March 1, 2007
I won a National Leadership Award from Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK and head of the NRCC). I’m honored. All I have to do is call them at 877-213-1609 and claim my award. I’ll get a plaque and a gavel! I would like a gavel. The only other gavel I have is one that my long-dead father-in-law made for himself, which I inherited. I use it to pound wooden pegs into my woodworking (doesn’t create dents the way a steel hammer would) whenever I’m making something that requires wooden pegs, which isn’t very often.
Wait, there’s more! If I actually make the call, I’ll get a taped speech from Congressman Cole himself, proclaiming the need to make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent and for the Republicans to maintain control of Congress (I think he means “retake control of Congress”). And if I stay on the line longer still, I’ll get a request to donate $500 to help the NRCC take out full-page ads denouncing the Pelosi-led Democratic Congress and, I suppose, why the Republican Party needs to be the majority party. Frankly, I don’t think either party should be the majority party in Congress, but there’s not much I – or anyone else – can do to change that.
If I were a registered Republican I could understand why someone connected to the National Republican Campaign Committee might want to trade an award for some money. But I’m not a registered anything.
Nonetheless and regardless of their political leanings, many award winners will pick up the phone and make the call. Many of those who call will donate their $500. The Republican Party stands to pick up quite a bit of cash from this unabashed marketing campaign, plying the egos of the “award” winners.
Some would call this savvy marketing. I call it preying. I wish that politicians would see sleaze for what it is. Their ethics are terribly corrupted.
February 28, 2007
Often, when my wife or I leave for some engagement, I try to plant a long, drawn-out kiss on her lips. Usually she starts giggling after a few seconds, and after a few more seconds, starts to pull back to terminate the lip-lock.
I especially try to kiss her for a long period of time when she’s most rushed to get out the door, to try to remind her that there just might be more important things than food shopping or going out to a meeting. I don’t think she gets it.
The overwhelming passion I feel when I am around my wife is, well, overwhelming. There is occasional reciprocation on her part; I’m always happy when it happens, and mostly discouraged when it does not. I get the feeling that her participation in the touchy-feely part of our relationship is out of a sense of duty rather than out of desire.
I can’t get enough of my wife. I wish the feeling was mutual, but rarely do I feel that she can’t get enough of me. Is that what decades of marriage does to couples?
I miss being 28.
February 26, 2007
There was this young woman, Maria, who used to cut my hair. We dated briefly. I liked the way she kissed me. She has great eyes, and really exposed her soul through them. Unfortunately, we met just after we had both broken off serious relationships and I was not yet ready to start over. She was really nice and is yet another one of those girls who got away. Twenty-five years later we still send Christmas cards to each other.
Maria lives in Florida. It is one place I have barely visited and have never felt like I would ever want to live there. What is it about Florida that turns me off? Is it the Hispanic population? Probably not, since I really like the Southwest where the inter-cultural mixing is just as apparent, if not more so. Is it the lack of seasons? Maybe, but I would seriously consider moving to the Phoenix area tomorrow.
I get this image in my mind that Florida consists mostly of large-breasted women wearing high heels and almost nothing else. Maybe I’m just intimidated by that image (even though I’m sure it’s not true) or perhaps overly concerned about the temptation. I get this other image in my mind that Florida is overstuffed with old retirees that don’t know how to drive. Too much Fark.com, I think.
I also get the idea that Florida is mostly a humid, flat swamp with alligators in people’s back yards, giant snails eating the siding, real estate prices that are out of control and homes that all sit on postage stamp lots.
All of these things are wrong, I know they are. I’ve taken little snippets of news articles and grown them to the size of the state.
I can’t help myself. I need an enemy. It’s Florida.
February 25, 2007
The Phoenix area is so very beautiful. It has a rugged beauty unique to the Southwest. There has been so much growth in the past two decades that most places look very new and clean. It is attractive. A bit crowded in places, but attractive nonetheless.
While vacationing in the Phoenix area, my wife remarked about the Indian symbols stamped and carved into the walls. And how many walls there were.
The walls were everywhere. I first thought about them while driving on Route 101, a major freeway encircling Phoenix. I’m sure that the walls along the freeway act as sound blockers. They seem architecturally well-designed and fit into the “flavor” of the Southwest. Off the 101 there were more walls, this time surrounding resorts, hotels, businesses, malls, apartment and housing complexes. Everything is surrounded by walls. Maybe the walls are there as a preventative to wind-borne dust. Maybe they are there to provide a little bit of privacy for those homes that abut major roads and expressways. Their overall effect is to hide any beauty – or ugliness – behind them.
The walls are barriers. They provide a way for the millions of people down here to break the area’s vastness into smaller segments that they can grasp. They help people to define a space around them that helps them to call it their own. They provide a sense of (false) security. They are something to hide behind.
My management position at my company often requires that I mask my true feelings behind a façade of authority. It’s my career wall. It’s a wall of aloofness. I have also built walls that hide my feelings from my family, as well as my friends.
The life behind my eyes is very different than the one that is exposed to others.
February 15, 2007
Terrorists and tyrants know how to accomplish whatever it is they want to accomplish: Keep the oppressed stupid. Stupidity (and its cousin, Ignorance) are the best way to submit a population to unending fear, suppression and resignation. Hell, the U.S. has been more or less doing it to African Americans for a hundred and fifty years.
Check out the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were ruthless thugs who established a set of suppression rules (much like the English on the Irish 500 years ago) that allowed them to be judge and jury, a great way for those in power to wield it to their hearts’ content. It also guaranteed that there will always be a fresh supply of recruits to the cause as this is the only real way to go from suppressed to suppressor.
Check out the “civil uprising” in Iraq. Each group – Shi’ite, Sunni, El Queda – can perpetuate community fear and loathing by taking out the intelligentia and manipulating the emotions of the stupid and ignorant. Hence, the doctors and scientists get assassinated. Those lucky enough to escape do so, leaving behind an intelligence vacuum that takes a generation or more to repair.
With intelligence removed from the equation, decisions are made by whatever means are left: typically, emotions and brute force. Oppression is perpetuated in the same manner.
Now throw in readily-available weapons that have the ability to kill at fifty feet. That’s roughly ten times the radius that the Barbarians, with their swords, had. 10 times the kill radius covers 100 times the kill area. Today it takes far fewer Barbarians to oppress a population – and suppress any opposition to that oppression – than it did just 30 years ago, much less 300 years ago.
And that’s what we see in Iraq and Afghanistan. By eliminating the established controls that were already there, we have successfully helped put into place an anarchic culture that needs only a handful of nasty people to turn the entire country into a lost generation, a lost cause.
Someone please tell me how we helped either country.
February 5, 2007
I had 8 cups of coffee the other day and they did not make me climb the walls.
I don’t quite understand the effects of caffeine. I mean, I do understand them from a biochemical standpoint, but I don’t follow why all that coffee didn’t set my heart a-fluttering. On other days a single cup will wind me up. Maybe it had something to do with recent sleep deprivation canceling out the effects of caffeine stimulation. Maybe some of the cups were mostly decaf (they were). I certainly had to pee a lot.
For several years now I’ve been pretty good about reducing my caffeine uptake by mixing decaf with regular coffee. Mostly I drink coffee that’s only about 1/3 decaf. My morning driving mug is about 20 ounces, so that’s less than a single cup of hi-test joe. About 3 weekdays I end up having a second round of java at lunchtime; and on weekends I usually imbibe twice a day. Since I cut back on the caffeine the withdrawal headaches have gone away, and I sometimes (rarely) go a day without any coffee.
I really don’t like the taste of coffee. The smell is great, but after drinking it I have to brush my teeth or swish some Listerine to kill the bad taste in my mouth. But it’s lo-cal so it beats chugging a Coke on a regular basis.
Yet: Coffee is a big part of my life. Business deals – especially over lunch – are consummated with coffee. Morning staff meetings aren’t comprehended unless I’m sipping on a warm mug of that brown stuff. Dinners at a fancy restaurant with my wife, Sunday mornings reading the newspaper, 3 PM business interviews, winter days, summer days – they all stop and wait for me to have a sip before flowing through and past my life.
Coffee is in my veins.
February 2, 2007
As a young man I tried to play the social scene with women who were way out of my league; I set the bar high, and failed to hit it. By the end of my third major relationship my heart was in a million pieces. The woman I eventually married helped me to put it back together, but it’s never been the same.
30 some years after my first love I still dream about her, about what her life has been like all this time. I know where she lives and I cannot get the courage to show up and say hello. I know where the others live as well and likewise, can not find it within me to ask them for closure. Perhaps there is no closure and in that case, these wounds will never heal. I accepted this “fate” long ago, internalized the melancholy, and today endeavor to make sure that my outward persona reflects the silver linings of my present optimism toward life, and not the dark clouds of the past.
My biggest fear is that, when on my deathbed, I tell my wife I love her only to have her hear the name of one of my past loves. This would be as sad an ending as I could possibly devise, and I owe it to my wife not to let it happen. For that reason I might someday put away my apprehension and start knocking on a few doors.