Sunday, January 1, 2017


The Christmas tree is down, the decorations are stored, and the house is starting to have the look and feel of "normalcy", whatever that is.  Both of us have had a cold the last several days that seems to have morphed into a general feeling of "meh".  So the last few days we've been lounging around and sticking pretty close to home.  New Year's Eve at our house was as mellow as you'd find anywhere.  Tomato Basil Soup, TV, the latest Harlan Cobin novel, and early to bed.  We are a wild and crazy group.

But now 2017 is here.  You can talk to almost anyone or look anywhere on social media and you'll find a general sense of relief that 2016 is in the history books.  I don't normally like to wish time away because it is a precious commodity, but I sorta agree.  Don't know if it was the whole political craziness or what, but it seemed to be a pretty tough year.  I'm sure that most folks experienced the whole spectrum of happiness to tragedy during the year like any other, but for some reason it seemed like it was a bit more....difficult.

So what do we think 2017 will bring?  I thought about making some predictions but I'm not worth beans at that.  So how about just a few thoughts?  If you've been reading, you know that I'm not shy about that...

I'm a bit worried about the safety of our new President.  You've all seen how crazy the losing side has acted since Nov 8.  There are so many Americans who've touted our peaceful transfer of power who are so distraught, so unnerved, so passionately opposed to Trump, that I really worry that they might try to do something crazy.  That the Inauguration is going to be a security scene like no other is a given, but what about from then on?  It will be interesting and disconcerting to watch.  I just hope there isn't any violence, injuries, or worse, deaths.

Where will we go with social media?  It seems to be getting worse, doesn't it?  I'm not sure how to move backwards in this area.  Or maybe it's not moving backwards, but really applying some logic and management to the issue.  I'm going to try and moderate my use (except on this blog of course!).  Instead of being as interactive as I've been, I'm going to be more of an observer.  On the one hand maybe that'll make me even more frustrated by not saying anything but on the other I just need to let it go.  It's an area where we as a society are floundering a bit.  As in many things, there are a lot nasty people out there trying to exploit us.  So we not only need to act more responsibly, but we also need to recognize the dangers.  Cyber security is not only an issue for companies and governments.  We are all interconnected in the cyber world.  And just like the real world, there are some bad hombres out there.

Is it just me or have sports, all sports, gotten off the scale crazy.  All the betting, all the passion (which to an extent is good), all the fantasy craziness, all the special camps, private lessons, supplements, steroids, etc, etc, etc, to gain an edge.  Maybe I'm just an old guy now.  I don't know.  But I really yearn for a simpler time, especially when it comes to sports.  I'm big on excellence, pure excellence.  How can we recover that?  Every 4 years I delude myself by thinking that the Olympics will showcase pure excellence untainted by commercialism.  But no.  That's just not true.  They are all professionals now.  And even if they are in a sport that doesn't pay big bucks, they are all looking for endorsement deals.  I don't know if we can go back.

We are louder, more profane, and more prone to leap to one end or the other of any situation.  My comments about social media are probably a corollary here.  There are more and more situations every day when I just want to say, "everyone just take a breath".  We have moved pretty far down the road to stereotyping people based on perceptions, single comments, or how they might behave or think in one particular situation.  Looking at people as individuals seems to be more and more difficult.  I think maybe it's because if we look at each other in one particular moment to understand each other's thinking, it requires work.  It requires dialog and familiarity and contact.  And in our impersonal, Internet driven, hectic world, we don't connect.  For myself, I make a conscious effort to NOT make assumptions about people.  It's sometimes difficult and it's oh so much more satisfying to just drop them into a particular bucket, but I'm trying to not do that.  Of course, it's a two way street and most folks today are on a frenetic pace in their lives and don't have time to really connect.

We've got a lot of problems in this country that need fixing.  Lord knows we've spent the last 18 months listening to all the political candidates and media types detailing them ad nauseum.  But it's worth stopping once in a while and taking the measure of where we live versus where we could be living.  If you're reading this you've got some computer savvy.  So I invite you.  Google any country.  Any country you want.  Click on the Wikipedia description and read up on all the facts of data.  Then click on a few more links that look interesting and you'll start to get a feel for the country.  Here's my guarantee.  After about an hour of researching your country, you'll be very glad you live here.  We're not perfect.  We've had a history of strife, war, inequality, and all sorts of problems.  But we've also got the Bill of Rights.  We've also live in a place where opportunity abounds.  And the vast majority of the world would move here in a heartbeat.  So thank your lucky stars that you were born here.  And if you're reading and you are a legal immigrant or reading from somewhere else, send me a note telling me I'm right or wrong.  I'd love to hear an opposing view.

All the politicians on the winning side are talking about what they are going to fix.  Obamacare, immigration reform, resetting the military, reducing regulations, opening up energy exploration, etc are all on the table.  They've got long lists and have set big expectations.  Fair enough.  I just hope that this time, we see some real change.  We've had enough of platitudes, promises, and excuses.  There are no excuses this time.  They need to fulfill their promises.  Period.  For me a big one is fixing the VA.  That it is still in such poor shape is beyond comprehension.  Whoever is picked to lead it will have a huge job.  And it will require fundamental change.  I don't know if it's infusions of money, privatization, updated administration and rules, or what.  But it needs to be a priority.

We are at war.  Simple as that.  We have been for a long time.  And it's a dirty, difficult, unsavory war against non-state assholes who claim to be waging a war in the name of religion.  That is pretty difficult.  But we've got to face up to it and do what is necessary to win.  It will take a coalition.  It will take direct action.  It will take guts and persistence.  But we've got to do it.  Because if we don't we'll be fighting it for generations.  We've passed enough bad shit down to our grandchildren, we don't need to leave them this mess.  We've got to stop flying a few drones above bad guy territory and shooting missiles.  We've got to get our hands dirty in smart ways to kill and eliminate the enemy.  And there will be collateral damage.  Can't help it.  But it has to be done.  I just hope we've got the stomach for it.

We went to see a few movies over the holidays.  Rogue One and La La Land.  Both were great.  Would highly recommend them.  And we listened to a fair amount of music and watched television shows. Most are entertaining and capture our imaginations.  All of the people involved with bringing this entertainment to our doorstep are hugely talented and I'm generally in awe of their capability and performances.  It's not something I could remotely do.  And I'm sure they are nice people generally.  But they've got to stop trying to influence our daily lives with opinions that are not necessarily based on anything other than what they think or have heard.  Celebrities are looked up to by many people because of their talent, but that tends to then spill over into daily life.  I'm not sure why, but an endorsement from a celebrity carries weight.  I know that won't stop, but we all should be looking at their opinions with some degree of skepticism.  Because, and I say this as kindly as I can, many of them aren't the sharpest tool in the shed.  They are great actors, but they live a cloistered life.  That's not true of all and if there's someone who you believe is well read, educated, and presents cogent opinions, then have at believing them.  But for many, it's better if they stick to their craft.

That's probably enough rambling on a calm New Year's night.  I'm optimistic about the year but the hill is steep.  We've got to somehow come together, look at each other as individuals, treat each other with kindness, and appreciate and protect what we have.  Because if we don't, we'll lose it.

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