Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Longmire....a review.

I've gotten hooked on another show thanks to Netflix. It's called Longmire. It's a western, and after just a few episodes, I'm all in. It isn't a Netflix original, they just picked it up when TNT or A&E dropped the show, not for bad ratings, but the wrong ratings. See, Longmire has an extremely devoted fan base  consisting of primarily men between the ages of 55-60, not the sort of free-spending demographic that advertisers are looking for. Netflix wisely picked it up and it's now being introduced to a new and even larger group of viewers. So, why do men find the show so appealing? If you're thinking it's because of lots of gory violence, and hot women, scantily clad, parading across the screen, you are mistaken. I can't speak for everyone, but this man loves the show because of

The show centers around the sheriff of a small Wyoming town named Walt Longmire. He's middle aged, built like John Wayne, always has a 5 o'clock shadow, needs a haircut, and stubbornly refuses to carry a cellphone. He's also a damaged soul, having lost his wife to cancer, under mirky circumstances a year before the show begins. Although clearly struggling with the pain of his loss, as a sheriff, he is a no nonsense old school lawman, incorruptible, with the instincts of Sherlock Holmes, but with a much smaller vocabulary. Longmire doesn't talk a lot and when he does its at a low volume. He thinks before he speaks, constantly working a crime scene over with his sad eyes, which comes in handy, since his small Wyoming town has a murder rate that would make Chicago look like a Kindergarten.

But the sheriff has a friend, the Indian owner of the local bar. They go back a long way, mysteriously so, since I just started season two and don't know the full back story. Henry seems to be the moral North Star of the show, wise and discerning, and serves as the de facto representative of the local Cheyanne population on the nearby reservation. The Indian population in Longmire is neither overly virtuous or particularly honorable. Like everyone else, there's the good and the bad, and this show is about good guys and bad guys, not the privileged and the victimized. The friendship between Walt and Henry will be recognizable to real men, and it is the one aspect of the show that draws me, and I dare say goes a long way in explaining its popularity in my demographic.

Then there's Walt's young, ruggedly good looking deputy, Branch, he of the cocky grin and just under the surface entitlement. Did I mention that the kid is running against Walt for sheriff in the upcoming election? Yeah, there's that. Oh, and he's also sleeping with Walt's daughter. That can't be good!

But the show is not all men, all the time. There's a female deputy, Vic, a transplant from Philladelphia, who is a delight to watch. She's impulsive to Walt's deliberate, she's the fast talker to Walt's laconic style, and the two of them seem to have the beginnings of a platonic crush on each other which is kind of adorable.

Each week, along with the undercurrent of something foreboding and mysterious from the past, there's a murder to solve. There are no pyrotechnics, no zombie invasions, no race cars...just boots, dusty jackets, cowboy hats and lots of hat hair. But mostly, there are real men, not the cardboard cutout variety that Hollywood is famous for, the workaholic, one dimensional, detached, idiot fathers who populate sitcoms from coast to coast. These are the kind of men we used to watch back when westerns were all the rage. Walt Longmire is essentially an updated Matt Dillon. If you don't know who Matt Dillion is, then you probably won't like the show. But that's ok, Modern Family comes on in a few minutes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hating This Weather

Not a huge fan of this week's weather forecast, clouds and rain for the next four days being the kind of conditions under which mental health disorders thrive, like mosquitos in a swamp. Little Oprhan Annie doesn't sing, "the clouds will roll in, tomorrow, tomorrow ." Murder mysteries don't begin with the line, "it was a bright and sunny day." Still, complaining about the weather is the second biggest waste of time in history,(behind Words With Friends), so I suppose I should move on to something more upbeat.

My troubled shoulder has suddenly gotten much better and it started its rehabilitation at the precise time that my doctor scheduled me for an MRI. That's how things work in medicine. So, I will feel foolish laying there next Monday for thirty minutes, spending $500 with virtually no pain in the shoulder. However, as if on cue, my neck has returned to its position at the top of my ailment list with a vengeance, as if it has resented being ignored for the last few weeks. My eight visit flirtation with Chiropratic is over, as I can no longer justify the expenditure of $69 per visit for treatment which made no discernible difference one way or the other. 

With all this money I'm forking over, you might think that I am one of the 30 million uninsured Americans who democratic politicians are constantly yammering about. But, no...I'm just a self-employed business owner who made an economic decision to go with one of those high deductible plans in order to keep my monthly premium below four digits. Doing so saved me about $4000 a year, or $500 dollars more than my out of pocket maximum. With any luck at all, I'll reach that maximum on or around December the 15th, giving me some serious Cadillac coverage for the final fifteen days of the year!! You watch, I bet Pam and I will be healthy as horses over Christmas! THANKS, OBAMA!

But seriously, any year when I never actually use my health insurance is a very good year in the Dunnevant home. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Pope and a Bike Race

Two things happened this past week. There was a big important bicycle race going on in Richmond, and the Pope came to America. I will now compare and contrast.

The bike race is huge, or so we keep being told by the event organizers. The UCI Road World Championships is the second biggest world event in cycling, topped only by the Tour de France. Much of the city has been cordoned off. Traffic has been rerouted away from the course. Area schools were closed. VCU cancelled classes for the entire week. Downtown restaurants hired extra staff preparing for the onslaught of bike fan customers. Richmond 2015 had expected over 450,000 spectators to view the exciting event over the nine days of the race. Churches set up booths to help the tens of thousands of foreign tourists expected to be stumbling around the cobble-stoned streets of the Fan. This event was going to be the latest big thing to cement Richmond's growing reputation for being the up and coming hip city. I mean, what's more hip than a sporting event that's Europe? So far, no official attendance count has been published by Richmond 2015. However, the anecdotal evidence is not encouraging. There are reports of strategically positioned restaurants along the course who went to the expense of hiring extra staff only to go an entire day serving only seven customers. A headline on CBS 6's website blares, "SHOCKED" local businesses disappointed with UCI bike race sales, hope for big weekend." That big weekend will feature two days of rain...heavy at times.

Unlike the sparse crowds and empty streets of Richmond, the rest of the country has been teeming with the faithful straining for a glimpse of the Pope. The Pontif made his first ever visit to America this week, and has been greeted like a rock star by everyone from the media to the President of the United States. He became the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress, and when the picture of the event hit social media, a meme soon was born showing Francis standing in front of all of the senators and congressmen with the line...POPE VISITS THE SICK. His reception by the American media has been overwhelmingly positive, breathtakingly adoring, as if finally the press has found someone about whom nothing negative can be said. Over a million people are expected at a Mass he will give in Philladelphia. Within a week he will release his first spoken word album, a certain Grammy winner. There are Pope cookies for sale, even a special Pope inspired beer lineup at Pubs in the city of brotherly love with names like redemption ale, sacrament lager, and a spirited IPA called the holy confession! If there exists anyone who doubts the Pope's holy credentials, one only need witness his greatest miracle yet...keeping Donald Trump out of the news for three days!

Ok, what do these two seemingly disparate events have in common?

They both are European imports.
They both are loved by all the really cool people.
They are both into encyclicals.

So, how are they different from each other?

Americans seem to really care about the Pope.
If the Pope comes to your city, it's actually great for business.
The Pope has never been accused of doping.

But, seriously, what is a Protestant Christian like me supposed to think of all this Pope business? Honestly, I don't know. Obviously, I'm not buying this infallible baloney, and no, he's not the Vicar of Christ, and when I see the way he is worshipped by some, it strikes me as an awful lot like idolatry. When he starts getting into politics, my unenamored eyes start to roll, since he sounds more like Karl Marx than even Karl Marx! However....something in my heart tells me that he is a great man. I see his smile and feel the love that he has for people and it's inspiring. His tendency to resist the high and
mighty in favor of the common man can teach us all a thing or two about humility. When I read of his words about grace and forgiveness and the way he encourages his bishops to pray more and preen less, my soul is moved to agreement, and challenged to do so myself. The bottom line is, I don't have to agree with this Pope about everything. I don't even have to agree with his church about exactly who he is. But I can still be thankful for him and his witness and pray for his protection and success. If that seems contradictory to some, I get it. That's ok. It wouldn't be the first time I believed contradictory things. In that way I have something in common with Pope Francis...neither of us are infallible!

Friday, September 25, 2015

In The Long Run

I had a long technology-assisted political conversation with my son yesterday. We disagreed on a lot. He made some good points. I made some good points. But, we still disagreed. Our disagreement wasn't on strategy, but rather tactics. We both want mostly the same thing...a better country. Our differences come with how best to make the country better. My primary concern seems always to be the precarious, house-of-cards condition of our national finances. He, on the other hand, always assures me that his favored solutions will either actually save us money, or will be cheaper in the long run. Ahh yes...the long run.

I have been paying attention to politics and finance for the better part of 35 years now, and if I had a dime for every time I heard a politician promise that his bill would wind up saving money in the long run, I could retire right now. To give but one example, back when Medicare was introduced in 1965, its proponents predicted that by 1990 the total cost for the program would run around 19 billion dollars. It wound up being 110 billion, but luckily most of the politicians who made the 1965 prediction were all safely dead. 

So when your preferred presidential candidate in 2015 begins touting his or her proposals as "cost savers" you better grab ahold of your wallet. History hasn't been kind to government budget forecasters from either party. What evidence do I have for this? Well, I've got 18 trillion articles of evidence. Right now the bill for the interest on that debt gobbles up 7% of the budget. Imagine how fast that percentage will climb when the FED has to start raising interest rates? Right now the Congressional Budget Office projects (there's that word again! ) that interest payments on the debt will be the fastest growing part of the federal budget. Nice.

Despite our debt woes and our inability to balance our budget, politicians from both parties are still quite eager to dream up more wonderful ways to spend money on an entire laundry list of projects, all that will actually save us money in the long run. Ok, alright. I get it, I really do. If you make your living driving trucks, trucks. If you make your living as a politician, you...spend other people's money. So, since that fact of Washington life will never change, how about we add a new requirement for all politicians. Any new government program that requires new spending authorization will only be permitted to the extent that an existing spending authorization is eliminated. For example, if candidate A. proposes a 10 billion dollar plan to provide, oh, I don't know...flat screen televisions to the blind working poor, then in order for the bill to pass, he  or she will have to propose eliminating a 10 billion dollar military base in Guam, or cancel 10 billion dollars from the IRS Christmas party budget. Now, this won't  actually pay down the debt, but it will stop the bleeding and force our leaders to prioritize. Are there constructive things that the government can do to help people? Yes, of course, but first how about we shut down the Federal Helium Reserve, or maybe stop spending 300 million dollars on a blimp for the Army, only to decide we didn't need it after all? Or how about we ask General Electric, one of the richest companies in the world to actually pay taxes, or maybe Facebook shouldn't be getting 300 million dollar tax refunds from the IRS.

But Doug, but Doug, you're talking about 10 billion dollars in a 3.4 Trillion dollar budget. That's peanuts! Yes, I know. But, 10 billion here, 10 billion there and pretty soon you're talking about some real money! And in the long run, you wake up one day and you're $18,000,000,000,000.00 in the hole.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Over the years I have learned that life is largely about...momentum, at least my life seems to be. I get swept up in an idea or some interest and the newness of it captivates me, resulting in a burst of energy and enthusiasm. That energy can last weeks or even months, but the minute it leaves me, the project is done, dead as a door nail.

This time last year I had just finished writing a novel. I started in February and finished it in August. For those seven months it was never very far from my thoughts. It didn't feel like work. It was as much fun as I've ever had writing anything. Loved every minute of it. When I was done, a two month proof reading and editing phase began during which time I plotted and schemed trying to find a way to get it published.

Then something amazing happened. The momentum that had carried the project forward for nine months disappeared into thin air. I never saw it coming and to this day can't remember how it happened. All I know is, my other life came roaring back with a vengeance. I got busy with other things. One of the other things was the book I wrote about my parents, Finishing Well. I was in a rush to get that one self published to have it ready to give to my family at Christmas. But when that was done, I never followed through with doing anything with the novel. It was as if after building it into a finished product, it was now too heavy to get moving again from a dead stop, kind of like a freight train full of coal that's sitting still. Momentum.

Now, the manuscript sits in the bottom drawer of my nightstand, neatly typed, held together with a mighty black metal clip. The cover page has the title...A Life of Dreams, and that's exactly what it feels like to me now...a dream. Now, I've got the itch to write another one. Why? Because it's incredibly exciting and great fun to create something. But inspiration meets up with perspiration rarely in this life, so most of the time nothing gets followed through. That's why the old prophets said, "the end of a thing is better than it's beginning." After all is said and done, more gets said than done.

So, there it sits, safely in my night stand. Maybe, twenty years after my death, my kids will find the thing in an attic somewhere, get it published and I'll become a famous and celebrated dead novelist!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walker's Out. Who's Next?

Scott Walker, Govenor of Wisconsin has "suspended" his campaign for President, which is the new word candidates use instead of "quit." He joins another Govenor, Rick Perry of Texas, who suspended his campaign a few weeks ago. The whittling down of the  republican field has begun.

That leaves us with 13 official candidates if you count Lindsey Graham who swears up and down that he's running for President and has a web site and everything! It also includes a former Governor of my state, Jim Gilmore, who may or may not have a website, since absolutely no one has ever checked.

So, the question then becomes, who will drop out next? When I casually informed my wife of the news that Scott Walker was out, her reply was, "Scott..who?" I hold my wife's political instincts in high regard precisely because she isn't all that interested in it and because of that she is very much like the average voter. She isn't totally disinterested, or even uninformed, she just has a life outside of politics, like most of us who don't live inside the beltway. She is the type of person that all of these candidates have to win over if they want to become President. They can win the nomination without people like her, but not the big prize. So, when Pam can't remember Scott Walker's last name despite watching both debates...well, that explains his exit. So, who "suspends their campaign" next?

The easy answer would be the less than 1% guys like Graham, Gilmore, Pataki, etc.. But they can be tricky. When you're that pathetic, you don't have much of a payroll to start with, so you can last a bit longer. Plus, these people aren't really running to win, they're running for a variety of other reasons. For some, it's to enhance their speaking fees,(Graham), or help them sell a book,(Huckabee), or the burning desire to be relevant again,(Pataki). For a guy like Gilmore, it's something to do to get him out of the house.

Of the top tier candidates then:

1. Rand Paul. He looks miserable on the stump, like he can hardly stand having to compete with an idiot like Mike Huckabee for campaign cash. And speaking of money, his has about dried up. His libertarian moment has passed, and the American people will never elect a guy who never smiles. We prefer happy warriors. Paul smirks too much, and it's hard for people to connect with a smirker, no matter how smart or right he is.

2. John Kascich. He's the John Huntsman of 2016, every democrat's favorite republican. He's got lots of experience in government, as both a Congressman and Governor, which is good or bad, I suppose,
depending on how well connected you want your President to be. As a moderate, he's that rare republican candidate that gets sympathetic press coverage, but republican voters have always been rightly suspicious of any candidate that the press likes, sensing that it's a trap.

3. Chris Christie. Again, my wife had a great observation the other night.."How is it that Chris Christie is damaged goods because of that bridge-gate thing, and yet Hillary Clinton mishandles classified e-mails and the press hardly bats an eye?" Why indeed? Actually the question answers itself. Quick, name the last republican candidate to be endorsed by the New York Times? Times up! Christie showed a lot of promise in 2015, but that was a long time ago in politics. 

4. Mike Huckabee will finally bow out after he thinks he has sold enough books or put himself in a better negotiating position with Fox for a new show...and not a minute earlier!! His exit from the campaign will be mourned by... no one.

That leaves us with six serious candidates...Trump, Bush, Carson, Fiorina, Cruz and Rubio.

You heard it here first.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pam Was Right. I Was Wrong....Again!

 I know this will be very difficult for many of you to believe, but apparently I have a couple of annoying personality traits that irritate the dickens out of my wife. This past weekend one of them was on full display. The annoying personality trait of which I speak concerns my tendency towards over confidence, especially when it comes to self-diagnosing. Let me try to explain...

Ok, readers of this blog are aware that the past few months have visited upon me a plague of back, neck and shoulder problems. The most recent visitation involves a mysteriously cranky right shoulder, which feels an awful lot like my left shoulder felt two years ago right before I had rotator cuff surgery. For a week and a half now, the shoulder has started out the day virtually pain free only to gradually get tighter and more painful as the day wears on until by bedtime I am about ready to bite down firmly on stick while Pam saws my arm off! Well...this past Friday, I had a very good day. No, I had not been divinely healed, but searing pain had been transformed to mildly annoying discomfort. So, when I woke up Saturday morning pain free, my over confident, self diagnosing thing kicked in. I informed the wife that I was planning to take Lucy over to the track behind Pocohontas Middle School and throw the frisbee, then come home and cut the grass. It was then when she shot me...the look. 

My wife is too kind of a person to truly launch into someone, so she starts out with a heavy sigh and begins shaking her head from side to side, "Honey, just because you've had one decent day doesn't mean that the last eight days of pain didn't happen! There's something wrong with your shoulder, and you're not helping it by doing everything you always do on a Saturday! You need to REST YOUR SHOULDER!" At that point I began assuring her that I would take it easy and not try to do too much, which to her ears sounds an awful lot like...lies.

After around twenty minutes or so at the track the shoulder began to hurt a little. I made what I felt was an adult, mature, responsible decision to cut our play time short and head back home. When I came into the house Pam was getting ready to go for her morning walk. I smiled and told her that she had been right, but hadn't I been smart for coming home instead of pushing it? Oddly, she was not happy with what I thought was quite a victory. Instead, she huffed past me, without so much as an "it's about time!!"

Then, I made a really stupid decision. There's probably nothing I enjoy more than working on my yard. I know it sounds weird, but I love to cut the grass...and my lawn was crying out to me. But then I remembered Pam's warning about doing too much. It was then that I came up with what in hindsight was a pretty stupid idea. What I was searching for was a way to cut the grass without violating the letter of the law that Pam had laid down. So, my brilliant solution was...I'll cut the entire yard...LEFT HANDED.

There probably isn't any need for me to tell you what happened next. Pam was NOT happy when she returned from her walk to find me mowing the lawn awkwardly with my left hand on the handle, struggling to keep the mower in a straight line. Let's just say that it made for some tense moments later at dinner on date night.

I really don't know what's wrong with me when it comes to this sort of thing. I always manage to convince myself that I am cured of any ailment the minute I can go ten minutes without any symptoms. Part of it is from personal experience, since in ancient times it used to sometimes work...back when I was twenty. The hardest thing on earth for me to do, besides sitting still in church and/or business meetings, is convalescing. Rest isn't as easy as it sounds. 

But, unfortunately, Pam was right. Sunday morning, the shoulder pain was back and it got steadily worse throughout the day and this morning it's unpleasant as well. So, she was right. I was wrong. Again. To her everlasting credit, she hasn't yet started with the "I told you so's"

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Debate #Two. My Take.

Two Republican televised debates are now in the can, and although neither of them were actual, debates, we do know much more about these candidates than we did before. Thanks to the insufferable Donald Trump, they have also been the two must watched cable TV shows in history, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Nevertheless, here's my up to date analysis of the candidates in no particular order:

1. Donald Trump will eventual get bored with this race and find some idiotic excuse to beg out.
2. John Kascich is angling for the job of token Republican in Hillary Clinton's cabinet.
3. Marco Rubio is looking more and more like the Republican's answer to JFK.
4. Mike Huckabee is an artful rube.
5. Ted Cruz needs to learn how to answer questions instead of making speeches.
6. Rand Paul looks so unhappy. Smile man, you're smart and right on most of the issues!
7. Chris Christie comes across as way too New Jerseyian.
8. Carly Fiorina is one bad-a## woman. She has the cahones that Jeb Bush is looking for.
9. Jeb Bush. See #8 above.
10. Scott Walker is a disappointment.
11. Ben Carson is a wonderful person and might even be a good President, but he's just a bit too soft spoken and deliberate for my tastes.

So, there you have it. My ideal ticket for 2016 at this point would be Rubio/ any order you prefer. Time will tell.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Ghost Letter

Yesterday I received a large envelope from the Veterens Administration. This was inside:

Yes, a full fifteen months after my father's death, the VA gets around to sending me what is obviously a ritualized acknowledgement of his service in the military. Despite the predictable government ineptitude that this represents, I must admit that I had a lump in my throat as I held it in my hand. It felt like some kind of otherworldly communication. To see my Dad's name on parchment with a gold embossed eagle at the top signed by the reproduced signature of the President of the United States...was moving. It was as if I was holding in my hand proof that the world knew who my Dad was, someone besides his family acknowledging that he was a fine and decent man, a man who did his duty. I think I will have it framed and give it to my sister Linda. It needs to hang on a wall somewhere, and Linda deserves the honor. 

It's funny, I can go days without thinking of Mom and Dad, and then out of nowhere, something like this happens and suddenly they are all I think about. It's no longer sadness, but rather a sense that we all have been reduced, lessened, diminished by their absence. Something powerful has been lost, but thankfully, not forever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So, What's So Bad About Socialism?

Today has been a difficult day for me. The shoulder has suddenly become a monster of a thing. I ate my lunch entirely with my left hand today for the first time since, probably ever. The simple motion of raising my fork to my mouth was too much for the right shoulder to bear. Typing this blog must be done carefully, with my right hand firmly planted on the table or pain shoots directly into the middle of the shoulder socket. I have no explanation other than what my Chriopractor called it today in his diagnosis...adhesive capsulitis. I Googled it when I got back to the office and quietly cursed myself for not paying better attention in anatomy class.

I am currently medicated within an inch of my life so bear this in mind while reading the remainder of this blog which is going to be about the latest craze in American politics...democratic socialism. This is what Bernie Sanders self-identifies himself as. The difference between regular old socialism, and the democratic variety seems to be the in we get socialism only if we vote for it, not by totalitarian compulsion. I, for one, am very relieved to hear that!

But, when discussing the pros and cons of socialism it's hard not to get tangled up in labels. Some draw no distinction between socialism and communism, for example. Others only seem to want to talk about the glories of successful Scandnavian socialism, with no mention of Cuba or Venezuala. Still others view socialism as the mortal enemy of capitalism. It's all a giant mess of accusations and vitriol. So, here's my take.

First of all, I believe and assert confidently, that capitalism is the greatest system of economic organization in the history of the world, in that its adoption has produced more wealth for more people than any other system known to man. However, I believe it safe to say that we do not have capitalism any longer in the United States. We used to, for a while, but no longer. What we have now is an unholy brew of cronyism, influence peddling giant mega corporations, and crooked politicians making the world safe for their oligarchy. Why have politicians been so empowered? Because when we allowed them to construct a 70,000 page tax code, WE empowered them. He who writes the rules...senators, congressmen, and big business lobbyists, have the power.

So, instead of making a product that people want and are willing to pay for, the way to really get rich in this country is to buy a couple of congressmen, hire a team of the best lobbyist that money will buy,( the best of whom used to be congressmen), and have a sweet tax break added at the last minute to some appropriations bill that will give your company an unfair advantage in the market place. 

So, does this mean that I would be in favor of a more socialism-friendly approach to government? Actually, it means the exact opposite. What I would like to see is power taken away from politicians by doing away with the entire tax code and replacing it with a flat tax with ZERO deductions and ZERO tax breaks for anything or anyone. But, that's a discussion for another time. Let's get back to thewhole  socialism thing.

I will admit to being a bit put off when I see the word socialist. Part of it is that I was born in 1958 and can still remember those stupid duck and cover drills in elementary schools. I remember the Cold War like it was yesterday, the epic struggle between the freedom and democracy of the west with the totalitarianism of communist China and The Soviet Union, and especially the Soviet client state 90 miles from Key West. And sure, I understand that the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders is a far cry from the gulags of Siberia, still, it's a powerfully evocative word with special power to anyone born before 1960. But the real issue I have with socialism is their blind faith in the gloriously transformative, potential of government. To hear a socialist describe any problem we face, the answer is always, and I mean always, an expansion of centralized government power. None of them seem even mildly concerned that a government so empowered could ever become so powerful that it controls...everything. The solutions that they offer throw around other people's money as if it were an infinite commodity. "Pay everyone $15 an hour, give them free, universal health care, pay for their college education, and we'll do it all with money to spare!" We'll just tax people making X amount at the rate of XX percent. And this wealth redistribution will have no impact on the economy because people won't change their behavior once we start taxing them at higher rates. It all seems so insufferably naive to me.

So, if the question becomes, which do you fear more, a muscular, monstrously powerful government, or a muscular and monstrously powerful oligarchy, well...that's a harder question. The ideals of socialism are quite seductive. Who doesn't want everyone to make $15, $25, $50 dollars an hour? Who wouldn't want everyone to get a free college education? Why shouldn't everyone get all the free health care they need or want? Some even suggest that if you don't want all of these things to come true, you are either a selfish, greedy bastard, or a Christian hypocrite. For me, it's not a question of what I wish were the case, it's more a question of what is sustainable and possible when human nature is factored into the equation and the boring economic laws of plenty and scarcity.

Yes, but Doug, you say...look at the Scandanavian countries. They have wonderful economies and they do all of these things for their citizens. Ok, let's look at the Danes, the Norwegians and any other Nordic state you might have in mind. Those countries are small states and they all have a couple of things in common that make them more amenable to socialistic schemes. First of all, they are homogeneous nations with virtually no significant minority communities. Secondly, they are able to provide the bounty of cradle to grave welfare to their citizens largely because none of them have ever been asked to rid Europe of totalitarian bullies in the past 75 years or fight a Cold War with the Soviet Union. Not having much of a defense budget will do that. Of course, you could say, well maybe we should scale back our military. Again, a nice thought and one that I might entertain, but to not mention its relevance when touting the examples of socialism's successes there is disingenuous.

I guess for me, although I know that something is dreadfully wrong in our country and that the way things are now is unacceptable, I'm not ready to turn my back on capitalism. And I resent people like Bernie Sanders always telling everyone that the entire game is rigged. It simply isn't true. Not every success story is tainted by malfeasance. There is a reason that every year over half of the inventions in the world come from here. There's a reason Americans win so many Nobel prizes. The free enterprise system and its exalted view of private property rights is what has built this country. Any self respecting socialist would almost automatically be suspicious of private property, and would certainly not insist on it as a fundamental right of a citizen. The heart of any decent socialist beats for empowered government control of society, not individual private property rights. So, therein lies the delimma.

Many of you know my story and the humble beginnings of my family. For any candidate to suggest that if I turned out to have started a profitable business, that I somehow won life's lottery is something that eats at me. To try to suggest that because of my race, or any other alleged natural advantage I was born with, anything, besides my willingness to work my ass off doing the difficult things that less successful people were always unwilling to do, to suggest that anything else made me successful will never be a big seller in my world.

If you're still optimistic about what an empowered, benevolent government might do for you, remember what it's like at the DMV. Walk into one of the offices where they hand out unemployment checks and take a look around. Feel the love, feel the efficiency. Now imagine a government responsible for not only unemployment benefits but all of your health care, the college education of all your kids, and providing you with a job. (It takes a lot of folks to run a cradle to grave welfare state, my friend). If you're still excited at the prospect of democratic socialism, then go for it. If it comes to that, I'll have to pray that I'm wrong and you're all right.

.......Wow, what a meandering mess of a post this turned out to be. Sorry!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Falling Apart

The ongoing neck/shoulder problems I've been having lately have turned almost comical, in the sense that it suites me better to laugh than to cry. There is an aching pain deep inside my right shoulder such that if I were a starting pitcher in the big leagues I would be placed on the 15 day disabled list, or maybe even traded for a player to be named later.

For all of you amateur doctors out there, (and boy, are there a lot of you), here are my symptoms:

1. Range of motion limited to parallel to the ground
2. Dull, aching pain all day, but much worse at night.
3. No tingling sensation or shooting pains down the arm
4. No popping or grinding sound when I move the shoulder.
5. Application of ice seems to do no good, but heat offers some relief.
6. At times, pain seems to increase in intensity with heartbeat, especially at night in bed, in other words  pain seems to change from dull ache to throbbing pain at night.
7. High powered anti-inflamatories and muscle relaxers don't seem to help.

So, there you have it. The good thing about all of this is that I'm not worrying so much about my neck. The pain there is soooo yesterday!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hospitality is a Gift

I'm not exactly sure how we got roped into it, but this past weekend we welcomed our third group of nursing students from Liberty University. This time it's three girls, all juniors, who will be with us every other weekend as they do their clinicals at St. Mary's hospital. They arrive on Thursday afternoon and head back to Lynchburg Sunday afternoon.

The guidelines for the program say that we are not to provide them with meals or anything really,  except a place to sleep each night. Whoever wrote up these guidelines never met my wife. For Pam, this is like Christmas morning in September. And, I must admit, I love having kids in my house. It goes back to my days in the youth group at my church when every weekend dozens of starving, loud and impossibly energetic teenagers would descend upon my house. Besides, we have three empty bedrooms, so...why not?

Pam doesn't do anything different than normal for the girls. She always cooks hot meals for me every night. Now she just makes those meals for five people rather than two. But, if I was being truthful about the matter I would have to admit that Pam does go out of her way to spoil these kids. She makes up little welcome bags for them their first night. She fixes them a bagged lunch to eat on the way back to Liberty, complete with their name and a smiley face on their bags. This semester we have one girl who is gluten-free, so Pam studied up on how to make sure that she gets gluten-free peach cobbler,( she made a small gluten-free cobbler in a separate bowl ). Part of the reason why she goes to so much trouble is that we have seen over the last couple of years how hard these nursing students work when they are here. They leave the house at 6:30 in the morning and don't get home until after 6 in the evening. Then after dinner, they are up until all hours doing homework and studying. 

But the real reason Pam goes all out is that she has this amazing gift of hospitality. Nothing makes my wife happier than being able to pamper guests in our home. She's always the first person to volunteer to house traveling singing groups from church. She always says "YES" whenever anyone asks if anyone might be interested in hosting twenty college students in our home for a meal...even though our house isn't big enough for any such thing. She finds a way to make it work. It's a fascinating thing to behold.

So, this semester it will be Jen, Jessica, and McKenzie. They will all eat every single thing put in front of them and then ask for seconds. They will marvel at all the little things that Pam will do to make them feel totally and completely at home. And, we will be sad when they head back to Liberty for the last time.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Observations From the World of Sports

Time for a few random observations from around the sports world:

The Washington Nationals are done. How is it possible for a team with that pitching staff, and one of the best players in the game not even make the playoffs? Good bye, Matt Williams.

The Washington Redskins haven't even played their first game of the season and they are already the worst team in the league. Is it something about the city that makes professional sports teams dysfunctional?

The last race of the NASCAR season just happened in my own city and I couldn't tell you which drivers made the chase. That's how far stock car racing has fallen off of my radar screen over the past four or five years.

Arkansas Razorbacks coach, Bret Bielema started his week shooting off his mouth about how hard his schedule is compared to Ohio State's. Then his team goes out and gets beaten Little Rock! Here's a hint coach...until you actually win something, keep your pie hole shut!

There was a tennis tournament in New York this week. I think like sixteen people actually watched the women's final.

There was a high school football game the other day where the final score was 104-90. Some kid ran for over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. The game was momentarily stopped  halfway through the third period when some kid actually made a tackle. He was immediately recognized with a ceremony on the 50 yard line, hugged by his proud parents and given a trophy.

The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in Major League Baseball, despite the fact that their lineup contains players named, Piscotty, Moss, Garcia, and Pham, all players that no one besides their parents have ever heard of. How do they keep doing this year after year??

The NFL season begins in earnest today and my predictions are as follows:

The Dallas Cowboys will underperform and Jason Garrett will keep his job, proving that he has pictures of Jerry Jones having sex with Dan Snyder.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make the playoffs with their rookie of the year winning quarterback leading the way.

The Philadelphia Eagles will lose their starting QB Sam Bradford to injury in week one, then backup Mark Sanchez will throw ten interceptions in his first three games as the starter, forcing coach Chip Kelly to call up Tim Tebow who will then lead them to the Super Bowl, causing every television anlalyst to have a nervous breakdown.

Peyton Manning will not make it through the season.

JJ Watt will score more touchdowns than RGIII.

Johnnie Manziel will enjoy his first taste of success as a NFL quarterback, only to be suspended for the season after getting caught punching out a woman in a strip club after failing a drug test.

The Philadelphia Eagles will lose the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots, when the game is decided by a crucial first down measurement late in the game, with Tim Tebow coming up inches short . After the game it will be discovered that a New England employee managed to add two links to the chain during a television timeout. The resulting investigation will be personally overseen by Roger Goddell who will ultimately determine that there is insufficient evidence to overturn the Patriot victory.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Battle Continues

Wednesday evening I finished up some reading, brushed my teeth and went to bed at the normal hour. When the sun came up Thursday morning, I woke up with a fiery pain in my right shoulder of unknown origin. As the day wore on the pain got more and more severe. If I were a betting man I would have been willing to wager an awful lot of money that something had torn loose. I couldn't lift my right arm above parallel, and when I tried to the pain became sharp and stabbing. In other words, I was certain that I had blown out another rotator cuff and was in store for another surgery and rehab. Needless to say, I was very unhappy.

I decided to rest it and get through the night and see how it felt Friday morning. The morning brought more pain and more frustration. I had a Chiropractor appointment set for 9:30 and wasn't sure if I should go or cancel, so I posted my dilemma on Facebook, asking for medical advice. In less than thirty minutes, I had over twenty five replies offering all sorts of recommendations. The four nurses who replied all agreed that I should go to something called Ortho on Call, a walk in doc-in-a-box sort of place which could X-ray the shoulder right on the spot. I decided to take the nurses' advice and cancel the chiropractor appointment.

By the time the X-ray was taken, the shoulder was killing me. So, imagine my surprise when the doctor at Ortho on Call walks in and says, "I could find no tears." Instead, Dr. Douglas Okay offered the opinion that it was probably tendinitis, or a frozen shoulder, or a pinched nerve, and he couldn't rule out a rotator cuff tear, since an X-ray can't reveal what might be going inside the rotator cuff. Oh, and it also could be related to my ongoing bulging disk issues. In other words, he had no idea what the hell was wrong with my shoulder...and that will be $250 please.

He prescribed some pain meds and sent me on my way. Words cannot describe how frustrated I was leaving that place. Dr. Okay's non-diagnosis was NOT Okay with me. How was it possible to have so much pain coming from a joint that showed no damage? I was about ready to write a sternly written letter to God himself demanding an explanation.

Last night I went to dinner with my two sisters and their husbands to celebrate Linda's birthday. I had taken all the meds I was supposed to take to make the shoulder feel less horrible, and while it did feel some better, I couldn't drive or hold much of a conversation with anyone at dinner. So, I mostly sat there listening to everyone else, privately seething at my three year string of bad health luck. Three years ago two disks in my neck began their bulging. Two years ago, I had rotator cuff surgery on one shoulder and now I was facing a second surgery. It was not a good night.

So, this morning I am awakened by Lucy licking me in the face. I stumble out of bed and begin my routine...when I suddenly notice that it's gone. The pain in my gone. I slowly test it out by raising my arms in all directions....nothing, no pain, complete range of motion! As suddenly and ferociously as it had come upon was gone, just like that. The first thought that popped into my head was, "if I had only hung in there one more day I could have saved myself $250!!"

So, that's the latest in the ongoing tale of the relentless, degenerative collapse of my body post age 50. It has not been pretty. But, to all of my 50 plus friends out there let me just say...we will beat this. We will prevail! It might take a dump truck full of medicine, six heating pads, crutches, two sets of reading glasses, enough Pepsid AC to crush a small child but we will prevail!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pam and Lucy

My dog Lucy is still the most neurotic beast ever to grace the inside of a Dunnevant home, however, she is the most adorable dog ever. I find that I love her even more than the other dogs I've had because of her emotional instability. She's still afraid of practically everything, especially thunder storms. Whenever they are in the area and way before we are aware of them, Lucy begins her terrified vigil...pacing around forlornly. But when crunch time comes( the first distant rumble of thunder ), only one thing will do...Mom!

Lucy isn't much of a snuggler. She prefers to be on the couch with you, but at the other end of the couch. But when the thunder storm monster comes, she finds Pam and plasters herself next to her. This all started months ago during a particularly violent storm, when Pam took her into our walk in closet, closed the door and held her tightly in the dark, singing to her until the storm was over. Now, every storm demands a repeat performance. It's quite adorable to watch. There's Lucy, shaking like a leaf, head buried under Pam's arms. It's the only time that Lucy will allow herself to be good and hugged, and only by Pam. It's quite touching to watch.

I took this last night, after the worst of the storm had passed through and Lucy finally dared raise her head to look around.

Crazy dog...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What's in a Name?

About a year ago I read an article about a reporter who had an impressive resume drawn up and sent to a couple hundred employers. The name at the top was something very generically white, like Jeff O'Leary. Then he sent the exact same resume out bearing a generically black name, like Jamal Lewis. The resume with the white sounding name got several positive responses. The one with the black name at the top...not a single one. It was a disturbing story and illustrated the very real obstacles still standing in the way of minorities in this country.

But now...this:

Michael Derrick Hudson is an aspiring poet from Indiana. He wrote a poem that he thought was his best work and submitted it to 40 different publishers for their consideration. He got 40 rejection letters. But then he got the idea that he might have a better chance of getting published if he used a more ethnic pseudonym. He changed the name on the work to Yi-Fen Chou, and after only 9 rejections, got it published in the Prairie Schooner. Now, the poem..."The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve," has appeared in the American Anthology of Best Poems of 2015, and the literary crap has hit the fan.

Chinese poets are furious, reasoning that now any poems submitted in the future by poets with Asian-sounding names will be more skeptically scrutinized. An angry blogger who goes by the name Angry Asain Man accused Hudson of committing poetry using yellowface. Oh dear.

Of course, none of this is new when it comes to art, especially literature. How many women authors two hundred years ago used male nom  de plumes (George Eliot, B. A. Evans)?  Come to think of it, there's an awful lot of race-cheating going on in our super-charged grievance culture. A few months ago, we discovered that NAACP activist Rachel Dolezal was actually a white woman. And who can forget the advantages that accrued to Senator Elizabeth Warren during her academic career by her ingenious usurpation of favored status as a Native American?

But, I suppose that we will see more and more of this sort of thing in the future. When a society tries to right past racial sins with a regime of set-asides, quotas, and nose counting throughout all of society, hucksters will arise to take advantage. Any system can be gamed by the cunning and industrious, including a well meaning system trying to level the playing field. The trouble is, at what point do we all get cheated by such a system? In an era of social promotion, grade inflation and affirmative action hires, how will we ever know who the best people are? 

When confronted with Mr. Hudson's treachery, the editor of the American Poetry Anthology of 2015, admitted, "I was more amenable to the poem because I thought the author was Chinese-American...I was practicing a form of literary justice that can look like injustice from a different angle."

I'll say! As for Mr. Hudson, he admits that this isn't the first time he has employed the Chinese nom de plume strategy. He uses it whenever he is having trouble getting something published as a boring white guy from Indiana, and it has been successful in the past on several occasions. much for artistic integrity! 

Despite the hubbub, the literary-Justice-dispensing editor of the American Poetry Anthology of 2015 has no plans to remove the offending poem. "When I reread the poem after learning of the deception, I still loved it."

What a concept, publishing a poem because it's a great poem!?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Is Kim Davis a Martyr?

While I was away I completely disconnected from news. So, I wasn't aware of of the firestorm story of the Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis. Well, I had heard of her because Facebook was dotted with references to her and I had seen a quote from Mike Huckabee about how this was proof of the "criminalization of Christianity" or some such thing, but for the most part, the specifics of the story had escaped my notice. No longer.

It would seem that Kim Davis is a county clerk in Kentucky who's job it is to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County. In Kentucky, this is an elected position, and Mrs. Davis is a democrat. I mention her party affiliation not because it has anything whatsoever to do with the case, but because if she were a republican it would appear in the first paragraph of every news story, and in the headline at the New York Times. Anyway...Mrs. Davis is a relatively new convert to Christinanity, and as such burns brightly with enthusiasm for her new faith. As such, she made the decision to refuse the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples after the June ruling by the Supreme Court making gay marriage legal, because to do so would be a violation of her faith and of God's Word. Her view, and the view of her legal team from Liberty Councel is that no one should be required to violate their religious beliefs by the demands of a job...or something like that.

In a democracy, compromise is the oil that lubricates the engine of daily life, which while no doubt true, may very well be the worst metaphor I've ever come up with... but it's all I can manage at the moment.  The point is, we make a million compromises daily to get along with others in this country, even religious compromises. Pam informs me that she has seen Muslim check out girls at Target refuse to touch a bottle of wine purchased by a customer. Then another employee comes over and handles the bottle for her. While this may be awkward, it seems to work. That's the thing about compromises, they aren't always convenient or efficient, but they get the job done. 

My first thought when pouring over the many articles I've read about this case there not some sort of workable compromise that can be forged out of this mess short of a high profile and devicive incarceration? Is there no one else in the Rowan County Clerk's office that could issue the licenses in question? If the problem Mrs. Davis has is signing the document, why not allow someone else in the office to sign? Cannot grown thinking adults fashion some sort of work-around to avoid all of this drama? Apparently not, so she's in jail. My thoughts:

To Mike Huckabee let me just say, you're a dope. This isn't the "crimilization of Christianity". You, Mr. Huckabee are criminalizing the English language by using such a dim-witted phrase. There was a time, Mr. Huckabee, when Christians provided the fuel for street lights in Nero's Rome. Right now ISIS is burning Christians alive simply for being Christian. That's the criminalization of Christianity.

To Kim Davis, let me say, you should resign your position. I don't pretend to judge your intentions or impugn your character by dredging up your past divorces as proof of your hypocracy. I accept the genuineness of your faith and the transformative power it has produced in your life. However, your job is to uphold the law. The New Testament that you read everyday includes admonitions for Christians to submit to the civil authorities, and it is my belief that if you find that to do so violates your religious convictions, and if you are not willing or able to accept a work-around compromise, you need to resign. I would also ask you if you have had equally dramatic dissonance when confronted with the prospect of issuing a marriage license to a couple who had been previously divorced? Rowan County, I suspect is a small town sort of place, the kind of spot where everybody knows everybody else, so I'm sure this has happened. Did you refuse them a license based on your religious convictions? If not, why not? The bible is very clear on that subject as well.

Finally, I would say to my Christian friends, there may come a day when Christianity will be criminalized. I'm not naive. But this isn't that day. As a Christian, there are things I can't in good conscience do, and if my job demands that I do them, I need to find another job. It's not the job of the culture around me to honor and obey God's laws, it's my job to do that. There are thousands of Christians being martyred for their faith in the world right now. Let's not dishonor them by pretending that Kim Davis is one of them.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Until Next Year...

And suddenly, just like that, seven days has come to an end. This morning the lake is blanketed in a thin fog and the thermometer that hangs on the front porch says...46. We will have breakfast, pack up and head to the airport in Portland for a late afternoon flight home. We will leave this place, but it will be some time before this place leaves us.

When we get back home, we will finally turn on a television. We will shuffle through our mail. We will fall back into the comforting routine to which we have become so accustomed. But it will not be a seamless transition. Spending a week up here rearranges your expectations of what life can least what it can be without an itinerary or humidity. 

We thought about taking the ferry over to Islesboro or Vinalhaven one day but we both secretly resented the fact that the ferry company insisted upon a fixed schedule of departure. We knew what they were up to with their scheduled departures. They were trying to impose order on our vacation and we were having none of it!

We would have been more inclined to make some of the many tantalizing side trips that abound here on the Midcoast of Maine had the weather not been so radiantly sublime all week. It's difficult to make yourself put the rental car in reverse and back out of the driveway leaving a sun-splashed lake and 75 degrees to go...anywhere. 

But, what makes vacations special is the fact that they are rare. To appreciate them, one has to have the sort of sufficiently vigorous life from which vacations are needed. So we come back to Richmond and crank that life up again. But something is changing for us. We are in the process of planning out the next act of our lives and that next act will feature a lake house in Maine. Next summer, a month rental. The following summer, the hope and prayer is, our own place and an entire summer here. The kids will come and stay for a week or two, our families for another, and then friends. It will be like running a bed and breakfast that doesn't charge anything, sorta like vacation welfare! Neither of us can imagine anything more fun than the chance to introduce the people we love the most to this glorious place. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

WARNING!!! This blog contains potentially troubling pictures!!!

In all fairness, this particular blog post needs to come with a warning label of sorts. To my vegetarian and/or vegan friends, what you are about to see might be considered a micro-aggression. For any of you who fall into the PETA camp of animal lovers, the following photographs have the potential to be triggering. For all of you who are currently on diets, these images might be damaging to your will power.

Having sufficiently warned you, the reader, let me just say that although Pam and I love eating out while on vacation, something weird happens at Camplaba. We keep coming up with excuses not to. See, to drive the five minutes into Camden for dinner would require us to drag ourselves off the dock or out of the water to take a shower, get dressed, decide on a restaurant, then get in the rental car, drive into town, find a parking's all so exhausting! So, instead, I grab a piece of meat and fire up the charcoal grill..

Yes, that's a pound and a half of New York strip steak, cut personally for me by the friendly butcher at Hannaford's. Although I'm not a big charcoal guy, (I prefer a gas grill), these babies were grilled to perfection. We even had enough left over to have steak quesadillas the next night!

Then, it was chicken's turn. Pam came up with the idea to marinate the breasts in the only workable sauce she had on hand...half a bottle of A-1...and the results were mouthwatering! Throw in a frying pan full of fried squash and onions, and a package of Bob Evans Mac and cheese, and you've got yourself a fine dining experience...

Tonight, I think we are actually going to break down and go out to eat...probably.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Camplaba Creature Strikes!!!

I am quite fond of the elegantly creepy writing of Dean Koontz, so for this vacation I brought along one I hadn't read before:

It's an astonishingly simple premise. An aspiring young author comes home one night to discover a rag doll on his front porch. Intrigued, he brings it inside. Suddenly, the lifeless doll begins to pop it's stitches, revealing a yellow-eyed reptilian monster straining to break free from its cloth restraints, and kill our protagonist. All hell breaks lose and the plot raises on at breakneck speed as our little Lucifer begins to grow etc... Great stuff. Except, this isn't the type of story one wants dancing around inside your brain when last night happens!

Camplaba is a charming cottage, and I mean that in the most sincere way, not the way the people who write descriptions of rental properties use the term charming, which usually means...moldy old dump. However, the place is over a hundred years old. My administrative assistant will surely understand what follows, since she is always regaling me with harrowing tales of what it's like to live in a very old house. She lives in one of those gorgeous Victorians on the railroad tracks in Ashland, Virginia, and suffice it to say, when you live in an old house you share it with...the animal kingdom.

So last night, Pam and I had just settled our brains for a long peaceful sleep in our incredibly comfortable king sized bed in the only upstairs room in the cottage. Spending all day outside kayaking and walking and eating and shopping wears a guy out, so sleep comes quickly...and hard. Imagine my surprise when I am roused awake by my wife who is sitting up in the bed, her knees pulled firmly to her chest, trembling like a child. I bolt up to her side, still half asleep, forgetting that I am hooked up to my dreadful C-Pap machine, nearly pulling it off the nightstand.

"Honey, what's wrong? What is it?" I ask, still not in full possession of all of my waking faculties.

"There's something in here!!! Can't you hear it??"

Immediately I'm thinking of that cursed rag doll from the brimstone-tinged imagination of Koontz. Then I hear it...a fluttering sound from across the room. No, more like a clawing sound, and it's coming from under our bed. Or, is it a pecking sound coming from under the sofa against the wall??

Pam is positively freaked at this point, so it's crucial that I remain totally unimpressed by events while at the same time not dismissive of her fears.( after 31 years of marriage, I've learned a few helpful tips in this regard) 

"Yes, I do hear it," I answer. Affirmation. Step one in diffusing any female fear-derangement syndrome is to agree with them about the threat. "Wonder what it could be?" I ask in as up-beat a tone of voice as I can muster at 1 in the morning. "Maybe a bird?"

At this point I'm tempted to trot out that old won't bother us if we don't bother it...but I wisely reject that tactic. Besides, whatever this thing was, it was making quite an unwholesome racket. So I decide what I always decide in moments like this...blind, irrational action. I jump out of bed, walk across the room and throw on the light switch, half expecting to see a bald eagle perched in the rafters above...damn that Dean Koontz!! Instead, I saw nothing, and now neither of us heard anything. Still, the damage had been done. There were two chances that Pam was going to go back to sleep in that bed, slim and none, and none had just left town on vacation. So, there we were tucking ourselves in to the twin beds in the downstairs bedroom, feeling a little like Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. I hadn't slept in a twin bed since the Nixon years. Of course, I woke up with a very stiff and sore neck.

The dawn has ushered in another Chamber of Commerse day here on Meguntecook, bright sunshine and birds chirping...outside, where they belong. There is no sIgn of our little friend from last night. But, Pam will be sleeping with one eye opened the rest of the week, unless I can figure a way to find and kill the Camplaba Creature. 

Now that I think about it, doesn't Steven King live right up the road?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why can't I have everything I want?

Sometimes, spending time in an idyllic, natural setting surrounded by the beauty and majesty of God's creation causes you to think deep thoughts, to ponder the large, unanswerable questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? That sort of thing. To those epic questions that have baffled philosophers for millennia, my wife has added another, which has become perhaps the theme of our vacation....Why can't I have everything I want??

As she kayaks around the lake gazing at the various properties on the shoreline, she sees several that would be perfect for us to buy...NOW! But then she discovers that they don't have enough bedrooms, or bathrooms. Then she is disappointed to learn that they aren't for sale, or on the rare occasion when they are, they cost a billion dollars. She then looks at me with plaintive eyes and asks a simple yet profound question...why can't I have everything I want? WHY???!??!!

At first glance this would seem a question born of envy and greed. Not so! It is not a petulant demand, but rather a baffled stating of the obvious, more like an expression of confused resignation. She knows  why she can't everything, but still feels compelled to ask the no one in particular. And it's not just about big expensive stuff. She asked the same question yesterday when trying to decide whether or not to buy the package of...well, I'm not exactly sure...

Apparently, this treat has some sort of historical significance to her, some childhood In Maine thing. I said, "Honey, that's 1200 calories you're looking at right there and if you ate all four of them, you would consume exactly 0% of the daily essential viatmins and minerals crucial to maintaining human life on earth." 

" But they are sooooo delicious! Why can't I have everything I want? Why!!!???

Later, we had to decide when to meet with our realtor contact here in Camden to talk about buying and/or renting a place for next summer. The decision boiled down to, do we see her in the morning or afternoon? If we go with the morning, we'll miss the warm sun on our dock and the morning is the best time for kayaking. But if we go with the afternoon, we'll have to take a shower at lunch time and we will miss our afternoon coffee and fluffer-nutter triscuits. Why can't I have everything I want???!!! WHY?

Last night after grilling steaks on the grill, we both went down to the dock and sat in the dark and talked. She informed me that she wasn't leaving on Saturday. She had decided to stay at Camplaba forever. I reminded her that the owners might object, that eventually she would run out of food and starve to death. Wouldn't she miss her kids? Our dog? Her friends? Me? She let out a long sigh. Then a couple minutes later...Why can't I have everything I want??!!

I attempted an answer..."Because if you got everything you wanted, you would start acting like a spoiled brat and you wouldn't have anything else to dream about, no more goals..."

" Would not."

Well, who can argue with that?