Theoretically Speaking….

Wandering through the chasms of unending chaos that are my mind I am constantly in search of the reasons for things and just maybe a hint of the meaning of life. That’s in between my new workout regimen and redesigning my golf swing for the 439th time. Now don’t laugh. There is method to my madness. You see all of the above and more rely heavily on theories. A theory is simply an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events. Simple enough.

As I think of my life and yours we are chock a block with these little nuggets that someone has dreamed up. We have black hole theories to explain our universe, evolution to justify our existence and climate change to demonstrate how we have supposedly screwed everything up. There are whacky conspiracy theories to fill the pages of the Enquirer and highly respected ones found in a scientific journal. The latter are above my pay grade.

It is mystifying how we rely on these to dictate our day and manner of dealing with society. From the get go as infants we were subjected to either Watson or Sock as a way to be reared. Watson had little or no regard for one’s psychological well being, as kids were subjected to a very strict routine with no room for any sort of emotion. Benjamin Spock was more of a free spirit where one relied on their gut instincts and natural parenting tendencies to make Johnnie or Sue a contributing member of society.

Education is fraught with theories.Some good.Some bad but either way having an enormous effect on our lives. I have told you all of my experience as an eighth grader in the basement of Saint Mary’s church with 53 kids and Sister Mary Tabernacle to whatever. Point being we all graduated and passed the New York State Regents exams in English, Math and Social Studies.According to current theory that shouldn’t have happened.

When in New Jersey I worked with the Tri County Scholarship program in Paterson, NJ. The city was a stone’s throw from Newark and shared the same failures in public education. At Paterson Catholic we had kids with no entrance exam who excelled. At the time Paterson was spending $11,000 per kid and we were spending $2500. Their success rate was 35% and ours was !00%. I am not so much an apologist for Catholic education as saying there is a different way to achieve success in teaching that transcends religion.

The charter school is emblematic of a way to work within the system but comes under fire for a variety of reasons. If theory is based on fact then the results speak for themselves. They work. Phonics as a concept of educating can be deemed a success or failure but the future of millions of kids based on one mode of teaching or another places the responsibility of the process clearly at the feet of the proponents. The jury is still out.

We as a country and a world serve as lab rats of a sort. Socialism, capitalism, public housing projects of Jacob Riis. Social Security, welfare, desegregation, zero interest rates, the domino theory of Communism and nuclear detente are all theories of one sort or another. Vaccinations cause autism. Quackery or fact? Each of us has an opinion and its probity is often based on our credentials and authenticity. Whether it is the gravitas of the source or just a convincing and thoughtful presentation we are open to be won over or seduced as the case may be. Hey, the Rockies or Cubbies might be contenders this year.

This greatly affects our power to question and discuss. An opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Unless you are Einstein, St Thomas Aquinas or Leonardo I will doubt the veracity of your argument. Nothing personal but I do have my standards. However I will listen. I will absorb as long as we both agree there is something to be sorted as opposed to your unconditional fiat.

Interestingly we have grown up as a highly egalitarian but more importantly independent country. We to this point have craved our individualism and creativity. Entrepreneurship and arrogance of a sort have been our bellwether. And yet today we look to everyone for help. There are coaching, meditating and self improvement gurus. The biggest selling books on Amazon are self help ones. We have consultants of every sort to tell us where we are going wrong instead of capitalizing on what we have done right. We have in essence ceded every part of our persona to someone else to tell me how I should look, dress, act and perform. I am totally subservient to their theories and not my own gut. Is this where you want to be? I don’t.

I have theories and I espouse them to you all the time. That doesn’t mean they are gospel or even coherent. It is just some schmuck throwing out his view of the world. It is neither valid nor to be ignored. It is to be considered in the overall thing we call life. The goal I most desire is to be part of your conversation not the center of it. You have so much much knowledge and wisdom in your soul that I would hope you would shout it to the rooftops and maybe somebody, somewhere will find small piece to call their own. That’s all any of us should ask.

Theories are wonderful but until they have seen the proof of time they are just conjecture. Don’t put them down but don’t blindly obey. Question everything for therein is where we will all find knowledge. You know my Jesuit training. Be wary of everything because it is when we ponder and meditate that we can really see something as worthy to be part of our lives or just another crazy theory.

As always
Ted The Great

Crazy Theories.
The world is flat.
The Donald is Presidential

Conspiracy Theories
Elvis is still alive.
Area 51 was invaded by ETS and an autopsy was done on one of the crew.
We did not land on the moon. It was all put contrived on a movie set.
The real killers of JFK got away.
Jane Fonda is the empress of an evil empire…I believe that one

Life’s enigmas
What is life?
What is happiness?
Why do we have evil?
Are things inherently evil?
Is a fetus living being
What’s your theory?
Does Trickle Down Economics Work?

Opening Up….

I have had a ball this last week. I have had personal encounters of every kind including cleaning up the Creek, working out, discussing finances and just some good conversation. I had an email from a dear friend that was beyond touching and to be honest,humbling. You don’t realize how you affect people and they in turn leave their imprint on your life. Marvelous stuff.

They all involved communicating and that is chance taking at its best. You are involved in a chat and something in your mind says let it go further. Then there is that slap on the back of your head that asks if you have lost your sanity? What is that person going to think of you? Is that last statement you made really out there? Guys don’t do this stuff. Yes, there is good stuff inside of you but there is no way you want to let it out…or do you?

When you are young you can say anything. Out of the mouths of babes so to speak. There is a 50/50 chance you are going to be cute or get an unapproving glare but hey, you are a kid. As we progress towards puberty you have the feeling that everything you say or do is under a microscope. There is a jury of your peers that is willing to jump on you for the slightest transgression or shred of other than cool behavior. Being a dork is not a passing thing but a scarlet letter for the major portion of high school. At least in your mind. If you are lucky,you have friends that get it.

College is a little different. You can completely change your persona and the tribal elders are still in flux at least until the end of the first semester. Then you are pegged one way or the other but at least the populace is larger and more diverse. Your studies take you to new landscapes and your conversations and perhaps your loves become more intense. And of course beer or pot in the prescribed amounts brings you to the level of just short of genius.

During these stages comes a deeper communication and the accompanying risks. Remember when you first got to know a girl and the first few dates you wanted to share everything with that certain someone. You were soul mates and the world was your oyster. The more confident you became the more you told. And then you hit the point of no return. No, not that one, you slug. You really started to speak of the inner you. The one that you always protected and never let out. By opening up in a word you became vulnerable and that was scary as hell.

Progressing through life it does not get any easier. College gives way to corporations and clients. You don’t have dorm mates but neighbors. Club members and couples round out the roster. A whole new set of standards and challenges. Where do I fit and who is a kindred spirit? Sooner or later you winnow down the mob to a controllable few. It’s not a secret society but a comfortable mix.

Strangely enough as we grow older for the most part we have less friends. We become more selective about our environs and comfortable in old shoes. Why go to all the trouble to start up all over again? That is too bad but all too true. Just at the time we have more leisure time we find crazy ways to waste it. Too busy or too content. Leave well enough be.

I have had a totally different experience over the last few years. I’d like to tell you it was intentional and pure brilliance on my part. Not so. Of course years of therapy have slowly brought me out of my shell but seriously I look at most things as an absolute adventure. It is almost as if I wander down dead end roads and dark alleys on purpose only to find a whole new world. In my work on the Creek I have probably met well over 100 people whom I never would have known before. People in business, volunteer work, government and just neighborhoods. Wonderful people who are open and giving. A lot more giving and gracious than me. The bar has been raised.

That whole giving thing is serious stuff. If I share a piece of myself to anything or anyone there is an automatic responsibility. I have made a commitment to a thing, an event or a person. I have started a relationship. I can no longer turn my back and claim ignorance of you or your travails. I think that is why the elders like to shut the door. Courteously, but firmly saying no. I have enough they say and yet the true fun is seeing how far you can get out there. The hardest part is reeling it back in. It is addictive.

In a contrarian thought I find as you move on in years you become less concerned about criticism. I like to think people aren’t sure whether I am just nuts or eccentric. Probably a little of both. I ask questions without reserve. I probe but am not afraid to be called to task myself. If queried I probably will thoughtfully consider a response not to appear PC but so that I can properly elucidate what the hell I have in my mind. And I want the same from you.

The only real drawback is when things fail. I have had a few wonderful friendships go bad over the years. In most cases they are heartbreaking because I try to put a lot into things of this sort as I am sure they did too.Alas, I am hopelessly afflicted with Irish Alzheimers. YOU ONLY REMEMBER THE GRUDGES.Just one of my many tragic flaws

The corollary to opening up is learning to listen. Sitting there and looking into someone eyes and yes maybe their soul and shutting up. Not looking for a segue into your own experiences or finishing sentences for them but hearing what’s important to someone else. This is my toughest lesson but one I constantly strive to get better at. It’s a struggle but I am trying. Test me out some time.

As always
Ted The Great


Adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading and 9% writing.

“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.

A good listener will stop talking, physically prepare by relaxing, put the speaker at ease, eliminate distractions, empathize,be patient, avoid personal prejudice, listen to the tone, be alert for ideas not words and watch for non verbal communication. Geez Louise!

A study published in The New York Times states that men who kiss their wives before leaving for work get into fewer car accidents, have a higher income and live longer than married men who don’t do so.

Research from the University in Vienna shows that hugging someone you love releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin. It also lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety, and can help improve memory.

(These have absolutely nothing to do with listening but they sounded great….Party on mes amis )

Environmental Hazards…

It’s getting ugly out there. Jordan Spieth lost it, choked or had a melt down of sorts on the 12th hole of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club. He had led the best in the world for 65 holes, won the Masters last year along with the US Open and went 1-1-4-2 in the majors. Oh, by the way he also won the Fedex Cup in 2015 and has yet to see his 23rd birthday. That’s a choke artist if I have ever seen one.

It’s an environment that is not for the faint hearted but what will get him through this defining moment is his myriad of swing and psychological gurus, a great caddie and a neat mom and dad. Good for him but I hope he takes more from this dose of reality if we can really call it that. You only learn from heartache and defeat even if the blow has been softened.

I often think about what your surroundings has to do with your success in life and your attitude towards it.The proverbial silver spoon is much touted but I have seen more than a few train wrecks in well to do families. We see mayhem and violence of every sort and you wonder how does this all happen? David Feherty interviewed Jason Day, the highly successful Aussie golfer. It turns out his dad was a drunk and a beater..of his mother and the children. Somehow he survived.

We speak of broken homes and fatherless children or drug raged mothers and yet these kids go on to some sort of a life if they are lucky or prison if they are not. It is so easy to be smug and aloof but I wonder how far off tragedy could be if one is not vigilant. If we don’t tend to this garden we call life. We need goals and expectations to stimulate us. We need an occasional hit to keep us grounded. Most of all we need to take control of our environment.

In the past I have pointed out a wonderful book called, “Repacking You Bags.” In it, the authors unpack their luggage and put things into four piles:place,love,work and purpose. It is everything you have accumulated over the years and for better or worse retained. Both the good and the bad. They can be a gentle and guiding hand or a toxic reality that continually bites you in the butt.

Place is everything we dwell in starting from your country, state, county,village home and even particular rooms. Is it everything you hoped for or merely an accommodation to life twists and turns? Love is everyone you come into contact with. It can be your spouse, golfing buddy or an associate at work. You interact with these people. Work is what you do to put food on the table or keep family intact. Purpose is a crazy quotient that tries to describe why you were really put on this earth. That doesn’t alway synch up with one’s chosen profession by the way.

From all these pieces we fashion a tapestry of what our life is. You could be looking at anywhere from adolescence to old age. The bag keeps getting packed and unpacked and packed up again. Nothing is forever and that’s what takes guts. Look at it another way. All that melange is what you breath in and out every day of your life. It provides the nutrients for our soul and hopefully expels the foul air of sadness and displeasure. If you looked out the window and saw the orange haze of smog would you take a long run or breathe deeply? Sadly some of us do.

When we were in Florida I was struck by the coldness and lack of eye contact in people. Some were just reticent I am sure but some were downright angry and grouchy. Not just the old but the wait staff in a restaurant or the guy in the golf shop when you were paying your greens fees. Was it the end of the season or just a lot of bad hair days? The sand, the Gulf and sunshine made this all the more surreal. Why would you be cranky in place like this? Maybe the bitterness and disappointment of where they came from was sealed in a little jar and they took a hit of vitriol every morning along with their coffee. Is this their nirvana?

I probably reached too far but I tried to imagine what brought this on? It might have been physical maladies but you had to consider the mental aspects and be drawn to that as reason. Was it depression or just a bad mood? Bipolar or the time of the month? This is where building one’s life or should I say reconstructing it really comes into play,

Some time just look around you. Are you surrounded by positive thinking, creative and happy people? Or are the naysayers and whiners, residents of your inner circle? I bet if you hang around one type or another long enough you are going to become just like them. If everyone is there to flaunt this or that then you will constantly be comparing yourself to them. That can be the gang at the country club or the gang in the hood. Samo,samo.

Ok what about me? If I didn’t have kids and grandkids it would probably be Coronado Island in San Diego. I would have a small place near Orange Avenue and have coffee and assault every unsuspecting schmuck with my blather as they bellied up for their morning Joe. I would play golf at the little Municipal course on the water. No carts except the pull kind. Probably find a spot to look over the ocean where I can enjoy my glass of red and an occasional cigar in the evening. Not a bad start.

Where’s Kathy? I guess she would have to have the same mailing address in her bag or then again? No, I would not leave that cute little thing for anything. Well, almost anything. But that’s the bitch. You have to make tough decisions when you are repacking so you don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. Environmental hazards? Of course. Like anything else you just have to learn how to avoid them.

As always
Ted The Great.

Millions of people are born and live in more or less their home areas for their entire life. Is this stability and consistency or lack of imagination? Good question.


Environment: the conditions and influences that affect the growth, health, progress, etc., of someone or something

Toxic: containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation

Hazard:A hazard is a situation that poses a level of threat to life, health, property, or environment. Most hazards are dormant or potential.

Happiness: mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. There are a lot more than that but hey it is start.

Shoulder Shrugs…..

After going through our customary reentry routines Kathy and I sat down to our print matter that had accumulated over the past couple of weeks. I did try to do the techno thing and read online but I love the feel of newsprint on my fingers and of course on the white chair where I do a lot of my reading. Old habits die hard.

If you look at several articles in mags and papers compressed into a short period of time it can be uplifting or overwhelming. Politics,terrorism, the Panama Papers and the plethora of shootings can give one fatigue. My favorite item was about a group of parents at an Easter Egg Roll in Connecticut who pushed the other tots out of the way to ensure their child’s success. Classy.

The typical response might be a shrug of the shoulders. As I thought about this I realized it may convey multiple messages. First and foremost could be a lack of interest. Kind of “I have seen this before and nothing changes.” One could also say it is a symbol of resignation. “What can I say?” How about forgiveness when you get caught raiding the cookie jar? “I really didn’t mean it.” Then we can be all encompassing by ignorance.”Dunno”. If you find yourself raising and lowering your scapula as you read this you are projecting a sometimes involuntary response.

Now shoulders play an important role in who we are and how we project it. If you stand tall and throw them back you are confident and ready to face the world. Girls seem to think it is wonderful to see broad ones in guys that in turn define muscular pecs as the proverbial hunk sheds his shirt. I have never elicited quite that type of reaction. But when you think about it this, it is beyond important in fashion as every suit is well padded at the top. They say it makes you look skinny. I will take their word for it.

On the other hand you can put forth weariness and pressure. Look at Monday night’s basketball game. The Heels went from triumphant to downtrodden in 4.7 seconds. Nova on the other hand morphed from shock to elation, strutting their stuff. At Rockefeller Center one can see Atlas upholding the world on his frame and depending on how you see things he is either beyond cool and strong or ready to buckle if one more catastrophe gets loaded onto his cargo.

The shoulders are really a reflection of what is going on in our lives. One psychologist noted that, “The body reveals what the mind conceals.” This is all wrapped up in the workings of our limbic system. It is the area of the brain around the hypothalamus and it controls our moods,emotions and sentiments. It can cause us to shrug but moreover clench our fists,grind our teeth or cause our face to redden. As I said, this is often autonomic. As cool as we want to appear the cat is already out of the bag.

Consulting Netter’s Textbook of Anatomy which I alway keep in the nightstand, the shoulder is really a fascinating piece of machinery. The various bones and sinew are perfectly matched to pull this way and that. The ball and socket move non stop for decades without even a squirt of oil. Think about that. The limbic system sends a signal and a bunch of very complex maneuvers from lifting a bowling ball to typing on a keyboard to swinging a golf club can take place at this juncture. You and I never give it a thought but the human body is really complex and exciting beyond measure.

We shrug because it was passed down from our ancestors. Cavemen didn’t have a dictionary or thesaurus so they pointed,grunted and yes shrugged. Therein was the primitive form of body language that today conveys all sorts of messages. People have made it a science. When you fold your arms as I am talking, you feel a sense of invasion and you want to ward me off. I guess I would too if I listened to me. If you don’t want to look me in the eye you might be lying. Couples who don’t walk together or hold hands are drifting further apart. Crazy? I think not.

Now you can give me the Cold Shoulder if you want. That can signify you turning your back on me or it might be from medieval times when you were given the cold and not warm part of the meat because you were at the end of the serving line or not looking to be invited back again. Ayn Rand had Atlas Shrugged and we all see Soft Shoulders as we travel down the highway. The femme fatales always give you a winsome look over their shoulder or as Mae West said while batting eyelashes, “Why don’t you come up and see me some time,big boy?” Unfortunately I haven’t heard that one personally but if Kathy reads this there is always hope.

I am going to put my shoulder to the wheel. This hearkens back to the captain planting himself firmly on the deck and grabbing the ship’s wheel with all he had to steer the ship in a torturous gale. I will go the gym and do a whole bunch of exercises to strengthen my upper bod. This will help me avoid getting it replaced by some sort of contraption that medical science has devised. As I do I will be only be part of the 20% of my fellow Americans that meet the requirements for healthy exercise. What a shame.

Now you say that you think TTG has lost it with all these ramblings. Maybe so, but I choose to say I am looking around at my world and the simplest of things. As I study and research I find there is a whole universe out there waiting to be discovered that is beyond mundane. Complex by its simplicity and obvious by its neglect. Then again you may just shrug your shoulders and I won’t really know what you are thinking. Hope you enjoyed the ride and a break from our mayhem.

As always
Ted The Great.


Shoulder replacement surgery takes about three hours. You are laid up for 4-6 months. The costs all in, can range between $20,000 -60,000 depending on what state you are in. Approximately 7 million Americans a year are affected by some sort of shoulder injury.

There are three bones in the shoulder: Scapula(shoulder blade),Humerus(upper arm) and Clavicle (collar bone), The clavicle is the first bone to start ossifying (hardening) in a human fetus, but is the last to completely develop – often not until the late teens for early twenties. It is the bone most broken by kids.

Broad shoulders do not slope whatever that means. It also denotes the ability to take criticism or assume responsibility. Broad shoulders come to mind when you think of a military honor guard at a funeral or the soldier marching at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Ram rod straight and a steely eye.

Just for fun: Someone sent me this. In a way it is the antithesis of your typical square shouldered hunk. Yet is is something that got to me in a big way and I hope it does you too.