Sunday, November 30, 2014


     An interesting local story, with connections to UC San Francisco neuroscience Dept.  Perhaps Vietnam Vets just didn't have time or desire to plaster tatts all over their bodies.

I actually saw this. My first thought was, "you have got to be kidding me." I will have to admit though that I came close. Right outside the Headquarters of the 101st Airborne at Camp Eagle, was this tattoo artist. He only did one tattoo, the Eagle of the 101st and then the word God, Mother, Airborne. Some of the guys who did it told me, "watch him." He sometimes spelled God, "Got," another one he spelled "amborn" or something like that. They wanted to kill him. It was not like they could erase it and start over. 
Then a couple of guys got blood poison so I gave up on the tattoo idea. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Good and started off with an interesting encounter. LOL. We are going to start gathering at 1600/4PM. All is ready, my wife is the ultimate in hosts. She was "good to go" days ago. I am waiting for the 18 or so to gather. Here comes a woman in the door. I shake her hand. "Glad to see you." I've never see her before. She is attractive, tall, dressed like a good layered San Franciscan. "She is a native," she says. Her jacket is beautiful, western heavy leather with the tangles like you would imagine Gene Autry wearing. We chat and she offers me a candy filled with liquor. I accept and suddenly think, "who is this woman?" I have never seen her before. She doesn't say I am connected to anybody. Suddenly I think this woman just came off the streets. I shift into panic mode. 

What the hell. It is Thanksgiving. Maybe she just needs a place to go. I finally chance it. Who are you? She says, "I am Eileen's cousin." Eileen is a guest, along with the husband, two sons, a step-daughter--big Irish family; to include one of my favorites, Natasha, the step daughter. She is a psychologist and we've enjoyed sharing stories in the past. 

Mystery solved but just imagine the mileage, I will get out of this story. My daughter accuses me often of never letting the truth interfere with a good story. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014


My wife came back from her 5 mile run with this tale. She is passing this restaurant that is closed. It is Thanksgiving, after all. This guy is asking people for money. A few people are ponying up. My wife thinks to herself, "I have no money." Before she could say anything, he looks at her and smiles, "Momma, shouldn't you be home cooking." 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


In August, I wrote about Ferguson. Since then, there's an indictment and predictably, things are worst, riots: talk to a white person, they see it one way. An African American, another way. Can anything be done? No, not really. We, at least, ought to do a few cosmetic things. More training for police would be a start. And, let's stop looking like an assault team. How about this? When a gun has to be used, why can't the cops shoot a person in the hand or arm or shoulder. Hopalong Cassidy could shoot the gun out of a bad guy's hand. And, shooting kids! Why is firing the weapon the first thing done? In a recent shooting, the police killed a 12 year old after 3 seconds of arriving This is training. It is time to get on top of it. And, more diversity. Watching TV and seeing all those police white faces gives cause for pause. 

The idea of talking and resolving seems as foreign as "flying to the moon", which we've done but sitting down with the races proves more difficult. However, this thought hit me. The military. What an example. The military has pretty much solved the racial issue. Eliminated race? Mostly. There may be a few pockets of institutional racism but it is vastly better than the civilian community. 
And plain and simple, a racist won't make it in the military very lomg. 

Solving the race question is mountains better in the military. And why? Simply, soldiers have a shared experience. Undeniable. They have been through the same training and get the picture. Promotions. hassles, all look alike. There are issues with the military: too small, women finding their place, other things; but race is not one of 'em. The military is as color blind as you are apt to find anywhere. And for enlisted soldiers (navy/army/marines), there's a little of us (all races) against the "man" (officers, white, black, whatever)."

How to translate this to the civilian world? Don't know how to do it. If we had some sort of community experience for all youngsters, it would help but that is not going to happen and we are the worse for it. 

Monday, November 24, 2014


I didn't particularly like Chuck Hegel (hadn't thought much about it, really); but, he was an alright SecDef, surely better in my opinion than his predecessors. He was a Sp4 in Vietnam, (maybe a Sergeant) that is enough to give him am "atta boy" among the politics. But, it doesn't. He is receiving an "ah s..t. 

Dealing with impossible situations, who can manage world crisis. A laundry list: Iraq, Afghanistan, Isis, Syria, Ukraine--take your pick. These rumors, innuendoes about Hegel, are examples of how politics run. 

Good for Hegel, getting fired is a great badge of courage as I see it. Being fired 4 times when I was in the Army, over 29 years, was my greatest achievement. Telling someone to f..k off when I was trying to do my job mostly got me in hot water but still, I can identify. Unfortunately Hegel will go out like a gentleman where I would leave them with a f..k you very much. Then again I am not a politician. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Yesterday, I went to a Catholic Mass which was a Memorial Service. I always come away fairly reflective. For one thing, the Catholics are very athletic. Up and down, up and down. The service was steeped in what the Catholics do, I guess. Having been to several masses before, it was fairly familiar. 

The Priest's  sermon was good. He talked about a longer journey, referring to Chris, who had been Jackie's work colleague. She was on a longer, more important journey. Then he related a conversation he had with her about who might be waiting for her on this journey. I took it to mean heaven

It did get me to thinking. First of all about Christian theology. And, I have to explain this often to these old guys I hang out with. What makes being Christian different than other religions, which I don't know all that much about, but as to something; Islam, for example, you merely declare you are a Muslim but in Christianity, there is a "conversion" experience. You are suddenly heading in one direction and through many different circumstances  or however/whatever, you embrace Christianity and accept all Christ has done, died for you on the cross, taken your place, whatever, which produces a "new" you. This is very simple for a believer but profound too.  A MYSTERY!

Heaven is another aspect. Almost impossible to explain but comforting. And, as Jackie says, regardless of status or wealth or whatever, in this aspect, we all end up at the same terminal

And, then of course, we have the Catholics themselves. I have been accused a few times of being hostile to Catholics. Probably true, one of my faults, cannot stand what I consider religious bullshit. The Catholics have canon law which, in my way of thinking, is outside the Bible and issues like the priest as Jesus on earth, able to forgive sins; the Pope speaking as some sort of divine authority. Bullshit. I am guilty of bad mouthing the Catholics, I guess. 

OK, I am going to stop. Any comments? I have written a book. My motive for all this is rarely do I go to church and I am sure I have told you this before. I usually come out of church feeling worse than when I went in. Jackie is very involved but I blog, etc., on Sundays like the above. Comments?

Saturday, November 22, 2014


One Thanksgiving story comes to mind. When I was growing up, it was a big thing, Thanksgiving. We were farmers and always had plenty of food. My mom cooked this gigantic meal: Turkey, ham and mountains of other stuff. She and my Aunt Gertie (isn't it funny. My mom was named Bertie and my favorite Aunt, her sister, was Gertie); anyway, Thanksgiving was coming up. I was in my freshman year of college. These two foreign students lived just up the hall of my dorm. They didn't have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving. The school tried to find a place for them. My good friend, Margaret Chiles, who was the student activities director, was so stressed. There were no takers for these guys. I finally said, "what the hay, they can go with me."
(I think they were Irish). 

The day before T'giving, we loaded into my old raggedy 49 Ford and took off. On the way home, about five hours away, we saw this guy hitch hiking. We picked him up. He was a college student too, from of all places, Bob Jones U (BJU was this fanatical right wing, very  conservative school with all these rules. I briefly had a sweetheart from there. You couldn't hold hands even. Well, that is one romance that ended early). The Bob Jones student was going to a friend because his folks had split up. "Go with us." What will your mom say? "She won't even know you're there." 

Mom prepared so much food, you could have fed the whole town. We had a great time. And, I was right, nobody even noticed the three extras I brought in. 

Friday, November 21, 2014



The Prez's courageous stance on immigration surprised no one. These old guys I hang out with are naturally on opposite sides-- they have very decided and thought-out opinions. Their Repub view is that we already have all these laws and merely need to enforce them. Immigration, according to one, started during Caesar Chavis's time with "guest workers" who were suppose to go home. They didn't and we didn't enforce the law and so here we are. 

My one contribution is a philosophical one as I think immigration, like race, is one of those unsolvable problems that based on our system, can't be fixed. We are doing about as well as we can. 

We are all immigrants and if you go back far enough, you will discover it. I see these immigrants say something like, "I am an American. This is my country." Brings tears to my eyes every time. Contrast this to these ignorant, died in the wool, opinionated bigots.  

I thought the president's comments were "right on." He should tell the Republicans,
 "f..k you very much. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


To think l that we have to put up with McConnell's smirky scowl for the foreseeable future is more that I can fathom. F..king discouraging anyway you look at it. 

A new book called "The Cynic" deals with the rise of McConnell. According to the book, he is a politician through and through as he has positioned himself always to the next election. And he has championed all those areas that we totally abhor: wrecked campaign finance reform, cozied up to the banks and Wall Street; fought against any sort of reasonable immigration. Name it, this sorry f..ker has done it. His whole life, up until now, has been geared to "NO" if it doesn't enhance his status. But, the issue to me isn't McConnell.  We know what he is, and I am being kind. But, what interests me more are those who voted for him. 

Who are these people, having seen who McConnell  is and what he has done and aspires too. So, they endorse all the bullshit. Honestly, makes me damn ashamed. I know it is politics but a southern, I have always been suspicious of KY. I think as my brother Raz would say, "Kentucky is mostly a bunch of Yankees."

I think if I could wish anything for my fellow "Mericans" who care, (and not all do) we agree to disagree but let's don't be selfish. Pluralism is a great thing and a founding principle of our country even if we don't know it: those with plenty share with the less fortunate and the majority protect the rights of the minority. We are all a gaggle of immigrants who through luck and good fortunate live in this great country and have prospered. McConnell, I fear has forgotten it, never grasped it or is just a sorry MFer who doesn't care.  

Monday, November 17, 2014


When I think of the recent elections, I think "there's no joy in Mudville." This refers, of course, to the epic poem, "Casey has struck out." For us Democrats, there is no joy. I hate politics. It is our system, however, as messy as it can be. What I feel worse about are some deep seated feelings that I have about "Mericans" who care and let's face it, not all do.  

Who the f..k are these people who vote Republican and blame everything on the Prez?. To think that we have to listen to McConnell even more is pretty discouraging. He has been head of the party of NO, plain and simple. Now let's see the MFer govern. Gridlock as much as ever. And this thought about the President, nothing new but the voters apparently don't get it. The guy inherited two ill conceived wars. Both of them, as well as now, are impossible. Iraq is mired in the idiocy of religious fanaticism and gone to hell in a hand basket and nothing we can do about it. Nor can the President, despite sore loser John McCain, wantimg us to invade something. 

And, how about the worst economy since the Great Depression. We have come back. Unemployment is  down, job creation is up, the stock market is up. So, tell me why this negative attitude toward the President. Race. There is no other conceivable answer. I am a white boy from NC, there simply is no other reasoning. Do we think these people who voted in the Republicans, have an answer: where the f..k is it? The Repubs are great at slogans and blaming the President but coming up with real plans to solve our problems, they are f..king out to lunch. 

An aside, another thing that irritates me no less about elections is that the pollsters are usually right. Are we so predictable. I guess so but hate it. Plus, I am damn ashamed of my fellow "Mericans and am incensed at Democrats who did not vote. I have to think that we deserve the people we elect. 

Very simply, the Republicans duped you. They made an entire election out of prejudice. Every thing is Obama's fault. Vote me in and I will repeal health care, global warming initiatives, immigration reforms. They will kiss up to banking and Wall street. They won't do shit. 

The way I often gage things, ballgames. Look in the stands. Every seat taken, regardless: baseball, football, pro, college, stands are full. Where is the money coming from. I get the cheap seats to see the SF Giants, have a beer. A hundred bucks before you know it. Where is all this pocket of people who are really hurting that the pollsters keep talking about. Anger. What the f..k are they angry over. 

The poor, of course, and Jesus said it best, "the poor we always have with us." So, what is it. Racism

There is a segment of our society who simply can't stand to see a black man in the White House.  But, it isn't quite that simple. There are out and out racists, then there is institutional racism where customs, rules exclude people. Then there is a subtle racism which many deny and in a weird way don't even know or accept. And, this may the most potent. Nobody talks about it. No media type would dare suggest racism but it is there and it is real. 

Rationally, there is simply no way to explain the hatred and bad mouthing of the President. So much so that an entire election was won through the euphemisms for race in the name of the President. 

And, the Democrat politicians also bear some blame. By distancing themselves, they played right into the negative loss. Why not say, the Republicans have it all wrong. The Affordable Health Care Act has given millions assess to health care. How in the f..k can that be a bad thing? Wall Street needs to pay still for leading us into the worse financial crisis in decades. The president is concerned about global warming because it is the right thing to do. We should embrace immigration. People want to come to America because it is a great Country, home of the brave and land of the free.  We are all immigents. 

The list is endless and as Dr Phil has popularized, "How is that working for you?" Well, it didn't work? You f..ked up. Why didn't they support the president. They are cowards. 

What can we do about it. Very little. I think that race, like immigration, the homeless and politics, we just have to do the best we can. In this case with this election, we have done piss poor as my dad would say. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014


When I was a soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas back in the seventies, going into Juarez was a treat. Gas was cheaper, clow was great. Shopping was terrific. But, guess what? You better have a wad of cash with you because you had to pay everybody off. 

Until Mexico gets a handle on corruption at every level, it will always be a 3d world country. Say what you want too about "Merica," but if you are corrupt and you are a public servant, eventually you are going to get caught and go to jail. 

Diem Brown

My doctors are seemingly giving up but I won't and can't roll over. Whatever option I have to live, I'm grabbing it. 

Picture from September. She just died of ovarian cancer. She, like our sweet Rose, fought this insidious disease for almost 10 years. She was a star of the MTV reality show, "The Challenge." Picture from the NYTmes


Only another surge can win the fight against this dire threat. (Isis) Really? If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I think we’re there. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014



"Where is the outrage regarding the seemingly casual attitude these days in sending our kids off to fight Ill conceived battles?" WD, ltr to TIME

ANSWER: No draft, even Americans who care, are uninvolved as other people's kids fight these ill conceived wars. 


Most of the time, the only person who considers me a writer, is me. It is a hobby. Some men/women have a garage set of tools or quilting material or anything that can be considered a "hobby;" or as we get older, to keep themselves busy. I write. 

But, writers want to get published and 
the process is very discouraging. For instance, the same books/authors are reviewed/interviewed. Time, NPR interviews, NY Times Book Review; think they go out for new authors, etc. f..k no, the same ones. But, have to keep this in the "hobby" perspective. I am on top of it. 


Author, Michael Faber, has said that his latest novel, The Crimson Petal and the White is his last book. His wife, collaborator, and soul mate died, succumbed to the insidious disease, cancer. He called it, Planet Cancer, meaning it had taken over both their lives

I saw him interviewed on NPR (National Public Radio) and he said that he could not go on writing without her. God bless him.   

Aung San Suu Kyi

And our president. How inspiring!

Friday, November 14, 2014


Some Admiral was on TV tonight, spouting views like it was pre Iraqi invasion. These guys fascinate me. They live in a parallel universe. 


At some point, the poor/middle class will wake up and realize they have been hoodwinked into voting against their own interests or they won't. 


THE MOVIE BIRDMAN. Talk about a weird movie. Michael Keaton, one of my favorite actors, was great. Entertaining movie even in its weirdness. Basically about a washed up actor trying to make a comeback on the stage. Almost impossible to explain. Kind of gave you an inside look at the acting world. 

The title came from where the character played by Keaton made his name--A super hero in a Birdman costume. 

My favorite Michael Keaton movie was "Clean and Sober," (this is the 80s) a really good movie, about the "twenties something" crowd and their involvement with drugs. In the opening scene of the "Clean and Sober" movie, Keaton wakes up in bed with a women and she has ODed. It was very dramatic. See it sometimes. BIRDMAN. See it. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014


HIDDEN AGENDA. Throughout my military career, I often had to deal with various personalities or "turf" issues. It was always so irritating. Recently I've had two events that fall in that "hidden agenda" category. The son of one of my really good friends was killed in an auto accident. So sad. I knew the son from military days. He was a fine young troop.  After his tours in Iraq, he became a National Guard advisor. (Not totally sure of my facts but somewhere around them)
My experience with the Guard is limited but from hearing the "talk," it is pretty political, especially at the higher ranks. And, what often happens with the military; every time there is a change, the new regime wants to pitch out the old: the new one has their own agenda. It shouldn't be that way but it is. And often, it is anything but straight forward. 

In other words, the "hidden agenda." My suspicion  is that my friend's son, knowing him, wanted to make a difference and was frustrated. I think that he was a tough boss: the "powers that be" said they were reducing the budget. Hidden Agenda. The real story is they wanted to get rid of my friend's son because he was not part of the new team (if there was one) or maybe in Biblical terms, he was kicking against the "pricks." Regardless, "Hidden Agenda." 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Just returned from the infamous pheasant hunt. And, as usual, the pheasants of North Dakota had nothing to fear from me. 

At one point I thought it couldn't get worse when it actually did. And here a few of us were joining our hunting buds like we do every year but this time it was Into the "jaws of  the right wing" Republicans. I liked them as we had been together once a year for maybe 10 years plus. But, to be honest, I was expecting the worst; at best some good natured ribbing, and at worst, they would be intolerable. They weren't. What happened was a lot of ribbing more from us than them. And, when we laid into them about views, they just smiled. I figured that since they had secured the victory who gives a flying fig, as my dad would say. Kind of weird. 

One of my fellow Democrats and a super patriot, Wayne, some of you have met hassled them about now they would have to govern, etc. It got me to thinking as we got more into hunting. Who were these guys, our good friends, our hunting buddies, who represented the very conservative? I always wonder that, not only politically but the signs of the economy, among many things. Seeing all these people in the "stands" at ballgames, who are they? 

With these who, from my perspective, literally disliked the President almost to hatred. He gets no credit for having inherited two ill conceived wars, the worst economy since the Great Depression. 

And, our buddies mostly spouted the Republican mantra: no taxes, strong defense, hate Obama Care. Arguments with reason seem to elude them. 

In our group, we had a lawyer, Gav, a doctor, a couple of young bucks,
mid to late thirties; a financial services guy, a manager of an international business dealing in hardware types of things. They were all well educated, well read and had decided opinions. 

We all knew each other mostly from hunting and got along well. My nephew, who is as close to a standup comic, a Robin Williams. He had a lot of one liners. I loved this one, "We ain't gay. We just like to hug," attributed to Williams.  Funny. 

I was bemoaning the election when Wayne said, "think about it. We got up on the day after the election. Many disappointed, bitching and moaning but when we got up this morning, there were no revolutions, nobody tried to incite a riot. This is 'Merica.' " We changed who is running the government, no big deal. We throw one group out, put another one in. No sweat. Peace and harmony mostly. People are a lot more upset on who won what ballgame. 

This is pretty fabulous if you asked me. In our group we have some extremist views. One disliked the  president, hates most everything, thinks the President is a Muslim plant and Obama is out to destroy the Christians. We laughed like mad. He also believes that having too many  African American (he actually used the word, African Americans) playing football is eventually going to hurt the teams. More laughter. Now this is really forward thinking. But, he was so good natured that we just shook our heads. 

Our lawyer was incredibly articulate, a "true independent."  He says moderation in everything but Texas A&M football. Big time Aggie. 

We have  one guy, a self avowed true expert on various subjects and as my  brother Raz would say, just shy of a bale of cotton. The sweetest guy. We constantly have tried over the years to find him a wife. He had much rather talk about getting a wife than pursuing one. 

We are walking in these fields of tall grass that was like walking through barbed wire. These right winged guys are from Texas. Why are we not surprised. Then "ultra right wing John (not his real name), as we called him handled everything we threw at him with good nature and aplomb. For two days, being together. suffering through those obstacles to blast away at a few pheasants, everything was fun. No arguments, nobody miffed when someone verbally jabbed. Laughter, pheasants, eating everything unhealthy, drinking too much. A good time. I sat back a couple of times and thought to myself. "God bless our 'Democracy,' " it couldn't get any better even if the Dems had won. 

Cognitive Dissidance

To be honest I am a little embarrassed by all the vet/soldier stuff. Maybe I've met too many professional vets. Don't know. Basically I did what I loved while serving my country. Who the f..k needs  acolytes. The flip side of the coin is that it is no small thing. What amazes me is that almost everybody I meet who didn't serve wishes they had. When I was growing up, the question was always, not "if" but "when" are you joining up?

Sunday, November 02, 2014


I read obits. I think it is a function of age. 
You look at the page. This guy was younger 
than me, etc. I was not reading the obits but 
about this article in the NY Times,  "Big Bang of  
Social Networking," kind of giving a history of 
Social Networks.   Listed was one of the 
founders of a social networking site, Diaspora. I love the name. 
Founded by four young guys; one, 
Zhotomirskiy, committed suicide. I remember
when it happened. Sad, sad. 

I often say when I try to make some sense 
of somebody doing themselves in: when they
seem so promising; when there is 
no sense to what they have done. But, the 
article merely mentioned this and, for me, 
I put it in the obit category. 

Zhotomirskiy "A charasmatic math prodigy, and competitive swing-dancing, dumpster diving, power-kiting, unicycling juggler." 

Saturday, November 01, 2014


I use to have a blog, "Most Americans are stupid." Pretty arrogant, right?  I didn't mean dumb. Most "Mericans (using NASCAR pronunciation) are pretty smart but let's face it, those "Mericans" who care and many don't, are pretty selfish. They operate on this basis, "Of my father's children, I love myself the best. If The Lord provides for me, the devil rake the rest." 

I don't know how the president stands upright, really. As President, he has done more than a credible job--inherited two ill conceived wars, the worst economy since The Great Depression and has essentially brought us back; yet, according to the pollsters, he goes down down. What the hell, throw in a little or lot racism and selfish attitude and what other explanation is there?