Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Days of Whine and Ruses

I've had this title sitting in my blog files waiting to be expanded for a long while.  Actually I've started so many times, I've lost count.  I think it's partly because much of what fits is musing about the state of our government, our people, our world.  We are inundated with biased data from both ends of the political, moral, and ethical spectrum.  What can we believe?  Notice I used the word 'data' instead of 'information'.  One of the problems we face with the onslaught on our senses from media: whether social, print, or emails, is that we are experiencing what others have done with a piece of data rather than being exposed to the raw content from which we can make our own determination.

We are now in the throes of a pandemic, COVID-19, a coronavirus that appears to have first attached itself to humans in Wuhan, China and is now everywhere on our planet but Antarctica.  There is never a good time for something like this to rear its microscopic head, but this is an election year — a presidential election year!  And this election is about removing perhaps the most constitutionally destructive administration this young country has ever known.  The level of mendacity spewing from our current president is unfathomable!  The fact that he appears to have a loyal following is even more so.

That brings me back to the idea of data vs information.  Our local newspaper had a front page piece a week or so ago, wherein the author stated that COVID-19 was at least ten times more lethal than the ordinary flu.  That was the primary content of the first sentence!  There are several problems with that, not the least of which is it promotes panic.  One problem is that it's a bogus statement taken from an uncertain sample.  Problem two is, there is no ordinary flu.  If there was, we wouldn't need to devise a new inoculation every year.  Problem three is that it sensationalizes the situation (the author calms things a bit later in the piece, but how many people actually go past that opening sentence before panicking?)  That is an example of the problem.  We let someone else interpret the data for us. Is it because we're too lazy to do the research?  (insert a shrug here.). I wish I knew the answer.

I leave you with this:
The Peter Principle and COVID-19.  Paraphrasing the Principle — people rise in their careers until they reach their level of incompetence.  An encyclopedia containing that definition would be accompanied by DJT as an example.

Namaste.



Monday, February 24, 2020

Another Trip Around the Sun

On February 16th I completed my 78th year on the planet. At this point I have officially lived to a greater age than any of my known male ancestors.  It feels significant to me, probably because I had my doubts that I would reach this age.  Within my extended family - uncles, cousins, and such - it has no significance because several have lived longer, some are still alive.  Anyway, it's a 'personal best' so Happy Birthday to ME!

We have begun a tradition; for five of the last seven years we've vacationed in Cedar Key, Florida for a couple weeks leading up to or including, my birthday.  I'm not sure how many iterations of an event are needed to qualify as a tradition but I'm declaring our Cedar Key vacations traditional.

Let's chat a bit about vacation, the word, not the actual event.  It appears that we Americans have some confusion with term.  For example what does the phrase "working vacation" mean? It is surely an oxymoron.  Vacation is what one engages in to escape work for a time.  Another word that tumbles into our American version of vacation is activity.  'Vacation' and 'activity' are mutually exclusive terms in my lexicon.



To me a vacation is a time of rest and relaxation, of sleeping in, of meandering when the mood strikes, of watching an osprey high in a pine, breakfasting on a mullet, of typing words on a screen, of just being in the moment.  An activitie requires planning, demands that one spend time or money or both, is in some way scheduled: either because it is organized around the presence of a particular person or thing, or because it involves connecting with one or more other people.

In simplest terms, vacation is a being thing, while activity is a doing thing.

Until next time, Namaste.




Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Pursuing Perfection

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!  Though the last of those three heartfelt wishes to all you patient readers is on time, the other two are examples of my pursuit - procrastination.  Throughout my adult life I have been a fairly effective procrastinator, though not perfect by any measure.  This decade I mean to change that.

I'm reminded of Jimmy Carter's recollection of his first meeting with Admiral Rickover.  When Rickover asked the new Ensign whether he always did his best at the Naval Academy, Carter answered "No." Prompting Rickover's second question, "Why not?"  Since I'm pretty good at procrastinating without putting any effort into the act, it's reasonable to assume that, with a little work, I could be much better.

First of all, this is my Christmas letter (or Solstice, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa ...) so I'm already on my way as an olympic class procrastinator!  See, I'm starting the new year right.  Second, I started this letter at about six this morning.  It is now past two-thirty.  How'm I doin'?  Third, I interrupted this to begin neatening up my office - a process that promises to occupy most of 2020 - does that somehow (the interruption) count as procrastination?

Since this is the first holiday (see list above) letter I've ever written, bear with me if I deviate from acceptable norms ... Let's see ... news of the year ... Oh yeah, I visited the ER in January and again in May, January for tripping over my bike on the way down the bike shop stairs - concussion and large gash in my leg from the pedal, May after fainting while making morning coffee - concussion and finally recognition that one of my heart meds was trying to kill me.  It's now listed as an allergen in my comprehensive health record.  Carol had cataract surgery on both eyes November and December, you know of course those are not the names of her eyes (I had to say that) but rather the months in which the surgeries took place.  She loves the results.  I think that covers the medical history part of the year.  On to family.

Our three kids Laura, Wanda, and Kelly are doing very well as are their spouses.  Now the grandkids: Phoebe is wrapping up a bachelor's degree and will soon be an RN;  Phil graduated from Syracuse with a Chemical Engineering degree and is now in Madison Wisconsin working for Epic;  Nick got his MBA from UL Lafayette and is working in Baton Rouge and living in Lafayette with our two great-grandkids, Suri and Jaxon.; Miranda is fifteen, a sophomore, and still heavily into her gymnastics (she spent the week before Christmas in the Bahamas at a gymnastics meet);  Danny is twelve and very interested in singing and acting.  He auditioned for the Chamber Singers in his middle school and was accepted.

Carol and I spent the first half of February in Cedar Key, as we have the last several years.  Oh! Oh!  I forgot! The morning we left on that trip south, Carol slipped on the ice and fractured her wrist. (That should have been in the medical section, sorry.)  It got tended to when we arrived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina because she didn't believe it was that bad, until the pain told her it was.  Anyway, when that happened, we had the car all loaded and the bikes mounted on the rack so, at her insistence we headed south to Joan's.  About the bikes, Carol was unable to ride so her bike lazed against the porch rail of our cottage until I loaded up for the trip home.  Other than that mishap we had a very good two weeks.

Wow! I wrote a lot of stuff.  I guess that's how these letters are supposed to go.

Until next time ...

Namaste.