The Winter Of Our Discontent …..

 

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

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

th-4.jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoid:

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

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

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

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

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

N.H Nguyen

Taking Chances….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

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

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

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

In My Humble Opinion..

 

It seems today everyone has an opinion about something. On etymological  matters such as these I go to Webster’s: Opinion, a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. Sounds healthy enough. The key words to me are view and judgment. These are not incontrovertible facts but a reasoning or deduction of sorts.

 My first thought is to consider the source. Is this person considered an expert on that particular topic or are they just shooting from the hip?th-5.jpeg Did they derive their thesis from years of study or is it the diploma of the streets that gives them a sense of authenticity? You and I have all run into someone who spouts off with not a lot of know how. Such are our times.

I did a talk on Global Migration a few months ago. What gave me the right? First I used a well thought out syllabus from the Institute of Foreign Policy. I also spent a fair amount of time studying and reading. I was not an expert by any means but I had some chops. 

People asked me if I was nuts speaking on such a volatile subject but hopefully I took them on a journey through facts. What are the numbers? What is the law? What is the current state of our facilities? As I prepared and learned facts I found myself drifting from one side of the argument to the other. Maybe I could offer God forbid, an informed opinion? 

I will tell you today it is the law that if someone presents themselves at our doorstep requesting asylum they are heard by a border control officer. If they are denied they have a right to appeal and stay until they are heard. Now you may have an opinion for or against but that is the law.images-25.jpeg 

Now the numbers become startling. There are over 1 million people who have requested asylum. There are 394 judges who will hear those appeals. These people have to be processed properly and that takes time for an overwhelmed Border Patrol. The facilities were outposts to hold four or five people in detention not hundreds and thousands. You can have an opinion as to whether that is the proper way to do it but that is what we as a society have set up through our legislatures and bureaucracy. 

I think where we go astray is by considering our machinations to be without fault. We think our sources are irrefutable. Joe Jones told me this and of course he knows what he is talking about. Time after time I have questioned people’s logic and they cannot say with certainty the origin of their facts. 

It is rather bizarre in our info inflated world there are so many false accusations and assumptions on both sides of the fence. I think when you get right down to it, the hoi polloi and even the cognoscenti should really do more dumpster diving before they shoot their mouths off. Fuggedaboutit TTG ! Well we can always dream, can’t we?

In truth we all believe that our opinions are true and valid. They are part of our psyche. Some seem right. Some seem terribly wrong. They have been formed over years or etched because of certain event. We can vote them out of the mainstream but if we are to have any credence as a democracy we must at least allow them to think so. 

I am not a fan of Colin Kapernick nor Wayne Lapierre. I cringe at Hannity. I wince at Maddow. We can allow them soap boxes and even praise them. But we cannot accept what they say as fact driven truth. It is an opinion and they are entitled to it. 

The most interesting part of all this is that I probably agree on at least one tenet espoused by all of the above. Something in there makes sense when stripped of the dramatics and vitriol. I have this crazy thought that if we assembled a little from each we could find a workable solution to our knottiest of problems. But then again that is just my opinion. 

As always

 Ted The Great 

Factoids:

The difference between fact and opinion on the following grounds: The fact is described as the statement that can be verified or proved to be true. Opinion is an expression of judgment or belief about something. Fact relies on observation or research while opinion is based on assumption.

Types of Opinions:

Op Ed 

Legal Opinon

Financial  Opinion

Judicial Opinion: Majority, Concurring,Dissenting

Critical  Opinion in Art, Music, Golf Swings !!!!

And in al of them they are just opinions. 

IMHO: In my humble option. Are you kidding me? Who is humble?th-4.jpeg

Out Of This World…

 

We had our twelve year old grandson and eight year old granddaughter visiting us for a week. A trip to the Kennedy Space Center was in order. If you haven’t been, it is extraordinary. It is a microcosm of our ingenuity, steadfastness and yes, at times our arrogance. 

In 1962 when President John F. Kennedy made his pronouncement that we would get to the moon before the end of the decade we witnessed a shift of gears from low to high, that the world had never seen. In the Space Park you see the early versions of rocketry and are astounded how far we have become in both payloads and sophistication. th.jpeg

You keep saying to yourself that it was 50 years ago we went to the moon. There was a coordinated effort beyond imagination in that 400,000 people of all sorts were involved in the project. We were clever enough to assemble rockets, install tracking systems, plan for all sorts of catastrophes and above all, pull it off before the advent of cell phones and personal computers.  

When you look at the behemoth rockets and cargo bays of the shuttle you begin to fathom the complexity of millions of parts that are somehow strewn together and work in perfect harmony. Just one breakdown would spell doom as it did with Challenger and a faulty “O” ring. Yet fatalities over the time span of a more than ambitious program were relatively few. From 1981 to 2011 there were 185 missions flown. Astounding!

Now one can argue is it all worth it? Have the trillions of dollars spent worldwide really brought us a better planet. One can say surveillance in space has brought about world peace if for no other reason than keeping everyone honest. There have been all sorts of technological advancements from advanced alloys to toilets that are self sufficient. Yes we can even drink our own urine but let’s not go there. But that is not my takeaway. 

First is that we are just a dot in a myriad of galaxies. Who knows if there is life out there? Not quite sure if that really makes a difference to me. It is almost arrogant, and not surprisingly so, that we want to take our form of civilization somewhere else. This compulsion to colonize Mars seems somewhat absurd when we have so much to do here. 

The second and more important insight I derived is that when we put our mind to something and finance it properly we can achieve results that are beyond amazing and in a relatively short period of time. Why do we seem to be bogged down with the most elementary problems of our time when we have gone to the moon. 

“The future is plastics, my boy” as we were told in the Graduate. This fantastic polymer has been a Godsend to our lives for decades. I took a count of the number of times I encountered plastic everyday in my life and was blown away. From my Diet Coke bottle to my golf balls to the tube for my tooth paste, it habituates and at the same time destroys the marine environment I so treasure. th-3.jpeg

Let’s not get into the politics of petrochemicals but can you tell me that no one along the line has given a thought to the indestructibility of the coffee cup lids and disposable diapers until now? Were we asleep at the switch or just malfeasant. We put it in the environment. Can’t our highly creative minds figure out a way to get it out? And before 2025 or 2050 or whatever. . 

My two favorites are rust and asphalt. Think about rust for a minute. Our bridges, the undersides of our cars, our pipes, our ironwork succumb to this devilish little oxide. It still exists after centuries of destruction. No one has come up with a way to eliminate it. 

Ditto asphalt. Every year the northern climes breed millions of pot holes. They not only have to be repaired but the growth economy of  tire replacement and wheel realignment thrives as well. th-2.jpegCan’t we come up with some sort of resin or epoxy that is indestructible? Isn’t there some genius out there come up with these seemingly simple solutions? Probably not sexy enough to spend one’s time on. 

We have cancers of the body and cancers of the mind. We spend so much on tumors and growths but how much do we spend on brain research by comparison? We have every sort of treatment center for lungs and kidneys and livers but we look the other way on what is between our ears. Would a moon shot type effort bring a little more peace and quiet to our unsettled minds. 

The long and the short are simple. If Elon or Jeff wants to live on Mars let them…at their own cost. It almost seems their desire to go is the result of a world they helped create being less habitable than the Red Planet. Contrary to current thought, let’s assume the checkbook is limited. What are the problems in our society that if given the same set of coordinated effort and funding that Apollo had, could we solve once and for all.

We had a vision that was monumental and we succeeded. We have so many things on our “to do” lists as a nation and a world that rate that same type of attention. Poverty, food shortages, disease, education. Yikes. We have enough to keep us busy without leaving our Big Blue Marble.th-6.jpeg Maybe we should reestablish our priorities? Wouldn’t  that be out of this world?

 

As Always,

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy is where the Shuttles were blasted into orbit. The base of the pad has 100’s of thousands of gallons of water pumped to deaden the noise and impact. The white billow clouds are actually steam. If you were within 500 feet the concussion would kill you. If you were within 1000 feet the noise would kill you. 

There are 2.7 million miles of roads in the US. 94% of them are paved with asphalt. There are 3500 plants throughout the US putting out 400 million tons of the black stuff annually. 

Rust is formed on metal surfaces with the combination of water and air. Rust could cost the world well over $685 billion per annum.th-5.jpeg The cost to the US alone is pegged at over $300 billion.

We spend over $225 billion on mental health per annum. Approximately 15.7 million people are alcoholics and 15 million have some kind of drug dependency. We spend over $10,000 per capita or $3.5 trillion on healthcare as a whole.

Image Is Everything…

th-1.jpegA couple of month’s ago, when I saw Notre Dame burning it was quite startling. A few years ago Kathy and I visited this wonderful cathedral. As we walked around the interior perimeter I remember thinking of the history involved. Not so much the art work but how many people had come and prayed and gawked over those centuries. 

Churches represent so many facets of life. In their day they were built to provide a place of worship but also education. Not a lot of people read or wrote so the stained glass windows told a story to the peasants. Alas also a place to confess but also to be browbeaten by fire and brimstone sermons from the lofty pulpit. I personally like when the priest or minister has a mic and walks down the aisle to address the faithful. Almost like he or she is one of us. 

I have never quite understood the grandeur. Was it to pay homage to God or to back up the power of the church and government all in one swoop? Back then, popes had to approve of new monarchs so the concept of separation of church and state was a joke. Do the spires ascend to or taunt the Creator with a  “You think You are cool, wait til you see what we build next”? 

I understand the rebuild of Our Lady will run up to $8 billion which of course will balloon to $10-15 billion when all is said and done. The Yellow Vests are going nuts and maybe they should.They will have a pretty church but who really cares if no one attends. Maybe we should have naming rights? The Paribas Cathedral of Notre Dame. “Your money is in God’s hands.” How about The Total Petroleum Religious Gas Station? “Get fueled up for the after life.” 

Aside from churches we seem hell bent of reflecting our souls with our edifices. Skyscrapers now soar for work or residence. No longer a three room apartment but a three floor monument to me.cbe932a71d290225a8e51016e11f2edc.jpg There was a fellow down at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale who built a 10,000 square foot house with two bedrooms. Go ahead. You can spend your money any way you want, but isn’t that a tad gauche? 

Go into a law office, investment bank, or architectural firm. There are at least three forests worth of wood paneling in the lobby or should I say sanctuary. Wait until you see the place your meeting is in and if you are really lucky you get to see the board room sans the big wheels. Armani suits, limos and the like are part of the act. And with all that you are supposed to be dumbstruck and sign blindly on the dotted line. Might is right!

I always ask the question if these people really know what they are doing? The retort is a brusque snort as they display their diplomas from the Ivies or Wharton or Kellogg. People tell me that my alma mater, Georgetown is a fine school. My poly sci degree doesn’t mean diddly but some poor fool thinks I am smart anyway. 

We visualize cars, yachts, private jets and even exotic pets as the marks of truly remarkable men and women. We ooh and aah at the runways of Hollywood and Wall Street. The Hamptons and Malibus. We read Architectural Digest and gaze longingly at the Robb Report. With all the puff and pomp how do we know what is real? 

Maybe I am getting old but it really does not matter to me. I just threw away a golf shirt that my daughter gave me 15 years ago. We live in a “modest” home with three bedrooms and OMG only two baths! We drive decent cars and don’t have to spend $500 on dinner to feel good. We had lunch awhile back with an old friend from Swift Boat days. The four of us ate at a wonderful dockside restaurant that was overshadowed by double wides. Worked for us. 

It is very interesting and somewhat unusual where we live. There is never a conversation about curriculum vitae or net worths. There is plenty of money but it just does not matter. I have had some of the most marvelous conversations that could be, over a glass of scotch or a cup of coffee from a simple deck overlooking the water.  Nothing crazy but going deep into this or that. Great stuff.

th-6.jpegCut us open and we are all the same. We treasure our looks and our place in society. When it is over who really cares? Your clothes or cars or undrunk rare wines in your cellar are residue. Did you leave the world a better place or is the world better without you? Interesting question. 

I am not really sure if Notre Dame should be rebuilt? Is it emblematic of a time gone by? Maybe leave the walls and just put in a small chapel. Churches shouldn’t be points of interest on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Not a totem of a city or nation to be cashed in on. Pop in and say a prayer. Think a kind thought. Sweet and simple. I think that is an image I can live with.  How about you? 

As always

Ted The Great.

Factoids:

Tracy Morgan who almost died after a wreck on the NJ Turnpike years ago, was sideswiped a couple of miles from the dealership. He had just purchased a $2 million Bugatti and the woman was driving a Honda CRV. Priceless!0604-tracy-morgan-car-crash-bugatti-photos-launch-3.jpg

There is an extremely wealthy magnate that has five homes throughout the world. Everyday they are stocked with fresh flowers and provisions and fully staffed on the chance he may want to drop in.

A Stuart Hughes Diamond edition suit costs $892,500 Savile Row in London boasts suits for anywhere from $25-100,000. Shoes  can run $500-2,000 per pair. There is even a self tying pair of of Nike sneakers that go for $28,000. I wonder what the Odor Eaters cost?

Ringing in at $22,900, this Dubai suite from Burj Al Arab provides Hermes bath products and five-head rain showers to create the ultimate bathroom experience. The suite also features 17 types of pillows, a rotating four-posted bed, full-size Jacuzzis, a private butler and even the free use of a 24-carat gold-plated iPad. I wondered if sitting on the Jake feels any different?

Taking Pause….

th-6.jpegAfter reading a plethora of newspaper articles this weekend I decided to push back from the table of public affairs. It is not that I am giving up on our world but I need a break. Trade wars, impeachment, Brexit, Iran and North Korea will just have to wait. Time for some fun thinking. 

Several years back I happened upon a woman on a deck overlooking the Atlantic in Ponte Vedra. She was chatting with a friend and wore a red baseball cap. I apologized for smoking a cigar but was given absolution for it was my birthday. This cute damsel immediately threw a question at me. “Is your life a roller coaster or a merry go round?” What a fascinating  question.

In a dose of revery I am contemplating deeply on this beautiful Florida morning. We or at least I tend to look at things in an analytic terms. Is it this or that and then we apply some sort of standard to see if our theorem is valid.  When do we just stop and have fun? No right or wrongs, just letting it rip.

If you were a fish what type would you be? Would you sport dazzling colors or would want to blend in with reefs on the ocean floor? Do you travel in schools or pods or do you search the ocean like the Great White? Part of the food chain or king or queen of the undersea world? Me? I think I would like to be a porpoise.th-8.jpeg Cavorting with friends and sometimes veering off on my own. Chasing an ocean liner or freighter and having people look down and say, man I wish I could do that. Funny thing is they can.

Birds are interesting creatures. At our little refuge called Harbour Ridge there are thousands of them of all shapes and sizes. Some are delicate, some are brazen. They all patrol looking for their next meal. There is an osprey nest high above our seventh hole on one of our golf courses. It’s a par three and you usually wait for the green to clear. You get to know the family and the cycle of life as they grow from chicks to kids and rehearsing for their first solo flight. Real life.th-5.jpeg

Sand hill cranes are graceful and unruffled. Egrets soar and swoop. Cardinals shoot by and their color is surprising on the oh so green landscape. The ducks spawn their flocks and they parade through the ponds with Mom watching closely. Their numbers dwindle as they become breakfast or dinner for some gator but it is part of life. I think the osprey would be me. Observing my milieu from an aerie and hopefully raising a decent family. 

What if I was a car? Here the possibilities are endless. Are you functional and practical or are you gaudy and ostentatious?  Prius or Porsche? Ford or Ferrari? Is your top down and blaring some music that you sing along to or are you hermetically sealed and away from the outside world? 

You belong to a club and of course you must keep up with the Joneses as you make your grand entrance in the parking lot. BMW or Bentley? Maybe something more classic like a 65 Mustang or vintage Mercedes roadster. But then again maybe your club is not country but local. Perhaps we are taking about a big ass Ford F250 and everyone leers jealously as you pull into you local watering hole. th-10.jpegI would probably be an Audi. Q5 for some room but not too big. Dark green with tan interior. Neat but not gaudy. 

Clothes are fun. I laugh when I see the weekend segments of the New York Times or WSJ. There is some pain in the ass designer from Milan, Paris or New York who wants to tell me that I am dated. Maybe I am but I don’t want to hear it from him or her. My nephew tells me pleats are out. BFD. It is a metaphor of how you feel in your own skin. Constantly changing or comfortable with what you got. 

 Dress codes seem to be going by the wayside. We were in a very nice oceanfront restaurant the other night. It was special night and we tried to dress accordingly. Across the way were two couples and the guys were wearing tee shirts and ball caps. If clothes make the man I wonder what that meant? I guess for me my appearance is a thing of pride not haute couture. Do people not care how they look or is that their way of expressing themselves? Good question. 

All this meandering up and down the hallways of my mind is to me a lot of fun. Thinking outside the box. Trying to simplify the world not make it more complicated. Not trying to invent the latest and greatest but studying the present lineup of Mother Nature and our everyday lives. Taking all we have and making it relevant without yearning for this or that. We are indeed lucky no matter what our lot. 

Getting back to that cute girl in the ball cap. A gust blew up and knocked it off her head. Beneath she was as bald as I am. She was there for a month undergoing chemo at the Mayo Clinic. I don’t know if she made it but she really got me thinking. I thank her for that. It made me pause and I try to do so every day. I hope I got you trying to do the same

As always

Ted The Great  

Factoids:

In 2017 there were 237 existing car models on sale in the US with 38 new models introduced. There are 1.2 billion cars on the roads worldwide at the present time with 2 billion expected by 2035. 

th-1.jpegThere are a collection of 16 million colors a computer can generate. The question of what is your favorite is complicated. Add to that is the fact you and I see and comprehend colors differently. My favorite color is green. Look out your window and tell me how many shades of green you see.?

There are over 24,000 species of fish worldwide. There are at least 18,000 species of birds. Try to define yourself in that crowd. If you think about it their designer is not in Paris and most likely of another world. At least I think so. 

Leave Me Alone….

 

Fully 35% of the population of the United States over 40, considers themselves lonely. I don’t know what that adds up to in millions but let’s just say the number is daunting. Many of them do not have even one person they can go to in a jam. Were we always this solitary?th.jpeg

I am reading a book by David Brooks, “The Second Mountain”. Intriguingly I have asked several people what they think of this erudite columnist for the New York Times and I get strange responses. Arch conservatives consider him a sellout. Others reason he is just another talking head. I find his insights to be provocative regardless of philosophical bent. It dawned on me how much people just tune out parts of the world. 

In his book he discerns between community and tribalism. Community is a connection based on mutual affection. Tribalism is based on mutual hatred. In our efforts to stoke individualism we close doors not open them. Basically if we only surround ourselves with like minders we keep narrowing our spheres of influence and communication. Pretty soon we can’t find anyone of our ilk or if we do the conversation becomes so stale as to not even be worthwhile. 

I remember years ago when my mom was dying. I came in from Arizona to visit her. One afternoon while she was taking a nap, I took a walk in the little village where I grew up. Let’s say there were fifty or sixty homes in the vicinity. th-7.jpegAs I traversed the South Drives and Heights Roads, I could tell you the name of every person who had lived in each house. An anecdote about that family or a particular personality cropped up continually. Could anyone do that today? 

We no longer need to write hard copy with pen and ink. We can email or text and the better the shorthand, the faster I can get this over with. Thoughts are now in acronyms. LMAO. TTFN. WTF. Emoticons take the place of prose. Everything designed for sweet and simple. No sense in wasting all that emotion. We have streamlined society. 

Today, people go weeks and months without ever having contact with another human being. Order your coffee or lunch by phone. Swipe your card. Never look up. Eye contact verboten. Linger over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? What are you nuts? I am a busy person and so much to do.  Why waste the time? 

We don’t go to the store. Amazon Prime will soon get it to you by this afternoon after your internet order. Probably by drone so you don’t have to see the delivery person.th-12.jpeg Your taxi or bus will soon be driverless. Golf courses will equip carts with music. Why? Who wants to waste time with meaningless conversation. I can listen to a podcast between shots. That sounds of nature bullshit is way overrated. I have to be more productive in my spare time.  

We play video games instead of Monopoly or Risk. I don’t want to go to exercise class. I will get my own personal trainer. Better yet I can hop on my Peloton and become wired to someone hundreds of miles away whom I have never met, much less had a meaningful conversation with. 

The most existential question in all of this, If I don’t have to care about anyone else but me who the hell is going to eventually worry about me when I can’t? Do I have any meaning or worth? Hmmm, if I don’t, why should I go on living? Suicides have jumped 35% since 2000. Any wonder?

We don’t trust our institutions. The Church, the government, and corporate America like Boeing? If there is no God why do we need ethics? If politicians are corrupt why obey the laws? If the bottom line is more important than integrity then I better change my ways before I get left behind.

This may sound hyperbolic. I think not. The more individual we become the more estranged we are from human emotion. Empathy, pathos, charity, brotherhood, motherhood, all become collateral damage. 

I can attest to Mr.Brooks poignant observation that there is no greater wellspring of joy than when one gives of themselves. th-13.jpegWhen you have made someone’s day better by smile or a helping hand you can’t help but feel good inside. Correction. Not good but fantastic. You have made them feel worthy of consideration in our thoughtless world. 

Recently I have had a long talk with a friend who tragically lost his brother. I also had a casual acquaintance break down when for some reason he decided to tell me of a horribly dysfunctional upbringing. I had a woman in hospice who finally sobbed after being a rock for her failing husband for 6 long years. 

There is nothing special about putting yourself out there for others. We are social beings and we all need a shoulder to cry on. Our loneliness is self imposed and so unnecessary. If you are particularly feeling bad, put down all the electronics and head for Starbucks. There is someone, somewhere that just needs a friendly face or a welcoming pose. Sorry about this falderal  but get used to it.  I am just not going to leave you alone.

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

One third of those from the age of 45-63 are single. You can be lonely in groups if you are unable to feel worthwhile.th-3.jpeg

Cries for help. People who become more withdrawn and unwilling to go out socially are actually screaming for help. 

Loneliness affects our heart rate, immune system and overall longevity. Today’s living environments with large apartment buildings or tract housing contribute to a sense of isolation. 

There is a Jekyll and Hyde side to technology. It makes it easier for people to anonymously say pretty nasty things. On another note the spontaneity of reaching out to an old friend has its rewards. Go figure.