Saturday, September 3, 2022

Just When You Thought You've Heard Everything: Throwing Bikes into Waterways is a Worldwide Trend

Today we're going to look at the strange trend (on at least three continents) of people tossing their bikes into waterways.

Why? Good question, but no one has the definitive answer. I won't leave you hanging, however. There are different theories why perfectly functional bikes are being tossed into waterways.

Before going any further you could try Googling the phenomena to get additional background into this worldwide trend... or you can settle for a condensed version here by me. 

You can also go on YouTube and listen to people tell you about the satisfaction of watching your bike slip below the surface of the water. Bike tossing videos are hot.

Let's go back to why...

One theory is it's a mass example of vandalism. I wouldn't bet on that one. At best, vandals probably make a limited contribution to the trend.

The fact is bike programs are proliferating across the world. These bike share programs are sponsored by banks or some sort of corporate sponsor with their logos on the mudguards.

Because they're not an individual's bike the share riders have no problem tossing a bike sponsored by a company into the water. It must really be satisfying.

In China people say the reasons they throw bikes into the water are because they violate their privacy. Say what? Apparently, the shared bike programs keep track of their riders with apps on their mobile phone.

Sending the bikes to watery graves is an expression of regaining their freedom. In the 19th century, the bicycle was viewed as an emancipatory machine, a vehicle of liberation that gave them a new kind of mobility.

In Amsterdam, 15,000 bikes are pulled from canals each year. The city is considered one of the world's leading bicycle cities and its numerous canals are the ideal environment for dunking or drowning bicycles. Authorities say it's not unusual for drunks to heave their bikes into the water. 

Beyond that, no one knows why so many bikes are thrown into the waterways. It's so bad that the city has what they call "bicycle fisherman" dredging bicycles out of the canals.

Bike rental businesses in Rome, Italy are simply going out of business because too many of their bicycles were being thrown into the Tiber.

I researched the United States to see if we are going along with this worldwide trend and was unable to find any examples. However, I did find that throwing electric motor bikes into waterways was a thing back in 2019-2020.

As it stands, just when you thought you heard everything, something new always pops up.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Who Else is Sick of Hearing Rumors of War?

Republican lawmakers are spreading rumors of war if our former president is indicted... for any of his crimes.

American military strategists research rumors of war around the world, weighing in if they think the United States needs to get involved as a matter of national security.

In our politics war is a central theme 

War against Women

War on Democracy

War of Words

Another Civil War

War for the soul of America

War against liberals and conservatives

The War against the Deep State

and so forth...

It sure would be nice if everyone could just sit back, take a deep cleansing breath, and leave the word war out of their vocabulary, especially when it comes to heated political arguments.

I'm going to go Biblical on you for a moment and pass on a passage from Matthew 24:3

Jesus's disciples asked him "Tell us... what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"

Jesus responded, "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matthew 24-6) ... See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet."

My interpretation is, don't worry about what will happen in the future. Live for today because you can't change anything.

So, when we hear these dire rumors and threats of future wars, we need to put them into prospective. Political rhetoric has always been harsh and threatening. While it can lead to a civil war, it doesn't mean we'll have another one.

I realize there are no guarantees in life, but it doesn't mean we should live in fear. Life is too short for that.

As it stands, the good news is we have freedom of choice when it comes to choosing between negative and positive input in our lives.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What Was Your Most Embarrassing Moment?

Let's all just get real and admit we've had humiliating and embarrassing moments in our lives where we wished we were invisible.

I read an article about the parents of one ten-year-old girl who must have wished they were invisible at a Red Lobster Restuarant. Their daughter decided she felt bad for all the lobsters in the tank, took a chair and smashed the tank to free them. Mission accomplished. 

The parents were told not to ever come back again. I'm surprised they weren't sued. 

Can you imagine how embarrassed they must have been tiptoeing around live lobsters on the way out of that restaurant?

Moving on...

One of my favorite embarrassing stories involves my darling wife of 48 years, Shirley. She and two of her friends were driving back to northern California (Eureka) from San Francisco a decade ago when they all needed to stop for a potty break.

They found a shopping center right off the 5 Freeway and went into a store to use their facilities. On the way back to the car, after leisurely stopping and checking items out they were in the parking lot when one of the ladies started laughing...

"You have a toilet paper tail Shirley," she shrieked with laughter while pointing at her bum. My thoroughly humiliated wife will never get to forget that incident because of those two friends... and me!

All right. It's my turn.

Once upon a time I was a sleepwalker (six years old) and it often put me in awkward circumstances. But none were more embarrassing than the night I peed on my birthday cake!

Allow me to explain. My parents and Aunt and Uncle were sitting around the kitchen table and drinking beer long after I went to bed. 

At one point I walked past them and went straight for the refrigerator. Before anyone could react, I opened it, dropped my shorts and sprayed the contents within - which included the remnants of my birthday cake.

My father guided me back (I was still asleep) to my bedroom. From that day on it became family lore. The good news is I'm no longer embarrassed.

The fact is I've had lots of embarrassing moments during my seven decades. I'm strangely proud of them and chalk them up to lessons in life. 

Memories...

--- the time I was at a college journalism awards banquet and took a fork full of baked potato with Horseradish on it (spoiler - I hate Horseradish) and was in the process of spewing it up on the table when my name was called out for writing the best Sports story of the year. Needless to say, all eyes were on me.

--- my first date with Shirley when I took her to a fancy restaurant in Hollywood and was trying to act suave and worldly and almost led her into a janitor's closet instead of the dining room!

--- in high school I went on a surfing double date with a girl in one of my classes along with my sister and her boyfriend (who had a station wagon). I'm not going to bore you with how the date came about. Instead, I'll cut right to the chase...

I was not a surfer. Nor had I ever tried to surf. My sister's boyfriend was a surfer (who lucky for me had an extra surfboard) and said he could teach me how. The bottom line is I wanted to impress my bikini clad date.

As usual, my 16-year-old hubris didn't allow for me to consider that I might look like an ass out in those breakers. 

In record time I wiped out. Again. And again, until the last time when my nose collided under pressure with the tip of the board. Blood spurted out instantly. As I looked out toward the beach, I saw my sister and the girl I wanted to impress laughing they're asses off!

Did I mention it was first and last time she went on a date with me?

Listen.

Try remembering your most embarrassing moments and you may be surprised at your attitude toward them now. The very least that will happen is you'll smile.

As it stands, I believe that we all need to be humiliated at times just to stay real.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Searching for Laughter in a Grim World

It's harder than ever to laugh about something during these grim times of social unrest and increasing climate disasters. That's a given.

The Search for Laughter

Reader's Digest features a monthly section titled, "Laughter is the best medicine." Start your search for humor there.

Experts say that laughter is a great form of stress relief... and that's no joke. It's not going to cure all ailments, but recent research shows the positive things laughter does offer.

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. 

Here's a few examples: (Source - Mayo Clinic)

* It stimulates many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released from your brain.

* It activates and relives your stress response. A good hearty laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The payoff leaves you feeling relaxed.

* It soothes tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Are you afraid you lost your sense of humor or never really had an easy time laughing? Don't worry about it!

Humor can be learned

You can keep humor on your horizon by watching funny TV shows, movies, and reading books and magazines devoted to humor. There're many other ways like going to humorous web sites to get a good chuckle.

I've found that sharing my humorous situations with others quickly strips away my tensions. When you laugh at yourself people are likely to laugh with you. 

A great example would be comedic legend Rodney Dangerfield. I dare you to listen to one of his routines and not laugh so hard you get short of breath!

Okay. It's time to turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile... and then laugh! Even if it feels forced. How do you feel afterwards? Are your muscles less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or even buoyant?

As it stands, it's a wonder that our brains have a built-in stress relief system.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Since When Did We Find Ourselves Having to Defend Reality?

I want to blame Kellyanne Conway for coming up with the alternate reality bullshit that the Republican Party currently embraces.

It's probably not fair because others have used denial of reality as a platform to power. Remember the McCarthy years when he had every American looking for Russian spies under kitchen tables?

Denial of reality, not just in politics, extends to climate deniers who won't admit mankind has turned our environment into a cesspool despite the mounds of evidence proving it. Fact is we've polluted the land and the air we breathe for well over a century. That's reality.

Millions of Americans believe whatever Trump tells them because they're not interested in reality and facts. The cocoon they live in media wise is a protective shield against reality.

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"Don't let someone else's reality become your reality." -Les Brown

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One of my favorite quotes about reality comes from John Lennon, "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."

I read an article a while back that claims our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, they don't joke and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image.

The part about the inability to tell the difference between reality and imagined thoughts and images, particularly reminds me of Trump's minions. It's scary because it's all of our reality today with a president actively trying to overthrow the government.

Lies are an insult to reality but are used by extremist lawmakers every day in their ultimate quest for power. Evidence is denied in the fact-free world of Trumpist Republicans.

The net result is sane people will still be able to tell the sky is blue and the grass is green regardless of how much ruckus the anti-reality idiots make in our society.  

As it stands, it's a sad fact that we must defend reality and the country.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Confessions of a Basketball Junkie: Escape to Hoop Land

I was introduced to basketball in elementary school during recesses where just shooting the ball was a challenge. There were no rules. Everyone was out for themselves, and it was literally a free-for-all.

Then one year, I think it was my sixth, the school started having free throw contests and handing out 1st through 3rd ribbons which instantly became a status symbol at our school.

When I made 9 out of 10 free throws and won 1st Place, I knew that I'd be playing in the NBA someday. Flash forward... I didn't and never even came close. But I digress.

I didn't play basketball for my high school team. However, I played countless pickup games with friends at available outside basketball courts. My best friend Larry and I played a lot of 2 on 2 pickup games with total strangers.

Once, after dropping LSD (this is a true story), we played a pickup game in an inside basketball court open to the public in La Mirada, California. Our opponents (which we discovered part way into the competition) were off duty cops. They came out like two honey badgers clawing at the ball with a scary intensity which was magnified by tripping on LSD.

Afterwards we agreed that we won at least one game out of the half dozen we played. I think the reason the cops didn't bust us (have you ever seen anyone high on LSD? It's OBVIOUS) is that we provided them with good competition... and laughs. They sure smiled a lot.

Just before I got out of the Army in 1971, I played with the 5th Army 101st MPs, at Ft. MacArthur, California. 

The only other organized team I played with was in 1972 with a city league team (when I worked at Ford Motor Company) in Cleveland, Ohio. At six-feet, two-inches, I was the shortest guy on the team and the only white boy. I think they considered me a good luck mascot.

Fast forward through the decades as my body slowed down from countless pickup games, injuries, and other age related (can you say arthritis?) causes.

I was 67-years old (I'm going on 72) when I took my last shot (a ten-foot jumper) in my last pickup game at the Medford, Oregon YMCA.

What gets me through after being unable to actually play the game I love is I've been a LA Lakers fan for over 60 years. They still take me to a good place in Hoop Land... stirring old memories with the sheer exhilaration and appreciation for the game.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Welcome to America: Living in a Schizophrenic Society

You've probably noticed.

Nothing is clear cut today. 

Reality has been warped by people living in alternate universes where the earth is flat and Jewish space lasers are a thing.

The barriers that once existed between truth and lies has been torn down by extremists seeking to turn our republic into a totalitarian state. (See the Big Lie)

Some Americans are as happy as clams because they're wealthy and are part of the exclusive ruling cast.

Being human (some might argue that description) these elite millionaires and billionaires are always looking to amass more power. Politics has been a lucrative path for them to pursue and poison.

This special rich segment of our society is schizophrenic in their actions. They flip from Philanthropy to Piracy without blinking an eye while attending church.

The commoners (the majority of Americans) are divided into descending financial classes of moderate incomes to the lowest levels of poverty. Politics has also paralyzed common voters along ideological lines like never before.

When I see people living on fixed and lower incomes donate their much-needed money to political con men from Trump to telephone scams it sickens me. 

It's a form of schizophrenic behavior that really needs more studies done (along with recommendations on how to correct it).

There is no American Dream in 2022. The idea that this country is a safe melting pot for people from around the world, has been thoroughly trashed and disproved throughout our history. 

Immigration has been a cauldron of suspicion and hate since we opened our borders after becoming a nation.

Right and wrong have become abstract concepts instead of a firm reality. We are living in a schizophrenic society that proclaims to be the epiphany of democracy. 

As it stands, it doesn't feel that way.

The Year Domestic Terrorists Openly Declared War on the Nation's Power Grids

Note: The Government Accountability Office says their recommendations from years ago still "have not been implemented yet leaving the p...