License Plates and Racism…

License Plates and Racism…

Racism is one of those words that can be defined in any number of different ways. No matter how we always decide that we are not a racist. Everyone else is. Even if you are not you might want to read on. Not being trivial or insensitive, but I thought I would take TTG Airlines up to 30,000 feet for a look.

The crazy part is that this little thorn in our side has been around for millennia. Man(and woman to a lesser degree) have always tried to compartmentalize things and people. As the world has grown, those silos have become larger in size and more numerous. In Biblical times there were the real Jews and the fakes. Pharisees, gentiles, goyems, you name it. And they despised each other looking around the temple square in disgust at the unwashed masses and shrugging their prayer shawls in contempt.

We have always strove to make ourselves the higher caste in wealth and intelligence. Enter the Dark Ages when monarchies and the Catholic Church vied to be king of the hill. While the bishops and Popes were claiming to be anointed by God, the royalty was establishing bloodlines to make sure there was no spoiling of the family tree with illegitimates. Muslims had the Shiites who claimed a pure birthright and the Sunnis who were the unworthies.

The Baltic states thought less of the Mediterraneans and the Iberian peninsula was beyond inferior.Hitler proved that the concept of the super race was still alive and well and killed six million Jews to make sure things stayed intact. I am not being frivolous or disrespectful but left to his own designs man has always come up with some conflated theory on why he or his own are superior.

We have continually labeled people white, yellow, red and brown but the one that really sticks out literally is a black person.Now when we picked sides there was little if any doubt who the bad guys were.Blacks won every time. We even go so far as to ascribe blackness to evil,satanic rituals, the underworld and the beta noire in filmdom. We have developed a culture of blackness that encompasses slavery, brute force, criminals and diminished mental capacity. All because they are black and that is wrong. I am not saying we are all not guilty to some extent but it still doesn’t make it right.

When a child is born it does not know color. Racism is not inherent. It is a learned habit from one’s environment and most of all from our parents and family. We hear appellations and attitudes. We look up to kin folk for guidance. We idolize them and look for attribution. If they say it is so, it has to be the truth. And we continue this through life because we want to be accepted and thought well of.We are followers not free thinkers. Sooner or later it makes perfect sense no matter what and please don’t confuse my beliefs with facts.

We keep score. We rank things and people as inferior or superior. The Catholic Church and many others are racist because the hierarchy are holy and chosen by God and you are the lowly. If you are in my group I love you and if you are counter then I hate you. It is as simple as that. It is said if you lived with the enemy for 30 days you might get to like him and understand his or her point of view. That enemy could be a black or a transgender or a Muslim or a Jew from New York City. God forbid we might learn something or render one of our long held tenets fallacious or at least on shaky ground.

We have a lot of foreigners here in Colorado. You can tell by their license plates. Arkansas has to be the land of Rubes and hicks. Texans are obnoxious because all they do is brag. California? Got to be a weirdo of some sort. Isn’t it the land of fruits and nuts? Florida guarantees you are old. New York or New Jersey? Need I say more. Just listen to me with my stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. And I consider myself a thinking man. My hair shirt is still in the closet but I am starting to feel uncomfortable in my ivory tower.

There was a PBS special, America in Black and Blue. It portrayed an eloquent young black man who said he didn’t choose to be black. He was born that way. He said right from the get go he was held to a different standard. He had to be twice as smart to just get in the door.He didn’t feel it was fair and I think he is right. He was not shaking his fist in rage but pleading his case in incredible poignancy. It really slapped me in the face. Not unlike hearing from a cop who comes upon a crime scene and is scared shitless because he does not know what he is up against. Man, do I have to rethink this.

Going back to that baby thing we should look at our fellow inhabitants of the world with a bit of childlike innocence. Don’t pick someone out with preconceived notions but with a sense of who are you and what do we have in common? Racism like so many other things is not inherited trait but a learned behavior. As such it can be unlearned or are we so stubborn as to not even give it a chance? Like alcoholism or drug abuse it takes a depth of despair and a long look in the mirror to finally admit we have a problem. Are we there yet?

As always
Ted The Great.

Factoids:

Crime statistics are really baffling. Of cop killings 50% of the victims are white and 26% are black. Black and Hispanic officers are are three times more likely to shoot a perp than white officers are. The rate of violent crime in black areas is much higher than in black areas so one would think the opposite would be true.

Since the War on Drugs has zeroed in on use, the stats show black and white usage of all sorts to be equal at around 28% combining all types of drugs. Yet the blacks are arrested at three times the rate of whites and represent 59% of those in prison on drug offenses. One must wonder if every man or woman were stopped on a given evening if those arrest rates might be skewed entirely differently?

In my research I stumbled upon some quotes by Edward R Murrow. Somehow they just seemed appropriate.

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them.”

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.”

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”

PAX until next time.

Emotional Quotient,EQ….

We all know the intelligence quotient,IQ of a person assesses their intellectual capacities. In a perfect world it tells your ability to reason, solve problems, retain facts and correlate them. You can take the test online for free if you dare. But the Lord knows we don’t want to quantify ourselves as stupid. Let people form opinions on their own.

Emotional intelligence, EQ, is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions. Some might say it is more important than IQ and can detect the success or failure of achieving one’s goals. You not only know what is going on in your psyche but you can tell pretty much tell how someone else is receiving your message at any given time. You sense the mood of the crowd and act accordingly.

This is all very key to cognitive psychology which relies on your ability to look at your thoughts and decipher which ones are appropriate and which are the result of you distorting reality. I have been playing this game lately as that little thing in me called depression has reared its ugly head. Nothing drastic but the beginnings I know so well. Hopefully I am smart enough to nip it in the bud. Been there. Done that.

If you haven’t been there it is hard to understand. People will have pity as in feeling sorry at another’s plight but then they move on. It is the least amount of feeling you can have towards your fellow man or woman but at least it is a start. Once you have turned a caring eye you may feel sympathy for a person. Now we are getting below the surface of both you and the victim which is a good stopping off point.

A victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. I would add this can be actual or perceived. Some people have been hit between the eyes with injury or tragedy. Take this week. There are victims on all sides of the equation. But some are quick to take on the mantle of strife in the hope of getting benefits which may or may not deserved. Sometimes whole sections of a population or interest group describe themselves as victims. Seeing if they warrant the appellation makes grist for the mill of lawsuits and firebrands. But I digress.

The next step is compassion. You not only see a hurt but you want to do anything you can to help that person alleviate the problem. Whether financial or emotional you are willing to give of yourself and your time. Sooner or later that closeness gives way to empathy which is the highest form of connection. I really do feel your pain as I walk in your shoes and understand the consequences of your dire straits.

I was hit over the head this morning by an email from an old friend in Arizona. It seems a former golfing buddy of ours was shot and killed in an incident in western Arkansas on Saturday. He was going to the aid of his relative and was mowed down as she had been. A kind and gentle man is now gone. What do I feel? Shock and sadness but most of all sympathy for his lovely wife and their kids. They had worked hard and built a beautiful home in Desert Mountain. I had never heard of Horatio, Arkansas before but I have now. In a very strange way I now have a connection with violence in America. I didn’t think that would happen.

As I watched events unfold this week I really didn’t think I could see anything worse but I did the next day. And then the next. And the next. In an off the wall way you can almost understand the rage of a jilted lover or fired employee. But to fire point blank into a car or pick off cops one by one requires a certain type of callousness that is hard to comprehend. It is a detachment from any semblance of human emotion or feeling that hopefully we all should have in our hearts. Again I wonder if that is the case?

I received other emails this morning from here and there. Some were screaming that black lives matter and others were touting that all blacks were culpable for the problems of America. I guess in all the rubble I was looking for some voice of sanity and reason that could help me make sense of so much. You see the emotional quotient EQ of the best leaders in business and politics are defined by their compassion. It is the one who can appeal to all sides and truly feel people’s pain. They are in a word empathetic.

We see very little if any empathy amongst our politicians.Obama could have had it but he became professorial. The Donald is too egotistical. Hilary is too cold and scripted. The Pope has got it and that is why people love him.He touches you right in your gut. He makes you want to be a better person. You don’t have to live in a poor neighborhood but at least understand what it means. Some of us have never seen the tough side of life. Many today have never worked with their hands.We have to engage in more than a patronizing or perfunctory way.

I can’t help but feel we have to take the gloves off. We have to meet the problem of discrimination head on. We have to understand what it is like to be an honest black person who is painted with the same brush as thugs and gang members. We can’t look with pity but with empathy. We have to roll up our sleeves and roll down our rancor and one mindedness. We have to sit in a squad car and feel what it is like to not know whether you are going to live or die on the next 911 call. It is just not enough to send condolences. I don’t quite know how but in some way have to look inside our hearts and know we have not done even close to enough. We just can’t go on this way. What is our national emotional quotient,our EQ? You tell me.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids

My golfing buddy was a black man who was killed by another black man. Don had been a very successful businessman with Coors and Kraft Foods. He was visiting family in Arkansas for the summer.

A black Dallas police lieutenant was on the news tonight. He spoke of his being stopped almost a dozen times over a 4 year period for either a minor infraction or a traffic check. His blackness transcended his unfailing duty as a policeman.

On TV I was watching the forest fires running rampant through the west. It seemed an apt metaphor for what is happening in our country today.

I played golf with a friend the other day. As we sat having a drink after our game I stated the I thought this was the worst week for our country since 9/11. He looked at me with a bewildered frown. He’s good guy but incredibly I don’t he had any idea of what was going on in the world.

The Future of Everything…..

I have just returned from Saratoga, Wyoming for the weekend. For those who are geographically challenged it is about 70 miles southwest of Laramie which surprisingly to many of you is in the United States of America. We played golf and stayed at the Old Baldy Club which we shall deem appropriate. The accommodations were dated but more than adequate and the food was plentiful. Other than that, you chill which I did with the Future of Everything supplement to the WSJ. And of course a glass of red and a cigar.

It seems somewhat incongruous to be reading of such futuristic things in Wyoming. On the way I had passed huge ranches and grimy little towns, spiffed up for the summer. As one espied a double wide on the horizon you couldn’t help but linger on what life might be like in those confines on a cold winter’s night. Do these people even know, much less care about ISIS, Brexit and the His Hairness? After these last few weeks’ fiascoes I hope the Donald is not the Future of Anything. But I digress.

The future is a bit crazy in many ways. It seems the genius millennials flock to a thing called The Burning Man in the desert outside of Las Vegas. As I understand it is sort of like a Woodstock for geeks. They drink, party and dance to rock bands literally until the sun rises. Then they speak of techno crafts and futuristic stuff, catch some well need zzz’s and do it all over again. Startups and dreamers mingle with the billionaires. Then when they leave it is with no sign they were ever there. Such is our times.

Upon return my good buddy in the now Chosen City of Cleveland in between victory parties sent me a website for a speech by the chairman of the FCC on the future 5G. It seems we are grasping at any amount of bandwidth today and they are created the true superhighway of data. Larger and faster than ever before. This really go my attention because the implications are startling.

Much of what we would like to do today is hampered by both speed and breadth. With 5G technology it would be possible for a world renowned surgeon to sit at a console at Johns Hopkins and perform intricate brain surgery robotically at the Cleveland Clinic. Then move to another and do the same at the Mayo Clinic. Ditto New York, San Fran etc. The speed required is a millisecond or 100 times faster than our speeds now. The conclusion was that there are things to be developed that have not even been imagined. Some of us might fear this capacity. I find it beyond intriguing for the hope of putting more of our brain power to good use. The talent is not in the machine but the human designing it. Fantastico.

Parsing thorough the unread newspapers I was hit by my usual overdose of our world. Startling was the time and space devoted to our election cycle, Orlando and Brexit. Page after page after page. Not that these are not news of a sort but how caught up in detail and slants can we get? Looking for that one story line or insightful bit of writing to captivate our already overly sated readerships. As the bungling and fighting and cheating and fraud unfolded in all parts of our world I couldn’t help but think that we have success in spite of ourself. We find more and more ways to get in our own way but somehow make this mess work.

Okay, this probably seems a far cry from Saratoga. I am constantly amazed by our potential and frustrated by our actuation. Before I left I had one of those truly hopeful and encouraging encounters.I was asked to be part of a volunteer program at one our local prep schools. They are in the midst of two week program for high school juniors from underprivileged families. They covered everything from picking a college to writing an essay to doing interviews. That latter is where yours truly came into play.

I had four students who were all young women. I interviewed them for fifteen minutes each but had sat in on their class prior to our meeting. People, I was simply blown away. The one young lady was from a broken home. Her mom had gone to NYU and was a translator at a local hotel and her dad lived in Texas. She wanted to go to Amherst and study political science. After that she wanted to go to law school and become an advocate for underprivileged people. Wow!

The next was born of biracial parents. She told me of the isolation that a kid like her endures. She wasn’t complaining or indignant. She was just relating to a fact of life she had to deal with. Her openness was incredible. She had two sibling brothers and the operative word was HAD. One had drowned two summers ago. She wanted to study psychology at the University of Denver and become a counselor to troubled kids. Wow again!

The other two were no less impressive. It called to mind my niece who lives in Vail. As part of a fellowship program she just returned from Morocco where they were helping out in schools. She and her cohorts had also been to Nicaragua on a similar trek. They all wrote blogs and they were nothing short of incredible. They put this writer to shame. They were open and listening and understanding. There were no prejudices to derail their altruistic thoughts. The Wows keep coming!

I guess where I come from on all this is that we tend to sensationalize and amp up the bad volume when there is so much good out there. People and especially kids have dreams that may be well beyond their reach but we can’t shoot them down. Hopefully the gains we have made in technology make this just a little more possible. The future of everything? It is right here in our minds if we decide to expand our horizons. Just like those broad vistas I saw in Wyoming. Not a bad thought

As always.
Ted The Great

Factoids:
Wyoming: 10 largest state land wise in the US. Main Industry: Energy 2015 resident population est.: 586,107 Largest cities (2010): Cheyenne, 59,011; Casper, 55,316; Laramie, 30,816;
Natives:Curt Gowdy, Harrison Ford,Jackson Pollock, Dick Cheney,Jim Savory, Alan Simson.

Mobile Generations
1G Voice 1982
2G Voice and Text 1992
3G 1998 Married Wireless and Digital
4G 2008 Completed the migration including video

Robotic surgery is best used in minimally invasive procedures. The cost of the machine is approximately $1.25 million. It is said to be more precise, less painful, quicker recovery and the doctor does not have to be on his feet for several hours. The technology is there to do remote surgery but the transmission speeds are not quick enough.

Colleges are less and less inclined to accept underprivileged kids. They have lower GPA and SAT scores thereby lowering the school’s ranking by US News and World Report. If financial aid is given it is to higher income students because the school is more assured they will stay the full four years. The situation becomes somewhat exacerbated by the malaise in the middle income bracket. More and more qualify because of low wages and that means there is less aid money to go around.

Flying The Colors….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always
Ted The Great.

Fun Factoid;

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

The Other Half….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always
Ted The Great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus says “Want an ark? I Noah guy”

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

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

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

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In La La Land…

The Magical Mystery Tour is wrapping up another segment. Due to my medical hiccup last year we didn’t go anywhere. Kathy of course has accepted this as a challenge for this winter and it is almost like the bags are never unpacked. Considering the fact Denver is knee deep in snow I think I like her style. We are spending our children’s inheritance.

As I sit looking out over the water I do wonder if I was meant to be a beach bum for the rest of my life. This thing called happiness comes to mind and you contemplate on what it really is. I went to the net for guidance and as one might imagine there are anywhere from 6 to 100 rules to define happiness. I will try to distill them down to a manageable few.

When I started my topic sheet for the week it was going to be “Compared to What?” For most of us we define our lives by comparing it to someone else’s. At the beach, am I shorter, taller, fatter, thinner, tanner or as in shape as this guy or that? Walking down the shore you see this or that mansion. You wonder who the hell can afford a pad worth $7 or 8 million that they only go to two or three times a year? Maybe they need a house sitter? I think we will send Kathy instead of me with that proposal.

This brought me to the concept of positive psychology as espoused by a very cool doc by the name of Martin Seligman. We are not going to delve deeply into your toilet habits as a kid to figure out why you are unhappy. We are just going to change your way of thinking. Sounds simple and some ways it is. We are defined as a person by 50% genes and about 10% environment. That leaves you with 40% you can work on. It defines the concept of working with the hand you are dealt. You are defined by you.

That is the first and foremost premise. Love yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. This is not an egotistical, narcissistic brand. It is being honest with yourself and realistic in your expectations. You can dream big and you should but don’t make it so absurd you will never realize your goals. I am not going to shoot 65, dunk a basketball or have a billon dollars. But I can work out, work on my golf game and try to manage my resources in a meaningful way. You are in a word honest with yourself.

If you are authentic then should not feel uncomfortable with letting others in. Happy people are social and outgoing and at the same time genuine. They don’t hold back. They smile like they mean it and it comes from the soul. They have an ability to get below the surface of you and life. They don’t wear their heart on their sleeve but are not afraid to bare their innermost feelings. They will expect the same of you. They will listen and respect what you have to say rather than jumping on you for your beliefs or background.

They surround themselves with positive people. How many times do you get sucked into a conversation with a bunch of grumpy old men or women? The conversation turns to politics, religion or the economy. You can feel the temperature rising and the venom gets more unbridled. Let’s really get things cooking with Obama, Hilary, Cruz, abortion, Muslims, Jews and throw in your favorite sports team for good measure. People love to sing from the same hymnal and everyone storms out the door feeling much better for having vented their spleen. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Huh? To what end?
Happy people listen. They don’t fight for the conversation to show their brilliance but want to learn from you. Let me sit down and consider an alternate point of view. Your problems or accomplishments do not have to take center stage. I really blew this one earlier this week. A friend was going through a tough time and I couldn’t wait to tell him about my latest insights into that end of life thing. What a jerk I was. But on another note here I am admitting it. I screwed up and as friends I hope he will forgive me.

Ah, but the unhappy people want to take on that grudge forever. It gets deep in their gut and they will never let you up for air. Somehow bile is not in that recipe for happiness. Resilience is such a part of life. Live in the now not yesterday. I have often said I can’t take back what I said five seconds ago regardless of how I might try. Move on mes amis.

Most of all you have to work at it. I took a variety of tests at authentichappiness.org. Go ahead, try them. They are free and no one will ever know the results. It puts you somewhere on a chart of others your age and lot in life. I found that I need work on a lot of things which is fine. I consider myself a pretty happy guy but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Doc Seligman says there are three types of happiness. One is purely pleasurable. That ice cream, fast car or big house. Feels fantastic..at least for the moment. Then there is an enjoyment that comes from being engaged in life. You are working hard, winning small victories every day, taking pleasure in simple things and this is usually more than enough for all of us. Lastly there is the joy of fulfillment. You really get that you are doing what you are put on this earth for. You are using your talents to the best of your ability and maybe just making this world a little better place to live.

All of this is highly subjective. We are all so incredibly different. You don’t see the same hues that I do and we hear a musical note oh so differently. We can make generalizations but must realize the answer lies within and for us alone. La La land is good for the soul. It doesn’t have to be at the beach. It can be in a set of headphones at your home or office or just a walk in the park I hope you will join me in trying harder. It should be fun.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Happiness..noun “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” As good as any.

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
Chinese Proverb

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.
Groucho Marx

When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote down happy.
They told me I didn’t understand the assignment,
I told them they didn’t understand life…Unknown

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
Herm Albright (1876 – 1944)

Some of you might think this is all a bunch of crap. That is your prerogative I feel for you because you have never experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You have never understood the euphoria of success and the nobility of defeat. You have never smiled and seen a face light up.  Ted The Great

Peace on Earth…

We are here in merry olde England for the holidays with our son Scott, his wife, Dionne and their two boys Aiden(12) and Jack (10).
They live in Wimbeldon which aside from its tennis fame is a suburb about 5 miles from Central London. The flight from Denver on British Airways was 8 hours which seemed like a ride around the block after our South African jaunt.

We of course had many questions about how the Brits and Europe as a whole viewed terrorist activities after Paris. Our driver appeared well dressed and wearing a turban. Welcome to multiculturalism. Walking through the airport we quickly woke up to the fact there were people of every sort from Indian to Muslim to African. How did they let this happen? You only had to think back to the former British Empire which contained some 50+ countries of all nationalities and sizes. London was home plate and presto a melting pot that has been centuries in the making.

People are aware of the possibilities of attack but they seem to take it in stride. Maybe nightly fire bombing by the Germans in WWII inured them to the concept. Even more meaningful is their attitude towards political correctness. It started in Denver as we boarded our flight. A very pleasant woman took our ticket and wished us a Merry Christmas. Wow! I said thank you for saying it and she smiled gratefully.

It was not a single occurrence. Throughout London it has been repeated constantly. There are carolers at the Tube station. Yes, there is a Church of England but it goes beyond that. There are only about 55% of the population that consider themselves religious but that does not hold them back. My daughter in law says she receives greetings from all regardless of age,creed or nationality. Rather than get bent out of shape as to whether or not you are going to be offended, people use the opportunity to carry on a wonderful tradition. Refreshing.

We went to the Orangery at Kensington Palace yesterday. Very elegant and festooned with ornamental beauty that can only be described as neat not gaudy. You had your choice of tea or luncheon served in a quiet but stately fashion. Everything seems more subtle here. Yes, people are shopping of a sort but it just doesn’t feel over the top. Maybe it is because we are on city streets and not mammoth mall parking lots? Perchance it is due to the fact that most ride public transportation and you can only haul so much that you keep it sweet and simple.

You are struck by the minimalistic everywhere. Of course there are McMansions but for the average Londoner space is at a premium and very expensive. Rooms are multifunctional but charming. Everyone shows their Xmas trees in windows but they are not the big fat ones we are used to. They’re just fine. Beyond that, cars are small not only because to the price of gas but they are easier to find parking spaces for. Buses are double decker not for the view but because you can get more people on in a limited space. Lorries are snub nosed to get around tight corners. Their fire engines even seem more compact. Why didn’t we think of that?

The locals do put me off a bit. They avoid eye contact walking down the street or on trains. Even when you buy a cafe`and scone. But there is an interesting phenomena. If you do somehow engage them, they light up and become more than friendly to the point of almost seeming to be bubbly. Now you know TTG is always going to try to make them smile. As I engage this one or that of course my grandsons duck for cover in embarrassment Hey, it’s what I do.
We went to see Star Wars VII in 3D no less. I wanted to wear a Darth Vader mask but was voted down. It was quite a show. Harrison Ford didn’t look too bad but Princess Leiah and Luke Skywalker certainly had put a lot of miles on those bodies. I kept wondering if I showed that much age. As I watched the First Order try to subdue the Resistance and crazy weaponry galore I had to begrudgingly realize that this is probably the way the world is supposed to be. You have got a lot and I want it. There is never enough to go around. It is that simple. C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

Kath and I took a long walk this morning. It is a treat to see grass flourishing in December. The trees are bare but the holly and evergreen bushes abound. People walk dogs and kids ride bikes. Couples loll over coffee in the local tea room. By jove, there is even a Starbucks here and there. The tree lined streets could be anywhere in the states. We really have so much in common.

Going back to British Empire, it once held over 20% of the world’s population and a higher proportion of its wealth. It started as a collection of trading posts and colonies. It had the largest navy of the world in the 1800’s. It was not only the world’s greatest power but by default the globe’s policeman. One by one members gained independence and became significant in their own right. Even in a Commonwealth they became desirous of stature. Most times the way that was exhibited was by war or economic dominance.

It makes one wonder if forms of governance are fleeting as we seek the perfect method. Monarchies, totalitarian states, democracies, theocracies, oligarchies all rise and fall. Maybe we just keep tinkering. I love what we have but will we too change as democracy outlives its usefulness? Who knows? I hope not. I am continually impressed by the universality of this place. Christmas is Christmas. No more . No less For now, our very best wishes to all far and wide. Life is good.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Multiculturalism can be viewed as a strength or a plague. People must be assimilated and a common language is foremost especially as the nation becomes larger. At the same time new settlers bring new ideas and customs. It is a balancing act.

The British Empire had areas as diverse as India, Australia, Canada, Ghana. Nassau,Botswana and Afghanistan.By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world’s population at the time. The empire covered more than 13,000,000 sq mi (33,670,000 km2), almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area.

High tea which is usually served at 4:00 PM became popular by royalty. In Victorian times there were only two meals,breakfast and a formal dinner which was usually served at a late hour. Towards mid afternoon the queen was getting hungry and started having tea and sandwiches sent to her quarters. And so it began.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas It was named in olden days for when the employers gave their staff boxes of goodies.