Friday, August 19, 2016

My Favourite Season LBC

Another Ramana pick (the u gives it away) - and my favorite season is - drum roll please - the Fall.

For as long as I can remember the Fall has been my favorite time of year.  The temperature drops, the leaves change - Halloween, the Great Pumpkin, Ghosts, goblins and witches all  make an appearance. What could be better??

When I was a kid in Colorado every fall we would take a weekend trip to Aspen to see the trees Nothing much compares to the color and majesty of the Aspen change.   

 During te six years I played high school and college football there was that moment when the time changed - the fall  behind. That meant we either got out of practice an hour early or we ran conditioning drills in the dark. A double winner  - yes it's the small things that matter. It became  a game  game between the coaches and players about cutting corners on hose runs.

The Fall also begins the run up to tje holiday season here. Anticipation builds for  Christmas or whichever of the holidays holds meaning for you but frankly the Christmas anticipation swept everyone along.

I'll leave you with this version of the penultimate version of a Fall classic - I chose this version to honor Brian Scott - my lifelong friend who could blow a sax worthy of Stan Getz

Checck out Ramana's take  on thistopic here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Favourite Vehicle LBC 08/12/2016

The  discerning reader will see that this topic is from Ramana. 

I cannot give  only one - I  must offer three.  The first two I actually owned and lastly there is my ll time favorite vehicle. First up is my very first car - a 1956 MGA. Yes -  I did fit in it and I loved it. In case you are wondering, I got in it one leg at a time -just like everyone. My friends and I were all sports car buffs - MGA, MG Midget, Sunbeam Alpine, Triumph gts Spitfire. We used to participate in ralleys on Friday nights - great fun.
Those were events where you were given a list of coded instructions and you drive around looking for pie plates with codes on them. There was a scoring system and my friend Lyn and I picked up a few trophies.

Interestingly enough my  fave vehicle led directly to my second favorite. My friend Dave Wolfer lived up the street from me and he had a Honda 450 motorcycle. He also had a girlfriend which at the time I did not so we worked out a trade. He got my MGA, I got his Honda on Friday and Saturday nights.. When I moved yo Htwaii I purchased my number two  a, Suzuki 550.
 I have often joked the way to make  Suzuki 550 look like a Honda 50 is to put me on it. That's my mom in the pic as well. To this day I remember the day the big waves came up at Waimea Bay and I took the  afternoon off to go see them. I stopped at Matsumoto's  Shave Ice for a little bit of heaven and then went to Waimea Bay and was absolutely awed by the giant waves. Another fave thing to do was go to the beach where the glider school had their student pilots swooping and gliding - very impressive stuff. Since Lynn was not a fan of motorcycles, I was somewhat surprised she readily agreed to let me buy one- LOL. Maybe I should have  checked for extra life insurance policies.

My all time favorite vehicle is the Shelby Cobra - either version will do (289 or 427 cubic inch engine) and looks just like this
Sex appeal, muscle -  sigh. When I worked at McDonalds our assistant manager had a 289 Cobra. It wasn't quite as pretty as this one but it was great none the less. This is also my favorite color combination. Up to 600HP. And you know you need all that power. It is the reason I keep buying the occasional lottery ticket. It is the last of my bucket list. Clearly the stuff dreams  are made of. At least mine.

That's it for this weeks LBC post. Check Ramana's here.

Friday, August 5, 2016

History LBC 08/05/2016

Today's topic  - History - was suggested by Ramana.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it  — George Santayana. Sounds reasonable, logical - so it must be true. But is it? I think we can agree that history is the the study of past events. 

One thing about history - it is written by the winners.  That guarantees a particular slant or bias toward the "losers". What? You think that is not accurate? I suggest you look at commentary on the presidency of Barrack Obama - from the perspective of democrats and then republicans. The democrats paint a glowing picture of success in the face  of republican obstructionism, the republicans paint a gloomy portrait of a country in disarray, a foreign policy of abject failure. But which is accurate?

The simple answer is both views are somewhat accurate. Both sides spin the statistics to support their position. Ya gotta love statistics. IMHO any "science" that includes three different options/definitions for average is suspect (mean, median and mode). That's just too much room for spin for my liking.  But it is caveat emptor for the reader/student. The truth is out there, and although it takes a lot of effort to find it, the search for the truth can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Texas has been in the news for quite some time over ideological issues regarding their text books. It is a fascinating tale of political interference oin education. If you are interested, simply look here.  

Interesting - is a text book supposed to be fair and balanced or simply accurate?   Can  a book be accurate and not fair and  balanced? Is fair and balanced really just for news? Today's news is tomorrow's history. How that history is reflected in text books goes a long way toward shaping the opinions of generations of students.

Anyone keeping up with current events has heard that our White House  was built in part by slaves. But Bill O'Reilly says "Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government" Lucky them. BTW - O'Reilly spent some time as a history teacher and majored in History as an undergrad. Wonder if his views would be different had his textbooks been different?  

Those of us who enjoy history and research don't really mind that history is not necessarily black and white - that there are many sources to consider for important historical events. The research is the fun of it frankly. Paul Simon nailed it - everything looks worse in black and white.

And what about Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it  — George Santayana?  It is more important now than ever methinks.

That's it for this weeks post - check out Ramana's take here. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Talking About My Generation LBC 07/29/2016

This weeks topic  was suggested by me. It should come as no surprise that my inspiration for the topic  came from here -

So the question becomes - have we baby boomers lived up to our promise? Have we made a difference?

One thing is clear to me - we have produced the best music of any generation before or after ours. We are the generation of the Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan - we are the rock and roll generation.

We are the generation that drove social change. Sadly, in doing so we insulted and demeaned those of our generation who fought in Viet Nam  regardless whether we should have been there or not. Our soldiers did not deserve the shameful treatment from many boomers when they returned home. It is one of our greatest national shames and embarrassments IMHO and a driver of the uber patriotism so rampant these days. Can you say guilty conscience?

Social change. An assassinated  president, his brother and Martin  Luther King. There were rough times

Conspiracy theories galore. Area 51. Watergate. Nixon resigns.  Kennedy wins an election with the assistance of voter fraud in Dailey controlled Chicago.  It somehow all sounds familiar.

And did we inadvertently create the folks that have no idea what it is like to compete for something? That winning and losing matter? Did the participation awards we so strongly supported at the time cause more harm than good? In this crazy world we need to know how to win and lose. Sports were always one of the primary ways we passed that lesson along and did we effectively neuter that lesson?

Did we create the monster that is political correctness?  Are we overly sensitive to everyone's feelings? Can nobody take a joke any more? We seem to have become an "off the record" society. Publicly we strive for political correctness. Privately, off the record, we say what we think - and in doing so created the conditions ripe for a reality TV star/real estate developer to become a nominee for the job of President. Never before has be careful what you wish for been a scarier proposition. And we deserve what we get - however that works out.

Now lest you think I am being only critical of my generation, please allow me to set the record straight. I am proud to be a baby boomer.  We gave the world Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill and Hillary, Steven Spielberg, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz and more. 

The technological changes alone that have baby boomer roots from the work of Gates and Jobs are mind boggling. In entertainment we helped create the great, all important question - Star  Trek or Star Wars (Star Trek for me but I do enjoy Star Wars). 

We gave the world the first African American President, we now offer the first female nominee for US President. We also gave  the world Donald Trump. Fair and balanced -  that's me. Ahem.

And now we are at the end of the line.

Boomers are circling the drain. The baton has been passed. We are leaving a world both better and worse than we inherited. The last couple of decades or so have created a significant imbalance in how wealth is distributed. The great American middle class that drives the world economy is taking a beating. The social contracts  between the US and its people are being called entitlements.The likely last two boomer presidential aspirants are running. 

That's a bit of talk about MY generation.  Time to see what Ramana has to say - just click here.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Retirement - LBC Post 07/22/2016

Retirement. The action or fact of leaving your job and ceasing to work. The loss of your paycheck. It's usually voluntary although occasionally - like mine -  it comes about as a result of a company folding its tents due to the incompetence of senior management and the weight of years of mismanagement crashing down on all, save those floating  down to earth with their golden parachutes. Alas- I didn't have one - LOL. Sure cuts down on my travel possibilities. Fortunately Walmart is close. 

If you are fortunate enough to be able to give up your income and enjoy what life has to offer until the road you traveled ends,  you have done something right. Congratulations.

I was not sure what to expect from retirement, but I was ready for it. I had just spent the better part of ten years being the primary caregiver to my wife as she slowly succumbed to Huntington's Disease. Add to that the fact that I was also supporting my daughter and her three kids, RadioShack - my employer - was circling the drain - I was pretty well done in.

So what did I do you may ask? Simple - RadioShack laid me off  and a rule change cut my six months severance pay to two weeks. A few months later I packed up and moved to North Carolina to be near my son and his family. He had visions of opening a food truck in the Asheville area.

Visions.  Sometimes they don't come true.  To date there is no food truck in Asheville but there is a really nice house on 1.25 acres in the little berg of Granite Falls and a single wide tornado magnet (some Texas culture remains) in a place called Conover. 

The bank account remains empty but the area is nice and friendly. In fact SF Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner is from Hickory - the "big"  town in the area. It is a nice little place.  NC is a it of a culture shock - in spite of all that  prep  time in Texas. I  have yet to join the local senior center. In fact I may never join - too many old people there.

In a somewhat shocking/challenging happening, after eight months of freedom my daughter and her kids are back. They are all looking for work - the reality of the limitations  of living on Social Security  and their desired lifestyle was immediately obvious. We'll see how that shakes out. Having a six-year  grandson in the place is a bit like having the Tasmaniam Devil        as a roommate. Never a dull moment since Bubba hit the scene. The dog and cats are adjusting. 

Since January  I have read over 70 books (mostly mystery fiction, my new love is Native American mystery stuff - thank you Tony Hillerman). I've gotten hooked on Australian TV shows and Danish mystery TV. Now that I can sleep in I typically get up between 5:30 add 6:00 A.M.  Go figure. My day starts with a carafe of good coffee - I am still a coffee snob - and where it goes from there is a surprise daily. Some good, some not so good. You might even say life is an adventure again. What the hell - I had an eight-month break - to continue down that path would have been boring. I bore easily.

That is my shack-take on this week's LBC topic. Check out Ramana here and Pravin here. Prain is an interesting young man, well worth your time. Ramana is simply the sage of Pune - as always.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cooking LBC 07/15/2016

Lets talk cooking.

Cooking is something people typically either really enjoy  or simply accept as a necessity and tolerate. I fall into the really enjoy category. I am a good cook - or so I have been told.  Cooking is where any creative sense I have shows its presence. My preferred cuisines are most often Cajun/Creole, Italian and my own version of str-fry.

Cooking requires a basic sense of pairing things - what spices go with what proteins, how to get the most out of your spices and the like. My preferred quick go-to meal is some sort of  madras curry based dish. Chicken, pork or lamb if available, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and whatever other handy veggie that is available.  What you will never find in anything I cook is tofu. I despise tofu - its consistency, taste (well - lack thereof). I typically serve my curries over rice - its a gravy on my starch thing I have always enjoyed. My grandmother raised me on southern cooking - fried with gravy on bread or mashed potatoes. That stuck with me - quite literally actually as the multiple Xs on my frame confirm.

But though there are supposed norms in pairing things, the only rule that really matters is taste - it must taste good. Why else would a whole group of foodies invest time and energy with different methods of cooking. Why else would Molecular Gastronomy - the science of cooking - even exist?  If that modernist view of cooking suits your fancy check this link for some interesting stuff.

Of course the science of cooking applies to  traditional cooking methods as well. Why else would you deglaze your cooking pan if all of that burnt-looking stuff on the bottom of the pan didn't add a ton of flavor to the dish? And of course your deglazing liquid of choice also adds to the flavor.

Occasionally an inventive chef takes something a step further, like the late Paul Prudhomme did with blackening as a cooking method.
Image result for paul prudhomme
It was such a huge success the redfish population took a serious nose dive. Read about the technique here if you are interested. It is a bit tricky to use at home but worth the effort.

I spent most of the last 22 years in Texas where chicken-fried is a food group and the sauces are white and brown gravy. Of course the French insist there are five "mother sauces" that  every cook should know - Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole, Hollandaise and Classic Tomate (yep, they spell it that way). Me? I usually use a simple roux, the flavor varying by the color and an Italian red sauce/gravy. I make  pretty good white sausage/pepper gravy too - a southern staple.

Another go-to dish of mine is soup. I make soup all of the time and use whatever is available in the fridge, spice rack and veggie bin. I always have chicken and beef stock available and can make them both from scratch if necessary.  My soups tend to be quite hearty - and they go great with freshly baked cornbread.

So that's a quick take on this weeks LBC topic To see what my buddy Ramana, another self-professed good cook has to say, simply click here

See ya  next week. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Piece of Mind LBC 07'08/2016

Piece of mind.  That is the topic Ramana and I will address this week. No, not the Iron Maiden album - the piece of  mind that you give another when they have done something to offend  one's (your) sensibilities. Let 'em have it with both barrels so to speak.

Our former LBC compatriot gave us a piece of her mind, telling us the following:
 "I listed the three reasons I am leaving the LBC.
1. because the topics are all about death, injury, and aging, which I find morbid, and to me unacceptable.
2. because there is money being made by the consortium and I was disrespected by not being told that
3. And foremost, because you believe in inclusion, and therefore allow an incredibly aggressive and in my opinion not mentally stable person to attack one writer after the other."

Number 1 is simply inaccurate - several topics were simply song titles, Shakespearian  titles and more.topics chosen simply from life. As topics wee made up by the three active(at the time) members, one must assume she thinks Ramana and I morbid and unacceptable. Fair enough.

Number 2 - money is being made by the consortium and she was disrespected by not being told. Well that is news to me - I have never made a pfennig from these posts - they are simply done for the fun of sharing and comparing opinions. I can say for sure that any lack of respect from me directed toward our former compatriot had/has NOTHING to do with money allegedly earned posting in the LBC and cheating her out of her share.

Number 3 - inclusion. We allow an aggressive, "mentally unstable" person to attack one writer after another.  Life's a bitch. Then you die. Clearly despite her protests to the contrary, our former  compatriot does not care for disagreement. With her. Her opinions. Fair enough. She is allowed to tiptoe through the tulip patch of life  whenever, wherever and however she chooses. Personally I prefer even heated exchanges - they are fun and enlightening IMHO. I have crossed swords/fingers/words with that so-called aggressive, mentally  unstable individual over the years. One person's fun is another person's awful experience.

The above represents piece of mind as offered by two individuals. Different strokes for different folks is clearly the order of the day. Time to see what Ramana has to say onthe subject. To do so simply click here.  See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.