Under The Rainbow…

Rather than spend my morning tied to my 17″ window to the world, I decided early to ride my bike to Rainbow and meet a friend at the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant for breakfast.  Breakfast was unexciting, though we had a nice chat and enjoyed catching up. On my departure from the restaurant, I notice something unusual about my bike – it wasn’t there.

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Having had a few bikes stolen, this didn’t stun me.  I was very matter of fact about the whole thing, since I had locked it.  I had locked it to a post under a sign which read Biker Parking Only. I’m sharp enough to know the sign was intended for motorcycles, but with the profile of my bike being smaller than the motorized version, I felt it would be safe.

Before I called the police, I went back inside the restaurant and inquired if perhaps they had seen it taken, or had seen fit to remove it.  The owner of the restaurant greeted me with a bit of hesitation saying…

“Oh, that was yours….?”  He looked caught off guard.

Yes, I explained.  He told me he wasn’t sure where they put it, and excused himself, saying he would be right back. I waited about 10 minutes with no contact from him – just being stared at by restaurant employees who looked like they had seen this before.

Just as I was about to walk back and find out where he went, he met me out front with my bike and the lock he had cut off.  He offered no apology and no explanation of why he had my bike removed.  I began to question him.  He explained that my bike was in the way and decided to have it removed so people could get in and out.

I then asked him why he didn’t come through the restaurant and ask who the bike belonged to.  He hesitated before he told me that he had.  That’s not true.  There was no attempt, at all, inside the restaurant to inquire about the owner of the bike – none.

I suggested he was out of line and told him I was thinking about calling the police.  He explained to me, and this was witnessed, that I could go ahead and call them – that the all knew him and liked him.  Okay then.

Look, I get it.  I’m a disgruntled customer treated poorly, and I should let it go and invest my time in other pursuits.  My friend suggested I dispute the charges on my debit card based on poor customer service.  In the end, I didn’t even want to do that.  I was going to let the whole thing go – until I got home.

It seems that Duke, the restaurant’s owner, not only had my bike removed, but had it thrown in the dumpster – that’s what took him so long to retrieve it.  It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the grease, ketchup and maple syrup that was stuck the frame and the rims.

I have since disputed the charges with my bank.  We’ll see how far that goes.  I will file a police report later today, based on the fact that my bike was removed, and no attempt was made to contact anyone inside the restaurant.  That, and that my bike had obvious signs of time spent inside the restaurant’s dumpster.  Even if police do nothing, and I suspect they won’t, I have this blog – a message in a bottle and a written record for whom this might happen to in the future.

I have never used this blog as a platform for getting even, or speaking negatively about a person or a business.  I doubt I will ever do it again.  However, Duke at the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant cut the lock off my bike and threw it in a dumpster, having made no attempt to connect with the owner first.  That may or may not have been unlawful, but it was gutless.  And honestly, Duke just looks gutless…  Jhciacb

Who Are These People…?

Friend or Foe-getaboutit…

When I began my first fitness blog in 2001, I developed a small, but dedicated following.  These were like-minded people who found value in what I was suggesting about the direction of fitness culture.  As near as I could tell at the time, there were a mere thousands of fitness blogs worldwide posting regularly.  By the time I shut that blog down in 2008, my following was roughly the same size it was when I began.  In 2008 though, there were millions of fitness blogs posting with regularity, most of them run by fitness hobbyists, not fitness professionals.

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OB Pier.  Friend Of The Devil…

Wanting to break from the direction of fitness blogging, and feeling like I had something worthwhile to say about the state of nearly anything, I began a new blog in hopes I would attract more readers.  However, up against millions of other blogs, I would fare no better with the new incarnation.  Some readers from my previous blog stayed with me, but my audience of millions eluded me.  Those readers who stayed with me, were my first online friendships.

Face Facts…

Listening to PRI’s Marketplace program one afternoon in 2007, I heard a technology executive state that anyone with a small business or a small idea who wanted to grow it, would be wise to utilize the up and coming social media site, Facebook.  Facebook, he claimed, was going to be the future of marketing and the future of communications.  The man suggested there would be profound advantages to any businesses getting involved with Facebook early, that would not be as advantageous for the latecomers.   I immediately opened a Facebook account, and shortly thereafter created a page in support of my business and my blog.

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Main Street, Bryan, TX

I knew few people in my analog life who were on Facebook at this point, but many subscribers to my blog were, so I extended those connections from my blog to Facebook.  I was now writing on 2 platforms for the same people.  Because the Facebook platform made it easier to cultivate discussions, plus it added an element of individuality, I got to know my readers on a more personal level, though the quantity of subscribers to the blog increased negligibly.

Eventually, I began making more personal connections on Facebook than business connections – friends of friends who I have never met, friends I knew from days gone by, plus more people in my daily life were taking the plunge.  At the peak of my first Facebook account (I have now had 3), I had roughly 2,000 friends.  That’s when it all got a bit sketchy.  I began to question the term friend.

As time doing more important things gave way to online time with my friends, I began to question how I was prioritizing Facebook.  I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace of posting, of scrolling and liking, and checking notifications with every break in my daily action.  Notwithstanding, my presence on Facebook did little to expand my business or my blog, and that was my primary reason for creating a Facebook account.  To make it more manageable, I pared down my friends from 2,000 to just a few hundred, and began to accept that this was now my social life, and had little to do with my business.

Living Alone With Hundreds…

For most of my life I’ve had few friends, and those who I called friend were friends for life.  I have always been appreciative, if not jealous, of people who seem to have many good friends.  I’m also an introvert with a pretty serious case of social anxiety disorder.  With Facebook, I came to life socially, and took on a noticeable confidence that I had not previously experienced.  I began accepting my friends, even those who I have never met, as real friends and friends for life.

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39,700 feet over the line of demarcation.  El Paso/Juarez

Suddenly, I was spending time each day with people I like, people who I thought were cool, intelligent, interesting or just had some level of awesome.  Strangely, at least some of them found those qualities in me.

Coffee in the morning was now shared with friends in Omaha and Brisbane, as evenings by my fire pit were shared with friends from Boulder to India.  I was living alone, but rarely alone.  For the most part, I found these friendships inspiring.  I was exposed to new music, new ideas, new books, recipes, new conversations and within them all was no shortage of sophomoric humor.  I looked forward to being on Facebook.

Life Sentence…

With some online friends, there has been no doubt that a person is a true friend.  Like in real estate, sometimes you just know.  There are at least a couple of dozen people who I would gladly go into battle with or for, yet we have never met face-to-face.  I might not even know what they do for a living or if they have children, yet I know they would have my back and I, theirs.

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Kyle Field, Texas A&M Campus

Other friends, have been more questionable – on some level, doubt about their intentions or sincerity occasionally bubbles under the surface in a why am I connected with this person kind of way.  It’s not that I inherently distrust them, it might be that I just don’t know them well enough – yet.  But that’s on me, not them.

There are also those incidental friendships – cyber-acquaintances; people I connect with superficially due to a common friend, common interest or both, but don’t spend too much time hanging out with.  It’s as though we just wave to each other as we pass in the hallway.

Always churning beneath the surface of any of online friendship have been two questions…

  • What do I really know about this person…?
  • If we were neighbors, would we hang out…?

Every so often during my daily scrolling, I will ask myself this of one friend or another.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever answered these questions honestly, since I rarely blocked or unfriended anyone.  I might not always like, comment or agree on their posts, but my friend for life rule reminds me that if I accept somebody into my life as a friend, I do so for life.   On occasion, I might question that rule, but it’s woven into the fiber of who I am – accepting of others as I want them to be accepting of me.

The Wear, Tear And The Joy…

Even online friendships can require work and maintenance.  In dealing with the half-dozen or so analog friends I had before the internet, nurturing those friendships could be draining.  Dealing with dozens or hundreds of relationships online can be outright exhausting.  Still, protection of the relationship is necessary for them to be true friendships.  This desire to protect is no different than with any other relationship, be it with my kid, my neighbor or my dog.  Getting along with a few friends takes work.  Getting along with a few hundred…

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Los Jilgueros Preserve, Fallbrook, CA

When I suggested to my online Ohana that I would be stepping back from social media for a month or so, a few people teased me about it…

“Here we go again…”  came my way from a few.  Others were understanding and wished me luck or hoped that I find what I’m looking for.  Largely though, my departure was probably more unnoticed than noticed, and there’s a lot to be learned about online friendships from that statement.

In an increasingly complex and changing world, the meaning of friendship changes too, just as the meanings of Republican, Democrat, Scholar, Doctor, Uncle, Mechanic and thousands of other terms have changed.  It’s just where we’re at.

The Love We Take…

I wrote this essay, and a few others before it, to help myself explore how social media fits into my life and into my head in this changing world.  I also wrote it to help me better understand what it means to be, and to be accepted as a friend.  I’m certain will write more on the subject.

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Jonathan Livingston Miagi, OB Pier

I have come to few conclusions about any of this.  Social media confuses me.  It benefits me.  It sucks up my time.  It inspires me.  It’s a release for me.  It’s my creative muse, my mistress, my downfall and my happy place – all at once.  But that’s not about social media, is it…?  That’s about me, the chaos in my head and my discipline, or lack of…

At the end of the day, life is about two things; work and relationships.  Social media, for me, has been an escape from one, and an extension of the other.  For nearly a decade, before I step into my shop each morning to earn my keep, I share time with like-minded friends that I might find inspiration or laughter.  When I close up shop at the end of the day, I have headed into the cyber world to vent, find inspiration or check out some new music.

For my part, I use social media to share interesting pictures, ideas or thoughts expressed with my words.  Sometimes it’s an online diary, other times it’s a place of worship, but I try hard to stay out of the mosh-pit of bad ideas.  I attempt to keep it positive and productive.

A Hot Spoon And A Keyboard…

On the heels Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible (which I cannot recommend enough), I realize that I have spent too much time on social media, Facebook in particular.  The good news is that I still find time for other things; analog friendships, outdoor activities, work and exercise to name a few, so I really can’t say that I’ve had an addiction.  It’s more like a codependency, but that too is on me, not social media.

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Vegan nightmare.  Treating my family to dinner at The Salt Lick, Austin TX

What I have learned most from reading about and writing about social media, and the one lesson I would like to share from this experience is this…

It’s okay to be alone, unplugged, and with nothing to occupy my mind other the sights and sounds of whatever is taking place in the vicinity of my front yard.  I live so much of my life with gusto and enthusiasm, yet rarely do I get a Jones to sit and forget all things.  Going forward, this will be a greater priority to me.  I will turn off my off my phone more.  Seek to be stimulated, entertained and amused less.  I will remember it is important to do nothing at all, and I will build that into my day. 

On getting back to my original question – the title to this essay, Who Are These People…?  Well, they are my friends, and if you are reading this, you’re probably one of them.  As to whether I go back to Facebook or Instagram at the end of my 30-day break, I probably will – probably.  If I do, I hope to use it more intelligently, and less…  Jhciacb

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Cra Cra Cra…

A Purpose Driven Mind…

Life, death and meaning – they have been woven through my thoughts since I can remember.  It consumes me; the value of a life, the reasons for death and the meaning of all that happens in-between.  I scarcely look at anything; my daughter’s eyes, a neighbor’s dog, a faucet, a fence post or a Pop-Tart without contemplating the value and the meaning of it all.

The biggest struggle I contend with is my daily steering between the great magnificence of life, and the utter insignificance of it all.  Not just my life and my meaning, but all the lives and meaning that are interconnected with my own at a given moment.

At the core of it are two opposing perspectives…

  • That in the scope of a vast and far reaching universe, the life of any being, critter or circumstance here on earth, seems insignificant, if not outright meaningless.
  • That in the scope of any moment, all life and circumstance I am proximate to and interacting with, be it my neighbor or a sea cucumber, is profoundly important and most meaningful.

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I think of light.  Of light being a wave or a particle, quantum physicist John Polkinghorne once wrote…

“Light can be a wave or a particle, but it can’t be both at the same time.  Ask light a wave question and it will give you a wave answer.  Ask it a particle question and it will give you a particle answer, but it can’t give you both answers at once…”

That’s how a feel about life most days; mine, yours or anyone else’s.  It’s either meaningless or important, but it can’t be both at the same time.

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The Spies Within Me…

Also in my head from an early age, were those people who I envisioned judging me.  As a child, I felt in a near literal way, that there was always a half-dozen or so people who had their eyes on me, 24/7.  These were a rotating cast of real life characters in my life, usually my elders, that I imagined viewing me and judging me from an ethereal conference room somewhere in the distance.  In my mind, they were observing me, discussing and deliberating over all my actions, yet never sharing their conclusions with me.

This feeling that a half-dozen or so people were watching me, influenced many of my actions and behaviors in my younger days. Sometimes my actions aimed to impress this pantheon in my head.  Other times, I allowed my thoughts and actions to drift into murky waters, without much regard for their opinion.

Though I would grow to disbelieve the people in my head were literally watching me, the feeling that I am constantly being watched and judged by those I look up to, has never left me.  I’m certain that feeling is the closest we can ever get to knowing God.

A Creative Outlet…

As a creative outlet, digital technology has given me the tools to express myself and to live my life in ways the analog world never had.  Social media has given me something to go with that – an audience.  That has been the most dubious aspect of social media for me – that more people than ever are judging my thoughts and actions, just like the pantheon of elders in my head when I was young.  Of course, this has been the result of me inviting them in, and subsequently throwing it all out there to be seen.

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For over a decade now, I have made good use of the tools of technology.  The tools I have used the most are the word processor and the smartphone camera.  They have become a part of how I think and an extension of who I am.  The vehicle that I have used to deliver my product of being me has been social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even this WordPress blog.

I started slow, but my use/dependency on these tools and these platforms has increased over time, to the point where creating and sharing via digital technologies has become central to my life.  It has become my biggest active priority – perhaps too big.  I have come to view myself as a social media addict and artist; writer, photographer, moral philosopher and on occasion, even a comedian, who just can’t quit.

Somewhere along the way, the line between the analog Roy of yesterday, and the digital Roy of today has gotten blurry.  I often feel lost in the sense of who I really am.  Am I the guy who lived his life, for most of his life, keeping his thoughts and ideas mostly to himself, only to share them with a few close friends….?  Or, am I the guy who doesn’t think a single thought or make a single move without considering how my social media Ohana might react to it…?

I’m both, I suppose.  Like light being a wave or a particle, I just can’t be both at the same time.

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I’m now 10 days into a Facebook hiatus – again.  It has already become clear to me how significant the presence of social media has been in most of my thoughts and actions in recent years.  I’ve come to realize that under the surface in so much of what I do and what I think, I am constantly considering how my friends would view my thoughts and actions if I were to share them on social media.  I scarcely look at, do or think anything these days without wanting to share it, or at least consider how people might act if I were to share it.

With that said, my most challenging thought in stepping away from social media has been this:  What good is doing anything, if I’m not going to share it and have it be validated…?

The Junta In My Head Part II…

I’ve probably thought far too much about all of this, and if you’ve read this far, you probably agree.  I thank you for hanging in there with the crazy.

When I was 10 years old, I felt a half-dozen people or so, were watching my every move, and judging me.  I acted sparingly because of it, as I silently worked out the whys of life in my head.  Forty-five years later, thanks to the digital age, I now try to work out the whys of the world with my online performance art, and I’ve invited hundreds to view and judge my own personal Truman Show, you included.  I once thought the whole world was staged just for me, and mostly, I still do.  In the digital age, at least get to choose my audience.

As far as answering the all whys in the world, and searching for meaning, I’m certain life is meaningful and important.  I’m just as certain that all life is meaningless and unimportant.  And the only thing I think I truly know is that it can’t be both at once…   Jhciacb

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The Sports Reporters…

I turned the TV on this Sunday morning, as I have for much of my adult life, and tuned in to the Sports Reporters on ESPN.  The Sports Reporters is a 30-minute semi-intellectual look at the week in sports, often focused on the stories behind the headlines.  In its 4th decade, the show has consisted of a rotating panel of print journalists from the sporting world.

Being basketball season, I tuned out much of the show this morning until the final segment.  They call that last segment Parting Shots.  It’s when each of the reporters takes 60 seconds to soap box about something they felt was significant in the week of sports.  The Parting Shots might take aim an issue, a person or an event of the week prior, and on rare occasions, perhaps a well-deserved accolade on behalf of a sporting person or event that otherwise went largely unnoticed by the sports media that week.

As they went ‘round the table with their parting shots this morning, it was immediately apparent, and I was just as quickly stunned, that they were saying goodbye – a fond farewell to the run of a show that was just minutes from concluding for the final time.  I was in the same kind of shock and disbelief I might be on learning that a neighbor, a teacher  or coworker whom I appreciated had passed away.  The Sports Reporters was a casual friend – one that I trusted, admired and appreciated from day 1.

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There had always been an intelligence about the show that rose above the trivial headlines, personalities and stories that were the superficial draw of sports for so many.

Ironically, last week I had begun a derogatory essay on the selection of journalist Mike Lupica to host the show, after the passing of the previous host, John Saunders last year.  I thought Lupica was a poor choice, but that essay has since been deleted from my hard drive, as well as from my mind.  The Sports Reporters is no longer.

Dick Schaap was not the show’s original host as is commonly touted, though he was named host later in the first season, and remained host until his death in 2001.  Schaap, a legitimate print journalist with an eye for details and a nose for facts, was the reason for the show’s success.  By the time of his death in 2001, the show’s path and trajectory were so well established that I often spoke of the show to my friends, as one of the best products in media.

Every time I have walked away from professional or high level amateur sports, vowing to never waste my time on such nonsense ever again, I would still tune into The Sports Reporters each Sunday morning for an intelligent take on all I had missed.

I’m in one right now actually – a sports hiatus that is.  I grow tired of crybaby millionaires, domestic abuse stories and the never-ending loop of shoe contract discussions that dominate sports headlines.  Well, a partial hiatus, anyway.  I will always make time for the Masters, college softball and the occasional triple crown event which might find its way to my TV.

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Dick Schaap.  A voice of reason in sports journalism…

Next Sunday morning I won’t be able to tune into The Sports Reporters to find out what went wrong or what went right in the world of sports this week.  I will though, think of those panelists as I have each Sunday morning when I do my own writing.  These men have always been front in my mind as I write my own little amateur column here on this blog.  Dick Schaap, John Saunders, Mitch Albom, Jason Whitlock, Bill Rhoden, Bob Ryan, John Feinstein, Bill Conlin, Tony Kornheiser and Jeremy Schaap (Dick’s son) were journalists I admired and appreciated.  Today, I even appreciate Mike Lupica.  Farewell good men, and thank you…  Jhciacb

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Evolution or Vomit…?

Late Baby Boomers and early Generation Xers don’t have much in common in the things that define our social sensibilities.  In politics, arts, sports, faith and much more, late Boomers and early Gen Xers tend to have different priorities, which often happens as one generation morphs into the next.  One thing we share though, is that we will be the only generation of humans who will have lived a fair part of our adult lives both before and after the advent of digital technology.

Though it’s true there were people born in the early part of the 20th century, before cars and before airplanes, yet lived long enough to see a man walk on the moon, the technical evolution they experienced does not compare well to the adults who woke up one day, and had the internet happen.  The technical evolution of the mid-20th century, was just that, a technical evolution.   Digital technology though, did not evolve, it vomited.

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My daughter wears a t-shirt that reads…

“One day I woke up, and the internet happened”

That’s not true.  It happened just a few years before she was born.  By the time she was in the 1st grade (1996), the internet was part of her daily life.  All of her sensibilities were cultivated in an expanding digital age.

I’m 55 years old.  If I consider my adult life to have started at age 20, then roughly ½ of my adult life has had access to the internet.  In blogging and social media, I have been a participant for nearly 1/4th of my adult life.  Assuming the internet isn’t a passing trend (wink), then when I die, I will have interacted with, if not been dependent on the internet for most of my adult life.  However, my adult sensibilities were all cultivated before the advent of digital technology, and before the internet.

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I obsess on that – that my adult values and sensibilities were formed before the influence of the internet, yet digital technology has been, and will continue to challenge those sensibilities for the rest of my adult life.  Because of this, I continue to wrestle with one question that nobody born into an already digital world will never have to address…

How has technology influenced or changed the way that I think…?

Of course, there’s no way to truly know this.  Most of my social contemporaries probably don’t care.  It keeps me awake though, it regularly interrupts my thinking process, and it bubbles under the surface of most of my thoughts, most of the time.

Perhaps a better question – if I go back a decade or so, is this…

How has social media influenced the way I think, and the way I behave…?

I’m going to spend the next few weeks, or perhaps the next few months, exploring those questions here on this blog, and I’m going to be very open and honest about it.  I’ve taken leave of all my social media platforms except for this blog.  Whether I return to them, I can’t say.

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As I write this, I’m halfway through the book, Irresistible, by Adam Alter.  If what I have written thus far has captured your attention, even a little, then I highly recommend this book, despite that I haven’t completed it yet.  I can already tell it’s one of the more important books I’ll ever read.

In an inverse irony, what has fed this blog going back nearly a decade, is that I have promoted it largely via social media.  That has worked well for me.  If you’re reading this, then you are one of just a handful of people who willfully subscribed to it, or had it fed to them via my email data base.  In either case, thank you for taking the time.

If a crazy man blogs in the forest, does he make a sound…?  Jhciacb

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I Don’t Recognize It…

Like many, my life changed significantly on November 8, 2016.  Also like many, I went to bed that night with a sinking feeling in my stomach – the aftereffect of an election result I never saw coming.  That feeling had little to do with my political sensibilities, and much more to do with my human side.

I accepted long ago, and well appreciate, that roughly one-half of the people reading this hold beliefs in matters of economics, militarism, religion, and education that are contrary to mine.  That there is such a balance of opposing opinions in this land, and that it ebbs and flows the way it has for a couple hundred years, is testament to the integrity of the Greek foundation of our society.

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Still, on November 9, I woke feeling a little dazed, a bit sad and somewhat of a state of shock.  Through the next couple of days, I began asking questions of myself, and answering them honestly – and being honest with myself has ever been my strong suit.  With each question I asked myself, and with each subsequent answer, I could feel my values taking deeper root, and solidifying in a way they had not previously flexed.

The two primary questions I asked myself were these…

  • What is truly important to me today…?
  • What was important to me yesterday, that is no longer important today…?

It is truly illuminating, what can be learned from answering those questions.

I asked myself, and continue to ask myself other questions derivative of the two questions above, but those two are the heart of the thing.

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The answers to the first question were few – less than 10, and I wrote them down so I can look at them each morning as I drink coffee and build my day.  I have been resolute in constructing each day since November 9, around the answers to that question.

The answers to the second question were more numerous, and I’m still writing them down, as that list of answers still grows.  Identifying what was important yesterday, but no longer is, is easy.  Eliminating those behaviors from my day-to-day actions, well, that’s an ongoing challenge, but one I am also committed to.

As I watch the behaviors of the man we elected, and who is now the 45th President of The United States Of America, I have a steady reminder of how I wish not to conduct myself, how I wish not to be seen, and how I wish not to be heard.  I expected that from day 1.  Politics, positions, and platforms notwithstanding, it’s my opinion that a man representing 300-million people should conduct himself with a little more decorum – a little more professionally, as most of his predecessors have.

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What I didn’t expect, and what most reading this might find offensive or even insulting, is that so many of the behaviors from people on both sides of this election, have affected me more than I would have imagined just 6 months ago.  That is, the behaviors of my teammates, as well as the opposition are eating away at my good moods just as much as the behaviors of the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.  I have never been so disappointed in so many people all at once.

Before one suggests that I’m looking to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns when it comes to the murky waters of politics, I am not.  I’m in favor of argument, disagreement, satire, lampooning and even insults when the time is right, when it is deserved and when it is tactfully done.  However, I don’t recognize what I’ve seen unfolding in recent months – it’s as though somebody spiked the national water cooler, and we’ve left our sober brains back at our cubicles.

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I’ve found at least one bright spot in all of this is, thought it is small relative to the entirety of the problem, but it is a bright spot none the less.  I have never worked so hard, nor been so committed to improving my behaviors when it comes to discussion.  In that sense, I’ve never been less ashamed to be myself or to be 100% honest while discussing politics, and I have become a committed listener!   For a Jewish kid raised on demerit slips, with a lifetime social anxiety disorder, that’s saying something.

We may not all agree on military, economic or education policy, but we should be able to discuss it.  I hope at some point we’ll agree on how we should conduct ourselves as a people when we disagree, though I see few signs among my social contemporaries that this will happen anytime soon.  I look to my daughter’s generation though – I hear her speak, I see how she interacts with her friends, and I see hope for more intelligent discussion down the road.  Still, I hope folks my own age and older can settle down just a smidge – speak a little more intelligently, and listen a little more attentively.

I think of that old locker room adage, you know, grab ‘em by the decorum…  Jhciacb

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Sweet Peachy Tea…

For much of my adult life, I’ve stated that every dog is the best dog that ever lived, tied for 1st place with every other one.  For the past 14 years though, I’ve been lying.  Peaches Fern Cohen, has held the highest place in my heart.  Not just in mine though, everyone fortunate enough to know Peaches, recognized that she was special.

Peaches belonged to my daughter, and her mother.  Peaches went home yesterday, to be with her sisters, Leilui, and Luna.

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If I could describe Peaches in one word, it would be Sunshine.  No ray of sun, shining down from the sky, ever touched or warmed me the way Peaches did.  It began with her face, which was sweetness incarnate.  It just wasn’t possible to look at Peaches without feeling her sweetness.  But that was just the first layer.  Beyond sweetness, there was the happy – and her happy was always turned on.

Except for the occasional grumbly stomach, broken leg, fractured spine, paralysis, or bladder reduction, Peaches radiated joy.  In fact, she experienced and survived all of those, and more – a big part of what made her exceptional.   Any one of those medical events might have taken her too soon, but not one of them did.  Each condition made her a little more fragile, but they also increased the worth of her spirit.  Her 14 years is a testament to the commitment she had to her loved ones, and ours to her.

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When I think of Peaches, my mind always sees her first, sitting outside beside the rosemary plant that she loved to smell.  Her face was often pointed to the sky, and it appeared that she was the one radiating warmth toward the sun.  Whenever I would see her like this, whatever toxins might be in my heart or mind, we instantly defused.

If I’m being honest, Peaches had an unusual look about her, but she made it work.  Due to the afore mentioned medical events, her body changed over time, becoming increasingly fragile.  A Pomeranian by birth, by the time she was 8 years old, she looked more like a punk rock Chinese Crested, mutating into a tiny pachyderm.  She used this funky look as both a fashion statement, and a way to make friends.  It wasn’t possible to walk Peaches without a stranger stopping to admire and inquire.  It almost always started with…

“Oh my god, she’s adorable….!”

The funny thing is, it was impossible to describe Peaches to a passerby with any detail, because once they saw Peaches, the person walking her became an invisible bystander.  People just marveled at her.

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One manifestation of the physical changes she endured, was a high arching spine.  This made her look like a little buffalo.  She often fulfilled the buffalo look by lowering her head into thigh of the nearest seated human – as a silent request to get petted.  If the petting hand would dare stop, the li’l buffalo would push her head harder into the human’s leg until they got the hint.

When she wasn’t being a buffalo, Peaches, always held her head high and looked up in wonder and in joy.  In 14 years, I never saw Peaches growl, snap, or display any intent towards another creature, other than kindness.  From her earliest days, she was a kind old soul.

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Every dog is the best dog that ever lived, tied for 1st place with every other one.  The one that rose above them all though, well she went home yesterday.  She is now free to smell the heavenly rosemary, to buffalo God’s thigh, and turn heads wherever she struts.

As Miss Trudy and I each held one hand to Peaches, our daughter was present in spirit.  Peaches lay calm on her belly, getting weaker, but still holding her head high.  Radiating sweetness till the very end, she was still looking up when she took her final breath.  Be well…  rc

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Irony At Easter…


One of the great ironies I see in the social media era is this…

I have a network of friends, liberal, open-minded people, who would fight to their death to protect my human rights. If I were gay, transgender, smoked pot, or preferred having sex with inanimate objects, they would support me. Yet there is a duality in how they view people’s religion – they are against it.

By the way, being against religion doesn’t make one an atheist, it makes one an antitheist, and that’s dangerous. Simply put, if a person is against religion as a collective, or a specific religion, that is a form of prejudice – period. To be against anyone’s beliefs in favor of their own is an undeniable act of bigotry, and cannot be justified, only rationalized. Hint: when you rationalize bigotry, you don’t look so good.

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Religion has been part of our cultural DNA since hunter-gatherer times. If we accept that cultural evolution parallels biological evolution, and that over time it weeds out traits that don’t serve the cause of advancement, then cultural evolution would have weeded out religion millennia ago. This has not been the case. Though religion has changed through the years, its practice is at an all-time high.

Religion, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of culture. All art began as sacred art. All social structure began as sacred law. All wonder, I believe, is rooted in sacred awe.

As millions of people celebrate Easter this week, I am saddened to see so many of my open-minded friends poking fun at the Christian faith in the forms of memes, sophomoric observations, and childish ridicule. We should do better than that.

To all my friends who celebrate Easter, may you celebrate in peace. To all my friends who ridicule the former, don’t be so gutless. Please support those who wish to celebrate in peace, as you would support those who would rather not.  Be well…  rc

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Obedience To Observation…

On the table to my right, rests a rectangular of book of paintings by the artist, Andrew Wyeth. The book is one of the few remaining links to my childhood. Looking at it this morning, I am reminded of the formative nature of things, even those things we may take for granted.

For most of my childhood, the Wyeth book was the centerpiece of the coffee table where I would rest my feet after school each day, and dull my sensibilities by watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island, McHale’s Navy, and Hogan’s Heroes.

During the commercials though, I enjoyed flipping through the pages of the Wyeth book, staring at his paintings, reading the stories about them – about him, and imagining those scenes in my head. I’d snap the book shut though, as soon as Gilligan came back on.

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What fascinated me most back then, and what would become so formative for me today is that, despite the diversity among Wyeth’s work, he painted on the same farm, week after week, year after year for most of his career – always finding more within a relatively small space.

The artist, author, and naturalist, James Prosek once said in an interview…

“If you’re not looking, you won’t see it…”

He was speaking about walking in nature while trout fishing. Hearing Prosek offer that sentence, I was taken back to Wyeth, painting on the same farm for most of his life – finding so much without going too far.

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The lesson learned from both artists, born two generations apart, is central to my life today. As I amble through my life each day, I not only take pleasure in stopping to observe small things, I am compelled to do so. Observation has become my obsession. Whether I am walking in the woods, or in the cereal aisle of the local market, I enjoy stopping appreciating the details.

Now in no way am I comparing myself to Wyeth or Prosek.  I’m just a chimp with a smartphone, and too much time on his hands. I am grateful though, for the fingerprints both Wyeth and Prosek have left on my soul.

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Walking in nature each day, in the same place, and taking pictures with the expectation that I’ll find the new, forces me to slow down, and to look more closely at small things. And that is a lesson which can be superimposed over every other aspect of my life… Jhciacb

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Digital Legacy…

Through the ages of man, we remember very few individuals. From the onset of the written word, to the current day, the people we remember, are most often kings, politicians, priests, and performers – anyone for whom there might have been a written record.
Though the occasional commoner might have etched the words
“Dear Diary…”
onto a stone tablet or piece of parchment, for most of the 100-billion people who have ever lived, we have no record of them as individuals.
Today that’s a different story. Anyone with a social media account, whether they realize it or not, is writing Dear Diary… with every post or entry.
Cyber-Archeologists 100, 500, or 10,000 years from now will (potentially) have an archived record, and at least some evidence of every individual who has ever logged onto a computer, made an entry, written a post, or published a blog.
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I find that fascinating – that after 15,000 years of being upright, organized, and looking beyond the moment, most humans have been long forgotten. However, anyone alive today, and savvy enough to chain a few words together, has the potential to be remembered through the balance of the ages.
Though I do keep a personal journal on my computer, it is my blog as well as my Facebook posts which capture my essence – digitally. So, whether I share something each morning or each week, I try to remember what I’m sharing is less a statement of the moment, and more a legacy of my thought – to be remembered for what might just be all eternity… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Chambers Brothers.  Enjoy….