Friday, August 30, 2013

Distraction - LBC topic

Today’s topic – distraction - comes from Maria. Distraction is a multifaceted thing!

Yes distraction can be good, bad or ugly. Depends upon the circumstances. As a contract programmer there were times when I would get seriously stuck on dumb. Something that should have been a breeze suddenly took on the magnitude of scaling the Himalayas. What to do? How to do it? And at times like that a distraction was a welcome thing. In my case simply hearing a song

I liked and hadn’t heard in a while was often enough to break the logjam and let the code flow. Then there are those occasions when you are concentratying on a task at hand - it can be anything from work to watching a movie, reading - and something distracts you. The distraction breaks your concentration, derails your train of thought or somehow otherwise intrudes upon your space. Maybe it's the very impetus to your being stuck on dumb.

Then there are folks like the members of Westboro Baptist Church, the clowns that protest at military funerals waving signs like this

That's an ugly distraction if ever I saw one. Unfortunately the activity - regardless how tasteless - is protected by freedom of speech. Nobody ever said living in a free society was easy - just better than the alernative.

In the world of good distractions, the weekly LBC topic is a most welcome distraction to my daily life. I've made great new friends, engaged in a spirited debate or two and generally enjoyed the break from my routine this weekly exercise offers. For that I thank all y'all (official plural form of y'all for those of you unschooled in southern speak).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Modern Addictions

My apologies for being late.  Blogger is not at all cooperative today – it will not let me edit anything and so after much fiddling and tweaking I did this in a word processor and plugged it into Blogger.  Hopefully the issue will be resolved shortly.
Ramana brings us this week's topic.  Was it synchronicity or prior planning that had his mind seemingly on addiction lately?
Wikipedia says "Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs)." That's a reasonable basis for discussion methinks.
Along with the old standby addictions - drugs, food, alcohol, gambling and so forth, today's world with its hectic helter-skelter lifestyle offers many new addictions from which to choose. With seemingly little or no effort one can become addicted to television, computers, the Internet, one's job, working out, blogging - why - the options are mind boggling. One might even say mind numbing. 
The term "addiction" immediately floods the mind of most people with negativity and fear.  That's not true in all cases but more on that later.  I'll go with a modern addiction I think most westerners can understand - addiction to prescription drugs. There is a HUGE problem in this country with prescription drug addiction. For a small fee - $2-$10.00 or so I can have in my hand within 15 minutes or so damn near any prescription drug - ANY prescription drug.  The news is filled with the names of rich and famous drug addicts that have a serious prescription painkiller jones. Those with the money and pull simply get doctors to prescribe them - aka Rush Limbaugh and others.  Why – we even had a television hero addicted to them – a guy named Gregory House.  The common man can get them on any street corner. I know this to be a fact.
We in the U.S.A. seem to be in the grip of an addiction to prescription meds in general.  There are pills for everything.  Put the kid on meds for depression.  Put the kid on meds for ADD.   Double the prescription for ADHD. Depressed? There's an endless supply of medication to treat depression.  Never mind the side effects - aka the small print - the part of the commercial read at a rate so fast as to be unintelligible. Stuff like infections leading to death have been observed - thoughts of suicide should immediately be reported - stuff like that. What the drug companies must surely assume is simply collateral damage.  They are - after all - only looking out for the greater good. And let’s not forget the new strains of drug-resistant infections we have created by overmedicating ourselves. 
What's good for the drug companies is clearly not always good for us no matter what they would have us believe.
Then there's obesity.  Are we addicted to obesity? Well - no - but a food addiction can certainly lead to obesity.  Addiction to certain lifestyles can certainly lead to obesity. That might make this my theme song -
It’s a minefield out there. Things are moving at such a rapid pace it’s difficult to keep up. It’s easy to let something become an addiction. As I said at the top of this little ditty, not all addictions are bad unless they are allowed to take control of your life and that, my friends, is all up to you.  Take a break on occasion. Enjoy a cup of tea, coffee, a nice single malt – whatever.  Or maybe check out what the other LBC members have to say on addiction.  Careful though – good reading can be addictive.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Best Friend

Today's LBC topic comes from Delores - aka Delirious - currently residing in China although I believe she is back home attending to some personal business here in the good old U.S.A..

It's an interesting topic -considering how often these days the term BFF is bandied about. Many folks seem to claim a new BFF  as often as they grocery shop.  Kinda makes me wonder on which  aisle the BFFs are stocked.  For a spice one do you look near the salsa???

I have several friends I have had since I entered 5th grade. I've said several times in previous posts that my friends back in my school days essentially saved me from a life of crime - seems I am somewhat genetically disposed to that thanks to Paul Wesley Brooke - aka my sperm donating birth father. That statement is quite true, no further discussion of it will be forthcoming and you'll simply have to take my word for it. Foremost among those friends is a fine fellow I usually refer to as Architect Dave. Why?  Another Dave flies for US Air/American and so they distinguished by their occupations - Pilot Dave and Architect Dave. Architect Dave has also  acquired a partner in the best friend business - his wife Pat  - often a reader and commenter on this very blog. Dave and Pat provide an  unbreakable link to my past, and an  anchor to my present. Dave and I spent a couple of years goofing off after high school, usually running the roads in his British Racing Green MGs - first a Midget and latter an MGB.  We put a lot of miles on his cars.  Now he travels via his company airplane and of course on the good ship Lillian Belle. Needless to say I get to live vicariously via the adventures of Dave and Pat. Feel free to check out the Lillian Belle blog listed on the right - there're some great photos and tales of one of those adventures. This was one of our road songs all those years ago

Later in life, while perusing music board discussions, I happened upon an individual I'll call Hockeymom. She is uncomfortable with seeing her name on the Web and far be it from me to go against her wishes.  Plus, getting hit with a hockey stick smarts and even though she lives in another state I'm not taking a chance. She's Hockeymom because 2 of her kids played hockey,  one well enough to have been a contender for a spot on the US women's team years back and she spent years ferrying them to games and practyices. Her minor character flaw in that regard is that she's a Chicago Blackhawks fan.  They have won the Cup twice recently and  regularly beat up on my beloved Los Tiburones.

Thanks to email hockeymom and I became best friends.  We talked and talked.  We shared family triumphs and tragedies.  We whined to each other, yelled at each other.  Her father was a hero of hers - rightly so - and I was "with" her in his last year.  She has been with me every step of the way with Lynn's ordeal. Not too shabby considering the mileage between us - shortened by email and the phone. I can always count on her to call me out when I get stuck on dumb. Sometimes I think she delights in that.

She also loves old movies.  The older the better. We share a love of crash, bang wallop 60s rock and she was an accomplished French horn player - here's a snippet of a piece I listen too thanks to her influence

Time and family circumstances have reduced our contact a lot in the last year but not our bond.

I confess to feeling somewhat guilty discussing these folks herein.  Nothing I say can do justice to how much they mean to me for a myriad of reasons.  And I'd be remiss not to mention my new found friends in the LBC - the term synchronicity immediately springs to mind.

That's a quick look at this week's topic.  Check out the rest of the gang over there on the right.

Friday, August 9, 2013

LBC topic - Humor

The Old Fossil - Conrad -  offered us this topic for discussion today. What is humor? Something that amuses us - makes us laugh. It comes from a Greek term related to the balance of fluids in the body keeping us healthy. So humor is good for us.  So sayith the ancient Greeks.  Me too.

There are many kinds of humor.  Humor has the ability to pull us from the depths of despair, offend us to our core or just simply make us laugh.  Laughter is a good thing.  One of the best things. Humor is both universal and contextual. Cultural nuances rule most humor, making it difficult for example for me to understand Indian humor.  Luckily I have a friend that can translate for me.

Where would we be without humor?  In a much colder, darker place to be sure.

 While it's politically correct to suggest we not laugh at but with people, sometimes that's simply not possible. Have you ever laughed at someone  stumbling and falling?  Ever laugh at one of those silly videos on one of the myriad  "Funniest Home Video" shows? I rest my case.

Wry humor -the bumper sticker that boldly states "If you can read this you're too close".  The old salt "That's as funny as a screen door on a submarine".

Are the clips that follow humorous?? Ultimately that's up to you.  Personally, I find them all very funny.

Religious humor

Dark humor -Frisbeetarianism is the philosophy that when you die, your soul goes up on a roof and gets stuck.  (George Carlin) 

Classic humor 

Offensive humor

Humor is in the eye of the beholder.   - One person's humor is another's offensive comment. Political correctness has spread like cancer.

Universal humor - humor that crosses cultural barriers

What did the Old Fossil have in mind when he chose this topic?   I have no earthly idea but I suspect it was something deep and philosophical - he's like that ya know. Best go read what he and he others have to say.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Songs

This weeks admittedly silly topic was chosen by yours truly in one of those throw a bag of doodoo against a wall and see what sticks moments. Since Paul, our erstwhile  "on-sabbatical"  member dubbed me Music Man in a response some time ago  and I have a propensity to pepper my posts with music, I thought it somehow appropriate.  Truth is, I think if anyone takes the topic remotely seriously, it just might be as revealing about them as a more so-called serious post.  Without further adieu, let the adventure begin.  In no particular order.....

The song is about growth and the changes we endure as what we once accepted as fact we now question.  It has resonated with me since the first time I heard it almost 50 years ago. Dylan is the finest songwriter of my generation IMHO.

Next up is a classical piece.

This has been one of my 2 or 3 favorite pieces of music for as long as I can remember. Soothing, relaxing and to me almost perfect.

Next up...
Simple reason for this - I'd like to feel this way about someone again before I am finished. These simple lyrics by Jim Yester say it all.

And now...
The song speaks for itself and the singer is my all time favorite male vocalist.  We all tilt at windmills at sometime in our lives.  IMHO it's what makes us human.  I saw Ames sing it acapella in a concert at a theater in the round 40 years or so ago and it was spine tingling - brought the house down and it could be heard in the lobby.

Last choice for the day

I have always believed good music is good music - whether you understand it or not and this is a great example- catchy, melodic and simply beautiful.

So why these 5 songs?  Do they collectively say anything about me? I think so - I'm basically a simple guy, somewhat romantic and a bit eclectic. A generally apt description. 

I hope you enjoyed at least some of the tunes.  Any surprises here?