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Back To The Future aka The Way We Were…

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I’m guilty and so are you… probably…

Every generation, at least in the past 100+ years thinks…

… that’s there’s something hugely wrong about the next generation.

They’re irresponsible or lazy or inappropriate or ill-mannered or off-base.

It’s your kids, Marty! Something’s gotta be done about your kids!”

Doc Brown, Back To The Future

……..

Yup, just plunk yourself down at a table in a bar or a coffee-shop (when it’s COVID-allowed) and listen to the vintage-gangs of older men or grey-haired women… catch the greasy wafts of Brylcreem and Oil of Olay mixed with caffeine and righteousness...

John will gruffly complain about the government and how they coddle the unemployed or the youth, “we worked hard for everything in our day, there were no handouts.”, he’ll say.

Susan will lament about how the new Mom’s are slack and overly-attentive to their children’s every scrape or bruise, “it’s like the sacred kids can’t breathe without their mother’s phone camera catching every blessed inhale.”

So, are they right?

All of us have a fixed point of reference in our lives, and that point begins the moment we cry out and inhale our very first breath.

Everything that is “normal” in the world is what happens after our “birth”day and in our first few years.

The normal world isn’t what occurred 100 years ago or 100 years from now… it’s what we see and hear with our own eyes in our early years.

Case in point: The house where you grew up probably didn’t exist 100 years before you were born, but to you … that house is what is NORMAL, not the forest of trees that lived there for hundreds of years before.

Before and after that, it’s just a cluster-fuck… all aberrant and crazy.

Think about it and reflect a bit… every school, every job, every value and every technology that rolls out is compared to what we’ve personally experienced through our life: our own formative days and years.

I’m convinced all the old crotchety people *which might mean ME* we encounter are viewing the world through this jaundiced lens… which is why we so often hear the elder generation say… “it’s not like it was when I was growing up“.

And they’re right… it’s not.

Countless things have changed and will keep on changing.

Our existence – like a rose’s bloom – is in constant flux.

Generations back, fathers and sons shared the same “worldview” from generation to generation knowing that they were farmers today and farmers tomorrow… mothers and daughters knew that they were housekeepers and child-raisers for all their days.

But the Industrial Revolution followed by the Information Revolution came along and the wheels kept spinning faster and faster. Farmers became accountants and assembly line workers, housewives evolved into lawyers and engineers.

Parents grudgingly adjusted to the new reality while hoping this revolutionary change would stop with them.

But it never did. And their kids pushed the envelope and kept “remodelling and retooling”. They loved Elvis and Marilyn Manson, not Bach or Benny Goodman.

To your parents and grandparents, you became the one that was leading a ridiculously misguided life.

Time passed, and one day you perhaps became a parent yourself. And the wheels of change kept on rolling, rolling, rolling.

Today, every child is bombarded by hundreds of TV shows on a dozen platforms, thousands of websites, daily changes to software and apps that they use in every waking moment.

Kids’ Moms and Dads both work outside the home and tread life’s water as fast as they can with outdated tools that were given them 10, 20, or 30 years back.

They paddle hard but they’re helpless against the flood coming at them.

These same kids too will find themselves snowed under one day in the near future and recount to their own kids about how life was simpler and more sensible in their day.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with each successive generation… different, yes, but not wrong…

The way we were isn’t the way we are… nope…

We are living in a Back To The Future world… good golly Miss Molly… Marty McFly is… US!

PS Random thought from the blog post of INVERSE:

Riddle me this: Both of these organs guard their contents closely, appear wrinkly on the outside, and can determine the course of an individual life. What are they?

We’re talking about the brain and the testicles.

Human male testes and brains create more than 13,000 of the same proteins, more than any other tissues in the body, and partially control what makes humans unique.

So don’t laugh when men think from below the waist… it’s a part of our smart DNA….

Guys v. Dolls – I’m Short Term Wrong But Long Term Right?

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A painful truth I’ve discovered in my 3 score plus 3 years is that if I should prognosticate on almost anything, you had better run in the other direction, because I’m most likely incorrect.

Like…… if I say, “Buy shares in GAMESTOP, you can’t lose…” (I would never do that!), or “Tampa Bay is a sure thing in the Super Bowl” (although you should never ever bet against Tom Brady)… odds are pretty high that the opposite will come true.

Today is no different, except, in this case, I believe I’ll be proven correct in the longer term.

So what the hell am I talking about?

Well, 6+ years ago (can you remember that far back before Trump was anything more than a reality show oddity instead of a real world NUT CASE?) I confidently predicted that women would soon rule the world

The BOSS with Balls!

In that post, I laid out my case with these points :

Here’s some reasons why women WILL dominate in years to come:

  1. Women don’t waste time playing video games and watching porn. Girls just grow up and get on with life…well, and obsess over shoes but that’s a minor pastime on the way to the corner office.
  2. Women excel at communication and conciliation, whereas mens’ authoritarian style of coercion is outdated. Women are attuned to social dynamics and know the benefits of collaboration vs. competition.
  3. Women are getting educated and at higher levels. In just about every field, women are either in the lead or are charging hard to take the lead. It’s like China vs the U.S.. Get lazy, and complacent and watch the competition overtake you.
  4. Women know how to balance career and family. Both career and social worlds can thrive simultaneously. Men (like myself) can’t pull off multi-tasking unless beer and a TV remote are involved.
  5. Men persist in thinking they can rise through manual labour. The world has changed and many men refuse to believe or acknowledge it. If men don’t excel and women do, don’t blame women. Wake up and smell that coffee boys!
  6. Womens’ self-definition is changing. Women don’t feel the need to acquiesce to men to sooth their egos. If a job needs doing, women will just jump in and do it. Damsels in distress are so yesterday.
  7. Allowing women to vote, fight wars, run businesses, and play sports, levels the field. Women may never be able to build the overall physical strength of a man, but can equal or better him in every other facet of life if they choose to.
  8. Men want to get rich quick but don’t want to work or wait for it. Men are too impatient and unwilling to take the longer, slower route to a better solution. Too many impetuous mistakes are made by wanting everything now.

I was taken to task at the time by a couple of comment’ers for “trying too hard to submit yourself to some imaginary dominatrix”… or… “I wish a strong woman would castrate me. preferably in a ritualistic setting with her sisters there to assist”.

Comments like those assure me that my thinking was running along the right track, even if not 100% correct.

Misogynists aside… I’m not pandering or even man-hating.

So, where’s the hold-up? As the past 4 years and the present are showing us, the threatened world view of old, white men (and not all are OLD) is fighting back against the inevitable tide; the only thing I truly missed 6 years ago was the time frame in which the process of female ascendancy would take place. It’s a process that takes years.

I’m observing an unmistakable trend with a few bumps along the road, not unlike the uneven rise of wealth in the poorer countries of the globe. The ride can be rough but the vista ahead is clear.

We can look at exceptions to try to turn the tables, but the Julie Payette’s and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s of the world are minor aberrations alongside the sea of angry dudes who refuse to accept the direction of the wind and turn their sails towards cooperation instead of confrontation.

Look at the forest, not at the trees, and the view becomes more evident.

• In Canada, Parliamentary seats are held by 29% women now compared to 23% in 2010 (Inter-Parliamentary Union).

• Worldwide, democratic assembly seats are held by 25.2% women today vs 19.2% in 2010. (World Bank)

• In the US, Congress and Senate chairs are made up of 27% women vs 17% in 2010 (NPR).

So, if I look back again in 6 more years, will my crystal ball win any prizes? Women rule?

Hmmm… given my track record, perhaps not… but I’m not giving up…

… I’m stubborn… I still think I’m short term wrong, but long term right!

BEYOND MOO, Cluck, Oink, Gobble, and GlubGlub…

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The bloodless revolution is in full swing… load up your tofu fork now…

The meaty secret is out of the bag – the world is awash in major transitions in a hundred different areas… and one BIGGEE that strikes us all every day is in what we eat.

Now I’ve talked here before about the challenges I’ve faced in inviting guests into our house and feeding a group that sounds like the making of a CLUE game: Ms. Vegan, Professor Celiac, Lady Lactose Intolerant, Colonel Keto, the list of characters goes on and on…

Today though, I want to delve a bit into the shape of our future as it pertains to MEATY Matters.

North America/Europe/Asia/DownUnder have all led us down the cultural belief-street of the wonders of protein from animal sources.

Family beef roasts were as much a part of my Sunday WASP upbringing as the United Church minister’s boring sermon. I love succulent beef. I savour rich Yorkshire Pudding. Gravy? Mmmmmm….

Meat is convenient and pretty darn easy for the average consumer.

So long as we are willing to cultivate animals (and their products) and then kill/harvest them (or better still, have someone else do the killing), we have a handy source of accessible protein to feed our muscles and bones.

It’s life sustaining for humans.

Watch out though, because, my friend:

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is

Rapidly fadin’.

And the first one now

Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’.

(Bob Dylan)

Yes, I can see the future in my shiny crystal ball… times are a-changin’, and it will not look like the past, although hopefully, it will taste like the past.

We are entering the Twilight Zone… the relatively new phenomenon of non-animal based protein sources that mimic or reproduce animal foods sans animal. Moo-free meat!

You can’t visit a supermarket or read a news journal without a sighting of non-meat information.

Beyond Meats, Impossible Meats, Soy Curls and Tofu-this-and-that are a mere beginning of what will land on our plates and palates in coming months and years.

Wishful thinking my Carnivore Compadre!

One day you and I will find “steak” and “chicken breasts” and “shrimp” that resemble what we are accustomed to seeing and relishing from the farms of our lush countrysides… EXCEPT:

Those “meats” will be products of food laboratories and industry farms that use miraculous tools of technology to bring us the flavours and textures of cow and chicken and pig… Wagyu beef without the intermediate step of birthing a cow. No heartbeat. No suffering.

My own set of beliefs on the use of meat are in constant flux as we travel this pathway of transition.

We can agree or disagree on the ethics and challenges of these products (and we surely will!)… but… we will not hold back the tide just as we can’t hold off the tsunamis that bowl us over in other areas of our lives.

We can affect the management, politics and morals of it, but we’ll not successfully prevent or outlaw the wholesale use of these sciences.

Here we sit today in a transition period just as the internal combustion engine is in an age of transition… we all need to get used to it and adapt.

Soon, cows and chickens and pigs will celebrate in the streets…

…yes, the bloodless revolution is underway… beet the drums, lettuce make merry… VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

On The Road To Becoming a Dinosaur…

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I’m not fully there yet … but, for God’s sake, just send in the meteor now to decimate me totally like the real dinosaurs.

Actually, I’d suggest shoving me off on some northern ice floe but those are mostly melted away now, replaced by Arctic yachts, Inuit bikinis and palm trees, yes?

WHAT? That sounds a bit desperate Larry.

So, am I correct in thinking that I’m losing my power, cracking open the door to irrelevance… to dinosaur’dom?

First, the glaringly obvious – yes, my arms are growing shorter (actually, it might be my spine *measure myself against the wall* … yes, it definitely IS my spine that is shorter)… my skin is getting scaly and rough… and when I get up to pee in the night (dinosaurs always got up to pee in the night, yes?), I sort of wobble back and forth on my legs like a T-Rex or a human toddler, until I feel my balance sensors kick in.

But not all the signs of dinosaur’osity are so undisguised.

It’s taken a few years for me to realize and understand this transfer of “power”, but it’s growing clearer to me that a transformation is underway and will likely develop more completely in years to come.

Sometimes, it takes a while to understand that small changes add up to a larger shift. Only when we look back afterwards, is it blindingly obvious.

OK, I sense your confusion. It might not be clear what I’m getting at, so let me go into more detail. I’ll give you 3 examples in today’s TedTalk… er.. LarryTalk!

1. PROFESSIONAL Work. I was a medical lab technologist for 37 years, most spent in the Microbiology trenches, hunched over agar plates, identifying bacteria, parasites, and fungi that cause infection and then informing doctors which antibiotics or other therapeutics would most likely be successful in eradicating the little microscopic buggers.

It was only in the last 5 years or so of my career that I became truly cognizant of the rapidity of change in knowledge and best-in-class treatment options. The pace was scary. I began worrying about my ability (and honestly, desire) to keep current.

When the fateful day came that I stayed awake at night worrying if I had provided the “best” treatment advice available, I knew that I had to make a MAJOR effort to regain/retain currency, or get the hell out of the way for those with the drive and energy to take it on. I was shape-shifting into a dinosaur.

Instead, I morphed into a happy computer database geek for the last few years of my working career and left the agonizing worry behind. I probably saved a few lives in making this change which kind of makes me a SuperHero, right? (No Attaboy‘s needed here!)

 

2. YOUNG folks begin to talk “around” me. My road to invisibility is slowly being built as kids in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s no longer view me as a source of infinite wisdom, knowledge and authority. Omnipotence Lost.

I can see it coming at me in my world because I know a few decades back, I began looking at my elders in a similar way. I found myself viewing them as pseudo-dinosaurs who deserved respect, but bit-by-bit I realized that I wasn’t putting as much weight or blind belief in their words. The new world was passing them by.

Akin to my first point above, the younger generation(s) can see that older people are struggling to keep up with the humongous social and technological changes that are overtaking us. I’m pretty sure the earthquake – the massive turning point – was when we found seniors’ living rooms filled with VCR’s that flashed 12:00 incessantly.

 

3. INVESTMENT tenets. I’ve been an amateur “investment analyst” for decades, developing a toolbox of skills that have helped provide me and my family a reasonable standard-of-living despite a relatively small income.

It has been a stimulating hobby that just happened to have a financial payday attached. But… big but (not BUTT, not yet at least!)… these investing tools I relied on for decades are slipping because of rapid technology change.

For sure, the principles and tenets of analysis are still valid, but they reflect a world of much slower change. As I’ve told my own kids, ten years ago I could, for example, count on big banks and large industries that were well-managed to produce good returns to me as a shareholder for many many years to come.

Now, because of disruptive technology and logarithmically fast research efforts, the strongest of the strong can be knocked off their pedestal overnight. We are making buggy-whip makers of almost every “old” company in weeks and months instead of years and decades. We can only guess who the winners and losers might be.

The only solution I can come up with at this moment is to hold a large, diversified bag of well-run “new age” companies, knowing that it will only require a couple of winners to make a successful portfolio. 

……………..

So my friends… I’ve got my eyes wide open, bobbing like a prize boxer, as I (Yoda) try to dodge the meteor that threatens my relevant existence.

We’re all in the same ring, floating like butterflies, doing the magic dance of keeping up.

It’s fascinating and dizzying, exciting and scary.

Do you think the real dinosaurs saw the meteor before it finally hit?

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…

Our Hope For New (Corona) Spring

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spring blooms

Apocalypse… Armageddon… End of Days…?

Nah, don’t think so…

Of course – full disclosure – I am the world’s very worst prognosticator, so perhaps if buying up all the toilet paper that every old-growth forest tree can produce is your greatest worry… you may NOT be the only one breathlessly laid out in ICU without clean underwear.

SORRY, I don’t want to be flip or callous or understated… because…

The world will change. Again.

We live in an era of fear and growth.

They’re reaching out to us and we have to choose which hand to hold.

For those of us of a certain age, we watched our black and white console TV sets in November 1963, and after wiping away our tears as JFK’s casket lowered into the earth, discovered a new world that, even with moon launches and high technology, reminded us that mankind will never be totally civilized… EVER. We are animals.

Another day a few decades after, we all woke up, watched a couple of huge iconic buildings tumble and then unwrapped a brand new world post 9/11… the day that airports and airline travel stopped being a relaxing joy.

A year from today, the world will hum along once again, restaurants will buzz, stores will stock up and fill up. Smiles and sanity will return like spring blooms. Most things will have the air of normalcy.

normalcy

EXCEPT.

New normalcy.

It will be a new normal. Countless things will change going forward.

Dickens knew his present, and our future.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …”

We will move on from this winter of despair to a new spring of hope.

Surely, it will affect how we interact (will hugs and handshakes disappear?), it could result in the elimination of cash usage… will we crowd into stadiums and theatres and airplanes in the same fashion as always? … will the cruise industry sail on or sink? … how many major conferences will crowd a hundred thousand folks into a Vegas warehouse?

virtual handshake

Think of greater use of robotics and drones and virtual classrooms.

Any major disruption brings out new industries and productive uses of technology that we would have never dreamed of.

And if you think that Amazon ruled the world before?  It’s only beginning (note the hidden hot stock tip!).

We are science’ing the S**T out of this calamity and it will bring us into another new era going forward.

Covid-19 is creating a whole new set of heroes (and more than a few A-holes).

Every situation of stress and tragedy brings out the “sinkers” and the “swimmers”, beautiful heroes and ugly villains.

Fear tests us like nothing else… just look at those who receive a cancer diagnosis and find a magical inner strength they never knew existed… everyday heroes.

World War 2 sunk Chamberlain and Hitler… while Churchill walked on water across the English Channel. We need a lot of Churchills, and we are fortunate to get them when we need them most.

Soon the peak shall pass and we’ll move forward individually and collectively.

And yes, there will be more Black Swans that viciously attack and pummel us to our asses when we least expect it.

But sure as shootin’, we will confront and overcome the obscure monsters again and again. Freddie Mercury was right… WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS my friends…

OK… let’s all hug (NOT) and … damn… how about a toilet paper exchange?

toilet paper out

 

EXTRA EXTRA! Get Yer Antiquated Newspaper

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YE Olde Newspaper.

I delivered newspapers for about 10 years as a kid.

Monday to Saturday. Rain. Wind. Snow. Oh yeah… snow!

All my siblings delivered newspapers too. It was in our DNA.

I was a GREAT paper boy. It took years to wash the newsprint ink off my arms afterwards.

I won trips to Detroit and Montreal and Ottawa for being a GREAT paperboy (my brother won a trip to California, he was the GREATEST!)

larry-spec-carrier-tiff.jpg

I read newspapers avidly for about 50 years.

I was a GREAT newspaper reader, maybe the GREATEST.

I subscribed to 2 or 3 dailies, a financial weekly, and also to a bunch of magazines of different flavours.

Nowadays…. nowadays… I barely scan a newspaper. Not one made from actual paper at least.

I subscribe to ONE physical newspaper… Penticton Herald – and ONE paper-full magazine… Acoustic Guitar… no Macleans, no TIME, no National Geographic (African Lady porn, we all know), no Nose-Pickers’ Weekly.

So. Have I changed or have newspapers changed?

Both answers are incorrect… wrong you might say.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED.

And of course, it’s not just newspapers. They’re merely one example of a huge picture.

Used to be that jugglers were special and rare. Jugglers schmugglers…

We turned on Ed Sullivan (who?) on Sunday night to watch somebody throw 2, then 3 balls, and if they were really good… 4 balls… in the air without dropping any.

We were GOBSMACKED at their ability and talent.

Today, unlike 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, we don’t watch Ed Sullivan (he doesn’t look so good now anyways).

Today, WE ARE THE JUGGLERS. (OK, sometimes we do still watch other jugglers… Cirque du Soleil jugglers manage 50 or 1,000,000 objects simultaneously. Ridiculous)

cirque juggler 2

We all have dozens of metaphorical balls in the air and the internet is the wind beneath our wings that helps us keep this all afloat.

We multitask in 6 different directions and the ease of internet access facilitates our distractability. How many windows are open on your phone or desktop right this second?

Paper news takes time and money out of our lives, our pockets.

At essentially no cost, we can monitor news up to the millisecond from 1,000 sources… most terribly disreputable, but still many that have quality journalists and writers on staff, despite what that Fake News hawker south of the Canuck border whimpers and cries about daily.

Right now as I write this I can call up news items from 1 minute ago from any corner of the world without moving anything other than my arm and fingers. Amazing, huh?

Is it any wonder that our western population as a whole is in adipose collection mode? (In 1978, about 14 per cent of Canadian adults qualified as obese. That number climbed to 28 per cent in 2014- Public Health Agency of Canada)… but I get distracted, another side attraction/horror to the internet.

computer obesity

Physical newspapers don’t carry news anymore – they bring us history.

Each day, a newspaper recounts to us all the things that we already know happened because we read it on our internet feed the day before. Right before we closed our eyes and began snoring!

Truly, The New York Times or Globe and Mail aren’t “newspapers” in 2019.

These are news “sources” that we tap into at any moment of the day or night to discover As The World Turns, both in our personal world (Facebook, Instagram etc) and the larger world.

If there is a newspaper delivered to my house in 10 years, I’ll s**t myself  be shocked out of my solar-powered underwear and AI brainscan-monitored mind.

Reflection.

We will all spend more and more of our coming years reflecting nostalgically on the way things once were. Yes Virginia, it’s inevitable and understandable.

The changes we encounter are/will wash over us at a tsunami pace that thrills and terrifies us simultaneously.

EXTRA! EXTRA!… remember, you read it here first … in the MAN ON THE FRINGE internet news!

NO Fake News here…

Old news 1950

 

 

 

Attitude and The Ten Year Boomerang Effect

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LAR GORD HOCKEY TIFF (1)

Me (with newspaper shinpads beneath my pants) dropping the puck for my brother Gord… STARS!!

 

I was a baby athletic star when I was 7 or 8.

Here’s how my mother described me in a letter to my older brother…

Larry is making quite a name for himself at hockey this winter. So far his team has 27 goals and Larry scored 13 of them and about 9 assists… The coach says he doesn’t get in and get himself banged up, and he’s good at fooling the goalie too.”

On the downside, I had attitude which is never good. SKY HIGH ATTITUDE.

Then at 13 I transformed into a chubby tween with acne and glasses (athletic still but my star status plummeted). I felt awkward and ugly. My “attitude” plummeted from altitude which IS a good thing. LOW ALTITUDE ATTITUDE.

Then at 17 I morphed back to a slender recreationally-athletic young man with a guitar and an old Rambler car that was mine. GOLDILOCKS JUST RIGHT ATTITUDE.

It was a case of the Ten Year Boomerang effect. COOL … UNCOOL… half COOL.

Each 10 year period of my life has run along similar lines.. some bright, exultant convex points followed by lower stages, degrees of concave. Harry Chapin sang about this in his poignant song Story Of A Life:

I can see myself it’s a golden sunrise
Young boy open up your eyes
It’s supposed to be your day
Now off you go horizon bound
And you won’t stop until you’ve found
Your own kind of way
And the wind will whip your tousled hair
The sun, the rain, the sweet despair
Great tales of love and strife
And somewhere on your path to glory
You will write your story of a life

 

Chances are pretty good you’ve experienced something similar but with different details. Your attitude may have been a problem, but how would I know?!

Life has its own wavelength… some periods where our star rises and we feel the peak excitement (Lady Gaga nervously hits the stage as a promising new singer-songwriter in A Star Is Born).

wavelength

 

And some periods where the skies are so dark and foreboding that the stars are nowhere to be seen… (Bradley Cooper urinates in his pants on stage at the Grammy Awards in A Star Is Born).

Our attitude and our place in the stars rise and fall throughout our lives.

Have you ever watched the TV show THIS IS US? Every character on the show goes through a full cycle of boom and bust in every episode.

It’s exhausting.

I get boomerang whiplash watching for one hour. I need a shower to wash away the sweat and filth that builds up with all the tension and cathartic release.

I don’t know how famous (or once famous) actors, artists, politicians and musicians cope with the massive fluctuations in their popularity and fame.

The 10 year boomerang effect that I’ve experienced through my years is compressed into a much shorter time span for those in the public eye. For most of us, ten years is sufficient to adjust, to learn to bend with the positive and negative winds that inevitably blow.

It doesn’t surprise me that so many of the famous succumb to drugs and alcohol and suicide. The throngs of sycophants that surround them kissing their chilly butt cheeks one minute and then turn around the next to spit in their face or worse still, ignore them totally…

… it takes a monumental strength to withstand the ups downs twists turns… the bashing of the boomerang in your face.

My once-burgeoning hockey career has long ago melted into the ether… my old Rambler has rusted away in the scrapyard… but … thankfully… the guitar I strummed at 17 still lives and my fingers retain the strength to play a song or two …

I’m know I’m living the GOLDILOCKS life – and the boomerang that is my attitude? … well … I try to keep it in sight and close to the ground.

What about you… where does your star sit in the sky  and… is your boomerang under control?

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The Carousel of Cardio & Pain*

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Is there anything better than waking up to the screaming voices of tortured muscles and limbs?

Don’t answer that … yet!

You know, the body parts that have been stretched and run and twisted and pushed to a moderate degree beyond comfort while exercising.

It’s no secret that I’m a goal-oriented dude who, paradoxically prefers nothing better than hours and hours of slackadaisical repose… unless… a venture lays before me in the near future that requires a steady simmering build-up of energy.

I met a guy my age – Cary – at the gym the other day, he said… 10 years ago, I ran 10 kilometres in about 42 minutes.

I told him that my “younger” man goal had been to run a 40 minute 10k. I came up short by 21 seconds in 1990 and was never able to get my running fitness to that level ever again.

Cary had a pulmonary embolism 7 years ago and now pushes hard to run a 55 minute 10k.

I didn’t have a pulmonary embolus and I have to run hard now to make a 55 minute 10k.

Training for those runs as a young guy was stimulating … and also came with a modicum of pain. But back then, my mental stamina was strong and pushing hard through the pain was a price I happily paid to myself to compensate for the payoff of attaining my goals.

The training needed to run a 10k in 55 minutes or a half marathon in 2 hours now leaves me with about the same physical pain I experienced in 1990 with 40 minute 10k’s and 1.5 hour half marathons.

tough mudder

What has changed for me, above and beyond the natural aging process, is my mental strength. I can’t crush the gas pedal the way I once did.

Like a cascading river washing over rocks for centuries and millennia, the smoothing and wearing down over time has worked the same process on my mental stamina and grit.

The mere act of physically pushing over decades has polished down the keen edge of mental competitive spirit that once filled my head and body.

It’s kind of funny to me because the mental edge of sharpness that was present for running (and swimming and cycling) has more recently transferred – transformed – into an eager mental edge for improvement on the musical side of my character.

Today, I’m willing and passion-filled to push myself to refine and enhance my guitar skills – skills where I tended towards laziness in years’ past.

Do you find something similar happening to you in the areas of your world where you embrace an enthusiasm and zest – are you too morphing from the ardour of one facet of your life and experiencing a surge in another?

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange

David Bowie

I’ve changed … I’m always changing but …

I still love pushing myself and feeling a bit of muscular pain in the morning.

I still love crossing the finish line of a running race.

I still love the rush of endorphins when I strum the last chord of a song and I hear the whoops of the audience that felt a tiny river of joy … or memory … or love … that my song gave them.

The carousel that sometimes gives us pain may also leave a beautiful aftertaste of pleasure in its wake.

* with thanks to Margot H for the blog title.

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The Muppets and No Country For Old Men

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statler and waldorf 2

Dear Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley:

We regret to inform you that The Muppets still have no openings to replace Statler and Waldorf in the balcony cheap seats. We would kindly recommend you return to your local Mayberry coffee shop and continue your enlightened pontifications of why women just don’t suck up to the good ole boys like they did in the ’50’s.

Sincerely, TROTTFCW (The Rest Of The Twenty-First Century World)

Did you know that the state of Vermont has never sent a woman to the U.S. House or Senate? … never ever in 242 years…

DANG! I really want to write light, fluffy pieces about music and books and movies and Halloween and all the great stuff that inhabits my world. I want to laugh and kibitz with you like we’re young children in the schoolyard of our dreams. Blue skies, shining on me… nothing but blue skies, do I see….

But the current affairs’ bus just keeps careening off the US Interstate Highway and I can’t look away.

I feel like a victim even though I play for the side of the victimizers. Yeah, I know that’s a bit like Melania saying SHE’S the MOST bullied person out there… BOO HOO!

melania bullied

What the hell am I talking about?

Baseball of life.

I have 3 strikes against me and there’s nothing I can do to change it (short of surgery and hormone therapy).

  1. I’m a Man.
  2. I’m White.
  3. I’m Old(er)!

AGAIN. BOO HOO!

I sort of belong to the same club as McConnell and Grassley and Trump and it scares the hell out of me. I have to fight back against my privilege.

You see, I watched some of the U.S. Senate hearings a month back where another white man – angry, juvenile’ish Brett Kavanaugh – sat in the hot seat and told me how much he and his buddy PJ enjoy(s)ed beer.

Add that to the sight of a murder of old, white codgers sneering angrily, contemptuously, at a woman who has a boatload more credibility than any of those interviewing her and…

It made me ill. I’m one of them…. and….

These relics aren’t learning and changing. They’ve dug themselves in and are hanging on by their richly manicured fingernails… and…

I felt a whole lot of disgust and animus.

I love the differences that delineate men from women, white from black, Christian from Muslim from Jew, old from young, gay from straight.

But different should never imply better or superior.

I’m a product of my culture and generation, as are you.

There is hardly anything in life that is not changing… rapidly.

Some changes we like, many others create fear and anxiety.

We all have to do our best to grow and change and wonder and debate those changes, morphing and putting ourselves in the shoes of the “other”. It’s called understanding.

Because I belong to that clique of “old, white men”, it is ever more important that I stay attuned and sensitive.

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Almost daily, I have to assess and determine those areas of humankind that are basic and unchanging, and those that are elastic and variable.

I’m learning to change as the circumstances make sense.

Here are just a few of the things I recognize now and changes I’ve adapted to in my years.

  1. Sexuality and the nature of manhood/womanhood are less distinct than I ever realized or accepted. There is a flow in the world of sexual preference, gender fluidity and spectrum. Love is Love. Gay marriage, Interracial marriage, Sex outside of marriage. I accept various forms of sexuality and gender now that I could never have fathomed as a young boy and man.
  2. I can’t blindly use derogatory terms as I did in my youth. It’s embarrassing to think of the ignorant words I used to describe others: Nigger (we ate licorice nigger babies from the corner store); Jew (“too expensive, we’ll jew them down”); Newfie (Newfoundlander) jokes; Dumb Blonde jokes; Pollock (Polish) jokes; Paki (Pakistani/Indian) jokes; Wop (Italian) jokes… on and on it went without any thought of the hurt it might cause.
  3. Tattoos and piercings are not only for sailors and Hell’s Angels. Not a fan but I quietly accept.
  4. Circumcision isn’t a given. A penile toque is kinda cute (I hear!). Female circumcision is plain nutso.
  5. Women as leaders. The safety and security of our world would be stronger in the hands of women. Pollution measures would be more robust.
  6. Technology is the driving force behind everything we do. One small example? Elections have changed immensely with social media alone.
  7. Animals are deserving of life and kindness. I do not have dominion over all creatures.
  8. Bullying is just not acceptable. ‘nuff said.
  9. Mental health should be treated as seriously and openly as we treat physical health. Too many folks suffer needlessly because of our fears and stigmas.
  10. The things I do and consume, contribute to global warming and have a negative impact. The sad thing is as I age my methane production goes up, what’s a concerned boy to do?

The leaves on all the tall birch trees outside my house have turned yellow and most of the leaves have flittered like gossamer feathers to the earth. Yes, change is as perennial as the seasons.

The unearned privilege of being an old(er!) Canadian white guy weighs on me when I see the struggles of others who did nothing to deserve their plight.

I’m trying my hardest to avoid looking in the mirror and seeing McConnell or Grassley as my reflection.

I’m hoping that I’ll soon find my way back to writing light, fluffy posts that might make me smile like Kermit or Miss Piggy and not frown like Statler and Waldorf.

As for a woman finally being elected to the Senate for Vermont this year? Fat chance… there’s some old white guy named Bernie Sanders standing in the middle of the road.

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