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Tech Time Machine… You’re On A Rocket…

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Marty McFly… let’s hop into your DMC DeLorean time machine and juice up the flux capacitor.

OK, set the time back by 30 years to 1990 (if this takes you into prenatal times, please please tell me what that looks like, I want to know the answer to that as much as I’d like to see into my post-life times).

I’m thinking about time travel right now for a reason.

Looking back with today’s eyes, 1990 was a “foreign country” for us all.

Thirty years ago this week, I stood in chilly Okanagan Lake waters at 7 am on a Sunday morning with nearly 1,000 others clad in wetsuits.

Supportive family members and friends came from near and far to give me a cheering boost for an event I had trained so hard for in the year leading up to this day.

My heart was pounding in my throat, both in exhilaration and terror (the good news is that in the lake, you can pee your pants and no one knows better other than the swimmer directly behind you. Sorry… TMI?)

We participants were all ready to dive in at the sound of a booming cannon – the cannon that starts the Ironman Canada triathlon race, a 3.8k swim, followed by a 180k bike, finishing with a 42.2k run. Great way to spend a relaxing Sunday.

But today, I’m not only thinking about the gruelling race, but also about the huge changes to our world in these oh-so-short 30 years.

Here are a few other things that cross my mind.

It’s about our world and technology.

I’m thinking about how many folks pulled out their cellphones and snapped photos of their friends and loved ones jumping into the water that August 1990 morning. How many photos got posted online for the world to see within seconds…

Here, let me answer that for you… pull out my calculator… hmmmm, 960 participants multiplied by an average of 4 or 5 relatives and friends watching from behind the barriers…

… and the answer is???? ZERO. None.

Huh? Why not Larry?

Well, a myriad of stuff has changed for you and me in 30 years… call a taxi… right! Wait until next Tuesday to watch your favourite TV show… hardly! Meet your life partner-to-be at a bar… *cue laughter*….

A few more examples…

1990. No smartphones… a few cellphones (owned by 4% of North Americans in 1990) sure, but pretty much no such thing as a smartphone with a camera embedded. The first early versions were still 12 years in the future.

These days, when I enter even the tiniest running or other athletic race (in non-COVID times)… camera phones are everywhere, all the time.

In 1990, there were no smartphones, no text messages… no Tesla’s or other electric cars… no BlueTooth, no Facebook, no YouTube.

In 1990 you paid your utility bills at the bank or by snail mail with a personal cheque.

Watch a movie in 1990? Just run by your local VHS rental store or Blockbuster and make sure your neighbours aren’t there when you sneak into the “ADULT” section in the back.

In 1990, you answered your landline phone (usually corded) because it was someone you knew calling (although no call display told you who), no telemarketers or scams.

In 1990, when you wanted to find a street address or your way through a strange city, you hauled out something called a map and found the location with your fingertips, not your GOOGLE.

In 1990, people read books. I mean books made of paper and glue and hard and soft covers that had pages you turned and needed a flashlight to read under the covers. No eReaders, no Kindles (first released in 2007), no Kobo’s. Bookstores were popular “social media” gathering spots in 1990.

In 1990, did you drive through your local Starbucks for a Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino? Of course not. Starbucks had barely 100 stores in 1990, probably none in your area. Just Mary & Joe’s Cuppa Joe House (or Timmy’s for us Canucks) was on your corner in those prehistoric coffee days. Espresso drinks were something Europeans drank.

In 1990, a blog? Is that something stuck in your toilet?

In 1990, when you listened to recorded music, it was usually from a cassette tape, a big step up from 8-track tapes! Your choices were vinyl or cassette. CD or mp3? Huh??

In 1990, a restaurant meal or a plane trip usually involved breathing in someone else’s secondhand smoke. In my province of B.C., smoking was legally allowed in restaurants until 1996. Smoking on flights within Canada was first banned at the beginning of 1990.

Feel free to tell me some other things I’ve missed.

And finally, in 1990, when I crossed the Ironman finish line (below) as the evening sun set and my muscles cried, my kids were 5, 3 and 1 years old. It’s so long ago that I can barely picture them in my head. They were so cute.

Right McFly, bring me back to 2020.

Those little kids are older and smarter than me now. Yes, that’s right, they are older than me… I was 19 years old in 1990 and today I’m still… 19. (I turned off my time machine long ago. That’s new math for you.)

More importantly though, they were healthy then and they are healthy today.

I’m a lucky man to return to 2020 in my older DeLorean body.

OK Boomer…

THOUGHTS About… THINKING

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It’s hard to turn off our thoughts, don’t you think?

And since we can’t truly turn them off, why not think thoughts that make us more relaxed, content, productive… and… thoughtful.

While I’m traipsing the backroads of the Irish Isles, I turn once again to a forever friend and guest blogger.

Who better to turn to than my “retired” Physician Associate and deep thinker buddy Jim Ferguson. Jim is one of those rare people who can rationally combine his religious, philosophical, and scientific thoughts and not get himself tied up like a pretzel. While you think about this.. let me say…

Over to you James

Well…yours truly has once again been invited to share a few thoughts and to cast them out into the MOTF blog-o-sphere for your consideration.

As I was pondering on a topic to write about, I found myself going down a deep rabbit hole on the topic of thinking!

Yup…I was thinking about THINKING!

I know… I know… you are probably thinking,

1. How did Larry ever hook up with this nut job, and

2. This guy definitely needs a hobby.

The answer to the 1st question is a long story and probably worthy of a blog post in and of its own right (and one that could lead to jail time for both Sir Lawrence and myself…😊).

To address the second point-given my ADHD nature, I’ve got more than enough hobbies to keep me going for the foreseeable future.

Sooooo… back to this concept of thinking about thinking.

It sounds like an episode from Seinfeld…right? The show all about nothing!

Well…let me tell you that there is a lot of thinking going on about thinking (and the nature of consciousness which is a blog topic in its own right) and there are many neurobiologists out there who are sharing their wisdom on the topic. 

One such expert in the field is Joe Dispenza. Go look him up on-line. You will find lots of references to explore.

Joe has become one of the “gurus du jour” in the field and my impression is that he has now become more well known as a “celebrity” than he is as a hard-core scientist. This seems to be the case for so many who venture into the arena of being an expert in a specific area plus being a public figure.

They become a celebrity. One could argue that this is the case for people like Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil (my mentor), Dr. Oz, Dr. Fauci (he of COVID-19 fame), Willard Scott (RIP), and the list goes on.

Back to the theme lest I get too distracted.

I actually have listened to Joe Dispenza lecturing on neurobiology topics including the topic of thinking and he has some fascinating things to share on that theme. I would never accuse him of “selling out” to the celebrity juggernaut as I find his talks both stimulating and grounded in solid science. Maybe he has found a happy medium between his science and celebrity. 

Dispenza states that the average human thinks anywhere from 40,000-70,000 thoughts per day.

Were you aware of this? I was blown away by that number when I first heard him say this during one of his talks a few years back.

If the average person thinks that many thoughts, what about me and my ADHD mind? Geesh…that must mean that I am upwards of close to 80,000+ thoughts per day. I am always thinking things, pondering, considering, reflecting upon things! It is challenging to slow my mind down on a good day! 

I found that stat to be truly astounding BUT what I found even MORE astounding (and alarming at the same time) was this next stat. You might want to sit down for this one!

Dispenza says that of those 40,000-70,000 thoughts you think on a daily basis, 80-90% of those thoughts are the SAME THOUGHTS that you thought yesterday and the day before that and so on!

Joe Dispenza

In other words, the thoughts we think today are merely repetition of thoughts we have had for days, months, years previous. Think about it and see if this is true for you. I did a study on myself and found that his statement was pretty accurate!

This has profound implications for those who find themselves “stuck in a rut”, “bogged down”, “who can’t seem to get out of their own way”, “who are constantly sad, depressed, anxious”, “who have that nagging monkey mind that never stops”, etc.

We know from solid science since the mid-1970s that the cells of the brain renew themselves. For decades before that time, it was understood that once humans reached five years old, we stopped producing new brain cells and stopped forming new neural connections. Not so!

The work of neuroscientist Candace Pert and her colleagues discovered that the brain continues to produce new brain cells (neurons) throughout the life span. The science on this theme has exploded exponentially during the past two decades. We now understand the brain to have the property of “neuroplasticity” i.e. it can produce new neurons and can rewire synapses throughout our lifetime.

Sooo…. the brain has neuroplasticity. Check.

Now back to the thinking part of this discussion.

Dispenza and others argue that if we want to get out of our own way, out of the ruts we find ourselves in, to address depression and anxiety, monkey mind, etc. we need to give serious attention to how we think!

We all have different habits of thinking. One size does not fit all in this case.

Some are deep thinkers while others maybe not so much. Some are easily distracted while others are not. If we find ourselves waking every day to the same mental and emotional stress in our lives, could one of the keys be to think deeply on our thinking patterns and to direct our energies towards changing these patterns. This makes perfect sense!

A quote from the Baha’i writings states, “The reality of man is his thought…”

This makes perfect sense and is on target with Dispenza’s thinking.

Whatever we think tends to manifest itself in what we then believe and then what we believe becomes our reality manifesting itself in our actions. The key according to Dispenza and others in his field is to change our thinking which then rewires the synapses (connections) between the neurons in the brain and then the result is new behaviours. Change our thinking=change our actions! 

Sooo…. how do we go about this process?

Dispenza recommended that we practice meditation. During meditation we can practice thinking about our thinking and then adapt so we are then thinking new thoughts and avoiding going down those old thought pathways over and over again. To be proactive and develop new thinking patterns.

Other mind-body practices (Tai-Chi, Qi gong, Guided Imagery, Autogenics, Hypnosis, etc.) would also meet this need for developing new thought patterns. I have practiced meditation and I have found it to have profound effects on my thinking patterns. 

Bottom Line: if we want to change the way we think, we need to first think about how we think (and we are all different based on our own individuality) and then implement new practices that allow us to develop and reinforce new thought patterns that will then manifest themselves in our outward actions.

If we do this, it results in rewiring of neural synapses in the brain which can lead to (as Candace Pert said decades ago) recreating ourselves on a daily basis.

This may seem simplistic yet it makes so much sense and people have been utilizing these simple mind-body practices for thousands of years with excellent results.

Peace,

Jim

8 Ways To Tell When COVID Has Left The Building

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Magic is in the air…

… which I suppose is a nice change from floating viral particles.

Of course it doesn’t take a lot of calling on Mr. GOOGLE, or Alexa, or Siri, to realize that those coronavirus splinters and scraps are pretty much as prevalent as ever… but…

Now, we have rosy COVID-resistant glasses that prevent us from seeing it anymore. It’s like we’re wearing 100-SPF COVID-screen.

Life, at least in my little valley enclave in British Columbia has mystically returned to the long ago era of BC (Before COVID).

Sure, there are still some remnants of those darker prehistoric days… a few plexiglass barriers, an occasional mask-wearer, hand sanitizer inside store entrances.

But these are becoming museum pieces of a bygone era… so quickly forgotten.

.

Today I’ll support my case with some examples of the end of COVID as we have come to know and love it.

8 Ways I know that COVID fear is pretty much over?

  1. MASKS? Those things we wore to remind us of the beauty of a person’s eyes? Gone Girl!
  2. Trump is back!! Yes, the more virulent Orange virus is back on top of the headlines, displacing the skyrocketing charts of dead and dying from our screens, with dread and lying. GILEAD redux?
  3. Work from home? Pajama Fridays? Peeing during ZOOM meetings? Finito! Elon Musk says get back to the office or find another job.
  4. We can visit the elderly, sick, and dying in their homes and hospital/care-home bedrooms in place of a cellphone screen or glass-plate window. Death, a normally lonely experience (is anything more lonely than leaving this planet when everyone else is staying behind?) is just a tiny bit less frightening when you have a hand to hold while taking your last breath.
  5. Marriages, anniversaries, birthdays, concerts, movies, reunions, Funerals(!)… celebrations and drunk-fests/wakes of all sorts are back on.
  6. All the Vaccine clinics that popped up everywhere have disappeared like Blockbuster movie rental stores. We’re back to buying our needles on street corners again.
  7. Airports and airplanes and trains have returned with a vengeance to their pre-COVID set of crowds and frustrations, delays and security measures.
  8. Lately, the JEOPARDY game show has had a Canadian contestant on their Los Angeles-based show almost once a week. For 2 years it was like Canada was nuked off the map. Everybody deserves a CANUCK in their life, eh?

Mattea Roach, Toronto Jeopardy Champion!

And, speaking of all of those travel frustrations, I’m going to test the exploration waters with a sojourn for a few weeks to the Emerald Isle, the Land of Erin.. OK… Ireland and Northern Ireland.

I’ll try to surface from my Irish Whisky haze long enough to check in with you at some point along the backroads.

In the meantime friends, I have my trusty… and trusted… friend, Jim Ferguson to carry the Man On The Fringe flag for a post or two while I sip Guinness and kiss the Blarney Stone.

And, as BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the end of her daily updates for almost 2 years of pandemic: “be kind, be calm, be safe“.

Good words to live by, with or without COVID.

Ireland Adopts Canada?

The Upside Down Devil On My Shoulder

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D‘oh… I woke up last night with a Pessimist Devil on my shoulder.

WTH? Where did YOU come from?

I’ve had an Optimist Angel on my other shoulder for a long time, but this new little Satan is gnawing at me… *SHOO!*

I’m living in a world of confusion… I’m more befuddled today than I’ve been in my entire dinosaur-aged life.

More befuddled than when I first saw race walkers in the Olympics and wondered… “WHY?” Are they racing to the bathroom but don’t want to run and cause an explosion?

More befuddled than a peephole placed on the edge of a glass door.

More befuddled than a golf ball decked out with camouflage paint.

I want to be an optimist.

I really really REALLY want to be an optimist.

I look at major components of our world and see a HUGE wave of historic hope and cheer.

There are a number of reputable reports telling us that humans are living a far better and safer life than they have in our entire history. What’s not to love? Optimists should be jumping for joy. And yet… it’s hard not to see…

… the Upside Down (see Stranger Things for explanation) in our world… and it’s becoming more and more evident in the past 5-10 years that this alternate dimension is inhospitable to humans and life of all kinds, and should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s the Upside Down shortlist:

Greenhouse gases and climate change

nuclear weapons at the ready in the trigger fingers of demented despots

super-killer guns in kids’ cereal boxes *only a slight exaggeration*

huge swaths of people with “science hatred”

widespread disbelief in clear and obvious facts

xenophobia

expanding wealth gap

viruses

inflation

healthcare inadequacy

Bill Gates

So, is Bill wrong?

Longer-term I don’t think so.

These concerns and worries I’m experiencing are like a pesky mosquito that hums around me in my bedroom darkness… it irritates incessantly but is astonishingly resistant to the “squish”.

I know that modern technology, ubiquitous internet, and social networks are both a panacea and deadly virus wrapped tightly in a single package… we love all the “wonder drug” good they bring us, the angelic positives… communication and education at our fingertips. *Why aren’t you TikTok’ing to me?*

But the devilish negatives, the “Monkeypox” side effects are pressing a colossal thumb on the weigh scales of civilization. Our degrees of humanity are becoming less human and more neanderthal.

Who would have predicted 25 years ago that with greater education, we’d become more stupid in many ways?

As worried as I might seem, I know that humanity (like investments) doesn’t follow a straight-line upwards graph of human progress and happiness. There are tumultuous and painful bumps along the road. Dreadful storms need to be weathered to reach Shangri-La.

The antidote to my pint-sized “shoulder demon”, and my optimistic message to you and me both in these uncertain times, is to take a deep yoga breath and reflect on the “angelic” positives.

Here are just 8 global “angels” to brighten the world:

OK… while it’s pretty clear that the manure of life will never smell like roses…

… we can remind ourselves of the little boy who, upon receiving a pile of horsesh*t for his birthday, immediately began digging through it with glee and excitement… “yippee, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!“”

THE MAP OF LIFE – The Song

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Introspection, retrospection,

genuflection, crunch

Ice cream soda, Lemonade punch

Tell me the name, Of my honey-bunch

…………

Yes, go back, way back, to the playground of your youth… to the skipping rope of life.

It can be fun to reflect on the childish, gigglish stuff we did as kids.

Those carefree summer days with popsicles and ice cream trucks, swings and teeter-totters (see-saws if you prefer), baseball bats and Barbies, Slinkys and Yo-Yo’s.

Those early days ever so slowly morph into teenage, then young adult, perhaps parenting years… speeding up into late adulthood and seniorhood… racing into elderly dawns… following the map of life.

………….

Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – Confucius

…………

The GPS that directs us is largely in our hands to determine.

A million choices, a billion decisions and forks in the road – the expected and unexpected – the exhilarating and tragic – that guide us forward.

…………

Travel [Life] isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

…………

Today, in my quest forward as a lyricist and songwriter, I’ve taken the metaphor of life as a journey and a map, a series of roads and crossroads to travel, taking us on the wild and mysterious ride of our existence.

We spend our days looking forwards and backwards, looking inwards. Sometimes we coast along smoothly, contentedly… sometimes we feel empty, confused, and lost.

From a songwriting perspective, a major contributor to the emotional push and pull of a song is the tune and rhythm that guides the words. The “prosody” effect is critical to the enjoyment of a song.

Musically, I can hear this song set in a similar tempo and “drive” as Dire Strait’s Sultans of Swing… feel the rhythm of the road beneath you as you motor along…

So buckle yourself in and let’s go for a drive…

The Map of Life

by Larry Green

Drive the highways
drive the backroads
fill my trunk with
whatever it holds
Open the glovebox 
pull out the map
savour spring's lilacs
the map of my life

.
red light, yellow light, green light, go
.
The asphalt is strewn
sometimes it's clear
look over the fields
scan all I revered
Open the windows
and look in the mirror
survey the map
the map of my life
.
red light, yellow light, green light, go
.

CHORUS

Pull out the pages
let the wind tease my hair
Lucky souls, lovers and friends
dribbled through the ages
stain the map of many bends
.
red light, yellow light, green light, go
.
.
Now where are the rivers,
the crossroads, the balladeers
the accidents and lawgivers
green lights and the quitters
Peer ahead through the windshield
thru mornings thru sunsets
for the lights of the diner
shining on the map of my life
.
red light, yellow light, green light, go

The Wonderful Worries of Life

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I should be worried about this post. Just kidding, I’m not.

I’ve been writing these weekly posts for 10 years this month, 518 blog entries, half a million words, 5 good-sized novels…

I love that you allow me to share my views and inner thoughts, that you agree or disagree with me, smile or grimace at my words…

… so why would I worry now? Well…

I was a nervous child.

Like my mother, I worried. Mom was a champion worrier. Mom could fret with the best.

I’ll likely never measure up to my mother’s worry quotient… and this is a good thing. I’m sure that worrying was one contributing factor to her early demise.

There are worries and there are WORRIES.

We spend a large part of our lives endeavouring to split the hairs of distinction between those two that allows us to sleep at night.

Worrying is a protective defence mechanism that is useful, but only to a point.

Worry is like a hammer that can help build something beautiful in our lives or the same tool with which we *oh f&%k* whack our thumb.

When procrastination settles in, worrying can be positively motivating so that we reach our goals. Worrying can be useful when something needs to be done to protect our physical or mental wellbeing. As long as worry begets action, I’m on board.

But we need to protect ourselves against over-thinking and over-worrying when it prevents us from living a life that leaves us fulfilled and enthusiastic about where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and where we’re headed.

As a kid:

• I worried and obsessed about classroom presentations.

I liked schoolwork and projects, I just never wanted to stand at the front of a class and tell others about my wondrous intellectual discoveries and achievements… I froze in my worry.

• I worried about whether Dale Curry liked me in Grade 1 the way I liked her (I’m pretty sure she did, I was extremely charming then!).

I liked girls a lot but throughout my teen years never had the male swagger that allowed me to ask someone out on a date until I was 110% sure I would get a big YES!

• I worried about whether all my newspaper customers would pay me and I’d have the money together to send off to the Hamilton Spectator office on time.

I was never arrested for late payments, so I’m certain my childhood credit rating was stellar.

These were lowercase worries, but inside the head of a youngster they felt the same as the much larger, more consequential worries that came along in later life.

This is the thing about worry. Large or small, when it happens inside your own head, they all FEEL HUGE.

It’s akin to the axiom about how surgeries are minor except the ones being done to ourselves.

After I bought my first car (1967 Rambler American) at 17, I constantly worried that it would break down and where would I get the money for repairs.

This really was a bona fide situation for worry. I was living on the razor’s edge money-wise in my late teen years.

Later, as a young adult and professional medical laboratory technologist, I would sometimes lay awake in bed after being called in to work during the night to perform a blood cross-match. What if my bleary eyes made a mistake, even a little one?

A bleeding patient in need of an emergency blood transfusion called for a rapid lab response where a very minor error on my part could result in doing far more damage to the patient than their car accident or GI bleed had already created.

I worried that I would arrive for my morning hospital shift to the news that “my” overnight patient had died from a botched crossmatch.

……………..

Telling me or anyone not to worry is a fool’s game and a total aggravation. No one wants to be told this. Worry turns to fury at the sound of these words.

Life has a rhythm and flow… worrying joins in the song of life for better or worse… usually a tsunami of worry is thankfully followed by a quiescent period of restoring calm.

There are lots of means of coping with our worries that I won’t go into here.

The internet (and greater experts than myself, like Jim Ferguson) will direct you to a myriad of possible solutions … however, one salve I will add is one of my favourite maxims that covers a great deal of ground…

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

… every worry I’ve ever experienced in life has subsided or succumbed to these 4 simple words…

Thanks for hanging with me for these past 10 years… I appreciate it- and you– more than you know.

The New Relativity Theory- The TAO of Larry

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When I hear my father’s voice coming from my mouth, I know I’m an old fogey… let’s face it, merely using the words “old fogey” qualifies me in the Old Fogey Hall of Fame.

It gets worse.

Old fogeys are angry and cantankerous, opinionated and gassy, poorly dressed and often foul-mouthed. I don’t want any of that. I reject old-fogey’dom (even if I share some traits!)!

My Dad often prefaced his sentences with, “In the good ole days….”, or, “In the olden days…

To a kid like me, those 4 or 5 words were the very earliest and best noise-cancelling headphones ever… my ears automatically hit MUTE when I heard them uttered.

More and more as we grow older, we live less and less in the present. The past is our reality.

We begin comparing peoples’ manners, prices, architecture, movies, songs, and, well, you name it, to the way things felt, looked, tasted, and smelled in our younger years… yup, in the good ole days.

It’s all about our personal reference point.

Our reference point for the history of the world begins the day and year we are born.

There is life Before Larry (BL), Early Larry (EL), and finally, After Larry (AL) (substitute your name for Larry).

Everything I learned in school was in the BL times and is truly meaningless, at least to a hapless tween.

BL history is a rehash of the dumb things that occurred in science and the universe in bygone days, which has absolutely no relevance to anyone between the ages of 5 and 15. I grew up believing that Columbus was a hero…. YAY… you discovered North America… huh says every First Nations’ person???

EL covers the time territory between about 15 and 55 years. This is when all things important and memorable occurred. The entire relevant and consequential history of the earth (in our view) takes place in this time frame.

Finally, and the stage I find myself in now is the AL period. This is the time when most of life’s major events have already happened and now all things get compared to those “good old days” of EL

EL is the way things were meant to be, according to the TAO of Larry (once again, substitute your name here). Nothing that happened before or after this era should ever change.

  • Old fogeys slip into grousing about the younger generation and their use of computers and cellphones and games.
  • Old fogeys protest the need for “apps” to do stuff.
  • Old fogeys lament the loss of courtesy.
  • Old fogeys say ALL politicians are liars and all people are heterosexual.
  • Old fogeys say that their music was better and more melodic/more danceable/more XYZ.

Old fogeys think that everything was better in years past because that was their norm, their reference point from which to judge the world.

Funny but true? The world changes. Always has. Always will.

Some things will be better. Some things will be worse. Most things will be neither except in the subjective eye of the beholder.

The universe is expanding and so should we.

Perhaps the best way to go about life, regardless of whether it’s from the reference point of BL, EL or AL is to remember the wise words of Desiderata…

…”And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Dear Ron Howard: I Need You! WE Need You!!

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The Fonz (Henry Winkler) and Richie (Ron Howard)

Dear Mr. Howard…. may I call you Ron (not Opie or Richie, I get it)?

I’ve admired you since childhood …

Your ability to circumnavigate the pressures and stresses of Hollywood life as a child actor in the Andy Griffith Show and later as an adult actor (American Graffiti), director, and screenwriter is a testament to your level-headedness and composure.

You’ve always shown us a friendly face and a gosh-darn charm that is nearly impossible to find in the world in which you live.

I find it particularly commendable that you’ve mastered the challenges of directing… what an achievement to wrangle hundreds of people (and egos) into making a coherent and tight production.

In the world of superb movie directors I believe you’ve been overlooked as one of the greats.

A mere few of your directorial achievements are: A Beautiful Mind, Apollo13, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Willow, Cocoon, Cinderella Man, Splash, Parenthood, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code.

Finding the right director is critical to the success of a flick… I’ve personally had the experience of working with a music recording producer who tried to re-shape me – an unabashed folkie-style singer/songwriter – into a “rocker”… ok, it was fun, but not a good fit.

I don’t know beans about filmmaking but I’m pretty sure that finding the right directorial “fit” is a big part of a film production.

I’m coming at you today because I have a brilliant idea for a film or TV show…

… and given your experiences in directing and writing a variety of movie styles – notable ones that I think relate directly to my idea are Willow and How The Grinch Stole Christmas – I believe you are the best choice to bring my concept to life.

Here, let me run this past you for your thoughts.

It’s a riff on the early 1990’s Jim Henson-inspired TV show DINOSAURS.

Dinosaurs was a raucous and extremely clever satire on late 20th century human existence acted out by a charming family of, yes, animatronic dinosaurs.

Father Earl Sinclair and mother Fran’s son and youngest child is a Megalosaurus.

Baby Sinclair is the clear star of the series.

Baby is sarcastic. Baby is wisecracking. His favourite thing to do is hit Earl on the head with a frying pan while calling out his catch phrases such as “I’m the baby. Gotta love me.”, “Again!” and “Not the mama!“.

Although Dinosaurs is targeted at a family audience, the show touched upon multiple topical issues which included environmental, endangered species, women’s rights, sexual harassment, LGBTQ rights, objectification of women, censorship, civil rights, body image, steroid use, drug abuse, peer pressure, indigenous peoples, corporate crime, and racism.

The true beauty of the show was that any topic could be addressed and lampooned when the characters are merely ridiculous dinosaurs. We don’t take our own foibles personally when the characters don’t resemble us… it’s THEM not YOU!

OK, so here it is Ron. The meat. The place where YOU enter.

My idea is to bring back and update a very similar TV/movie scenario but in the form of political comedy with the dinosaurs loosely (but very clearly) resembling in tone the characters of the Trump White House… a true political satire.

I laugh just thinking about it. Donald and Melania, Ivanka and Eric, Don Jr. and Kaylee, Pompeo and Kellyanne, Barr and the rest of the comedy troupe … ALL dinosaurs wandering the White House hallways!

Just imagine if you will, an orange-tinted dinosaur (shall we call him TRUMPOSAURUS?) who :

  • treats his sick minion-dinosaurs to bleach cocktails…
  • holds Dino-Bibles upside-down…
  • thinks origins is pronounced “oranges”…
  • says: ““I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down”
  • or: “I’m a shallow person. That’s one of my strengths. I never pretend to be anything else.”
  • or: “Never had a drink. That’s one of my good things. Never had a drink, and I never had a cigarette. Other than that, I’m a disaster.”
  • or: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
  • or: “[he’s] … not a war hero. He’s a war hero – he’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
  • or: “She does have a very nice figure… If [she] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
  • or: “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.
  • Or finally… “That’s why I am running: to end the decades of bitter failure and to offer the American people a new future of honesty, justice, and opportunity. A future where America, and its people, always – and I mean always – come first.”

Great comedy material, right?

Please… I need you Ron Howard… we all need you… WHY?

The world needs to hear and see a pack of crazy, silly dinosaurs saying these lunatic, incomprehensible things so we don’t plunge back into the same primordial mess once again.

Isn’t the world suffering enough?

I implore you … It’s either you Ron, or a reset with another big asteroid strike.

Prehistorically yours… Larry

Putting The Focus On Your Labels

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Do as I say not as I do…

I’ll be chatting you up about labels and focus today but before that – and demonstrating my terrible lack of focus – I can’t not share the splendour of spring beauty that sits outside my window in this small valley oasis in Western Canada… the Okanagan Valley.

As I stroll my little rural street, it’s mid-bloom, a lyrical miracle of stunning colour and scent of fruit trees… nectarines and plums, apricots and apples, peaches and pears. Pink and white promise-filled flowers blended into the fresh, new leafy green shoots.

Stepping outside in the morning is the springtime equivalent of stepping into your grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving or Christmas and inhaling the aromas wafting from her oven – the turkey, cinnamon and sage spices, vanilla and baking apples.

Mixed in with the sweetness of the drifting floral scents is the humming of activity surrounding the square white boxes left on the fringes of the orchards where pollinating bees come in and out of their hives like rushing throngs of Costco shoppers.

It’s sensory overload of the greatest kind.

…………..

NOTE to self: focus Larry.

Yes, today I’m thinking about LABELS and FOCUS.

Like cans and jars in the supermarket, we all have labels that attach to us – little descriptors that tell us and the world who we are. (Let’s agree to ignore the negativity labels that exist to bring us down)

Labels tell us our personal meaning of life… labels justify our existence. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy… you get it.

What are the labels you use to describe yourself if someone asks?

I struggle with this as an ADHD kinda guy who has many too many labels to know where to begin.

Perhaps this sounds like a good thing but I’m not so sure.

I’m TOO scattered.

Here’s my off-the-cuff label list to bore those who are foolish enough to inquire:

  • Husband/Parent/Grandparent
  • Guitar player/Singer/Songwriter
  • Exercise – Runner/Swimmer/Cyclist/Yoga/Weight Training/Tennis/Hockey (as a kid)
  • Stock Market Investor
  • Liberal
  • Introvert
  • Traveller/Homebody
  • Blog Writer
  • Music Lover -Folk/Country/Classical
  • Rom/Com Movie Lover
  • Medical Lab Tech/Retired
  • Woodworker/Renovator
  • Language Learner/Teacher
  • Cook/Baker/Fast Food Junkie
  • Chocaholic
  • Atheist/Philosopher
  • Gardener
  • Philanthropist/Volunteer

It’s an endogenous and exogenous list that both describes the internal me while also giving me a real meaning and sense of purpose… we can agree that this is good.

But, while that list may or may not be as long as yours, the boots-on-the-ground problem with a lengthy label list is focus and prioritization.

Like I said, I’m too scattered and this creates a brain traffic jam for me.

My solution has typically been making daily lists and trying to site the most critical tasks and joys early in the day when my mind and body are at their freshest and most energetic.

Today, I find my brain squeeze is growing ever greater as being an involved granddad and “parenting” a local Syrian family with their daily struggles is making me take a critical look at my list of labels – my label darlings.

As writers like William Faulkner and Stephen King are known to say, “You have to kill your darlings.”

Or, less dramatically, as Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson might say, “Something’s Gotta Give“.

Going forward, I’ll be looking carefully at my focus and priorities. Making tough choices.

As a people pleaser, I’ll struggle with the word NO, but will need to steel my resolve and use it more often.

And, unlike Stephen King, I really don’t want to traumatize any of you, so I promise I won’t kill any of my darlings, but I may have to put some down for a nap. (but definitely NOT the Chocaholic!)

I’m too sexy for my car…

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Nope, it’s not this Man On The Fringe that’s too sexy for anything. Not a chance

However, my good pal (and regular guest blogger) Jim Ferguson was and is filled with sex appeal. He oozes sensuality from his pores… scratch your screen and smell the heady musk…

As you read this post, I may be running my grand ole a** through the streets of downtown Vancouver with thousands of other crazies, so this is a perfect time to have Jim take the reins and tell you another of his fun stories.

Thanks for jumpin’ in here James… it’s over to you:

………………..

Larry has once again asked yours truly to provide some MOTF blog fodder and so I will do my best to live up to the fine standard Sir Lawrence has set (there is a standard…right? 😊).

I was listening to the radio recently and Right Said Fred’s song “I’m too sexy for my…” played. I’m sure you’ve all heard this catchy tune.

Well, one of the phrases in the song goes like this: “I’m too sexy for my car, too sexy for my car, too sexy by far”, and on it goes.

Well…I started to ponder whether I am, indeed, too sexy for my car and I realized that I have two vehicles (“I’m too sexy for my vehicle” just doesn’t do it for me…how about you?).

Not only do I have two vehicles BUT I have owned 27 vehicles in my adult life, and I am here to tell you that I am too sexy for most of them. Just ask Larry. He will tell you I am about as sexy a guy as you’ll ever meet. Right Larry?…..Larry?…..Larry?

Okay… that’s up for debate but allow me to make my case here and you can determine if I am too sexy for the following samples of cars from my collection over the years. You be the judge.

I married my wife Deborah in October 1979.

She had a 1969 two-toned VW bug. It was awesome and some even went so far to speculate that I had married Deb for her car. NOT SO! 😊

It was a two-toned, stick shift, brown VW bug with a Porsche gear shift knob. It was fantastic and honestly, I must say I was NOT too sexy for that car. That car was fun to drive, and I wish we still had it today as it would be worth a nice tidy sum if it were still in decent shape.

We saw the proverbial writing on the wall as mechanical issues reared their ugly heads. So, we sold the bug to a friend who wanted to fix it up and we slid on into a 1971 VW Super Beetle.

What a letdown that was.

It was bright orange and flashy, we had a new engine installed, but, it was rather blah and uninspiring.

I was definitely a sexier beast than the Super Beetle (now… maybe if it had come with John, Paul, George, and Ringo…different story… 😊).

Let’s move on to a few others from my car collection that I know I am too sexy for.

How about our brown, blah VW rabbit?

It had four wheels and drove and that was about it. Having a root canal was more fun than driving the Rabbit! We had this car while at university and it was a good utilitarian car for college students. It was great on gas BUT that still does not make it sexier than me!

We did own a Ford LTD. Can you say, “boat anchor”. We bought it off my folks in Nova Scotia for $500.00 and drove it for a year before it tanked on us.

Now let’s get those damn minivans out of the way…right here and now!

Move them to the side of the plate with the Brussel Sprouts. No way I lose out to a minivan. I owned two of them. They are great when you have kids. There is no denying that! BUT they are still minivans!

I owned a stick shift Dodge Caravan and an automatic Plymouth Voyager. I am almost too embarrassed to be even having this discussion. I feel like I should apologize to each reader individually. There simply is no way I lose out to a couple of minivans. I am like Fabio compared to minivans! Or a cross between Fabio and Keanu Reaves…right!

Better than a minivan, yes?

Now, during our college days, we did buy a 1967 Dodge Dart on its last legs and drove it for a year or so even with a crappy radiator and a cracked manifold.

I can’t compete with a ’67 Dart (despite the crappy radiator and cracked manifold and all). Uncle! Uncle! I give up! The Dart was a sexy beast and fun to drive. I humbly submit to the Dart.

Oh! And when I was in grad school in North Carolina in the late 1980s, I briefly owned a…wait for it………wait for it………be patient and wait for it……….a YUGO!!!

Yes indeed! I was the proud owner of a Yugo. I bought it second hand, but it was essentially new and it had less than a thousand miles on it. It was a sexy little car and fun to drive.

Imagine Deb and me and three kids crammed into that tiny car zipping all over Greensboro, NC! I submit to the Yugo. It was sexier than me by a long shot. I bet you didn’t see that coming right!!!

Here’s a “gimme” for you.

I owned a 1997 Mazda Miata 5-speed stick.

What a fun ride that was. In the summer after a busy/stressful day at work Deb and I would head out onto the country roads of Oregon with the top down at high speeds for what we termed “Miata therapy”. It was always fun and relaxing and a sweet ride.

Not too much fun in the winter or when there was a lot of rain, yet, it was definitely a smidge more sexy than I.

As you’ll see in the list below, I also had a Kawasaki 650 motorcycle for a couple of years. I had similar exhilaration on the motorcycle as experienced in the Miata with the top down.

I can’t end this jaunt down memory lane without an honourable mention for my 1997 Ford Expedition. I bought it in 2001. When we moved back to Nome, Alaska in 2002, I made sure to ship the Expedition to Nome and man ‘o man am I glad I did.

I got in and out of some crazy remote areas for hunting and fishing in the Expedition. It opened doors to access areas a normal vehicle could not reach. The Expedition was definitely a sexier beast than I.

Well…that’s all I have for you this time. Definitely some lighter fare than my usual headier blog posts.

I would be remiss if I did not give you the full list of my vehicles owned since 1979 (as best I can recall).

You be the judge. I am feeling the love from all of you and know that you’ll agree that other than a few outliers…

I am way too sexy for most of these vehicles:

  • 1969 VW Beetle
  • 1974 Ford LTD
  • 1973 Super Beetle
  • late ‘70s VW Rabbit
  • 1967 Dodge Dart
  • 1971 Pontiac Sunbird
  • 1980 Dodge Caravan
  • early ‘80s Kawasaki 650
  • 1985 Nissan Sentra
  • 1988 Yugo
  • 1986 Nissan Sentra
  • 1971 Plymouth Volare
  • 1992 Dodge Dakota
  • 1994 Plymouth Voyager
  • 1989 Pontiac
  • 1981 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon
  • Chevrolet S-10
  • 1997 Ford Expedition
  • 2004 Honda Civic
  • 2008 Scion
  • 1997 Mazda Miata
  • 1996 Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Tacoma x 2
  • Subaru Outback Sport
  • Toyota Prius
  • 2006 Dodge Dakota
  • 2007 Lexus RX350

What vehicles are on your list? Anything worthy of a mention? Feel free to add your favourite(s) in the comment section.

Peace,

Jim

Is this man too sexy?

Cool School

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Did you see Steven Spielberg’s version of West Side Story this year? It was cool.

So was the song COOL in the movie… the one below is from the original 1961 screenplay…

Yup, finger-snapping cool.

I really really wanted to be cool in the 1960’s. Movies were Cool School.

Saturday 50¢ cent matinees at the Palace or Capitol Theatre in Hamilton, Ontario were MY Cool School.

The 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde enthralled me. Best opening credits ever and an explosive, emotional killer of a final scene.

I wanted to grow up to be Clyde Barrow… or Bonnie Parker… didn’t matter that she was a woman, she was young and sexy and fun. She made lipstick seem sensuous and pornographic.

They were both cool.

Actually, I think I really wanted to be Warren Beatty playing Clyde because he was just as young as Faye Dunaway (Bonnie) but even more sexy and more fun, plus he chopped some toes off in prison just so he didn’t have to do chain gang duty… is anything more sexy or fun than chopping off your toes to get a week off work? So much more cool than COVID.

And, have you ever seen Beatty’s smile? Who wouldn’t want to be him?

He was cool.

And if I couldn’t be Warren Beatty playing Clyde or Faye Dunaway playing Bonnie, then I’d have settled for Steve McQueen as a detective in Bullitt.

McQueen was so stoic and unemotional (in the movie and in real life). Stoic is cool.

More importantly, he drove a screaming fast 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback that could fly over San Francisco hills like it was a jet setting off into California’s skies before landing with a big crash-bang on the asphalt. (He drove that Mustang like he rode the motorcycle in The Great Escape).

He was so cool.

Wait? Maybe it was actually Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy or Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid that I wanted to be… they both had blue eyes and deadly smiles.

Butch could kick other big guys in the balls and Sundance could 6-shooter 10 men dead in 5 seconds like a Tesla hits 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds.

Oh man, they were cool.

Interior of Hamilton’s Capitol Theatre where I spent many childhood matinee hours

Flash forward 50 years…

In today’s 10 screen Multiplex movie world, I’d suppose I’d gobble my popcorn and dream of being sexily sardonic Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool… he is today’s COOL. Hi Blake Honey, I’m home. Good Twitter comeback at me today!

Alas, my dreams of being cool like all these actors… or for that matter, my other dream of becoming a rock star like Elton John never happened. If I ever had any chances… well… they slipped through my fingers like sand in an egg-timer.

Here I sit at this point in life – broken-hearted and broken-bodied *Boo-Hoo*– and I’ve accepted my Cool School dreams will never be actualized. Dreams CAN be enough.

But isn’t West Side Story’s Tony (Ansel Elgort) pretty cool?

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