Thursday, July 27, 2017

Letter Writing

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

Please note typing and sending an email is not the same as writing with a ballpoint pen, filled with blue ink, on a plain sheet of paper.

In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people's lives. ~Anatole Broyard

Tonight it was raining and I was eating dinner or was it supper (Supper is the last meal of the day, right??  But what about those snacks I might eat at midnight?) I was watching reruns of The Newsroom on television.  There were four deer outside my window eating the field corn I put out so my time was divided between looking out the window, watching the show and trying to write when I decided I would complete a few e-mails I had waiting for me.  It occurred to me that I never write letters to anyone anymore.  I am lucky if I get the chance to answer a few emails every now and then.  Come to think if it, over the years I have never really been a letter writer.  I guess I should thank the person who came up with e-mails. 

I remember back to my youth where the family gathered around after a sit down dinner every night and we would talk briefly about our day (family time together) and if there was a letter in the mail we would sit and listen as it was read aloud by my daddy or mama.  The scene might be where a relative or friend writes a letter to the family and daddy is reading it aloud.  This always amused me back then as all of my family members were listening intently and so was my mama.

I found this hilarious, not sure why, but I did and I pointed this to my mama during my recent visit, "Hahaaa . . . they are still writing letters, can't they just use the phone or the internet".  I shake my head . . . I was still in my "Ping you've got mail" mode.

While we were talking my mama had this "far off" look and says "Hmm . . . I remember when I was newly married, I used to write home regularly and you know all my friends and neighbors would gather around my brother as he read it aloud.  I would always make it a point to include everyone's name in it."

Mama was born and brought up in the South and had moved to downtown Atlanta after marrying my dad.  She was always writing to people almost everyday.  Some were to family and others to friends.  She also wrote letters for all of our school activities as she was president for the PTA.  I always wondered what she wrote in those letters.  

This was in the 1950’s.  Maybe something in the lines of . . .

"Atlanta is beautiful and the climate is very hot in summer and quite cold in the winter months.  We have to wear woolen sweaters to stay warm.”  She said she saw a double decker bus one day and my dad took her regularly to the cinema (Yep it was called cinema in those days.  I think she would then write about the latest comedy film that she saw).  

We went to the drive-in theater on Saturday nights several times a month at the Piedmont Drive-In when they changed the movie that was playing.  It was our ‘family time’ each week and we would sit outside in the warm (hot) evenings eating popcorn, drinking a Coca Cola, and watching the people who were also at the drive-in.  It is now the Lindberg MARTA rapid rail station.  Times they do change for us all.
I remember her telling me about Star Wars years later after she had seen it long ago.  “That film was so boring because it had these weird guys fighting with color light tubes."  I remember we all loved that movie but could see why she thought it so ‘campy’.

My mama was always writing letters in those days, maybe I should ask her what she was really writing back then.  To this day at eighty eight years old she still writes and send cards of all types to everyone, all neatly organized so she doesn’t miss anyone’s birthday, anniversary or holiday.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Life Observation # 189 Common Sense

Life Observation # 189       Common Sense 
Don’t let your ego exceed your common sense!

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I haven’t had very much time to write anything lately with several trips to my late aunt’s house with family coming from all over to get items out of the house before it is put up for sale.  It has been a long process of clean up and now we are getting closer to a final outcome for that house.  There is still another lake house full of stuff that we will need to deal with shortly.  

I had a few minutes early this morning where I was trying to sit and write for awhile but nothing came into my mind.  Usually on Sunday mornings when I lived in Alaska I would head out early for breakfast with friends but those are just memories of the fun times at Village Inn over the years.  I figured I could sit and work on several writing projects that I am working on (my lifelong friend Johnny has Alzheimer’s and wants me to write about our many scuba and skydiving adventures in our youth to help him remember) or post a few things in one of the forums I frequent.  Several days ago was thinking of all the things I could write about that we did together but did not have the time to start or jot down a few notes as reminders and now in my early morning fog before the coffee kicks in there is a void in my mind.

It did not immediately occur to me to work on this blog so I sat staring into this blank sheet with nothing in mind.  It became clear that nothing would be the mental exercise of the day.  Normally trying to write about nothing occurs in an essay, usually one with a word requirement that you need to fill for some reason or another.  It’s a little different than writers block but here I will attempt to rationalize that nothing doesn’t exist and is a moot concept (I’m off on a tangent thought process now).
The concept of nothing as a ‘normal mind’ comprehends it is a room, maybe a box, which is void of things, hence “no things” but that, of course isn’t true?  Thousands even millions of molecules, electrons, protons etc. fill this space.  So if we move into outer space, where we can have a box that is entirely filled with no “things”, void of anything.  Still however there is something in this box.  There is space.  There is an area within this space that can be defined as a volume.  Therefore something is in the box even in the void.

So ruling out the fact that “nothing” can reasonably occupy no space, can we conclude that anything with no area, space, volume, mass etc. is nothing?  Well, in fact, no we cannot.  By describing nothing, that nothing becomes a ‘thing’, it has an attribute of nothingness attached to it, which is a thing unto itself.  When we call something nothing, it becomes the opposite of that, it becomes something that we can talk about and theorize about, and is indeed something.
By using the term nothing, we have to call something nothing. “O, that’s nothing…” or “I’m doing nothing,” are completely senseless.  Nothing is something.  Therefore, I vote that nothing be cast out of use.  Nothing simply does not exist in my mind anymore because once someone says anything or something about nothing it becomes a “thing”, maybe not tangible in that sense but still something, does that make sense to you?  

It’s complicated and my mind is about to explode.  I need to get my coffee before I become the void I was trying to write about.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

I am asked almost every Memorial Day to re-post “A Soldier’s Prayer”.

Another Memorial Day weekend is once again here and the country stops for a time to honor our men and women whose sacrifices to keep our way of living balanced with the threats of a hostile world around us.  The media is so screwed up in reporting things so this photo really shows their priorities.
Memorial Day is not about the BBQ's or gatherings of friends; it is about the "Fallen" who gave the ultimate sacrifice, signed the check in blood for our freedoms we have today. Those still serving should also be remembered but this weekend and day is for remembrance of those who are no longer with us.

Memorial Day has its origins from Americas Civil War starting in 1868.

I was given this prayer by my friend Max Cleland so many years ago as I flew him around Georgia while he was campaigning for Secretary of State.  I have it on the wall of my office and read it each day.  I have a constant reminder of the importance of having pure motives . . . God focused and ultimately the importance of where I look for fulfillment in my life.

I wanted to give you a little perspective about this prayer and how it came to be.  This was during one of our darkest times in this country’s history when we lost focus of where this country was headed and we were into a Civil War and the turmoil going on in this country at the time.  Brother fought against brother, sometimes friend against friend.  It was a time that we somehow have lost focus during these strange political times.  There are still problems in this country and around the world but we continually strive to live in hopes of a better world.  Do your part and remember those from our past and those of our future whose sacrifice gives us the Freedoms we enjoy today.

July 2, 1863 during the battle of Gettysburg in the area of Devil’s Den this prayer was written by a dying confederate soldier.  There have been conflicting stories over the years whether it was found folded in his pocket or written in his blood on the floor next to his body.  Either way it gives great perspective into life and living.  My thoughts are that it was written in his blood as he made Peace on his life, an unfinished life.

Casualty figures for the second day of Gettysburg are difficult to assess because both armies reported by unit after the full battle, not by day.  One estimate is that the Confederates lost approximately 6,000 killed, missing, or wounded from Hood, McLaws' and Anderson's divisions, amounting to 30–40% casualties.  Union casualties in these actions probably exceeded 9,000. The three day battle was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War as the conflict continued until April 9, 1865 when the surrender occurred with the formal ceremony between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant on April 12, 1865.

A Soldier’s Prayer

I asked God for strength that I might achieve
I was made weak that I might learn to obey
I asked for health that I might do great things
I was given infirmity that I might do better things
I asked for riches that I might be happy
I was given poverty that I might be wise
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
I was given life that I might enjoy all things
I got nothing that I asked for
But everything I had hoped for
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered
I am among all men most richly blessed.

Each of the desires that were expressed are desires that I believe we can relate to today. Strength, Health, Riches, Power, All things so that we can enjoy life . . . What is not to be desired?

Many of us have some or even all of the things just mentioned to varying degrees.  But do we let the things we have in our life define who we are?  Do we let them define our happiness? Where do you find your inner peace?

Two lines have special meaning to me and I remind myself daily to live this way. . .
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
I was given life that I might enjoy all things

Happiness does not enter the equation until the decision to be happy is made by the individual. Happiness is a state of mind being thankful for whatever we do have and the talents we have been blessed with.  Without that decision . . . to be happy independent of everything else . . . we will find ourselves to be much like a dog chasing its own tail.  The poor dog will never catch its tail and the result will just be dizzying frustration.

There are times in my life that I find myself chasing my tail.  I came north to Alaska to find an unseen peace I knew would be there.  God’s country at every turn and I had the opportunity to travel to many remote places off the road system experiencing the native culture and helping them to have a better, healthier life with my work.  I could see the changes firsthand and it filled me beyond my wildest dreams.  Truly blessed for the experience.

Most of us have never had to live in the worst of what the world has to offer.  Probably most have food to eat and daily opportunities to interact with others who are interested and care about us.  Sometimes quickly, our minds can run away and begin to be ungrateful and desirous of the pleasures that we presume others to have.  Living up to the Browns’ has never been for me, I like doing things my own way and sometimes taking the road less traveled.  It has brought me a peace I could not find before and has brought me to find many new friends and expanded my consciousness of my fellow man.

We are all truly blessed and we need reminders to stay focused on what God has to offer us.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone and remember the fallen.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Life Observation # 187 Background music

Life Observation # 187      Background music 
The trouble with Life is there is no background music except in our head.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

IKEA Weekend Adventure?

This past weekend I had the semi-unpleasant experience to drive from the mountains down toward the collapsed bridge on Interstate 85 at Piedmont Road. I was headed to the IKEA store off I-85 at Fourteenth Street.

I started seeing the warning signs for the Interstate closure about ten miles north of the shut-down exit so I decided to get off in my old stomping grounds of North Druid Hills Road, go by my old high school and see what changes to the area over the last twenty years I was away in Alaska.  Traffic was horrible as everyone was trying to find a way to get around the closed area.  Stopped bumper to bumper vehicles with an exit time of twenty minutes to get off the ramp made me remember why I left Atlanta so many years ago.  I cannot stand the traffic or the totally bent drivers trying to get in front of everyone.

Driving by the school I saw many changes.  The sign our class erected was gone and like many schools across America was run down and looked like it needed a makeover.  The area has changed so much with condo’s replacing the old beautiful houses on that street.  I went to Peachtree Street headed south through Buckhead and it was packed with vehicles too.  Many high rise buildings towered over the landscape, the concrete and steel with beautiful glass shining in the midday sun.  All kinds of new stores and restaurants were seen on my drive down memory lane.  Gone too were a few icon hangouts of mine like Harrison’s on Peachtree, Limelight (some called it “Slimelight”) and Animal Crackers nightclub with its indoor Ferris wheel ride. 

As I made my way toward midtown I drove by my grandmother’s old house.  It was for sale along with three more next to hers being sold as a multi-unit commercial property.  It was old and run down and all the memories from that time mostly gone too as the years fade from my memory.

I arrive at the IKEA store and find myself in a huge underground parking area with signs everywhere on how to find your car when finished shopping.  It was my first experience inside this store and it was just that, an experience.  Two floors of merchandise and a winding lay out so you walk in curving patterns through the different departments.  Household goods, kitchen, bath, living room, bedroom along with sections for all kinds of accessories were on hand as I wandered around looking for items for a remodel project I am working on.  

After two and a half hours going through all the sections I was ready to check out which gave me the impression that everyone was being herded like cattle through the checkout area.  I knew I would have more traffic and a long ride back so I looked around for a restroom.  I found one and headed over to relieve myself and found myself with a slight dilemma as I walked into the men’s room.  For many years observing people I have noticed a few things.  Some might say I either have too much time on my hands (mind) or just have a slightly twisted look at life.  I tend to think it is a waste to not think of the possibilities out there and to consider things that most other people may not have time to think about.  It is then my duty to report my findings to everyone here. 

Most people (women) and a few men, especially those who don’t use a urinal, fail to realize the complexity of today’s modern bathroom ethics.  Urination in public restrooms always creates a paranoia in most people (women included) involving a lack of privacy.  This fear is eased for most men by finding of a urinal which is the farthest away from fellow “users.”  Unlike the concept of infinity, this theory is fairly easy to grasp.  It’s a man thing I guess for me probably started in the military latrines with no partitions between toilets and urinals.  Everything was in the open with rows of toilets facing each other so it was ‘easy’ to converse with your fellow soldier while going to the bathroom.  I usually tried to wait until after lights out to go but then the night sentry on duty would normally wander in so you were never alone to do your business.

The 1-3-5 urinal rule allows for the separation of users or should I call them pee’ees.  Let’s take a look at the basic bathroom layout of 5 urinals (such as in this IKEA) and see an example.  The first person would clearly go to the first (1) or last (5 – preferable to 1 because of greater distance from door and other people) to prepare himself for the expected arrival of the second pee’ee.  The second person would then of course take the vacant end spot that the first did not take.  Simple enough isn’t it?  This is where the 1-3-5 rule now comes into effect.  Let’s say you walk into the bathroom and there are two dudes letting the gold flow like the summer of 1949, one on each end of the old 5-headed mount Rushmore.  It is imperative that you, as the third member of the urinary persuasion, take the middle urinal.  While you will be increasing the distance between you and one of the others, you will be drastically decreasing the distance to the other, to a point at which both of you are extremely uncomfortable.

Some of you may already be thinking questions.  First off, what happens when one of the users disobeys this sacred law and is taking his dog for a walk in the 4 slot, and there is already a pee’er in the 1 spot?  Unless it’s an emergency, and we’re talking stalls taken and possibly if you need the ‘stall’, you would just wait out the infraction.  It will make everyone a lot happier in the end with no odd looks involved by anyone.

Next, what happens in a situation in which there are 6 urinals but 2 are taped off or closed up.  Just think of this rule of thumb.  Never allow there to be a pee’er to be immediately to the left or right of you if possible.  Always give yourself some space.  And unless they’re totally asleep at the switch, don’t have anyone right in front of you.  Under no circumstances should you have anyone behind you if possible but sports venues with everyone trying to go during the seventh inning stretch you may have to waive the rule.

One final question usually is what happens when you have an emergency and the 1-3-5 setup is occupied already.  Under no circumstances should you invade into the 2 or 4 space.  Wait it out as long as possible, not only does it make everyone uneasy, it will leave a lasting mark on everyone there.  One of the three original users will undoubtedly mention your infraction to anyone who will listen, and it will be spread around the office or school that you’re lame and cannot follow the rules of restroom etiquette.  Even if you have to uncork the champagne all over your trousers, it would probably be better to do so.  You might suffer a small embarrassment, but in the long run, will make for a great story for the office and get you, infinite props for upholding the sacred 1-3-5 rule.

Side note:  It should be noted that attending baseball or hockey games, the rules are a bit more lenient because you don’t want to miss a great play or a fight.  Lame people usually don’t go to hockey games or any real sporting events; it is safe to relax just a little and let it flow.  Placido Flamingo was nowhere to be found during this brief adventure.