Monthly Archives: December 2017

THE TRAIN OF LIFE

(Our thanks to Gordon Roberts for this meaningful blog.)

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents,
and we believe they will always travel on our side.

However, at some station
our parents will step down from the train,
leaving us on this journey alone.

As time goes by,
other people will board the train;
and they will be significant,
i.e. our siblings, friends, children,
and even the love of your life.

Many will step down
and leave a permanent vacuum.

Others will go so unnoticed
that we don’t realize
they vacated their seats.

This train ride will be full of joy,
sorrow, fantasy, expectations,
hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

Success consists of having a good relationship
with all the passengers
requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is:
We do not know at which station
we ourselves will step down.

So we must live in the best way,
love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.

It is important to do
this because when the time comes for us to step down
and leave our seat empty
we should leave behind beautiful memories
for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life.
Reap success and give lots of love.
More importantly, thank God for the journey.

I am not planning to get off the train anytime soon,
but I thank you
for being one of the passengers on my train.

Have a wonderfully happy, successful and healthy
New Year!

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RANDOM OBSERVATIONS IN 2017

  1. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, in her seminal study on behavioral economics, told us we fear loss twice as much as we covet success.
  2. I still have trouble understanding how the Superior Court could define money as a form of speech in the Citizens United case which has opened the floodgates to astronomic amounts of money saturating political campaigns.
  1. The reason we elect so many flawed candidates is because so many people mistakenly believe that being able to articulate ideas is the same as being able to put ideas into action and make them work.
  1. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when some vendor asks me to call 1(800)ShopCVS and provides no numbers.
  1. I’ve never figured out why anyone wants to be a dentist.
  1. No big surprise, LaVar Ball, the Donald Trump of parenting, became the first to pull his shoplifting son Angelo out of UCLA. He didn’t like the punishment (still to be determined) his son would have to endure.  He’s going to try to play with his younger brother in Lithuania.  My guess is they’ll have a tough time finding an NBA team.
  1. All the impeachment noise has nowhere to go, unless Mueller gets Trump’s income tax returns. All the rest of the investigation will prove to be meaningless B.S.
  1. If you think the media has been critical of Trump, now that the tax bill is about to pass. They’ll go ballistic on him.
  1. How can President Trump look in a mirror and think he’s being effective despite absolute facts that counter his opinions?
  1. A year of Trump and all his blistering erroneous pronouncements has been enough. I’m ready for Mike Pence.
  1. Trying to rewrite and alter history is just plain dumb. Columbus Day celebrated the discovery of America, not a flawed man.  The same goes for the statues.
  1. Clare Valley Vinters in South Australia have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.  It will be called PINO MORE.
  1. Why does HP require completely separate ink cartridges for each of the dozens of printers they produce? Hmm, I think I know why.
  1. Don’t you have to be able to read English to become a citizen? If so, why are ballots printed in multiple languages?
  1. Why isn’t English the official language of the U.S.?
  1. In the 1960s, leftists marched in Berkeley, California, holding up signs demanding free speech rights. In 2017, black-clad, masked leftists in Berkeley grabbed similar free-speech signs away from conservatives at a rally…and burned them.  Then the agitators physically attacked the conservatives—all for the “crime” of waving American flags and supporting President Trump.
  1. The constitution allows you to bear arms—a musket and a pistol when that was the standard. Why can’t we use the same standard?  You can’t legally own a tank and other military weapo0ns.  Why don’t we prohibit the ownership of all guns with more than five bullets or go to jail for five years.
  1. Why do people spend thousands of dollars to cover their whole bodies with indistinguishable tattoos?
  1. How can California allow illegal aliens to practice law?
  1. How can all the car advertisers find so many empty streets or roads to drive on?
  1. To expand on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assessment, I think Trump is an uncontrollable, educated moron—but since his election, the stock market is up over 20%, the economy (GDP) is at 3% for the first time in nine years, we’ve done away with a lot of burdensome regulations, and we finally have ISIS running on empty.
  1. The whole transgender thing baffles me completely. I don’t understand why you want to do it, nor the demands you make for accommodation.
  1. The concept of sanctuary cities or colleges, etc. seems to me to be the first step toward anarchy.
  1. Why is it the Republicans haven’t come up with a sensible health care plan in eight years?
  1. How can the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church justify illegal immigration not for any moral righteousness, but only to feather and increase their numbers?
  1. The one major accomplishment in the tax bill coming out of Congress appears to be a reduction in the corporate tax from 35% to 21%, which may help stimulate some overall economic growth. The rest is a muddled, ineffective stab at tax reform.  It raises more taxes than it cuts.
  1. If the Republicans could find a leader, they could form a political party.

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THE LIGHTER SIDE OF TRAVEL

Some trips are memorable for the scenery, some for the adventure, some for some incredible sites, some for the relaxing and/or feeling of restoration.  Then there are those moments in travel where you just have to laugh, because it’s just really funny.

We posted a blog on 10-15-14 with some of these moments.  Here is a second round of the funny moments in our travels.

Buenos Aires, Brazil – Gabriele is fluent in Spanish from her days in school in Cuba, but is a bit reluctant in Spanish-speaking countries to let locals know that.  I’m not sure why, but that’s her choice.

Anyway, we’re in the Sofitel Hotel in Buenos Aires and go down to have breakfast.  We look at the menu and she orders two four-minute eggs and I order bacon and eggs; mine comes in a reasonable time, then we wait and wait for Gabriel’s soft-boiled eggs.

Finally, her order arrives—it’s two raw eggs.  The waitress never understood her English.  Now she re-orders in Spanish and it took four minutes—no problem.

Provence, France – We’re on a bike trip—not well organized—and staying in some dumpy places.  Not one of our better trips.  It was also the only bike trip of the seven we tried where the mistral winds forced you to have to peddle to go downhill.  It was a hoot.

Kern River, California – It was way back in 1987.  We were on a two-day river-rafting trip on the Kern River, near Bakersfield, California.  It was late June and the river was running pretty high due to a lot of winter rains.

We were in a raft of pontoons with three people on each side and a guide in the back to steer and give us some direction.

The rapids were strong and it was a lot of fun.  All of a sudden we hit an unseen rapid that threw the raft up in the air.  When we came down, all three on my side, plus the guide got thrown into the river.  I mean thrown!

We went under for a mini second, but seemed a lot longer.  As we all came up, the guide somehow leaped straight up and back into the raft, and then started to pull each of us back in.

Found out why they always instructed you to put your life vest on really tight.  That’s how the guide pulled you back into the raft.

Manaus, Brazil – In 2010 we’re getting ready to start a 3- day trip on the Amazon River.  We arrive at this nice hotel kind of late in the evening.  We ask what’s available where we can eat.  They tell us there’s a barbecue out in the garden or you can get a light snack in the bar.

We decide we don’t want barbecue so we go to the bar.  They really meant a LIGHT snack.  So we managed and went to bed a little hungry.

After a day of touring in Manaus, which turned out to be quite interesting, we returned to the hotel and asked again about eating.  Same options—barbecue or the bar.

Found it hard to believe in this really nice hotel there were only two options, so we walked out to the garden to check out the “barbecue.”  It turned out to be a delightful buffet and not even close to a barbecue.

Parma, Italy – We’re on a bike trip in the Po River Valley, the agricultural heart of Italia.  It’s beautiful and mostly flat.

For some reason, I can’t remember why Gabriel takes a sleeping pill one night.  The next day, we pack up, get on our bikes and take off with the crowd.

Now it’s lunchtime in a cute little town with a bunch of restaurants on a small hill.  I sit down with a group of six or so guys waiting for the women to ride in and join us, which they do in a few minutes.

Bringing up the rear is Gabriel who comes rushing up to me excitedly.  No hello, just a bit panicky, telling me we left her black pants in the hotel room.

We have to go—we have to call—we have to do something, she’s saying.  I try to calm her and tell her I’m sure the pants got packed, but either way, why don’t we wait until we get to tonight’s hotel to see if the pants are there.

The crowd is now quite amused over this episode of marital discord.  Gabriel is not happy with my response, but everyone encourages her to go along.

She grudgingly accepts, but worries all afternoon.  When we get to the hotel, the pants are there and Gabriel swears she will never take another sleeping pill.

On a Cruise, Somewhere – Gabriel insisted she would do the laundry.  She says it’s too expensive to send out.  So she goes to the designated laundry room with her bag of laundry.  To help pass the time, she put a book on top of her laundry bag.

You know what happened next?  The laundry and the book all went into the washing machine.  She realized what she did, but couldn’t stop the machine cycle.

Called Guest Services and they finally got hold of a mechanic.  He couldn’t stop the machine either until he took the whole control panel apart.  It finally stopped.

By this time a small crowd had arrived, all waiting to do some laundry.

Gabriel didn’t know what to do with a wet book so she put it in a plastic bag and put it with the laundry into the dryer.  Nice try; but, of course, it didn’t work.

Squaw Valley, California – It was around 1998 or so.  We had been to Yosemite and now we were getting a real taste of winter.  Although I had never been before, I agreed to go cross-country skiing.

After a brief orientation, we were told just follow the ruts that make kind of a path around the snow-covered golf cours4e.

It was fine until I had to turn.  Nobody had bothered to tell me how to do that, so I invented my own way.  I would fall down, turn on the ground and get up in a new direction.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

It was a lot of fun!  After lunch, Gabriel decided she wanted to go back out on her own.  That was okay till the fog started rolling in.

Now, she was lost and wandered around till she finally saw a glimpse of the hotel; and there she was, a vision coming out of the fog.

Farewell Bike Trip Trophy – About 2011, we were on what I proclaimed to all who would listen that this was my farewell bike trip.  We went from Amsterdam to Bruges, staying on a barge each night and biking during the day.

It was a relatively easy bike trip with some nice people.  It didn’t matter which direction we were biking, it always seemed like we were riding into the wind.

At one point, the person on the bike in front of me stopped short.  I did, too; but because of my poor balance, as I stopped, I sort of fell off the bike and down a small slope into a dry ditch.

Undaunted, my friend from Philadelphia came to help me and he came tumbling down as well.

At our final dinner they awarded me my bike seat as a memento of my farewell bike trip.

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THIS N’ THAT

Here are three unrelated items gleaned from the news which may tickle your interest or give you some information you didn’t think you needed.

First is a Cato poll of Americans feelings on expressing political views, followed by an outline on making the right choice to paint your walls and ending with a somewhat hair-brained scheme to split California into three states.

Free Speech in America

A new Cato Institute national poll of 2,300 U.S. adults provides a highly compelling portrait of the state of free speech in America today.

One of the most striking findings is that 58% of Americans say they have political views they feel unable to share in the current political climate.  Further, 71% believe that political correctness has silenced discussions society needs to have.  The survey’s results also show why censoring offensive speech is difficult—Americans can’t agree what speech is offensive or shouldn’t be allowed.  For instance, 82% of Democrats believe it’s hate speech to say unauthorized immigrants should be deported; only 37% of Republicans agree.  But 42% of Republicans think it’s hateful to say the police are racist while only 19% of Democrats agree.

What is deeply offensive to one person may simply be a political opinion to another.  The results also show that if we silence speech that any number of people find offensive, we will shut down a wide variety of important political debates.

Choosing the Right Color to Paint Your Walls

Here is an interesting recommendation from noted interior designer Jonathan Fong to solve this continuing question.

“When I start a decorating job for a client, one of the first questions I’m always asked is, ‘What color should I paint these walls?’

“To determine the perfect hue for a particular room, we need to start with how we want to feel in it.  Do we want to be energized?  Hopeful?  Colors can affect our emotions, so it’s important to understand the psychology of color in the context of home decorating.  Let’s look at some colors and how they can make you feel.

“RED – The color of passion, red is stimulating and energetic.  It’s good for kitchens and dining rooms because it also stimulates the appetite.  However, because it can raise blood pressure and heart rates, try not to use red in bedrooms, where you need your beauty sleep.

“ORANGE – If you like red but are afraid it could be too intense, orange is a good alternative.  Orange conveys enthusiasm and creativity, and also is ideal for kitchens and dining rooms.  Orange is a friendly color, so you will find that many businesses use it in their corporate communications and interiors to suggest a more customer-oriented image.

“YELLOW – The color of sunshine, yellow is joyful and optimistic.  Its welcoming vibe is perfect for entryways and living rooms, but a little goes a long way.  Too much yellow, especially when it’s a brighter shade, can feel oppressive.  It does work well as an accent color, offering a happy contrast to cooler colors such as gray.

“BLUE – A popular choice for bedrooms, blue creates a feeling of serenity and peace.  Light blues are particularly calming but they run the risk of making you sad, or “blue,” if the room receives little natural sunlight.  If that’s the case, try a deeper blue or balance it with some warmer shades.

“GREEN – The most prevalent color in nature, green is another calming color and is very restful for the eyes.  It also helps you concentrate and stay focused, so it is perfect for home offices.  Because it blends the serenity of blue with the cheerfulness of yellow, green works in almost any room.

“BROWN – Another color dominant in nature, brown offers comfort and security.  Both the lighter beige and the darker chocolate shades create warmth.  Even if you choose not to apply brown paint to the walls, you can get a similar effect with wood finishes on furniture and floors.

“PURPLE – It’s no wonder purple is considered the color of royalty.  Especially in its deeper shades, purple evokes luxury and sophistication.  It adds drama to living rooms, even in small doses as an accent color.  And in lighter shades such as lavender, purple creates a calming environment for bedrooms, but with more grandeur than blue or green.’

“PINK – Traditionally stereotyped as feminine, pink has very calming effects.  In fact, researchers have shown that prison cells painted pink resulted in less anger and hostility among inmates.  The University of Iowa even painted its visiting football team’s locker room pink to make the players less aggressive.”

Splitting Up California

California, home to nearly 40 million people, has commonly been ungovernable.  That’s why some people think we should divide it up.

Now, the architect of a previous effort, a tech billionaire named Timothy C. Draper, is back with another idea:  three Californias.  He submitted paperwork to put the question before voters in 2018.

“No one can argue that California’s government is doing a reasonable job governing or educating or building infrastructure for its people,” Mr. Draper said.  “And it doesn’t matter which party is in place.”

The three Californias would have roughly equivalent populations and wealth.  A state of Northern California would include almost the entire upper half of the state, including San Francisco; a Southern California state would contain most of the rest.

A third state, called simply California, would fold in Los Angeles and extend up the coast to Monterey.

The proposal’s odds are extreme.  Even if voters got behind it, the state Legislature would have to approve it, and then the U.S. Congress, which would have to be convinced to let blue California add four additional senators.

Just what we need; something else to clutter up our ballot.

Martin Lewis, a geographer at Stanford University, said Mr. Draper’s plan was striking in its seeming disregard for regional identities.  Monterey, for example, which looks toward San Francisco, would be unlikely to welcome its absorption into a state whose epicenter is Los Angeles.

According to Lewis, in a two-California scenario, putting aside the water issues, it might seem logical to simply separate north and south.

“It’s clear now,” he said, “that the real political divide separates the coastal counties from most of their interior counties.”

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