I’m tired

I guess this is more of a diary entry than a blog post. I wonder if there’s any difference anymore between the two. The world we live in demands a viewport into lives on par with the most intimate of accesses. It’s a race perhaps to see whose soul’s farthest reaches are on the fullest of displays with a global population running in concert.

I’m tired.

It’s been over 10 years since I collected a paycheck from someone.

Over 10 years since I could fake working hard in my office. Or check out mentally at 4:30 and watch second hands spinning on office clocks down like some kind of rocket launch to 4:59:59. And then leave. And not care. Or think about what I was doing on the PC before shutting it down and closing out Microsoft Outlook.

Over 10 years since I could countdown to a vacation and not care about the fact that no one was doing my job while I was on vacation not doing my job.

Over 10 years since I collected a paycheck for weeks where my performance was mediocre, or sub-par. Weeks I phoned it in, as opposed to  my characteristically overachieving self.

Some weeks since then – I’ve made a stupid amount of money.  Other weeks – like this past week or so, I’ve made none. Not 1 dollar.

I am responsible for feeding 4 other people in this house.

If I don’t perform – those 4 people don’t eat.

I am responsible for people in 4 other families, as well. 5 if you count someone I’m caring less and less about for reasons I can’t get into.

If all of those people do their jobs – do them so well they deserve an award – we don’t make one dollar.

I am the “Sales” guy. Not them.

I did not go to school to learn how to sell. I don’t have a degree in anything remotely parallel or similar to sales. I’m an Engineer. Kind of. Barely even. So sales – marketing – all of it, it’s a foreign language to me. Spoken badly. (Bon Journow). And somehow we’ve thrived. Does that mean I’m a fast learner, or a good faker? Is there even a difference?

For 10 years, I’ve not had a boss. But me. And these 4 other people in my house. No performance reviews. No written or verbal warnings. No chance of an unexpected layoff or downscale. No overtime I didn’t want to or have to put in. No pre-approval required for any new ideas or risks taken. Ten. Years.

And I am tired.

I have big plans. Big dreams for this company.

I have customers who have taken something I made for them. An idea I had that was taught – and made fortunes with them. Paid for their lives with an idea that came from my head, was spoken to them through a computer screen – and absorbed it into their brains where it germinated and became a skill. Lots of those, in fact.

I never saw that coming.

I am tired, though. Especially on the hard weeks where the manna isn’t there on the ground in the morning when I go out with my basket. There’s nothing to eat- nothing to pick up and bring back to my tent to my family. A sense that we have been here before and will be here again, and to trust. Trust. Wait.

Everyone is encouraging lately. Other people in the company tell me I’m doing a great job. As good as ever, in fact. They are proud of me. My wife tells me that I will figure it out – and I always find a way. She trusts me.

But will I ever hit a wall? Will something happen that I can’t foresee – an obstacle I can’t overcome? Like when PanAm closed up and told my Dad there was no more job to come to. Ever again.

There’s no going back to the I have a job life. I’m sure of that. But what if this fails? This decade’s old experiment of mine. What if the ideas stop coming? What if someone bigger and better comes along. What if I falter in my faith, and the manna doesn’t come back ever?

No one else really understands that part. They see the guy who works from home, who rarely leaves his house or dresses up anymore. Who fishes from his orange kayak and goes to the beach in the summer for a week. It – this life – looks really good from a few hundred yards away.

Come stand here – a few inches away -and you can see my eyes are trembling a little bit now. My blood pressure is kind of high. I’m short with the people that I love who love me. I’m thinking about stuff.  Trying everything, and doing what I know to do hoping it’s enough to restart the engine. Another week. Another month – year. Decade.

I am tired.

 

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Finding the happy pockets

It’s 04-18. And if you don’t really, really know me – haven’t travelled with me far back enough, you don’t really understand why that’s not a great day for me. That, and 08-02 are hard.

Confession – and seemingly disconnected side thought – I watch ‘Gilmore Girls‘ on Netflix with my daughter and wife. (Yes). The main love interest of the show, “Luke Danes”,  caught my attention one episode. People in the town knew that he had a “Dark Day”. A day that he shut down his diner and isolated himself from people. 04-18, 08-02, I get it. I get how it affects those around me, and my “Lorelai”.

04-08 was my birthday. I’m 46 now – according to all known public records. You think about things more when you’re 46. I’d like to think your brain picks up where your body shuts down- compensating. There’s more considering and contemplating than I remember at say, 36 or 26. More pauses prior to speaking. More thinking out how a situation might play out prior to acting. Rounder edges and corners. Less Hulk, more Dr. Banner.

On 04-07 , the afternoon before my birthday – I left my house. Got on a motorized bike (I call it a Motorbike in my brain to feel more like James Dean, and less like Paula Dean) and drove 40 miles to the tallest campsite around my house – a place called Hanging Rock State Park – combining a string of things I’d never done before in one experiential sentence. When I first bought the bike – this was what I’d dreamed of doing. Gas. Gadgets – gone. And on 04-07, I did it.  I mention it to you, because it was a “Happy Pocket”. A pocket of time that I’d envisioned – fashioned together, and executed…resulting in a huge smile and an even warmer heart.

There’s a big demand for happy pockets, lately.

A few weeks ago – Miss Evans across the street, died. She was affectionately known to everyone around as “Granny”. And Granny watched my yard and house from across the street in her kitchen. She watched the birds, and the flowers, and the children playing in the yard and street. She called several times to tell us that the wind turbine in my yard was slower than normal – or questioned why it was down at all and when would it be up again? Because she loved watching it spin. Watching all of it.  No one’s watching anymore, and there’s an empty kitchen window. And the turbine is just a turbine now.

A few months ago, someone I’d gotten to know  cheated on his wife and kids. For the 2nd time, after an initial reconciliation and forgiveness.  Little kids ‘little‘. ‘Don’t care that I did it, and consequences be damned‘ kind of affair. It’s about the 10th divorce since I got married – people I knew along the way that just bought a ticket to Crazy land, packed their marital bags, and pulled the pin on their respective devastation grenades.

Just down the road from us, yesterday – something horrible happened. The worst kind of horrible that you don’t talk about. If you do, it’s a hushed whisper kind of talk. The kind of bad where you hug your kids after, and ask your spouse ‘are you okay?’ every day for a long time afterwards, bad. You can’t ever make it right for that person darkest of darknesses bad.

So, I’ve been focusing a lot on my happy pockets.

I love watching Netflix with my wife Karen. Love shows we love together, like Stranger Things, and Grace and Frankie. We just watched “13 Reasons” together, and binge watched one night until past 2 in the morning.  When days are hard or long – I can see myself on a couch with my wife and that huge red NETFLIX logo (BUM BUM!) and it just makes me feel, well, happy.  I am together with my highschool sweetheart in a house we live in surrounded by a life – and safe.

I love riding my motor-bike (the hyphen kills me) the last 30 minutes before sunset. The light is thick maple syrupy golden, and I imagine what heaven must look like. Where I live, there are deeply green wheat fields growing now – lawns being mowed and spring onions cut scenting the air. And steaks being cooked far off somewhere where kids are laughing playing baseball or cows are grazing watching me ride by. My helmet speakers are on, and Glenn Fry is telling me to “Take it Easy” from a recording studio before I was born. And I smile – uncontrollably smile.  Catch myself the happiest I can remember being – not wanting to stop riding almost trancelike deliriously submerged in a brief eternal moment.

I love Tuesday night dinners. My oldest son Caleb goes to music class (he’s learning to program Dub-Step electronically), and afterwards we go to dinner together. We talk endlessly about the future of video games – the future of just about everything. I sit and listen to him passionately dissertate why PlayStation squandered a tremendous opportunity with the gaming community – artfully and skillfully presenting points and counterpoints – when I realize I could be reading what he’s saying in a trade publication, word for word. I realize he’s going to be ok as an adult. Admire his mind, and his heart. I half understand some of the game references – but ask boiler plate questions when I sense pauses (“What do you think that means?“….”How might that affect the gaming community?“….) and he launches back into his diatribe a 2nd or 3rd time like a whale diving miles deep down to the ocean floor disappearing in thought again in between bites of his meatball hero. Lately, my youngest son Evan Michael is joining us. He’s quieter than Caleb – but he’s been holding his own (deftly) at the roundtable. Some nights, I just watch them…my 2 sons – going back and forth about this game or another talking laughing sharing and arguing and eating and my heart is so full I have to look away.

I love watching my daughter Abbey compete at school sports. Her softball games….her basketball years, and now her latest foray into High School Track. I was never in any kind of organized sport at school – and don’t really watch any professional sports teams on TV. But when my daughter is competing or playing – I am Kevin Costner in “A field of Dreams”. I am the Miracle hockey team. I am riding next to Lance Armstrong and sitting next to Dale Earnhardt.  I have lost my voice at almost every game. Left with elevated blood pressures and sweaty hands. Pride so effluent, I’m practically slipping on it as we leave the school’s bleachers.  I never cheer for anyone, or anything – but when my daughter is out there, something in my heart stirs. I am Gladiator, and on that floor/in that field making all the hand motions that dad’s a hundred years before me have made…holding my breath when she swings, or swooshes……

Happy pockets.

They’re in short order and supply, now – more than ever.  And I thought a lot about them up on that mountain bike camp trip.

It was less about sleeping in a tent, and more of a “mental inventory” between 46 and the unstoppable 47. I was there, cataloging my moments…understanding the why of “it all“.  Looking squarely in the eyes of the not so happy pockets and having a counterpoint. A defense.

An answer, maybe, on the dark days.

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No instructions included

This is one of those blog posts that are for me – not so much for you…whoever you are someday. A friend…my kids after I’m gone…a stranger. Peek over my shoulder, no worries. But ultimately, this wasn’t about you.

This morning, I’ve been spending a little time with myself. The kind of myself time where you peer down into yourself, like you dropped your keys in a storm drain and are staring through the grate down into the murky depths pondering just what the hell is down there. I’m frustrated…lion pacing in a zoo cage frustrated. Do stupid things lose your keys bang your knee on the table corner restless. Something worth parking in the mental garage and peering under the hood for.

Carl Sandburg once said,

A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life.

Okay, Carl.

Today I realized – I keep doing this to myself. I take on projects (going in knowing) that have no “instructions”. No tidily wrapped brown box arrives at my front door with a “do-A-do-B-do-C” instruction list inside of it, when I take on a new project. These projects inevitably lead to the, “why the hello did I do this again?” question.

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I was one of the first people to own a consumer  grade 3D printer. A heartache that was so not-finished relative to what you can buy now, people were erasing the original operating system away, and writing their own to make it run right. 1 year…365 days to make peace with it…spending hours online in obscure chat forums divining what others had crafted to make theirs work. 12 maddening months later – something just shy of perfection would materialize on the printer’s build plate – a plastic thing of beauty.  But between the book ends of that first idea, (“Let’s get one!’ ) and the first great print  (“Oooh – did you make that?“) I was not a pleasant person to be around. (more on that).

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I have 18 solar panels at my house, powering all sorts of things. I used to have 1 five watt panel when I was living on Long Island. Between 5 watts and 1800 watts, were a few more of those unpleasant ‘How the bloddy (*@(#*$@(# does this work?” moments. The kind of learning experiences that had my arms and hands covered in acid, or the permanent ringing in my right ear – both resulting from an unfortunate exploding golf cart battery ‘incident’. As of right now though – everything is working. Now, years later – when you can hire a guy to come to your house with a van loaded with instruction booklets.

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I have jogged around this exact same track of insanity with consumer drones. (another year of insanity).

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Done this to myself with the hydroponics greenhouse that I am writing this blog post from. (another year).

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Jumped headfirst into yet again building a wood-pellet-rocket-stove that now heats to 865 degrees burning recycled little hardwood dust pieces. I can feel it on my back as I type from where it sits 10 feet away, keeping the tomatoes from freezing at night. (another year).

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The rocket stove sits 25 feet from a home built wind turbine (nearly 8 feet wide tip to tip, almost 40 feet in the air) that also celebrated a one year anniversary of “WTF’s” with me. It’s on it’s 3rd revision, and is finally charging batteries that power stuff I use.

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Then there was that, “Hey, I think we can make a portable gold dredge” project using designs found on YouTube…..another year….and yes, we found gold.

All these things without a formal education in said things. All the projects – the same cycle of “this-sounds-fun-can’t-wait-to-try-it-wait-why-is-it-doing-that-why-did-I-do-this-in-the-first-place-what-if-I-just-change-this-oh-look-it’s-working-now”. Lots of patient eye rolling from my wife between “A” and “Z” and the thousands of YouTube videos searching for salvation.

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I’m getting a motor powered bicycle. What used to be called a “moped”.  It gets over 100 miles to the gallon. AND it has pedals. I ordered one, and the all too familiar, “this project is all I can think about-mental-brute-force-it-into-reality” is back. There are several thousand of them in existence…which isn’t many considering there are 330 million Americans. Maybe 1 for every 5,000 actual “scooter” mopeds in my state. It’s so weird and new that people at the DMV when asked how to register it, actually had a conference to figure out what it was – and they’re still not sure.

And yet again….I pace. I grind my teeth. I chew the insides of my cheeks and lips (a habit that goes all the way back to High School). My mind goes into a ‘brute force’ pattern of problem solving and internet surfing. I obsess. I research. And research. And research. Until I’m saturated with the knowledge of the thing…seeing the problem from all angles, simultaneously. Most of the time – without a smile. I get quiet. On edge. My brain gets tender, and protective of the singular thought pattern. I send emails out to people who are helping me that are short….direct….rude, I think. Most every one of these ideas and projects are “complicated births” that never go smoothly though. There’s weeks and months of pushing the idea out into reality.

But I forget. It always finishes well. There’s always an end….a moment of success. Sure, it comes with a cost – but as my wife Karen told me once, “You’re you…..You always figure it out eventually”. It has to be hard being married to me, I’m thinking. but yes. This crazy bike project too, will pass.

And then I want to dig my own off grid well.

I want to double my greenhouse floor space, and learn to use geo-thermal heating and cooling from the ground beneath it.

I want to fly an ultralight powered parachute. Land it, and camp somewhere.

I want to convert one of my cars to drive autonomously. And drive to California.

More pacing. More cheek biting. More forgetting I always do this, and that it always ends the same.

But maybe starting now, appreciating the in-between stuff. Not being so intense…replacing the anxiety with curiosity and gratitude for a clear mind.  Be a litte easier to live with and be around between the beginning and end parts.

Maybe.

 

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My friend

I’ve known my friend Ron now (I don’t know the exact number of years) long enough. That is to say, there was a Ron Gardner before there was a “Ron Gardner knows Michael Lydick” . That part of his life (BM, “before Me”) is laden with colorful characters and encounters that precede anything I ever influenced. See, I haven’t known Ron forever, but I’ve known him arguably, long enough.

In that long enough period of time, he’s not once raised his voice to me. I sat here cycling through the Rolodex of my memory. Not. One. Time. We’ve had 1 fight that I can ever remember in close to 20 years, and if I’m honest – it was me being angry and him just trying to tell me he was sorry. The entire episode lasted maybe an hour. Friends like that, well, it’s comforting and simultaneously unsettling. Someone you fearfully wonder on your own, “What would I have to to do make them irreparably angry at me?” I suspect I know the answer to that question but I’ll die before I prove out the theory.

In the period between “now” and “long enough”, almost every dollar I’ve made doing something, I’ve shared with him. Every flake of manna that has, is falling, or will fall from the sky for the foreseeable future – we split. Our failure or success or our mutual mediocrity in business – is, well, mutual. And it occurred to me that not once in “long enough” have I ever questioned his integrity.  Were I forced to wager in fact, I would garner that my pile of manna flakes ‘post-Ron-division’ has a few more than his pile.

Somewhere between now and long enough. I’ve seen more of the world, done more things, and experienced more adventures than I had with any 10 people leading up to and including the long enough time. In fact, my Facebook photo albums are a colorful cacophony  of things built…places gone to…people met and hands shaken once there. I swear sometimes a good third of theses things are born into existence via the sheer will and life force of my long enough friend. ( I secretly hope that I will meet my end one day during such an undertaking, as opposed to slobbering on myself in a hospice bed somewhere. )

Between now and long-enough-ago, I’ve watched my friend bring young man after young man alongside himself on his own journey and attempt to mentor them with what knowledge and experience he’s accumulated. Most listen. Some, haven’t.  I imagine him telling them what Robert Duvall’s  “Secondhand Lions” character told his movie proteges. When I heard these words, I thought I heard my friend’s voice saying them…

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honour, courage and virtue mean everything ; that power and money … money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this…. that love….true love never dies ! Remember that boy … remember that. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not, a man should believe in those things , because those are the things worth believing in…… got that ?

I don’t have much in the way of family. My own brother and sister are more or less ‘in the wind’  having drained me of what resources they could before casting me off; moving on. For all intents and purposes I’m a 45 year old orphan.  But I am neither poor in spirit, or to be pitied-  in any sense. For in the words of acclaimed Christian apologist Alistair Begg,

If you have one true friend in the world, you are very rich

Today is his birthday. And it gets harder every year to think of what to wrap in paper and hand off to him in celebration of the day. What do you get someone who at any moment in time, is Wyatt Earp, Thomas Edison, and the American Sniper rolled into one person? They don’t have categories for that guy on Amazon. But I can write. And acknowledge. And have gratitude. And my long enough friend would probably say “that’s enough”.

 

 

 

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Horrible people

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
    among those who come after.” – King Solomon / Ecclesiastes 

I hate what is happening in our country….in our little corner of the world. Not like a “I hate pea soup“, kind of hate. More of a “I hate child molesters and cancer“, kind of hate.

America is irreversibly binary now. If you’re not a nerd – ‘binary’ means “1’s and 0’s”. On or off. Up or down. One thing, or the other. 50% of America has been conditioned to hate the other 50%. It’s a quiet civil war that’s been brewing for the past 20 years. And war, silent or otherwise, is good for business. And business lately is good for those who propagate it – and that’s everyone you’ve supported or will support. Let me explain.

I see it happening everyday online. People are championing a candidate at the cost of their ties to neighbors, friends, and family. Broken relationships line the causeways of these campaigns as we defend the actions of these very, very, very horrible people.

Horrible, horrible people.

We’ve forgotten there are no noble or good candidates. There might have been back when (maybe Washington…Lincoln….after that it gets fuzzy fast). But for the most part, these are not great men, and women. They are not to be praised and applauded. They were never public servants in the sense you and I thought they were. These are power brokers. Professional liars and profiteers. A lobbyist feeding frenzy. And yet, despite everything we know about all of them -years later, people run to the altars of their memorials, ‘self-sacrificing’ themselves on the blood soaked stones of their legacy.

If you are a Progressive Liberal – your heroes were and are all liars (hang on – the other side’s shaming is coming). From FDR to JFK to Bill Clinton to Barack Hussein Obama – your historical trail of tears is laden with deceit and malfeasance. These were not good men. FDR, JFK, and Clinton all cheated profusely on their spouses and had multiple mistresses. My favorite FDR quote is this one about Mussolini…

There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.”

Mussolini – for those of you who don’t know, was a socialist in Italy who later embraced facism. He became the Prime Minister in 1922, declaring himself, “LL Duce” or “dictator” in 1925. He was such a horrible person, he and his mistress were shot by Italian partisans as they attempted to flee from Allied forces to Switzerland. (Mussolini was a big fan of Hitler by the way).  Remember – FDR’s hero.

One of Hillary Clinton’s heroines is Margaret Sangler. I especially love this because, well – you’ll see….

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” Sanger wrote. —Letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble on Dec., 10, 1939

““The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” she continued. Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 5: The Wickedness of Creating Large Families

Or, my favorite,

Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks [races of people] that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant … We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.

Remember, Ms. Clinton says she is in “Awe” of this person. An American Hitler whose one goal was to introduce abortion to minority communities and extinguish the “bad genes” of the less desirable races. You can’t “sort of like” someone like that. You can’t “half way” admire them, anymore than you could be  neutral or slightly positive on Charles Manson (“…he was a good leader, you have to give him that”, would sound silly). But how are we to take it when Ms. Clinton says,

I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, tenacity, her vision“.  Her vision was to kill as many black babies as possible in the shortest period of time – because black people were destined to be prisoners in jails.

These are horrible, horrible – very horrible people. And Conservative heroes are no better. They’re just as bad. Not worse – but just as bad.

You have guys like Reagan…believed to be the champion of “how to do it right”as a Republican.

Reagan  increased the national debt one hundred and thirty percent. 130 percent. Imagine your brother in law taking credit card, and doubling your current balance. And then adding another 50% on top of that. Then handing you the card when he was done and people telling you years later how great of a man your brother in law was. That was Reagan.

And oh – if you’re not a big fan of Obama or Clinton for their policies in the Middle East, you need reminding that Reagan SUPPLIED WEAPONS to Iran – then and now a sworn enemy of the United States….(it was WORSE back then, if you can believe it) in the hopes of getting American hostages released in Lebanon, just like Obama gave millions of dollars to Iran to get the Naval hostages released. Just. Like.

But Hillary meddled in Libya, and put weapons in the hands of ISIS to overthrow Qaddafi!!“, you say?

Reagan took millions of dollars from the weapons sale in Iran and routed that money to a rebel army in Nicaragua in an attempt to depose Anastasio Somoza Debayle….the South American equivalent of Libya.

You don’t like how Hillary deleted all those emails from her private server? Maybe you forgot someone named Oliver North. North shared with the world that Reagan’s administration knew what was going on with Iran and Nicaragua. Confessed how he and his assistant Fawn Hall had shredded thousands of documents of evidence describing the extent of their involvement and Reagan’s involvement. North got a fine, probation – and community service with his conviction being overturned a year later (BUT HILLARY SHOULD GO TO JAIL!!!) Reagan and then President Bush maintained their entire lives afterwards they had no knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair.

These are bad, bad……horrible, horrible people.

They are not heroes. Or heroines. They are not to be applauded, or remembered with fondness, and yet…..

In the past 7 years, the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize has authorized over four hundred and twenty drone strikes – planes flown remotely from the United States over other countries that we never formally declared war against. Sovereign countries like Pakistan, where since 2004, 2,500-4,000 people have been killed. An estimated 420 to 966 civilians, with between 172 and 207 child deaths. An estimated 1,100 to 1,700 injuries.  Do you even know who those people were…..or why they were killed?

These are bad, horrible people. Fatally flawed in key, critical ways.

Evil, narcissistic, self-serving ego-maniacs who talk out of both sides of their mouths and divide us one against the other.  And we let them to it. We love them, for it. The new American aristocracy.

Yet, today – there are families that don’t meet for Christmas anymore because of them. Couples who are divorced as a result of imbalanced loyalties to their party. Countless millions of “unFriends” on popular social media sites like Facebook because one person got caught in a lie this week, as opposed to another person the next week. We hate each other, in servitude to them.

And it’s never going to stop.

There will always be another FDR who loves him some Mussolini. Another Bill Clinton / JFK rapist.  Another Clinton. Another Trump. The names and faces change, and that is all.

The insanity of it overwhelms me this morning…how we trade in our neighbor for our “political champion”. These men and women who profit as our respective “Romes” burn to the ground to our thunderous applause. Forgiving every sin as we send our respective gladiators into the arena with bloodied sword and soul.

It’s never, ever going to stop. There is nothing new, under the sun.

 

 

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A tale of 2 Bills

I don’t like writing. In fact, most of the time when you’re reading something I’ve written, you should know that it wasn’t fun for me. If you’ve ever had water in your ear after swimming in some icky public pool, or you turned your head the wrong way in the ocean or a lake and heard that water rushing into your ear canal and knew you’d be doing the “hop hop hop” dance on the sidewalk with your head sideways soon- that’s what writing is like for me. Philosophical water in my metaphorical ears. Writing helps me get it out.

Today, I had water in both ears. One of my Facebook friends was “lambasting” that there were people in rural communities (of which I live in) were supporting Donald Trump. Bear in mind, I’m neutral in the race here. I happen to deplore most politicians, and am of the persuasion that while we believe there are 2 sides and parties, there is only 1 side – and one party. We’re watching the ultimate back-room-reality-show playing out. If you don’t believe me, look at everything the last President said about debt, supporting banks, troops overseas, and the Patriot Act – then go back and look at what happened in each of those arenas. They’re all placeholders – these men and women – for the next relief pitcher in the lineup on the same team. (steps off soapbox, takes off tinfoil hat).

But it irked me, because their post implied that a vote for Trump and or any disparaging remarks about Clinton, was somehow ‘less educated’ or ‘morally reprehensible’. More water in my mental ears. These are my friends. These are people I respect though – so how to communicate a rebuttal? And this morning – it hit me.

Jello-Puddin’ Pops.

Nobody likes Bill Cosby anymore. You can’t get people to stand in the same room as Bill Cosby, for fear of being in a photo with Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby said he is innocent, and never did (not once) what any of the women said he did with his sleeping pills and his Barry White records.

One poll with Debate.org showed that 55% of people think Bill Cosby is guilty of rape.

One MSNBC poll showed that 59% of people thought Bill Cosby was guilty of rape, and that the “numerous allegations against Bill Cosby changed their (your) perception of him”.

56% of people said in one “Quibblo.com” poll that they believed the women’s accusations against Cosby were true, because there were so many of them. Another “yougov.com” Poll shows that 57% of people believe Cosby’s accusers.

I suspect the number is even higher now – as the court case has dragged on and gotten wider in scope. Let’s agree that 6 or 7 people out of 10 believe in their hearts – that Bill Cosby is a rapist – at the very least has a string of sexual misconduct charges which are probably true, do to both the quantity and the breadth of time those charges occurred.

But what does any of this have to do with a Billboard in rural somewhere or another?

(I’m rolling up my sleeves right now, to show you that I’ve got nothing hidden here. You’re about to see the magic trick unveil before your very eyes….here it comes)

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Remember – nearly 7 out of 10 people believe Bill Cosby is a rapist, because of the sheer number of women that have made accusations over such a prolonged period of time with absolutely no connection between them or chance at financial gain. People Magazine reported just recently that the Prosecution in Cosby’s case was seeking to allow the testimony of over 13 women to show a “pattern of sexual abuse“.  And that when it hit me. When the water came out of my ear.

No one reading this would ever accuse these women of lying against Cosby at this point. There would be near “zero” levels of victim shaming. “This guy needs to go to jail”, 7/10 or more of you are saying, as you read this. But things shift hard when you change a last name.

Meet Bill (and Hillary) Clinton.

Bill, (I can call you Bill, can’t I?) has had over 15 women in the past 40+ years accuse him of either rape, or sexual misconduct.  Here’s a sampling of a few:

Juanita Broaddrick:

“….Broaddrick  (now 73) said they talked for a few minutes (in 1978) about a campaign issue, before Clinton began kissing her. Broaddrick, who was married, said she pushed Clinton away and said she wasn’t interested. She told Dateline: “Then he tries to kiss me again. And the second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip (she cries). Just a minute… He starts to, um, bite on my top lip and I tried to pull away from him. (crying) And then he forces me down on the bed. And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him ‘No,’ that I didn’t want this to happen (crying) but he wouldn’t listen to me.” Broaddrick said she was traumatized and didn’t come forward for decades because of Clinton’s influence.”

Kathleen Willey:

“Willey was a Clinton supporter who had campaigned for him and donated thousands to his 1992 presidential bid, according to 60 Minutes. She said the sexual assault occurred in the Oval Office in a private study. She also told 60 Minutes he kissed her on the mouth, touched her breasts with his hand and then put her hand on his genitals while he was aroused.”

Paula Jones:

“Paula Corbin Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment.Jones accused Clinton of sexually harassing her in a Little Rock hotel room in May 1991. Jones alleged Clinton propositioned himself to her and then exposed himself.”

Sandra Allen James:

“James said she was invited to his hotel room during his presidential campaign (in 1999). She claims he pinned her against the wall and stuck his hand up her dress. “. She says she screamed loud enough for the Arkansas State Trooper stationed outside the hotel suite to bang on the door and ask if everything was all right, at which point Clinton released her and she fled the room. When she reported the incident to her boss, he advised her to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to keep working.”

Eileen Wellstone: 

” Eileen was a 19-year-old woman Clinton is alleged to have met at a pub while he was a student at Oxford University in England. According to Capital Hill Blue, a retired State Department employee said Wellstone claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Clinton in 1969. The State Department employee said he spoke with the girl’s family and they declined to pursue the case. He said Clinton admitted to having sex with Wellstone, but said it was consensual…”

Christy Zercher:

“Christy Zercher was a former flight attendant who accused Clinton of groping her while he was on a campaign plane in 1991, the New York Daily News reported. She first made the claims public in 1998. Zercher claimed Clinton rubbed her breast and asked her intimate questions while Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.”

Carolyn Moffet:

“Carolyn Moffet was a legal secretary in Little Rock in 1979 and says she met then-Governor Clinton at a political fundraiser. She said he was invited to his hotel room, telling Capitol Hill Blue, “I was escorted there by a state trooper. When I went in, he was sitting on a couch, wearing only an undershirt. He pointed at his penis and told me to suck it. I told him I didn’t even do that for my boyfriend and he got mad, grabbed my head and shoved it into his lap. I pulled away from him and ran out of the room.”

Helen Dowdy:

“Helen Dowdy, the wife of Hillary Clinton’s cousin, claims she was groped by Bill Clinton at a wedding in 1986. She told Jerry Oppenheimer, the author of State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Clinton pulled her onto the dance floor during a slow song. She said the dance turned into a grope. Dowdy said “It was a very uncomfortable feeling. He was holding me very closely, pulling me into him. It was almost like a teenager would do. It was so inappropriate.” She told Oppenheimer she tried to pull away, but “he’s a big man.”

Regina Blakely Hopper:

“Regina Blakely Hopper was a Miss Arkansas pageant winner in 1983 and is now an attorney and lobbyist. Hopper had a consensual relationship with Clinton (during his marriage to Hillary), according to L.D. Brown. There are also allegations made in Roger Morris’ book, Partners in Power, that Clinton once “forced himself on her, biting, bruising her.”

Now – I want you to pretend your daughter is working as an intern in the White house. (I have a daughter now….it changed a lot of my perceptions and she continues to do so as she gets older and my eyes are wider to the world she has to inhabit).  Imagine a few years after college, your 25 daughter is in the news. Her boss, the President of the United States has just testified about his sexual relationship with your daughter in the Oval Office, including but not limited to “anal, oral, and vaginal contact“.  I’m a dad. It wasn’t consensual. I’d explain to my daughter that she was the victim of a predator. Someone in a position of power over her that took what he wanted from her, at the cost of turning her name into an eternal locker-room-joke. I’d explain to her what I thought should happen to her boss. (redacted redacted redacted redacted). I’d make her talk to the women you just read about, above.

But wait………there’s more Pudding (forgive the pun)

Bill Clinton has/had a friend. You probably never heard of him. No one has reported much about it, oddly enough.

His name is Jeffrey Epstein. He said he helped setup the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Global Initiative”. (He’s a former Billionaire by the way). Probably a really nice guy, right?

Nope.

One news agency reported,

“Epstein, who counts among his pals royal figures, heads of state, celebrities and fellow billionaires, spent 13 months in prison and home detention for solicitation and procurement of minors for prostitution. He allegedly had a team of traffickers who procured girls as young as 12 to service his friends on “Orgy Island,” an estate on Epstein’s 72-acre island, called Little St. James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

He’s a really swell guy………..

“Police in Palm Beach, Fla., launched a year-long investigation in 2005 into Epstein after parents of a 14-year-old girl said their daughter was sexually abused by him. Police interviewed dozens of witnesses, confiscated his trash, performed surveillance and searched his Palm Beach mansion, ultimately identifying 20 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who they said were sexually abused by Epstein.”

And he had a really nice airplane…..

“…The tricked-out jet earned its Nabakov-inspired nickname (“The Lolita Express”) because it was reportedly outfitted with a bed where passengers had group sex with young girls.”.

Guess how many trips Bill-I’m not Cosby-I’m Clinton flew on the “Lolita Express”?

26 times. This is that many times…with a known pedophile and rapist.

X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X.

At least 5 without secret service. (remember how good the secret service’s reputation is lately before that number seems small to you first)

(Crickets)

(Crickets)

Now imagine, Bill Cosby’s wife is running for President. And standing next to her in every shot on the TV, is Bill (Cosby).

You start to say to yourself, “Why are you still with this man?“.

You see the faces of all the victims in your head and think, “All those poor girls, and young women….

You think to yourself, “I can’t let someone like into a position of power…and hurt more girls, take advantage of more women….” You vomit a little in the back of your throat, maybe.

Before you disparage people in a rural community somewhere for an anti-Hillary billboard, maybe you stop and think about all of this. Maybe you consider that people in rural communities are smarte two. And maybe they’ve just got better memories than you do. Maybe it’s just a choice between raping-people, and non raping people, and they’re choosing the non-raping people.

Or maybe they have more daughters and sisters.

If 14 people are enough for Bill Cosby to go to jail – it’s enough for Bill Clinton to go to jail. and maybe take an accomplice or two away with him. (Wait, am I implying that his wife knew what was happening across 40 years of serial sexual misconduct?….)

In his book, “Inside the White House” by former Secret Service member Ronald Kessler – then First Lady Hillary Clinton was heard saying to her then President Bill Clinton,

“……Come on Bill, put your d**k up! You can’t f**k her here!!…..”

….when spotting Bill talking to an attractive female.

Yeah. So maybe, well………..yeah.

That’s enough of that.

And the water is out of the ear, again.

 

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Time is getting faster…

When I was a kid, and something broke around the house – things were different. And when I say, “kid”, we’re talking about 35 years ago.

I remember once that a hinge on the back fence broke. If it broke on a Saturday after 5 o’clock, that hinge wasn’t getting fixed until Monday night – at the earliest, if Dad got home from work before the hardware store closed (there were no Lowes or Home Depots). More often than not, Dad would measure the hinge and look for scrap metal at the machine shop he was managing…and make up a new hinge over time…replacing it the following weekend with a beer next to his tool bag. He’d go slow, and methodically. A neighbor would walk up to the fence. There was talking, and the passing over of another beer.

Car repairs were titanic time voyages. There were trips to the library. Copies of a book called the “Chilton’s Manual” were made. Quarters were deposited into ancient machines called “Xerox” copiers (that’s pronounced “ZEE-ROCKS” if you’ve never heard of them). Trips were made to a NAPA store. Parts were ordered from a warehouse somewhere in Idaho, or Wyoming or a state you saw colored on a map somewhere in school. It took weeks. There were sheets in the driveway for parts to be laid – in order of disassembly – so as to insure they were put back in the correct order.  There were bottles of beer. And more neighbors. And nothing happened on Sundays.

Today – we discovered the clips that hold the valence on top of our horizontal blinds in the kitchen broke, or got lost during cleaning. I walked upstairs to my personal-computer (PC) and browsed to a website named, “Thingiverse”. There are millions of pre-loaded 3D printer files stored in the “Cloud” (I believe the Cloud is in Idaho, or near it at the very least). I typed the words, “HORIZONTAL BLINDS” and found an image of the clip I needed. In 16 minutes, I had 2 parts printed that fit. 36 minutes later, the parts were installed and the valence was hanging back in place.

The Nissan Sentra I own made a bad light come on my dashboard. The word “soon” was emphasized with the flashing yellow light. Plugging a ‘code reader’ into the car’s “computer” revealed that the fuel mixture going into the engine was too lean. My mechanic (in no fewer than 5 minutes) told me it was a broken vacuum line. We Googled “Sentra Broken Vacuum Line” and 5 minutes later, were staring at the part in the engine compartment…..a one inch break in the manifold. 5 minutes after that, I had the part displayed on my Galaxy S7 “smartphone” on a website called “Amazon.com”.  2 days later, the mail lady brought me a box with the part in it. 5 minutes after that, I watched a video on how to uninstall the old broken part, and put in the new broken part. The new part cost about one fifth what it would have cost to buy at the dealer….about $40.00. Total fix time, including analysis, about 30 minutes.

I have a “smart” TV. Or rather, a “smart” TV “receiver”. (that’s the thing that makes the noisy sounds come out of the speakers).  We don’t watch “one show” anymore. We’re currently watching all, of one show. I’ve seen every episode of the comedy series, “Scrubs”. I’ve watched each one, in sequence, 2,3,5 shows at a time. We’re currently watching every episode of the TV show, “LOST”. I am convinced this show is better than most of the new shows made today – but back when, it sucked. Because you had to wait. A week. Or months after each season conclusion. Last night after season three concluded, I “Googled”, ‘who is Jacob’, into my “smart phone”, when I felt a little lost in the plot. We’ll be done with the series in the time it took one season to come out years go. We’ll watch about 100% more actual “show” because there are no commercials on NetFlix – or YouTube – which I now watch like TV. Which is weird.

The “wi-fi” that drives the signal from my cable router to my “smart” receiver is spotty. So I went back to “Amazon.com” and found something called a “ethernet-over-power” adapter. It plugs into a 3 prong wall outlet near your TV….and has a twin that plugs into the wall by your cable modem wherever it is on the other side of the house. It “transmits” the “world wide web” at “gigabit speeds” through the copper power lines of my house. When I watch “LOST” now, it doesn’t lock up or stall anymore where I have to reboot something, or turn something on and off.

When I first got married, we “splurged” and bought a service for $9 a month called, “Netflix”. You would ‘dial up’ “Netflix.com” on your 486 computer, using a 56K modulator-demodulator (that’s modem for you young folks). It called a computer in Riverhead, NY. That phone in Riverhead was connected to a computer that I could tell what movies I wanted to see. A week later, I’d get 2 DVD’s in the mail.  We’d watch one, and mail it back. 3 days later, we’d watch another movie. Today – Netflix accounts for about 30% of the entire traffic on the web. And I can watch as many movies as I want – as long as I want- as fast as I want. On vacation, we logged into our account on the rental’s TV. All the shows and account settings followed us there. . . no spending time with a ‘TV Guide’ necessary.

This morning, all the WiFi in my house stopped working correctly. The Android devices stayed connected, but the Apple phones and Pads didn’t connect. My son, who plays online games with friends in different states (at the same time) stayed connected via his X-Box. In 30 minutes, I was browsing 3 different support forums searching, “ANDROID CONNECTS TO WIFI BUT NOT APPLE”. It took me about 5 hours to figure out that adding my “POWER OVER ETHERNET” device had corrupted the internal settings of the Linksys wireless router, and it needed to be reset to factory default settings. I went from device to device and changed connections. Everyone was relieved….(no WiFi for several hours, that’s almost like no air or water now.). No repairman was called. No services rendered or received. No invoices or credit card swipe machines. It’s expected now – if something isn’t working – the solution is just inside your curved HD screen….

For 15 years in my prior professional life, we made video tape demonstrations and copied them from one VCR to another VCR. We made 10 copies at a time, and a customer wanting more information would wait 3-5 days for theirs to come in the mail. If they were an important customer, it took 24 hours and we sent the tape UPS RED, EARLY AM. I now have a job that lets me work from home. I connect with customers via Skype, GoToWebinar, our website, cellular phones with international plans, TeamViewer, Gmail and email.  Those customers contact me real time via a “TALK TO US NOW” page on the website that is always up, and sends chats to my phone wherever I am, whenever I am wherever I am. 3 customers said they were purchasing after my webinar on Friday, and only 1 did. I am sending the other 2 notes via email and skype in an attempt to close sales before Monday, on Labor Day Weekend, using a program called, “JING” to capture screenshots of my software that they can see via one ‘click’ instantly.  Sick days for me now mean, “Can I sit in this chair and do I have the strength to push these keys on this keyboard?”. 98% of the time, the answer is yes.

Time is getting faster. In the past year, using the resources we all have access to, I taught myself how to build and maintain a hydroponic greenhouse across an entire year – using 3 different methods to grow hundreds of tomatoes and lettuce heads and pounds of basil. I used YouTube to teach myself how to can and preserve jars of tomato sauce using the produce I’d grown. My best friend and I taught ourselves how to make our own wind generators and solar powered houses….using Google and Amazon for 90% of the journey. I learned how to prospect for Gold, and together we built a Gold Dredge like the ones they use on the TV – and we dredged an actual creek 3 miles from one of the original goldmines in North Carolina. We taught ourselves to make “air conditioner-misting-systems’ that increase the inefficiencies of our home’s outdoor heat exchanger. According to the power company, it has saved my friend somewhere between $500 and $1000 in electric bills this year alone.  In my pre-internet-library world – this would not have been possible.

Everything we want to know – everything we want, is 1 second to 1 or 2 days away. Not weeks, or months, or years. I’m thinking – right now – I can put a headset on right now, and tour any museum in the world, in Virtual Reality. Or, I can research 10 career fields with my oldest son whose a Junior in High School, and schedule a college campus tour online having taken a virtual “walk around” via YouTube with him in our living room. I can connect with alumni via email and skype or Facebook chat to guide his decision about a Major. In minutes.

Life, is getting faster. I don’t know what the lesson here is, but acknowledging the speed from my ancient reference frame is, I guess, a good start.

 

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