Meditating On My Navel….

This past Monday I spent an absolutely delicious day staring out the window at Chateau Kenny here in the Sunshine State. There is an alligator in the pond/lake behind our house but I don’t think he likes cigars or scotch so we will be just two passing acquaintances for now. My Sonos jukebox was playing Gregorian Chant. I got to thinking about our world today and almost called this edition, Heart of Darkness, but I didn’t want to show up Joseph Conrad.

The Wall Street Journal saw no end in sight for the bull market. Trump, Shumer and McCain were still at it. Corker whom I think is one of the more erudite in DC also fell prey to the Donald displaying once again that sanity will not prevail for the time being. The world made its weekly quotas of assassinations and senseless killing and then some, with bombings in Somalia. But I mused about the whole idea of driverless cars and colonies on Mars? Is that progress or just avoidance of some our problems in the real world? Dunno.

I whipped out one of my Leonardi Da Vinci books. If you ever need to regenerate your brain just Google Michael Gelb and some of his insights to the Maestro. Two of his seven principles he ascribes to Leo are Curiositae and Sfumato. The first pushes you to question everything. You have an insatiable wonderment at our world as would a child trying to learn. You question and research. Not for a term paper but for the sheer fun of it.

I thought about the human body and not quite in the same way that Harvey Weinstein might. More like Da Vinci. He would study cadavers and marvel at the intricacies of blood vessels, lungs, the heart, and nervous system. This was without any textbooks. The interrelatedness is almost beyond comprehension. If you go for a run or a walk you engage all sorts of muscles, axions and energy and breathing mechanisms to propel you. Your heart beats a gazillion times in your lifetime 24/7 and you never give it a thought. Elon Musk, you can’t even come close to equalize these efficiencies and symbiotic relationships.

Look at a tree or plant and realize all the systems and subsystems producing photosynthesis and clearing our carbon dioxide. All of this is done without or in spite of the intervention of man. I guess what I am saying is this world of ours is one giant miracle.Food chains and symmetry. A delicate balance. If I ever needed a reason to explain some sort of superior being I wouldn’t have to look far. I find it very difficult to believe this all came together all on its own or by some sort of accident. I am not trying to play the God card but just marvel and hope our arrogance doesn’t blow us up some day.

We look for our own personal meaning in the world and that is a valid endeavor. Yet we are specks in time and no matter who we are it doesn’t take very long to forget us after we are gone. Given that I have to catch myself constantly worrying about the past or trying to figure out the future. Living in the moment is not just a Zen thing. I am writing at this very moment putting my feelings on paper. It will not be a great manuscript but if I can connect with anyone of you, how cool is that. In a rather obtuse way we have communicated over all these vast miles of cyberspace and that is amazing.

The second Da Vinci principle I love is Sfumato. You embrace enigma and paradox. You go down dark alleys knowing full well you will probably never figure it out but just trying to get past the contradictory is fun. It is not an exercise in frustration but seeing if somehow, some way you might find an answer. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why do we spend billions on trying to kill one another and yet there is poverty in the world? We spend thousands getting our German cars fixed but don’t spend the money on our own health?

Instead of putting road blocks in our life we should figure out a way around. This whole thing about sexual harassment has a deeper meaning to me. Why do my fellow males have the absurd fixation that anything that reeks of acquiescence to women will be their downfall? If we really think we are smarter how does the exclusion of women in industry and technology in particular make any sense? We have problems that need solutions. Wouldn’t you rather have 100% of the population trying to come up with an answer? It seems to me that separation by sex, nationality, religion is the ultimate blockade to creativity. Sorry I keep going back to my same old pulling on the same oar theory.

My son Scott is searching for his next post in life. He spent thirteen wonderful years with a fine company. He is good at what he does but is seriously considering another path. TTG is preaching that in this point in his life he can experience the Possible. Now that would seem contrary to career paths and utilization of one’s talents. Yet you are really asking what are your talents? What really floats your boat beyond a pay check? Did you get into your present position because it was comfortable or was there really a fire in your belly? This can apply no matter where you are in life’s journey. Us old farts need to go through this drill.

Sorry for all the blabber. It is just so much fun to let it rip and for just a brief moment concentrate on the here and now. Make decisions not on outcomes or judgements by others but by what is really in your gut. Be careful. That is what happens when you meditate on your navel. You might find out what is really in there.

As always
Ted The Great

Who wants to deal with facts in the midst of this crazy episode.

Getting Keyed Up….

Keys are supposed to open things and the ones in Florida did not disappoint. We have had company for a few days and it seemed like a perfect excuse for a road trip. One that has been our Florida Bucket List for a while. The Hurricane called Irma gave us pause but they told us they were open for business. Depends on your point of view.

This archipelago is made up of over 800 islands that stretch from the Southeast tip of the Florida mainland for almost 120 miles. Probably only 30 of them are inhabited. They range from Key Largo of Beach Boy fame, to Isla Morada for the Bloodlines aficionados and then lastly the infamous Key West. This was our final destination. They were all ground zero for a Category 5 maelstrom a little over three weeks ago.

US 1 is a marvel of engineering. The two lane road hopscotches the cays and inlets via 42 bridges, one of which is seven miles long. It parallels the old railroad line that served to open the Keys in the early nineteen hundreds thanks to the raw ambition and some would say folly of Henry Flagler. He was rewarded with land from the state for every mile of rail he put into service and he was prolific.

At the southernmost terminus of the US, Key West has been home to pirates chasers, notables such as Ernest Hemingway, several presidents and today is a base for the Coast Guard, Navy and many misfits and forgotten hippies. They just ran out of land and decided to stay. They can be seen around town with gray ponytails, a minimum of clothing and that far away look in their eyes which is surely the result of too many trips to Margueritaville. My type of place.

It seemed to be a cross between Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. The charming homes, at least the ones that have survived, have stories to tell. There are hawkers on Duval Street trying to sell wares of all sort including T shirts, cigars and even a bit of the flesh. Business in every aspect has picked up since the arrival of cruise ships. It seems when people have a short time ashore and money burning holes in their pockets they will believe just about anything. Almost like my Navy buddies of old. All in good fun.

From the looks of things the storm did little damage to this Eden and that is an important part of the story for the Keys as a whole. In the KW we saw, the streets were swept clean and piles of branches and ruined belongings were kept from the public view on the side streets. Put on a good show.Business as usual for the Golden Goose. Money is no object. Probably a good move.

It wasn’t the same scenario in getting there. Some of you have witnessed coastal destruction firsthand but it was tough watching this on the way down. Literally 20-30 foot mountains of brush, clothing, furniture and appliances were strewn everywhere. Cars boats and lives are upended in every possible way. Trees and shrubs were stripped of their greenery by the wind forces. It was almost like it was autumn in a place that doesn’t shed its flora. The beige of winter was omnipresent as far as you could see. People were trying to dig out and piece together what had been a dream getaway. I don’t know how long it will take? Their far away look wasn’t from peyote but despair

It was a metaphor in so many ways to where we are as a nation today. These people had found their bit of heaven whether it a was a mansion or a double wide. When you see the exposure to water on either side of the road you have to ask,”What were they thinking?” But the siren call of developers who were prodded on by the federal as well as state and local governments was too good to resist. Now what do we do?

As in Houston, Puerto Rico and maybe even the vineyards of Napa, people are looking for and even demanding help. If you can’t sympathize when you see their plight you are heartless. At the same time is rebuilding a smart option? What about next time and more importantly are we just insuring people against failure. Flood insurance is non existent in the private markets. Uncle Sam is the insurer of last resort and he is in the hole right now for about $30 billion large.

As we drove, we spoke of the options and approaches. Succinctly if you are Democrat you say we have to do everything we can to get these people back up on their feet. It is our responsibility and duty no matter how absurd the circumstances seem. If you are a Republican you say, no way. Everyone has to fend for themselves. If you made a mistake we feel sorry for you but it is your responsibility to fix it. The GOP are heartless sons of a bitches.Not really but which way do we play it?

Think about bankruptcy laws, student loans in arrears, defaults on mortgages, welfare, disability, poverty, unfunded pensions and auto repos. Is there a line of thinking here? Should we have free college tuition, free medical, and for some a guaranteed minimum income? I saw all that damage and there were FEMA tents and state crews and private contractors clearing roads. There was a lot of work to be done and a ginormous amount of money to be spent. We have to ask where will it all come from for this and so many others? And don’t say the rich.

The rub is I can’t be heartless and turn my back but the businessman in me says is this just throwing good money after bad? Those in need throughout the country are popping up everywhere. I just wonder if anyone is looking long range? We run huge deficits and rob Peter to pay Paul. No one is stopping to think. Don’t you worry TTG, we will find a way. Just tell me which way you think we should play this? Horn of plenty or Simon Legree? Not quite as easy as it sounds. Maybe there is a Key to all this? I hope so.

As always
Ted The Great


Key west is actually closer to Havana (90miles) than to Miami.For a long time, it was the largest and busiest town in the whole of Florida, because it was close to the Bahamas and Cuba and provided a trade route up to New Orleans.

In 1935 the Florida Keys were hit by one of the worst hurricanes ever to strike the USA. Winds with speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km per hour) battered the islands and a storm surge of over 17.5 feet (5.3 m) flooded them. 500 people died in the hurricane and the Overseas Railway was severely damaged. Irma’s peak sustained winds were around 110MPH Those that hit Naples topped out at 142MPH

Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was founded in Key West, with its first flight on October 18, 1927 to deliver mail between Cuba and the United States under a contract with the with the United States Postal Service.

Charles “Sonny” McCoy, the mayor of Key West, water-skied to Cuba, making the trip in 6 hours, 10 minutes on a slalom ski. He must have been smoking something.




My normal stream of conscious has left me today. I find myself darting here and there just trying to make sense of our world. I could dwell on Las Vegas but the media has parsed every piece of pathos and investigation to the nth degree. As usual it is a futile attempt to make it go away by trying to come up with some sort of an answer. The bottom line is there are people out there who are sick, evil or both.

The problem and indeed it is one, is that we have let this go too far. There are over 310 million guns in the US today. This guy had fifty of them and thousands of rounds of ammunition. We could ban firearms tomorrow and it might make a difference fifty years from now. Nancy Pilosi at a town hall last night wants background checks. The LV gunman would have passed them with flying colors. She said the Republicans kowtow to the NRA and they do. But not too long ago the Dems had both houses and the White House. What changed? Nothing. All are complicit.

In a bizarre question a reporter asked the sheriff of McCarron County, “How could you let this happen?” It floored me just think about that. I guess we are to prepare for every possible eventuality whether dealing with violence, disease or personal safety. It was similar to what I heard in Puerto Rico and Texas and Florida when dealing with forces of nature. Why can’t you do something? Why weren’t you prepared?Now do we cede responsibility for every portion of our life to government? Some would and some wouldn’t. Both without thinking it through thoroughly.

We have made enormous gains as a society and we have also made horrific mistakes. In watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Viet Nam, the follies and hubris of people to whom we have entrusted our government seems to blare out stupidity or outright malfeasance. There was a haunting resemblance of Robert McNamara in Nam to Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq. In a despicable way they attributed their failures to “miscalculations.” Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. That’s okay, we will learn from our mistakes. Really? And we keep relying on the bureaucracy to solve all our ills.

We have adopted this idea of political and business genius. People are reelected at a frightening rate because they know how to govern. Maybe I am on aa different wave length. At the same time in corporate America we are giving small fortunes to the executive suites even while some don’t perform in any positive way. The CEO of Equifax is leaving town with a bon voyage basket of over $20 million dollars after an egregious screwup on his watch. What does that really say about us?

I think the answer is twofold. First we accept too much as fact. We slurp the pablum fed our way without so much as a whimper. It is not just news, fake or not, but State of the Union speeches and annual reports. Is this because people don’t care, are too busy or have just thrown up their arms in frustration? Maybe a combo but it still projects a dire future. Government aid and soaring stock markets are the salves to sooth all our consciences.

The second piece is an overall feeling of comfort. We have had it good for a long time. Or at least for most of us. We check our IRA’s or pay stubs and say all is well with the world. We make sure our kids are in the best schools and then all will live happily ever after as in all fairy tales. What are we doing for the weekend? I hope the weather is good for soccer games and golf. Nothing like an Indian summer! Oh yeah, Vegas. I kind of forgot about that. Well, it was an aberration and besides I will make sure me and my loved ones are never put in not that position.

On the other side of the coin a friend of mine was in Texas for a month. He is a house inspector in Denver and was called to help out with the damage from Irma. Normally a quiet soft spoken guy he was like a babbling fool when I talked to him upon his return. He saw abject poverty. People not knowing where their next nickel is coming form. A majority on government dole of some sort. In a strange way feeling comfy with whatever they have without giving thought to where it was coming from.


I am a pretty upbeat guy but I feel dragged down on a lot of sides these days. I think of Catalonians, the chaos and corruption in Africa and South America as well as the unending strife of the Middle East. That is a lot of upheaval. We are kneeling to protest but there is no definition of what we want or how to get there. We wring our hands about 59 people gunned down but give little thought to the fact there were 100 gun deaths elsewhere that very same day throughout these United Staes. Another 200 wounded. That is 365, 24/7. We just accept all these things as part of society.

What scares me most is our lack of spirituality. True introspection not necessarily church going. Thinking about something more than myself and my possessions. Trying not to spend my days mindlessly going from one evolution to the other. Why am I here and what good if any can I do in this world? How in some small way can I make someone else’s life better? It could be just a deliberate hello or thank you. This isn’t Onward Christian Soldiers but a call to come out of our little orbits and taking responsibility for this planet. Crazy? Maybe. On the other hand I guess we could just sit back and let the government take care of everything. How has that worked out for you so far?

As Always
Ted The Great


Ironically, banning guns, semi automatic or otherwise would have little to do with that 100 person per day death rate. 66% of the fatalities are self inflicted. People killing themselves. 20% are gang related. I am sure they are not doing background checks. And 5% are the results of domestic disputes.

Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.

Let’s assume we spend a trillion dollars annually on fighting terrorism when you total everything up. Terrorism kills a relatively small number of people. What do we spend on mental health?