Thursday, April 20, 2017


This week's topic was suggested by Ramana - Time.  Merriam Webster offers several definitions - I think I will borrow a few.

a moment, hour, day, or year as indicated by a clock or calendar what time is it

  1. conditions at present or at some specified period —usually used in plural times are hardmove with the times
    1. an opportune or suitable moment decided it was time to retire 
    2.  the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues :  duration
    3. Then there is the question - can we bend time? Is time travel possible in theory or otherwise?  Since we cannot bring back the past is  time really anything more than the present? Is  the future  real before it becomes the present? It is all so confusing.  But in confusion there can be beauty.

    4. That is it for the shack take on time. I hope you enjoyed the brief musical interlude. If you really want to know about time, go here. To see what my LBC cohorts have to say, check their blogs - RamanaPravin and Maria.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Do Dreams Create Reality?

Our topic this week was suggested by Pravin.

Dreams. Reality. Chicken. Egg. Freud. Wow - that is a bunch of one-word sentences. Hopefully the method to my madness will become clear as you read on.

For a dream to create a reality the reality must follow the dream and the dream should, by necessity, be lucid dreaming IMHO. That is, the dreamer should be self aware of the dream. Dreams are known to have the ability  make a creative thought occur or cause an inspiration - either of which could aid in the creation of a dream-based reality.

It is my opinion that a dream cannot create a reality but it can inspire a thought or action that does create a reality. I have known people that occasionally awaken in the night and jot down a dream - or the idea that came in that dream so that it could be followed up on the next day. 

I suppose a very esoteric, spiritual discussion on dreams and their meanings could be had. Maybe if I had a history of dreams that were not easily explained I would be inclined to engage in such a discussion, but I simply haven't had them. My dreams are fairly easily explained, most recently being mainly about Lynn. In  my dreams she disappears and I spend the dream searching for her. Frankly it does not take a rocket scientist to analyze those dreams. And they certainly will not create a reality - Lynn has been gone for over three years and I know exactly where she is. And, I simply do not have the faith required to be sure of seeing her again "on the  other side". I would really love to believe that, but I cannot. The irony that one of Lynn's all-time favorite movies was Ghost is not lost on me.

Dream interpretation has gone from the belief they were supernatural communication (Egypt, Greece) to today's psychological/neurobiological schools of thought. Freud still carries much influence in dream interpretation as does Carl Jung. Science? Pseudo science? We know what their supporters think.
Image result for carl jung

To circle back to the topic, again   do not believe dreams create realities. The closest dreams can come is by being the inspiration that gets the ball rolling on something. To me that is a far cry from the causal dynamic the topic asks about.

Be sure to check the other LBC posters - Ramana, Maria and Pravin  for their take on the topic.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


This week's topic comes from the fertile - er - stagnant? imagination of yours truly. Pals can mean different things - to me pals are close friends. The closest. In my case that includes Brian, Dave H. and Ranger Rick.  I have known those guys for well over 55 years. Our 50th year high school reunion is in October of this year.,

I have written before how the weekend after Lynn died, Brian, Dave and Rick showed up on my doorstep in Ft. Worth just to hang out with me and assure my well being. After 10 years of caregiving, the last 18 months of which were brutal, I was a basket case. You see - Lynn gve up on life when she received her diagnosis. She literally refused to fight or resist  the ravages of Huntington's Disease. She physically attacked our daughter and I fairly regularly as HD robbed her of her personality and focused her anger on us both. Yes it was the disease, not Lynn, but when you are regulrly blocking left hooks I assure you that fact is easily lost. Stifling your anger becomes increasingly difficult. Stress levels rise to seemingly impossible heights. The last time I saw my wife of 43 years (together for over 45) she was being zipped into a body bag and about to be transported to the mortuary.

I received a phone call during the week and was simply told the guys would be arriving Friday night and I  should be ready to go when they arrived. There was a bit of fun as they used their phones to get directions to our place from Dallas' Love Field - but they made it. And so began the 3-day period that literally saved me and made me want to get on with life.  Isn't that what friends are for? I will admit to a fair amount of alcohol being consumed and lots of reminiscing. And - perhaps surprisingly - a lot of relaxing. 

That is the Cliff's Notes version of 3 days that literally saved me. It defines for me why old friends - pals - are so important.

Be sure tosee what my LBC cohorts have to say on their blogs.  Ramana,  Pravin and Maria.

Friday, March 31, 2017


This week's topic was suggested by Ramana. Effectiveness - the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result; success.

These days they seem to call these things "metrics".  You measure the effectiveness of something by checking its metrics.

So how effective has your life been? That depends on the metrics you value. Money in the bank? Successful marriage? Successful kids? Good friends?

The metrics you pick matter because  happiness does not always equate with good metrics - I know  lot of unhappy people with fat bank accounts. I know very few unhappy people that have successful marriages or happy kids. And most happy people I know have what they consider good friends.

I suppose it is natural at this stage of  life - the circling the drain stage - to reflect on one's life and offer some conclusions as to whether or not that life has been effective. Will you be leaving the world a better place than it would be without your presence? Sorry folks - I am not interested in public exposure of my life. Those who know me well have a clear notion of what I think.

That is it for this weeks topic. It frankly proved more personal than I expected. Be sure to touch base with my LBC  cohorts to see what they have to say.  




Thursday, March 23, 2017


Perceptions - according to nearly every manager I encountered in my business career - are everything.   Even more important than reality.  Imagine that - what people think is often more important what they know. As curious as that sounds, it was often proven true in business.  Here's  an example -

 As a salesman I was often told to "sell the sizzle", giving the impression you really understood the product when in fact you simply hit a few high points and close hard. Personally I found that process offensive as hell. I have never liked being treated that way s a customer and so I refused to treat my customers that  way. Considering I counted the Hell's Angels in my client base, I think my readers might see the reasonableness of that attitude. Ahem.

While I was rarely at the top of the sales lists my return rates were the lowest. My net sales were excellent. My  buddy Mark Stout was an example of the best of both worlds. If he could close a deal quickly selling the sizzle he did so. But the reason it worked was simple - Mark KNEW the products inside and out and there was nothing  he could not answer.  Mark taught me everything I knew about computers when we worked together.  I imagine every salesman can share a similar experience.

Things get dicey though when perceptions meet politics. When does power speak to truth?  In an ideal world politicians would all speak the truth. Unfortunately, the truth in politics is most often in the full-spin zone. Read the tweets of POTUS 45. Fact check them yourself if you do not trust the media. I think you will find  POTUS 45 uses a different dictionary than the rest of us, With a falling approval rate it appears he is no longer considered the honest agent of change he claimed to be. Personally I never bought it as his behavior was so outlandish. Luckily his opponent was the (IMHO) most rightly reviled politician in the USA.

To date POTUS 45 has offended our 3 strongest allies, but he is still trying to build that wall. But I doubt anyone thinks Mexico will pay fo it. And his attempt at repealing and replacing "OBAMACARE" will remove 24 million people from the insured rolls. Ironically many - if not most of those - are from counties won by POTUS45. Somehow I do not think this will go down well. And I also personally find his labeling of the mainstream media an enemy of the people to be dangerous and offensive. I think he is well on his way to a one-term presidency unless he steps in some magic dust soon. 

I wish I was wrong but I think my perception of POTUS45 is accurate. You see - he is my president and I and my grandkids have a huge stake in his success or failure.  

This weeks topic was offered by Pravin. See what my cohorts have to say at Ramana, Pravin 
and Maria


Friday, March 17, 2017


Back in my Junior High  (7th and 8th grade) days I was introduced to the concept of penpals - someone you meet and begin a relationship with based on writing letters. In a sense, it was the social media of the day - the very early sixties.

The concept was simple. A company called Internationl Youth Service in Turku , Finlnd awould for a nominal fee send you the name and address of someone with the similar interests as you and you would simply begin corresponding with them. Although they ceased operation in 2008, you can read about IYS here.

One of the first names I received was Dieter Eiche - I even remember his address - Fliserstrasse 11, Balingen, Germany. We corresponded regularly, usually once monthly for four years during our high school years. He  entered the military after graduating and we only occasionally corresponded for a couple more years until we stopped. But we had formed a fairly strong friendship and it was truly one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.

We moved to Texas in 1994 when the electronics industry in the SF Bay Area went into the tank. Small companies I was doing consulting  and custom programming for could suddenly get PHD level help for the  same fees I charged so Lynn and I hit the road.  About 4 years after the move, I ws sitting  at my desk in Fort Worth when I received an email from Dieter. I was stunned and delighted. We quickly traded a few emails and caught up with each other. Dieter was a Judge in Germany.
 Here is a photo I found of him on the Internet.  And, although we are no longer in contact with each other it was fun catching up.

Letter writing is considered passe in these days of texting, email, blogging and the many forms of social media. Blogging, frankly, has replaced penpals for me. The net result is the same - I get to interact with people all around the world and I have developed strong friendships that make the entire blogging effort worthwhile. There are Ramana, Maria and Pravin in India, Ursula in the UK, a few in Australia and of course many here in the  U.S.A.. I heartily recommend blogging as a way to meet people, enjoy discussion/debate and even argue (civilly of course). If you are shy or do not know how to start, a blogging group like the LBC is a great place to start since the entire group writes on the same topic every Friday.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


This weeks topic is Peace. The absence of conflict. Wikipedia says "a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence."  It sounds simple yet history shows it to be nearly unattainable. An Impossible Dream of sorts.

There is a line in the song -"to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause." History is full of conflicts fought in the name of one god or another.  The Crusades saw Christians 
attacking Islam. We live in a world marked by terrorist attacks from a radical sect of Islam against the West. 

There have been wars fought between nations sharing common religions - so clearly religion is not a cure all for conflict. Christianity is split between Catholics and Protestants. Islam has Shia and Sunnis. Ireland and its troubles show how violent conflict between Catholic and Protestants can be and our incursion into Iraq showed the schism between Sunni and Shiites.

Pick a period in history and at best you might find the occasional peaceful region. Per Wikipedia,  the longest continuing period of peace among currently existing states is observed in Sweden, which has had peace since 1814 (for 203 years; if Swedish participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Libya is not considered) after its loss of major parts of the country to Russia in the Napoleonic wars. Swedish peace may partly be explained by its geographical position, partly by non-participation in military alliances during peacetime, resulting in a certain level of Swedish neutrality during wartime, and partly by the periods of relative peace in Europe and the world known as Pax Britannica (1815-1914) and Pax Europaea/Pax Americana (since 1950s).
Other examples of long periods of peace are:

That is not a particularly impressive record for humanity's time on this third rock from the sun. And with more nations reaching for their own version of the brass ring. More changes. The stage is set for additional conflict. Global resources are shrinking and - for whatever reason - the global climate is changing. We have the capacity to eliminate life on the planet with nuclear weapons so clearly it is in our best interest to keep working on the peace process. The answer has to be out there somewhere.

I am essentially an optimist and expect things to work out although the current polarization in politics here does have me worried a bit - especially when the chief advisor to our new president has a stated goal of destroying the administrative state. But that is a topic for another day. Me? I will continue commenting on things, and listening to music that matters to me while I watch my 7-year old grandson does  little boy stuff with reckless abandon.

That's a quick shack take on the topic Ramana gave us this week. Be sure to check the other LBC folf for their takeon the topic - Ramana  Pravin and Maria