Friday, June 30, 2017

The Tweet

This will be my last blogpost for a while. We've reached the halfway point of the year and I'll be heading to the Outer Banks in a week or so. There will be lots to do to prepare for that. Besides, sometimes you just run out of things to write about. What's worse is when you live in the United States in 2017 with Donald Trump in the White House and there are literally a thousand things to write about. The reason this abundance of material is worse is because most of it is not just bad stuff, but incandescently bad stuff. It's virtually impossible to keep up with. But you can't and shouldn't comment on everything. Not every raging dumpster fire requires my particular brand of kerosene. My voice doesn't always necessarily elevate the discourse. Still, sometimes I think...what hath man wrought?

This week, our President unleashed a couple of Tweets directed at a couple of morning talk show hosts from Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski...

"I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (I don't watch anymore). Then how come low IQ Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe came to Mar-a-Largo three nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a face lift, and I said no."

Ok, for purposes of this discussion, I will not attempt to answer the question of what the President of the United States is doing Tweeting at 7 o'clock in the morning. I will also concede that this particular couple of pundits have been rather vicious in their scathing denunciations of the President. Further, I am aware that an awful lot of people take a lot of pleasure in watching a President who fights back against the press, a guy who doesn't just sit there and take it.

But, people.....

Read the Tweet again. 

This, from the President of the United States.

I don't care of a couple of two bit commentators on a show that barely anyone watches called the President the bastard child of Barney and Cruella DeVille...why in the name of all that is holy would he lower himself and the Presidency to this level of childishness? 

But the fifth grade level immaturity isn't even the worst of it. What are we to make of the line about her bleeding badly from a face-lift? Who knows if it's even true? But if it is, his inclusion of this bit of information was intended to humiliate. There's a meanness to it, a smallness of character. What person do any of you know who would say such a thing publically?

I read this stuff and I think to myself, "Mr. President...can you, just for one day, just for one 24 hour period refrain from your particular brand of petty cruelty? Can you, for once in your kind?"

It's come to this...all I want from my President is a hint of kindness. The bar has been officially lowered enough for a basset hound to leap over.

And with that, I'm checking out for a few days. Have a great 4th of July everybody!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Summer Reading List

Now that summer has officially arrived, the time has come to prepare and purchase your summer reading list. And no, I don't mean the latest tortured Trump tweet or the most recent CNN retraction. I'm talking about vacation page turners, you know...real books.

This summer, I will be taking four weeks off. The week of July 8-15 we will be on Hatteras Island with the Dunnevant Oligharchy. Then from September 7-29 Pam and I will be on Quantabacook Lake in Maine. Yes, yes..I white privilege is showing. But since I work for myself, these are not paid vacations, so I'm not a total bourgeois eliteist. Relax!

So, as is my custom, I like to buy a book to read for each week that I will be away. So far, I have bought only three, so I'm opened for suggestions for that last week. The first one I bought is an e-book. I feel guilty about this for some reason. I have a couple dozen e-books now, so this is nothing new. But I always feel bad that I didn't buy the flesh and blood version, the one I can hold in my hand and smell the ink from the paper. I get it...wave of the future and all. Besides, my gorgeous library book case is filling up fast and at some point will reach capacity. The e-book in question is called Teammate. It's written by David Ross, a fifteen year career backup catcher who's final season was spent becoming the most beloved member of the 2016 Chicago Cubs team which broke the 108 year title draught. Every summer, I have to have at least one baseball book. Candidly, I must admit that I have already started reading this one...and it's awesome.

Then, I always get one history book. This also is a hard habit to break. Once a history major, always a history major, I suppose.

The Loyal Son promises to be a real barn burner, since it's about the strained relationship between Benjamin Franklin and his illegitimate son who became governor of New Jersey and devoted loyalist while his Dad was becoming perhaps the most famous American patriot in the world. Can't wait to tear into this one.

Every year, I look for a novel, not just any novel, but something rich and compelling. I prefer intelligent, sophisticated writing, and I'm hoping I have found it in A Gentleman In Moscow. I have heard about this Amor Towles guy and his debut novel from a couple years back called Rules of Civility, which I have not read yet. He's supposed to be quite the writer. He intrigues me because he was a twenty year veteran of my business before he decided to devote himself to becoming a writer. Hmmm.... Anyway, here's a blurb from the flyleaf:

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the Count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

I'm onboard. If it's as good as all that, I'll buy his first book as my fourth.

Here's what I won't be reading on vacation...

1. The Drudge Report
2. Investors Business Daily
3. The Wall Street Journal
4. The world's third shortest book...French Army Victories of WWII
5. The world's second shortest book....Famous Jewish Athletes
6. The world's shortest book...21st Century American Statesmen

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Healthcare Debate

Republicans in Congress are stumbling, bumbling, and fumbling along trying to repeal or replace Obamacare. Most of them ran for reelection promising one or the other. Now that the vote is getting near, the debates have begun in earnest. For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders is leading the charge...which is odd since he doesn't even want Obamacare, he's all in for single payer.

So far the debate has gone something like this:

Libertarian: My objections to the concept of single payer is that it essentially places the government atop a giant monopoly, and asks it to run this enterprise efficiently. We already have a single payer system in this country, administered by the government. It's called the VA and is about the most corrupt organization in America. Additionally, I'm not all that keen on having to wait an average of 38 weeks for an MRI like they do in Canada. I just don't have a great deal of confidence in the government's competence when it comes to providing a service at a reasonable cost. The cost estimates, for example, which were predicted by the CBO for Obamacare were wildly inaccurate. The rollout of Obamacare, with its bizarrely dysfunctional website was emblematic of what most people experience at the DMV or the Post Office, not a hopeful sign of things to come.

Progressive: You're mean, and you want to kill people.

Libertarian: Our government has managed to rack up twenty trillion dollars worth of debt. What are the core competencies this government possesses that make you think it ready to take on the role of healthcare provider and administrator for 300 million people?

Progressive: You hate poor people.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Is America Out of Ideas?

I just saw a commercial on the internet for a new shampoo whose featured ingredient is...caviar.

America is officially out of ideas.

I can remember a day when the presence of caviar was sure fire evidence that you had stumbled into the wrong party. Instead of taking the right turn at the bowling alley to get to the FCA mixer, you had gotten lost on the interstate and wound up at Claire Worthington's debutante ball at the Country Club of Virginia. Now, they're dumping the stuff into shampoo for its alleged 24 hour moisturizing properties. Thurston Howell III is probably spinning in his grave.

But somewhere, somehow, somebody sitting around a conference table at some multi-national health and beauty aid company blurted out, Hey, how about we grind up fish eggs into our shampoo? This daft idea carried the day, and now, BAMM...Caviar Shampoo is a thing.

I'm wondering what this development is going to do to the price of caviar. Face it, up until now there has been a limited market for the stuff. It's very much a 1% indulgence. It's relative rarity is what makes it so expensive, I would think. But, if there's now a company using caviar in the mass production of shampoo, maybe the supply starts to get disrupted, causing the cost to skyrocket. What then? What will be the price point on the shampoo? I mean, you can up-market shampoo all you want, but at the end of the's still just shampoo. Will people be willing to shell out, say $50 for a bottle? Sure, rich girls wouldn't hesitate to instruct their servants to pick up a bottle, but what about your average Jane Doe? Or maybe, this fish egg shampoo winds up being the next big thing in the beauty aid game, providing the multi-national company with the insentive to build giant caviar farms,  flooding the supply, therefore driving down the price of caviar. What happens then? If caviar becomes as cheap and abundant as tuna fish, what reason would the rich have for pretending to like it? I foresee the potential for great mischief here.

All because the Western Woman simply must have moisturized hair.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

There's an Elephant Man in My Mirror!!

Woke up this morning feeling very strange. The world looked a bit odd. My face felt...out of place. Then I looked in the mirror and discovered that my right eye was swollen shut. I will not horrify you by sharing a photograph. Suffice it to say that the extreme puffiness made me look like the Elephant Man. What the heck?

For the past half hour I have had an ice pack plastered to the thing, and that has helped. It is still a bulbous mess, but at least I can see out it. It doesn't itch, thank God, and it's not emitting any bodily fluids, so I've got that going for me. Still, today will be a wearing sunglasses inside sort of day.

You would think I could come up with something more interesting to write about on this Saturday morning...but I got nothing. It's been one of those weeks. Summer has this strange way of distilling the tumultuous roar of life down to its essence. It gets hot and thick outside, where even breathing seems like a chore. So, you slow down. Then, people start going on vacation, families packing up their cars all up and down your street in shifts, the Smiths one week, the Joneses the next. Your time is coming. Your life becomes all about counting down, making lines through the days on the calendar until it's your turn. People stop watching the news all day. They would rather surf the web for fun stuff to do during your stay in Virginia Beach. The news will still be there when you get back, so you disengage. It's therapeutic.

The down side is, if you have a blog, you find that your hot-take tank is on empty. It's just too humid out to bother with thinking. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Bad Can It Be?

Just got back from a very fun couple of days playing golf with my brother up in Gettysburg, Pa. Beautiful course, good people, fun time. But, this blog isn't about any of that. No, this blog is my first attempt at being a travel writer. I've always wanted to give travel writing a try, but the only time I've ever been tempted is after a bad experience, and who wants a travel writer with a bad attitude? goes.

When Donnie first asked me to play in this fundraising golf tournament for the really cool touring choir that he's in, he assured me that he was going to take care of all of the details, like booking us a room in Gettysburg, for the night before the tournament. I was nervous at this bit of news. I have had the great fortune in my life to travel all over the place and have become quite the snob about accommodations. I'm kind of a Hilton Rewards Club sort of guy. When Donnie and I were kids, our father had very different priorities when traveling. Dad's tastes were decidedly low brow...think, Econo-Lodge meets the Bates Motel. Whenever the Dunnevant kids were anywhere near an interstate highway, we thought fine dining consisted of a pecan roll from Stuckey's. So, naturally, I was dubious of the sort of place my older, less traveled brother might pick. He assured me that all was well..."Don't worry, little brother. I've booked us a room in the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center." Sounded pretty impressive. I mean, it was named after a former President and perhaps this country's best strategic planning General, and, it had a conference center. How bad could it be?

What neither of us knew was that the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center was badly misnamed. A more apt description would have been the Eisenhower Inn, Motor Lodge, Kitsch Emporium, and Laudromat. Driving up to the place unleashed a raging bout of cognitive dissonance. Instead of a Conference Center, I saw a parking lot full of restored American Motors hotrods painted up from a palette of incandescent colors found nowhere in the natural world.  It was like we had traveled through time back to 1962. There were Ramblers, Hornets, Gremlins, Pacers and even a couple AMX's. I half expected George Romney to jump out of the uranium green Gremlin parked by the front door and offer to take our bags. No such luck, not a bellhop to be found. But just inside the front door hung a lovely portrait of the 34th President. About the time I was close enough to the portrait to get a good look, I noticed.....the smell.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that the place was a dump. No, it was actually quite clean...always a plus. But there was a distinct aroma to the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center, and it wasn't anything you'd find at Bath and Body Works. Bath Iron Works? Maybe. It was a combination of several bad smells, really, producing an aroma that was clearly worse than the sum of its parts. Think...two day old cabbage, moth balls, with just a hint of rotten egg. It's like you arrived at a church basement fellowship hall, two days late for a covered dish supper where no one had done the dishes.

But, the Dunnevant brothers are nothing if not resilient, so we soldiered on. I mean, if old Dwight was good enough to plan and execute freaking D-Day, the least we could do was suck it up and stay in his stinking hotel for one lousy night, right? How bad could it be?

Our room was number 138....which almost matched the room's temperature. Only one of the key cards worked. Once inside only two of the lamps worked. The two queen sized beds were neatly made and reasonably comfortable. To add some light into the cave-like darkness, I decided to throw open the heavy, thick curtain of the sliding glass doors. Our view was quite the shock. There, no more than four or five steps from the glass doors was the very large indoor pool, filled with equally large and loud teenagers blowing off some steam after a long year of school. What architect came up with this design, I thought? Look, Marge...we can keep an eye on the kids while they're swimming right from the comfort of our bed!! All I can say about how I slept is, it's a lot harder to fall asleep while people are taking turns doing cannon balls twenty five feet from your pillow than it sounds.

To be fair, the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center had the look of a place that was probably, in its day, something very special. Unfortunately for us, it's day was probably about the time when it's namesake only had one star.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Georgia Post Mortems

Despite spending more money than Ronald Reagan spent running for President in 1980, the Democrat candidate lost the election last night in Georgia. Jon Ossoff, hipster documentary film maker, and major league dufus, lost to the kind of candidate that most Democrats are always lecturing us we need more of...a woman. This morning, the bloodletting begins. The accusations hang thick in the air. Political consultant heads will roll. Pollsters will be fired. Spinners will spin.

Is there no end to the corrupting influence of the Russians?

Our candidates have no chance to win in a country dominated by misogynistic, wait.

That Georgia voters resented the fact that Ossoff's California donors outnumbered his Georgia donors 8,000 to 800 proves just how provincial southerners are.

Where were the big stars? Sure, Alyssa Milano is great, but we sure could have used some personal appearances from some A-listers like DiCaprio or Matt Damon. 

You know, this election was never really about Trump. It was always a local election about local issues.

What ever happened to the invincible power of white male privilege in the South?

Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and for Jon Ossoff, there are several. First, now that he's not going to have to represent the people of Georgia district 6, he won't have to actually live in that God forsaken hell hole. Judging from his donor list, he has significant support in California...Go West, Young Man!! Losing the election at least trolled him into finally popping the question. The future Mrs. Ossoff would like to thank the voters of Georgia Congressional district 6 for that!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Forgetting How To Laugh

I stumbled across a hilarious Tweet yesterday, at least I thought it was hilarious. It offered this bit of first class snark:

If the Huffington Post and Salon had been around in 1942, they would have been writing about the gender gap at Auschwitz.

Of course, to be fair to my progressive/statist friends, I suppose if National Review had been around in the time of King David, they would have been describing the tithe as an oppressive wealth redistribution scheme.

See what I did there? That's called bi-partisan snark, and it is sorely missing in today's hyper political culture. We are great at zinging our political opponents, but almost completely unwilling to tolerate jokes at our own expense. It's a short trip from not being able to laugh at yourself to wanting to shout people down. Very short. Which brings me to the Julius Caesar kerfuffle...

The Shakespeare in the Park people up in New York City are currently staging a production of the famous play about political intrigue and skullduggery which features Julius as a Trump-like figure. Throughout the play extra effort is made to disparage this Trump stand in. When the climatic assassination scene comes, it's quite brutal. Trump supporters are apoplectic, demanding that sponsors pull their support and now some of them have taken to storming the stage in protest. Liberals are suddenly scandalized at this blatant attempt to silence voices of dissent and have employed fascist/Goebbles comparisons to describe the stage rushers in Central Park. It's all quite hilarious. Honestly? Have these scandalized progressives been living in a cave for the past five years? Have they not seen the tender reeds in Ivy League schools demanding safe spaces and shouting down any voice contrary to their own? And what to make of these stage rushing idiots? Aren't these the same people who constantly malign these college fascists with the tag, snowflake? So, which is it? Are these offended souls trying to shout down Julius Caesar...snowflakes???

Tribalism has taken root in the black soil of politics. It has blinded us to our own hypocrisy. When the other side shouts down a conservative voice, it's an outrage. When our side tries to silence a liberal voice it's called fighting back. The air is now thick with this accusation: They can dish it out, but they can't take it. Neither is true. Neither side even knows how to dish it out with anything approaching civility and fairness. Neither side thinks they should ever be forced to take anything. We can't even define hypocrisy anymore.

And it's all because we have forgotten how to ourselves.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Silent.

Yesterday was nice. Fathers Day. Social media was a wall to wall tribute to us. Adorable photographs, heart warming tributes, competing claims to Best Father Ever, turning Facebook into a living, breathing, digital Hallmark card. Mostly, this was a very good thing. Who among us would rather read unhinged, fact-free political debates? No, I'll take pictures of fathers hugging their daughters any day. But...

I don't know what it is with me. Sometimes, among the happiest of times, at the point of greatest joy, my mind can be counted on to find a dark cloud. Yesterday was the perfect example of this unfortunate tendency. As I was reading the glowing tributes by my friends to their wonderful dads, I started thinking, Wow, this must really be painful for people with horrible fathers. I personally know many people who were raised by monumental jerks, don't you? What must go through their minds on Fathers Day? After all, nobody would post something like this:

On this Fathers Day, all I can think of is what a worthless, drunken, abusive, self-centered beast my father was. I have no idea where he is today, and frankly, I couldn't possibly care less.

No, that's not how Facebook works. People who have horrible fathers remain silent. They read the tributes from their friends and wonder what it must be like to have a father who loves them. Or, they tune everything out by voluntarily censoring it for a few days until their news feeds are cleansed of all the love. They wait for summer vacation pictures from the beach, or July the 4th celebration pictures, something with which they can better relate, something less painful.

Much has been made about the unreality of social media, about how it distorts people's perceptions of what life is really like. To judge by Facebook or Instagram, you might think that your friends have all won the lottery, every day is a celebration of accomplishment, every morning bringing more evidence of God's favor and provision. On the one hand, I get it. You want to bankrupt Facebook? Make a rule where only bad news, personal failings and betrayals were allowed on your timeline? I mean, who would want to wade through that cesspool all day? Personally, I enjoy hearing good news about people I know. It's comforting.....right up to the point where it gets annoying. Too many, Can you believe it?? husband got another promotion?!, posts and something inside me bristles. Heck, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I'm constantly extolling the many virtues of my wife on social media. Number one, it's easy to do because she truly is amazing, and number two, I'm not about to post something about how what a maniac she can be to live with the week before a vacation. Why? Because I'm not an idiot, that's why. And, well...I'm not sure why. I just don't post things like that.

All I'm saying is, on days like Fathers Day, I feel for the fatherless. On Valentines Day, I feel for the lonely. I suppose I secretly wish that all of life was as clear and undefiled as it seems on Facebook, especially on Fathers Day.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

An Observation.

With regards to the recent acquittal of the Minnesota police officer in the killing of Philando Castile, I should probably not even have an opinion. If I did, I should probably keep it to myself. After all, I'm a white guy who tends towards a law and order stance in matters of crime and punishment. Additionally, I was not on the jury in this case. I didn't sit for weeks sifting through all of the details of testimony. My only understanding of the facts of the case are what I am given by the increasingly unreliable media. Still, I do have an observation and it is this... it seems virtually impossible for a police officer, of any color, to be convicted by a jury of killing a black man in the line of duty. It doesn't seem to matter what the circumstances were, whether one shot was fired or twenty, whether the perp was still or fleeing, high or sober, belligerent or docile. No jury in America seems willing or able to convict an officer of the law of murder, or even excessive force. And, if I were a black man, this fact would piss me off.

That's it. That's all I've got.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm Not Getting Old...I'm MATURING.

I had a doctors appointment yesterday. Lucky for me, this is a rather rare thing. I don't have a long list of doctors on speed dial. This is a very good thing. However, I am forced to use these people much more often than I did thirty years ago, which is a normal part of the maturation process, a phrase that I much prefer to getting old. I'm not getting old, I'm maturing.

Anyway, so yesterday was typical of these occasional doctor's visits. I introduce myself and explain to her the reason for my visit. I've developed this troubling problem with my...foot, knee, back, neck, bowels, which is causing...headaches, burning, shooting, searing, throbbing pain, acid reflux, unpredictably violent trips to the bathroom, and vertigo. The doctor usually looks up from her furious note writing and gives me an understanding nod or two. After describing my concerns, my favorite doctors sometimes say something like this:

Doctor: Does it hurt when you do this?

Me: Oww! Yes!!

Doctor: Then, don't do that!!

Unfortunately, doctors with this sort of sense of humor are about as rare as Lamborghinis in a Pentecostal Holiness church parking lot. Mostly, it goes more like this:

Me: Yeah, this pain has been getting worse over the past few months, and although I'm not even sure you can do anything about it, I thought I should have it checked out to make sure it wasn't anything more serious than...

Doctor: Mr. Dunnevant, unfortunately, you are 59 and you insist on working out four times a week at a gym, and maintaining the same level of activity which you did when you were 25. This always results in this sort of thing...pain, inflammation, and worried visits to the doctor. As we age, our bodies don't respond as well to physical exertion. You should keep this in mind, and keep plenty of cold packs on hand, and always remember to stretch before and after each session at the gym. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you.

Then, I come home from the appointment and Pam asks, how did it go? I always end up saying the same thing...nothing too serious, just my maturing body acting out again. Then after a couple of minutes I offer up, no cancerous tumors or communicable I've got that going for me.

Yes you do, dear. Yes you do.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Shooting in Washington

A congressman got shot this morning by a disturbed man with a rifle. The congressman was with a bunch of his colleagues at an early morning practice for the upcoming charity baseball game between Republicans and Democrats from Capital Hill. It's a tradition that's been going on for over a hundred years, a break from the political battles to play some ball and raise some money for charity. Now, this.

The shooter is dead. The congressman is in serious condition. The rest of us are reduced to watching the freak show that has broken out on Twitter and other places where insanity breeds. All of us, every single one of us need to be paying close attention to who says what. Everyone of us needs to be taking names. Later, when things calm down, we can all purge these people from our news feeds, our friends list and our Twitter follows. Here's a handy guide for the purge to come:

Anyone who says that the Congressman got what was coming to him because he was a Trump supporter...needs to be purged.

Anyone who tries to suggest that Bernie Sanders is responsible somehow for the actions of someone who voted for him...needs to be purged.

Anyone who tries to suggest that because the shooter was a fan of Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and John Oliver, then all three of them are somehow to blame for this...needs to be purged.

Anyone who's hot take involved making the case that since the shooter might lose his health insurance if Obamacare gets repealed, then his actions could reasonably be construed as self defense...needs to be purged.

I've got a news flash for the lunatic fringes of the right and the left in this country. I don't have political enemies, I only have politicians with whom I disagree. If reading that sentence makes you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, then you, my friend, need to check yourself. No political liberal of good faith is my enemy. I am not the enemy of any liberal of good faith in America. We just disagree on things. Are there people from the left who are unhinged and unreasonably beyond the mainstream of progressive thought in this country? Sure there are. There are also people from the right who fit that description. Years ago, when Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was shot, many of them showed their true colors in their gleeful reaction to that attempted assassination. The next day...they got purged. In times of great stresses to our system, the best and worst of human instincts emerge. Take careful notes this go round. My Dad used to make this observation about how people react under stress...What's down in the well, always comes up in the bucket. What's inside of you, what's really inside of you will show itself in times like this. Look around you tonight. Take note of those who care only about the political affiliations of both the shooter and the victims. Avoid these the plague.

Earlier this week, ironically enough, I read an article by a well known commentator who asked the question Are we about to fall into civil war? I thought his premise overblown and ridiculous, largely because, to me, it's preposterous. The very idea that I would be willing to bear arms against my fellow Americans is lunacy. Perhaps I feel this way because I'm not a political animal. I don't live and breathe politics 24/7. I have much more important things to do with my life. I have a family to love and provide for. I have a business to run, clients to take care of, I have friends to support, a faith to live out, vacations to take, grass to cut, golf to play, baseball to obsess over. If a political party that I largely am at odds with comes into power, I get along with my life. It would  never, ever occur to me to pick up a gun and start shooting random Democrats on a baseball diamond. What is wrong with us??

The one encouraging image from all of this was a picture taken, I'm guessing, at a different field being used for practice by the Democratic team of Congressmen. Apparently, they had just heard the news about what had happened to their Republican counterparts across town. They had all gathered in the dugout and were huddled together saying a prayer for the fallen. It was a beautiful image, the only one of the day. This is what we once were, and it is what we desperately need to become again.

I love this country with all of my heart. Most of the people who I agree with on politics do too. But, you know what?  Most of the people across the aisle love it too.

Let's try to stop listening to the voices who don't.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Message For My Millennial Friends

For a variety of reasons, I have a lot of Millenial friends on Facebook. Some of them are friends of my two kids, others are kids I taught years ago in Sunday School. Having such a large and diverse group of Millenials on my newsfeed has given me a bit of insight into how many of them think and feel about things. I don't consider myself an expert, by any means, but I have noticed one thing that stands out. Many of them feel isolated between being a "kid" and being a "grown up" and most of them don't think they are very good at the latter. I think they are being way too hard on themselves! First of all, they are doing much better than they think, and second of all, they labor under the false impression that people my age are actually proper adults, and have our adulting act together. Well, for any of my Millenial friends who might be reading this, take heart. Let me tell you about my day...

Tuesday began in the usual way. I woke up without an alarm clock. I brewed coffee, caught up on the overnight business news. Then I wrote a blogpost about a movie I had just seen with Pam at Cinebistro. Then, it was back upstairs for a shower. So far, so good.

Right before I began backing the car out of the garage it occurred to me that I didn't have my wallet with me. I turned off the car and went back inside, sure I had left it on my desk. I searched in all of the usual places I leave stuff and found...nothing. Suddenly, a memory from last night at the movie. I reached into my wallet to get my credit card to pay the waiter for our meal. I was pretty certain that I placed the wallet on the wide arm of the chair instead of back in my pants pocket. I was also reasonably sure that I had walked out of the place without it. I had left my wallet inside of a movie theatre!!!

I drove very carefully to work, the last thing I needed was to get pulled over for speeding. When I
got to the office I called Cinebistro. A recording. Cinebistro will open its doors thirty minutes before the earliest showtime of the day. 2:30?! Not only would I not be able to retrieve it before 2:30, but I won't even know if it's still there until 2:30. What do I do? Should I call the bank and place a hold on all of my accounts? Would that be too rash? Would I regret the hassle if it turned up safe and sound? No way I'm waiting until 2:30. I drive over there at 10:00 and start banging on the door. The early morning cleaning crew was there and came to the door but wouldn't let me enter since the opening manager wouldn't be in until noon, and if anything was turned in, it would be in the safe in his office, and he's the only one who knows the combination. Completely frustrated by events and increasingly pissed at my own carelessness, I headed back to the office.

Once there, I realized that all of the bill paying I had planned on doing couldn't be done at all...because I didn't have my wallet. No worries, I'll just kill some time by going over to Short Pump Elementary school to vote...except I couldn't vote because I didn't have any ID because I didn't have my freaking wallet!!!

Finally, the noon hour arrived and once again I was banging on the doors at Cinebistro. No one was answering. I walked all the way around the mall to find the service and delivery entrance to the place where I proceeded to bang on some more doors. Eventually, after soaking my shirt through with sweat because of the 90 degree heat, someone finally opened the door. I tried to explain to this young man about my lost wallet, but he didn't look like he was buying any of it. I demanded to speak to this elusive opening manager. After what seemed like half an hour, he showed up on the scene and checked his office safe where he found...nothing. "Perhaps it was left at the front desk," he offered with zero conviction. Nothing. "Do you remember which theatre you were in and which seat?" Yes!!!
There it was, lit up by the opening manager's handy flashlight, under the chair I had been sitting in less than 18 hours earlier, every card intact. I had wasted literally half of the work day, but I had finally found my wallet. Unfortunately, this would prove to be the highlight of my day.

The following 3 and a half hours were spent on the telephone with my bank, and the DMV's of two different states, trying to fix a problem of my own making which involved my son's car. It's a long
and boring story which could have been completely avoided if I hadn't made a boneheaded mistake three years earlier when I failed to put my son's name on the car title. Now the car couldn't be registered in his state because it was registered in another state, my state, and oh by the way, my son can't get his license renewed for another 30 days because of essentially dad's screwup, and so far he's already gotten one ticket for driving on expired tags!

I am 59 years old. I have been successfully married for 33 years and have fathered two children. I own a thriving business, a certified adult by any measure...and I still have days like today. I still have days where I'm a complete screw up.

So, to all of you Millenials out there beating yourselves up about how you are horrible at adulting? 
Give yourselves a break.

Wonder Woman

Saw Wonder Woman last night. Pretty cool. I'm not normally a super hero/comic book movie fan, but this one seemed better than most. It was full of special effects shock and awe scenes, as one would expect, but surprisingly sweet and tender in places. The writing was decent, even downright witty in spots, and while Gal Gadot isn't the greatest actress I've ever seen, she is plenty athletic...and smoking hot, with the sort of eyes that have been the inspiration for roughly 75% of all the poetry written in the history of civilization.

Apparently, the fact of Gal Gadot's stunning beauty has been a problem for some feminist reviewers, who have complained that Wonder Woman wasn't cast as a more plain Jane, perhaps a Lena Dunham type. Sure, that would about the same way as casting John Goodman as Superman would work. Of course, back in the day when they were casting about for a new actor to play James Bond, I was bitterly disappointed that the studio big shots chose Sean Connery over my man Marty Feldman. But, what are you gonna do?


So, basically, people tend to prefer actors who are easy on the eyes in big heroic roles. Why is this? I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure it's not because of sexism. It's probably more because, movies are escapism, and one of the things we like to escape from is...ordinary. Face it, most women in the world don't look like this:

So, if we are going to drop 15 bucks on a movie ticket and watch strangers emote, most of us would prefer that those strangers were attractive. This is so far down the list of bad things that need to be fixed ledger, I'm thinking that feminists need to give this one a rest. Nobody is going to pay a nickel to watch Lena Dunham doing slow motion flips in the air while shooting a triple-arrow bow at three German soldiers on a beach. Quit trying to make frumpy happen!

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Quirky Back and an Election

I threw my back out this past Friday and there's an election tomorrow. Coincidence? I think not.

First, the back thing.

Yeah, I have what is known in orthopedic circles as...a quirky back, that is to say that every so often, for no apparent reason, and at the slightest provocation, my back will seize up, accompanied by extreme discomfort and dramatically reduced mobility. This unfortunate event often brings on bouts of acute ill-temper in it's owner. Such was the case Friday morning at the office. I had just finished a meeting with a client, and had shifted my chair around to face my credenza where my computer sits. I pulled up my broker dealer's website and was trying to read a bulletin which had been posted there in smaller than normal print. As I leaned forward in my chair to get a closer look, I felt a fimiliar snap. Immediately, I knew what had happened. I must confess that my one word reaction, which I muttered with more resignation than anger, was the word often used to describe human excrement. It seemed the most appropriate one word modifier available in the English language to describe the situation.

I sat there for the better part of thirty minutes accessing the situation, making probing movements to determine the extent of the damage. There is always a fit of anger that comes with these back tweaks. Did I throw my back out while helping a friend move a piano down three flights of stairs? Was I in this predicament because I foolishly tried to lift an anvil without bending my knees? Was I trying to shot put a filing cabinet? Nooooo! I was squinting to read something on a computer screen, people. The last time this happened, I was brushing my teeth, the time before that I was plugging in a lamp!!!  I'm sorry, these are not activities that should result in a trip to Patient First to visit your Nazi doctor from Pakistan, who, after taking a couple of X-rays, informs you that your back is Very, very spasm! You need cold press and stay off your feet. You need shot now? I give you shot if you need shot. Otherwise, take these pills and cold press and lay down quick! There was no way in Dante's inferno that I was gonna let this woman give me a shot. So I wedged myself back into my car and drove home, muscle relaxers and high dose Motrin in hand. Although I was able to make it through a car ride to D.C. to watch a baseball game, I had to beg out of a round of golf which had been scheduled for this afternoon. I am on the mend, and hope to be at full strength within the week.

Speaking of frustrating personal discomfort, there's an election tomorrow. We Virginians are being asked to make judgements on a variety of subjects about which the average Virginian(including me) knows virtually nothing. The Republican and Democratic Party primary elections for Governor and Lieutenant Governor are on the ballot, along with candidates for the General Assembly. You don't have to be a registered member of either party to vote. Luckily for me, you don't even have to know what you're doing to vote. My knowledge of these candidates are limited to the amount of annoying junk mail I have received from them, and their way more annoying television commercials, which have sprouted up like mushrooms after two days of rain lately. Here's what I know:

The contest for my district's General Assembly representative on the Republican side is between somebody named Eddie Whitlock and another guy who is black, but whose name slips my mind. Ok, this Whitlock guy has spent a small fortune on mailbox stuffing drivel. Vote For Eddie...he will fight for you, that sort of thing. He also has been the only candidate from either party who has showed up at the end of my driveway, alone, to hand out a pamphlet and personally ask for my vote. Kinda creepy, actually. Anyway, no offense to Eddie, but all things being equal, I might as well vote for the black guy. Diversity, and all. All of the other races are like white noise. I have no idea what any of the Democratic candidates stand for except that they hate Trump. The Republicans, as is their habit, are running a proven loser in Ed Gillespie, against two other guys who I've never heard of. My nephew has been volunteering for Gillespie, and has managed a tepid endorsement. But I've gotta say, that commercial I saw last night for Frank Wagner was strong. What's an uninformed citizen to do? Part of me doesn't like voting in primaries. It's like, it's none of my business. I'm not a member of the
Republican or Democratic parties. Why should I get a say in who they nominate? Won't I just muck up the works with my ignorant, random, game time decision? Probably.

But, I'll go vote tomorrow anyway. You probably should too.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Comey Show

Yesterday about this time, a bunch of United States senators were standing in front of their bathroom mirrors in their expensive Georgetown town homes, practicing their I'm gravely concerned facial expressions, in preparation for the big James Comey hearings. This was to be the big event of the season for the government set. It was all that anyone who was anyone had been talking about for weeks now, a super bowl for the chattering classes. I didn't watch it for the same reason I don't watch soccer...tediously long periods of time passing during which, despite great expenditures of energy, nothing of consequence happens. Besides I have a business to run. So, I figured I'd watch the highlights on ESPN later.

This morning it appears that everyone is happy. Everyone, on each side of the barricade, apparently got what they wanted out of the event. Comey managed the remarkable feat of both exonerating and excoriating the President. Trump lovers are feeling vindicated, while members of the resistance are convinced that impeachment is now in the bag. Meanwhile, John McCain wants to hear Comey's views on the chances that Marie Antoinette will become the mayor of Düsseldorf.

There are days in life when everything that happens feels like crushing disappointment. Yesterday was one of those days. I mean, it's not the end of the world or anything, today being a brand new day and all that. But, yesterday was a doozy. At every bend in the road, a setback. Around every corner lurked a blow of some kind. I recovered from each of them, because that's what I do. I roll with punches. I allow sadness into my life in small doses, then I shake it off. I have no choice. It's too exhausting otherwise.

So, I didn't watch the Comey Show, something I never would have missed twenty years ago. To do so would have been like extending an engraved invitation to depression, here, come on in to my life and stay a while. Watching my government in action isn't good for me or my mental health. It makes me feel smaller and more petty. Anger starts to build. Resentment bubbles up from some hidden place. So, I make the decision to look virtually anything else. If this makes me a bad citizen, so be it. I vote, pay my taxes, and avoid law breaking behavior. What else do they want from me? 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hawk Gazing

Yesterday, I received an email from the pastor of my church. This paragraph stood out:

"With today's technology, we have so much news, and so much information that comes to us with a threatening tone - that it can seem the world is collapsing and may implode any day. Often, it's more information than our emotional wiring can handle. Much of the news and its tone contributes to fear, the fear contributes to anger, and it all becomes a worrisome recipe. Avoid this trap."

Easier said than done, but he has a point. All of this "news" is hard to avoid. When I was in college, if you wanted to get caught up on the news of the day, you only had a few options. You could pick up a newspaper and read news that was 8-12 hours old. You could turn on the car radio (at the top of the hour only) and listen to a five minute update. Or, you could tune in to one of the three major networks  thirty minute newscasts which aired at 6:00 every week night. Depending on which network you chose, you would hear either Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, or Howard K. Smith give you the news. That was it. If something crazy happened, like a President getting shot or a moon landing, a scary banner would flash across the television screen alerting the viewer that there was Breaking News!! I say "scary" because whenever you would see that screenshot, everyone's heart would  beat a little faster because you knew something big was happening, otherwise they wouldn't dare preempt freaking Bonanza for something trivial. But, that was about it, a few short interruptions of everyone's day at agreed upon times to get us all up to speed on world events.

Now, I'm sure that the world was still a screwed up place back then. There was political chicanery all over the place, along with incompetent Presidents, womanizing congressmen and international intrigue aplenty. But mostly, we were only tangentially aware of it because the news wasn't an industry. Today, you can't go five minutes without being drowned in news. Entire channels are devoted to broadcasting it 24/7. Every social media outlet on the internet spreads some version of it all day, every day. I can consume it from every device imaginable on demand. With such a saturated marketplace, news sellers have to compete for eyeballs. To do so, news often has to be sexed up. Enter advocacy journalism and news celebrities. Throw politics into that witch's brew and my pastor is right, it can seem the world is collapsing and may implode any day. But, it's not and it won't. How do I know? Call it my trick knee and the fact that my highly refined bulls**t detector, bequeathed to me by my no nonsense mother, knows hyperbole when he hears it. Also...this:

"Often when I'm outdoors, I think something like, 'That hawk flying way up there - he doesn't know what year it is. He doesn't know about politics or terrorism or a million other fears. He soars like hawks have done for thousands of years and will for thousands of years to come....' Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough cares of its own.' In other words, "Do not give your heart to all the fear and worry, give your heart to the one who is powerful over all things, living each day in the present"

Again, easier said than done. To pull this off requires discipline, a willingness to unplug from all of the noise. This doesn't mean a retreat from the world, a cowardly escape from reality, but rather being selective on what noises and how much noise we allow into our lives. Maybe eliminate the highest pitch screamers, pass on the shrill voices. Kick the Chicken Littles to the curb in favor of a little more hawk gazing.

So, thanks, David Dwight. Thanks for breathing some life into my week.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hockey...and Nashville?

My son, along with 683,999 other Nashvillians, have suddenly been transformed into unhinged, frothing at the mouth, delirious hockey fans. This odd juxtaposition...Nashville and hockey...has been brought on by the shocking rise to fame of the local franchise, the Nashville Predators, and their inexplicable presence in the Stanley Cup finals. Because of his enthusiasm, I have watched more hockey in the last couple of weeks than I have since the 1980 Olympics. A few thoughts...

To the untrained eye, hockey is hard to follow. The puck is small, the game played at such a pace and with so much attending violence, that half the time I find myself searching frantically to find the thing amongst all the sticks, skates, and very large men. But, like anything, the more you watch, the easier it gets. Still, not being knowledgeable about the game means that I am ignorant of the strategy, only partially aware of the rules, so I spend much of my viewing time being baffled by events. In this way, I am not unlike most Predator fans. However, as a lifelong fan of athletic prowess, I am mesmerized by the skill set required to play this game at its highest level. These men have to be dressed in uniforms that resemble the Michelin Man, because the combination of size, speed and the presence of long wooden sticks and metal skates, and a playing field made of freaking ice, make decapitation a real possibility. When you consider the fact that up until the late 1970's, professional hockey players didn't even wear helmets, one must allow for the fact that these guys are probably somewhat mentally imbalanced to start with. This would explain the fact that the players go about their business on the ice with a simmering hostility towards each other, that is always bubbling just underneath the surface. It is for this reason that the old joke exists about the guy who said he he went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.

But, I must say, watching these Predators has been a hoot. But watching the city of Nashville's adoration of them has been even better. There is something magical about sports in this regard. Nothing unites an otherwise diverse crowd like fandom. The full throated chants of the crowd at Bridgestone arena have been incredible. Leave it to a city full of musicians to be able to pick up on cues well enough to thunder, "YOU SUCK AND ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!!" at the opposing goalie after a Predator goal.

So, after last night the series is tied up at two games each. The heavily favored defending champs, the Pittsburg Penguins are probably still favored. But with each game, the Predators seem more and more confident, allowing their fans to dream that their 16th seeded team(out of a 16 team tournament) just might win a title. I'm pulling for them, if for no other reason than to watch the city of Nashville celebrate!

Monday, June 5, 2017


After church Sunday, had lunch with my sister, her husband, and my nephew, Ryan. The usual Sunday lunch banter was exchanged. Then Ryan launched into a classic demonstration of the latest fad in political conversation sweeping the nation...whataboutism.

Whataboutism is designed to end uncomfortable discussions about partisan politics by invoking that time honored characteristic of politicians over the past several millennia...hypocrisy and her twin sister, inconsistency, and their first cousin, the double standard. Only, it never actually does end an uncomfortable discussion, it only makes it more frustrating. Here's how it works:

Frustrated Republican: I hate the press. They are so over the top critical of ______. They pick apart every single word _______ says and try to twist it around. It's so infuriating!!

Frustrated Democrat: But, whatabout when _______ was President? Fox News twisted everything that came out of his mouth into something horrible. I didn't hear you complaining about that!!

Frustrated Republican: That's not even close to being the same thing! And whatabout how your liberal media buddies hated George W. Bush? They were on a vendetta against him for eight years!

Frustrated Democrat: You want to talk about vendettas?? Whatabout the vendetta the Republicans had against Bill Clinton?! Newt Gingrich trying to impeach the man over that Lewinsky thing at the very same time when he was having an affair himself!

Frustrated Republican: Are you kidding me?? The press did everything in their power to protect that pervert. Whatabout how they always hid JFK's womanizing from the people? Democrats...always protecting their own!

.......................................................three days later........................................................................

Frustrated Republican: I can't believe you're blaming Adam for that Garden of Eden thing!! Whatabout Eve? If it hadn't been for her weakness, everything would have been fine. Typical, man-hating feminist!

Frustrated Democrat: You pathetic patriarch-loving misogynist! Whatabout God's role in all of this, huh?? Why did he have to create man first?!

So, a debating tactic, whataboutism is a dodge, an attempt to change the subject, to reengage the rhetorical battle on more favorable ground. Instead of dealing with the topic at hand, it's an attempt to point out equal or even more egregious examples of the failings of the other side. Everyone does it. As a result, no political argument ever changes anyone's mind. No one in America is persuading anyone of anything. We're all just trying to win the exchange. Everyone is floundering around in search of a mic drop moment, but few ever find one.

My pastor tried valiantly yesterday to give us some sage advice, by sharing something quite profound. Live your life seeking to understand, rather than seeking to be understood.

.....But whatabout......

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is Hollywood Out Of Ideas?

Cinebistro is our preferred movie house. Actually, it would be more accurate to say, our only movie house. Sure, it's expensive, but there are no kids, the floor is never sticky, and the food is out of this world. So, I was toying with the idea of taking my wife to a movie this evening. The six screens at Cinebistro are currently filled thusly:

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman 3D
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Alien: Covenant
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

In other words...Hollywood is out of ideas.

Ok, this lineup of films could be referred to as the revenge of the remake. You've got Wonder Woman, the latest in a long line of comic book..pardon me, graphic novels movies. This one, a reworking of a 70's television show. The only thing unique about this seems to be the fact that the hero is a woman and her first name isn't Chris.

The interminable Pirates of the Caribbean franchise returns for like the 16th time defying all explanation other than the fact that this is Hollywood's valiant and determined effort to keep Johnie Depp off food stamps.

Of course, then there's Baywatch, the answer to the question that absolutely no one was asking...When will Hollywood put The worst television show of the 1990's on the big screen?? This Show, best known for it's tight shots of female breasts bobbing up and down in slow motion, was actually begging to be made into a movie. With the technological advancements made over the last twenty years with HD and digital photography, I'm sure the bobbing boobs scenes will be off the charts.

Alien Covenant returns in its latest iteration, in a vain and pointless attempt to improve on the original. How many times can you watch a human being giving birth to a terrifying alien creature without eventually yawning?

I understand that this Guardians of the Galaxy thing is another graphic novel brought to life, and it has a Chris in it. But the emotional heavy lifting will be done by Vin Diesel playing someone named Groot. Luckily for the people at Disney, Mr. Diesel was available to take the part, as he had just wrapped up his turn as Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and had some time to kill before playing Othello in the fall.

But seriously, these were my choices. Two comic book pictures, a sequel of a sequel of a sequel of a movie based on a ride at Disneyworld, a television show remake, and a sci-fi sequel.

I think I'll read a book.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bill Maher's Bad Word

Bill Maher is all over my Twitter feed this morning. I'm not entirely sure who, or more precisely what he is. Sure, I know he has a show called Real Time on HBO which I don't watch. The only time I hear about him is when he says something unconventional enough to generate controversy, no small feat in today's America. What I'm not sure about is what he actually is, a comedian or a semi-serious political commentator? Since I don't watch the show, I'm not in a position to answer the question. Many of the controversial subjects I've heard him speak unconventionally about tend to be about serious business...hence the confusion.

Anyway, Mr. Maher has stepped in it, and suddenly the first amendment lynch mob has moved on from Kathy Griffin. (Hmmm, perhaps a little left wing pundit collusion???). See, I'm not even sure that lame attempt at a joke is accurate. Some of the opinions voiced by Maher on Islam, for example, seem positively neo-conish. It's all so very confusing.

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. On last night's show, Maher was interviewing Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska. The Senator has written a book extolling the virtue of physical, manual labor (among other things) as a character building tool for the youth of America. During the interview, there was a light hearted exchange about how Mr. Maher needed to get out of his east coast elite bubble and come visit the Great Plains. The Senator said that they would welcome him to Nebraska with open arms and even maybe put him to work "in the fields." Since the subject of this interview, and his book was the morally therapeutic benefits of manual labor, and Nebraska is widely known for it's farming economy, this was an understandable attempt at humor, to which, out of freaking nowhere, Maher says, " Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house nigger."

Uh-oh...This may not end well.

Although the rules about using the N-Word have more amendments and codicils than a Hollywood divorce decree, generally speaking, white people need to avoid this word at all times. Nothing good comes from its use. It's one of those words that is loaded with so much baggage, so much pain, it should be permanently banished from our collective vocabularies. My mother made this painfully aware to me when she happened to hear it come flying out of my mouth when I was ten years old. First, she lectured me about how hateful and ignorant it was, then launched into a quick bible study review of the evils of the tongue, and then (because it was 1968 and she was Betty Dunnevant) she "tanned my hide" with the closest stick she could find. Suffice it to say...lesson learned!!

Already, there are calls to cancel his show. Twitter is in a righteous fury, mostly from the left but also from some conservatives who want to be consistent after a week of calling for the head of Kathy Griffin,(sorry). So, what is a libertarian like me supposed to do?

I generally don't want anyone censored for words spoken. Calls for boycotts and cancellations seem juvenile to me, and vaguely Un-American. Land of the free, and all that. However, when I hear someone throw this particular word around, it does inform me about a great many things. If I were at a party and just met someone and were having an introductory conversation with them and they were to suddenly drop the N-Word during that conversation...I would instantly disengage, and probably say something like, Wait...what the hell is wrong with you, man? Their use of this sort of language tells me everything I need to know about them, primarily that there is a profound emptiness in their heart, and that they are someone who I no longer desire to be associated with. However, my next step would not be to begin a Facebook/Twitter campaign urging everyone who knows them to shun them from society. I mean, who died and placed me in charge?? In Maher's case, I now know more about him than I did before, and it ain't good. So, lesson learned. No Real Time With Bill Maher for me. Time to move on to the next outrage.

I hope he gets to keep his show, that he doesn't lose his livelihood because of a spoken word. But, I also hope that fewer and fewer people watch it, and eventually the free market votes his show away. Isn't this the same thing? If you think so, you completely don't understand the First Amendment. But it's not just you, there's a lot of that going around.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Stupid Metabolism...

Six weeks ago, I went on a diet. I'm 59. I've never, ever been on a diet. Mostly, this is because I've never piled on the weight. Thirty five years ago I was 185 pounds and for most every year since I've fluctuated between 185 and 190. The other reason I've never been on a diet is because I love food, and launching myself into some project that conspires to limit my access to food always seemed...well, stupid.

Suddenly, around a year ago I noticed that I was putting on weight. I wasn't doing anything differently. I was eating all the same stuff, still faithfully putting in my 3-4 workouts at the gym every week. But for some inexplicable reason, everything changed. A couple of months ago I stepped on the scale and was astonished to see the green digital number...203.4 blinking back at me. What was this outrage?? Surely our old scale was defective. But later, at the gym, their much newer, shinier scale confirmed the sad news. Actually, the reason for my weight gain wasn't inexplicable at all. For years, whenever one of my buddies would complain about gaining weight, I would pat my belly and say something obnoxious like, "You see this svelte physique? I got two words for you, my friend...superior metabolism!!" longer. It would appear that Middle Age has caught up to me. So, I went on a diet.

It involves this app called My Fitness Pal, a truly annoying name for a diet if ever there was one. No, a diet is not my pal, buddy, or friend. It is this ruthless, demanding, 24/7 buzzkill that stalks me day in and day out, doling out guilt by the truckload every time I even look sideways at a donut. For the first several weeks of this purgatory, Pam did all the heavy lifting with the meal planning and such. I faithfully entered all of my meals into the fiendish app, appalled at what I learned about the quality of my diet. Note: I consume enough sodium on a daily basis to give my entire neighborhood high blood pressure. If I ever looked over my shoulder at Sodom, I wouldn't turn into a pillar of salt...because I already am one! But after the initial logging everything in phase, eventually I stopped logging in at all. But, I still stayed on the diet in one important way, I stopped eating so dang much food!! Smaller portions, better stuff, no snacks between meals. That's the extent of my diet right now...not stuffing so much food in my pie hole. Not very scientific, but when I stepped on the scale this morning, the blinking green number said, "192.8"

Of course, here's how this works. During the week, from Monday morning until Friday afternoon, I take great care to demonstrate restraint. I'm careful. I hit the gym pretty hard. But then the weekend comes and, does not live by bread alone, people. We eat out a couple of times, or even worse, go visit the kids where we eat out a lot. So, essentially, every weekend I gain back 2-3 pounds.  It's one of those two steps forward, one step back sort of things. But, that's ok. The overall line still heads down, and that's all that matters. But, I gotta tell ya...I do love the weekends!

My goal when this all started was to get down to 190. Three more pounds to go.

Who am I kidding? I am fighting a rear guard action here. Stupid metabolism. For the rest of my life it's going to be a battle to keep the weight off. Right now I'm winning...a little. But, I know that losing some battles is just around the corner. I'm one encounter with a food truck away from a huge setback. You ever see me walking into a Brazilian steak house and you'll know that all bets are off.