Flying The Colors….

There was a picture the other day of an Iraqi soldier taking down an ISIS flag somewhere in the hinterlands. My first thought was how many times had that flagpole seen different emblems of nations, tribes and religions? From the birth of civilization in Mesopotamia to the somewhat subjective drawing of boundaries by the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire it has seen its share of claimants. And haven’t we all?

Thus a flag can be an enduring symbol or just the sign of the times. We salute it, sing to it, burn it and drape ourselves in it. It brings a tear to our eyes and hate to our hearts. The Nazi flag of Germany or the Rising Sun of Japan is like waving a red flag in front of the bull for our WWII veterans. The French Tricolor, the British Union Jack, and the Skull and Cross Bones of old brought a sigh of relief or a sudden chill of fear when espied on the high seas in olden times.

In the past few months we have seen our Stars and Stripes raised over Havana once again much to the dismay of some and joy to others. Obama gave a joint press conference in of all places Ho Chi Minh City the other day flanked by the symbols of once warring nations. Someone asked me if it bothered me? Not really. That was a long time ago but then again we have to think of the 55,000 sheets that once draped coffins of fallen heroes. They are in a place of honor in homes all over our fair country and those families might have a different response.

The burial for a vet is impressive and deeply moving in every detail from Taps to the shocking cacophony of anywhere from a 9 to 21 gun salute depending on the rank of the warrior. No one can view the snap to folding of the colors into a tricorne that reminds us all of the hat of colonial times under George Washington or John Paul Jones. Then the presiding officer brings the tightly wrapped remembrance to the loved ones with the following words:
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard ), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service” Over the course of our history this has been replicated probably millions of times and yet it never loses its poignancy.

I think the most beautiful sight is a large mass of red white and blue unfurled from a towering spike in the ground. The bigger the better. As it slowly picks up the breeze and in that steady wavelike motion it seems to breathe life and pride into everyone who catches sight. It’s a combination of an Irish lilt or a classical interlude. Perhaps a modern dance or a Sousa march.

There’s one across the street from my aerie and it is very cool. After 9/11 we all seemed to have Old Glory hanging from an eave of our house, the back window of our car or from buildings or bridges. I guess that is only when bad times happen that we go to the well. Kind of like praying. Times are good. No need for that now.

I am going to keep it short. It is Memorial Day weekend. I think I am going to go to the closet that is rarely opened. There is a box there with the ensign that flew on my Swift Boat. I am going to hang it out on our balcony. I wonder if anyone will notice or ask why? It will be in honor of my Navy buddies and all brothers and sisters in arms. We used to have a Memorial Day parade in Manhasset when I was growing up. I hope they still do. I first marched in 1952 with the St Mary’s Elementary School band. As I think now it was seven years after the end of WWII. The embers burned hot. I hope there is more than ash today.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the day and your family and fiends It’s great to be an American.

As always
Ted The Great.

Fun Factoid;

In the Brown Water Navy in Viet Nam we are an irreverent lot. In addition to our official burgee on board, some of us flew other colors as well. It might have been a state, team or college insignia. I wrote to the New York Mets, enclosed a check for $25 asking them to send me a Mets flag. Arthur Richman who was head of PR sent back my check saying they had no such thing. However they had contacted a manufacturer in Brooklyn and they would have one made for me. The blue and orange banner arrived at Sea Float with NY METS emblazoned on it. We had fun flying that in the face of Charlie. In addition to all sorts of Mets paraphernalia there was an invitation to Shea Stadium upon our return. I and some other veterans took him up on it and we sat right behind home plate. He came down in the seventh inning with baseballs and pens and whatever. He gave me his card and said he wanted us to be his guest in the Diamond Club after the game. We did. What a night. What a guy. Let’s Go Mets.

Going Down Life’s Highway….

GoinFor better or worse I took an off ramp yesterday. It has been raining in Denver for four days straight and we Coloradans don’t do wet and cloudy very well. Someone sent me a bogus missive about political correctness. Funny but untrue. It got me thinking. Between political campaigns, commencements, the Queen’s comments on the Chinese and talk shows we have a fertile field to hoe. But where to start?

The phrase started almost a century ago as Karl Marx put forth Das Kapital. If you believed it, you were “politically correct” and if you didn’t it was off to the gulag. No room for maneuvering here. It lay fallow for several decades until the sixties and civil rights. For 50 years everyone stayed in line in society whether it related to gender, ethnicity,color or political thought. The civil rights movement gave a burst of hope to the downtrodden. All of a sudden it became okay to speak the unthinkable and unorthodox. People said “no more”, much to the dismay of the ruling class. Revolution is never easy.

The voices were strong and rebellious. Burning bras and burning hearts were a force of nature. The invaders were not to be repelled. With each bit of success they became more brazen and the establishment more vigilant to put these upstarts down. When people find power within themselves they are a potent force. Unfortunately the ensuing violence and vitriol creates deep gashes that are hard to heal.

I grew up in a strict but loving Irish Catholic family. My dad was a successful self made man who saw no sense in doing anything that could be construed as unconventional. My mom was the dutiful wife and mother. As number four in line I had to make my own way with a bunch of Type A’s in front of me. A lot of things didn’t sit right. Peg Kenny was a lot of the reason the Kennys were successful but I never felt she got her due. The parish where I went to school was ruled by a tyrant. I went to Nam and did my job out of sense of duty but never came to terms with our lunacy. All seeds of an irreverent soul that has finally sought to speak.

I am no angel. I have called friends Canucks,Guineas and worse. In return they have dubbed me a dumb Irish Mick. Blacks are black and I don’t know how to get over that. If I see a Muslim scarf, do I react? Yes I do. I played golf with a Hispanic on Saturday and we are good friends and we make jokes about his heritage. I have gays that have lived on our block and in our building and we socialize regularly.I just have hard time with the transsexual thing but I am trying to work at it. There are 700,000 in the US, so it is not just a fad. Does all this make me a bigot or politically incorrect? I hope not.

On this whole PC I think we have run amok. Graduation speakers are getting hard to find. Liberal professors are scared to death of their liberal students. Microagressions and trigger warnings are part of the syllabus. Euphemisms are now a major. Faculties and administrations are at odds as to who runs the place. Students are wrapped in a cocoon of false security. Universities are not forums but post natal ICU’s. The examples are too numerous and absurd to recite. Three hundred million people have different ideas on everything. You can’t go through life one without offending at least one, if not hundreds.

I am going to piss some of you off and make some of you cheer from the bleachers. I am the most sensitive son of bitch in the world and yet I can be so hurtful. We seem to be striving for perfection in everything. Our speech, our investments, our work, our play our eating,our drinking our relationships. Life is one big work in progress. No one has it right nor will they. If I spend my life listening to how you are saying something as opposed to what you are trying to get across then I won’t learn much. If you live in a closed room all you will get is your own voice echoing off the walls. If that feels good, then go for it.

Totalitarianism can reign on either side of the political spectrum. It’s their way or the highway. Liberals/progressives can be just as dogmatic and unyielding as the best John Birchers. Right now extremism on either side sets the tone and the beat of our dance. The Gloria Steinems and Malcolm X’s and MLK’s of the day had to scream to be heard. Now that we have listened to you can we just tone it down a notch? Ditto the right and whoever their spokesperson is? This isn’t a battle to the death but we are sure as hell are trying to make it that way. Just look at the wastelands we have bombed into oblivion. Really accomplished a lot didn’t we?

We are being robbed of spontaneity and creative juices if everything we do or say is put under the microscope.At some time in our lives we are all victims. But get over it and don’t make it your life’s mission to extract every last pound of flesh for your travails. I am trying and yes, I will fall. But help me up instead of stepping on me and I will do the same. Then maybe we can have coffee or beer at the next exit.

As always
Ted The Great


Classic Euphemisms:
Significant Other…Girlfriend. Mistress,Cousin
Dishonest…Ethically disoriented.
Body Odor…Non discretionary fragrance
Dead…Living Impaired
Stoned..Chemically inconvenienced.
Ugly…Aesthetically challenged
Lazy…motivationally challenged

A fellow from Mt. Gay,WV was thrown off Microsoft for having the word “gay” in his personal profile. No mention of the word gay is allowed. It took him a year to get back on the site.

Some kids from a choir in Waynesville, NC were visiting and performing in NYC. When they got to Ground Zero they were so moved as a group they started to sing the Star Spangled Banner.The guards stopped them because there were no political demonstrations allowed at the 9/11 memorial. They needed a permit.

A Smith College handout from the Office of Student Affairs lists 10 different kinds of oppression that can be inflicted by making judgments about people. These include “ageism — oppression of the young and old by young adults and the middle-aged”; “heterosexism — oppression of those of sexual orientations other than heterosexual . . . this can take place by not acknowledging their existence,” and “lookism . . . construction of a standard for beauty/attractiveness.” It’s not sufficient to avoid discriminating against unattractive people; you must suppress the impulse to notice the difference. I kid you not.

There are 11-12 million people that identify themselves as lesbian,bisexual,gay or transgender. Major languages spoken are English, Spanish, Chines, French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean German. These are spoken by at least 1 million of you fellow citizens. Lesser are Arabic, Indic, Hindi,Polish, Japanese, Urdu,Greek, Hebrew, Yiddish, Laotian.Thai, Armenian, Navajo, Tamil and Sign spoken by at least 100,000. Interestingly there is no official language of the United States by law.

A New Beginning….

Whether you are running for president of your high school or the United States, the candidate will continually espouse the siren call of a new beginning. Your world is screwed up and I will lead you out of the desert. Forget about the fact that the Red Sea is staring us right in the face and you have not yet found that Godlike power to part the seas. Don’t worry. We can put all those other things on the back burner and dream of honey and Elysian fields.Trust me! What a way to run a railroad.

I have been doing research into old age. I figure I am heading for it and I might as well understand it. Most of all I am struck by the complexity of the problem. There are 75 million of us and yet we are all painted with the same brush. Just do your time TTG and shut up. We will take care of you in body and mind until Kathy’s dream comes true and you are headed either north or south for eternity. But it is not that easy.

One of the more fascinating outgrowths of my study is the psychological aspect. For all our lives we have been productive human beings. Whether you want to or not, at some point you have to give up the ghost so to speak. Whether it is to the government or family we go from being fiercely independent to dependent on some one or some thing. Will my investments hold up? If I get get sick who will take care of me? As I worry more I become more cautious and debilitated. I may fall ergo I must restrict my activity.

Caregiving takes on a whole new realm. It is not seeing your loved one through a cold or a replaced hip but treatment for this or that malady that goes on for years. You are it and there is no way to escape it. Your life changes and maybe all those things you always wanted to do are no more. The cost of a nursing home today was pegged at $92,000 per year. How is that going to work if you have limited or no means?

The sad part of the above is not that it is going to happen but where and when have you heard the problem in specific terms from our political slates no matter which party you swing towards. When was the last time you heard about $18 trillion in debt? How about entitlement reform? Everyone wants to increase our armed forces but to what end and how are we going to pay for it? It is not so much as updating previous chapters but we want a whole new book while the other is just thrown away.

In short we have ODed on hope and change. Kiss it and make it all better. Is there really an answer? You bet. Sober Up America. When we get all wrought up we look for comfort food. How about a new car? That is always a sure fire panacea. Sure your other one is fine but you know how cool that new car smell is and besides it is 0% interest for 6 years. Cars not your thing? Then let’s binge and eat. Today we are 38% obese as a nation. We were 12% on 2007.Run up credit card debt Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we?

Sure the problems are multiple in causality. Washington is right up in front. For grins I looked at an org chart for the Whites House. There are fiefdoms of all sorts including czars of a sort for AIDS, Faith Based and Community Partnerships, Social Innovation and Civic Participation and the Public Engagement Council on Woman and Girls. I am not making this stuff up. I won’t go into the legislative branch. That would get even worse.

Washington is a cesspool. Let’s talk money. 11,500 lobbyists of all sorts spent $3.2 billion last year on swaying Congress to their line of thinking. 50% of former congress people are involved in lobbying. The top donation at $483 million was medical followed by finance insurance and real estate at $470 million. Energy comes in at $332 million and Transportation at $221 mill. It takes an average of $1,689,000 to get elected to the house and $10,500,00 to the Senate. We have let money of all sorts rape the system.

Now we can boo and hiss at the villains on the screen but aren’t we all complicit? I do research and with the internet it is fairly easy. And all this time you thought I was really smart. I try to study things not to write some crazy weekly epistle but to look for myself. You know an educated consumer.That is the way to beat big money’s bull shit. I am happy to impart anything I can but you have to do your part and at least read my drivel if not more. I am pissed off at you and myself equally for letting it get so far out of kilter. We watch the negative ads and react. We listen to a speech and never study the specifics or possible outcomes. We don’t want a gas tax although our roads are crumbling. We want the ultimate in medical care without a thought of who is going to pay for it.Face it good people, We are as guilty as everyone else .

Before we start on a new beginning let’s go fix the old end. Let’s reinforce the bulwarks before we embark on new frontiers. There is no knight in shining armor at least for a while to come. The current crop of candidates offers little solace. Sometimes if we want to get something done we have to do it ourselves. If not, then don’t bitch about the state of things.

As always
Ted The Great


The Federal gas tax stands at 18.4 cents per gallon. It has remained unchanged since 1992. The Highway Trust Fund is essentially broke. People balk at raising the tax and likewise have an enmity towards tolls. What’s your solution?

The Social Security Trust Fund will be in the red starting in 2033. The public has balked at raising the retirement age to 70 gradually from now to 2050. They feel better about raising the SS tax from 6.2% to 7.2% over time. They feel real good about raising the cut off from $117,000 to $225,000

The implications of deporting 11 million illegal aliens are astronomical from enforcement costs to drastically reduced capabilities for hospitality and construction industries. Why are we talking about this ad nauseam?

Elizabeth Warren spent $42 million beating Scott Brown for senator from Massachusetts. How much did he spend? Who knows but the number for a single seat in the most exclusive club in the world is astronomical.

The average life expectancy for the US is 78.8 years. That amounts to 81.2 for women and 76.4 for men. If you want the healthy life expectancy subtract 6-7 years. Contemplate that 75 million Americans will have chronic or life threatening disabilities for 6-7 years. There is not an infinite amount of money out there for all we want.Something’s gotta give.

The Other Half….

Our hardy brand of volunteers did a fabulous job cleaning the Creek about ten days ago Our timing was good because soon thereafter weather moved in with a vengeance. Our area of attack spanned a little over a mile on either side of the stream. There was one area where I could not let the troops venture. There were two or three active homeless encampments to be dealt with. I had done this once before with one of the park rangers and it ain’t fun.

These are not your average bedroll over a steam grate domiciles. They have tents and even makeshift cooking and refrigeration arrangements. In one two man tent last year four heads popped out when the gendarmes came a calling. This particular one today had two woebegone souls as tenants. We had a Denver policemen, case worker and a park ranger to handle the formalities. They were incredibly patient and courteous. But the interlopers had to go.

The campsites are borderline disgusting when one looks at the sanitation. The area is littered with beer cans and cheap booze bottles. Needles of every sort are very much in evidence and used toilet paper designates inhabitants within.Waste of every sort finds its way into the creek and therein lies the problem. People say how can you be so cruel but the sheer reality of an unhealthy and dangerous situation hits you smack in the face.

As we wait and watch, a woman probably in her thirties makes several treks up the hill to a shopping cart with all of her and her housemate’s earthly possessions. There is a look of sad resignation on her sallow face as she knows she will have to find another place to survive. The snow is beginning to fall and you have to feel horrible if you have anything in your soul. Thoughts of them have lingered for several days. How did they get here? Where will they go?

There are about 15,000 homeless here in Denver at last count. About 25% want to get out of their rut, another 50% are addicts or psychologically unstable and 25% just prefer being homeless. These numbers are somewhat unscientific but if you check in your own home town I think you will find them pretty close to true. At best you have a different floorpan every night and you learn a lot about meteorology. A beautiful day in Denver takes on a whole new meaning for them.

On a rainy and snowy Saturday we visited our nearby Costco. Bad move. There were a lot of people who had the same idea. Doesn’t take us long. Always buy a fresh roasted chicken which are huge and delicious. My daughters tell me they inject them with brine and of course that can’t be good for me. What a way to go!

Even at top speed you can’t avoid the long lines for free samples. There was one family with parents, four kids and a grandmother who were queuing up for what had to be a late lunch or early dinner in the free sample line. That poor octogenarian with the hairnet that was doling out whatever into cups or onto crackers was having a hard time keeping up. Your eye went from one group to another. You noted their dress, their mannerisms and their foreign language. These also are my city and country mates and I don’t have a clue as to what they are all about.

Back at home I picked up Friday’s Wall Street Journal that I hadn’t finished.I love going to the “Mansions” section. My well heeled buddy who lives in one of those houses decries the paper as inciting an Arab Spring in Palm Beach or La Jolla by the unwashed masses if they ever read it. I told him he had a point but I didn’t think there was a danger unless a copy was left at the local Arby’s or KFC. Still it got me thinking.

Since my highly upscale friends are far away,I looked up luxury magazines. Straight to the Robb Report( which has to rank as the most ostentatious of all. Look it up. It really is a hoot. You will be privy to what the super swells consider to be appropriate for everything from, jewelry, fitness, cars, planes, houses and yachts. Dream along with me. You can rent a yacht for one week with 6 spacious state rooms for $300,000 a week. That is not a misprint. Of course there are less expensive alternatives but if you are going to do it, go big.

Now stop and think for a moment where my physical and mental travels have taken me as far as economic diversity. And every one of my encounters has been with as LBJ used to say, “My fellow Americans.” Now you can poo poo and dismiss all you want. We in some manner are all in this together. People go nuts about the Donald or Hilary but do you think either one is capable of changing our demographics? This is the hand we are dealt and the sooner we realize it and least try to work with it, the better off we and future generations are going to be.

Hissy fits and wrenching of hands might make your gut feel better but they are not going to solve our problems of infrastructure, education, medicine, the deficit and entitlements. I am not saying you put on a hair shirt and go quietly in the night. But at least have the tiniest inkling what the guy or gal across the street or the country is going through. Waiters,bus drivers, business moguls, cops, soldiers,tech titans are all cut from the same cloth….USA. Come out of your cocoon whether it is a gated community or a ghetto. I am pretty sure those two words have a different meaning but who knows?

I get it. All these halves total a lot more than one but somehow we have to have room for all. Maybe you are 1% or 47%. Maybe your percentage changes by color, religion and part of the country. Point being it really doesn’t matter. Sooner or later we are all going to figure out how to pull on the oars at the same time. We are in it together.

As always
Ted The Great

There are 323,000,000 inhabitants of the US. Even if the Donald deports 11,000,000 there are still 312,000,000 individual human beings of every origin and sort.We are 63% white, 16% Hispanic and 12% black.

It is projected our population in 2050 will be 402 million.
There were about 125.9 million adult women in the United States in 2014. The number of men was 119.4 million. Life expectancy for men is 77 and for woman 82.

There are 22 million veterans meaning less than 10% of our populace has served in the military.

There are around 100 different religions practice with 83% of the people claiming to being one of them. 17% saying they are atheists or have no specific religion

The median income for Asians is $57,000,whites $49,000, hispanics $34,000 and blacks $30,000.

In 2010, the average man weighed 194.7 pounds the average woman 164.7 pounds The height of an American man was 5 feet 9 inches and woman 5 feet 3.8 inches .

British Humor:
My 12 year old grandson,Aiden who is living with his family in London sent me the following in a birthday card He thought they were hilarious. So do I

Warning: Random fits of laughter may occur as per my man.

A bald guy get gets a comb for his birthday He says,”Thanks I will never part with it.

Jesus says “Want an ark? I Noah guy”

Why did the scarecrow get promoted? He was outstanding in his field.

A llama says,“Want to go on a picnic? Alpaca lunch”

What does the green grape say to a purple grape? “Will you breathe please?”