Electro Convulsive Therapy….

Electro Convulsive Therapy,(ECT) is a procedure where they attach electrodes to your head and let low voltage currents trigger brief seizures. These in turn cause a change in your brain chemistry that reverses certain mental illnesses. I think we are ready for it….as a nation.

Hopefully the outcome of this process is a return to normalcy and therein lies the true enigma. What is normal today? Who defines the standard? How do we know he or she has it right? We even have some outlying groups claiming that our definition of normal is just a ruse on our part to keep them from being part of society. I’d like to think a cottage by a babbling brook would suit most but I think somehow even that Elysian Field would come under fire from one flank or the other.

Don’t look back because the world is changing at warp speed. Common decency and good will towards men are in the rear view mirror. Just look at the news of the last week. Hulk Hogan sued Gawker for posting a sex video of he and his best friend’s wife. He was awarded $140 million. A young singer is gunned down as she is signing autographs after one of her first shows. A Stanford freshman is given six months for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The parents and judge say the kid’s life is ruined for twenty minutes of stupidity. We should feel sorry for him. Not a word about the young woman except by her incredible letter to the judge.

Back here in Colorado a mother is arrested for pimping her 14 year old daughter. Several people were killed by drunk drivers,many of whom were on the road despite four or five convictions. An 18 year old kills his 11 year old brother with a gun his father had stored on a top shelf. A man is arrested for possession of child porn. Another for soliciting an 11 year old girl.In Chicago over Memorial Day weekend 64 people were shot with six dead. And on Sunday morning 50 people were gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando.
The Broncos were sporting their gigantic Super Bowl rings with over 200 gems totaling five carats per while one of their stars was recovering from a shooting in which he was so drunk he couldn’t remember whether he was shot by someone else or himself. Mayor Di Blasio wants the biggest and best Gay Pride Parade ever but please do not tape the drag queens and erotica for general viewing. We don’t want people to get the wrong idea. Please tell me what if any of this is normal?

Some of us say amp it up. Don’t close the bars at two. Leave them open till 4:00AM Let’s try bigger and crazier drugs. We have Mexican cartels for a reason. Many of our fellow Americans can’t get enough. Push the envelope on everything from paying sports figures huge salaries to what we perceive in society as acceptable and decent. Moms are paying for their thirteen year old daughters to have boob jobs. Dads want to help their sons lose their virginity.

The masses have different answers to the problem. The first reaction is to bar the door. Security systems, gates, firearms and even body guards to protect. We cower. We worry. We hunker down. Others look to government as their security blanket. Gotta have more cops, more airport security, more jails and more laws. Don’t know how we are going to pay for it but let’s get it anyway.

Lastly we think the smartest course of action is to break into sects and groups. LGBT, Hispanics, Rich. Poor, Catholics, Protestants Jews and Muslims. Sorry, Atheists too. Feminists and Chauvinists. Can’t leave any one out. It is easier to band together for protection and to feign mistreatment. Those ‘bastards” can’t be one of us. It is always the other guy or gal. And each interest group has its own spokesperson and lobby. And it all works out to be what’s best for me not us.

We crave predictability and probability. We listen to gurus tell us about the market and our chances of success whether it be our portfolio or our life or even better our ability to be happy. Do this and you have it made. Deviate and you are screwed. We do not speak out. We do not rise up. We do not question. We either quietly bitch among ourselves or just snivel in a corner. We don’t say,”ENOUGH !” We started to do it after 9/11 but our passions dulled over time.

I think we have to redefine normal. We have to establish standards that are not archaic but more specifically practical and decent. We don’t need political platforms that swing to the far left or right. We cannot cater and carve out for special interests whether they be tycoons or perverts. We can’t keep pushing envelopes but rather understand the limitations that are appropriate for growth without a tawdry existence.

We are in a world of hurt if we don’t put on the brakes and just for one moment contemplate where we are in this off the chart world in which we live. Don’t just read this amateur blogger and say, “That’s nice Ted. You make great points and I‘ll see if I can do something in the next five years when I am not busy working or playing”. Or even better that Ted is just blowing off steam. He will get over his snarkiness and then all will be right with the world. Maybe the only way this will work is if we all have an ECT. I’ll be first in line. Just tell me what normal is when I come to.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Roughly 110 million Americans (33%) own approximately 300 million guns. 40% of those purchased last year were done without a background check. We have 35,000 gun related deaths per annum. We have 4.2 percent of the world’s population and 42% of the guns. In case you are wondering there is no convenient way we are going to stop this usage and carnage.

About 8% of our population (25 million) are drug users. That results in a little over 38,000 deaths per year. Usage is lowest in Iowa(4.2%) and highest in Rhode Island and Vermont (over 13%). Drug users spend about $100 billion a year on drugs. We spend as a government $31 billion fighting it. We are the largest illegal drug economy in the world accounting for 40% of the world’s use.

16.3 million adults (over 18) have an alcoholic disorder. 680,000 youths (12-17) suffer in the same way. Alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths per year. In 2010 alcohol misuse cost our country $248 billion. 75% of this is related to binge drinking.

In the US there are at least 100,000 children per year who are trafficked for sex. Child pornography is a $4 billion a year business. In 2014 at the Super Bowl held in New York 45 people were arrested and 16 kids rescued as a ring of child prostitution was broken.

On all of the above markets exist because there are buyers of all sorts. Innocent pastimes? Victimless crimes? This is meant to be sobering. It is what we have become. You be the judge if it is your definition of normal?

Process Report…A New Age

While on sabbatical from Hospice I have been researching a thing called old age. I am in it so I may as well understand it before I’m off in a corner in my wheelchair drooling all over myself. What are you looking at buddy? And that is my starting point. I mention 70 or 80 or 90 and each one of us conjures up some image from out of our personal Emoticons. Preconceived notions, hangups, stereotypes and prejudices. Aren’t we all the same? I hope not.

We are looking at this entirety of 75 million grey hairs and saying one size fits all. I think there are at least 3 or 4 vectors as I will call them. They are a combination of age, wellness,gender and economic status. To start there is perceived age and actual age. I am 71 but at least mentally I feel like I am in my early forties. Physically I will give you 50 and not a day more. I am not a monk but Kathy and I eat pretty well and our health is on the up side. Not bragging but rather saying how fortunate we are.

I was at a cocktail party and asked those around me how old they felt? Some came in the same as yours truly but a large number gave me their actual age or worse. Some people are fit as a fiddle and others are chronically ill. I guess we should figure out some sort of a scoring system so we can establish a proper methodology of care and feeding. But then again someone will say I am being judgmental. Well I am. Not to take away your benefits but to better address one’s needs.

In senior housing things are split into independent living, assisted care and critical care. I refer to that as GoGo,SloGo and NoGo. How insensitive of me. AARP wants you heading for the grave as you hit 50. What started out as an advocacy group has morphed into combination voting bloc and marketing behemoth. Little do you know but they are getting a pop on most things they endorse from insurance to consumer products. Prudent politicians have suggested the retirement age be extended to 70 by the year 2040 and no one currently covered would be affected. Not a chance per AARP, one of the largest voting blocs by their own estimation. But enough of politics.

Psychologically speaking, old age can be devastating. Going back to that perceived age we make a steep reversal from being independent to dependent on others for almost everything. For some this is not a weaning process but radical surgery. Don’t go out at night. Be careful lest you fall. Get thoroughly checked out by the latest medical this or that for the tiniest of malady. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Act your age. We become risk averse. That brings us to safe and predictable but our derring do has served many of us well for decades and now you want to take it away.

That caution affects one’s activity. You stay in more, limiting your landscapes and your relationships. Your new sedentary lifestyle creates tons of spare time. You watch TV or you watch for someone outside your home who is speeding down the street or kids who are cutting through your yard. For some reason you seek control by yelling out the window or calling the cops. People start to give you a wide berth as your cranky attitude becomes a way of life. Sad but true in oh so many cases. Your kids and your doctors make the decisions.

Older people move slower and take longer to do certain things whether it is getting dressed or hitting a golf ball. That breeds impatience from the kids and downright hostility from the outer world. So you go to a retirement community which on paper looks great. In actuality you now have a bunch of grouches living together and feeding off each other’s misery. Sounds depressing? It is.

We are all going to die whether you are eight or eighty. A great doc by the name of Bill Thomas has categorized us. There are Denialists. They are have facelifts and makeovers of every sort. They run marathons and climb mountains not for the fun of it but to prove the Grim Reaper will have to use his scythe elsewhere. The Fountain of Youth is out there. They just have to find it. Then there are the Realists who accept their lot however dire. As one of these cats said to me re Florida,”We just look at it as God’s waiting room.” Geez Louise.That is creepy.

Then there are the Enthusiasts. Sure we are going to die but if we look at the next twenty to thirty years as an opportunity to learn, grow and God forbid we might add something to the world. That in itself is a very exciting thing. There are no rules or timelines.Instead of being range bound we are as free as birds. You eat a blueberry because it tastes good not because it is good for you. You want a cigar or a martini? Go for it. Uh oh, I just shaved a year off my life. Big deal! Every day 15,000 people reach 65. 80% of them have some sort of chronic condition ranging from arthritis to type 2 diabetes. 50% have two. We cannot cure you of everything as modern medicine would have you believe. In other words deal with it but also make the most of it.

My work is leading me to a conclusion that we have to help people prepare for more than a nursing home or hospice. We have to show people how to retire from the get go. Help them write their business plan for the rest of their life. That is not just a hopeful concept but a complex and wonderful time to figure out what could be. It’s a lot more than playing golf or taking a cruise. It is learning how to live life all over again.

There may be a limited audience who want to hear what I have to say. If I hit even a small percentage of those 75 million how much better would they and our world be today? Are they an asset or a liability? Which way do you think I am voting?

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Your personality does not change in old age. If you are a grouch you have always been prone to negative thinking. If you are a nervous Nellie or control freak that won’t change. You just have more time to practice it. If you are cool and serene there is nothing but more of the same.

The average lifespan in the US is 79 years of age. That is 53rd in the world.Male 76.59 Female 81.53. The average healthy life span is 72. The implications of this for quality of life and the cost of medical care going forward is mind boggling.

By the time your heart stops it will have beaten over three billion times. “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

Grey Thoughts

In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
Getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.
You wake up, looking like your driver’s license picture.
Your pacemaker raises the garage door when you see a pretty girl go by
Your try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks and discover you aren’t wearing any.
You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.
Remember …It all Depends

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have regardless of your age. This is not just a mental exercise. I think it is beyond interesting and maybe,just maybe, beneficial to all.

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

Factoids:

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

Factoids:

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.

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

Factoids:

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.

Factoids:
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.

Definitions:

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.

Happy Easter…I Think

Kathy and I are hanging out in an enclave in Southwest Florida called Gasparilla Island.For years it has been a playground of the very rich without a desire to be famous. The Duponts and others made this one of many stops for the winter with the centerpiece being the Gasparilla Inn, which is more like a mini Greenbriar than a quaint roadside rest. The long abandoned tracks are still in town, a poignant reminder of long gone Pullmans shuttling swells and hoppers carrying phosphate to the mainland.

We went to mass on Palm Sunday in an oversized chapel that normally held about 150 but was bursting at the seams during Spring Break. The grandmas were in Lily or J McGlaughlin and Grandpa in his faded Nantucket reds with the requisite Guccis or Topsiders with no socks. Nothing gaudy but well kept. Old money has a classy way of telling you they are doing just fine without shoving it down your throat. As the Passion was read I couldn’t help but think about a guy named Jesus who came from a poor background but had made His way over the centuries into folks of all types of bank accounts.

We were not alone that Sunday morn as many other churches were packed with their denominations. All WASP but nice to see people going to church. Not for the religion per se but the upholding of traditions. On the streets you can see the denizens saying hello to one another with air kisses and bro hugs. Kind of like the gathering of the clan. There are no Bentleys or Maseratis. The chariot of choice is a golf cart that is neither fancy nor tricked out. They are four to six passenger models and are festooned with an occasional faded country or college flag and the basic color is rust. The driving age is 14 but no one is watching if the young’uns cruise around the block or further.

You feel that time is standing still and the causeway could be the drawbridge over the moat. Nothing bad happens here in Camelot. If we were threatened someone would just close the gates and life would go on. One has to feel that way about America as we watch the news and word of massacre in Belgium. 9/11 was horrific but we have been spared turmoil for the most part. Maybe it is heightened security but could be it is the Atlantic Ocean that keeps the mayhem makers at bay.

Easter is the sign of new life in a year. The flowers’ shoots pop through the earth with colors that break the grayness of a long winter. Jesus is risen and so are our spirits. You feel revitalized and that first really warm day brings a spirit of renewal. Hey,we made it through another one and clear sailing is ahead. Politics and war be damned.We are just going to kick back and enjoy this one….for now.

Looking out over the Gulf Of Mexico you wish we could just freeze this in time. Ain’t gonna happen. Times change and whether you consider it good or bad, it still happens. The beauty of living in the Land of the Free is that we can do whatever we want. And that too is its tragic flaw. I want you to say whatever you want as long as it’s not hateful or inciting riots. I want you to practice freedom of religion as long as it is my religion. I want you to feel comfortable in bearing arms lest your home be invaded but that right kills kids either on purpose or by accident.
Our spirit of creativity and discovery has let genies out of the bottle and they can never be put back. The Internet has been a boon to many people but it has also become a tool of terror. We don’t want our privacy to be violated and yet we splay our innermost thoughts and our sex lives for all to see on Facebook. Look at the absurdity and quite frankly the depravity of Hulk Hogan being awarded $115 million for some webpage showing him having sex with his best friend’s wife. Sick on all counts.

Computers are being amped up to where their capability doubles every two or three years. Artificial Intelligence(AI) can now beat humans at highly intuitive games. We can replace any organ or bone in our bodies and if we can’t find a decent transplant we can always recreate one by 3D printing. As a matter of fact we can replicate 3D printers themselves by producing clone after clone and on and on. I wonder if it will work on our souls. Can we devise a way to convey feeling such as elation  and heartbreak? Don’t say no without thinking about it first.

Long story short is that places like Gasparilla, the Hamptons and La Jolla are not going anywhere physically any time soon. Nor are the Fergusons, south sides of Chicago nor the barrios of LA. As evenly as the people with it good want it to go on forever, the people with bad are praying it will stop. Where we are today is that everyone has their own agenda and history tells us that can’t be good.

How the hell we are going to pull this all together is a mystery to me? I can rant and rave and hope that someone on either side wakes up and takes the reins before this wonderful wagon goes careening off the cliff. You say, why can’t you be optimistic? I say, give me a reason. I say go beyond this and saying that’s a great idea TTG but I am busy. Politics, corporate behavior and our basic morality needs a long introspection and 200 year plus overhaul. Maybe those 3D printers might do the trick.

It’s Easter and the flowers are growing but we need to weed the beds and put in a lot of fertilizer if this years crop is going to make it. We have to feel the warmth of the sunshine not only on our faces but in our hearts. This all may sound corny but I feel it more than ever. If you think it is going to get better all on its own, think again. Happy Easter.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
Americans buy more than 700 million marshmallow peeps during the Easter holiday, which makes Peeps the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.
The exchange of eggs for Easter dates back to a springtime custom older than Easter itself in which eggs were given as a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.

Eastern Catholics celebrate mass differently that the rest of us. Not Eastern Orthodox but Eastern United States. They don’t hold hands during the Our Father. The handshake of peace is tepid at best. One guy in a church in NYC told me,”I don’t do that crap.” They leave right after communion and will cut you off in the parking lot while leaving, if you get in their path. Outta my way asshole! Pax Vobiscum.