Thursday, November 28, 2013


Thanksgiving Day

A day to feast and to give thanks for the bountiful harvest of our lives.
The first cry of our first child born into the world . . .
Our earliest memory of Christmas morning . . .
The smile on the face of a grandchild looking into your eyes . . .
The first time you observed the glory that is a sunrise just beginning to peek over the hills . . .
A sunset, just after a monsoon rain . . .
The first time you looked into the eyes of your loved one and realized you were madly, deeply in love . . .
The sight of the first snowflakes of the season, beginning to blanket the earth, covering it with a pristine blanket, whispering to you of silence . . .
Then, the sight of the first crocus piercing the blanket of snow, promising the return of Spring . . .
The sight of your child walking down the aisle, resplendent in a gossamer gown, with eyes glowing with love and expectation, promising her loved one to bring a life together, filled with love . . .
A grandchild taking a first step without guidance . . .
Seated at a table, resplendent with color, glittering china and crystal, flickering candles, sumptuous delicacies each prepared with love and high skill, and gazing into the eyes of assembled family members, and saying La Familia . . . to our family, because family surrounds us with love, memories, and links to the past and to the future.
So many things to consider, so many things for which we are grateful.

Such is life.

Be grateful

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Interesting Times

“May you live in interesting times . . .”
It would seem that we are indeed living in interesting times. When most of us are blithely going about our daily lives, trying to get into the Thanksgiving spirit, if not yet the Christmas spirit, many out there in positions of authority are working hard to disturb the planet in often dangerous ways. What do we have going on at the moment?
·         The US and its various allies are attempting to speak seriously for the first time since 1979 to Iran, in an attempt to de-escalate the state of crisis that has existed since the Ayatollah and his minions assumed control of Iran.  We are attempting to convince Iran to renounce nuclear weapons development in exchange for a lifting of the economic sanctions that have been in place for decades. This effort would seem a good thing, eh? Well, except for Israel and its annoying, warring leader Benny Netanyahu. Oh yeah, and except for our ally Saudi Arabia. The king there is always cranky and Iran engaged with the West makes him very cranky. Oh and then there’s our internal warriors, the GOP, or as we like to think of them, the Party of the Extreme Right Persuasion (PERPs for short). They dislike anything Obama suggests, just cuz. Meanwhile Iran just keeps on truck’n with its “nucular” options open.

·         And then there’s China and Japan, still feuding after all these years over some islands they both claim.  But China seems to be upping the ante by declaring that any unidentified planes flying into its airspace over the islands will be met with appropriate force. So, of course, we are continuing to fly our B-52’s into their airspace over the islands, without identifying ourselves . . . just, you know, cuz.
·         Then there’s Syria . . . remember Syria? They continue to shoot at one another , the good guys and the bad guys, except we don’t seem to know who’s who in that regard.

·         Oh, and now we have a new one—the Central African Republic-- one guesses it is located somewhere in central Africa, huh?. They all seem to be having a lot of fun killing anyone who isn’t already dead, but especially women, children and other innocent folks trying to get on with their already dismal lives. I guess it has something to do with religion, or power, but I repeat myself.  The French have kindly offered to send in another 1,000 troops to try to “keep the peace” Good luck on that one. I’m thinking Vietnam. Maybe you might consider 50-100,000 troops to “keep the peace”, just for starters.
And now, with all these happy goings on, we are supposed to be thinking about shopping, eating, and shopping some more. That is what Christmas is all about isn’t it . . . shopping??
Well, Black Friday is coming soon. So, remember, ignore all those awful shoot’m-ups going on around the world, and keep focusing on----SHOPPING.
Shop till you drop, baby . . . it’s what we’re all about as a Nation.

Friday, November 15, 2013

JFK Redux

PBS-UNCTV aired a two-part four hour retrospective on JFK. We TIVOed the series and finished watching last night. A heart-rending piece, bringing back many memories of that awful event in 1963. We were 20 somethings, living on Nob Hill in San Francisco, right behind Grace Cathedral. I was traveling a lot. I had in fact just arrived in my corporate home office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was driving a rental car, and had just pulled into the driveway of our office. The radio was on and the announcer was telling us that JFK had just been shot. It was not immediately clear what had happened, or whether the president would be ok. Then came the fatal news. The president was dead . . . dead!. It took some time for that news to sink in. I just sat in the car, in disbelief to what I had just heard. Who, why . .?
I went inside to report what I had just heard. Everyone knew. They all sat around in stunned silence. I called my wife in San Francisco, She answered the phone and told me that, she learned of the news because the bells at Grace Cathedral had been sounding in a mournful alert. She couldn't figure out what was going on, until she tuned in to hear the news herself. She was in deep shock. The news was so hard to grasp. Who would want JFK dead . . . a crazy person? What followed on the news (we had no TV at the time, having thrown out our TV as a useless invention five years earlier) seemed even crazier than our wildest thoughts. The guy who ostensibly did the deed had been caught and was then himself shot by some other bozo, while surrounded by police. Now if all that didn't arouse suspicion of a conspiracy, what would?
But we were stuck with it all. We now lived in a crazy world of thuggish people, armed and willing to kill at the drop of a hat. Nice.
From that point on, the notion of mortality entered my brain and has never left. My fear of flying began. Despite the significant travel I continued to do in my consulting business, I began to hate flying. And now, many years later, we have given up flying, after discovering that today's airlines, led by USAIR, are in fact dysfunctional.
But life goes on, and JFK is an increasingly distant memory. Ah Camelot. It was a wonder for a time . .

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Oh Syriana

We watched Syriana the other night . . . and switched it off after about an hour and a quarter. Any film that cannot make itself understood in 1.25 hours deserves to be switched off.  My theory is that they were going for a John LeCarre story, except they neglected to hire John LeCarre. His “Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, for example, is richly complex, but also comprehensible to anyone paying attention.  In Syriana they introduce a dozen or so characters each with a separate story line, and then neglected to even begin stitching them together in that first 1.25 hours. And to even begin to understand it, you must memorize the names of the various parts, because they are always dropping names.  
Yeah, we got that the film was about corrupt oil company executives and staff (duh), corrupt CIA leadership and staff (double duh) and corrupt and violent Arabs (wow . . . really??)  So, they could have told that tale in about 30 minutes—a nice half hour drama, complete with commercials. The film had a large, capable cast, led by lover boy George Clooney, who looked a bit careworn for this particular part. So, the acting was fine generally.  It was just the incomprehensible writing and the story line that left so much to be desired.
Now, we generally check the reviews of films we rent on Netflix and this one got passable reviews. The odd one mentioned the complexity of the plot and the (too) many characters.  But maybe today’s film-goers demand more action, or the promise thereof, and less of the thinking stuff.  Too bad really, but perhaps we didn’t really need another story about murder and other fun stuff in the Middle East.  Or perhaps there is no actual intellectual content to anything going on in the Middle East.
Oh, and the other thing—pictures of Beirut proved depressing. We stopped in Beirut during the 1960s and loved the place. In this film it looked like the slums of any run-down city, with the addition of murderous thugs roaming around the place. Too bad.  But our Arab friends continue to corrupt their own culture, and, as noted in the film, will some day run out of oil and, therefore, a future. Too bad.
And on another of our exoplanets, the newspapers are full of stories about how Yasser Arafat was probably murdered, although no one seems sure of how – polonium, maybe??  And, of course, Israel is to blame—who else would do such a thing?? Heaven knows, nobody else in the Middle East would even think of killing another Arab.  Would they??