I do love me some Thanksgiving. We usually have fairly loud ones around these parts with lots of noise, way too much food and a liberal amount of bourbon and wine. I love Thanksgiving so much I will even watch football tomorrow just to keep the tradition alive and our guests happy. My wife wanted to do the pay per view crackling fire so I am really thankful for friends that want to watch football so her natural good hostess tendencies save me $19.99. We have a total of 10 tomorrow which is just about right, maybe even a little on the small size. We have enough food and booze to feed a small army and grand times would seem to be indicated. Best all I do not have to buy one person a gift.
Before dinner, my wife will ask everyone what they are grateful for this year. Rather than just spout the usual family, country, friends routine I actually spent a few minutes thinking about my answer this year. Upon much reflection, I have decided that the proper answer is everything. I am thankful for everything and every moment that came before this moment. The good ones. The bad ones. The exquisite ones. The shitty ones. Each and every moment that lead to this moment and this place in time.
Think about this for a moment. Dr. Ali Binizar calculated the odds of you being born you and came up with roughly 1 in 10 to the 2,850,000 place. He summed it up like this “Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere. The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water, in the middle of that life preserver. On one try.”
What are the odds of being born in The United States? Roughly 1 in 50 is the answer. The odds of being born in this era with technology leaping forward and making our lives better and longer? 1 in 400,000,000,000.The odds of someone who was the total fuckball I was as a kid reaching the levels I have reached in my 56 years of being? Incalculable. I will let you in on a little secret. When I was 16 or so the idea that I would live to see the turn of the century at the ripe old age of 39 didn’t seem all that likely to me. The idea that I would live far beyond that with many more stretching in front of (I hope) would have been worth little more than a sarcastic nasty chuckle.
So I am thankful for everything. Every sunrise ( I rarely ever see one of these elusive events but they tell it occurs every morning a few hours before I wake), every sunset, every morning, every late night and every minute between them. All of those minutes lead to this minute in this place with these people and there is nowhere else I would rather be.
Every minute. Everything that happened in all of those minutes. Every breath. Every heartbeat. Every person.
The minutes spent sitting in a jail cell with shit an blood smeared on the w3alls when I was a young shitbird without a clue.
The ones spent reading learning, expanding my horizons to include things I never dreamed possible
The first kisses
The last first kiss
The 6am drives to work after all night with a colicky son
The first time I looked into my children’s eyes
The first kiss under the wedding tree
Everyone who ever shared an idea or concept that helped my build my own better world.
Everyone who told me I couldn’t
The ones who took a chance on me when there was no reason to do so
Every composer who worked late into the night working on a song that I enjoyed and even those I don’t enjoy so much- except those of you writing rap music. Seriously-stop that shit.
Every author who shared their stories, dreams, knowledge, and insight to educate, entertain and inspire me
Every inventor who filled around in the garage and made part of my life better, faster, cheaper
Every scientist burning the late night oil in a lab developing products to save and improve my life
Every moment and every person that has touched my life along the way I am thankful for today. Some made my world a better place. Some few did their level best to destroy it and my survival of their assault made me stronger and smarter. Some loved me. Some hated me. Many didn’t actually give a shit about me at all but their passage helped steer me to here in this moment with these people living this life.
I won’t blow smoke up your ass and tell you we live in a perfect world. We most assuredly do not. We have people killing each other over which version of the magic man in the sky we should obey. We have a government that makes pimps, whores and thieves look honorable. That dreaded predator, the American Politician, still strides across the land. As does his even more deadly cousin the Religious Leader. The absolutely convinced still stir amongst us and regularly commit unsavory and almost unimaginable crimes in the name of the children.
No, it is not perfect at all. But it is life. something that is statically almost impossible to have achieved in and of itself. I am here in this place with these people, living this life and I am grateful for every moment that lead to this moment. Scratches dents, blemishes and all I am me and it is every moment and every person who crossed my path that has made that so.
Thank You. I am grateful.
Pass the gravy.
Do you hear that?
This new and sudden silence is deafening.
No crack of the bat. No slap of the mitt. No murmur in the stands. No roar of the crowd. No police whistles as they break up a fight at Citifield. No melodious tones of the announcers as they describe how the pitcher overcame juvenile explosive diarrhea to attain Major League success. Hell, I would go even put up with Joe Bucks annoying cadence and nonsense of the would turn the lights back on and open the turnstiles once more. But it is not to be. The 2017 baseball season is gone now. It had a good, exciting long life-extending as far as the rules allow but it has left the world leaving us only memories of its glory and grandeur. Spring training is 100 days away, and the silence is deafening.
Gone are the bright colors and melodic songs of the Blue Jays. Cardinals and Orioles. The Marlins and Rays scamper among the waves no longer. The Padres and Mariners have both ended their voyages for now. Though they are champions only memories of the Astros light the night sky now. The Rangers and Indians alike have retreated from the plains. The delights of spring and summer are gone once again along with the extreme passion and grand intensity of October.
Ahead lies only winter with Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Raptors to hold our attention to any degree. They won’t work for me as I find most NBA basketball to be absolutely unwatchable on TV. One can almost succumb to tears comparing Havlicek, Monroe, West, Frazier, Bird, and Magic to the run and slam version of the game played today. I must confess I do watch the highlights most nights but a whole game would be too much for me.
I have pondered my loss of interest in the NFL a great deal. Part of it is the fact that the game is shit. The referees seem to be determined to have more airtime than the two starting quarterbacks and flags fly out more consistency that many airlines have ever shown. While I am a fan of celebrating achievements watching some idiot do a victory dance because he sacked the quarterback while his team is losing 31-7 late in the 4th quarter disgusts me. If we are honest, it is just not a very good game anymore.
Part of it I think is social. Football is an excuse for the single, or no kids crowd to head to the bar at noon on Sunday and avoid the emptiness of an apartment on Sunday with no work or events to distract you. It is something to do when the snow is up to the low edge of your ass, and the idea of venturing outside is about as welcome as inviting a politician to dinner. It helps pass the winter and gives you something to think about besides frozen pipes salted driveways.
I am now married these past seven years and live in Florida. I am not a big fan of day drinking unless I can get a nap before dinner, so I don’t head out to the sports bars much anymore. There is always something to do in Florida and weather that allows you to do things.
I am sure it is a combination of things, but the NFL just does not hold my interest. I follow and watch Notre Dame and Navy at the college level but have no interest in the pro version of the game.
No, baseball is the game for me. An evening with a book, while the games played on the TV, has been the preferred activity of many of the last 249 days. Checking the MLB app on a regular basis when the wife wants to watch something else has also been a significant part of my life. Games on the radio version of the app while running around town doing errands while engaging in Florida things has also been a regular activity.
Now, that’s over. One catch, one toss from Altuve to first base and baseball is over. No more home runs, double plays, dumb baserunning, brilliant pitches, astounding catches, stretching a single or stealing a base. No more second-guessing the manager, yelling at umpires encased in my flat screen or wondering how in the hell Chris Davis could let that pitch go by without swinging. No more box score searching, mathematical determinations of how we can catch the division leaders with a little run of luck. There will be the hot stove league, trades and all sorts of managerial stuff going on all winter to follow. I will probably go sit at the bar during the Winter meetings next weekend to get a little fix. But none of it will enough.
The silence is deafening.
In the meantime here are the odds for 2018 to contemplate:
2018 World Series Odds
|Los Angeles Dodgers||5-1|
|New York Yankees||8-1|
|Boston Red Sox||10-1|
|New York Mets||20-1|
|St. Louis Cardinals||20-1|
|Tampa Bay Rays||30-1|
|Toronto Blue Jays||30-1|
|Chicago White Sox||50-1|
|Los Angeles Angels||50-1|
|San Francisco Giants||50-1|
|Kansas City Royals||80-1|
|San Diego Padres||80-1|
It is once again the most wonderful time of the year. Now even though the stores have had Christmas shit out for weeks, that’s not what I am talking about today. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about Christmas. There are family, friends, parties, left-over turkey sandwiches, mini-Hershey bars and all sort of things I like about Christmas. As we get closer to the big day I turn into a ho-ho-ho merry motherfucker but let’s be honest there are some things about the season that are a pain in the ass. The decor monster eats my house and yard. The son of a bitch yard guy who routinely runs over my wife’s pants and the garbage guy who is already paid outrageous wages expect Holiday Tips. Charities pop up everywhere with pictures of starving Ethiopian children and puppies tied to a cinder block behind a tenement in search of cash. Fistfight over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays break out all over the place. Fat perverts with boozy breath in red suits set up shop all over the place. Christmas is nice, but it has its faults.
The most wonderful time of year for sports fans is September to the end of October. Baseball is in the home stretch, and we will soon have playoff baseball. Football is getting underway. I prefer the college game, but for most of America, the NFL is akin to religion. However, you like it it’s the start of pretty much seven days a week football on the television. If you are into tennis the UP Open is underway. The NASCAR playoffs start this month. Indy car racing season is finishing up. It’s the home stretch for MLS as well. This is the time of year that couches fear and TV salesman love. Truly, the most wonderful time of the year.
I don’t care if you are left, right or center if you made Houston, Rockport, and Beaumont about politics there is something fucking wrong with you. Hurricane Harvey had no politics. It was not George Bush’s fault. It was not because of some evil deed by that dastardly Barak Obama. It is not even Donald Trump’s fault. It was a hurricane, and people suffered regardless of race, creed, gender or politics. If politics is such a big part of your life that everything is political you are well on your way to becoming one of the Absolutely Convinced and are in danger of becoming part of the vile group of people whose tainted stench stains the very air we breathe.
If you watched the film this past weekend you saw the best of humanity in action. I am sure that the heroes in kayaks, canoes, john boats, bass boats jet skis and airboats were probably from everywhere on the political spectrum. They didn’t worry about the race, gender or politics of those they rescued. They were just people saving people. We could surely use a lot more people and a lot less politics.
Naturally, the climate change folks were out in force showing up even as people were abandoning their homes and struggling to survive. My dear friends if scientists are still debating the subject it is not settled science.1+1=2 is settled science. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit is settled science. Climate change is a theory, and there seems to be lots of evidence on both sides. It is not settled by a long shot. We should be doing things to clean the air and water and protect the environment no matter which theory is correct, but there is no evidence that climate change is not making the storms worse.
Now the special kind of really fucking stupid among us will ask why we hear so much more about these storms today that our parents and grandparents did? Take a second and work your brain okay? These storms have been happening since the beginning of time but before funs thing like automobiles, air conditioning, mosquito repellant and indoor plumbing not many people lived in the suburbs of Houston. Before there was an oil industry there was pretty much no valid reason to live near Beaumont Texas. Rockport Texas was a fisherman and pirate playground until we got highways, cars, and bridges.
The storms happened. There just was not anyone there. There sure as shit was not CNN shoving a microphone up the nostrils of some poor bastards who had just spent 48 hours perched on the roof of their house until they were rescued. The year we had the most major hurricanes (1961) Jim Cantore was not even born yet.
The climate change true believers will point to the fact that 2005 was the most active year ever. Of course, the fact that Harvey was the first hurricane to hit the US in more than five years does not come up at all. Nor does the fact that the second most active year was 1933. No one likes to mention that third most active was 1886 and the longest hurricane season on record was 1899. 1886 was the year the most hurricane hit the US with a total of 7.
There have always been storms. The difference is that now people live there thanks to” just because we can doesn’t mean we should” technology improvements and the media. We don’t have a climate crisis as much as we have a media crisis.
While we are on the subject of media I have to say I don’t know any alt righters or lefters. I have some friends that have some pretty fucking goofy political ideas, but they don’t stand in the streets throwing bags of piss at police officers. I have met some cops that were real shit bags, but most of are good folks doing a difficult job and really don’t deserves the feces flinging we have seen in recent weeks. I don’t know anyone on the extreme violent edges of the political system, and I do not want to know them. They are no better than the corrupt politicians and crooked churchmen that make up the absolutely convinced, and they are a blight on society. If your ideas can only be distributed via violence your ideas are probably shit.
A very small percentage of the population falls into the “alt” classification but if you watch the news that’s all we see. The worst part is that if you just ignored the racist fucks on the alt right they would go away. The KKK and groups like them love publicity of any kind. They need it in the hopes that in the millions of people that see the shit show on TV there might be one or two other ignorant fucks who will then rally to their cause. The best recruiters the racist groups have are the Antifa morons and the press who worship them. Someone said the other day that we all have to pick sides in the growing political divide. I already picked mine. It’s the “leave me and mine alone, or I will bust a cap in your ass” side. Whether it’s the right or left cheek doesn’t matter to me.
We would be better off if more people chose that side. The greatest thing that could happen in this country today is if they held an election and nobody came. Whatever would we do if we had no one to tell us what to eat, drink, smoke or otherwise ingest. How could we function without Papa Government there to advise us? I suspect we would do just fine.
Same with church. Could we function without someone to tell us who to love, who to hate and direct our acts of kindness as directed? Maybe we would stop feeding the hungry children halfway across the world and feed the ones we stepped over to get into the services this morning. Maybe-just maybe- we stop hating people who believed in a different imaginary being than we do.
I am reminded of the word of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher when he spoke of the Gods. I think it today’s modern times we could also apply them to politicians at all levels:
“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”
Gods nor politician can do a lot to change your life. You can.
Gods nor Politicians have done a very good job of feeding the poor. We can
God and politicians have done a terrible job of improving our broken education system. We can
Gods and politicians cannot love, protect and support your family. You can
More People. Less Politics
When we moved a few weeks ago, I jokingly said that since we had a pond, I was going to call the place Melvin’s Pond and walk around thinking deep thoughts. I already spend a great deal of the day walking the dog and thinking all sorts of thoughts, some deep, some dumb, and everywhere in between so it wouldn’t be a big stretch. Just needed a pond.We have found that sitting on the lanai (That’s Floridian for screened in patio) in the evening gazing a the pond, reading, chatting or even just sitting is a pleasant way to end the day. As I sat deep in thought last night just before the iced tea turned to wine and it occurred to me that Thoreau was worth deeper consideration. Although seen primarily as a tree hugger-primarily because no one actually reads him anymore- his reflections of self, society, government and the individual are worth consideration by your pastor. As always, my thoughts and observations are mine and mine alone. If you do not like them, I don’t give a fuck. If you do gain some insight or knowledge, please feel free to send money.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
This is Thoreau’s best know quote and rings ever truer by the day. All around me I see people getting up every day to f go to work at jobs they despise with coworkers they can’t stand to earn money to pay for houses they wish they never bought. They spend their lives with spouses they stopped liking a decade ago and attempt to raise children they would secretly love to be the ever-loving shit out of most of the time. They spent an inordinate amount of time thinking what if and if only as they look at their lives. They are risk averse to a fault and look to the government and social structure for the answers to all their problems. Far too many people have traded their ability for joy and experience of living for the illusion of security and safety. It’s the worst trade of all and leads to a quiet desperation and worst of all a dull life with no appreciation for the beauty and potential that is life.
I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
This is probably the second quote of Thoreau’s that we hear repeated by the toe dippers of the world. I have seen it on posters, and the self-help set uses it constantly. Very few ever do it, but it sure is fun to say. Most of the people I talk to couldn’t tell you what their dreams are or have dreams that are heavily reliant on winning the lottery at some point. I was well into middle age before I screwed up the courage to just say fuck it and go do what I wanted to do. My life is not the perfect reflection of my dream life but it is pretty fucking close, and I continue to move in the direction that reflects what I want from life. It was not always easy, and there were plenty of bumps, puke, shit, and blood along the way but it is far more rewarding than all the hours, days and weeks spent in offices listening to managers spout drivel and having clients whine about just about everything. Someone asked me recently asked me what value I add to the world, and the real answer is that I have no fucking clue but every day I add value to my own life and that of the people I love. Looking at the world, we live in most of the value-added propositions I come up with involving napalm, so I will just concentrate on my little corner, focusing on my life and my dreams. The rest of you are on your own, and my single solitary promise to the world is that I will do nothing to impede you doing the same.
It’s more than just a cute fucking poster. Quit bitching, live your life, chase your dreams.
Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.
Only idiots blame their lack of success or good fortune and someone else’s opportunities. Yes, indeed there will be people who are born with more opportunity and privilege than you. Yes, people that go to Ivy League universities have more opportunity and a network of alumni that will give them an advantage over you. We can sit here and point at all sorts of privileges that others have, and we lack. We can complain mightily about the inherent unfairness of life. Allow me to point out that their advantages and opportunities do not have one fucking thing to do with you and your life. All you can do is look for the possibilities around you and exploit those. You might have to work harder, work smarter and bleed more but if you focus on your dreams and where you want to go, you can indeed get there. Live your life. To the best of our knowledge, there is no do over. Right here.Right now. That is what you have. What you do with that is entirely up to you.
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
Like Thoreau himself, I am amazed at the shit people put up with from governments at all levels. It is stunning that so many people blindly accept the limitations put upon them by a group of morons whose only skill is being able to lie is so skillful a fashion as to convince their fellow citizens to grant them highly paid jobs requiring no skill or thought. While the skill of making one’s self electable has been the source of many fortunes down through the annals of history, I am not sure it means that the ones so elected have the common sense God gave a puissant. Giving such folks the ability to tell us how to live our lives, raise our kids and what dream we may dream seems a tad ridiculous to me.
It is not just government we must disobey in today’s world. The politically correct absolutely convinced folks are not elected but they sure as hell have set themselves up as the best judge of how you may think, feel, speak and live. If we track the incentives of the PC and Resist crowd of today, we find that mostly what they want is what you have and respect far beyond any they have earned on their merit. While no one should ever be judged on race, gender, sexual preference or any other outward criteria nor are you entitled to any particular privileges or compensation based on such factors.
Disobey governmental ignorance. Disobey the herd mentality. Disobey the absolutely convinced. Be not a slave to government, opinion or crowd think. Not easy but worth doing to the greatest degree possible.
I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe
— “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. The government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.
I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely despise government at all levels. From the UN to the Fed and right down the line through state, county local and even the fucking HOA of the community I live in here in Florida. Whenever an august body of men and women gather to make rules governing how I live my life I know that very little good will come of such activities. Governments may start as a good idea but they all eventually become a bureaucracy that lives only to grow and protect its own interests and limit individual behavior.
The government has but two legitimate functions-providing for the common defense and taking such measures that allow commerce to flourish. Providing for the common defense would not seem to me to include poking your nose, rifle and young lives into the affairs of other nations around the world. Nor does it mean function as the world’s policeman merely because you can. Allowing commerce to flourish does not mean choking out innovation and entrepreneurship with regulations and taxes. Government truly does best when it does less.
All of the government’s interventions are done with the best of intentions, but somehow the end result is always a larger bureaucracy with little or no benefit for those they seek to serve. Consider first the war on drugs. Erasing drugs and drug related crime seems to be a worthy endeavor. We should do it for the children. Except it has not, does not and will not work. We have spent trillions of dollars in the war on drugs, and we are getting our ass kicked. The government in all its wisdom seems unable to recognize that drugs are a demand problem, not a supply problem. People like to get high. As long as that’s true someone, somewhere will find a way to make a shit load of money meeting the demand.
We would be far better off if we legalized drugs across the board, taxed the ever-loving fuck out of them and regulated the production and delivery methods as we currently do alcohol. It will be safer (give your teenager $100 bucks and tell them they have an hour to come back with the equivalent value in weed or whiskey. You will be getting weed as it’s far easier for kids to buy), we will raise revenues. Users can get higher quality cheaper dope from legal sources, so cartels and drug related street crime are history. As a bonus, we now have thousands of unemployed lawmen we can hire to actually make a difference by going after illegal guns. It is the smart thing to do, but it means dismantling a massive bureaucracy that has sprung up to keep our children safe from this scourge and enrich themselves.
How about the war on poverty? We have spent trillions and poverty has not improved. If anything, it’s worse. The only thing we achieved is creating an alphabet soup of federal, state and local agencies that suck up an enormous amount of tax dollars and achieve almost nothing.
Government cannot fix your problem. Far too often government is the root of your problem. Less is better, and none would be best (We will discuss the personal responsibility implication of this at another time).
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?
Not reading is the equivalent of making the jockey riding Smarty Jones wear a 500-pound chain mail suit during a Triple Crown race or sending Bryce Harper to the plate wearing handcuffs. No matter how great the latent talent or potential you are placing an enormous handicap on you odds of success by not reading. As I study great thinkers, philosophers, theologians and successful people, there is a common them. Almost all of them read enormously and widely. Charlie Munger has commented that he knows of no successful person who does not read a lot. Everything I am in life is largely a result of my voracious reading habit.
Read to learn. Read to relax. Read for knowledge. Read for entertainment. Put down the damn smart phone, get off Facecrack and Instaboobs and read a fucking book. Turn off the TV (unless baseball is on. You can leave that on in the background) It doesn’t have to be some weighty tome of a deeply serious nature. In truth, I avoid most to those. I have learned much about life and morality from the westerns of Louis L’Amour, picked up cooking and fighting tips from Robert Parker; cocktail formation, exercise, and philosophy from John D’ McDonalds Travis McGee and Myer; a smattering of marine biology from Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford; and law from Mark Giminez novels. I don’t care what you read but read. Reading expands your mind and your universe. You gain exposure to new ideas and ways of looking at the world and live. It strengthens the imagination. Want a better life? Read.
The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well.
What is this good you speak of? Good manners? Moderate behavior? Accepting the alleged norms of civil society? Fuck that shit. I do not want to be polite to those undeserving. I retain the right to call an asshole an asshole and a moron a moron. I would count myself as living well if I were polite to the harried clerk at the store but call the grandiose community leader the pompous fucking asshole that he is. I want to play the music a little too loud, dance the funky chicken(it is the only dance I know besides the hokey pokey), slurp the wine loudly from the glass, dream, dare, proclaim and live the life I desire without a single fuck given what someone else may think of me for doing so. I want to read the books that were banned, see the art that was covered, hear the music the preacher damned, curse loudly at morons, fools, and charlatans, fornicate to my heart’s content, to move noisily and happily though this grand adventure and enjoy all the really good shit some generous creator has made available upon this earth. I have no time for good behavior. I am too busy living.
We must stop here for now. We are already at the point where my Iranian Jewish co-founder who constantly urges me to write shorter pieces is going to shit his proverbial pants at the length of this piece. Like HL Mencken Thoreau has left us much to read and think about so I am sure we will revisit his works and word again but for now we must move onto other tasks. I leave you with a final thought from Thoreau worthy of much consideration and contemplation.
Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.
When we moved a few weeks ago, I jokingly said that since we had a pond, I was going to call the place Melvin’s Pond and walk around…
When we use outrage about what’s happening over there as an excuse to avoid taking care of business over here.
Paying tribute to our great forefather.
The pursuit of happiness is one of your greatest rights granted by a benevolent deity but it is not just going to come to you like fairy dream on a wave of unicorn farts in the middle of the night.