THOUGHTS ON A RAINY DAY

• With all the advances in nutrition, physical fitness, personalized training and specialized coaching, why are so many professional athletes in every sport getting hurt? Do they play too many games? Are they not following the prescribed regimens?

• The road to the top executive ranks rarely goes to someone who follows a career in marketing.

• I’m very surprised there are not more interceptions in football.

• If you trespass on private property—that is to say, if you enter or attempt to enter private property—you are committing an illegal act. The property owner may shoot you or call the police and have you arrested. You will then be subject to and have to suffer the legal consequences of your action. Our borders are no different than private property. It’s just that simple. That’s the crux of the immigration problem and the solution. Open borders for “humane” or “moral” reasons are still condoning an illegal act.

• This has been the most turbulent, tumultuous and somewhat bizarre presidential administration we have ever witnessed; with all that said, the Trump presidency has accomplished a number of significant achievements, i.e., a stronger economy, better trade relations and some tax reductions.

• There is nothing government can give you that it hasn’t taken from you in the first place. –Winston Churchill

• There is too much showboating in professional football.

• When will they ever stop making us change our passwords?

• When will they ever honor the passwords we gave them?

• As great as the creation of electricity and the computer and the internet has been, I believe the greatest invention of the last two centuries has been the flush toilet.

• No incumbent president has ever lost a primary re-election.

• Why can’t they get better about predicting the weather more accurately?

• It’s very frustrating to keep getting phone calls and no one appears to be on the line.

• If you think the roads are in bad shape, try riding a scooter on the sidewalk.

• When publications use stock paper, don’t they know some of us older folks have trouble getting the pages apart?

• I don’t miss work one bit, but I sure miss having a secretary.

• With all the advancement in packaging, some products seem to be welded into their cardboard carriers.

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THE MOVIES I ENJOYED THE MOST IN 2018

Each year I complain that there seems to be fewer movies to recommend. In 2018, I think we had some outstanding flics.

Overall, theater revenue was up about 6%, although attendance was down about the same.

This year I noticed, or I think I noticed, a discrepancy more often between the critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience’s opinion. For example:

Widows: Critics = 93% Audience = 63%
Green Book: Critics = 82% Audience = 95%
Bohemian Rhapsody: Critics 62% Audience = 90%

In case you missed my nominations for the films I most enjoyed in 2017. They’re probably still available on Netflix.

• Norman
• 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Miss.
• Darkest Hour
• Marshall
• Phantom Thread
• Rebel in the Rye
• Stronger
• The Big Sick
• Molly’s Game

So, in 2018 these are the movies I most enjoyed:

Hearts Beat Loud

Widower and aging record store hipster father wants to make music with his college-aspiring daughter who leaves in the fall for college in California. When a song they collaborate on hits big online, it complicates the plans of both. Entertaining!

Leave No Trace

Father and teenage-daughter live in the forests outside of Portland, Oregon, until their idyllic but spartan life is shattered and put into the social service system. After clashing with their new civilized surroundings, they set off to return to their uncluttered homeland. Well done!

Three Identical Strangers

Three college young men are reunited after being born identical triplets and adopted by three different families. The unbelievable feel-good story becomes a global sensation with fame and celebrity which sets in motion a series of events and discoveries. Intriguing, fascinating film with many questions.

A Star is Born

An outstanding new take on a 4th retelling of a tragic love story. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are terrific as the aging musician and the aspiring young, shy singer. As her career takes off, the relationship sadly fades. Well done entertainment!

The Old Man and the Gun

An entertaining romp from Robert Redford, who plays the gentleman rogue Forest Tucker, whose specialty is bank heists and jail escapes. The detective, Casey Affleck, and lover, Sissy Spacek, are captivated by his charm, albeit in different ways.

The Black Klansman

A gem from Spike Lee. A black cop works the phones to get his partner into the KKK using his name. It’s a great story with a satisfying sardonic ending. Well done in every way!

Bohemian Rhapsody

The critics didn’t like it, but I did. It’s a celebration of the innovative music of Queen and their fabulously famous lead singer, Freddie Mercury. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band until Mercury’s lifestyle spins out of control. It leads to a triumphant reunion and one of the greatest performances in rock history. Totally entertaining!

Green Book

A well-directed trip through the racial struggles of the early sixties in America. An Italian-American club bouncer from the Bronx is hired to drive a black concert pianist through the Midwest and the south. Worth seeing—interesting and entertaining!

The Mule

If you like Clint Eastwood, you’ll love his latest flick. It’s somewhat predictable, but he carries if off well in his own style and form. With contributions from Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia and Diane Weiss, as well as assorted gangsters. Entertaining and well done!

Honorable Mention

Book Club – not highly rated but fun and entertaining, with four seasoned actresses who tackle Fifty Shades of Grey as their current discussion selection.

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THE BEST BY POPULAR CHOICE…AND TRAVELERS BEWARE

Conde Nast magazine readers cast hundreds of thousands of votes for the best cities to visit in the U.S. Here is a list of the smaller cities with populations under one million and the major cities with populations over a million that the Conde Nast audience really liked.

Best Small Cities

1. Charleston, SC
2. Santa Fe, NM
3. Savannah, GA
4. Alexandria, VA
5. Sarasota, FL
6. Sedona, AZ
7. Monterey, CA
8. Asheville, NC
9. Greenville, SC
10. Key West, FL
11. Portland, ME
12. Napa, CA
13. Palm Springs, CA
14. Newport, RI
15. Santa Barbara, CA

Best Big Cities

1. Chicago, IL
2. New York, NY
3. New Orleans, LA
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Honolulu, HI
6. San Antonio, TX
7. San Diego, CA
8. Seattle, WA
9. Portland, OR
10. Boston, MA
11. Washington, D.C.
12. Denver, CO
13. Nashville, TN
14. Minneapolis, MN
15. Indianapolis, IN

In this survey, I guess L.A. is chopped liver. All interesting cities to visit.

In the Best U.S. Airline category, Delta ranks as No. 5, Southwest as No. 4, Hawaiian as 3, JetBlue as 2 and Alaska as No. 1.

In international airlines, the Top 5:

1. Singapore
2. Emirates
3. Qatar Airway
4. Air New Zealand
5. Aegean Airlines

TRAVELERS BEWARE

If you’re not careful, too much information about a pending trip can make that trip almost anti-climatic. There is so much video, photographs and vivid deceptions available on the internet from professional writers and photographers to showcase destinations under relatively near-perfect conditions that you may be putting yourself in danger of being somewhat disappointed when you go.

That may also include too much conversation with people who have been there. That is particularly true if you’re going the hostel route and the conversations are with people who travel on an unlimited budget.

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MY THOUGHTS FOR A BRIGHT, HEALTHY 2019

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. Live with the 3 E’s—Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.
4. Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did in 2018.
5. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
6. Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
7. Dream more while you are awake.
8. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in plants.
9. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds and walnuts.
10. Clear the clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new energy into your life.
11. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
13. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.
14. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the vampires away.
15. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
16. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
17. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
18. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
19. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
20. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
23. Forgive everyone for everything.
24. What other people think of you is none of your business.
25. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
26. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
27. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
28. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
29. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
30. No matter now you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
31. Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.
32. The best is yet to come.

May your troubles to less, your blessings be more, and may nothing but happiness come through your door!

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RANDOM OBSERVATIONS – DECEMBER, 2018

There is a severe crisis looming in youth sports. Very simply, only about 10% of children today play organized sports and the number is declining rapidly. At the same time, 40% or more of our children are overweight or obese.

What is going on and why? Because of partial or total budget cuts, most public schools rarely have gym programs. In addition, most park and recreation facilities have fallen into misuse and parted with staff.

The result is most kids don’t have a place to play organized sports.

To fill the gap, there is a booming expansion of highly sophisticated training facilities supported by parents who can afford to sign up their kids for multi-level programs in a wide variety of sports.

The kids who can’t afford these training facilities are left on the wayside to play video games and become more obese.

If you project this trend further, the demographics of college and professional sports teams will be dominated by the more well-to-do students who have been well trained and will outshine the competition from the less prosperous students who will have little training without the traditional school and parks programs.

The change will be huge!
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Will the state of Florida ever get the ballot counting after an election straight? Sure doesn’t look like it!
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How come we all overeat on Thanksgiving and it’s so good? We all say, “I ate too much.” Then comes the next morning, we can’t wait for breakfast.
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There’s a whole new “sport” developing in Russia. It’s part competitive war games, and an Olympics of war machines, as well as a giant arms sale for countries looking to buy arms and equipment.

The games included tanks, planes, and all kinds of military arms and equipment.

This year, 37 countries participated, including India, China and Israel. Russia won almost all the gold medals and billions of dollars in purchase orders.
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“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali.
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The new House Oversight Committee has announced plans to investigate Ivanka Trump’s use of her personal computer to communicate government business. While this sounds a lot like Hillary’s same tactic during four or more years as Secretary of State, Ivanka was only a ceremonial representative of the White House.

A somewhat major difference, but that’s politics.
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Popular choice to the contrary, most food and beverages have more taste when served at room temperature.
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The Story of Oil—And Why It’s Crashing Now

Over the past 18 months, American oil production has soared to new record levels. Meanwhile, prices are crashing after reaching multi-year highs earlier in 2018.

Energy is the lifeblood of the modern world. We heat and cool our homes, generate light, drive near and far, fly around the world and ply the oceans. Oil is responsible for most of it, even as we work to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

What makes the oil markets unique is that everyone on earth wants the product, but just a few participants effectively control the industry. Most notably, the oil kingpins of Saudi Arabia and OPEC, who control more than 44% of the world’s oil supply.

So when they want to manipulate the market, it happens. That’s what we’re seeing today, with oil around $50 a barrel.
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Attendance at Jewish and Christian houses of worships is declining as our population becomes more secular—as a non-church goer, I find that disturbing. Our culture is in trouble.
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The so-called “Migrant Caravan,” which has dissipated almost entirely now, was riding high as a “humanitarian crisis” right before the mid-term elections in November.

It was not a spontaneous gathering of innocent victims who got together to seek asylum in the U.S. It was a well-organized and well-funded operation to attempt to overwhelm and destroy our immigration system, as bad as it is.

If you had tried to follow the background of the caravan in our mainstream media, you didn’t have much success. They did not want you to know who was paying for the buses, the trucks transporting, or who was paying for food and shelter for the thousands of people coming to the U.S. border.

It has been confirmed that a Washington, D.C. group called The National Immigration Forum is the guiding light for migrants trying to enter the USA. This organization works with smaller groups to circumvent immigration law.

And listen to this: From 2009 to 2014, the Open Society Foundation, headed by George Soros, donated $4.4 million to the National Immigration Forum. Quite a surprise, right?

In Hungary, the country passed a law to stop Soros and others from funding refugees heading for that nation. It’s actually called “the Soros law.”

But it is the USA where Soros is most involved. In that same period (2009-2014), this guy donated $827 million to far left, progressive groups. That money has done major damage to traditional America and our values.
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A golfer walks into the new Government National Golf Course pro shop and asks the golf pro if they sell ball markers.

The golf pro says that they do, and they are $1.00.

The golfer gives the golf pro a dollar.

The golf pro opens the register, puts the dollar in, and hands the player a dime to use as a marker.
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The baseball season is too long and football games would be better if they were only three quarters.
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Justice Kavanaugh’s vote against hearing the case against Planned Parenthood was his first abortion-related case, but it does not necessarily reflect how he would rule in future cases.

It takes four justices to hear a case, and these appeals were considered in a series of closed-door meetings since late September. But the court’s conservatives were unable to gain the needed fourth vote. Kavanaugh took his seat in the second week of October, and his opponents assumed he would vote in favor of restricting abortion rights when given the opportunity.

Wrong again after all that hoo-ha!
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Well, that’s about enough for one year. Have a great holiday season and get ready for 2019. It’s the beginning of an election cycle, so we’ll have more laughable or annoying moments than serious new ideas.

Oh, well!

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DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF… UNLESS YOU CAN LEARN FROM THEM

Awhile back, Harvey McKay told us about the fulfillment gained by helping others. He also reminded us about a series of steps that would make life easier and more satisfying.

One of the steps he called attention to was “don’t let the little things bother you.”

This is a theme that was started about 1975 or so, when Richard Carlson wrote “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…a=And It’s All About Small Stuff.” Over 25 million people bought that book and obviously are trying to subscribe to that suggestion.

I certainly can’t argue with that advice, particularly in light of all the people who tend to worry or react emotionally to the things they can’t control.

On the other hand, people who learn and grow in their career and/or life stream should pay attention to observe the small stuff and learn how you might do it differently.

Here are a few examples of small stuff you can learn from:

1. The constant need to change passwords.
2. Ads that don’t clearly indicate the location of the advertiser or how to contact them.
3. Salad bars that don’t allow participants to take from either side—or put the plates or silverware on the wrong end.
4. TV shows that have unrealistic plot circumstances; i.e., the wife of a governor running for attorney general or the father and son both becoming police commissioner in a big city.
5. Travel operators who put the highlight destination at the start of a tour.
6. Movie theaters that don’t provide enough light to see the seat numbers.

I’m sure you can add a dozen more.

Here are 16 top quotes from Richard Carlson and his pioneering book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”:

“Being listened to and heard is one of the greatest desires of the human heart. And those who learn to listen are the most loved and respected.”

“Effective listening is more than simply avoiding the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking or finishing their sentences. It’s being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond.”

“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”

“Your heart, the compassionate part of you, knows that it’s impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else.”

“It’s the recognition that other people’s problems, their pain and frustration, are every bit as real as our own—often far worse. In recognizing this fact and trying to offer some assistance, we open our hearts and greatly enhance our sense of gratitude.”

“Thinking of someone to love each day keeps your resentment away!”

“As you put more emphasis on being a loving person, which is something you can control—and less emphasis on receiving love, which is something you can’t control—you’ll find that you have plenty of love in your life.”

“So often, either consciously or unconsciously, we want something from others, especially when we have done something for them—it’s almost as though we keep score of our own good deeds rather than remembering that giving is its own reward.”

“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

“We tend to believe that if we were somewhere else—on vacation, with another partner, in a different career, a different home, a different circumstance—somehow we would be happier and more content.” Probably not!

“One of the mistakes many of us make is that we feel sorry for ourselves, or for others, thinking that life should be fair, or that someday it will be. It’s not and it won’t. When we make this mistake we tend to spend a lot of time wallowing and/or complaining about what’s wrong with life. ‘If’s not fair,’ we complain, not realizing that, perhaps, it was never intended to be.”

“Indeed the important question in terms of becoming more peaceful isn’t whether or not you’re going to have negative thoughts—you are—it’s what you choose to do with the ones that you have.”

“Ask yourself the question, ‘Will this matter a year from now?’”

“If we would just slow down, happiness would catch up to us.”

“We live our lives as if they were one big emergency! We often rush around looking busy, trying to solve problems, but in reality, we are often compounding them.”

“The first step in becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies. Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan.”

“We forget that life isn’t as bad as we’re making it out to be. We also forget that when we’re blowing things out of proportion, we are the ones doing the blowing.”

It was all good advice then and still good today.

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NEXT TO THE BEST TRIPS – PART II

Here is the other half of our series on our most outstanding trips.

Brazil

It’s a huge country so we didn’t see all of it, but there were three outstanding highlights: Salvador de Bahia, Manaus with the Amazon and Igasu Falls. Let’s take them one at a time.

Salvador de Bahia – about an hour’s flight north of Rio is a colorful, exciting city with a rich history in Afro-Brazilian culture. It was the principal port of entry when the slaves were brought in from Africa; many of whom remained. The buildings are all bright and faded colors and there is an air of carnival all around the town. A delightful surprise.

Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon and to our surprise a good-sized, somewhat modern city with a great fish market and an outstanding opera house, who delivers some outstanding performances. The Amazon is three or four days on a small, 20-plus passenger houseboat. It is an interesting adventure into another world.

Then there is Igasu Falls. Absolutely the most spectacular waterfall in the world. It’s interesting from the Argentina side, but so much more from the Brazil side. Lots of great hikes and torrents of water from the mile-wide waterfall. You’ve never seen anything like it.

Red Mountain Resort – Nestled at the foot of Snow Canyon, a red-rock hiking paradise, the Red Mountain Resort is a surprising retreat at modest prices. It’s just a few miles outside of St. George, Utah, barely two hours north of Las Vegas.

Whether you drive or fly, it’s well worth the trip They have fitness classes all day; stretch, water aerobics, and there is a spa, but the highlight of this location are the organized hikes each morning. It’s near enough to Bryce and Zion that you can go for an extra fee.

Daughter Ellen introduced us to this delightful non she-she place 20 years ago and we’ve been going ever since.

Kenya/Tanzania – This is a trip through well-appointed tented safari camps in Kenya and nice hotels in Tanzania. What you go for are not the accommodations but the animals, and there are plenty of them.
The safaris in each country are wonderful and sleeping in the well-appointed tents with a guard outside is a real treat.

If you’re lucky (and we were), you see the migration of thousands and thousands of animals who cross between the two countries twice a year. It’s a sight you can never forget.

The British Isles – There are many parts of England well worth visiting; the Cotswalds, Bath, Wales, York, Stratford, Oxford, but London is absolutely the best of cities. The museums are a real treasure, the theater is wonderful and if you dig a little, the food is top drawer, plus great shopping in the best stores.

We’ve been to London many times and enjoyed it every time. The underground (subway) is easy to use and goes everywhere, including the airport.

Off the beaten tourist path are two museum-like townhouses that are a secret delight. The first is the Duke of Wellington home on the edge of Hyde Park. And then there is the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square. Two very large old residences that offer a glimpse into a bygone era of upper crust living.

Ireland is a green garden naturally landscaped to give your eyes a treat everywhere you go. Dublin is a delightful city that offers many treats.

Scotland is not as warm or as green but interesting in a very different landscape Edinburgh is a great city to visit.

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Over 100 galleries of art and jewelry and the charm of a Mexican revival town. The galleries feature a lot of Native American art, but many others as well. Good, tasty food to eat and great surroundings in Taos, Bandelier and the remnants of old Indian pueblos everywhere.

It’s a great weekend.

Australia/New Zealand – It you’re going that far, you ought to see both. Australia has friendly folk and lots to see in Melbourne and Sydney. The Great Barrier Reef offers a great water-oriented side trip.

New Zealand is a wonderful green country and offers some very interesting and different areas in Auckland, Christ Church and Queensland.

Canada – A big country with three distinct areas; west, central and east. Let’s look at each.

In the west you have Vancouver, one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the world, along with the wonders of British Columbia, including Victoria, Whistler and the spectacular Canadian Rockies. It’ all a WOW!

Moving into the central area, you have the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls, as well as the charm of Montreal and Toronto.

When you get to the east, you have the old French city of Quebec, and then it’s on to Halifax and the Canadian Maritimes.

Great country, terrific neighbors, and lots to see everywhere.

Alaska/Denali – Cruising the inside passage of Alaska north of Vancouver, Canada, is a really special trip. The scenery is green and spectacular, and then you get to Glacier Lake. You have the chance to see bears, whales and other assorted wild animals, as well as caving glaciers up close and personal. The towns of Ketchikan, Haynes, Fairbanks, Sitka, Petersburg and Juneau are a tour through olden times.

Upper Amazon – An hour flight out of Lima, Peru, you start an amazing seven-day trip into another world. First you start with a 100-mile car trip through a close-up look at old country Peru. Then it’s on your houseboat home for an exciting trip on the great river. You’ll see pink dolphins (yes, pink) and the biggest collection of colorful birds you can ever imagine.

The villages are a little more advanced than the ones further upriver near Manaus.

Keep traveling! You’ll never regret it!

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