Sunday, December 31, 2017

#232 - Another Lap Around The Sun

Well, we've made it. We've reached the end of 2017 and are about to embark on the new 365-day journey we will know as 2018.

For many of us, 2017 has been quite a year. New words and non-words have entered the public consciousness (covfefe, anyone?), familiar faces have left us, while other familiar and not-so-familiar names and faces have been in the news for unexpected reasons.

There is a lot on my mind as I write this and much I could say about 2017 (and probably would with a bit more alcohol), but there are several words that come to mind as I think back over the past 365 days.

Eventful is the first word that comes to mind. 2017 has been an eventful year in many ways. Of course, we swore in a new President who has managed to get his name and face in the news every single day since. We've also had numerous events both at home and abroad that have filled the front pages of newspapers (remember those?) and the screens of newscasts everywhere.

Another word that comes to mind and which relates to my first word is busy. 2017 has been a very busy year, at least for us, and it certainly feels as if it has been busy for a great many other people as well.

We've had friends move, other friends sending off their children to college, relatives having children. In other words, life. Somehow, though, it seems as if life itself is getting busier. That could be due to the increased presence of social media, which allows me to stay in touch more easily with family and friends and to reconnect with long-lost friends (a positive) while also allowing people to spew hate speech and angry words at people they don't know simply because they disagree (a negative).

Life could also be busier simply because there are more of us on this planet and, therefore, more people to interact with, respond to, account for, be influenced by.

For us, 2017 was busier simply because we were doing more. Our son turned 21, so there was additional work trying to help him transition into adulthood. We also did more with music, performing some 30 gigs around town. And we managed to put together a CD of original music and write a number of new songs.

I'm sure 2018 will be its own share of challenges and adventures. For one, there will be the challenge and adventure of growing another year older. (I won't make any claim to getting wiser.) There will be much, no doubt, that will play out on the national and international stage. And, of course, there will be the usual cycle of life occurrences associated with living and dying.

When I was younger, I liked to make ten resolutions, all of which I would break over the course of the new year, usually before January ended. This year, I think I'll stick to one resolution, though it has several parts.

In 2018, I resolve to continue working toward becoming more comfortable in my own skin and to becoming truer to my self and to my convictions, to determining what I truly believe and working to live up to those beliefs.

May the new year bring each of you joy and peace and music. You know what they say - a day without music is like a day without sunshine. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

#231 - My Christmas Wish

It is closing in on midnight as I write these words. Soon it will be Christmas. In many ways, Christmas this year will be much like Christmases past. In other ways, not so much.

2017 has been a momentous year in many ways, but I'll save my thoughts on that for next week as we get ready to leave one year behind and embark on yet another journey around the sun.

Instead, I'll simply say Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate Christmas, and Happy Holidays to those of you who don't. If you happen to be Jewish, I hope your Hanukkah commemoration was truly special and meaningful.

My one Christmas wish for all of you is actually three things rolled into one. May the holiday bring you much love and joy and, most importantly, peace. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#230 - Another Trip Around The Sun

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get / Another day older and deeper in debt"
- "Sixteen Tons" - Tennessee Ernie Ford

Another year of my life has come and gone. Today is my birthday, and I am embarking on another trip around the sun. Even though I am at a stage in my life when things are supposed to slow down, in some ways I am busier than ever.

Although, my activity on this blog has slowed, this past year has been pretty busy on other fronts. In addition to this blog, I have a second blog in which I share my creative writing efforts. You can check it out here: My Wordsmithing.

In addition to that blog, my wife and I have been pretty busy performing our original music and covering music of other artists we enjoy. We probably did at least a couple dozen gigs of two-hours or more in the past year. It isn't a living, but it is a nice hobby.

As a result, I have not spent as much time on this blog as I meant to. Of course, these gaps have occurred in the past, either because I didn't have anything to say or because I had too much to say and wasn't sure where to start.

This blog was always intended to share my random thoughts and opinions on various things. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the world itself has become seemingly more random. As a result, my random thoughts and opinions no longer feel so random to me.

Because of that, this blog, while I have no intention of abandoning it, will likely become more infrequent simply because I feel like the My Wordsmithing blog allows me to express myself in the way I do best, musically.

This blog could turn into something more political in nature, or I may experiment with using this blog as a vehicle for podcasting, time permitting.

Before I go, I want to thank my wife Teresa for spending the past 25 birthdays with me. She has definitely made them more enjoyable, more worthwhile, and more worth sticking around for. I hope each of you has or finds someone to help make your birthdays more special.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

#229 - Because, You Know, He's All About That Base

First off, I should apologize to Meghan Trainor for alluding to her hit single in the title of today's entry. On the other hand, it seems appropriate.

While people still struggle to climb out from underneath the wreckage in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, our President is busy accusing NFL players of being unpatriotic and divisive and basically laying blame for the disorganized rescue response in Puerto Rico at the feet of the victims. All of this, despite the fact that he himself displayed a first grade knowledge of geography when describing where Puerto Rico is.

Many on the right end of the political spectrum spent the first several months of the current administration calling those on the left divisive and encouraging them (actually, more like berating or browbeating them) to unite behind this President, something they failed to do during eight years of the previous administration. It's time to call the man and his supporters out for what they are. Hypocrites.

During the Presidential campaign, supporters of this President called for his opponent to be put in prison for her use of a private e-mail server while conducting government business. Now that it appears some of this President's inner circle have been doing the same exact thing. Where are the calls for prison now? Crickets. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Of course, his advisers and staff take their lead from the man at the top. And while he spends a lot of his time and public meanderings catering to his base, it ultimately is really all about him. He somehow manages to bring everything back to him and what a great job he is doing as President. Narcissus would be proud.

If he isn't giving himself credit for something that actually began or occurred during the previous administration ( some of the early economic reports come to mind), he's busy taking credit or proclaiming success for something that hasn't actually happened (the building of "The Wall," the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and the great job the federal government is doing with relief efforts in Puerto Rico are all examples). And if he isn't doing either of those things, he is busy blaming other people for their problems or his own (blaming the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico for aid not getting to those in need and "Fake News" immediately come to mind). Hypocrite-in-Chief.

Episodes like these are partly what San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had in mind when he said America "is an embarrassment" to the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan famously coined the term "trickle-down economic" to argue that benefits flow from the top down. Well, something else is flowing down from on high, and it sure isn't money or respect or anything good.

I'll be the first to admit I did not do enough to prevent this man's election to the Presidency, although I did vote for his opponent. I'll also be the first to admit I have not done enough to oppose this man now that he is in office. Part of the reason for that is I have friends with opposing views whom I have tried not to anger or offend. But the time for worrying about that has passed.

While I can respect the fact that some people have differing views that I on issues such as immigration, the economy, the environment (well, not so much that one), foreign aid, and the like, I can no longer respect the fact that they voted for a man so obviously unqualified to be President of anything other than his own mutual admiration society.

The fact that people continue to support this egotistical blowhard in spite of increasing evidence that he is mentally and morally deficient negates any merit their arguments on other issues may have. The fact that what I say may offend or anger some to the point they no longer want to be my friends no longer worries me. The time for silence has long since passed.

Monday, September 25, 2017

#228 - We Just Don't Get It

This morning, as I often do, I played catch up with my news feed on Facebook. I noticed a number of my friends were upset with the NFL.

Specifically, they were upset with players not coming out of the locker room for the National Anthem and were also upset with players kneeling for same said anthem. They just don't get it.

Many of those same people were upset when people took to the streets during any number of protests over the last couple of years when various police shootings were reported in the news. They just don't get it

They were also upset when people gathered in various parks around the country to protest the presence of Confederate monuments and demand they be removed. They just don't get it.

Protest is not supposed to be comfortable. It is meant to disturb, to upset, to shake the status quo. Does anyone really believe the protests against the Vietnam War would have been as effective if they had only been a letter-writing campaign.

We say we are fine with people protesting until they actually do. Then, we find some fault with the message or the manner of the protest. We just don't get it

The NFL players being maligned by our President have picked perhaps the least violent, yet visible means of protest they could to call attention to what they see as a real issue of race in this country. Instead of listening to their concerns or engaging them in meaningful dialogue, he tries to suppress their First Amendment rights by calling them unpatriotic and suggesting they should be fired from their teams. He just doesn't get it.

Protest is patriotic. Protest is American. In fact, protest is perhaps the most patriotic, most American act a person can engage in. America was founded on the rock of protest. (Boston Tea Party or American Revolution, anyone?)

The American Revolution was not called the American Disagreement or Dispute or Argument for a reason. Revolution is the ultimate expression of protest when all other means of calling attention to an issue or an imbalance fail. These NFL players, and the many engaging in protests to call attention to continuing racial issues in this country are simply carrying on perhaps the most American of traditions. The rest of us just don't get it.