Til Death Do Us Part….

I was visiting a patient on my Monday morning shift at Treasure Coast Hospice. This was a gentleman in his late 50’s with cancer, who had been hanging on for over ten days. Family and buddies had come and gone, having to get back home both far and wide. I marveled at his tenacity. Just hanging on to that one thread from slipping into the netherworld. How does that happen?

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If you don’t want to hear about death read no further. You would be joining many others who choose not to talk about it. They deny it exists. Our miracles of modern medicine convince us we can be cured of anything. We are not talking about what your body or psyche will be like on the other side. We are going to give you a few more precious months or years. Quality of life? What is that?

People have survived well past medical predictions. Some have even thrived and gone on beyond their wildest dreams. That is a marvel and a testament to their will and perhaps their faith. Yet so many cling to a hope that is a mirage. Their beaten bodies show up at our doorstep at Madera House. A battle well fought or a cruel injustice? Is it fair to the caregivers who have worked so hard for years? The question haunts me. 

In hospice when a patient transitions it is quite evident. A person you spoke with yesterday may be in a semi comatose state. There is not so much a conscious decision but rather an automatic body response to survive at all cost. Your extremities become cold as your efforts to exist  are centered in your torso. Breathing becomes more and more shallow and at times it seems to stop, only to frighten this poor old hospice volunteer to death by a sudden gasp. And then you pass.

If you are privileged to be there you realize a sacred event has occurred whether you are religious or not. There is a peace and quietude that ends a life of however long. When my son was born it was the beginning of being allowed in the delivery room for dads. The OB wanted to meet me to make sure I was not going to my knees. I was struck when he said that each time was a miracle. He opined, “There are five in the room and then there are six”. As I sat with this dying man I thought to myself, “There are three in the room and soon there were will be  two”. The cycle of life.

Nobody wants to die but I don’t know of anyone who has beaten the rap. I think often of my own morality. I take stock on a regular basis and ask myself if I have lived a good life. It is not maudlin but sobering. “Life is precious” is more than a suitable aside after seeing trauma. I walk out of there humbled and with a different perspective on my crazy world. 

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Hospice is one of those institutions and philosophies that is so misunderstood. I have just been asked to join the board and I hope in the days to come to be part of a speaker’s bureau to tell our story. People freak out at the word and that is sad. It is the embodiment of empathy for one’s fellow man or woman. The word meant “inn” or resting stop in the journey during the Middle Ages. Indeed it is on this road of life. 

Spouses and families are struck with denial and even a sense of abandonment when they commit to be part of us. The patient must be certified to have a prognosis of six months or less to live. Yet you can leave hospice at any time. We treat the pain of the illness not the illness itself. We do everything we can to make you and your loved ones as comfortable as possible. We are very good at it. 

80% of Americans would rather pass in their homes rather than a hospital bed. In spite of this, 80% die in hospitals or nursing homes. We have both an in home and our residence program of care. We neither retard or accelerate your normal progression. You will be treated by some of the most caring and gentle professionals in the world. You are in our hands and we take that responsibility with the utmost of devotion. 

Probably one of the most fascinating aspects of hospice is that people do enjoy a better quality of life. In Denver, I had a man in his eighties who escorted his wife’s stretcher into our residence in tears. He just blurted out to me. “I just couldn’t do it anymore”. I hugged him and told him he was home. I can’t tell you the number of families that state unequivocally they wish they had done it sooner. 

The upshot of it all is that the patient is usually the one who get its most clearly. Their loved ones often don’t or are so intrusive as to create quite a ruckus. We are used to it but it is often comical when the one in the bed winks at me while the spectators think they are calling the shots. 

I had a woman with ALS who chatted with me for about a half hour while scribbling on her IPad. She was beyond accepting of the hand she was dealt. She said the only problem was when people would start crying at her bedside. The two of us were laughing when she wrote,”They have go to get over this.” She gave me a big Thumbs Up as I departed upon the arrival of visitors. It is an amazing gig.

I love life. I love my wife and kids and grandkids and friends. I love doing what I do. In just about everything. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Medicare or Medicaid cover hospice and the cost of medication for your palliative care. 

There are four levels of care:

Home Care: Patient visitation and monitoring. Usually one to two times a week by a RN or CNA. 

Continuous Home Care: When a nurse is required for a continuous period of time. 

Respite Care:   To provide in our residence a break from caregiving for loved ones. 

General Inpatient Care: For severe pain or other symptoms that require a skilled nursing environment. 

Hospices are both Not For Profit and For Profit. 

Hospices can provide grief counseling for members of the family as part of their mission. We all think we are rocks but it is highly recommended. Death is a life changing event for all. 

In Denver there is a sign in the nurses station: “Angels Gather Here”.  They sure do!

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High Country…..

th.jpegThis morning I decided to take my Boeing 737 MAX for a spin. With everything going on today, the world has got to look a little better from 35,000 feet. Whoa TTG, that plane has been grounded. For mere mortals of course. Suffice to say  I have always played against the rules. Nose down problems? Life has tried to push me that way but I have sufficient strength but not necessarily brains to overcome my inherent software glitches. 

Heading north from LaLa Land, I am taken by the sheer beauty of our land. The Great Smokies and Appalachians on my port side and the Atlantic beaches to my starboard. People below are just getting up. If they are lucky they have not tuned into the world events. Maybe they will grab the cup of Joe and resist the urge to sneak a peak at chaos. Whether it is the endless horizon of the sea or the grandeur of a mountain range slowly changing its color, there is a lot to just sit back and enjoy. 

As I approach DC there is some heavy turbulence. Hot air is causing immense wind shear. I notice on my chart there is an aviation warning here 24/7. No one here looks at the scenery. We have to be about the people’s business. Climate change? Illegal immigration? Infrastructure? No you fool,IMPEACHMENT!!  What was I thinking? 

The oxygen masks drop precipitously from the overhead. Seems all the air has been sucked out of this particular region. th-4.jpegMy airship banks hard left and the hard right trying to find some sort of equilibrium. I know the center is the preferred path but it is almost impossible to find it. Are we going to die? No stupid, just take it off automatic pilot. Trust your instincts. 

Are you nuts? Everyone needs a mentor or guru to get through life. Without CNN or Fox we would be lost. Those guys and gals are beyond smart. Otherwise they would not be on TV. Right? They get paid a lot of money just like pop singers and football players. They are to be respected and admired. They have made it. Really?

True to form I have decided to opt for independent thinking. Just ahead is the Big Apple. Glitz and glitter and skyscrapers challenging God to say no, soar skyward almost to our assigned altitude. th-8.jpegIf you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Bright lights and big egos. I think I will pass on the opportunity of a lifetime. I saw what they did to that little Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg. I read some critical assessments of her and these dudes don’t pull any punches. How dare she?

I will make one pass over St Patrick’s Cathedral. As a former New Yorker it was always a place of devotion and beauty. Uh oh! I thought they cleaned it up but the spires are badly tarnished and bird droppings everywhere. Did they miss those spots or did they just fail to get all the dirt out from their last purge? Interesting question. 

I head West with a little bit of trepidation. As the roads constrict from ten lanes to four to sometimes two, am I getting away from civilization or closer to the real thing? Silly me. I just got buzzed by three Amazon drones and a flying pizza truck from Domino’s. Nirvana. The zillionaires are buying up everything to find spots to get away to escape. Wait, does that make any sense? I thought they already had everything. 

Maybe I have overstayed my welcome with the hoi polloi.. I am gong to put it on auto pilot and head back LaLa Land. I might just stretch out in an empty first class seat  and watch Ken Burns’ Country Music Series. Do I dare have a single malt this early?

Wow this is really fantastic. This guy has taken an iconic medium to reflect on its most simple tenets. People struggle and claw and fight to crawl out of squalor and misery by doing something so simple. Singing! They do it while they are working. While they are praying. While they are just sitting after a long day. This is cool stuff. 

The sheer analgesic of listening to throaty basses of negro spirituals while picking cotton makes the day pass. th-12.jpegThe foot stomping fiddling on Saturday night celebrates another successful passage of the week. The lyrics are at the same time sweet and gut wrenching, talking about the vagaries of life. The rise to the top of stardom and the crash beneath the collapse or booze and drugs. It is hope, love and tragedy all rolled into one. When was the last time I felt that?

Johnnie Cash is singing, Orange Blossom Special so I must be getting close to home. Wheels down but does the reverie have to stop? I have travelled Everywhere Man and it truly is spectacular. I have sensed joy and also a lot of heart break. It is that stupid thing called life once again. 

Go find a plane or car or bus or maybe just a record. Take it upstairs and look down. Think about what an incredible world we have but don’t forget just how badly we have screwed it up in spots. We are all humans with a lot of failings. But if we step back for a minute there is so much we as owners and caretakers can do.

As I gaze at the little screen at my seat I am amazed at the wisdom and simplicity of our our lives. As they are or maybe as they should be. No, I do not want to be an Okie from Muskogee nor do I need to be in Folsom Prison singing the blues. But there is an earthiness and honesty here that I wish we could go back to. Mutual concern not disdain. Sweetness not acrimony. Maybe just understanding we are all in this together. Please unfasten your seatbelt and see the world

As always

Ted The Great. 

Factoids:

Country Music on PBS is an eight part 18 hour presentation that is simply wonderful. Take the time. It is well worth it. 

The Grand Ole Opry, America’s longest-running radio broadcast, began in 1925 and moved to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1943.th-15.jpeg Dedicated to country’s old-time roots, the Opry prohibited the use of electric guitars until after WWII, and drums weren’t allowed onstage until 1973. This conservatism extended to artists as well: a young Elvis Presley made his only performance at the Opry in 1954, and was asked politely to not come back.

Jimmy Dean translated the success of his 1963 hit “Big Bad John” into a television program, and then into an $80 million sausage company. Fellow ‘one hit wonder’ artists should take notes.

Classic Songs:

You’re The Reason Our Baby’s So Ugly

She Got The Gold Mine And I Got The Shaftth-16.jpeg

She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger

My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart

I’ve Got The Hungries For Your Love And I’m Waiting In Your Welfare Line

I Wouldn’t Take Her To A Dawg Fight, Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win

Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure

Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through The Goalposts Of Life

Sensory Overload….

too-many-tabs.jpgI have been struggling with this session of Ted’s Head for three weeks. It is not that I have writer’s block but there is just too much jammed into my little brain. We have just completed a 3,000 mile version of Ted’s Magical Mystery Tour. From start to end there are stories to be told and experiences to relate. I hope I get it right.

There was a wedding of Kathy’s nice to be attended in New Jersey on Labor Day weekend. That morphed into stops in Savannah,Asheville, the Hamptons, Rhode Island, DC and Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Yikes! Crazy but somewhat predictable. There was joy at young couples, old friends and family. There was sadness at tragedies occurring and evolving. Methinks it is that little thing called life. 

Our stops were not the big city lights but the heart of America. The incredible seafood omelet on the Savannah River. The vastness of the Biltmore and the funky nature of a metropolis in western NC. The simplicity of Morristown NJ and the tranquility of the eastern end of Long Island or Narragansett Bay. DC, thankfully without the pols and the Low Country hue of fog over the marshes. Pretty special.

My radar was working full bore trying to see what these people were about. The wedding was a white and black one and was reflected in a  half chocolate and half vanilla wedding cake. Not a swipe but an effort from a young couple to make fun of our prejudices. At the wedding I crossed the divide and met some wonderful people. A black gentleman, a retired firefighter from the Oranges stood in the bar line with a cigar. We both reveled in the nirvana of a fat one and a glass of single malt neat on the back porch. What do you drink? Balvenie, he said. 15 year old ? Nope! I drink 21. What was I thinking?

My Navy buddy resides on the shores of a bay that also is home to US Navy OCS. A car ride through history. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_189e.jpgWe went to the Black Pearl on Thames Street that witnessed a transformation of Blood Alley, where I would ride in the “Meat Wagon” for Shore Patrol to the trendy enclave of the rich and famous. We calculated that less than a dozen spots in the Newport  Shipyard held more than a Billion dollars of nautical real estate. And they were not alone. What an incredible collision of man’s hubris and ingenuity to create the beauty of a massive sailboat or yacht. 

That evening I was privy to  Mr Holland’s Opus in the flesh. It seems my friend’s son in law is a music teacher of some 17 years in East Providence. It is a blue collar area. As he talked, I was enthralled at his love of his craft as well as his students. I peppered him with questions as to the state of education to class mobility to his hopes and dreams. 

The reality is that for some of these kids to sing in a chorale is their one chance to shine. This was it. They weren’t taken up with soccer, lacrosse, SAT tutoring and socializing. They are good and went to Europe on monies not from the school board but the car washes and bake sales of a toiling community. As he told me of graduation day they took the top students in caps and gowns and they were allowed to parade through the halls with underclass kids cheering. He proudly  noted that 90% of the super achievers were his students. So much for getting rid of the arts. 

Our new friends from Harbour Ridge live in Fairfax, Virginia. He was a 23 year veteran of the Army. As an Army wife she was too. As we went to the Army Navy Country Club for dinner I looked around the room. With no mention of rank, I wondered who were three stars and who were ordinary looies. There was a woman in her 50’s having a meal by herself. Where had they been? What had they seen? Above all the place oozed pride for their particular branch and for their country. Thank you for your service. What a place. 

The last leg was to visit my college roommate from Georgetown. We have known each other for 60 years. Their burgh, just south of Myrtle Beach is idyllic. th-6.jpegWe played golf and ate and drank too much single malt over a cigar one night. He is a hoarder and he brought out yearbooks where you looked like a dork or handsome devil depending on the time frame. Here’s to the brothers who are no longer with us. 

From all of this I came back with a gazillion thoughts and vows to do this or that better. For the last 450 miles Kathy and I just sat in silence, reviewing all that has passed over the days. It felt so good to just be yourselves. Conversation gaps of anywhere from a few months to decades melt away when you are comfortable. No airs. Just enjoying friends new and old. 

I guess we saw life at its simplest and most beautiful. I wonder how we get so wrought up or better yet why? We seem so hell bent on improving our lot in life do we ever just sit down and enjoy it? I want to improve when it comes to this or that. That is normal and healthy. But to make it an obsession to outrun or outgun my peers seems to me to be an absurdity. I am the luckiest person in the world. I hope you are too?

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Rhode Island is the smallest state in area. With a tad over a million inhabitants it is the seventh least populous and second most dense housing in the US. East Providence has 47,000 residents. 

th-3.jpegThe Biltmore in Asheville was built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the 1890’s and is till owned by his descendants. It weighs in at 179,000 square feet. It has 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms. I would love to have the listing on this place when they sell.

The Hamptons include Easthampton, Southhampton, Westhampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays to name a few. They range from middle class to the elite. It is said the bigger the house the less time peole spend there. Kor J’s fish market has about 30 different kinds of fish and the biggest cherrystone clams you can imagine. $6 a dozen and a little more to shuck them. Eat them right out of the shell.

The Cross Bronx Expressway and I 495 around Washington are pretty much grid lock 24/7. The condition of some roads were beyond deplorable. It is pretty much a tossup whether there are more prone end replacement shops and psychiatrists in both. th-12.jpeg

World’s Got Talent

Fionn Fereira, Susan Boyle, Nathan Patterson. If these names don’t appear household to you, don’t be ashamed. Each of these undiscovered people happened upon fame under the unlikeliest of circumstances. They came out of nowhere to win fame, fortune and even a contract or two. 

th-9.jpegFionn Fereira, hails from a remote town in Ireland. This teenager was walking on an isolated stretch of beach and happened upon a rock covered with all forms of plastic. With limited resources he researched what is a problem worldwide, microplastics. All by his lonesome and with no testing facilities, he developed a procedure to fitter water and won the Google Young Scientist Award of $50,000. He will be studying chemistry at the University of Amsterdam this year. 

Susan Boyle was the rather dowdy woman in England, who left Simon Cowell on Britain’s’s Got Talent with his jaw just millimeters from the floor with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. th.jpegProducers thought she was mentally ill and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three days after her performance. Silly boys. She just celebrated the 10th anniversary of her career. 

Nathan Patterson was just goofing around with friends at a Colorado Rockies game. The have a cage there where you can throw a baseball to see how fast you can toss the horse hide. I once hit 45mph. Nathan hit 97 mph and his feat was recorded and seen on You Tube. It got him a contract with the Oakland A’s farm team. 

Science, entertainment and baseball are not remote fields. There are people everywhere culling through data and tryouts looking for the next wunderkind. Yet these were not found. It got me thinking about both the process and the world itself. Are there undiscovered Einsteins, YoYoMa’s, and Nolan Ryans everywhere? Is it a matter of luck or a selection process that is not bad but leaves out so many? Good questions TTG.

In sports the experts deem someone too small, or their mechanics too faulty to make in the Bigs whether football, baseball hockey or what ever. Maybe it begins even earlier? th-3.jpegDoes a Mom or Dad consider their child too uncoordinated or aggressive enough to warrant the special attention among their other brothers or sisters ? Ditto trying to get into the chorale or AP courses. You will hear a parent describe their child as a nice kid but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Yikes! 

I have a brother who we believe was and is dyslexic.Nobody knew about it back then.  I remember my dad doing battle to get him to finish high school. Yet he is a McGyver type who given a situation can figure out some ingenious way to solve the problem. He has always loved fire engines and pumps of all sorts. In high school in mechanical drawing class he would design fire apparatus but back then there was no real outlet for his talent. It has been a tough road for him. Should not have been.

We rank kids by IQ’s, SAT scores, and who knows what else. The methodology is impersonal to the core but given the vast numbers of prospects, it is somewhat understandable. When law firms, med schools or Wall Street come a calling, they always target the “best” schools. That’s fine but are there so many others out there who perchance are even more qualified?  Is there any possibility that the professors at Podunk University  or a local community college, are doing a better job of preparing their students for expertise in a profession as well as life itself? Interesting question. 

It goes beyond the educational field. How many times are very smart and innovative people buried in the bowels of some large corporation. As you get further up the management chain you are plagued by two things. First is you do not want to rock the boat, especially when you make the boss look bad. Secondly you don’t want to any young Turk making you look bad. You see it in business, non profits and even in our social sectors. 

I personally hate mediocrity whether it be corporate, religious, my community or myself. th-4.jpegYou have often heard me cry in dismay at the “Why change, we have always done it that way” directive. It is that reluctance to try anything new or accept that maybe there is a different way to look at things that makes us stale and prone to obsolescence. 

As I look back over the many years I am fascinated by companies that had it all figured out only to fall by the wayside by more nimble competitors. IBM owned the computing world. This team or that were best in their league. Network TV was the only act in town. Macy’s was everybody’s place to shop. Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers et alia. The Catholic Church? Who knows maybe Amazon or Google will suffer from the same blight?

Point being is simple. Look at people and things around you. Don’t dismiss them by color or sex or nationality. Don’t sell your kids or your spouse short. Don’t look askance at a new and sometimes revolutionary idea.  The world has enormous amounts of talent. Do you want to utilize it or get run over by it? I know my answer. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Acceptance Rates;

Harvard 5%

Stanford 5%

Yale 6%

Annapolis 7%

Dartmouth 10%

Duke 10%

I guess the other 90-95% are not worth a damn. 

Low Draft Picks

JJ Watt and Michael Strahan were walk ons in college. 

Shannon Sharpe 192nd draft pick in NFLth-8.jpeg

Tom Brady 199th

Albert Pujols 402th In MLB  Draft

Never finished college:

Henry Ford

John D Rockefeller

Steve Jobs

Larry Ellison

Ted Turner

Different Perspectives….

I have been in deep thought for the last two weeks as it relates to our mass shooting episodes. I have listened to the left and the right. I will admit upfront I am not a fan of guns but will give latitude to my hunting buddies. El Paso and Dayton play well in our sensational and political world. I just think there is more to it than meets the eye. 

By definition a mass shooting is any time there are more than four deaths. They caused 550 deaths last year. robin-1024x576.jpgBut all told there were almost 20,000 homicides in toto. Who is weeping over the other 19,450? Almost 50,000 of our fellow Americans killed themselves. Isn’t that also murder of a sort? This is the larger picture to be analyzed.  Are these causes or merely symptoms of a troubled world? Either way it is not right. 

Let me address guns right off the bat. There are over 350 million of them in these United States. That is beyond obscene. We can have all the background checks we want. There is no sane way of ridding ourselves of this terror. We should have started a long long time ago. The fact there is no system in place to track them all is beyond disgraceful. 

As for mental illness I am of course one of the most ardent supporters of mental health. But right now there are 35 million of us who suffer from some sort of malady both acute and chronic. How do you prioritize treatment? Where are you going to find practitioners to work with 10,000new cases  much less tens of millions? Another example of great press with a poor chance for success. 

 Murder et al go all the way back to Cain and Abel and if you are not religious let’s go with Caesar and Et Tu Brute? th-1.jpegSince primitive days of humanity, the only way to survive was to protect oneself from wild animals or the local invaders.  

The world got more complex. Stir other deadly sins like jealousy, hatred, greed into the pot and you have a solution to all of man’s or woman’s problems. Just do away with the target or competition, whether in war or peace. No sweat. 

Today I think killing whether it be mass or otherwise has been woven into our culture. It is part of who we are. We no longer are revulsed. We shake our heads and in two days it is on Page 13, if it is there at all. We go back to our lives thanking God it wasn’t us or any of our own. 

In days of yore life was simpler. Small towns that dotted our country were more like large families. Everyone knew and took care of each other. Everyone took part like the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. You mattered.

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As towns grew into cities there was this loss of identity and the growth of anonymity. That bespoke a somewhat solitary and almost irresponsible lifestyle. You lose your sense of belonging and whatever part you play feels less and less essential. Some of us deem ourselves as outcasts.

That territorial nature of our beliefs is often poisonous. If I don’t share your mores or can’t pass your entrance exam, then I will start my own. This splintering takes its toll. Now instead of a couple of groups disputing broad brushed tenets we have every type of interest be they religious, national, color or sexual preference squaring off against each other.

These groups are all valid but their quick appearance and perhaps overinflated publicity has rocked us to our foundations. There is little to share as core beliefs and ethos vary wildly. Oppressed peoples see that protest and outcry get attention and they have their right to the piece of the pie. We have sky high stock markets, 3.7% unemployment and an underbelly that is ready to split wide open. 

White Supremacists fear the degradation of their race. Religious right see Sodom and Gomorrah. Progressives want to blow up the whole thing and start over again by taxing the rich to extinction and cancelling all outstanding debt. Technocrats see the elimination of 40% of the work force by robotics and AI. Underneath it all, everyone is out for themselves and therein lies our downfall. And FOX and CNN will bring it to you 24/7. It is great optics. 

We have lost respect of our leaders. We have seen cheating and corruption at every turn. We have no self discipline and refuse to take responsibility for our actions. Our morality has pushed every acceptable limit. But above all, is our loss of empathy for our fellow man and woman. 

What changes this?  9/11’s horror should have, but it was short lived. Sandy Hook? Las Vegas? We have neither the political nor popular will to change. We have become numb either by the constant killing or just because it is easier to look the other way. 

Will we have more mass shootings? Unfortunately the answer is yes. But as I said they are a symptom. We have to change our way of thinking from the ground up. We need a new set of ideals. th-5.jpegUnfortunately we are too busy making money or protesting about those that do, to employ some deep and serious soul searching. Maybe I  think too much. It is a tragic flaw. Unfortunately the story line of this fairy tale ain’t looking too good right now. I hope I am wrong.

As always 

Ted The Great. 

Factoids:

There are over 1 million organization and associations in the US. Each one has a specific purpose and promotes a different agenda. 


 

  • For all age groups, the top five killers are heart disease (633,842), cancer (595,930), lower respiratory disease (155,041), unintentional injury (146,571) and stroke (140,323).

Guns with 20,000 are looking good. Only 289 in NYC in 2018. Chicago only 561. Things are looking up.


Ethnic Breakdown of the USth-3.jpeg

German 14.7%

African American 12.6%

English.  12.3%

Irish 10.6%

Native Americans 1.6%

Mexicans 10.9%

American 7% (Not sure what that means)

Italian 5.5%


 

More than 80% of guns used in mass shootings have been purchased legally.

 

The Winter Of Our Discontent …..

 

My apologies to Messrs. Steinbeck and Shakespeare for my plagiarism of the title but it fit into my thinking over the past few days. I went for my four mile walk yesterday with the whole concept of discontent on my mind. What? In La La Land? Have you totally lost the last few brain cells you have? It was perfect. Knew the path well so I could just work through so many feelings and thoughts. 

When we got back from Denver I had two copies of The Week to peruse. Flipping through pages and jamming all that mayhem and chaos into one place, you

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are bound to ask, is anyone happy? Hong Kong,
San Juan, and even our own metropolises are full of people who are fed up and not going to take it anymore. Temporary malaise or unsolvable problems? Good question. 

For the moment let’s just say discontent is a dislike of the way things are going. I think that is normal for those whom their life really sucks but is it rational for a country like ours? Things aren’t perfect but they are better than most. We don’t even have to look to DC but just our own burghs and dare I say homes. We have this irrepressible urge to change things all in the name of making them better but why?

Cars, golf clubs, kitchens, bath rooms etc have the same functionality they had fifty years ago. Government, schools, business…ditto. Have we made things better or more complex? th-5.jpegDid you ever come upon a small town either here or abroad and find yourself saying what a cool place? These people gather for coffee, fish in the local stream and the kids play sports at the local sand lot. Do you say these people don’t know what they are missing or maybe we don’t know what we are?

Nirvanna is the latest and greatest, which would be wonderful if we could freeze it in time. Okay that is just perfect I don’t need any more. Then the seductive siren of innovation says you can have more. If you do this or that you will be much happier. Homes, clothes, technology, cars and all manner of food pronounce the ultimate experience..until next month. Aha!. Perchance this is a major part of our discontent. Is it an itch you can’t scratch or a rub that only gets worse? 

Discontent equates with unhappiness of some sort. If you don’t like your life you want it to change. Got it. If someone is holding a knife to your neck in a super market looking for cash or raping you just for something to do I would say you are right on for thinking,”Get my ass outta here”. But today are you being talked out of something you love because it is heaven forbid “dated”?

Sounds crazy? Maybe not. There are some of us that are predisposed to to look on the dark side of things. It is estimated 35% of our populace thinks that way. Good for you. I honestly think that a good portion of us are talked into it. Acquaintances are hypercritical about every little thing. You think things are going along great and then wham you have no idea how backward and behind the times you are. 

Add to all of this the insidious part of our media world. I got my Wall Street Journal yesterday with its slick monthly magazine. Page after page of gorgeous women in all sorts of seductive poses. What? My wife doesn’t look or act like that? Dinner? We are going to tell you about four must see restaurants throughout the US. Not in Palm City,FL or Cheyenne, WY? Well you just get yourself on a plane to San Francisco  or Austin and make sure you staying the Ritz Carlton on your overnight jaunt.

I came away from all this wondering with more than a headache. The first conclusion I reached is that we set unreachable goals. I am the greatest dreamer in the world but I am also practical to a fault. Do I want to be a better golfer, husband and dad? Of course. Do I want to be in shape ? You bet, but the only six pack I am going to have is under my arm leaving a liquor store. th-6.jpegSet goals but make them reachable. 

Secondly we have to stop comparing ourselves and keeping score. I have told many of you before the biggest symptom of depression is a lack of self esteem. You can be successful beyond compare and still you don’t feel you measure up to others. Next time you watch or see an ad tell me if it doesn’t say, “If you don’t drive this car or drink this type of scotch you are a loser.” An ad exec told me once that it was his job to sell a lack of self esteem. And we and our young people today get thousand of messages on TV, radio and our phones telling us just that. Yikes!

Lastly we have to learn and have the guts to tune it out. We crave the latest and spend our spare time looking at our phone and I Pads. We have in a word become captive. It is not the phone or Facebook or You Tube that is doing this.  It is us! We created its popularity and we  feed it. There are fascinating things on the internet. There is also a bunch of crap. 

Bottom line is how do you want to live? Is that great little town attractive or do you have to be the end all and be all? More importantly is how content are you in your own skin? Not someone else’s view but your own perception of you.th-9.jpeg Can you be discontent with the world but content with you? I think so. How about you?

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoid:

Post WWII people were grateful for an opportunity to do well. Now we consider it an entitlement whether you are rich or poor. It spans color as well as age. 

We spend over $200 billion per annum remodeling our homes. Buy Home Depot and Loews

Companies advertising will spend over $210 billion this year  getting us to but stuff!

In the United States, people spend an average of 444 minutes every day looking at screens, or 7.4 hours. That breaks down to 147 minutes spent watching TV, 103 minutes in front of a computer, 151 minutes on a smartphones and 43 minutes with a tablet. We are only ranked 7th in the world

“We don’t always know what our life purpose is or what our true path should be but we do get clues and that comes from our discontent.”

N.H Nguyen

Taking Chances….

We are here in another form of LaLa Land. Not content with our outpost in Florida we have made a quick cross country jaunt to the great state of Colorado. th-1.jpegWe are spending a couple of days with each of our kids’ families and then back we go. You know the old saying,”Fish and Family…They stink after three days”. 

In Florida you take your chances crossing the street or getting in the way of the 4:30 rush for Silver Hair Specials at your local restaurant. In Colorado they can dream up a whole variety of things to curl your hair with fear. Rock climbing, extreme skiing, 100 mile runs and my favorite this weekend, The Triple Bypass! 

You start in Evergreen Colorado which is in the foothills about 20 miles west of Denver. You wend your way at breakneck speed for 120 miles over three jegundo mountain passes, the final one being the Vail Pass Summit at 10,662 feet above the surface of the ocean. You will have climbed a total of 10,000 feet in your trek and at various parts one does question their own sanity. 

As you travel you may see some people paragliding after running off the edge of a cliff. There are also hot air balloonists who glide on the wind and try to land in a safe spot without hitting power lines. biker-3803751__340.jpgHow about tear assing down a mountain path and  over rock ledges  with only a little bit of steel and two wheels between your legs?

Now these tales of hair raising evoke a number of different concepts. First and foremost is why do it? You can say because it is there and that would be an apt response. You might get your jollies by adrenalin instead of heroin running through your veins. You might want to impress someone in particular or the the world in general. 

I think if I can do scary stuff it takes me out of my comfort zone. You defy the ordinary. I am afraid of heights but I jumped out of an airplane from 17,000 feet. It can be a new frontier or just a new experience. This can be physically as well as financially. If you don’t challenge yourself life is just a tad boring. 

My son packed up his family and moved to London to try a totally new job. He stayed for three years and he and his family will never be the same. People develop new products and ideas. Success is rarely guaranteed. You work without a net. Now the question becomes what if you fall?

I really question our responsibility if someone drives a car at 200 miles an hour and hits a wall or drops in his attempt to scale a sheer face. Do I or should I say we have to nurse him back to health at the cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars? I choose to go skiing out of bounds or hiking on uncharted paths. Should we have to organize search and rescue teams at considerable expense to retrieve this would be superhero? Good question. 

We have bankruptcy laws that protect the risk taker and probably screw the investor. You say they take their chances but what if it is a depositor in a local bank? How about a mom and pop investing in a mutual fund that has lost its way. Silly? Maybe not. Was Jimmy Stewart that far afield in “It’s a Wonderful Life” ?

As one grows older, you observe those around you. I am amazed at  things in parents and maybe grandparents of today do to protect their children. th-5.jpegThe college entrance scandals are symptomatic of parenthood gone awry. We bow to their every need. We are their sole sort of support both financially and psychologically. We have immersed them in bubble wrap. 

Think I am bent on hyperbole? Think again. My two daughters have been involved in heading the local PTA’s . When you do that you come in close contact with the teachers. The amount of parental interference in everything from scholastics to sports is off the charts. Finally the pressure and intimidation becomes too much and they just acquiesce. That is beyond sad. 

I have really marveled at my grandkids’ independence.Whether it is riding bikes instead of getting a ride or getting summer jobs they seem to be getting at least a small taste of the real world. I am not bragging as much as saying it works. There is a world out there beyond the helicoptering of mom and dad. You get the same thrill of independence and accomplishment as you do from doing a 360 on a ski hill. 

We seem hell bent on giving everyone everything they want today. The government will protect you nine ways from Sunday. Who wouldn’t vote for them if they promise, health, education and housing for free. If you screw up and don’t pay your bills we will rescue you. Not just the young. If you eat and drink your brains out of course we are going to heal your broken and diseased body. 

I am not saying everyone has to be at risk but if you choose not to try something new or out of the box don’t demand that we all be treated equally. There is reason T Bills pay 2 or 2 3/4 % and junk bonds pay a hell of a lot more. I love taking chances and unfortunately I have paid more than once for my misdaventures. But in the long run I would not trade it for the world. Come on in the water is fine. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

More than 5,000 riders participated in this year’s Triple Bypass. The event raised money for non profits in Colorado. There were some bona fide lunatics who did the Double Triple Bypass by retracing their 120 miles the day after. 

The National Park Service spends over $5 million per annum to rescue you hikers and skiers. One in Grand Teton National Forest cost over $115,000 to find two skiers who had died. th-3.jpeg

Free tuition would cost approximately $340 billion per year. $70 billion of that cost is at public universities.