Where Do I Go?…..

I did not post a blog last week. I wasn’t goofing off. I just couldn’t get it to work. Truth be told I wrote two and they both stunk in my book. All of you reading would probably say what makes you think the others have been any good? Point taken. This week’s events make originality and appropriate commentary even more difficult.

thWe got the news about Fort Lauderdale at 4:00 mass for Ash Wednesday. We had been playing golf that morning and Kathy and I looked at each other with a strange unknowing grimace. When we got home it played out in breathless attempts by the media to beat each other to the punch with information on the shooter or sticking a mic in front of a mom or dad who knew their child would not be coming home.

This was repulsive and we turned it off not out of disrespect but because we had been here so many times before since Columbine in 1999. There have been six shootings at schools already this year. There have been rapes, murders, beatings and hit and runs in the thousands in 2018 throughout our land and yet we claim violent crime is on the downswing. From what to what?

I can’t tell you why but a vision popped into my head of Viet Nam too many years ago. Our Swift Boat base was a series of barges lashed together in the middle of the river. A Vietnamese gun boat had been anchored in the same waterway about one click upstream from us. A sapper had floated down and blown up the vessel and himself resulting in 7 deaths. The drab olive green body bags were set in a row on our helo pad awaiting transport to wherever.

Seaflt5They stayed there In the hot steaming sun for days and days. They reeked and body fluids seeped from one or two ripped ones. I thought to myself, these people have no respect for their own. They failed to recognize the essence of human life. How can anyone who considers themselves to be human beings stoop to such levels of disinterest and nonchalance? They were so attuned to death that this might be might be the end of their society.

Fast forward almost fifty years. The bodies are lined up not on a God forsaken outpost in Nam but in a well to do neighborhood in South Florida. The coroner was going to be at the school performing his grim task until all hours of the morning. School was closed…until Monday. Time marches on.

I picked up my Wall Street Journal and Palm beach Post from the driveway at first light. I glanced at our local paper knowing it would be chock a block with interviews with a rather provincial but justifiable slant. After a brief perusal I moved to the Journal. There sandwiched between stories on the front page was a short three column article headlined by the picture of a mom who was crying with the ashes from church still fresh on her head.

The competing headlines dealt with inflation, Jacob Zuma’s resignation, the VIX and ice dancing. The ensuing pages featured, scandals here and abroad, military parades, editorials and, oh yes the finish of the front page story on the shootings. This is not blasting Newscorp or Dow Jones but was the minimal coverage reflective of our own thoughts? Really sorry for those poor people but what are we having for breakfast?

I am not calling you out any more than I do myself. I think part of it is that we OD on disaster. There is such a clamor for the inside story the news organizations pump out matter 24/7. The part that gives me the creeps is that throughout our fifty states there are some very sick people who are watching the non stop notoriety and fantasizing about how they would look and be perceived.

I keep going back to the respect for life. It is not just in killing but in every form of abuse. Women are beaten by their husbands on a regular basis. We recoil at parents chaining their kids to beds for years but how many youths are kept at bay psychologically by domineering parents. We had a friend who was a counselor in the well to do Bainbridge Island schools in Washington. She said the stories of sexual abuse by parents and siblings would curl your hair.th-5

The Weinstein’s and the Allens and the Lauers are not anomalies. Bernie Madoff? He got caught. There are thousands of cases of fraud and robbery of the elderly and the rich and famous in every state and county. One of our biggest untold crimes is sex trafficking….of teen and preteen girls and boys. The biggest events up the ante. World Series and Super Bowls and even the NCAA’s are prime time for these slime. Yet we overlook them as victimless crimes. Really?

Now TTG don’t get your knickers in a knot. That happens in Vegas and other big cities. Not in our little burghs. Think again kids. You have either seen it or heard it and looked the other way. This may all seem a far cry from a school shooting but is it? Bad things happen in fertile fields. Down here, Martin County Florida seems like a quiet friendly place. They just busted several dozen people in a massive drug raid.

I don’t expect you or me to dwell forever on this tragedy or that. But maybe we should all take a long look at our environs. If something seems bad maybe it is. When we see the bad things happen is it just an aberration or a symptom that has been just below the surface for a long time. Maybe is time to look around and under the hood? No play on words of course.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

On exchanges in the price US gun manufacturers’ jumped 5-10% after the word on the Fort Lauderdale shootings got out. Gotta make a buck, don’t we?

In 2016, there were more than 600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee. By contrast, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont had rates below 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Rest easy that means there were only 13,000 murders and around 100,000 rapes in the US. It is also noted that only 46% of violent crime gets reported to police.

th-3• Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers throughout the world The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:
◦ $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
◦ $34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
◦ $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
◦ $8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor
• While only 19% of victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66% of the global profits of human trafficking.

 

• According to the FBI, a woman is battered every 15 seconds.
• Louisiana ranks 2nd in the nation for homicides related to domestic abuse.
• 2-4 million American women are abused each year.
• White, Black, Hispanic & Non-Hispanic women have equivalent rates of violence committed by intimate partners.
• Nearly 1/2 of men who abuse their female partners, also abuse their children.

 

Brain Crossings…..

e867ebfb3798fe91c7feb95e999977e3In these parts there is a new train in town. It is a privately owned railroad called Brightline. A few weeks ago it began high speed rail service from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. This is more of a demo run as they hope to provide a high speed link several times a day from Miami to Orlando and the wonderful world of Disney in the years to come. As if South Beach wasn’t already an amusement park?

Like anything new it is not with controversy and this became exacerbated when a car, a pedestrian and a bike rider were killed by the aforementioned super liner in the first week of service. Your heart goes out to those left behind but the ensuing outcry leaves one scratching his or her head.

In all of the accidents the gates were down and the red lights flashing and bells ringing to sound the alarm. In each case the victim chose to try to beat the train against all odds. It does not take a huge bit of brain power to say they were incredibly wrong.Yet the c

th-33

larion call for investigations is afoot. Public outrage demands the whole project be reconsidered.Have we all taken leave of our senses? Is this the time where we are willing to take anything with the smallest possibility for danger and try to “people proof” it? A fool’s errand.

I really had to think about this one. In trying to figure it out I am going to consider mental incompetence, ignorance or pure folly. If someone is not in complete control of their senses I get it and feel horrible for him or her. The ignorance part is problematic. Does someone not know what a railroad crossing looks like and especially when it is giving at least three different signals to stop? Lastly the folly is just that. Tempting fate and the laws of physics, we know one of the people tried to dash across in some sort of weird challenge. All incredibly sad.

It brings a number of concepts to mind. Stupidity, common sense, intelligence et al. What does it tell us about ourselves? We are now placing a premium on learning and in specific, the fields of technology and engineering. Our best and brightest might be brilliant in one area but not in others. You can be a savant in quantum physics and not have a clue about the normal vagaries of life. I wonder if we should now have in addition to the standard IQ, a practical IQ or an emotional IQ. What are you crazy, TTG?

th-5We are fond of using catchy phrases like “a few cards short of a deck” or “not the sharpest pencil in the drawer” to describe our fellow travelers. That guy is “dumb as a stone”. Whatever works but perhaps we are a bit too full of ourselves. How many times have you asked yourself what on earth was that high profile person or institution thinking? I am not talking train tracks but public pronouncements that bear no resemblance to reason. You see a product or a TV show and and you think who was the idiot that dreamed this one up?

There are two sides to this. The first is the high and mighty exec or committee that preaches from Olympus. They have been working on this or that for so long they have effectively shielded themselves from the outside world. The are beyond confident and th-35ergo do not take input much less criticism very well. They know what is right for the unwashed masses and their arrogance loses elections or billion of dollars on an ill fated

The other part is how much real thought goes into things. As mere mortals we don’t really like to think too deeply. We want everything encapsulated from philosophy to theology. We really dislike tough questions that can’t be answered yes or no. We want to be entertained and occupied from outside. To many the thought of spending quiet time is the epitome of boredom.

The kids of today are the leaders of tomorrow. It is a known that they are severely lacking in critical thinking….the ability to think clearly and reason about what to do and to believe. They are lacking common sense because they have rarely failed. When hit with intangibles or a theorem without definitions they are stumped. They lack the ability to problem solve and perform life’s skills. It has all been done FOR them and not BY them. That have never had the chance to make a mistake and learn from it.

It is also said the youth of today are becoming more detached. They can communicate electronically which negates the need for social skills. Why read a book when you have YouTube or Facebook? You ask them a question and they want to Google the answer. If it gets at all sticky they can give you a “Dunno” or just say they are too busy to spend their time so foolishly. They view you impatiently and say how is that going to make them money in the real world? They are right. What was I thinking?

Now this seems a long way from somebody getting blasted to smithereens by a Bullet train. Then again maybe we are seeing the red lights and crossing gates and paying them no heed ourselves. I guess I am strange bird that goes deep into thought. I should probably just plod mindlessly forward. Doubtless it be a lot more fun and I could spare myself the angst. Let me get back to you. I really have to think about that. I hope you do too.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Every two hours a train slams into a car at a crossing in these United States. 20% of those crashes are into the sides of trains that have already partially gone through the crossing.

Brilliant projects beyond the Edsel: Brown University received $5,000,000 to research whether or not being a member of sorority or fraternity would lead a student to drink more. The National science Foundation received several hundred thousand dollars to see if we were being stressed by politics today.

Intelligence…the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Stupidity…behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.
Common sense.. sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

faviconI.Q Intelligence quotient…in general, an assessment of your ability to think and reason. You IQ score is a standardized way of comparing this ability with the majority of people the same age as you are.

Go To Free-IQTest.net and see how you fare. You tell me yours and I will tell you mine.

Crosscurrents…

Crosscurrents….

Kathy and I took our boat for ride yesterday. We became part owners with a bunch of other sometime sailors and it fits just fine. As we ambled here and there she took the wheel for the first time. She could not understand why she had to keep adjusting the heading. For sure Cap’n Ted seized the opportunity began a discourse on set and drift. It is the action of the current that pushes you off course so to speak. Kathy began to doze at the wheel

th-25Now crosscurrents are quite interesting. Some are visible to the naked eye and others, specifically thermal ones are the ones that catch you off guard. There is an amazing confluence of them underneath the Triboro Bridge in Manhattan and the passage is aptly named Hell Gate. The severity of  this maelstrom can be such that boats from small to large are sent to the depths of the East River. .

For a moment take that concept to our lives. We would like to believe it is a reasonably straight path with few turns or obstacles. Mind your own business, keep your nose clean and you will arrive safely on the other side whatever that is for you. Just doesn’t happen that way. We can be beset by good fortune as well as tragedy. Bad things happen to good people or something like that. Rather than bemoaning this I wonder if it is better to embrace it?

Going further, what about our whole way of thinking? My precepts whether they deal with politics, religion or me fellow man have taken some incredible twists and turns over 72 years. I guess in college I was a borderline liberal that grew to a conservative and now I am a miss mash of beliefs. One can consider whether those foundations were on shaky ground to start or perhaps that was the way we were meant to be?

This week was MLK’s birthday. The plight of the black person in this country is well th-26chronicled. If you watch the newsreels of Little Rock and Selma I wonder if you can still maintain white supremacist or just anti black feelings as  you watch our fellow Americans spitting and screaming at what is just a bunch of kids trying to get an equal education? The snarling German Shephards and cops toting rifles reflected In their mirror sunglasses makes me cringe with guilt. This was after the fact. I wonder what I really thought then.

As I grow older I find friends and family sometimes becoming more set in their ways. We read and watch what confirms our beliefs sometimes never thinking through their implications. I think a good example is the whole DACA issue.

There are those who believe we should deport everyone who is here illegally. Send them som’  bitches back. There are others who say we should give entry to anyone who wants it. Where is your heart TTG ? To me you have to have laws but you also have to have th-31

common sense. Some kids have been here since they were two or three. The parents are in many cases true pillars to the community through their work or volunteer efforts. Where do you draw the line? How far do we let our little ship go off course either one way or the other?

We went to see a troupe of Irish Dancers the other night in beautiful downtown Stuart. The music and the dancing were both lively and melancholy. The plot if you will was a young lass leaving Erin for the States. My grandmother and her sister walked down that road In the Town of Boyle in County Roscommon at the ages of 14 and 16. They made lives and families that were nothing short of exemplary. Would I tell them today, “Tough luck, you have to go back”? Can I feel the same way whether you be Rumanian or Ethiopian?th-30

It seems whatever the issue I can’t definitively say I am one side or the other. Social Security, Medicare, Education, foreign policy, you name it, I can give you cogent arguments for both sides. Even if I choose one corner or the other deep down I have to believe at least parts of the contra argument. Does that make me a waffler or realist?

I will tell you one thing and that is knowledge is dangerous. If I sit in my own little world and do not poke my head out, my ideals are intact. Don’t say anything. Just shut up and leave me alone. When you read study and start to dig deeper you really get confused. Hmm, maybe this or that makes sense. That’s okay I will just take that article or book and hide out out of sight. That is the devil just tempting me with sinful thoughts. Infidels can be Republican, Democratic, white, black, Catholic,Jewish, heretic, atheist. Death to them all!

As we brought the Good Ship Lollipop back to port we thought of new places we had seen. Wandering down this estuary or creek was fun. We saw black men fishing off a pier and people just waving to us from a passing boat. We went off course and the beaten path. The currents pushed us this way and that and we were the better for it. As we tied up all was well because nothing had changed…or had it?th-32

 

 

 

As always
Ted The Great

 

Factoids:
None this week. Just thinking.

 

 

On A Binge….

A binge by definition is an interval of time where one engages in an activity without limits. I think the corollary is probably ,”What the hell was I thinking?” or more appropriate to our current society,”Why didn’t you stop me?” This can be drinking, doing drugs, checking our I phones, gambling.  You name it.

Binges of any sort make you feel better, at least while they are happening. They trigger this neat little neurotransmitter that tells the brain you having a really good time. So good that it beats the ordinary way of life and ergo people keep wanting to go back to it. The only problem is that when you sober up in whatever fashion, you are right back where you started which for most people is not exactly what we were looking for. Then you either go straight or drop back into oblivion. Tough either way.

th-14I am intrigued by our opioid crisis in a strange way. If you are poor or abused the attraction is obvious. But why do people who supposedly have everything let themselves fall off a cliff to the point where whatever that good life is goes right out the window? You see execs, doctors, professors, moms or whatever following the road to ruin. It has been said that just one pop of fentanyl will bring you to a level of euphoria that doesn’t seem real. I have never had the pleasure and for that reason alone never want to try it. Because I would probably love it.

Maybe this all goes back to Adam and Eve if I can be somewhat religious for a moment. The oh so tempting forbidden fruit was too much to avoid. It was authority defying and of course mischievous.Undoubtedly this has to be where the phrase,”The Devil made me do it” made its first entrance.

It seems to me the operative word today is “over”. We want to go places we never have gone before. We want our kids to have everything. We can’t give them enough. There is always something in our lives that needs improving. Oh if only I had one more painting or a new bedspread or coffee maker. My car is three years old. I have to see what’s out there now even though I only drive a few hundred miles a month. Does this mean we are over achievers or unhappy deep down?

Put me in the lineup and snap my picture, Guilty as sin. I hit golf balls to the point of madness. I sit and think about this swing or grip and in the moment of Aha! jump in my golf cart to try it out. Ask Kathy and she will tell you I am sick beyond all hope. No argument here. I like to drink a scotch or two. Of course as the glass empties I become even more brilliant and scintillating…at least to myself. Am I unhappy? I sure hope not.

th-19The crazy part is that all of this is contrived in a sense. Every part of our lives is fraught with you need this or gotta have that. My lovely wife loves to shop and the weekly deluge of catalogs bespeaks her success. Yet there is always one piece here or there that she needs to finally complete her wardrobe. When she puts that perfect lamp or rug in place there is nirvana until the next issue of Pottery Barn or Ballard’s.

No matter what, there is always just one more whether it is a bucket of balls or cocktail or the perfect ensemble. And that is the crack we all shoot. Apple came under fire this week for creating a phone that was so addictive that it is completely screwing up our kids. Why didn’t they foresee this new type of binge? Tis true but how did those kids get the electronics in the first place? Of course mom and dad bought them but that is beside the point or is it?

I am going to step in way over my head by talking about our current sexual mores. At the Golden Globes the women were dressed in black. They decried harassment and well they should have. In a lot of cases it is horrific. But did I miss something at the previous awards galas and weren’t some of those same women wearing see through dresses or necklines plunging down to their navels? What about the current crop of music videos by females? Men and especially those in authority have no right to force a women to do anything against their will but should the women take any responsibility? In all forms of doling out punishment aren’t we all complicit to some degree? Would love your thoughts.

About 150,000 of our fellow citizens died from lung cancer. There were over 60,000 opioid deaths last year. There were over 10,000 DUI fatalities. Is it stretching too far to say this was the result of binging? Is it also too far out to say corporate America has a lot to do with it. Tobacco through Altria is one of the best investments you could have made over the last ten years. How many beer ads do we see at sports events of all sorts? Drug companies? Oh yeah, their intentions are pure in the pursuit of science .

We all want to say it is not our fault. You should have stopped me. You have no right to tempt me. I was duped and coerced. They played on my weaknesses. As a restaurant owner or barkeeper I had no idea he or she was drunk even though they occupy the same table or stool every night. Look, I just make the stuff I can’t be responsible if people abuse it.

th-23As in all binges the next day or month is not pretty. There are feelings of guilt, anger and humiliation. The first step is to realize the problem. The next is to do something about it. All of us.

 

 

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

McKesson, a major opioid maker was found to have shipped thousands of pills to small pharmacies without any oversight or investigation. There were fined and then fined again a year later for the same violation. The second levy was for $106 million Last year they made over $200 billion.

50% of our population in the US has a tablet. 75% have a smart phone and 88% have a pc or laptop. Americans use electronics of some sort over 11 hours a day.

th-15DUI arrests are predominantly white males with an average age of 30 As I was researching drunk driving on Google my search turned up numerous references to lawyers who could “help you beat your drunk driving “ arrest. I guess that is providing a service.

Creatures of Habit…

Our Christmas Day was pure Ted and Kathy. It seems our three children in Denver and their families bemoaned our lack of attendance at the annual festival of riches known as Xmas. We received Face Times from several of the reprobates with innocent children being well trained as shills in the fine art of guilt. Little did they know we already had something up our sleeve.

DIA-56a4bddc3df78cf7728415f4We departed our palm strewn enclave at 6:00 AM on Monday the 25th bound for Fort Lauderdale and then onto Denver International Airport. We weren’t telling anyone of our chicanery and properly shocked everyone as we walked in on the celebration.We then promptly departed at 9:20 PM the next day finally arriving home at 4:30 AM on 12/27. Some will say Bravo. Some will say we continue to prove a true lack of sanity in our lives. Both have a point.

Finally recovering from a case of massive jet lag I explored the grander meaning of our behavior. Mind you this was not a particularly crazy move to those of you who know us. Plane trips? Piece of cake. We can move at the drop of a hat ! I have always tried to be different. Not for any other particular reason than it is plain fun to confound naysayers and conformists. Kathy unfortunately or in my case fortunately has caught the disease.

Now this is not always easy. Like all my fellow earthlings there is something to be said about routines. It is actually a very simple and uncomplicated way to live. If you do everything more or less the same every day you don’t have to make decisions. It is automatic. You don’t have to concentrate it just comes naturally like an old pair of loafers.

th-6We get up at the same time. We make a head call and rub the sleep out of our eyes. We make coffee as if still in a coma. We catch the same train or bus or show up at the gym for you guessed it, our usual workout. We read the paper, usually sports or comics first. We check our emails and before you know it the morning is well underway. Throughout the day Point A leads to Point B and eventually we come home to our usual cocktail, turn on the news, eat dinner and then opt for bed after some more TV. It is very predictable and very calming.

The word routine comes from the French word for a rut in the road. A habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that has become almost involuntary. Without all those interruptions of flights of fancy we get so much more done. Throughout our lives we have seen zillions of situations and go back in our memory banks on how to respond with the least amount of difficulty and greatest efficiency.

Ask any athlete or successful performer in the arts or business world. Constantly repeating your routine will result in a consistently high performance. Armed forces thrive on rote and drill as a known quantity when confronted with a hostile confrontation. Some one said life is constantly a choice between boredom and anxiety. Ergo, who wants to sweat?

Why you ask, do I fight it? Good question. I might have ADD but at this point in time, I is what I is. I might be a hopeless romantic always looking for a different ending or at least an alternate way to the finish line. I am somewhat of an egalitarian in that I don’t like people telling me what to do and I do not try to force my way on anyone else. I will prod of course but it is up to you. If you think I am nuts, get in line.

th-10My mind does move rather rapid fire. I have thousands of thoughts a day. Kathy chuckles as we drive in the car and she can see me mouthing words in some sort of contrived conversation. I even have the hand gestures to go with it. At that time she knows I am a danger to us as well as our fellow motorists.

I love to participate in repartees via email. Each response is more off the wall the the previous. Too many friends have fallen prey to my shenanigans when I do parodies or become irreverent about this personality or situation. I try not to hurt anyone but just shake things up. Yes I do go too far at times but I do try to make amends.

My bottom line is that without training wheels I can let things rip in my mind. There are no taboos. I ask questions of myself and our world. I think the outrageous and maybe that becomes my routine. Creativity is like crack for me and I love to find solutions for problems but to a fault for I am really shitty at administration. Yet the world is abundant in things to discover even at my age. Hear a new note or riff in a song. Discover a new shade of green in that landscape you see very day. There is so much right in front of us.

I am not trying to get you to drink the Koolaid if you haven’t already. All I can tell you it is one boatload of fun…for me. Everyone has their style. I would love you to think of mine a bit and I will do the same of yours. People will say,”Don’t rock the boat and don’t fix what ain’t broke.” I get it. But maybe and I do mean maybe, you can shake things up from time to time. And that may just be the best time of your life. Think of it. Creatures of new habits.

Happy New Year

As always
Ted The Great .

Factoids

As the habit is forming, it can be analysed in three parts: the cue, the behavior, and the reward. What provokes us, how we act and what is the final result. Think of alcoholism, drug dependency, shopaholics or even being nice to people.

It takes at least 60 days to break a habit or to put it a differently it takes that long to learn a new one. Of course it depends on the depth of the habit and if there is a coincidental physical dependency a la drugs.

Conformity is action in accordance with some standard or authority. You go with the flow. That is until the action completely repels someone’s innermost feelings and beliefs and the result is rebellion. You have had enough.

th-7Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting). The ground or atmosphere must be fertile and un to allow new concepts to grow.

In The Mood….

We are ensconced in our new home in Florida for the Xmas season. If current forecasts hold true it will be 83 on Christmas Day. A little difficult to dream of sugar plums lest they melt all over my bald head. A blazing hearth? Not exactly.

Version 2We do have a glorious tree in the main club house. We put wreaths on our front door and our palm trees are festooned with little white lights. Our house tree, albeit fake, is sitting pretty in the window. The local tree lots are under tents and I can only picture it being a little hot and steamy in there. So what are we to do?

A couple of things strike me. Let’s concentrate on singing and giving. We had a “Bring a Gift” dinner at the club last week replete with the Jensen Beach High School Glee Club. Now JB is not what you would call a booming metropolis so the fact that they could garner 30-40 teens for the fete is somewhat remarkable. The fact they were so good was downright amazing.

The guys were outnumbered 3 to 1 but they made up for it with their spunk. They came in wearing white tie and tails of a sort. The young ladies were dressed in long gowns. There were three or four soloists who sang form the heart and were awesome. As I watched the kids I just saw friendship and a song so sweet. Their director did a masterful job and the ensuing bravos and ovations were more than deserved. How does this goodness happen in our crazy world or is the converse the way it should be?

Kathy was treated to a performance of a different sort. She was one of the ringleaders to assemble gift bags for the Hope Rural School in Indiantown about twenty miles and light years away from us. The big red bags of gifts donated by our members were brought to our garage over a week or so. Then some staff and members brought them by truck to their destination on Wednesday.

The Hope School is amazing, accounting for education of both kids and parents in what can best be described as a migrant town of sorts. The parents work in the fields and their kids are left to two nuns who make this thing work, They cover the three R’s but also family nutrition and a little bit of social graces thrown in. th-2They put on a show for Kathy and her crew and each child and parent came up and said thank you with those dark eyes looking straight into hers as they shook hands. When she got home she was on cloud nine as to what she had witnessed. And that’s a good thing.

Our community is probably considered upper crust by many but not by ourselves. We take charity seriously and in addition to this effort we raise money for a bunch of things from United Way to Hospice to Safe Place, a home for battered women. It really blows you away as to the number of people that not only write checks but get involved as volunteer workers and board members. Who cares whether we are the 1% or 10% it is more than a sometime thing and pretty neat to be part of. I am not trying to brag but we just don’t hear enough about this side of the coin very often.

This whole giving thing is downright rewarding. Since our kids are not here you really don’t have much to do on the shopping lists side. Thank God the Divine Miss K has no real interest in jewelry. Of course one of my daughters will give you,”No Bling No Ring” What can I say? But you do think about little things you can do for people. I looked up generosity and it involves the spirit of giving. The synonyms are generous, ,magnanimous, unselfish, unsparing. Very cool. Antonyms: cheap, parsimonious, penurious, stingy, tight, tightfisted. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Long story short is that it is really contagious. At first people will look at you with a wary stare with arms tightly folded tightly. “Buzz off TTG. My charity is my own private business.” Then they slowly warm to the idea and say, “What the hell?” Soon after they are in the thick of it and loving it. It is that simple.

There you have it. This year’s message: Music and Charity. Pretty simple The results: Priceless. I am now in the mood.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

As always
Ted The Great45d504c1fc2a39ed4693f084554e5628--christmas-vinyl-plaid-christmas

Factoids:

There were wreaths placed on over 1.5 million deceased soldiers graves this year. The wreaths themselves were to a large part assembled and packed by volunteers. Truck drivers, many working on their own time brought them to cemeteries all over the country.

In 2014 Americans gave over $360 billon to charity. Roughly 3/4 of that was given by individuals. Approximately 25% of the population volunteers their time. 20% more women than men. The highest incidence of helping comes from 35-44 years olds. The more education you have the more you are prone to volunteer.

There are choirs, glee clubs and singing groups in every community throughout the US. I once took a course at University of Denver called, “Find Your Voice”. Way out of my league it was still a ball. I even had to sing solo in the middle of the class. I survived.

th-4Singing is good for you. It releases endorphins, battles depression, anxiety and loneliness. The average shower stall has perfect acoustics to produce a reverb effect that will make you sound great. Enjoy.

 

 

Left To Our Own Designs…

I have a sore back. Nothing drastic but it will require me to be out of commission for a few days. That get’s dangerous for me and as I sat on the back patio smoking a fat one my mind got to wandering. I thought about our quest for perfection in all things and led me to think about now and the future.

510674920We have created Artificial Intelligence(AI), Virtual Reality(VR) and some strange things called BOTs. AI is simply programming computers to act like humans. Algorithms are dreamed up for just about everything to achieve optimal results. We now have portfolios that run automatically. The stock markets today are controlled by machines 90% of the time. They pick up on words, financial results or announcements and act accordingly. Some do very well.

Google et al take a look at your buying but also your thinking patterns. They constantly bombard you with what you like whether is is a pair of socks or a new TV. The news you receive is prioritized as to whether you are liberal, conservative or God forbid moderate. In a sense you are cast in stone. Efficient to say the least but also with a dash of scary thrown in.

IBM’s Watson has revolutionized many things and most interestingly the world of medicine. He or she can can scan thousands of highly technical treatises and digest them into salient bullet points. All in a matter of moments. We now have diagnoses being made and test results scanned with more accuracy than MD’s. It is said in the not too distant future you will walk through a portal in your home every day and it will catch any abnormalities exist. In my case that could really get dangerous.

Taken to its logical end we will have sensors that a doctor or perhaps a machine will analyze and tell you what is wrong with you and how they are going to fix it. A boon for rural medicine and the impoverished. They will send your meds via Amazon or CVS and presto you back on your way to goof health.

 

480894322VR is really out of a Star Wars movie. You put on this headset in which there is created a whole new environment. You won’t have to travel to faraway places because you can experience the Taj Mahal or the Louvre right in your living room. You can watch a football game as if you are right in the huddle. Sunbathing on the French Riviera is a matter of bringing it up on line. You may even smell the ocean breezes or hear the rustling of the palms in your four story walkup in Brooklyn.

In the business world there will no longer be a need for travel. Visiting the grandkids? We can do that without the aggravation of a long car or plane ride. If they bug you, feel free to just cut them off and take it up again at a later date. You don’t have to landscape your property or keep your neighborhood clean because you can project perfection inside your own house. Pick you temperature. Pick your location. Pick your friends. It its going to be great.

 

Lastly are these BOT things. Basically they are robots that play a script based on your reactions. Siri and Alexa are just the beginning. They will be able to smile at you and offer advice. I hope mine looks at me in the mirror and says, “Man you are looking fine today, Mister Ted”
TTG may have to fall by the wayside as my moniker, in that I will just be one of the crowd. Sad but true.

I can see my new environs quite clearly. I will live in a hermetically sealed abode. I won’t need furniture because it is all virtual. I will eat nutritionally perfect meals so I won’t have to worry about my weight. Booze will be out of the question in that as they always say, it is just empty calories. Won’t need a car even if it is electric because I have no need to go out. Won’t play golf as it will all be on a simulator, I won’t workout because those electrodes I am attached to will take care of everything.

There will be no need for human interaction because that too will be passe. Think of it, no flu or sexually transmitted disease. Sexual harassment? A thing of the past. Speaking of sex that is not necessary.  You will be perfectly happy and if you want a kid you just order one to your specifications. Amazon will handle that too. Free shipping included. You will know you have gone over the line When Alexa or Alex as the case may be, starts to look good.

Now if all this sounds depressing we have a BOT for that. Tell me Ted, what is on your mind? Depending on my response I will get canned psychoanalysis. I can’t complain about my golf game because it will all be in my mind’s eye and predetermined. I won’t even have to write my blog. Just pick a topic and away whomever will reel it off. Stop cheering!

There is one major problem. Let’s say a hacker gets on line and wipes out our power grid so my electronic Major Dome shuts down. Even better some rogue nation takes out all the satellites with lasers and we come to a screeching halt,608516150 Or maybe the VR, AI and BOTS all team up and decide they and decide they want to run things.

Crazy? Maybe yes. Maybe no. I just get the feeling all this is like many of the things we take for granted or as pablum served up to us, has to be looked at more carefully. I am sure there are think tanks but at this breakneck speed we may never be able to get in front of it. Then again things will be so good we will probably not know what hit us.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids;

Facebook announced that their AI can ‘accurately reproduce’ the personalities and behaviours of 85% of their customers. Why do you think they make you type some random letters in to prove are human?

In January 2015, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and dozens of Artificial Intelligence experts signed an open letter on AI, calling for research on the societal impacts and urging researchers not to create something which cannot be controlled.There is a “Singularity Institute” dedicated to the creation of safe Artificial Intelligence

First time users of Virtual Reality have reported problems related to motion sickness and headaches. This is apparently because their minds are believing that they are moving around, while they are sitting static in a chair or a couch. It is fact that old people in nursing homes love VR. It takes the where they can’t go.

BOTS can be developed to deliver Fake News. They can create whole scenarios out of thin air and have you believing they are true. Just look at “The Donald”.