Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I don’t think that I would enjoy being in the spotlight all the time and a lot of celebrities feel the same way and that is why some of them become recluses.  15 minutes of fame would be good enough for me as I would hate to have constant attention.  There are some nice perks to being a celebrity like getting special treatment everywhere they go, or being offered exclusive opportunities, but I am sure I can live without that.  It is like that proverb says, “people in glass houses shouldn’t sink ships.”  When you don’t live your life in the limelight, people are fair game and you can say anything that you want about anyone, but since celebrities live in glass houses and everyone pays attention to what they are doing and saying, they must be politically correct all the time and they can’t be themselves.  Nobody would care if I had a White nationalist, a Holocaust denier, and an antisemite over my house for dinner, not that I would ever do that.  Some Republicans thought their precious leader was wrong for doing that, but very few spoke out against him, fearing that he would harm their careers.  Along with the fame that celebrities enjoy, comes great responsibility, and they have an obligation to exercise their influence sensibly.  To continue to be liked, celebrities must live perfect lives and uphold certain standards that are expected by decent people.  Their fame forces them to live in a gilded cage and I am not interested in that type of sacrifice.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #192 which asks, “If you could, would you want to be famous if it meant sacrificing your personal life and privacy? Why or why not?”

Silly Post

I’m not one of those who likes to hide, so if I had a lot of money, from winning a giant lottery jackpot, I’d buy a big house where I could live.  I would get a dozen maids in sexy outfits that bend over all the time to dust everything, as who wants dust building up.  It is possible that I could find some other things for them to do around the house.  I would hire a personal assistant who answers all my emails and phone calls, schedules my meetings and books my travel arrangements.  I would get a personal chef that cooks without onions, plans all my meals and snacks and is always baking something.  I would like to have a personal trainer who instructs and motivates me to get back in shape and we would also play golf together.  I think I would hire a personal masseuse because it is always nice to have somebody around that can make you feel better.  I would hire a personal shopper that would make sure that I have everything that I want.  I would hire my own chauffer to drive me around in my limousine.  I would need a crew of landscapers and somebody to take care of my swimming pool, hot tub, and sauna room.

I would take dancing lessons and guitar lessons and build a recording studio in my home.  I would like to have a bottlenose dolphin or two swimming around in my pool, so I could hold on to their top fins and be pulled around.  I would need a personal decorator to purchase all the painting and statues that I want to display in my house.  I would probably get a personal stylist to advise me on new fashion trends, what goes with what and to lay out my clothes for me every day.  I guess I would need a yacht in case I wanted to listen to some yacht rock music, and I might as well get my own private island, so I would have some place to take my yacht to.  I think I would offer a bonus to any WordPress happiness Engineer that is able to fix the problems that Fandango is having blogging on his iPhone.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #190 which asks, “You just won a giant lottery jackpot. What are the first three things you’re going to do with the money you won?”

Twitter is for the Birds

Personally, I am not a Musk hater although there are probably plenty of good reasons for people to do that, as Elon Musk has been involved in multiple questionable activities.  Elon and Jeff Bezos are both known for their poor treatment of their workers, and I guess that by making others poorer, is how the rich keep on getting richer.  Most people see him as a self-serving, hollow, heartless billionaire who is more concerned with cryptocurrency and rocket ships than the lives of others.  I have a Twitter account and I did make one Tweet.  I applied for a writing job and one of the application questions wanted me to list my Twitter account.  I didn’t get the job and I never went back on Twitter after I said, “I am here!”  I don’t really care about Twitter, and I am not the kind of person who wants to know what every celebrity says, so I never followed anyone.  One of my friends told me that I should follow Howard Stern, but I don’t care what he says or does.

I heard that Musk made a bad investment by buying Twitter and the only good news to come out of him running this company may be that his ego is bigger than Donald Trump’s, so he may not let the former president back on, because he doesn’t want the Donald to take any publicity away from him.  I have no clues what changes Musk has made to Twitter, and I don’t care what he does one way or the other.  I don’t plan on making any more Tweets.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #189 which asks, “Whether or not you have a Twitter account, how do you feel about Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the changes he’s made so far. Do you care one way or the other? If you currently are on Twitter, do you plan to continue actively using it?”

All-Time Favorites

This is difficult for me as my taste does vary at times, so most of these choices may not be my all-time favorites, but as of today, this is the way I see them.  I hope it is OK to elaborate on my choices, because that will make writing this a lot more fun for me.

  • Song
    I am not going to over think this one, so I am going with the Grateful Dead song titled ‘Tennessee Jed’, which appeared on their triple album Europe ‘72 (Live).  Robert Hunter was drinking red wine in Spain when he wrote the lyrics for this tragic tale, which reminds me of Murphy’s Law where anything that could go wrong for Jed actually happened to him and all he wanted to do was get back to his normal life in Tennessee.  Jed runs into a man named Charlie Phogg who blackens his eye and he kicks his dog.  Jed’s dog turns to him and says, “Let’s head back to Tennessee, Jed”.
  • Musical artist or group
    I really like Bob Dylan and nobody ever wrote a better song than ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, as I never get tired of God testing Abraham’s faith.
  • Book
    I watch a lot more movies than I read books, but the one book that I was totally engrossed in was “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, because all of my friends also read that.
  • Author
    I guess I can’t pick myself because none of my books were ever published.  I am going to go with Edgar Allen Poe and it is not because I read a lot of his work but I did enjoy “The Raven”.
  • Movie
    I am an action movie guy, but I also like a good drama and there are so many good ones to choose from, but I will select the 1968 Western “Once Upon a Time in the West”.
  • Television show
    The Man From Uncle.
  • Movie or TV actor (male & female)
    You can’t beat Robert De Niro and I also like Sandra Bullock.
  • Stage play or musical
    The last play I saw on Broadway was Les Misérables, so I will go with that.
  • Live concert
    Hands down this was The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen which took place in 1973 and featured The Band, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #188 which asks about our all-time favorite things.

Family Dinner

Seven years after graduating Hugh School, I decided to matriculate.  This sudden decision was made one evening while I was eating dinner with my family, (mom, dad, brother and sister).  When I was in High School, I had no inclination or desire to further my education, so I never made any plans about going to college.  All I did was try to have fun in High School and my only goal was to do things that would make everyone laugh.  My brother had a job repairing timeclocks, you know those things that hang on the wall and hourly employees will stick their card into it to punch in and clock out.  My dad worked for RCA as a TV service person, and at dinner my dad and my brother were talking about transistors and resistors, which I knew nothing about, so I started paying attention to the conversation that my mom and sister were having.  My mom and my sister were talking about the price of pantyhose at Bradlees department store, which I had no interest in at all, so I felt alienated from my family, because I couldn’t contribute to either conversation.

I was working in a factory at the time, and it was not a very meaningful job, but I was without any real skills, so I had to take what I could get.  I worked on what was called the graveyard shift, which meant I started at midnight and worked till 8 AM.  I was a stacker at a place that made clay pigeons which people with guns used for target practice.  The saucer-shaped pieces of baked clay came down this conveyor line after they were done baking in the over, so it was always hot in this place, and they had fans blowing all of the hot air around instead of air conditioning.  My job was to make stacks of ten targets and slide a strip of plastic under them and then slide them into different compartments inside the boxes.  I had to assemble the flat cardboard boxes, seal the bottom, and insert the cardboard dividers, so it was ready for the product, which sounds easy enough.

The problem is that assembly lines don’t stop for any reason, at least that was the way my boss felt they should run.  One night I got a bloody nose and I was bleeding all over the targets, so I yelled to my boss to stop the line and he came over and replaced me and told me that I could get my nose to stop bleeding, but this was going to count as my break.  The worst thing about the graveyard shift is the people who work these non-standard hours.  There was a guy who worked on the line next to mine and he looked a bit scary, but one night when I saw him in the break room, I decided to introduce myself to him.  I asked him how long he had been working here and he told me ever since he got out of prison.  Then I asked him what he was in prison for, and he said murder, and that was the last time I ever spoke with him.

After that uncomfortable dinner with my family, I decided that I would study something with electronics, so I would have some things in common with my dad and my brother.  I went to the local Community College, and they said that I might fit into their Electrical Engineering program, and they gave me some paperwork to fill out.  My parents said that they would be happy to pay for my tuition, but I took out some student loans, so I would have gas money and so I could also have some money for beer.  I was a lot older than the rest of the students, so I stuck to myself and studied really hard.  The first day of school I attended a seminar where somebody said that for every hour of class you attend, that you should study for 2 hours, which I did and my first semester I got all A’s.  After I started to make friends, I started skipping some classes to go drinking and partying and my grades dropped off.

This was probably my biggest life changing decision, as I would now have a skill and I would make better money and meet better people.  No more working next to murders for me or having to work with a bloody nose.  I look at the movie Caddyshack where Danny Noonan who thought he was gonna end up working in a lumberyard for the rest of his life puts on a blind fold and hits his golf ball into the water and he asks Ty Webb who was played by Chevy Chase where his ball landed, and Ty told him in the lumberyard.  Going to college changed my life and I knew that once I graduated that I wouldn’t end up working in a lumberyard, a factory or a warehouse anymore.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #187 which asks, “Have you ever made a decision on a whim that turned out to change your life? If so, what was that life-changing decision? Can you imagine what your life would be like if you hadn’t made that decision?”

Prime Real Estate

People have been burring their loved ones for a long time, probably because dead bodies start to decay and that makes them smell horribly bad.  If there is a way that money can be made, somebody will capitalize on the idea that burring a corpse can be lucrative.  Our ancient ancestors placed coins on the eyes of the deceased to pay Charon so he would ferry the soul of the dead person across the river Styx into the underworld.  Dead bodies are mostly useless, that is unless the cadaver is donated to science, perhaps for Anatomy education of a medical student.  I guess everyone should have a plan for their death, so that they are not a burden to others, but as of yet, I have made no plans.  Wy grandmother used to talk about her death, and she would say that when she was gone, that she didn’t want anyone to make a big fuss over her.  She indicated that she should be wrapped up in a burlap bag and kicked down into the sewer, which always made me laugh, I guess because that was so irreverent.

When I am dead and gone, there won’t be one child left to carry on, as I never had any children, and I don’t even have any friends, so my funeral is not very important to me.  I think that cemeteries are a great waste of space, especially the really old ones, where nobody is visiting those graves, because these people died such a long time ago.  I would be happy if all the cemeteries were turned into parks or golf courses.  One thing that seems interesting to me is plastination, where the water and fat in the dead body are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample.  If my corpse had plastination, people could take my body with them when they go on vacation and pose me by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or on the Great Wall of China, or by the pyramids in Egypt.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #186 which asks, “How do you intend to dispose of your physical body after you die? Would you consider a green burial if it were legal where you live?”

Now I Am Become Death

I could think of a few things that humans created which are very scary and slavery is one of them, but the invention of atomic weapons tops the list.  A few people laughed, a few people cried, but most of them were silent as the first detonation of a nuclear weapon took place on July 16, 1945 in a remote corner on the plains of the Alamogordo Bombing Range, known as the Jornada del Muerto, which is located 210 miles south of Los Alamos, New Mexico.  The name Jornada del Muerto translates from Spanish as “Single Day’s Journey of the Dead Man” or even “Route of the Dead Man”, although the modern literal translation is closer to “The Working Day of the Dead”.  Robert Oppenheimer chose to name this the “Trinity” test being inspired by the 1896 poem written by John Donne “Divine Poems A Litany”, which contains a section called “The Trinity”.  Until the atomic bomb could be tested, doubt would remain about its effectiveness, but scientists suspected from studding the work of Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, German scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman, Niels Bohr and John Wheeler that by using nuclear fission, that they could split the nucleus of an atom into two smaller fragments with a neutron.  The nucleus would absorb the neutron, break into two parts become unstable and split immediately.  Each time a U-235 nucleus splits, it releases two or three neutrons, causing another fission to occur, creating a chain reaction.

The scientific community wondered if this chain reaction would be able to release an enormous amount of energy.  If this ended up being the case, then it would it be possible to build a weapon of unimagined power?  A team of scientists started working on the bomb in March of 1940 and when it was commissioned by President Franklin Roosevelt, it became known as the Manhattan Project.  The group worked for over three years on methods to extract plutonium from Uranium-235 and then on a way to harness plutonium’s natural fission into a controllable bomb.  They eventually settled on an implosion method, where a critical mass of plutonium would be condensed by surrounding explosions to create a supercritical mass which would then be triggered to create a fission explosion.  This is known as one of the greatest scientific achievements ever, and it marked the dawn of the Atomic Age.  The world had never seen a nuclear explosion before, and estimates varied widely on how much energy would be released.  Some of the scientists at Los Alamos continued privately to have doubts that it would work at all.  Everyone knew that this was a weapon of death, but since it had the possibility to end war and redeem mankind, it was thought to be a good thing.

When the test was a success, Oppenheimer recalled a phrase said by Vishnu in the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.  Krishna was the main protagonist in this story, and he is also the mortal avatar of Lord Vishnu.  He was short tempered, he cheated, he lied and wasn’t averse to breaking all moral codes and using his godly powers to try to kill all of his opponents.  Oppenheimer was referring to the scene where Krishna unveiled his true, terrible form to Arjuna, the prince who he had been cajoling into joining a battle.  The prince didn’t want to kill his brothers, but he joined the battle because he knew this was bigger than himself.  Robert Oppenheimer saw Vishnu as being the atomic bomb and he saw himself as being like the prince, a man who hated war, but he was compelled to create this destructive bomb, and now he had to witness its power.  Oppenheimer was in awe by the destructive power of this creation, as the only thing it was good for was death, and he realized how little and inconsequential he was as a result of all of this destruction that he helped to release.

My dad was a paratrooper in World War II serving in the 101 Airborne Screaming Eagles unit and after defeating the Nazis, his unit was being prepared to be sent to Japan.  My dad said that the bomb, saved his life and I guess that is a good thing, as otherwise I wouldn’t be here.  There are many other terrible things that probably rank right up there with the atomic bomb, like chemical weapons and biological weapons, but nothing scares me more than nukes.  Man’s destructive nature is unending, and we will always be trying to make more powerful bombs.  Nuclear weapons are the most terrifying weapon ever invented.  No weapon is more destructive, or can cause such unspeakable human suffering, and worse yet, there is no way to control how far the radioactive fallout will spread or how long the effects will last.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #185 which asks, “What do you think is the scariest thing that humankind has ever created?”

Colony Motel

The best vacation that I ever took was going down to the Jersey shore.  My wife and I stayed at the Colony Motel for the last week of Summer in 1987.  The motel had very clean rooms which were modest, having a coffee maker, a microwave and a mini fridge.  The beds were comfortable, and they had a refreshing salt water pool.  The main reason we stayed there was that it was only a 4-minute walk from there to Seaside Heights Boardwalk and they gave both of us free beach passes.  It doesn’t look like the greatest place from the outside, but we both liked the boardwalk which was really close, but it was located far enough away from the rides and excitement where we were not bothered by the noise late at night.  A typical day for us was spent gathering our supplies, towels, beach blankets, beach bag, sun screen, sunglasses, radio and cooler packed with snacks and drinks and haul it down to the beach.  We tried to get there early so we could pick a nice spot.  My wife was fussy and I always let her pick out the place where we would settle into.  I learned that it is better not to argue with a woman, because if something goes wrong, then I can tell her that this was her choice.

My wife liked to lay out and catch the rays and I like to splash around in the water.  Body surfing was my thing and I enjoyed diving into the waves and riding them into the shore.  It is pretty simple, as you pick the right wave and then just before it arrives, you dive forward, keeping your arms straight out in front of you, so you can ride the wave for as long as possible.  I never had one of those bodyboards, but I did learn how the ocean works and I understood the dynamics of the wave and it felt great being one with the feel the ebb and flow of the ocean.  Sometimes you catch a great ride and other times your body gets twisted around as you get dumped by a wave.  The worst thing that can happen is when the wave pulls your trunks down and that happened many times to me.  When you feel your bathing suit coming off, you have to grab it with both of your hands, so it doesn’t get away from you.  If it slides down a bit and exposes you, that will be embarrassing for you, but it could end up being very entertaining for the people around you.  The last thing you want is your bathing suit getting away, as that would be totally humiliating to have to frolic around naked in public wondering where the hell your suit is.

When I had enough fun body surfing, I would go back to where my wife was tanning herself and try to talk her into coming into the water with me and sometimes, she world join me and other days she didn’t want to get wet or mess up her hair.  I had a snack and a drink and listened to music on the radio while checking out all the girls in their bikinis like every other red-blooded man does.  I had no delusions of having a long-term future with any of these young girls on the beach, but I love to look at attractive females and when you are too old to look, then you are too old to live.  I am not a pervert, or a dirty old man and I always tried not to let my eyes linger too long on their breasts, or their backsides, because I didn’t want my wife questioning me if I wanted the young girl instead of her, or if I thought she was more beautiful than my wife.  I was married to my wife, and I knew that I was going home with her, but let’s face it, all men look at women and that should not be a cause for jealousy.  Hey, I also looked at the kids making sandcastles, as that is just what you do at the beach.

By noon we packed up, left the beach and went bac to the motel to get out of our swimsuits and take showers to get the sand off of us.  Then we would hit the boardwalk for lunch.  I always got one of those ice cold freshly squeezed lemonades and then I would get my favorite sandwich.  One thing about living in NJ, is that they have the best bread, probably because their water comes from the Catskill Mountains, and this gives the bread that perfect fluff.  Bakers in NJ know how to bake their bread and you just can’t get decent bread anywhere else.  I would head over to Midway Steak House, which isn’t a fancy place, but they make the best sausage sandwich on the boardwalk.  I liked them because they didn’t cook their peppers and onions together, so I could get mine with grilled peppers and tomato sauce, which was perfect for me.  They don’t have a seating area, so my wife would hold the drinks and grab a bench for us to enjoy our sandwiches there.

The Seaside Heights Boardwalk is the best one in all of Jersey and there are always plenty of fun things to do there.  We were not interested in the rides, but we always enjoyed browsing around and often we would go to the arcade where we both liked to play ski ball.  After that we would head to a bar where I would have a few beers and my wife would enjoy some frozen drinks.  The funny thing about all the vacations that I went on with my wife, was that some type of disaster always happened to her, which always made for interesting stories.  One night I told her that I would make her a white Russian, which she never tasted, so I went out and bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Kahlua and then I had to get some cream for the topping.  I went into this bodega and bought this heavy whipping cream, and I never checked the expiration date on it.  I have a cast iron stomach, so I could probably eat something that was contaminated with botulism, ptomaine and salmonella and I wouldn’t even notice it, so I mixed the drinks, and I started enjoying mine.  My wife said it had a funny taste, so she looked at the date on the heavy whipping cream and discovered that it expired 6 months ago, and it had curdled.  She got sick and spent the rest of the night puking and I had to drink black Russians without the cream, as I threw that away.  I guess everything seemed like more fun when I was young and that is why this was my best vacation ever.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #184 which asks, “What was the best vacation you ever took and why?”

People are Sheep

Fandango has a quote for us today that tells us where the trouble in our modern world comes from, claiming that the bulk of the difficulties in the world are caused by stupid people.  These stupid people are bold enough to speak up about injustices that they see, and they have the confidence to tell everyone else that their perception is correct, and the rest of the people will tend to believe them.  It says that intelligent have doubts, so they hesitate while they are procrastinating, and by doing this, they take a back seat in the discussion.  By not saying anything, this projects uncertainty and by not being prepared to move forward with what they actually believe because they full of doubts, the intelligent people are letting the stupid people run the world, because these stupid people will have the power to convince everyone else that they are right.

This quote from Bertrand Russell is based on the premise that the world contains stupid people, intelligent people and the rest are just followers.  I think the world is made up of more than three different types of people, so I don’t agree with this quote.  I can see instances in the past where this quote seems very appropriate, where stupid people convinced everyone else that the world was flat and also when they said that the Sun revolved around the Earth and everyone went along with that.  I think this quote makes a case for the person who makes the most noise will usually win the argument, whether or not their point is valid.  The purpose of an argument is to try and settle disputes and all arguments are either valid or invalid, and sound arguments are established by true premises, where unsound arguments are built on false premises, so there should be no middle ground, thus no argument is somewhat valid.

A cocksure person will strut like a cock in an attempt to impress others and hensure is the female equivalent for this type of person.  A cocksure person would be overconfident in their abilities and their opinions, and their audacity would make them arrogant, but many people would probably want to follow them because they feel that they have a sense about what is right.  There are rational and irrational reasons for following another person and most people are willing to go along with the crowd, so they can feel like they are being accepted.  People want to fit in even when it goes against their better judgement.  Most humans will flock like sheep, subconsciously following a minority of individuals.  It takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction and that the other 95 per cent will follow blindly like lemmings without even realizing it.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #15 Redux which asks, “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubts.”

Multiracial Society

A black person was originally defined as any person with any known amount of African black ancestry.  In the South during the Jim Crow era, this classification became known as the “one-drop rule”, meaning that a single drop of “black blood” made a person get classified as being of black decent.  The U.S. Census Bureau must adhere to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standard which says that a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa is to be considered as Black or African American.  Identification of ethnicity is fluid and self-perceptions of race and ethnicity do change over time and for many people there are special circumstances that need to be considered.  The concept of race is a socially constructed idea, originally based on skin color so we could identify a group of people with a common ancestor.  That group, just as we see in families today, could be quite diverse.  While the experience of being Black in America varies tremendously, there are shared cultural factors that play a role in helping us to define the concept of race as it is currently viewed.  Talking about differences between groups of people is often a sensitive subject and especially since diversity exists within the groups.

White people come in all different shades of skin color, and none of them are actually white.  It is just a word that is used to describe a large group of people.  A person that is being classified as ‘white’, or ‘black’, or ‘brown’, or ‘yellow’, or ‘red’ is just a way of putting people into a certain group.  At one time these groups may have been important, but since nobody is really white or black, in my opinion, this classification has diminished over the years, as most skin colors are just different shades.  I am not saying that people are not still proud that they are white or black, but now that the races have mixed, multiracial populations are increasing faster than any single race, so in the end, we may all end up being the same race, the human race.  I try not to concern myself over racial classifications and to me Wonder Woman should have been a Black woman, but once Lynda Carter took this role, the Amazons were presumed to be white.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #183 which asks, “Does diversity casting in TV shows or movies, where fictional characters who were presumed to be white in the source material are portrayed by non-white actors, concern or bother you? Why do you feel that way?”