Thursday, August 18, 2022

When Lightning Strikes!

It's said you are four times more likely to get a perfect score on your SAT than getting struck by lightning and dying.

The National Weather Service reassuringly reports that there are roughly 40 million lightning bolts touching down every year across America and the odds of being struck are one in a million.

Not bad. Unless you're the one percenter.

The most recent report of lightning strikes killing someone was in Washington DC earlier this month. Four people were standing underneath a tree in Lafayette Park on August 4th when they were struck by six bolts within half a second!

Three people died and the survivor, Amber Escudero-Kontostathis, suffers with nerve damage from her waist down leaving her with no feeling in her legs.

Amber's case was unique because doctors told her they had never seen a patient survive what she endured.

Like the old saying goes, "If it's not your time to go, you'll know."  

Last year two states - Texas and Florida - had the highest count of lightning strikes. You might want to avoid them to improve your chances of never being struck by a bolt of lightning.

If you want to learn more about lightning strikes, go here.

Quotes About Lightning

** "When lightning strikes at sea, why don't all the fish die?" - Anthony Doerr

** "Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people on the planet each year who try to find out." - E.L. Kersten

** "Lightning hides the color of night." - Munia Khan

Final Thoughts

When my wife and three boys and I lived in 29 Palms, California we all enjoyed watching the lightning shows that were spectacular at times. They were common in the high desert and most people had the presence of mind not to be running around during one of those shows.

Like the first human who saw lightning, we are still thrilled and terrified by the display of raw energy and power from the skies. 

As it stands, thanks for stopping by, and I'll be looking for you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Let's Talk About Dealing With 'The Other' in Our Lives

At one time or another we've all had to deal with situations in our lives where we were told that "the others" are to be feared.

Some examples

** Many Caucasians fear others with dark skin. 

** Some religions instruct their flock to fear any other religious teachings than theirs, declaring all of the other church's believers' heretics and sinners destined for hell. 

** In almost all cases the other side of an argument or political ideology is demonized as a matter of course.

** The very idea of being outside the societal norm makes some individuals the other because they don't conform with the majority's viewpoint of what's acceptable. 

** In war the other side is unmistakably the enemy. They are to be feared and killed upon contact. No ambiguity there.

3 Ways of Dealing with the other 

I've discovered various ways of handling situations involving the other side of anything. You may employ the same techniques already, but if not read on...

1. Don't argue with an idiot about anything. MAGA world inhabitants live in an alternate universe and will attack outsiders.

2. Attempt to keep respect for another view (even if you think their wrong) when discussing issues. Listen to the other side before reacting to it.

3. Be calm while stating your side to an issue. Bulging eyes and a red face seldom promotes compromise and understanding of your point of view.

Moving on...

Guess what? There was a movie made in 1972 called The Other. It was a psychological thriller directed by Robert Mulligan. 

I suppose a 2001 movie titled The Others qualifies too. It starred Nicole Kidman and was about a woman who lives in her darkened old family house with her two photosensitive children and becomes convinced the house is haunted.

Had enough for today?

I'll wrap it up with an invitation to visit again tomorrow. Auf Wiedersehen!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Should There Be an Age Limit for Politicians and Judges?

Lately folks have been talking about President Joe Biden being too old (he's 80 years old) to run for a second term in the Oval Office.

The chatter in the corridors of Congress is the party should be looking for new blood.

Rumors continue to swirl around the country that Trump is running for re-election in 2024. He's 76 years old. Not exactly a spring chicken.

Then I read that Italian cinema icon Gina Lollobrigida is running for a Senate seat in her country's elections next month. By the way, she's 95 years old!

All of which leads me to ask if we should put age limitations on politicians and judges? I've got to watch out here that it doesn't appear like I'm espousing age discrimination (full disclosure I'm going on 72 in November).

I'm honestly wondering just when a person's thought process starts getting murky. Does it automatically happen when we turn 65? Is it safe to say people's mental acuity slips after entering their 70s?

As far as judges go

I strongly feel that judges (especially Supreme Court justices) should retire when they turn 80 years old. Logic says that their mental agility and memories dim - some at a faster rate than others - after achieving that milestone.

As far as politicians go

Wouldn't it be nice if Congress was no longer a retirement home for old politicians?

After considerable thought I think the retirement age for Congressional politicians should be 60 years old. 

According to the Congressional Research Service, the current average age of senators is 64.3 years - the oldest in history. Last year West Virginia's Robert Byrd died at 92 after funneling an estimated $10 billion to his constituents during his 51 years in the Senate.

Another option to having a senior center for lawmakers in the Senate is term limits. A person could only serve for three terms and then they would have to move on with their lives.

Quotes about Age

** "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She is ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the heck she is!" -Ellen DeGeneres

** "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." -Mark Twain

**"As you get older, you don't get wiser. You get irritable." - Doris Lessing

Final thoughts

What do you think about putting age limits on politicians and judges? Is it a crazy idea? Should I just be quiet and find someone to play a game of checkers with?

As it Stands, don't be shy, drop on by, anytime.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Oh Baby! Where Did You Get That Name?

Remember when rock star Frank Zappa named his oldest daughter Moon Unit? 

Her siblings were named Dweezil and Diva Muffin.

What kind of parent would do that to a kid?

The answer is a lot of parents give their offspring unusual names... just because. 

Elon Musk and Grimes raised plenty of eyebrows when they named their first child (a boy) X AE A-Xii (known as X). To top that they named their next child (a girl) Exa Dark.

One of the wackiest names I've seen recently is Hellzel. The mother liked the name Hazel while the father was a biker and wanted to work in the Hells Angels. The result was Hellzel.

Only in the 70s... a Wisconsin baby was born with the name Marijuana. The now teacher and mom told reporters that she has never touched cannabis.

How about Fifi Trixibelle? She was named after Bob Geldof's aunt Fifa, with Trixibelle because his wife Paula Yates wanted a "Belle" in the family.

One of my favorite names is Kal-El because it's Superman's Kryptonian birth name. It doesn't take Sherlock Holms to guess that the parents were big fans of Superman.

Here's a name that was listed in the top 1,000 for boys' names in 1999... Semaj. It's simply James written backwards. 

Back in 1884 there were at least five male babies registered in the U.S. named Man. I can't imagine the challenges these boys ran into during their lives.

If you think naming a kid Almond is nuts, it's worth noting it was actually a common name in the late 19th Century. Experts say it was a variation of the popular name Almund, itself a contraction of Adalmund.

Look at the name Sylvester Stallone chose for his eldest son... Sage Moonblood! What else would you expect the star of Rambo and Rocky to pick?

How crazy is this? During the pandemic one set of parents named their twins Covid and Corona!

A lot of parents in the 1990s thought that the start of the alphabet - ABCDE - made a great name. There were more than 300 people (mostly girls for some reason) bearing the name by the start of the 2000s.

Finally, my wife and I wanted to name our second son Sundance, but our family thought we were crazy and would stigmatize the poor child for the rest of his life. We finally relented and named him Elijah and settled with Sundance as his middle name.

I hope you enjoy reading this post. As it Stands, I'll meet you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Are People Capable of Changing Their Thinking if Presented with Facts?

There're people in our society so hard-wired against reality that they literally live in a different universe than you and I do.

I suspect you already knew that.

You also probably know these individuals are always seeking confirmation bias sources to boost their beliefs. For the sake of illustration take the hard right media platforms like Fox News and Newsmax that promote conspiracies and lies for ratings.

My question today is two-fold; have you ever met or known someone who did a complete turnaround after living for years in an alternate universe - and do you think it's even possible?

Over the course of seven decades, I've met some real "characters" that were both harmless and violent. Some were and are relatives. I have cousins living in rural areas back east who were raised like free range chickens and never went to school. The kicker?

They're Trump cult followers. It's pure folly trying to convince them that their idol is the worst president this country has ever had and is a current threat to democracy and the rule of law. They live in a bubble like most of the Trump supporters I've met do.

I read in some medical journal that facts can be too threatening for some people, and they take them as personal insults. Their very existence is a declaration of war for someone with convoluted beliefs.

From what I've seen in life and read the possibility of changing a person's world view is slim to none. The reasons are legion and too complex for me to outline here in limited space.

Does that mean you shouldn't try to correct someone when they tell a lie? No. Truth is what tethers us to reality. We just shouldn't realistically expect it to have any kind of impact on someone living in an alternate world.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Everybody is Talking About the New MAGA Carnival Rides for Upcoming Fundraiser

In their usual wacky way GOP lawmakers and activists have come up with a unique slate of Carnival rides especially designed for Trump supporters in an upcoming bigly fundraiser.

Where: Somewhere in a Florida swamp

When: to be announced by QAnon messenger

Why: To raise money to defend the former president who is being investigated for Espionage, Obstruction, and Destruction of government property.

When Trump cult members descend upon the carnival location here's a sampling of some of the new rides they'll get to experience:

New GOP Carnival Rides

1. The Lindsey Graham Flip-Flop-a-Rama - Riders will have to sign an affidavit stating they won't sue the park if their neck breaks during the violent flip-flopping action.

2. The Matt Gaetz Spinning Shells - They were inspired by Disneylands teacup ride but instead of slowly spinning saucers which can be controlled by riders, they go so fast nosebleeds aren't uncommon and the rider has no control of the speed.

3. The Marjorie Taylor Greene Mad House - Customers follow a path with shattered mirrors and life size posters of MTG aiming a Jewish Space Laser at Fulton Country, Georgia.

4. Greg Abbot's Alien Invasion Ride - You'll travel along a simulated southern border with interactive Game Boy's in a flying saucer that gives you options of stopping legal migrants from coming to America.

5. The Giuliani Patriot Ferris Wheel - This giant Red-White- and Blue wheel moves at erratic speeds and has an audio recording of Giuliani's famous 4-Seasons Speech playing throughout the rider's full experience.

6. Paul Gosar's Delusion Ride - This towering ride will take you upside down in all three directions at a high rate of speed. There's free Vomit Bags next to each seat.

7. Gym Jordan's Dream Crusher - This patriotic-themed ride will twist and turn you in every direction until you no longer recognize the American Dream. And, just for this special occasion, every rider will get an autographed copy of Assistant Ohio State Coach Jordan in a wrestling singlet with two students who were molested by the team coach at either side of him.

8. The Super Scott Perry Roller Coaster - Riders will sit in unique clown cars that travel in pairs so 8 riders at a time can experience the loops and slopes and pretend not to be afraid when oxygen masks drop at the peak of the ride.

9. The Elise Stefanik MAGA Starship 2024 - Once you board the MAGA Starship, it's a straight shot to insanity as it spins on an axle of lies powered by Trump followers' flatulence and hot air. Stefanik will be your captain.

10. Kevin McCarthy Mountain - Forget about Disneylands Magic Mountain while you slowly travel in little red cars through McCarthy Mountain's caves adorned with murals of Trump throwing out rolls of toilet paper to the masses of poor from a lofty perch. Pass though rooms with golden statues of Trump shaking hands with Putin and Kim Jong-Un. When the rides over you'll be asked to sign a "Do Not Disclose" agreement with the RNC.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning now and be ready to have fun and donate money at the gate to help your idol stay out of jail.

Friday, August 12, 2022

THIS JUST IN! Rats Seen Jumping off the U.S.S. Trump!

Reports from the Florida Coast Guard have been flooding in this morning describing a ship listing heavily just off of the coast near Mar-a-Lago.

The vessel, the U.S.S. Trump, first started listing to port on Monday after the FBI executed a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.

Since then, news agencies have been speculating about who gave the FBI insider information so detailed they knew exactly where to go in the 100-room complex that serves as Trump's Winter home.

One clue has been battered about on the internet. Apparently, Trump's lawyers told him to cut off all contact with Mark Meadows (his former chief of staff) two days before the surprise search. Was Meadows the rat that bit his ass?

There's no confirmation of that theory... yet.

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NEWS ALERT (for real)

Judge releases search warrant information that produced a trove of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago today.

Federal agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some labeled top secret. DOJ looking at charges of Espionage, Obstruction, and destruction of government records.

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Meanwhile...

Some cautious rats in Congress are weighing the odds of jumping before the U.S.S. Trump disappears into the dark depths of treason. Others are treading water next to the ship hoping that deliverance is still possible.

Still other rats have been spotted crawling out of the surf and scuttling toward the nearest sewer systems. One reporter claimed to have seen Kevin McCarthy disappear down a manhole near the Mar-a-Lago home of the former president.

Local reporters are patrolling the beaches in a quest to get interviews from the fleeing rats that are easily identified by their red MAGA hats.

Trumplicans across the country are watching with horror and anger as the U.S.S. Trump comes closer to disappearing beneath the waves every day.

Chances are the crippled ship will suffer more battering from storms as the indictments start rolling in on other ill winds.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

If You Were a Car, What Kind Would it Be?

In the course of my continued introspection about life lightning struck and this question - If You Were a Car, What Kind Would It Be? - appeared on a billboard in my mind's eye.

After giving it due thought, I concluded I would want to be a blue 1970 Dodge Charger (Photo above). 

My reasoning goes like this; I was 20 years old (coming into the prime of my life) in 1970 when I came home from Vietnam. I owned a blue 1970 Charger. It's my favorite Muscle Car and color.

That was fun. How about you? While you're thinking about it let's explore the subject further.

If Donald Trump was a car, it would be the 1934 Belchfire Runabout. (Photo right)

If Lindsey Graham was a car, it would be a 1947 Alamagny Rhomboid. (Photo left)

If Rand Paul was a car, it would be a 1931 Wikov 35 Kapka. (Photo left)
If Bernie Sanders was a car, it would be a 1948 Playboy Convertible. (Photo left)
If Chuck Schumer was car, it would be a 1964 Mercury Marauder. (Photo right) 
If Jamie Raskin was a car, he would be a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88. (Photo left)
Well, I hope I reeved up your imagination today. Keep on motoring!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Republicans are Panicking: Now What? It Looks Like Trump is Not Above the Law

                                                        (ABC Photo)
MAGA dreams were shattered Monday.

Trump's cult members received a cruel dose of reality when the FBI executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago lair. A federal judge felt there was proof of criminality and signed off on the FBI's request to search his home.

It was proof that Don the Con is coming closer to be indicted for at least one crime, with more indictments sure to come down from the DOJ's investigation into his failed (and ongoing) coup attempt.

Merrick Garland has transformed into a wolf after being accused of being sheepish in his pursuit of Trump's crimes.

The same day as the unprecedented search warrant was being carried out an appeals court ruled the House can obtain Trump's taxes.

Reality is closing in on Trump but that won't stop him from fundraising off a federal criminal investigation. Trump will always be able to fleece his gullible followers even if it's from behind bars. 

I'm watching those Republican lawmakers who rushed to his defense yesterday and today closely. If things get even worse for Trump (and they can with the ongoing investigations) which one's will jump out of the clown car first? It's going to be entertaining.

Trump met with a dozen of the House Republican Study Committee members led by Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, at his residence in Bedminster, New Jersey yesterday.

The initial reason the group was meeting was to see how they could discuss sabotaging the Inflation Reduction Act that's coming to a floor vote Friday.

But when word got out that their leader was suddenly in bigly trouble, they huddled together and looked at ways to defend him. Among the plotters who were planning on seeking revenge if they come into power in November were Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and Mike Turner.

Thus far the tough rhetoric coming from the GOP lawmakers and hypocrites just shows how scared and troubled they are. In the back of their lizard brains, they sense a new danger and the possibility of shedding their loyalty will increase with each new damning revelation that puts Trump closer to being put behind bars.

You say I'm a dreamer?

But I say, no one in America is above the law.

Monday, August 8, 2022

About Precious Time in Our Lives

Overheard; "There's not enough time in the day."

And "Time is moving faster as I grow older."

Then I read that, "Scientists recorded June 29th as the shortest day on Earth since the invention of the atomic clock," in an article by Megan Marples.

I found out that an atomic clock is a standardized unit of measure that has been used since the 1950s to tell time and measure the Earth's rotation.

If you're interested in all of the technical details involved go to this article, about the International Rotation and Reference Systems Service the organization in charge of global timekeeping.

I've always been fascinated by the passage of time and have incorporated that theme into a number of fiction stories

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Time Quotes by Literary Wits 

--"Time=life, therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master time and master your life." Alan Lakein 

-- "Time is the most precious commodity anyone has. It can't be manufactured and once it's gone, it's gone for good." Denis Waitley

-- "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." Earl Nightengale

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What I get about all of this talk of time is that it's precious and we should make the most of every moment in our lives.

Like the old saying goes, "Live each day like it's your last one on earth."

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Two of the Most Inspirational People I Ever Met: Eugene "Red" McDaniel and Woody Woodburn

In the course of 71 years, I've had the pleasure of meeting people who have inspired me.
Here's the top two:

Eugene "Red" McDaniel showed me how indominable the human spirit is in the worst of times. 

I met Red while I was attending a veteran's event at Humboldt State University (recently renamed Cal Poly Humboldt) back in the late 70s.

I was a reporter for the campus newspaper, The Lumberjack and the editor of the on-campus Veterans Gazette and spent hours interviewing him over the course of two days.

Red was a pilot who was shot down in 1967 over Hanoi during the Vietnam conflict (note that I call it a conflict and not a war. We never formally declared war) He spent six torturous years as a POW. 

He was noted for three things as a prisoner - his honor, his optimism
and faith in his country, and also for having been the prisoner who received
the most brutal torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors.

When he was set free in 1973, he came back and founded the American Defense Foundation dedicated to teaching young Americans awareness of and appreciation for American's freedoms.

Listening to his challenges and his positive attitude about everything in life was actually therapeutic for me (it was a time when I first discovered what PTSD was) as I was a combat engineer in the Army during my time in Vietnam. 

His book "Scars & Stripes" is a Vietnam story classic and a must read for students of the conflict. Red is 93 years-old and is still going strong.

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The other really positive person in my life is Woody Woodburn. 

While serving as the editor of a small-town newspaper called The Desert Trail in the 1980s, I hired a young reporter right out of college - his name was Woody Woodburn.

He turned out to be so good so quickly I knew I was going to lose him in the near future. I hired him to write about local sports and from his first article I could see he was a special writer with a bright future.

He and his newlywed wife Lisa were wonderful people and my wife Shirley and I "adopted them." Woody would play with our three young sons when he visited. He was always smiling and so positive I couldn't help but be impressed.

I was right. Seems like it was just five or six months later when Woody told me it was time for him to move on. 

And he did by hitting the jackpot and moving on to daily newspapers. I understood.

While working for The Daily Breeze in Torrence he covered all the LA Teams including my beloved Lakers. But tragedy struck one night after Woody was involved in a terrible car accident after covering the Super Bowl in San Diego when a drunk driver rear-ended him. He suffered permanent nerve damage to his neck, left arm and hand.

The thing about Woody is he's also a runner. A world-class one in my opinion. He's run in more than a dozen marathons and is also a "streaker" who has run 3.1 miles every day since July 7, 2003.

That being the day his neurosurgeon cleared him to run again following neck surgery. He's averaged 9.2 miles per run since. Woody currently ranks No. 141 overall on the United States Running Streak Association's active list.

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Related: Here's a current column by Woody in the Ventura Star talking about his golden memories with the legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. 

Related: Woody Woodburn Award Winning Sports Journalist

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You should know Woody has a heart of gold. His community involvement includes his annual "Woody's Holiday Ball Drive" that in past years has collected more than $800,000 worth of sports balls for the underprivileged youth in Ventura and the South Bay.

Woody is also an author. He's written,

"Wooden and Me," Life-Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian"

and two other books: "The Pirate Collection: A Decade of Dominance in 1996," and "Raising Your Child to be a Champion in Athletics, Ads, and Academies" in 2002. 

These days you can find Woody's work at the Ventura Star where he writes a column - Woody Woodburn Writer and "Streaker & Speaker 

I think it's plain to see why these two people are pictures of positivity. My life is better for knowing both of them.

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...