Archives For Off The Top

Random things that fly off the top of my mind

2014-03-27_14-59-31We all know that yelling “FIRE!!” in a theater is against the law and can cause a lot of harm. We are told even as children not to do that sort of thing.  Another area of this type are those that try to incite a riot by prodding and encouraging violence. That one isn’t quite as well published as the first.

The school yard bully gets a lot of attention these days. We, at least most of us, have little tolerance for him. But another type of threat that is perhaps just as bad is the instigator. You might know him by other names like provocateur, agitator. This is the guy who tries to get two people or groups who disagree on something to attack each other verbally or physically. He wants to see blood.

As I have mentioned before I am by my very nature a very non-violent person. I have only physically attacked one person in my life and that was when I was about six years old.  I think I gave my opponent a black eye but I am not sure. I can’t even remember what we fought over but I do remember the kid who instigated our brawl. I soon made up with my friend but never had much to do with the guy who caused us to fight.

Now to the core of this post. There are people out there that make millions of dollars as professional instigators. They try their best to incite a virtual riot. They egg people on to keep them on the edge of their emotions. They purposefully pit one group of people against another. The most visible of this type of bully is Rush Limbaugh and the Fox and MSNBC news channels.

These folks make millions of dollars every year screaming about the opposing party. They spend hours trying to dig up anything they can find to raise our ire. Sadly there are millions of people who have one of these outlets on throughout the day. They are thoroughly brainwashed with a very partisan message of their agitators. No, I don’t think brainwashed is too strong a word for this tactic.

I will admit that I was once at least to a small degree one of those folks who would tune them in. I got my daily dose of how those in a particular political party are nothing but hateful idiots who are set on destroying our freedoms.  When I finally reached “critical mass” on politics and decided to give it up almost entirely I did not realize the emotions these instigators caused me.

Now that I am limiting my exposure of politics to a brief morning glance at somewhat neutral websites and the PBS Newshour I have come to know a much more peaceful and satisfying lifestyle. Now don’t get me wrong here. I realize that there are folks in the political realm who have very different worldviews than I do. I will continue to oppose their tactics but without the vitriolity that comes along with these news sources.


2014-04-02_16-28-12This is the third and final post on this mini-serious, or maybe not even that,  on getting older. The first post was about my depression when I compared my aging life with some of the other bloggers that I read.  The second one was about the reality TV shows called “Porter Ridge” and “Duck Dynasty”. This one will close the door on those two seemingly unrelated topics.

I have come to a fundamental conclusion as to why the previously mentioned two shows, and others like them, are so popular. That is the fact that all of us need someone we can look down on. We need to know that our lives are not as bad as others. We simply cannot be the bottom of the barrel of life. These types of feelings seem to be human nature. We can’t be the only ones who are suffering while everyone else has it so good. That thought is just too depressing for most of us to handle. By watching “Porter Ridge”  and other such shows we can roll our eyes at those folks who are worse off at least mentally, than we are. Those yokels who couldn’t recognize the good wine from the dregs that they are swimming around in.

Several of the “happy blogs” that I have been reading are now talking about maybe getting away from blogging as it seems to have run its course with them. Maybe there are just too many happy blogs around so they end up competing with each other. Several of these bloggers talk about moving on to other topics. I have done the same except it was at the other end of the spectrum. But then again there doesn’t seem to be much competition in the “my body is falling apart” blogs.

Maybe that is what my blog should morph into if I get tired of my current venue. Maybe it should be a retirement blog more to show others just how good they have it compared to me. It would serve a purpose; it would fill a niche and maybe even get many more views than it currently does. I am a believer that God put each one of us on this earth for a purpose. Maybe my purpose is to be the example of how “not” to live in retirement.  Maybe I should be the one that people can roll their eyes at and think “at least my retirement years are better than that guy has it!!”

OK, enough of this silliness. I will try to get back to something a little more sane tomorrow but no promises…..

Reality TV???

April 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

It might not seem like it but this is a continuation of my story about the joys of getting old.  :)

I have to admit that I live in the same county in Indiana that the folks of “Porter Ridge” do. Here is how Variety describes that TV show:

2014-04-02_12-01-43Gurney Productions, the shingle behind A&E’s hit series “Duck Dynasty,” has lined up redneck fare at Discovery Channel with reality show “Porter Ridge.”

Docu-comedy centers on an isolated community in Indiana with a colorful cast of rural characters, including Jeff “The Bear Man,” who has a backyard full of bears, country calendar model Kayla, local garbage man and Elvis-lookalike “Elvis Larry,” and Terry Porter, CEO of an auto junkyard.

I will tell you up front that I have never watched either “Porter Ridge” or “Duck Dynasty” so I am only going on first impressions and word-of-mouth. It is evidently about a bunch of seemingly simple-minded uneducated, you might even say ignorant, folks prancing around half-naked doing and saying some pretty stupid things.  I have never been to Country Auto Parts, as shown in the picture so I can’t verify if they actually live like they are presented on TV.  This being a supposedly docu-comedy  I question whether it is in any sense a reality? I kind of suspect people like the Porters, at least a toned down version, might not be terribly uncommon in that part of my county but they are very much different from the folks I daily rub elbows with.

The only exposure I have had to the “Duck Dynasty” folks is from all the racist comments that recently came out of their patriarch’s mouth. It was embarrassing to even read the full comments he made. It got the show in trouble for a while but I guess the evangelicals came in and rescued them. It looks like I guess the “Porter Ridge” clan didn’t live up to the “Duck Dynasty” folks as it was cancelled after only a year.

These two shows are part of the latest genre of “reality” TV but I really question that word as being anything accurate. I understand that reality TV has its dedicated fan base, who probably never miss an episode. I am just not one of those. They are not my thing. I kind of like to imagine that we human beings lead more noble lives or at least we all try to.

You are probably questioning how this post has anything to do with getting old and particularly my previous post. Hang on, I am about to tell you. But I will leave that for tomorrow’s post. :)

Following up on the “Pity Party” post of Friday, this is the first of a series of three posts that will have some reality but also some tongue-in-cheek stuff so don’t get too concerned that I am ready to bite a bullet or anything like that.  :)

Now that Spring is here I hope I will soon be coming out of my usual winter doldrums. The six months between November and April are just not in any way, shape, or form my favorite months. They are for the most part spent locked up in the house waiting out the next cold spell and snow/ice storm.  My emotional level drains out of me during this time  and I pray that at least a little of it is still salvageable when Spring finally arrives. This winter has been much more difficult than most.

I must admit that during this season I often get depressed when I read some of the blogs I frequent related to senior living.

  • 2014-04-02_11-34-20Here I am cabin bound with a wife that simply loves the condition I loathe.  There is just no possibility of foregoing the winter months in favor of a warmer climate.
  • Here I am with a body that continues to degrade on an almost daily basis. My knees and back have been disaster areas for several years and now my hips are going.
  • Here I am facing the fact that I simply can’t do some of the simple things that I easily accomplished just a few years ago.
  • Here I am not being able to taste some of the things that I used to love and am told that diabetes is probably on the horizon.

And then I read about how my fellow bloggers

  • 2014-04-02_11-35-36are using their frequent flyer miles to run off to this or that Caribbean island for a quick vacation.
  • are jumping in the RV and go to a national park for a twenty-mile hike.
  • are off to their favorite restaurant for that $100 meal.
  • are having a great time in their favorite snow bird location.

So here I am having the ultimate pity party. I guess I should to be inspired by all those leading the “great life” or at least happy for them.  But their stories actually make my life seem even worse than it is. This is kind of like all the stories you see on TV where someone, against all odds survived where most perish. They are inspiring but don’t make that other 99% who didn’t have the same outcome feel any better.

Maybe I should be on the lookout for some new blogs about people who are actually getting old as they are getting old. But who wants to read on a daily basis someone who is struggling in their final years. I suspect that even if those blogs do exist they are short-lived. No one wants to read about those types of lives.  But, then again maybe they do?  That will be the topic of tomorrow’s post.


The Pity Party…

April 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

GloomAll of us have all been through some traumatic times in our lives. Some of us much more than others. It could be a health event, maybe a divorce, or a death of a friend or family member. One outcome that is almost assured from these events is a pity party. That is we question “why us?” or maybe “why did God do this to me?” I think having pity, even on ourselves, is just human nature. It is the extent of the pity that separates us. Do we get over it and face our new life challenges or do we wallow in it for weeks, months, or even a lifetime?

Everyone is different. We react to trauma in different ways.

When you have a pity party it is almost always means you are stuck in one place. You are fixated on that traumatic event. You can’t let go of it. It consumes your thinking and often your very being.

In order to break the pity party you got to get out there. You got to do something instead of wallowing in your pity. As shown in abbreviated version from Wikipedia there is a well know pattern to our grief/pity called the The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief

1.  Denial — As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation, and begin to develop a false, preferable reality.

2.  Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. .

3.  Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

4.  Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen.

5.  Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.

Don’t get stuck at level 4. It makes for a very miserable life if you do…..

2014-03-15_13-35-52I can still vividly recall when President Bush rode over the Hurricane Katrina devastation in a helicopter. From a thousand feet above he would shake his head and make a comment of two. From many of his actions, including this one, he just seemed to not really care or want to be personally involved. He was very much different from his predecessor in that regard.  Looking at the tragedy from far above make the people’s suffering seem very remote. I think that is the way he wanted it to be. Yes he was very forceful after 9/11 where he had an enemy that he could attack, real or otherwise, but since Katrina was “an act of God” who would he to take his wrath out on for this one? You simply don’t “shock and awe” God do you?

Actually it was probably a good thing that he did not get down on the ground much as that would have been more of a disruption than anything it would have accomplished. But getting to the point of this post is that some of us currently have only a helicopter view of what it is like to be poor.  To many of us, our only interaction with the poor is that we have to step over some of them on our way to work. The Republican money guy Paul Ryan is very much the same in that regard, He just came out with a proposed budget that drastically cuts food stamps and Medicaid again while not cutting our outrageous military budgets one iota. If that is not a helicopter view of the poor I don’t know what is.  The sad thing about that is that there are so many in his party who are  congratulating him for his “forward thinking”. They seem to say that if we can just forget about the poor then our budget problems would be solved!

Being poor is something many of us just want a helicopter view of. Hopefully it will never happen to us. The statistics say that more than half of us are about three paychecks away from being homeless.  With our helicopter view we occasionally send off a check or two for a few bucks to an organization that has a ground level view. We deem that as enough to fulfill our responsibilities in this area. That is good enough for us at least until we become one of “them”.

This being April Fool’s Day I thought I would talk a little about politicians….

JesterThis is sort of political but not really. It is more in the line with personality types than about politics itself. Again, remember not to take life or this post too serious. I am mainly just poking fun of those who think they are different from us.

I have been thinking lately about the different types of politicians that I have seen in my lifetime and there is one particular type that caught my attention. No I am not talking about Republicans vs. Democrats or Conservatives vs. Liberals.  I call the group that is the topic of today’s post the Baby Bush Politicians. No they aren’t all Republicans or even actually even Americans. They are the type of politicians who have certain distinct set of personality characteristics. Here is my list:

1. Smirking — This is the ability of telling someone they are a bastard without actually saying the words.

2. Back slapping — You might call this the “good-old-boy” or maybe the “clubhouse” syndrome. This is where you give people the impression that you are one of them without really considering them to be so.

3. Strutting — This is a manner of presenting yourself as somehow superior to those around you. Of course John Wayne was the essence of this characteristic but all of the selected politicians in my group have a healthy doses of this walk.

4. Bravado — The dictionary calls this a pretentious, swaggering display of courage. Pretentious is the key word for these purposes. That is the feeling of being important.

5. Superiority — These guys just exude superiority. They think they have all life’s answers and the rest of us are just idiots compared to them.

There are a number of politicians that exhibit all of these characteristics but the epitome of them all, at least in my lifetime, seems to be our previous president George W. Bush. That is why his name graces the list. One characteristic I didn’t add is egotist. But of course that describes almost every politician who ever lived so it would not be of any value here.

Here is my list of members with their ratings (1 – 5 stars) in the order of their appearance.

Barack Obama  ***  Started out as a pretty naive president but has picked up several of these characteristics since then.

George W. Bush *****  Being that the group is named after him it is only appropriate that he get five stars.

Dick Cheney ****  The man behind the puppet

Vladimir Putin **** I had to include Mr Putin in this list. I don’t know about the swagger but he has all the other down pat.

Bill Clinton ***  Good Old Boy personified

Lyndon B. Johnson ***** The ultimate bully

Herbert Hoover ***

Andrew Jackson -*****

You would think that guys like Ted Cruz would be on the list too but since narcissism is not on the list and he is predominately the epitome of that trait he is not included. You might also wonder why I didn’t include Ronald Reagan on the list. He certainly had many of these characteristics but in reality he was more about standoffish, and folksy than anything else.

The Theology Of Love….

March 30, 2014

2014-03-06_12-42-52A theology of love begins with the assumption that all people are God’s cherished children and deserving of love. “We love because he first loved us. Those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:19–20). Jesus demonstrated his love for the outcasts, those many considered unlovable. Regrettably, many Christians have been unwilling to adopt the ethic of Jesus—a theology of inclusion, acceptance, and love. We’ve been unwilling to love and accept our enemies. We haven’t even been excited about loving our neighbor.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love –  HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I must admit that this book “If God Is Love” is one of my top ten favorite books I have ever read. It was the first book by Philip Gulley I had read but it would certainly not be the last. When I read this book in 2005 there was no such thing as Amazon Kindle where I could tag a quote. Instead the physical book has many bent pages and starred paragraphs. I even subsequently bought the kindle version so I could more easily use quotes in my blogs.

If you really want to understand the magnitude of the love of God I would highly advise you to pick up a copy.

2014-01-02_11-56-18Anyone who has spent much time on this blog knows that I am a big fan of Wikipedia. I give them at least a couple of donations every year to support their efforts. It was only recently that I discovered Wikimedia Commons. Click on the graphic to the right to go there.

Wikimedia Commons has literally thousands of public domain media for all you bloggers out there. You don’t have to worry about infringement of copyrights when you used any of their images.

Try them out. You won’t be disappointed and if you like them or Wikipedia give them a donation now and then. They are a non-profit so depend on your support.

Out Of Tune…..

March 28, 2014

Old PeopleI can remember in my younger years how when I came across older people who didn’t know some of the things I did I automatically thought they were just senile old folks who were no longer living in the “real” world.  They were simply out of tune with the times. They just didn’t see the world as I did. Of course now that I am one of those “old” folks I can understand their “ignorance”. In fact I am most like them now.

I am just out of tune when it comes to anything in the music area. I have been deaf for more than twenty-five years now so I guess that is a valid excuse in that area at least. I know that Justin Beiber is some sort of god when it comes to many young people today. They breathlessly await any tweet he might put out.  They crowd to wherever he might go. They want to know everything he does.  I think he is a movie star but I am not sure. Maybe he is a singer? I am totally out of tune with it comes to him and the myriad of other young people who are so revered today.

One trend I do know about is a “selfie”. That is using one of the many pieces of electronics that contains a camera to take pictures of yourself and then parade those pictures around all the social networking sites. Doing selfies requires a strong sense of self-centeredness. I am very much lacking that characteristic so you could say that I am very much out of tune with selfies and glad of it.

At this point I have seen enough in my life to understand what is important and what isn’t. I don’t spend a lot of time idolizing anyone especially the jocks and entertainers among us and especially not myself. I do have my heroes but I don’t insist on knowing their every move. Do I have things that are important to me? Of course I do. I deem loving my God and loving my neighbors as a very important aspect of my life.  Maybe I am out of tune with the times but I, like many of us “old” people I just don’t care anymore.