Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Predictions

These are likely bullshit.  I am not good at this stuff.  I find myself a lot more optimistic than is warranted by facts and a lot more eager to see the best in people.  Oh well...I don't care!  Haven't done this previously but thought I might as well throw in my opinions.  As you know...I've never been shy in doing that previously.  So here are some predictions for 2016
  1. Marco Rubio will be nominated as the Republican candidate and will win the Presidency
  2. Hillary will be the Democrat nominee (I know...shock!) and along with the Clinton machine will take campaigning to new depths.  The lies will be even too much for most loyal Dems to take.
  3. There will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Congress will finally grow a pair and block some extreme choices from Obama
  4. Obama will continue to routinely break the law through executive orders (I know...shock!)  
  5. Kentucky will win the NCAA basketball championship
  6. Clemson will win the NCAA football championship 
  7. The Arizona Cardinals will win the Super Bowl
  8. The San Diego Chargers will not be approved to relocate to L.A.  Neither will the Oakland Raiders.  The St Louis Rams will become (once again) the L.A. Rams
  9. The St Louis Cardinals will win the World Series
  10. The California drought will be declared over as we experience a record rainfall from El Nino

Friday Funnies

Hat tip to my buddy Denny.


Subject: Becoming Irish

Eight year old Mohammad entered his classroom on the first day of school.

"What's your name?" asked the teacher.

"Mohammad," he replied.

"You're in Ireland now," replied the teacher, "So from now on you will be known as Mike”.

Mohammad returned home after school.

"How was your day, Mohammad?" his mother asked.

"My name is not Mohammad. I'm in Ireland and now my name is Mike”.

"Are you ashamed of your name?  Are you trying to dishonor your parents, your heritage, your religion? Shame on you!"

And his mother beat the shit out of him.  Then she called his father, who beat the shit out of him again.

The next day Mohammad returned to school.  The teacher saw all of his fresh bruises.

"What happened to you, Mike?" she asked.

"Well shortly after becoming an Irishman, I was attacked by two fucking Muslims."

American Exceptionalism

I saw this excerpt from a speech in the WSJ about a month ago and knew I'd want to share if I returned to the blog.  So here it is.  I think it is a wonderful tribute to America and why we are so important to the world.   After all, as the original experiment in freedom and democracy, we have shown the way.  As Mr Murdoch catalogs in his speech, we have made a huge difference in the world.

Like many, I worry that we have forfeited that position in the last 8 years.  We have been divided against ourselves, we have squandered our world leadership position in so many ways, and we have descended into a level of debt that will rip our economy apart if not checked.  The current crowd either doesn't know how to get it back or doesn't want to get it back.  That is just truth.  The coming year will be important.  I'm positive that executive overreach and Congressional timidity will continue to advance our tailspin.  Whoever occupies the White House and wins Congress will need to have a strong vision and a stern spine.  Let's hope that the people are smart enough to elect those with traits that will move us forward.

So here's my New Year's Eve gift.  Read it all.  And ponder where we are today and where we need to be.  And most importantly, how we get there.

America the Indispensable

By RUPERT MURDOCH
Dec. 1, 2015

Before I thank Henry Kissinger, and before delivering my modest message, I feel obliged to alert college students, progressive academics and all other deeply sensitive souls that these words may contain phrases and ideas that challenge your prejudices. In other words, I formally declare this room an “unsafe space.”

I was honored when the Hudson Institute asked me to address this gathering, particularly as you, Henry, agreed to make the introduction—at the very least I knew that you would be diplomatic. Having been in China recently, and spent some time with President Xi Jinping, it is very clear to me how much China has changed and how much Henry played a role in that change.

And beyond China’s borders, your insightful volumes have taught us much on the arts of diplomacy and the profound role played by leaders and leadership, a quality in somewhat short supply today.

Leaders sense when difficult decisions must be taken, and that is a rare quality in an age too often defined by narcissism. No leader will fight for values, for principles, if their government is a value-free vacuum. Moral relativism is morally wrong.

For a U.S. secretary of state to suggest that Islamic terrorists had a “rationale” in slaughtering journalists is one of the low points of recent Western diplomacy, and it is indicative of a serious malaise.

For America to be embarrassed by its exceptionalism is itself exceptional and absolutely unacceptable. In his great book “World Order,” Henry writes: “The affirmation of America’s exceptional nature must be sustained.” He continues: “As the modern world’s decisive articulation of the human quest for freedom and an indispensable geopolitical force for the vindication of humane values, America must retain its sense of direction.”

For America to have a sense of direction, two conditions are essential. A U.S. leader must understand, be proud of and assert the American personality. An identity crisis is not a starting point for any journey. And secondly, there must be clear goals informed by values and by a realization of the extraordinary potential of its people.

That second point requires that individuals celebrate their independence and ingenuity, whereas in recent years there has been far too much institutionalization of grievance and victimhood. Reviving our sense of direction and celebrating America’s exceptional nature—that is my subject tonight.

Around our country, there is a restless desire for revival. We see it in the primary process, which, apart from an interesting cast of characters, has articulated a deep distaste for the slow descent of our country.

And, importantly, there is a yearning outside the country for American assertiveness and engagement. As we have seen in Syria and in Ukraine and in the streets of Paris, without this country’s self-confident championing of that “human quest for freedom and humane values,” global affairs collapse into nightmare—the policy wasteland becomes fertile territory for terror.

I was born in Australia, and am proud of my Australian provenance, but I am now an American. Like so many naturalized citizens, I felt that I was an American before I formally became one. F. Scott Fitzgerald summed it up: “America is a willingness of the heart.” There is a similar, essential truth in the anthem’s simple refrain “land of the free; home of the brave.”

We are all often struck by the exceptional qualities of America and by the exceptional and selfless influence America has exercised on the world. We can idly and mildly joke, but if it were not for U.S. intervention in the Pacific, we Australians would not speak with our distinctive drawl, but in the rather polite verb endings of Japanese. So let us not be PC, but frank: There is no way that Australia alone could have defended itself during the Second World War, heroic as Australian troops were.

In the 1950s, America saved the now prospering South Korea from the barbarity of Kim Il Sung. And that sacrifice and intervention provided the buffer that Japan needed to rise from the postwar ashes to be a great economy and a reliable ally. One country, North Korea, is a heartless, ruthless personality cult that runs at the expense of its people, and the other country, South Korea, is a thriving democracy that has created companies that have improved lives around the world.

In the 1960s and 1970s, America intervened in Vietnam, an intervention that has been caricatured and distorted in the days since. The left seemed to be happy for the incarceration of millions, whether in Vietnam under Ho or in China under Mao. Why agonize over inhumanity when you could blithely celebrate yourself?

And in the 1980s, thanks to Ronald Reagan, America stood firm against the Soviet Union, and that very resolve led to reform. It led to one Germany, not two. It allowed the Polish and the Hungarians and the Czechs and Slovaks to be themselves, not political proxies. It recast Europe and emancipated millions. And yet the left still cannot find the words to recognize Ronald Reagan. For the rest of the world, he changed it.

In that same era, the U.S. provided a stable background for the rise of China, which went from the impoverishment of mindless ideology to the magic of market forces, allowing hundreds of millions of people to escape from poverty through their own efforts.

That emancipation of the most populous nation on earth is a modern miracle. Yet this fundamental, irrefutable truth must be denied by those who despise America and detest economic freedom. The Chinese understand, and they appreciate the undoubted efficacy of American influence. Yet the soft left cannot countenance that remarkable human success.

America’s contributions to life itself are many and meaningful, from the mass production of antibiotics, to the banishing of polio, the treatment of HIV, and the wonder of gene therapy and all that means for every disease. Markets produce a messy magic. It is the magic of our collective creativity.

Let us examine the five-letter word “frack.” Not hundreds of millions, but billions of people will benefit from fracking and the cheaper energy it provides. And yet a comfortable elite wants to deny their fellow humans the benefits of this technology. Fracking has become a litmus test of principle. Those governments that forbid fracking are the flat-earth fraternity—yes, including New York state.

They believe that the earth revolves around them. Even the EPA in America has been unable to undermine fracking, despite its efforts—so now EPA perhaps stands for Environmentalists Punish America.

Pollution must be reduced, whether in the water or air, or wherever, and we must evolve to more sustainable, cleaner forms of energy, but the platform for that future, for now, is an oil and gas platform. To deny that reality is to condemn the most vulnerable to the indignity of poverty for the sake of an ideology—that being the ideology of self. The triumph of the me over the needs of the many.

Henry rightly said we should tell the truth about our country, and I would challenge all not to let untruths proliferate. My journey was one that began in journalism in a relatively small city, Adelaide, but the lessons are unchanging in that people’s fears, desires, needs and hopes remain the same.

Among the supposedly elite and powerful individuals I have met, you could crudely classify two classes: those who know who they are, and those who say “don’t you know who I am?”

That we are privileged is not at issue. We are. But mobility must be our moral imperative, regardless of color or class. How can we tolerate stratification? How can we allow self-indulgence to define outlook and opportunity? How can we in this room be content with poverty, intellectual or economic, and how can we be content with a world defined by the ideologies of those who seek to please and appease?

We are here not to apologize for America, but to celebrate America. We are here to reflect upon the world as it might have been without America, a much, much lesser world.

The world, as we know it, depends upon our great country. Let us resolve, here tonight, that we will continue in the tradition of the Hudson Institute and our friend Henry Kissinger. Let us resolve that our country can depend upon us.

Mr. Murdoch is the executive chairman of News Corp., which owns this newspaper. This op-ed is excerpted from his remarks at a Nov. 30 dinner where he received the Hudson Institute’s Global Leadership Award.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The State of Higher Education

During my hiatus I've seen a lot of articles and stories about the state of higher education.  Some of them are, frankly, hard to believe.  I mean, if there is anywhere in the country where different ideas should be welcomed and discussed, it is the nation's colleges and universities.  You've seen the stories.  Students are demanding safe spaces.  They don't like offensive speech.  I really don't know how some of these folks are going to live in the real world, but it's a bit worrisome.  I've even seen people agreeing that the 1st Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech should be repealed.  Hard to believe but true.  I'm sure we've not seen the last of this idiocy.


My experience is more like this.  

Concentration

I play a fair amount of golf.  It's a frustrating game.  And that is true in all facets.  Driving, iron work, chipping and pitching, and putting.  I seem to be able to do all well at various times but stringing a bunch of strokes together is pretty tough.  And it is a mental game.  You can learn the mechanics of swinging a club and moving the ball down the course as it's meant to be.  But lose your focus and concentration, and you lose it all.  You have to get your mind in the game.  Focus.....


Cool Pic

This is pretty haunting.  For some reason there is a mystique, a romance if you will, regarding the whole world of trains.  At least for me there is.  I've taken a lot of trains in Europe and I never fail to marvel at what a wonderful and efficient mode of travel it is, be it short or long distances.

You can see a lot of things in this photo.  You have to make a decision.  Is something coming at you out of the fog or are you traveling into the fog.  Either way...a bit of unknown there.  Sorta like life...



Making the Move...Kasich to Rubio

During my hiatus I've made a shift.  Although I started out liking John Kasich as a Presidential candidate, I've come to realize he's just not a viable contender.  Unfortunately his message comes across as yesterday.  I still think he'd make a great President, but I don't see it happening.


As I've looked at the Republican field, I've settled on Rubio (or maybe Christie as a long-shot).  I'm wary of another first term Senator with no executive experience, but I really like his message and I think he has the smarts and personality to make a good President.  But there is a long way to go.  The Gas Bag and Slick Ted will continue to make noise and it should be a pretty interesting run up to the convention.  My thinking regarding the Gas Bag is reflected in a post on a blog I follow.  You can read it here.  Fundamentally though, while they all have plusses and minuses, they are all infinitely better than Hillary.  I continue to marvel that she is doing as well as she is.  How any thinking person could vote for her is beyond me.  But I guess that's what makes the world go around.

Here's another perspective from the same blog I linked to above.  This is a guest blogger predicting how it's going to go.  Pretty interesting.  I'm going to copy it here and a year from now we can look back and see how accurate he was.
  1. Ted Cruz will win the Iowa caucuses on February 1st. No one will drop out.
  2. Eight days later Donald Trump will squeeze out a narrow victory in New Hampshire which will force most of the weaker candidates to quit. Cruz, Rubio, Christie and Bush stay in. Jeb will receive less than 4% of the vote and be under tremendous pressure to do well in South Carolina. 
  3. Trump will win South Carolina by nearly 20 points resulting in Christie dropping out. Cruz will have a respectable outing but Bush and Rubio will be hanging by a thread hoping to do well on Super Tuesday. 
  4. Trump runs the table on Super Tuesday apart from Colorado (Rubio), Virginia (Bush) and Alaska (Cruz). 
  5. Everyone hangs around until March 15 when Trump wins North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and most importantly Florida (by 20 points). Rubio and Bush drop out. It becomes a two man race with Trump in a commanding position. 
  6. Cruz does respectably well but it's an uphill battle. Trump wins the nomination. 
  7. Senator Ted Cruz makes the ticket. 
  8. Hillary breezes to the nomination in spite of the relentless attacks from Team Trump. Bill Clinton proves to be a weak campaigner due to ill health and past indiscretions. Chasms emerge within the Democratic Party similar to what the Republicans have endured throughout the election cycle. 
  9. Trump wages an anti-Wall Street, anti-open borders, anti-government campaign advocating a near isolationist foreign policy with an emphasis on re-industrialization and job growth. Trade protectionism will be a key theme. Big Business chooses Hillary, much of labor chooses Trump. 
  10. Trump wins with a solid South and important rust-belt states such as Ohio and Michigan. 
I'll continue to track it, look for interesting articles and insights, and when I see something worth sharing will link for you to see.  If this stuff interests you, great.  If not, well then just move along.  But if you're not interested or you don't vote, then no bitching.  



Hillary

I figure that since I'm back from my hiatus I should probably jump right back into the comedy that is our political life in the U.S.  You all know we're only like this because of the constant media hype, right?  I mean you can't turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or visit many websites without being deluged with political hype.  I'll have more to say as the contest unfolds but for now, there are two things to remember.  First is that for all of you supporting the gas bag, the number to remember is 25.  Second, this is a reality.  And it won't get any better.


No Thanks...I'm Gluten Free.

When our son and then future-daughter-in law got married about 14 years ago it was a joyous occasion.  As is the case many times, the bride and groom were from different parts of the country.  Our son was a West coast guy and his fiancĂ© was an East coast girl.  But it was meant to be!  They decided to hold their wedding in Santa Fe, NM for a variety of reasons and that meant that it was for all intents and purposes a "destination wedding".  Many if not most of the guests would be traveling from afar.  And it turned out to be a glorious weekend.  Both families and friends came together to celebrate the occasion and all had a wonderful time.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.

In the course of meeting many of my future daughter-in-law's friends, we met one delightful woman who happened to have Ciliac disease.  If you're not familiar, here's a little primer:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation and diarrhoeafailure to thrive (in children), anaemia and fatigue, but these may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described. Vitamin deficiencies are often noted in people with celiac disease owing to the reduced ability of the small intestine to properly absorb nutrients from food.
Celiac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat, and similar proteins found in the crops of the tribe Triticeae (which includes other common grains such as barley and rye).  Upon exposure to gliadin, and specifically to three peptides found in prolamins, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to a truncating of the villi lining the small intestine (called villous atrophy). This interferes with the absorption of nutrients because the intestinal villi are responsible for absorption. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
As I said, she was delightful.  Very nice.  Very upbeat.  But she was very frail and watched what she ate very carefully.  Eating a gluten-free diet was obviously a necessary requirement for her to maintain her health.  That was my first exposure to Ciliac disease.  Since then I've watched the literal explosion of the gluten-free industry.   It's been pretty interesting.  Today if you walk into a grocery store or a typical upscale restaurant, you'll see "gluten-free" plastered all over the place.  And it's amazing how many things can be made gluten free.  The thing is...the science is pretty clear.  If you have Ciliac disease, you need to remain gluten free.  If you don't have Ciliac and you're gluten-free, then you're missing some vital proteins and nutrients.  Now, maybe those folks have decided that for whatever reason that being gluten-free is good for them.  But this seems to be one of those things that results from media hype, fad diets, and our insatiable desire to do something, anything to make us feel better.  "If my neighbor is gluten free and feels better, then maybe I need to be gluten free too."

I don't have a dog in this fight so it's okay with me if folks want to not eat gluten for some reason.  But I'm pretty sure (especially looking at some of the people I see declaring themselves to be gluten-free) that many, many, many in this category have fallen for some weird hype.  But like I said, knock yourselves out.  I haven't thought more than casually about this subject until I saw a great piece by one of my favorite writers, Charles Krauthammer.  It uncannily reflects my thinking on this and other subjects.  So as I've done many, many times in this blog, I'll let someone who is more articulate explain my thinking.  You can read it here.  And here's the bottom line quote:
"If going gluten-free gives a spring to your step, why not? But please, let the civility go both ways. Let the virtuous Fitbit foodie, all omega-3’d and gluten-free, drop the self-congratulatory smugness."
So, if you're gluten-free and deep down wondering what the hell you're doing and why you're doing it, have a donut and live a little.  It'll be okay.

You Say You Want A Resolution IV

Here we are in year IV.  2016.  Yikes...where did the time go?  Since I've been on a self-induced pause, it seems like this might be an appropriate way to jump back in.  So here we are.  Reviewing last year's resolutions and optimistically moving forward with a few resolutions that I'm hoping will give me a focus on doing some things to make me better (whatever that means) and give me a sense of accomplishment when I look back on bringing them to fruition.  Look below under Resolution III and I'll let you know how I did on my 2015 resolutions.  If you're interested in years before that...well you know how to search and use the scroll bar (or you should).  Have at it.

Sooooo... here's my list for this year:
  • Focus--I fully admit to sometimes spreading myself too thin and getting involved in a multitude of activities.  But sometimes I just can't help it.  There's a lot of stuff to do!  But in 2016 I'm going to really try and focus.  I'm going to say no to some things.  I'm going to pick and choose what I do and don't do.  I really need to pay more attention to some things and less to others.  Not naming anything, but I know what those things are.
  • Weight and Exercise--This seems perpetual.  I've done a pretty good job but need to continue.  Losing weight and exercising go hand in hand.  And they are both good for you.  So why don't I devote all my attention to it?  You got it...human nature.  It's a never ending battle but I'll keep at it.
    • Get back on the bike--This is a subset of above.  I've backed off the bike because of a few terrible accidents that hit close to home.  But I really miss it.  So I've got to get back out there.  Hope to do that soon.
  • Hobby--I describe a lot of the things I do on this blog and so you're probably saying what the hell is he talking about?  I admit that I love a lot of things and have a lot of fun doing them but I'd really like to devote some time to something unique.  Something fun and maybe a bit productive.   And this might help with the focus.  I've thought of getting a boat but don't really want that. Seems like it could be a money pit.  And the West coast isn't really conducive to the kind of boating I'd want to do.   I've thought of collecting something, but don't really think I have the personality for that.  Can't see me sitting around watching my model trains cruise in circles.  Or collecting stamps.  Or baseball cards.  Or...whatever.  We already have determined our travel schedule and are pretty happy with that.  I do play golf but that isn't really what I'm talking about.  So I happened on something that I think would be fun.  Back in the 1970s I owned a Triumph TR-6 British sports car.  It had it's problems but it was the coolest car I've ever owned.  Loved it.  And I'm a SoCal guy so you know I love cars!  But like I said it had it's problems.  And I was a young guy with a young family in the midst of my career without any discretionary money.  So I got rid of it.  But it holds fond memories for me. So I'm thinking it would be really fun to get a fully restored TR-6 and be able to cruise around in it.  Not sure it will happen, but it's something I'd like to do.  
  • Guitar--Okay.  Here we go again.  Taking lessons on line definitely isn't the way to go for me.  So I need to find an instructor.  After the holiday hubbub settles down, I'll look for one.  If anyone knows a good instructor in the San Diego area, let me know.
  • Pay more attention to the blog--I get lazy.  I sometimes just throw up a photo.  Need to stop doing that. I'll make every attempt to pay more attention and devote more time to the blog.  It is good for my mind and fair to anyone reading.  Hopefully, you'll see improvement.
  • Declutter and unsubscribe--I have proclaimed this resolution previously but it bears repeating.  It is amazing to me how much crap I collect, both in the computer and in my physical space.  I (we?) seriously need to declutter.  And part of the declutter venture is taking all my old photographs and scanning them in to a computer file.  I've had that on my to do list for a long time.  I hope that in 2016 I can finally get started on that.
And as always, here's the quote that I think of when thinking of facing the new year, “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin


Happy 2016 Everybody!
___________________________________________________________________________________



You Say You Want A Resolution III

Copied below is my post from this time last year and my post from 2012 that enumerated my resolutions for the next year.  Can I put it out there or what?!  Of course, not than many folks are reading so it's sort of a small circle.  It's interesting to go back and think about what I thought was important (or doable) and how I did with them.  Anyway, I think setting goals (writing down resolutions) is a good idea.  It gives you something to shoot for and think about.  I'm not going to repeat all the reasons to conduct this little exercise because I still believe them.  I'll comment in red below on the 2014 resolutions so you can see how I did.  And here are my resolutions for 2015:
  • Strengthen my relationship with God and service to the Church--If you know me you're probably a bit surprised by this one.  I mean, I've always had faith, have always believed.  But I've never really been outgoing or demonstrative about it.  I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and facing my mortality, the fact that we have a new Priest and an opportunity for renewed energy/growth in our church, or it's just a natural evolution in my journey of faith.  But whatever it is, I resolve to be more active and a stronger member of God's community in order to serve others. I accomplished this one in spades!  I ran for and was elected to the Vestry (governing body) of my church and to my great surprise was further elected to the position of Junior Warden.  That makes me one of two principal officers in the church.  Yikes!  As they say in the commercial...you've come a long way baby!  And be careful what you wish for!!!  Frankly, the involvement was far deeper and more involved than I anticipated.  But I've learned a ton, enjoyed getting to know so many new people, and humbly think I've made a difference.  But despite the time commitment, it has been a great experience.  Not sure what 2016 will bring in this area but I think I will stay pretty involved.
  • Get better at Golf--Since retirement I've played a lot more and really enjoy it.  Have joined the Men's Club at our resort and play in the weekly tournament and usually one other time during the week.  I'm certainly above the threshold of embarrassment.  But it is a maddening game.  My ability (or lack of ability!) sometimes drives me crazy!  But I'd like to get better and bring down my handicap.  To that end I've recently started to take lessons.  So we'll see.  This is one that truly will only be known by the test of time.  So check back next year and see if I've accomplished reducing my index. So if you're a golfer at all you know that the golf Gods read this resolution and started laughing.  I spent the Spring getting better.  Handicap did indeed start to descend, albeit slowly.  And then the slump happened.  It's been going on now for about 3 months.  Drives me crazy.  And the more things I come up with to correct deficiencies, the worse it seems to get.  So I'm about back where I started.  Don't get me wrong, I have some great holes.  Some great rounds!  But I also blow up regularly.  I guess  the key is that I still love playing.  So I'll keep at it.  This one is definitely incomplete!
  • Weight & Exercise--Ongoing.  And more important as I age.  As the saying goes, you've got to keep moving.  I've been pretty successful at doing something almost every day.  Need to keep that up! Did pretty well here.  I'm about 20 pounds lighter than when I retired.  I play golf twice a week.  I'm in the gym 2-3 times per week.  We still do beach walks pretty often.  So it's all good.  But have to keep it up.  
  • Learn to play the guitar--Here I go again.  I've got a good start.  Now I really need to follow through and go to the next step.  This is one that I'll attack after the craziness of the holidays recedes. Dismal and disappointing failure.  I did get an online course and started going through it, but it just didn't work for me.  I need to find an instructor.  Not sure how to go about that but I'm going to do that in 2016.
  • Take a pottery class--I've been a failure at this but resolve to move forward.  Not sure yet when or where, but it's going to happen. Success!!  Took the class, made the pots (and other stuff).  It was a lot of fun and I actually learned a few things.  You can read about it here.
  • Go to more cultural live events--From 2013 and hit or miss in 2014.  We always like going to plays, concerts, live events.  But we don't do it enough.  So in 2015 I resolve that we are going to increase our involvement with the arts.  Maybe get a subscription to the Globe.  Maybe do the same for the Summer Pops.  Maybe look at other venues more closely.  It's all enriching.  Mixed reviews.  We did go to several live events this year but did not get any subscriptions.  Maybe that's not all bad though.  Subscriptions sort of lock you in.  So I think we'll continue, but not get too rigid.
  • Travel--We've got several trips planned next year and they will be great.  I traveled a lot in my job and at one point thought I didn't want to travel very much when I stopped.  But as I get farther away from that, I realize how cool it is to see other places and experience other cultures.  I think we need to do more while we're still young enough, healthy enough, and energetic enough to enjoy it.  It's easy to sit back and just live your life at home.  But now that we have the time and means, we need to get out there.  Check back next year to see how we did. We did some great trips last year.  Had a wonderful week in Kauai at an idyllic condo above Hanalei Bay.  Views to die for.  Then did the standard family week in Hilton Head.  Too valuable to put a price on.  Finished up with a week in Bar Harbor, Maine visiting Acadia National Park during the leaf season.  It was spectacular!  Got to visit the East Coast Jungle on weekends before and after, so that was great.  Maybe doesn't seem like a lot, but just right for us.  We've decided that three big trips during the year is about right for us. We're already planning a trip to China in April.  Check back to see how that goes.
And as always, here's the quote that I think of when thinking of facing the new year, “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin


Happy 2015 Everyone!!

Go See This Movie

You've heard the hype.  If you're a Star Wars junkie and you know all the nuances from all the movies I'm sure you'll have an opinion either good or bad about the latest Star Wars movie.  Many are saying it's too much like the original (which was really the 4th movie but the first in the second trilogy), but I think it's just that the next trilogy is being developed in this first movie.  But if you're an average fan like me who always liked the movies, then you're gonna like this.  The new characters are great and seeing the old characters is like seeing old friends. Like this...


There was a lot of action.  A lot of good guys fighting bad guys at long odds.  A lot of rooting for good over evil.  And that isn't a bad way to spend a couple of hours.  We saw it in 3D and that made it even better.  I won't spoil it for you....but the ending is perfect!


Dogs Are Cool!


I'm Back!


The break was good for me but I'm excited to be back and get back at it.  A few things have occurred in the interim that have served to put life into some new perspective.  Enjoying life and all it brings day by day is something we all take for granted.  Doing difficult tasks, losing people you admire and love, slogging through the tough times...all those things serve to put things into perspective.  Take the bad with the good and look forward optimistically.  Kiss your spouse and hug your kids.  Don't let another day go by without telling your loved ones how important they are to you.  After all...none of us are going to get out of here alive.  Stop.  Smell the roses.   And live this toast whenever possible!



Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Look for me to be back next week.  But in the meantime...couldn't let this joyous and monumental day pass without saying Merry Christmas to all!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

I'll Be Back!

After a few weeks break, I have to admit that I've missed blogging.   And with all the craziness going on in everyday life, it's been sorta difficult to keep quiet.  But I'm committed to maintaining the break until after Christmas.  But I've been collecting quite a lot of material, so the return should be fun.  So in the meantime...