Loneliness is Crowded Room

Sometimes the universe sends us signals.  You know what I mean and you see it all the time.  There is that horrid Prius commercial that is so ubiquitous that I’m now nauseous when it airs.  Clearly it was that man’s time to buy a Prius and change his life.  Other times, the universe sends us false signals.  On one unnamed TV show, the lead sees the same number over and over and over.  Realizing it’s a sign, he engages is risky behavior centered on that number with disastrous results. (I’m sure many of you will binge the show later so I’ll keep the title covered.  Hint: it is not Firefly, Game of Thrones or Real Housewives of Atlanta.)

Similarly, I’ve been a bit of a funk for a while.  I’m not great at hiding that, and my four loyal readers know I often process my moods here.  And by often, I mean about 10% of the time that I start to.  I do edit myself a little and I really don’t want to turn this into a forum people avoid.  No, not you Sir. I know you are here for the Ashley bashing, that is located here.  But today, the fingers type, the words flow, and the Oxford Comma prevails.  What is going on around me?

The commute and the attitudes around me in the office weigh heavy on my generally happy soul.  For those of you that don’t know, I leave the house at 6am and return home generally after 6, too often towards 7.  That’s 75-90 minutes in the morning and 2 hours on the way home after spending day in a cube where there is limited human interaction and too much of it revolves around not meeting hidden expectations and the constant implication that no one is working enough hours.  Keep in mind that I am not a piecemeal factory worker or laborer (and both are fine, honorable jobs) – I think, I plan, I influence to gain results.  There is no clock measuring my thoughts thinking &  ideas.  When a thought hits me and I work on it, it can be driving, doing dishes or at 3am coming out of a dream.  I’m generally engaged 12-18 hours a day on what I work on.  So why the ridiculous obsession over time?

Just because I’m paid hourly doesn’t mean I don’t put in lots of time that is not technically on the clock.  Oh, and 40 hours a week is the absolute maximum.  I once made the mistake of working 2 hours on a Sunday, because something came to me late on Friday, which I would need to act on early the next Monday.  My hours didn’t exceed 40, but I was told in no uncertain terms that anything other than 8 per day, Monday through Friday would require advance approval.  I keep forgetting that not everyone sees me as the adult I believe I am.

Every day for the last week and way too much for way too often, I keep hearing the seminal hard rock anthem “Closing Time” by Semisonic.  (I looked for the sarcasm sans font, but couldn’t find it and I know WordPress does not feature it.)  As silly as the song is about the hook up life at 2am, one phrase stands out.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Is the universe trying to tell me to move on and find a new beginning, a new cubicle?  When do I become too old to be attractive in the new economy of disposable workers?  Are my experience and skills an unwanted commodity, the Filet-O-Fish of the work world?  How heavy is the baggage that is my gray hair and wrinkles?  Can I embrace the reality of my fading youth, yet still see that experience and wisdom are liabilities in my world?  What is my place?  Is there a new beginning to be sought?

And no, I’m not having a midlife crisis. But much weighs heavy.  And I consider the adage about the grass being greener elsewhere and see my lawn turning brown due to drought based water restrictions.  I’m not one to take the easy route. I’m not quitter.  Of course I think about it all the time, but in the end I do the right thing, even when it’s the more difficult, arduous path.  Maybe I should have been a mountain goat.

Today, I sat in traffic behind some unseen delay on the approach to the bridge.  Of course I heard the song about the “last call for alcohol”.  Seriously? People paid for that record?  But then I realized that it was part of a shock and awe bombardment of sad, aching songs.  Like a train wreck, I couldn’t turn away.  Horrified at the sonic sneak attack on my already fragile emotional state, I embraced the sadness.  For more than 30 minutes I sat, not hearing an uplifting note.  8 stations, making sure I paid attention.  Of course I skipped over the Eagles and Journey, it is in my DNA.

There were songs about the  break ups to come.  And then the actual breaking up and the aftermath that follows – longing, regret, and sadness.  Lonely sailors waiting for their bitter end, stranded on an island without Gilligan.  No wonder I spent my youth listening to mostly progressive rock, there are very few love songs and their opposite numbers.  And in those days I had nothing to measure songs of the heart against.  With age comes experience, and those experiences yield so many different yardsticks to use as needed.  I had several in use today.

I sit here, silent, typing, and reflecting on how I’ve been feeling; the loss of empowerment and the shrinking of my ego.  The sadness of the forgotten wrench in the bottom of the tool box, replaced by a shiny new tool straight from a well-produced Kickstarter campaign, left to rust in the dark.

Years ago, I was driving to pick up a date.  Yes, this was over 30 years ago.  One of my favorite songs came on the radio.  “Dance Away” by Roxy Music.  I always loved that song.  But in that instance, that song of finding solace in music and motion, became something different.  It became the manifestation of a rough break up a few months prior.  Tears flowed and I think I finished processing the pain I was holding.   Decades later, I still love that song and I still feel the emotions of that relationship ending. And sometimes I feel the relief of finally recognizing how to move on.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just musing aloud.  Much like music this morning, this silent, six by six cubicle is quite sad and lonely.  Perhaps I can figure out a way to make these days better and repurpose that discarded wrench.  Just typing this out helps.

Here are few songs to help you see the frame of my day.

Dance Away, Roxy Music

A Salty Dog, Procol Harum

Childhood’s End, Pink Floyd

Train in Vain, The Clash

Management 2016 or Navel Gazing in the Age of the Internet

I have been thinking a lot lately about Leadership, Management and Identity. It seems in the new world, this one born of the internet, smartphones, investor returns and social media that our world has changed.  As I started my career, the way to success was through management.  It didn’t matter if you were technical or support staff.   Increased pay, growing responsibility and interesting work followed through the management path.  And naturally, so did I.

I had 6 months of management training before being allowed to supervise or manage anyone.  Then, out of the blue I was managing 8 developers, all 10-15 years older than myself.  They weren’t happy about it and I had to prove myself.  It took time, but I did.  As a manager your job is to remove obstacles, allowing others to achieve, while making sure that their work is aligned with the goals and objectives of the company.  Piece of cake, right?  Not in the least.   But that was the past and bluntly, the past seems to matter less each day.

There has been a shift, one as big as the rise of man in the ranks of the predators.  Gone are the dinosaurs, the professional managers.  Management skills have been devalued for hands on technical skills.  I have interviewed for positions over the years where my skills were needed, but the focus of the manager (or director or VP) was to be hands on.  80% of their view of management was to configure the infrastructure or write code.  The staff’s well-being, professional growth, and productivity was sacrificed for more staff, more line labor and ultimately results that missed the mark.

As I’ve transitioned from a managerial leadership role to a place in the temporary labor force, I see managerial skills lacking all round me.  I have worked for managers that could not manage, let alone evaluate staff.  Hiring the wrong person is worse than not filling an open position.  The damage can be anywhere for bad to nuclear.  I’ve made that mistake and watched others decimate their teams with decisions that were far worse than simply “bad”.  Of course we all make bad decisions.  How we and fix them is what separates good leaders and managers from placeholders.

I’ve worked in environments where leadership was clearly lacking.  Managers and executives had limited interaction with their staffs failing to ensure strategic visions were communicated, actions were aligned and results we achieved.  In general, people want to do good things, they want to contribute and they want to achieve.  If they didn’t need help, the role of manager would have never been created.  People never really finish growing.  You thought you knew everything once you finished High School or College? Nope.  There is always more to learn, there is always improvement just beyond your grasp.  Providing the help you need to get there is what good managers do.  Leaders instill the vision; managers translate that vision to actions while growing a company’s most precious resource – its employees.

I’ve seen managers refer to their staff as cattle, to their face repeatedly.  I’m pretty sure that was not a compliment and did not instill loyalty.  But then the manager didn’t care, it was clear he saw people as a commodity to be replaced as needed.  While it is rare to hear this, I don’t think that is the majority view.  But as managerial skills are devalued and eroding, the attitudes become more prevalent.  People become devalued as generic tools, and the results are larger than the bean counters care to notice.

Since I am not a manager, and I do not have the authority or license to really lead, who am I?  In today’s world, our identity has shifted.  We have our identity at home, which differs from our online identity, which is clearly different from our work identity.  And some of have even more.  There was a point in time when I was a husband, father, leader and teacher.  The world was simpler and those all rolled into one nice neat package.  Today, it is less clear.

You are reading this on a screen.  It is not part of an oral history.  It most definitely is not work related.  No, this is part of your social or self-educational experience.  If I can help you I’m glad.  But this is far different from my other social media identities.  In each setting, various elements are set up to provide opportunities for people to show their personalities and interests.  While I’m not a troll, I’m most definitely not a taste maker.  Well, unless you want to come for dinner and peruse the wine cellar.

The change in the employment environment changes everything.  My core identity was once that of a leader and problem solver that contributed as much directly as indirectly.  I worked hard to help the people around me grow. Now I am a wrench, to be used on very specific tasks as needed.  Leadership, as I’m defining it, is not part of the workload and it most definitely would not be lauded if it emerged.

I wonder if that impacts how others perceive me.  Am I less than I was? Do those closest to me see me as less?  Has my gravitas given way to grey hair and the ultimate devaluation of my skills?  I pretend I’m not less, but professional fulfillment has been replaced by the practicality of paying the mortgage.  I sit and ponder my identity and my place in this world far too often these days.  Changes happen when you least expect them and deliver new pressures and influences to our perspectives and actions.  I think in this new world of ours, we probably need to spend more time connecting with our inner selves and with others.

Years ago, I worked for an executive that I had a love/hate relationship with.  She was a bit nutty and a hugger.  I am picky on who I hug.  If I hug you, it says a lot.  If I don’t, no need to be offended.  She taught me a lot – mostly on what not to do.  But, I always remembered that she was the one that told me “high tech means high touch”.  The innovations in this world are meant to help us, not separate us.  As we move further apart, we need to have the time and skills to really interact, really make a difference and not just hope that last short email changed someone’s mind.

So while I’m not who I was, I am still me.  I strive to make a difference. I work to help others and when no one is looking, I try to lead.  I try to set the appropriate example.  I believe I can still make a difference.  But sometimes, in my own private corner, I wonder if I’m fooling myself.  In some ways, I’ve always been naïve.

 

 

 

Hummus I Feel

We all have deep dark secrets.  I have a few.  I keep them locked away tight, as direct sunlight or a casual observance may bring down the entire house of cards that is my life.  With some minor prodding, I realize it is time to make the first step, to admit out loud what so few know.

I like Ambrosia.  I don’t mean the old timey desert with whipped cream and canned fruit cocktail.   I am referring to the seminal San Pedro based (softish) rock band.  Sure you all know the soft hits, but dig into “Life Beyond LA” or “Holding on to Yesterday”.  And what other band pulls from Vonnegut (Deadheads need not answer)?  Of course there goes my hard rock cred.  That’s ok, I cry a lot too.  Don’t pick up my copy of Stephen King’s 11.22.63, the last half of the book is tear stained, if you need proof.

With apologies to David Pack, let’s get started.

That’s hummus I feel, feel for you, baby.
Hummus I need, well I need you for lunch.
Hummus I live, I live for your goodness.
That’s hummus, that’s hummus,
That’s hummus, that’s hummus.

Today is all about hummus.  On the Book of Faces, not to be confused with the Hall of Faces from Game of Thrones, there was talk about needing to make your own hummus, due to a Sabra recall.  I do like my hummus and I make a fresh batch weekly, so Lambchop and I have some for snacks and some for lunches.

Hummus is pretty easy to make and most of the ingredients are in your kitchen if you like to cook.  Let me be frank, I wing it every time and my hummus is not “plain”.  It is rich in delightful flavors, many non-traditional.

Lee’s basic, non- basic, hummus

2 14oz cans of Chickpeas (garbanzos) drained

2 Meyer lemons, juiced and zested (I use my microplaner)

10-20 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 Anaheim pepper, whole

2 Jalapeños, whole

1 Tablespoon Cumin

2 heaping tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste)

½ cup Good Olive Oil

½ cup water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lambchop likes her hummus lemony, so I often use more than 2 lemons and I haven’t seen a recipe calling for the zest which I believe adds complexity.

Step 1:  Break the garlic barrier

In a small shallow pan, put in the garlic, Anaheim and Jalapeños.  I put the chilies on top. Pour the olive oil over the garlic and peppers, to roughly cover the garlic.  Spin the chilies to get them coated in oil.  I roast these in my toaster oven at 270 for about 40 minutes.  The garlic should not brown significantly, but we do want the peppers to blister.  If they haven’t blistered, take the garlic out and broil them for 2-4 minutes a side to blister the skin.  Throw the chilies in a sealed zip lock or plastic container for 10-20 to cool.  Peel of the skin.  Remove seeds to temper the heat.  Either way.  Make sure the oil is back to room temp.

Step 2:  Whip that Tahini

It is time to get out your food processor.  You can use a blender, but I prefer the trusty Kitchen Aid food processor over my smoothie maker.

Some recipes do not call for tahini, some call for more some for less.  I like about 1.5T per can of beans.  Add the tahini, the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice to the food processor. Whip on high for at least 30 seconds.  Whipping the tahini gives body and helps it incorporate more evenly.

Step 3:  Peas to the Pool!

Add your garbanzos to the processor and process for 10-20 seconds to get a rough grind.  Add in the garlic (not the oil), chilies, cumin and salt.  Process the peas for another 20 seconds or more.  The mixture should be fine, but not a puree.  This is an inexact science, you’ll learn the flavors you want to add, how much garlic etc.  Perhaps you want 3 Jalapeños, or none.  I usually add about 4 grinds from my pepper mill at this point.

Step 4:  It’s Time to Rain on this Parade

Hummus is an emulsion, not a mix so the liquids get added slowly.  Turn the processor on low and drizzle in the remaining lemon juice.  Turn the processor to high and drizzle in about half the oil or until the hummus is near the consistency you want.  Then start drizzling in water to get the final consistency.  When the consistency looks right, taste it.  What do you think? Add in more oil, more garlic or more salt if you think it needs it.

When it is how you like it, remember it will be better tomorrow.

In my world, I often add in other ingredients.  My favorites include:

½ white onion

Harrissa

Red Bell pepper

Cayenne pepper

Chipotle pepper

Homemade pepper sauce

Paprika

Oregano (dried or fresh)

Rosemary

 

And if you don’t like my fancy hummus, here is Epicurious’ recipe that I started with.  Its time I mosey on to somewhere I’ve never been before.

 

 

 

 

Tipping Over Rocks

As I watch middle age wind its way inevitably towards life’s downward slope, I ponder which part of my soul to put into words.  While we inevitably have some mid-life or existential crisis – though not nearly as grand as Don Draper’s – I never seem to find the words to process those events appropriately.  Instead, I find myself coming back to the common themes of food and literature.  But not today.

As the parking wars of Oakland ended with my career taking a twist, today I’ll travel the musical path and in doing so, perhaps raise a smile, give you a tune and reveal a bit too much.  Let’s find out.  I’ll take “Tipping Over Rocks” for $2000 Alex.

Nearly everyone my age loves Led Zeppelin. What’s not to love?  Bonham’s barely contained rage on drums, Jones’ arrangements and base, Page’s searing, inventive and hypnotic guitar and Plant’s vocals driving home the point.  And that well-worn spot on his jeans.  Yes, I know that you know he dresses left.  I fought embracing Zeppelin them in high school because everyone else did, but it all finally made sense to me around 1979.  I haven’t let go.

If you ask for a list of people’s favorite Led Zeppelin songs, you will inevitably get “Stairway to Heaven”, “Kashmir” or perhaps “Ramble on”.  While I do love “The Immigrant Song”, my favorite track is a little ditty on side 3 of Physical Graffiti, “The Wanton Song”.  Who doesn’t love a song about the rush and immediate need of sex?  I do.  But the song is about the hook.  This is my favorite hook in the music universe, with all apologies to Mike Campbell.  It rocks.  It rages.  And yet it radiates a progression and melody that echoes all the false promises of pop music.  It is meaty and it delivers.  It takes my seed from my shaking frame, and the wheel rolls on.

 

In the early 70’s no band was more theatrical than Genesis.  My love of the Peter Gabriel era Genesis records is well documented.  I’ve dragged Lambchop to more Musical Box schlong fests than she cares to recall.  And while such staples as “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, “The Musical Box” and “Supper’s Ready” are true favorites, I have a deep, carefully curated, soft spot for “Harold the Barrel”.

Harold is a man depressed, contemplating suicide, being encouraged by reporters and the crowd.  The song offsets the grim situation with a power pop melody and vocals reminiscent of happy children.  It’s a tough song to interpret as it is presented like an opera, but in Peter Gabriel’s singularly spectacular voice.  But without the liner notes showing the various parts, it can be tough to truly grasp the theatrics.  In the midst of such a crisis, Harold’s mother tries to talk him off the window ledge by telling him, “”Your shirt’s all dirty, there’s a man here from the B.B.C.”.  Some things are universal.

 

 

And then there is REM.  I first discovered REM with Life’s Rich Pageant.  That’s me, late to the game. But I went back and found the rest.  From 1986 – 1994 REM put out the soundtrack to my ascent into adulthood.  It might have been easy to point to “Texarkana”, “Can’t Get There From Here” or “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville.” Instead I’ll point you to “A Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)”.

There is a manic, frantic quality to the song.  At once I want to dance and cry.  The beat grabs me by the collar and forces my attention.  Yet under the reaping wheel, a sadness and strange environment dominates the world around me and despair rises.    Don’t miss the train of woe; Boxcars are pulling a carnival of sorts, Out of town, out of town.

 

In early 1980, my friend Matt brought over a copy of London Calling.  The Clash was new to my consciousness and while the title track and “Train in Vain” were cool, it really wasn’t till I started college later in the year did I grasp the meaning and might of this band.  Let’s skip the obvious and jump to the meat.  As I’ve aged, when I listen to Strummer and Jones I always yearn for “Stay Free”.

Clearly, the tale of a friend who wound up in prison and then got out bears no relationship to my life.  But time passes and life’s choices often create distance between friends.  Relationships erode and yet, deep down, bonds never really break. I wonder what might have been, filling in an alternate history for my life.   I always tear when Mick sings “But go easy, step lightly, stay free”, my code for what never was, but could have been.

I’m sure your first exposure to the Pretenders was “Brass in Pocket”.  Perhaps you always loved “Back on the Chain Gang.”  I know Lambchop loves “Night In My Veins” and that special something dark and dirty about Chrissie’s nights.  I tend to prefer the darkness in “Up the Neck” and the raw, bleeding emotion of “The Wait.”    One brings the darkness of love gone violently wrong to the sweet melody of a strolling love song, while the other rages with pain dished out and taken.  When I heard the entire debut from the Pretenders, and my view women in rock had changed forever.

Bondage to lust, abuse of facility
Blackmailed emotions confuse the demon and devotee

Oh gonna hurt some, child, child, child, child, child
Gonna hurt some whoa my baby

Music changes us, rewriting our DNA in a way that we can’t comprehend until it’s finished.  The old cliché is that music, generally what we heard in high school  is the soundtrack to our lives.  Instead I find it to be the fabric on which we write our story, the texture to our soul.  And if you listen closely, you’ll hear echoes of my past, here under the rocks.

Myriad Randomness: No Trump Edition

Is there anything more annoying than traffic?  As always, I drive for over an hour each morning and nearly 2 hours on my way home.  Today, several thoughts hit me.

  • This is California.  65 is a suggestion for the fast lane on uncrowded freeways.  You should consider visiting the slow lane if you believe 64 is a death sentence.
  • Is there anything worse than the indignant look of the driver doing 64 in the fast lane when you pass him (or her) on the right?  The shame they showered on me was, well, nonexistent.
  • Why no Ma’am, you your pristine white Kia Soul cannot simply bump that stalled truck out of the way.  I believe the word you are looking for is totaled.
  • I hate 880.  I will work hard to avoid it.  Sadly, on days like today when there are accidents up and down that stretch, everyone moves to my alternate routes.  Thank you for the extra 20 minutes of crawling.  My life is now approaching completion.

Eggplant, the poor misunderstood eggplant.  I think it is time we allow the purple globe to leave the island of misunderstood vegetables and live a happier, more fulfilling life.  I’ve been making versions of ratatouille and roasted vegetable, with the humble aubergine front and center.  Seriously delicious good eats those are.  Fuck.  When did I decide to eat healthier?  It must be time to put more pork on the smoker.  Don’t get your hopes up, I’m still not going anywhere near albacore — in or out of a can.

Normally we get nostalgic as we realize how far technology has brought us.  A TV antenna on a roter to watch slightly less blurry shows.  The rotary phone and the callus it created. The phone book.  A time before salmon roe foam.  I was listening to “The Bad Touch” by The Bloodhound Gang.   For those of you unfamiliar with the hook:

You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals
So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

 How long has it been since there were shows about animal procreation on the discovery channel?  Now you get “Fat and Furious”, “Moonshiners” and “Pacific Warriors”.    I think the world was a kinder, gentler place when cable TV focused on Walrus sex, not deadly situations and careers.  And then I missed the X-Files.

If you aren’t watching “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” you are missing some fantastic comedic commentary on our world.  She and John Oliver are filling the void the left by Jon Stewart by expanding on the niche and adding to our conversations with thought provoking shows.  It is not too late to start catching up.

And please, enjoy your Passover.  Many Matzo sacrificed their balls for your soup.  If this multi-generational mutilation must continue, at least enjoy your soup. And thank your mother.

ennui

I drive to work; the train is no longer an option. Later, I drive home.  The round trip is at least 3 hours, often closer to 4.  It gives me time to listen to sports talk and generally the presidential debates. Satellite radio is a wondrous thing.  But my mood has shifted.  I am reverting back to listening to music.  My mind collapses around the sadness that is the 49ers.  The Warriors are a bright spot and the Giants exude yearly hope.

But then there is the election, still 8 months out.  Am I the only one that see’s Trump inciting violence?  I was appalled when he suggested that if he didn’t get the nomination with plurality votes, which he will surely have, the people might riot.  Might?  Isn’t he telling them to?  I took it as a signal.  A blatant call to arms.  And we wonder why he is compared to Fascists.  There are no good choices.  My politics lean liberal and as bad as Trump would be – and he would be—Cruz is worse.  The manipulation of the media for air time, the cultish feel of some candidates.  Wondering if Cruz would really like to start the end of days as his father suggests.  And then I’m reminded the next SCOTUS depends on how the NRA feels.  It all makes me weary.

And Brussels, following Paris.  Some days it is indeed too much.

So I move to music.  And the lift I’m looking for is nowhere to be found.  Sad songs.  Reminders that Bowie and Kantner passed on.  That Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin died too young.  That Duane Allman cut a swath through the south but left it searing and incomplete.  John had me imagining, but even that leads down dark hallways in this year’s context.

Today, there is no joy in Mudville.   I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, my 3 or 4 dedicated readers, but most things haven’t gotten past my filters.

Here’s a little spot of joy. Maybe it will help, at least for a moment.  Who doesn’t like power pop about teachers spiking the punch of wee ones?

 

and my heroes continue to fall

.. i hope you do see another planet.  Good bye Paul Kantner.  thank you

We Can Be Together

                Jefferson Airplane
We can be together
Ah you and me
We should be together
We are all outlaws in the eyes of america
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life’s too fine to let it die and
We can be together
All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is
We
We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall  (motherfucker)
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Come on now together
Get it on together
Everybody together
We should be together
We should be together my friends
We can be together
We will be
We must…

Your Guns, Our National Shame

Last week, a radicalized Muslim couple slaughtered 14 people and seriously injured many more in San Bernardino Ca.  Rather than start addressing what problems this tragic event spotlights, Radical Islamic Terrorists and easy access to Guns, the right did two very critical things.  They made sure that they galvanized their base so that NO ONE, including OBAMA, takes away their guns and they moved to defund Planned Parenthood. Again.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way.

Yes, Planned Parenthood has a major role in abortions in the USA. More importantly, they are the single largest source of affordable women’s healthcare in the USA.  And the funding they receive from the US Government DOES NOT in any way, shape, or form get used for abortions.  So, this is a smokescreen at best and at worst a horrible swipe at women’s healthcare.  And remember, the video Carly Fiorina constantly talks about was no filmed at Planned Parenthood.  It is propaganda and patently inflammatory and false.  I am I the only one that finds this behavior shameful?

Second, has anyone ever really said “let’s take all guns away!”?  Nope.  Generally it’s a call to reform our existing laws.  Yes I know it the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms.  Is it unilateral?  All types of guns?  All types of weapons?  Does the NRA really believe that the San Bernardino shooters should have been able to stock pile over 1000 rounds of ammunition?  Who needs that?

Why is it that whenever the topic comes to gun control, it immediately becomes the hysteria that “you can’t take all my guns!”?  Keep a pistol or two.  Keep your hunting rifle.  Ban semi-automatic weapons.  Ban having large magazines for ammo.  Put a cap on the number of rounds a person may buy or have.  We are talking about the means to kill people.  Why do we believe that enabling people to do it better and faster is a good thing?  What happened to our national critical thinking skills?  Stop the partisan politics and take steps to make it harder to gain access to weapons of mass death. That’s what these are.

Yes, the bad guys will still get guns.  But look at last week.  No one thought they were “bad” till they started shooting.  Doesn’t that lead you to believe that there are others like them and that getting guns is too easy?  Take it a step a further.  Even if we had identified these people as potentially dangerous, even put them on the terror list, they can still buy guns.  If you are on the national “no fly” list, you cannot be prevented from legally buying a gun.  In what world does that make sense?

But back to the 2nd Amendment.  In the vernacular of the time, it allowed you to have muskets.  The masses lived in a 2 room house without electricity.  You were worried about a how a monarchy across the ocean might attack us.  There was no mass, efficient, global communications.  But yet we still need rationalize YOUR (not mine) need to have an arsenal of weapons in your home.  If you want to move to a hut in Africa (or another third world country) and worry about the local government, fine have your guns.  There, not here.  This is not our reality.  No matter what Texans think about the national government invading Texas.  That one always cracks me up.

You’ve seen the articles and memes; they incense you.  How dare we take your guns away.  Feel free, shoot your gun at the front page of the New York Times.  That’s and adult response.  For some reason every gun nut decides that we can only throw the baby out with the bath water.  A friend said to me, “I have a gun. I have never had an incident.”  GREAT.  You have one gun and you’d like me to equate that with people that have 20.  Nope.  Keep your gun.  Build limits.  Build regulation.  Be a responsible adult.  We don’t let our children gorge on ice cream till they die.  Why must we treat guns differently?

Last night a friend posted the wonderful “cut and paste” meme that swimming pools, bathtubs and cars (and several other silly things that can lead to death in an accident) are more dangerous than guns.  Lunacy.  Yes there are probably more deaths via auto accidents than guns.  There are more drivers than gun owners (I’m estimating).  But car related deaths are accidents.  Gun deaths are generally not.  And no, I don’t consider the kid crippled as an unintended victim of a drive by shooting an accident.  The gun was fired.  We have more regulations and requirements for driving and car ownership than we do for guns.  Does that make sense?  Couldn’t there be an equivalent licensing and training for gun ownership?  Why do we automatically rule it out?

And before I forget, I really scared that I might bring my swimming pool to a theater and hurt you?  Seriously can we just call that meme top 10 in terms of ridiculousness?

Oh that’s right it doesn’t prevent the bad guys from getting access.  Ok, but it might make it harder.  Why can we not make progress on the issue?  Should we stop treating cancer because we haven’t solved it 100%?  Of course not, that would be stupid and callous.  So is the NRA and their allies stopping any potential improvement in our national problem and shame.

Yes, shame.  We have had more mass shootings to date in 2015 than there have been days thus far.  Is that ok?  Let’s put it in perspective.  Every time there is a mass shooting, it is on you- you are ok with it.  How is it after Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Charlotte, San Bernardino and so many more we cavalierly endeavor to stop all efforts designed make a change for the better?  If you don’t support change in the guns laws these deaths and the next ones are on you. You don’t want a change, so there for YOU are endorsing this behavior.

And to be clear, in my opinion:

Every mass killing (more than 3) is an act of terrorism.  Period.  Not every terrorist is radical Islamic Fundamentalist .  If you block realistic change you are supporting Terrorism.  Its been more than 20 years since the killing in101 California in San Francisco and the Assault Weapons killing In Stockton.  We have made no progress.  NONE!

I’m not saying I have the answer.  I don’t.  But we know that inaction is allowing this to continue and I say ENOUGH!  Let’s do something.  Be heard.  Make some changes.  Stop the grid lock and let’s make progress.  I’m not saying we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the NRA is.  Let’s make some progress.

Of course tomorrow or the next day there will be another shooting.  We will all be sad about the tragedy and the gun lobby will prevent any movement.  Own that.  Stand up and declare “I am ok with those people being killed as long as I have my gun rights.”  Stop pretending your actions and thoughts mean anything else.  They don’t and don’t delude yourself that it means differently.  We see you.

SHAME ON YOU.

The Ballad of Young Lord York

Watching the 49ers again this weekend, my anger towards one Jed York flared.  Let’s be honest, I watched 3 straight 3 and out drives and bailed on the game for the Red Zone.  What a horrible team.  Under talented (Exhibit A right Tackle), under-performing (Exhibit B – the defensive line giving up 200 yards to an undrafted Rookie) and under coached (Exhibits C & D – let’s punt, that must be the winning strategy! Let’s take the field goal that will cut the deficit from 16 to 13 with 5 minutes left!).

In all honesty, I’m sure even Tomsula knows he’s over his head.  Do you believe his parents, high school acquaintances, and Facebook stalkers don’t tell him daily?  Every radio host does.  Local AND national sports announcers.  And, when the only way to win is to score touchdowns and take chances, he punts, conceding the game.  It doesn’t matter what he says, even he knows he was waving a white flag.  I imagine his inner monologue goes something like this:

Down by 16 we need 2 touchdowns and 2 2-point conversions.

I know those are long odds and its 4th and goal from the 3.  We can’t run for shit and receivers aren’t helping things.

If we try and fail, people will call for our heads

We can’t make it.

If we kick a field goal our point total will improve.  It is better than the 17-3 beating we took from Green Bay

I’m sure I’m being judged on improvement. Cutting the deficit is improvement.

Field GOAL!

I’m sure the logic behind punting was just as ludicrous.  He’s coaching to not lose worse, not to win.  Hell, I could coach to be 3-13 with the talent on the team.  And I wouldn’t have had ALL those “defections,” I mean “retirements.”  I might have kept Willis.  Or Borland. Instead we have Italian family dinners.  I think at this point his family is embarrassed for him.

But enough shitting on Tomsula, let’s call it correctly.  Everything that happens on the field is on Jed.  He wanted Harbaugh gone and made that happen.  Now he has created a culture of ineptitude the likes we may never see again.  Geep Chryst is the second coming of Jimmy Raye.  No one else wanted to work for him.  (Exhibit E – Adam Gase).  Who will want to work here in the future?  Oh yeah, they are already planning on hiring Hugh Jackson or some other in demand coach.  But we know they will turn Jed down.

Tomsula’s coaching is straight from the Jed playbook.  Jed cut Jim Harbaugh and saved $1.5 million.  Since Tomsula is the lowest paid coach in football, I’m assuming he couldn’t pay him less or else he would have. At least Tomsula can afford to buy his folks a nice house if he wants.  Jed’s about saving money.  Picking up 3 points for a field goal is like taking free money.  Don’t pass up the freebies, even if it leads to losing.  That’s Jed, let’s build the bank account and not worry how the fans feel.

And Jed screwed over Kap.  How?  Colin took a bit less so that other players could be signed or brought in.  The 49ers are $13.2 million UNDER the salary cap.  Not even close.  Even I’m not naïve enough to believe they couldn’t have found a significant upgrade for Erik Pears for $5-6 million.  Of course if no one wants to play here, that might explain why NOTHING HAPPENED.  What happened is the long term planning of how to cut Colin and be rid of the last piece of the Harbaugh legacy.

Let’s pretend this is an episode of Law and Order.  I’ll be Briscoe.  “Hey!  We’re out of leads.  Let’s follow the money!”  What a great idea.  Do you realize the 49ers are worth $2.7 Billion.  With a B.  That is a 69% increase from last year.  That’s $1.6 Billion increase in round numbers.  That’s long term income.  Over $1 Billion in added value.  Wow.

But the 49ers also a debt ratio of about 21%, one of the highest in the league so, they have about $570 million of outstanding debt.  So really, net equity on the team is $2.1 Billion or so.  Of course that’s only if they sell.  They could plead poverty.  Nope.

The 49ers made $124 million last year in operating income based on $427 million in revenue.  That’s retaining 29% in profits.   Clearly there are other costs, but they are very, very profitable.  The New York Giants make less and retain less.  Washington is similar with far less debt.  But then no one would say the owner in the capital is one to emulate.  Well, maybe his mother.

Anyway, the 49ers, once a proud, classy organization, make a lot of money.  And they should, as they charge an arm and a leg for anything at their soulless stadium.  The problem is, they want us to believe they are giving us a Nordstrom experience.  They are not. Their product is more accurately compared to the red tag remainders at Walmart.  Or, being generous, a nice Goodwill outlet.  So yet again, we are sold an inferior team.  A magic elixir that is really sugar water.  I recall two words, “championships” and “accountability.”  I don’t see either.  Do you?

So, what can we as fans do?  Clearly, Jed doesn’t care what we think.  Parag has spreadsheets that help him identify how to make more money.  Trent can’t find a free agent worth a darn. (No, Sean Droughn doesn’t count.) Jed sold his licenses, which fans are clamoring to return.  What can we do?

We follow the money.

How much do you think Jed and the league make from sponsorships and advertising deals?  It doesn’t matter because it is HUGE.  Jed is effectively a snake oil salesman that can’t be trusted.  Or he’s incompetent, but I believe his arrogance leads to making continual bad decisions, including surrounding himself with Yes Men.  Snake oil salesman.  Misrepresentation.  Cavalier disregard for his customers.  He holds himself higher than his customers with false promises and backstabbing campaigns.  What does he think he is, a feudal Nobleman a la Henry VIII?  Perhaps we should call him Young Lord York.  And in the Democracy that is the USA, we don’t need royalty.

Young Lord York needs to be seen as the business liability he is.

Hey Pepsi! Do you want to be aligned with Jed?  You are and we think less of you.

SAP, you want us to trust you with our company’s information?  But you are aligned with Young Lord York and we don’t trust him.

Yahoo? Wait, you have your own problems.  Do you really need more?

Intel, you want to be in my PC.  Stick with Jed and I’ll go to Apple.  Boot Jed.  How would Steve Jobs like his legacy of product loyalty and reverence for the customer feel about alignment with such a charlatan?

Toyota, I’m buying Nissan or Honda till you remove your sponsorship.  And yes, I’ve ruled out Lexus.

Brocade, I think I’ll buy Cisco for my company, thank you very much.  You can be reconsidered when you move on.

Levi’s I love your product, but you need to put some pressure on Young Lord York if you want my money or your name on my ass.

Hey Roger Goodell!  We will remind you often that Young Lord York and his feudal crushing of the public’s trust is ruining your brand.  I’m sure Kraft and Jones don’t mind.  But you saw what happened to Donald Sterling.  Abusing the public trust will ultimately make Jed pay a similar price.  It is that history thing, repeating itself. You have an anti-trust exemption.  What’s that worth to you?

So my fellow serfs gather your pitchforks, your torches, your shovels.  Let’s stop tending to Young Lord York’s fields.  He doesn’t care if we tend them or not. Let’s not storm his castle.  Follow the money and make sure his SPONSORS know how we feel.  Perhaps they don’t want to be associated with his “disreputable” practices.  Let’s let them know they are stained and shameful as well.

 

Extreme Sadness + Outrage Leads to Hate, But Must It?

Every time I turned on the TV or radio last week and heard about the horrific attacks in Paris, I became emotional and teared up.  Each and every time.  Other than the 0.0003% of the world that thinks these actions are justified and needed, I believe the rest of us are saddened and shocked.  And while its clear we decry terrorist actions, so many people choose to take up the cause of hate.  Justified hate in their minds.

Social media has been slammed with reminders that Muslims hate non-Muslims.  Hate mongers see this as their call to action, to remind us that their brand of purification, eliminating the Muslim threat is justified.  Clearly if you see the video “Moderate Muslims Don’t Want You to See!” you will see the foundations of violence.  Allah’s word makes stoning adulterers and gays the right choice, the perfect law.  And outrage and calls to arms resonate and grow in their might.  And I’m saddened.

Yes, I freely acknowledge that the Koran preaches the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims.  Belief in Allah and his words are the only way according to that book.  No, I have no desire to read it.  No I haven’t read the new testament either.  Even if I have the details wrong, I have gist of it.  But 1500 years later do we really believe that all 15 Billion Muslims believe this?  I find that hard to  believe, having known and worked with several.

It is easy to see why the hate mongers feel this way.  But if we as a society ascribe to this, then what fate do we really have other than the mutually assured destruction the Reganites ascribed to?  Is that the world we want?  Clearly some people want that.  I don’t.

The world changes doesn’t it?  I sit here rationally and think to myself, what made sense in a feudal society a millennia ago doesn’t make sense now.  Why can’t we, as a global society, agree to make the world a better peaceful place?  Do we really need stonings, cruelty and racial hate?  Well, actually we do.  Rupert Murdoch and Fox News base their preaching and opinions on hate and violence.  There are no decorations on a coffee cup and the WAR ON CHRISTMAS grows.  Blacks protest the killing of unarmed people who may or may not be guilty of anything more than being black and it’s a sign of the WAR ON POLICE.  In my opinion, they are the gasoline for the fires of hate in the world.

But then I see that video.  I see a few hundred “assimilated” Muslims agreeing that Allah’s word is perfect.  This is regard to stoning gays and adulterers.  Is this true? Is this the majority?  Hassidic Jews keep their men and women separated similarly.  The Torah has passages requiring animal sacrifices.  This practice stopped nearly two thousand years ago.  Perhaps it’s time for mainstream Muslims to officially denounce such punishments and practices.  This is not the feudal Middle East of a 1000 years ago.

Of course this won’t happen.  The US has interests in places like Saudi Arabia where beheadings happen regularly and women and second class citizens.  Is that a Muslim issue or Saudi issue?  Africans often mutilate their women, but we decry that as a Muslim issue.  Is it?  Republicans and Democrats will work to prioritize and protect our oil and monetary interests over human rights.

I see the hate all around me.  I see the seeds of religious righteousness on both sides.  The Muslims with their holy words and the Christians letting me know I’ll go to hell because I am an unbeliever and sinner.  Of course I sin (their word, not mine).  It is more fun.  I’m also a good  person and I choose to believe that world is filled with good people.  People who want to do the right thing, and no that doesn’t extend to knocking on my door to tell me my beliefs are wrong.  You can keep your Watch Tower, tithes and personal messiahs.  I’m good thank you.  You can have your religion, but I’d rather stand for helping he oppressed, helping those whose lives required leaving their homelands.  Yes, those refugees.

So rather than preaching hate, rather than expounding why we need a wall, rather than standing on soapboxes on why we need to eliminate countries and populations, why its important to keep the hidden terrorsits within the refugee community from our shores,  why can’t we take the first step and seek to find how to solve the problems.  Seek to understand before being understood.  Maybe do some long range thinking.  Even if you could eliminate every Muslim – that is what you are thinking, right?—what does that do for OUR world.?  It is not just yours.  It is your kids.  It is your neighbors.  It is mine and my friends’ too.  Do you really want a world full of righteous murderers? Holy Repressors? Morally enabled thought police?  Actually I think you do, but I don’t want that.

Yes, I know it is a very complex world with very complex problems.  I have totally reduced the issues down to manageable, digestible bite sized pieces.  This is my blog, my thoughts, not graduate thesis on world peace.  But enough with the hate. Enough with the xenophobia. Don’t you think it is a counterproductive to your golden rule? I do.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,867 other followers