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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Milennials and the future

This weeks topic addresses an age-old issue - the future. Every generation reaches an age when the baton must be passed - it is the natural order. Even for we Baby Boomers - time marches on. Soon the mantle will pass.

So what does the future hold? That will be up to the Millennials. The generation raised on social media, video games, and the like. The so-called me generation, perhaps the least civic-minded generation ever. As Globalization grabs a firmer grip on society, are these the people who can steer the ship? What will happen when 21st Century society collides with laws and regulations from the distant and not so distant past?

Have  we just witnessed the first collision  of those sensibilities with the recent BREXIT referendum? BREXIT passed largely on the strength of older voters - the younger generations were largely against leaving the EU. Was this the last gasp of the older  generation that was there during WWII and simply refused to stand for the loss of sovereignty EU membership entailed?

Change is inevitable. Too much change in to short a period of time can be devastating. There was a great book I read in college by the recently decease author Alvin Toffler that addressed just that - the impact of rapid change on society. 

Per Wikipedia, Toffler argued that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a super-industrial society. This change overwhelms people. He believed the accelerated rate of technological and social change left people disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation"—future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems are symptoms of future shock. 

Millennials are the best prepared generation to deal with the rapidly changing world economy. But as the  so-called me-generation are they civic-minded enough to do what is best for everybody?   Are they correct when some Millennials suggest Baby Boomers benefited from decades of prosperity before wrecking the global economy?  Was our legacy to the young a world of inequality, unemployment and housing shortages? Is the BREXIT referendum  the latest act of foolishness by  aging boomers? Did  the older generation vote to strip the young of a cherished European identity because they feared  globalization? 

I suspect it is all partly true but I think the Millennials will sort it out. They are certainly better qualified to do so then we old folks. It is time we enjoy our retirement and let the kids take the wheel.

For Ramana's take on the subject click here