come back from our first deployment overseas and we thought we were something else.  We knew it all…just ask us!!  Our Air Wing Commander wandered over to the group.  We thought he was great because he had been flying for 20 years…did the whole Vietnam thing.  A true warrior.   He was small and quiet.  We, of course, made lots of noise, checked out the chicks, laughed at everything and goofed on everyone.  He just smiled at our buffoonery and told us, “Guys, you’ll never have more fun than in your first squadron.  It is the best of times.  You’ll look back and think it’s great!”

Hmmmm…CAG was right!  It was great!  I loved being around Boog, Bush, Mouth, and Barrel.  Donut, Goose, Woody, Billy Bear, Stout, Flex and Hose.  Even Wizard!  My time as a Freelancer was GREAT!!

We’ve moved on, obviously.   Boog and Stout have passed; the rest of us are lucky to still be kicking, and hopefully respectful of our time together.  I know I am.

Sooo, maybe, I was ‘great’…if only for a short time.   I’ll take that!

A Victory for Common Folk…

…who are all misogynists, homophobes, and racists…so say the elitist Liberals.  Ain’t it grand to be an American.

This country finally got one right.  To be honest and accurate, the folks in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona got it right.  They didn’t accept the condescending attitudes of the coastal states, who treated them with contempt.  “They’re too stupid and lazy to think for themselves.  They’ll do what we (liberals and press) tell them to do.”  They got tired of being told it’s their responsibility to take care of those who don’t want to work, those who prefer to be given something for nothing, and to respect everyone, regardless of their political and religious convictions driven by hatred and blatant disregard of our country’s civil protection agencies.   “NO,” they said.  “Not anymore.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a huge critic of the American public…especially those weed-benders from the rural part of this country.  “I want me guns and I wanna kill something.”  But,  I must admit that I’m proud of those folks who stood up.  This is the America of our Founding Fathers.  The People Spoke!!  Not the press, not the elitist, not the politicians…it was the PEOPLE who matter.  “Listen to us,” they said.  Well, guess what…you better pay attention now.  The precedent has been set.  I hope we follow thru.

Now, for Clinton.  Your smug, arrogant, shriveled-face persona is now dead.  Officially.  “Ding, Dong…”  You’re the poster-child for entitlement:  “I deserve this…I do!!”  Go away now.  Be classy and disappear…and take that miserable excuse of a husband with you, not to mention that Mad-magazine daughter of yours.  Please…go away!  You have been an embarrassment for 24 years…an evil lump of flesh.  Personally, you looked sick and feeble, even before the election.  You better wander off; if not, I give you about a year before natural selection takes you.  Buh-bye!

For those students and others who want to protest the results, have your fun.  Enjoy your next few days of civil disobedience.   Skip classes, miss work, use the “I’m too upset to do anything today” while it lasts.  The times, they may be a-changing.  You might wake up in the near future and be expected to perform EVERY DAY.  No more freebees, no more excuses…”My wife she…my kids they…my dog it…”  You’re upset?  Call your mom or your pastor or your priest or your rabbi.  We don’t care.  You don’t do your assignments, you don’t do your jobs…guess what…you’re out!  (BTW, I hear they’re hiring at Planter’s Peanuts).

It’s time our educational establishments took back the mandated requirements to “help” everyone, including little Johnny or Pedro, learn English.  If you can’t keep up, study harder!  Aim higher.  Challenge students to excel.  Don’t squelch hard work and high achievement by dumbing down minimum acceptable performance.  Encourage extraordinary performance…and reward it accordingly.

If you’re the best candidate for a job, you get the job.  It’s not because they need more minority hires; it’s because they need more competent hires.  This country was built on achievement at ALL levels.  Competition, competition, competition.  You don’t feel good about losing…then don’t lose!!  Fight, work, study, achieve.  In the world of global competition, there are no points for second place.

For those “expert pollsters” out there, get a real job.  You fools pretend to know what the public wants.  Well, I think they want you to “cram it and rotate” (my favorite saying from the 60’s…still not sure what it means).  For the press, stand-by.  The glory days of doing/saying whatever you like might get you sent to the playpen.  This guy holds people accountable.  Giddy Up.

I’m not a Trump fan…I voted for neither one of them.  He’s a showman…a businessman…perhaps even a charlatan.  Will he be effective…who knows.  We’re in uncharted waters.  But here’s where we aren’t.  We’re not stuck in that quagmire of liberal Hell where ugly people tell us what we should think, do, act, etc.  It’s time to do what the free-market allows.  Societal norms are up to us.  Treat all people with respect, if they deserve it.  If not, you’re “cleared in HOT” to make sure they understand your feelings, if you so desire,  regardless of any PC norms.  “Hey dude, you have no energy because you’re fat.”  “Hey lady, there’s nothing wrong with looking like a female.”   “Hey kid, you’re ignorant.  Read a book.  Learn basic arithmetic.”

It’s OUR country, people.   Protest if you like.  Many people died to ensure that right.  But you better be ready to work afterwards.  For the GOP, you’re on the clock!  Perform, or guess what…You’re FIRED!

Finally, I’m writing this on Veterans’ Day.  It’s a tough day for me; along with Memorial Day.  Names and faces of my departed friends come back to me in high definition.   It was an honor and a privilege to serve with you all.  You’re my Heroes.  God Bless.

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Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

The United States Justice Department recently completed a report on creating more diverse  police agencies.  The report was generated by the Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Equal Opportunity Commission.   I know…I know.  Your hair should immediately start tingling as it stands straight up.  As my father would say: “Whoa Boy!!”

Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates announced the release of this fine piece of investigative wizardry.   I don’t know about youz guyz, but anytime someone includes their middle initial to introduce themselves, I get both amused and  concerned.  Do they think it makes them more professional or buffoonish?  I’m thinking the latter.

These geniuses determined that a lack of trust in law enforcement and “burdensome” hiring criteria limit the hiring of minorities into police forces.  Hmmmmm.  They recommend that those departments looking to diversify should remove the automatic screening out of applicants who have prior drug use or criminal records.  Now there’s a thought!!

So, let’s analyze this revelation.  First, it implies that a significant number of minorities, who may apply for police positions,  are either criminals or drug abusers…or both.  How’s that for embracing a racial stereotype.  Second, it insinuates that if we want to keep these applicants in the mix, we could improve our relations with minority communities because they will more closely resemble the community itself…meaning that these communities have significant drug users, criminals or both.   Yes folks, this is our US government at work.  WOW!

The report cites the example of Ferguson, Missouri with it’s predominately white police force in a mostly black community.  Okay, so let’s do this.   Hire more minorities, regardless of prior criminal offenses, so we can now have a better understanding of the community.  Captain Tupac Shakur and Lieutenant Biggie Smalls are now in charge.  They’ll have the pulse of the community:  “Sex and Drugs and Rap ‘n Roll!!”

Obviously, the last thing we need to do in these communities is to try to rise above the tensions and challenge everyone to work to a higher standard.  No, no, no.  We want to treat this as another example of “dumbing down”  to the lowest common denominator…just like we’re doing in public schools.  Ex. Mrs. Johnson’s 6th grade class:  “We can’t read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ today kids because poor Wang Chung and Jose can’t speak english yet and Jim Bob is just too stupid.  Instead, we’ll recite the alphabet…again.”

I guess, once again, I just don’t get it.  How about we establish guidelines for all police departments to better screen ALL applicants.  I’ve known a few cops, both white and minority, that should never have been given a gun and a badge.   For those people who violate the law, they get punished.  In other words, when the cop says “Get out of the car”, you get out of the friggin’ car.

Not all is lost though.  Here’s some good news.  Professional athletes are now dialed in to this situation.  They are protesting and signifying their support for these social injustices.  Just what we need…multiple documented felons telling us what we should do.  Whoa Boy!!

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Do we really have it that bad?

I guess everyone thinks their life really blows from time to time.  I know I do.   How did that dork get that hot chick; I wish I had a pool; I wish Hillary and Trump would be used for human experimentation; I wish I had a dog that didn’t whine at my bedside at 4:00 in the morning. You get the picture.  We’ve all been there.

If you take a good gander, maybe we don’t have it that bad living in the U.S.   We have a Starbucks  just about every mile or two (every street corner in Manhattan).  Costco provides us free food and cheap booze.  Apple sells us iPhones and Samsung sells us whatever that phone is called.  We have urgent care, child care, dental clinics, yoga studios and health spas.  Laptops, desktops and tablets.  We get our nails done, for goodness sakes.

So, why the worry?  Maybe it’s just how we condition ourselves to always want more, though we have so much already.  I’ve told my kids since they were young that someone always has it better than you and someone has it worse than you.  Their response: “Gawd Dad, we know.  Can I have $20?”

I retired when I turned 57.  A lady ask me recently why I retired so early.  Early??  I’m late.  I always planned to be done working for the man when I turned 50…at the latest.  Two divorces took care of that dream, but still I came out of that conflagration in pretty good position.

I’ve traveled the world…seen many things.  Believe me, we have it pretty good here.  Yes, we have poverty, racial injustice, malnutrition,  and Trump and Hillary.  But I’ve seen women selling their children for the equivalent of $5; kids literally eating dirt because they were starving; people so sick they couldn’t stand up.

People around the world hate  Americans because they all want be us.  They hate our freedoms, our liberties.  They think we’re spoiled and lazy…which we are.  But here’s the kicker…a comedian said it best:  “We’re spoiled and lazy, but we’re also bored and CRAZY.”  In other words, don’t “F” with us.  Leave us alone and we’ll eventually disintegrate from within.  Try to hurry it along, and hold onto your panty hose.  We’ll come at you like a pack of raped apes.  Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War!!  Ask the Germans, Japanese, Soviets, Iraqis, Brits (I love how we clocked them twice so many years ago using a bunch of farmers with pitchforks).

Our problem is that it’s so easy to complain.  We have food, water, resources, television, internet, tweeter (twitter?), Facebook…so many, many privileges.   However, never forget that  privileges are given;  rights are earned.  The rights in this country were earned the hard way.  The gravestones of my friends are a small testament to that fact.

So, next time you’re feeling bad, not appreciating what you have, wanting more;  take a breath, look around and smile.  You live in the greatest country in the history of civilization.  How long will it last??  Who knows.  Enjoy it now…and think of me at 4:00 every morning.  “No Thunderball…get back on your bed!!”

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Olympics…Smolympics

What the hell has happened to the Olympics?  I know I’m old, but when did this putrid example of global gluttony get out of control?

As a youngster, the Olympics was an event that was treasured for the innocence, effort and self-less teamwork; not to mention 3 hours each evening of focused, condensed coverage of the events.  I remember Jim McKay talking about the enduring goodwill and sacrifice that we all witnessed.  Unfortunately, he’s best remembered for his coverage of the terrorist attack on the Israeli contingent in Munich in 1972.   That singular event broke us of the innocent revery that most of us had for this quadrennial event.  Still, the Olympics persevered.

True amateurs sacrificed  money, time and effort to represent their countries.  They would focus all their energies on this 2-week event.  The Olympic trials were almost as popular as the games because we all wanted our favorites to make it to the big show.   Granted, the Soviet Bloc countries totally circumvented the rules by paying their athletes under the guise of “membership” in their militaries.  Blood doping and steroids were their ways of ensuring success.  But still, the Olympics persevered.

Then…it started.  1992 in Barcelona.  The US had picked stupid college coaches who had NO imagination (John Thompson and Hank Iba) to lead the basketball team to an inevitable loss to the Russians. However, with good coaching (Bobby Knight, Dean Smith), the US collegians would rout the competition.  So, instead of picking worthwhile college coaches, the US IOC screamed and cried for professional athletes to be permitted on the team(s), targeting basketball to form a “Dream Team” of NBA stars.

Thus, Pandora’s Box was opened; the Kraken was released; someone cried Havoc and let slip the Dogs of War.  Now, all professionals were allowed.  With professional athletes comes the MONEY…sponsors, commercials, television networks, etc…  Let the gluttony begin!   Lest I forget to mention, the IOC also decided that year to split the Winter and Summer games so that we didn’t have to wait 4 years; we could now get one or the other every TWO years.  The crowd goes wild!!  Mo money…Mo money…Mo money.

It started with Reebok doing that bull-shit “Dan and Dave” commercials.  They were two decathletes for the US and were being “groomed” to fight it out for the gold in Spain.  Stupid commercial after stupid commercial drove us nuts.  Dan O’Brien was actually the world champ and world record holder, so his involvement was understandable.  Dave Johnson was good, but hardly great.  Alas, beware of Karma.  During the Olympic Trials, a mere formality for these two, O’Brien skipped a preliminary height during the pole vault competition.  It proved disastrous when he failed on the next height, meaning he never scored for the pole vault, thus dropping him so far down he didn’t qualify for the team!!  WOW!  Reebok was, well, humiliated and furious.   Johnson actually won a bronze in Barcelona, but he was never in serious contention for the gold.

Since then, it has go progressively worse.  The opening and closing ceremonies have turned into a Hollywood Gala, puking forth colors and fireworks that remind you of a Walt Disney orgasm.   3-4 hours of bloated “ecstasy”.  Yea….

The coverage of the 4.3 million events is awful.  Hours upon hours of “human interest” stories, vomiting forth knowledge of some gymnast’s menstrual cycle and how it effects her performance.  Synchronized Diving??  Air Rifle??  Badminton??  I watched the 110 meter hurdles for the men the other day.  7…yes, SEVEN qualifying heats.  That’s 56 hurdlers, folks.  I never realized there were that many hurdlers in the world.

NBC shows “live” events of the big stories.  Unfortunately, it’s only live for folks on the east coast and central time zones.  Because the network has to get maximum exposure for their sponsors, the mountain and west coast regions get the “live” broadcast as a delayed event in those primetime slots.  REALLY??  Hello… ever heard of the Internet?  We know who won long before we have to wait for those “live” events.  Oh by the way, with DVR, we never even see those worthless commercials.  But still, the show must go on!

It’s so pathetic, I feel like it’s a 2 week long Super Bowl….even worse. I HATE professional sports at all levels…ok, I do periodically watch WWE, but that’s only because its the most realistic of all pro sports on television.

I hope these events will eventually implode and let me focus on my re-runs of Perry Mason, Mr. Ed and Starsky and Hutch!  God I’m old!!

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Questions, Questions, Questions….

I freely admit that I’m often confused on why I read, watch or hear stories that just don’t make sense.   Obviously, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can’t help believe that I’m not alone in my confusion.

Question 1:  Why is there sooooooo much rhetoric about social inequalities involving homosexuals, bi-sexuals and transgender people?

I did some research.  According to the census completed in March of 2015, 3.8% of the U.S. population identifies themselves within the HBT grouping.  3.8%?????!!  Why then, do I hear, see, read about issues that are so “mainstream” within the media?  How can you be “mainstream” when 96.2% of the public (I can do the math in my head) is outside this boundary?   Hmmmm…could it be that the % of HBT within the media is much higher than 3.8%…like MUCH higher?!  I’m thinking “YES”.

In this country, majority rules.  It’s the founding principle of our government and our society.   That doesn’t mean we ignore  minority groups, but rather, we focus most of our energies on the vast majority, while addressing minority issues when possible.

Remember that whole “Main Street…not Wall Street” mantra of Obama.   Ok, then let’s focus on that “Main Street”…the group that is happily heterosexual…though probably unhappily married. ?  BTW, speaking of marriage…I’m all for homosexual unions.  Why shouldn’t they share in the pain and suffering of unholy matrimony?!

Question 2:  Why after so many presidential campaigns, when inevitably there was much discussion on the health of the candidates (we only really cared about their running mates because they were only a hiccup away from Prez),  we don’t hear anything about the obvious health issues of the Anti-Christ Clinton?  Have you seen her recently?  If you think she’s looking bad now, just think about down the road.

Remember how the press tried to toast Reagan for his age,  Bob Dole for his damaged paw, Chris Christie for his girth.  Hmmmm…I just realized…all republicans.  But the democratic party, the champions of the young, aggressive liberals, are blindly supporting a 68 year-old who looks overweight and sickly…and the fun is just starting!

I remember when I was “young and aggressive”, I questioned everything.  My mom frequently said that I would argue with a mileage sign…you know…the kind you see on Interstate 40:  “Oklahoma City  76 miles”.   For some reason, no one is talking or writing about her health challenges.  For God’s sake, she looks like something a wolf ate and shit over the cliff!

Question 3:  Why did the Obama administration “secretly” send $400 million to Iran as part of some arbitration decision within the World Court?  Huh??

First of all…how could it be “secret” if the administration confirmed it?  Evidently, it had to be in cold, hard cash…and NOT U.S. dead presidents.  That’s because we have an embargo in place with Iran and can’t give them our currency.  So we give them the cash equivalent in euros and swiss francs.

“Why cash,”  you ask?  Well, the Iranians don’t have access to world financial institutions because the WHOLE, FRIGGIN’ WORLD has an embargo on those fine folks in Tehran.   So why are we paying them for an aborted arms deal that took place in the 70’s under that great President Carter?  No idea…I mean, none at ALL….until I read…  4 US hostages were released the same day those buttfaces got the money.  Ahhhhhh…it was a pay-off.  So  we’re negotiating with terrorist.  It all makes sense now.  ?

Here’s the good news.  The former Secretary of State of the Obama administration is going to be our next president.   Good thing she’s such an expert on international politics and willing to tow the tough line against all the Bad Guys.  I can’t wait for Putin to tell her to set the dinner table when he’s hungry.

Be Afraid people…be very AFRAID!!

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My Friend Ollie

I got to spend some time with my old buddy Ollie…also known as Rear Admiral Chris Murray.   As always, we spent the first hour verbally abusing each other.  My brother J soon joined us and enjoyed the back and forth banter of two, old F-14 RIOs going at it.

Ollie has done 32 years in the Navy and has recently decided to hang up the uniform early next year.  THIRTY-TWO YEARS!!!!  When we thought about it, we just looked at each other, and I remembered when we met 27 years ago at Fighter Town, USA…also then known as NAS Miramar.   I had been an F-14 instructor for about a year when he joined the squadron.  The first time I saw him he was sitting in the training office, with his feet perched on my desk.  He had the biggest Big Gulp I had ever seen in one hand, and a large plate of nachos in the other hand.   It was 7:00 am.  Various specks of cheese were splattered on his flight suit.  It was the middle of summer, but for some reason he was wearing his flight jacket.  He looked at me and smiled, “You Pads?”  My response: “Get your damn feet off my desk!”  Our relationship pretty much stayed the same over the next 27 years.  He would say stupid things and I would verbally harangue him mercilessly.

Back then, few of us dreamed of making the Flag ranks (Admiral levels).  We were just glad to be flying, looking cool and chasing chicks.  The thing about Ollie was that he was always  a fan of  the Navy.  Me…not so much.  I liked  the lifestyle, living in San Diego and hanging with the guys.  He was a true believer:  hard working and dedicated.  A company man.

As we grew older, I was always looking to retire as early as possible.  Ollie was always looking for his next job…one which would continue pushing him up the ladder of success.   When I took an early retirement, he was not real happy (perhaps a little jealous).  He, however, had bigger fish to fry.  He became a squadron Commanding Officer; then an Air Wing Commander.  He did staff jobs at major commands and assumed he would retire as a Navy Captain.  When he made Rear Admiral, he was a little surprised, as was his wife and most of his friends, including me.

I tell you what though, he deserved it and I am proud of him.   You see, Ollie was never a guy that would sacrifice his principles.  He would kiss up when needed, but never compromise his beliefs.  We laughed when he said:  “You know Pads, I kissed a lot of ass; but I never took it up the ass!”  That’s the Ollie that always stayed true to form.

Senior officers in the military tend to fall into two groups:  Leaders and Politicians.   Leaders care about the organization, the people,  mission success.   Leaders realize that they take the blame, but spread the praise to others.  Leaders are promoted…they earn it!  Politicians are appointed…they know someone.  They have a personal agenda that may not be in line with mission success.  Their focus is on individual recognition; self promotion; a burning desire to please themselves.   It’s a little sad and scary that those folks are often at the upper echelon of military decision-making, but such is the nature of the beast.   Ollie is a leader!

When went wine tasting on a Sunday afternoon.  It took me a about half an hour to deprogram him from his “Admiral talk”…you know, lots of syllables and a slow, deliberate delivery.  Somewhere around the third or fourth tasting, the Admiral disappeared and Ollie arrived.  “You’re an asshole, Crapshooter (his favorite name for me)!”   My normal reply: “Shut-up, Stupid!”

We had a sit-down pairing at my favorite winery.  It is a small, quiet, intimate setting where the wine folks talk about specific reserve wines and respective cheese pairings.   We were in there with about 5 other tables of folks.  Let’s just say we were the loudest.  Between the insults, the cussing and the laughter, we got the looks!  When we relocated to the main tasting room, the pairing folks drew a sigh of relief, but we just continued the stories and the buffoonery.   Within minutes, we had about 10 additional folks as our entourage…didn’t really know any of them, but they obviously enjoyed the show.   The two of us in the same piece of sky doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s kinda like Haley’s Comet.  You can’t miss it!

To my dear friend Chris, I raise a toast.  I’m proud of you  and your accomplishments.  I’m honored to be your friend.   And even though you look like you may be 70, I’ll always remember that first time we met….cheese spots and all.  Fair winds and following seas, my Brotha!

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What is a “Hero”

Every 4th of July people try to quantify what a “hero” is.   Really cool slogans are posted on the internet from various organizations or businesses:  “We are the Land of the Free because of the Brave” (meaning our heroes); or “So much is owed by so many to so few” (meaning our heroes); “Celebrate our Independence by remembering those who sacrificed everything”(meaning our heroes).

Let me give you my cut on this…because…it’s my blog.   As I start, let’s define what a hero isn’t!  A hero isn’t someone who hits 50 homers; throws 45 touchdowns; scores 60 points.  A hero isn’t someone who makes $100 million a year; wins the Senate race in Ohio; dates supermodels; wins an Oscar.   They may be heroes in other ways, but not for those reasons.

A hero is someone who is always there…always pluggin’ away….never quitting….someone who motivates and inspires you.  Parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, friends can all be heroes.  You know them, see them, watch them.  You honor them after the fact when you realize, “Hey, they were right.  They took the time to show me and I’m so thankful.”

A hero doesn’t ask for recognition.  A hero accepts his/her responsibilities; works hard to better themselves and others; sacrifices time, money, and energy.  When people thank me for my military service, I can only say, “you’re welcome.”  I didn’t join the Navy to get recognized.  I joined because it was cool; paid better than most jobs out of college; and the chicks dug the uniforms.   I don’t rise when the announcer at the ball game asks those who served our country to  “stand up and be recognized as a hero.” Why should I?  I’m not a hero for that.  The heroes are the ones who never made it home.   My friends who took off one day and never landed are my heroes.  I miss them every day and wonder “why them…and not me?”

If people really want to recognize a hero, then give him a job, help them out, ask how they feel…you know…talk to them as people who have hopes and dreams.  It’s trendy right now to shake a veteran’s hand and thank them for their sacrifice.  I remember when that wasn’t the case.

Teddy Roosevelt wrote an eloquent and accurate definition of a hero in his speech about the Man in the Arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

A hero is the one is the arena; a doer of deeds; a sacrificer for the worthy causes; who fails but never quits; one who lives and not just exists.

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A Father on Father’s Day

What does Father’s Day mean to me, I ask myself.  Hmmmmm….another day down, another day closer to…well…you know…THE END!

Ok, maybe not that dire.  Being a father is the toughest job I’ve ever had.  By far the toughest (I’m not counting being a bus boy at Howard Johnson’s.  I’ve blocked that from my memory).  Tougher than night landings at the carrier off the coast of Iraq; tougher than a two-day conference with 25 engineers; tougher than watching Lobo baseball while freezing to death.

When my kids were born, I figured that I’m just like all the other guys who were fathers.  Play with them at night, change a few diapers, put them in a stroller, save for college, listen to the women talk about how they looked.  Unfortunately, I was not even prepared for the truth; especially after becoming a single-parent.

Sharing custody with young children who lived 6 thousand miles away was brutal.  The lonely, sleepless nights I spent crying was like a nightmare that never ended.  Worrying about their environment, with a lunatic step-father in their house, kept me angry and alert.  Flying to Germany and later to Korea was bittersweet.  I loved spending my week or two with them during the Holidays, but leaving just ripped my heart out.  When they visited for the summer, I tried to make their stay as memorable and fun as possible.  I frequently failed, but I never stopped trying.  I remember driving up to LAX from San Diego to put my kids on a flight back to Korea.  My 10 year old son cried the entire drive while my daughter and I tried to console him.   He just didn’t want to go back.  My heart was shattering while I drove in LA traffic.  After I got them checked-in and on the plane, I drove to a park alongside the runway.  As I watched the plane take-off, I hung on the chainlink fence, crying uncontrollably.  I think the homeless guy sitting 10 feet away actually felt sorry for me.  Let me tell you, that blurry drive home was fun!

As they grew older, the problems become more manageable and predictable.  You know…”Gawd Dad, everybody dyes their hair.”  Or, “Geez Dad, I don’t need to wear a belt!”  My answers:  “I don’t care” and “Pull up them damn pants!”  Having a single parent raise me was a tremendous help.  I frequently asked my mom for advice.  Sage as ever, she would just smile and say, “just love them.”  Mom, you were right!

As boys and girls showed up in their lives, along with jobs and college, my fatherly inputs became more specific…and wrong!  I learned as a father, you can count on a few things:  you’re always out of touch; you just don’t understand; and, my personal favorite, you’re just old and grouchy.  All of those are normally followed by “can I ‘borrow’ some money?”

You know, it really is HARD to say “no” to your kids.  I would love to agree with them all the time.  I wish I could say, “sure, drink and drive”….or, “that’s ok, I’ll pay your parking tickets”…or, “you’re not crazy for stalking that boy/girl.”  However, my job is to say NO!  It also really pays off when I get to say, “What the hell are/were you thinking!”

Fathers are like sin-eaters…we absorb all the crap and others get the credit.   If we’re really lucky, we get to hear the mothers say, “You don’t understand.  You’re not a mother.”  No shit…yeah, I’m just the Dad.  You mean I don’t love them as much; worry about them as much; wish they made better choices, remember their angelic faces as babies??  We, as fathers, get blamed for global warming,  lack of gun control, genocide, fratricide, world wars,  and no romance.  To that I say:  WHATEVER!!  I know the truth.

I’ve worked my ass off trying to expose them, prepare them, discipline them, motivate them, and yes, even nurture them.  I know I’ve made many mistakes…I admit them every night, after my second scotch or first Grey Goose toonie.  I don’t hide from he truth.  I just wonder what the hell I was thinking about those twenty-plus years ago.  Yup, kids truly are the gift that keeps on giving.

However, there are successes.  My favorite moments  are when my daughter calls me “Poppa” and says she loves me; and when my boy says “Daddy-O, you were right.”  I’ll never forget when they both got their first paychecks;  “Dad, what the hell is FICA?”  Explaining car loans, compound interest and investment strategies are now more popular topics of discussion than Taylor Swift, YouTube. and whatever happened to Danity Kane? On their paydays, I get to thank them for contributing to my social security as they moan about how much taxes they pay.   Ahhhhhhhhhhh….it’s been worth it!

What does Father’s Day mean to me?  I’ll tell you:  it means that I’m being recognized for being there; for being involved; for caring enough to slap them down and pick them up; for being a role model; for being right sometimes; for holding them tight and letting them go; and especially, for loving them!

Now, if I can just get my four-legged son to stop pooping in the flower beds.  “Thunderball, what are you thinking?!”

Happy Father’s Day!!

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My Busy Mornings

As always, I totally over-estimate my worth in the world.

Just about every morning around 4:30, my trusted basset hound Thunderball comes to the side of my bed, crying to get up.   It’s important to note that he used to jump on the bed, no problem.  About two years ago (and he’s only 4 years old), he decided he needed help to jump up…and I obliged him.   Anyway, I made a deal with him that  he can’t come up until 5:30.  Does he remember that deal?  Evidently not, because every day he shows up early and I have to remind him to “GET BACK TO YOUR BED!!”  Uggggggggg!

Around 5:30 am, he returns, I get up, relieve myself, and lift him up to the bed.  Fine…but he wants under the covers.  Down he goes, wrapped around my knees…stretching out, rolling around, moaning and groaning.  I’m pretty much done sleeping at this point.  Side note: my lady friend always complains when I text her at 6:00 am.  “Go back to sleep” is her response.  Well…I would love to but this is in my bed:

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Now…how the Hell am I supposed to even get back in bed…much less go back to sleep?  The answer is I don’t.  Downstairs I go, opening up the blinds, starting my coffee, relax in my recliner, watch LA news and then…THUMP!  Sounds like someone dropped a bowling ball upstairs…it’s really just him jumping off the bed.  Down he comes, finding me.  He stretches, moans, groans (you get the picture).   God forbid if I want to eat a small donut in peace.  This is what I see:

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My goal now is to  finish my food and coffee and out-wait him,  because I know that real soon I’ll see this:

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Followed by this:

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At last…some peace and quiet.   All of this happens before 7:30.  Wow…good thing I’m retired.  Hopefully,  people will realize why I frequently take naps.  Did I mentioned I’m retired?

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Is Everything our Fault?

So rare that we read about what the middle class does right.  If you’re white and male and live in a nice house, you’re a target for just about everyone.  If you’re offended by what you think is a racist, sexist, elitist  thought, then stop reading now.  Put your head in the sand and continue whining about how life isn’t fair.

Some white couple in Michigan wrote about the racist policies of the NCAA…how they exploit black athletes to achieve incredible profits…which go the white guys in charge.   Ok…no doubt the NCAA is  the most morally and ethically corrupt organization this side of DC politics.  Yes, athletes, black and white, in the major revenue generating sports, see VERY little in return for their efforts…on the FIELD.  No dispute there.  What are they expecting?  What do they deserve?  You’re an athlete, on a full-ride scholarship to a school that may or may not be an outstanding academic institution.   You can get a degree; be part of a robust alumni; get yourself set for a lucrative career in business, medicine, law, etc.  Instead, some want to unionize and get “pay for my play”.  Hello….you play a GAME!

The article focused on the racism of the white leadership…the same leadership that exploits white athletes as well (wouldn’t that be “white on white crime”?).   Well, about 60% of all athletes in football and basketball are black, according to their study.  That means 40% are non-black (mostly white)…I know that because I paid attention in math.  But their assumption is the non-blacks were from more affluent backgrounds.  How the hell would they know that??   Because all white guys are middle-class dudes!!  That must be correct, right??  It’s your FAULT, white America!!

To me, it’s any easy answer.  I say:  Let all athletes turn pro whenever they want.  If they want to get their ass kicked in the Mediocre Football League as a 17 year-old, then have at it.  Make the NBA accept kids out of high school.   Good Luck, Baby.  All I ask is when they (you know, “them guys”) don’t make it, don’t come crying back, saying they were “mislead” or “deceived”.   To quote Lawrence Taylor, “I was setup like a mutha-f***ah!”  Obviously,  they could accept a scholarship, but they must accept that form of “amateurism.”   College baseball players have been doing it for years.  Finally, if neither option is attractive, I hear they’re hiring at Planter’s Peanuts.

I watched some of the ladies golf this weekend.  They were playing in Palm Springs.  If you’re not aware, the area has a significant homosexual presence.  They display the pride of their sexual orientation openly and without reserve.  Many homes had rainbow flags flowing in the breeze.  God Bless ’em.  However, it did get me thinking.  My brother J and I decided that the white, heterosexual, male community needed a flag to display openly and without reserve.  I give you our flag:

Boy Flag

For our heterosexual sisters, I propose their flag:

Girl Flag

*Editor’s Note:  There may be some cross-sexual envy with both flags, but that will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The next logical step is to start planning a “Heterosexual Pride Week.”  I’m thinking Super Bowl Week….maybe World Series…don’t forget March Madness.   Of course, we could just say “screw it” and have it during any Beer-fest, Wine-fest, Cigar-fest, or Scotch-fest celebration…or during the History Channel’s “World War 2” week.

Then again, we could just sit in the backyard, drink and smoke, scratch ourselves while we tell old stories, happily farting and burping the time away.  Long Live Us White Dudes!

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What is “Perfection?”

Since I have plenty of time on my hands, I often contemplate such nebulous topics.   Can it be defined?  Quantified? Hypothesized surely; but universal agreement is harder than women and men getting along in a marriage.

Watching sports, we often say any team that is undefeated has had a “perfect” season.  Well,  they haven’t lost, but have they played “perfect?”

When I pay off my credit card, within my budget, is that “perfect?”  I think so, but I doubt most anyone else does.

Smoking that one great cigar, paired with an 18 year-old scotch, we all want to say…”perfect.”

What guy can ever forget Bo Derek running down the beach with her braids (and other stuff) bouncing all around.  She was a “10”…which is “perfect” for us guys.   Women say the “perfect” guy is one who listens to her; fulfills her needs: physically, mentally and emotionally; and loves her company.   We know what men say: “If she’s hot, has money, and her dad owns a liquor store (with a pizza parlor in back), then she’s damn ‘perfect!'”

The ’72 Dolphins didn’t lose a game and won the Super Bowl, but they were far from “perfect.”  The UConn women’s basketball team is nearing perfection in the NCAA tournament, undefeated in 4 years, NO team has EVER done that.  They did lose…once…in the past 130  games, in the regular season.   The statue “Winged Victory of Samothrace” in the Louvre  is close…but she’s missing her head and arms.  Michelangelo’s “David” in Firenze is damn close!  DAMN CLOSE!!  His arms seem a little long though.  When Neal Armstrong took his “small step for man,” we all thought that was “perfect.”  Every Red Sox fan screamed “perfect” in ’04, when they finally won a World Series.  Dare I mention how the Cubs fans felt after Bryant made that sweet play on the chopper to end game 7.

Everyone has a definition for “perfect.”  It doesn’t have to be something we all agree on.  Rather, it just needs to be something each of us can relish and never forget.  For me,  I watched Secretariat run at the Belmont in ’73.  That was “perfection;”  the only time I admit to having seen something “perfect.”  I still break down in tears when I watch it.  Beat that!!

Interesting fact:  My 22 year-old baby girl recently said: “Gawd Dad, I can’t go to that mall…I don’t have any money to shop!!”  I thought…”PERFECT!”

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The Two-Party System

Ain’t it grand when the country’s two political parties, the Donkey and the Heffalump, select their candidates.  The country gets all twitter-pated with anticipation, regardless of the candidate.  What a great system (puke, puke)!

If you want to have fun (cough, cough), read the political analysis about the candidates.   Seems the parties select the person who has the best chance at defeating the other guys’ candidate.  Who knew??!  Who cares if that candidate is worth a pile of shit in a perfume factory.  “We’ll win with Herkimer (our bunny rabbit when I was  a kid).  Shasta (the neighbor’s guinea pig) has no chance now!”

I played golf with an older couple a few months ago (yes children, there are people older than dear-old-Dad).  The wife was just a ride-along, as her husband played with us.  She seemed to be a nice, quiet, reserved Grandma…until we started talking about politics.  “I’ve been a Republican all my life.  I know that Trump is a Facist, but I’ll never vote Democrat!”  I asked her if she wanted to abstain from voting for President…and use her non-vote as a statement to protest terrible selection options.  “Oh no, I can’t do that.”  I wondered, out loud, what would happen if more people didn’t vote for either, focusing instead on using their vote for local and state contests.  “I don’t care about the local stuff.  I just want a Republican in the White House…any Republican.”   I guess that explains all the local taxes I pay for the digging and filling I see around my ‘hood.  I won’t mention the Mello-Roos for the high school down the street…where my kids never went.

Is our vote a privilege or a right?  It’s a constitutional right, but a privilege paid for by those who have sacrificed to keep that right safe and secure.  So many stupid people vote based on what they see, not on what they read or hear.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard women say, “He’s a good looking man.  He gets my vote.”  If that’s the key determinate, then Clinton wouldn’t get “Pig of the Year” at the State Fair.   I gotta admit, if some rocket-hot chick ran for Prez, I would certainly watch her…initially.  Remember the ding-bat from Alaska.  She wasn’t too bad, especially compared to the friggin’ douche pump McCain.  Alas, she got ugly when she opened her mouth.  Bummer.

Time to face the facts, Ignorant People.  The number ONE job of any politician, once elected, is to get RE-ELECTED!   Republican or Democrat.  Man or Troll.  That crap they tell us in the campaign means Jack and Shit…and Jack left town.  Wise up and use your noggin.  I know it’s hard…especially for the Wal-Mart crowd (don’t worry, that sale on ammo will still be going on next month).   Don’t tie yourself to some BS arguments about: Liberal vs Conservative; Large Government vs Less Taxes; Right to Choose vs Right to Life.    Politicians are all the same:  Money and Power.  How about this mantra:  “When they don’t deliver on their campaign promises, vote them OUT!  Next in line.”

Remember:  Government for the People, by the People.  They work for US!  Use your right to vote as a tool, not as some number in a database (or a hanging chad).  When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they never dreamed of “professional” politicians.  Serving the people was something you did to represent your constituency…for a few years.  Then you went back to your business. It was never meant to be a career choice.

People, the inmates are running the asylum and they ain’t real bright.  They’re puppets on a string; and Geppetto is the Party Leadership.  We’re smarter than that…even you goofs who stand in line for the latest iPhone.  Think for yourself and take over the strings…and turn Pinocchio into a boy.  How’s that for an analogy!

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Greed…and Stupidity!!

I watched “The Big Short” last night.  A very entertaining and informative movie.  Although I lived through that time of the greatest financial collapse of the last 70 years, caused by the collapse of the housing market, I was not completely familiar with all the main drivers of that fiasco.  The movie exposed the particular players and how their roles contributed to the fraudulent and illegal activities of  the bankers and government officials.

Here’s my question:  Why don’t we see this subject matter repeatedly reproduced on the History Channel, CNN, etc.?  I don’t think I can turn on those channels without seeing another story about the Jewish Holocaust at least once a week.  The stories are WELL remembered, for the past three generations.  I appreciate the warning to history that it could happen again (I do admit that I often wonder why we don’t see more stories of the atrocities that Stalin committed against his own people…20 million dead)!  I guess American television is more concerned with the Jewish plight than the poor gypsy, slavs and peasants of Russia.

But really, let’s focus on a real and present danger (and I’m not talking about Trump and Clinton…yet).  The bankers of this country colluded without any real risk to the themselves.  The level of their “crookedness” is frightening.   They leveraged their customers’ hard-earned money (who were us guys) without any concern for their own personal exposure. Why?  Because they knew the government “overseers” would bale them out.   They  assumed  the American public would not survive without the banks (I’m sure the 8 million folks who lost their jobs might argue that point), and the government would save them.  Unfortunately, they were correct.

What have we learned?  Nothing. More government oversight?  No.  Breakup the big banks and limit the collusion?  Not a chance.  Alan Greenspan at the Fed let all this happen.  His successor Bernanke’s answer was to drop the interest rates to ZERO and “stimulate” the economy…to the slowest, most tepid recovery of a any recession in history.   The new chick is trying not to screw up the grinding return to “normalcy.”

As far as the housing market goes, we’re seeing a significant uptick in house prices.  “Ruh Roh,” you might be saying.   On one hand, it is significantly harder to get a loan now than it was 15 years ago, thanks to significant government involvement.  Yea for us!  However, the significant driver to qualify for a home loan now is how much you make in current income, not how much you have saved.  Here’s an example:

  1. Bob has $1,000,000 in savings, with perfect credit.  He is retired, with no current income, no kids at home.  He will collect approx. $24,000 a year in social security next year and beyond.
  2. Little Susy and Jimmy have $3,500 in savings, average credit.   They have a combined yearly income of $80,000.

They both want to buy a home of equal value.  Bob wants to buy a house now, to enjoy his retirement, and lock in a low fixed interest rate for the next 30 years.  Little Susy and Jimmy want to buy a house close to a school, so their kids can walk less than 200 yards back and forth, with a low initial adjustable rate, adjusting in 3 years.  So, who gets the loan?  Well, Little Susy and Jimmy do, because they qualify with their current income.  Yea for them!  Bob has to wait until he has more income with his social security next year…and probably pay a higher interest rate.

Now, what happens over the next couple of years when Little Susy gets pregnant…again, and quits her job?  Less disposable income, more expenses.   Jimmy doesn’t get the raise he was expecting and loses out on a promotion. Little Susy wants a bigger car for the larger family.   One kid wants to play the cello, go to soccer camp and get the latest IPhone.  The other kid wants Playstation 4,  the best shoes and a 4K HD television.

You know where this is headed.  Little Susy and Jimmy give the little assholes what they want, fall behind in their bills, the interest rate adjusts and they can’t pay their monthly payment.   Feel sorry for us…”we have kids and want a house,” they say.  “It’s our American right!”  WRONG!!  It’s your American privilege, one you have to earn every month.   They declare bankruptcy…and depart their home and move in with Jimmy’s folks…who live in a trailer park in Wichita, Kansas.

Bob gets his house, with a little higher interest rate.  His savings are more than enough to cover his monthly expenses.  He live comfortably, thanks to his sacrifice for many years of savings.  He sits on his deck, enjoying the sunset, watching his girlfriend cook dinner in her tiny tank top.  He wishes Jimmy and Little Susy all the best.   “Enjoy Springtime, Suckas!!”

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