Help me. Please help me. . . . .

On December 29, 2016, I mentioned that I normally have lunch at my desk.  While doing so, I often watch a Ted Talk (  ).   A few weeks later (2/5/17), I shared with you some of my favorite Ted Talks.  

I just had lunch at my desk (avocado and green pea soup plus a few squares of 72% dark chocolate).  And I watched a Ted Talk that had me pulling out my handkerchief.    Do me a favor.  Watch   The presentation is 14 minutes and 24 seconds.  And worth your investment of time. 

The presenter, Sophie Andrews, speaks of her personal experience with two 24/7 lifeline organizations in the UK — Samaritans and The Silver Line.  She speaks of the agonizing desperation of people who are abused, alone, depressed.  And she speaks of how an army of volunteers in the UK are there — to help address this painful problem.  By listening.  Offering shoulders to lean on.  It’s not the government (don’t get me started on that).  It’s individuals — like most of you who are reading this post — who step up.  Listen.  Act.  And make a difference in the world.            


He’s Back. . . . .

On January 31, 2013, I posted the following. . . .

Say what you will about Tiger Woods  In my opinion, he has been good for the game of golf. No – make that outstanding for the game of golf. While some criticize or condemn the actions which led to his fall from grace, to me it’s not a distraction from the sheer greatness of his golf game.  Tiger’s exploits on the links are legendary.  His prowess with wedge and putter has spurred tens of thousands of young people into the game.  His success over the years sparked a major uptick in rounds played.  And he has a foundation that provides palpable benefit. . . . . 

On any Sunday afternoon when Tiger is in the hunt, what red-blooded golfer doesn’t at least turn a weather eye toward the television?  I was there on the big screen 50 yard line watching Tiger win his 8th at Torrey Pines on Sunday.  Wow!  Sure Phil, Rory, Bubba and others play a role.  But I think it’s still Tiger who draws the crowds.  And he’s got a few years left. . . .  

Fast forward five years.  Rounds played in America are down.  Courses are closing.  And some still criticize Tiger.  But doggonit – Tiger was in the hunt two weeks ago and he is in second place at the Valspar as I write this piece (where attendance is up 35%!).  I want Tiger back.  I want Tiger to win.  And frankly — so should every serious golfer. . . . 

Frames of Mind

Most individuals have a level of competence with various skill sets.  I have reasonable eye/hand coordination which allows me to play a passable game of golf.  And perform magic.  I play the guitar, speak Spanish and express myself with some clarity.  But don’t ask me for directions.  And do not ask me about algebra.  I have the mathematical I.Q. of a chipmunk (I’m sure I’m insulting some very nice chipmunks).

Howard Gardner in his classic book Frames of Mind speaks of seven basic intelligences that all people share:  linguistic; musical; logical/mathematical; spatial; bodily/kinesthetic; interpersonal; and intrapersonal.   While everyone has a modicum of each of these seven intelligences, some folks are more heavily endowed with one or more of these capabilities.  It thus becomes important for parents to recognize – and nurture – the natural intelligence of their children rather than skew development with subjective expectation.    And demand.  “My boy will play football” “My daughter will be a lawyer.”  “My child will go to [XYZ] college.”    It’s one thing to encourage a natural athlete to study physics or a math whiz to take speech classes.  But it is quite another to discourage and thereby defeat a young person’s natural gifts.  Or skills.  In such cases, it seems that everyone loses . . . . . 

Weekend Lunch

In my post of September 8, 2011, I commented that I usually feel like Diogenes searching for a decent lunch on Saturdays.  It’s often been PB and J on pita or crackers.   Then there’s the occasional dash to Treasure Island to grab three squares of spanikopita (from which I whittle off the tasteless phyllo  crust).   BUT in that post, I shared a recipe for Saturday lunch that was cosmic.   It was a recipe that I stumbled on by pure accident due to a rare constellation of foods that happened to be perched in the frig, pantry and fruit bowl. 

Lately, I’ve been teeing up another Saturday lunch that is a “keeper.”  It is La Banderita corn tortillas with smoked salmon, a squirt of honey mustard, Monterrey Jack cheese, fresh Hass avocado and Frontera Grill’s Salpica brand cilantro green olive salsa with roasted tomatillos.  Oh my. . . .

I toast the tortillas for a few minutes.  Remove, lay flat and layer some smoked salmon, a slice of Monterrey Jack and fresh avocado.  Nuke it on “Reheat” for a bit, remove and slather with salsa.  I have died and gone to heaven.   For a dinner portion, you might use larger tortillas and add some grilled onions (see post of November 14, 2011) and fresh guacamole (avocados, squeezed limes, well-chopped cilantro). 

If you add a side of black beans and rice (brown rice is tastier) with a tad of salsa on top, and perhaps a glass or two of cab, you will have an exquisite Sunday (or any day) dinner.  If you make it, invite me over.

NRA – Follow up

I had some pushback on my post regarding the NRA (or the “NARA” if you prefer). While agreeing that banning assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons, and big magazines and clips would be smart, one person disagreed that some people wish to ban all guns. This person also felt the mental health component is not relevant to discussion of the NRA.  By discussing collateral issues, we “fall into the trap” set by the NRA.   

In my post of October 8, 2017, I explained why we are suffering these binges of violence.  And it’s not just guns.  And on February 12, 2017, I talked about Chicago violence.  

Peggy Noonan in her Wall Street Journal article titled “The Air we Breathe” (February 22, 2018) suggested that the last four decades have encouraged a society that is disposed to violence.  “The family blew up – divorce, unwed childbearing.  Fatherless sons [and daughters].  Poor children with no one to love them.  The internet flourished.  Porn proliferated.  Drugs, legal and illegal.  Violent videogames, in which nameless people are eliminated and spattered all over the screen. . . .The abortion regime settled in with its fierce, endless casual talk about the right to end a life.”  CDC reports that as many as 20% of all children 3 to 17 have mental or emotional illness.  Those numbers are growing.  Then of course there is the debasement of religion, the strangulation of free speech, an accusation generation (forget due process) and partisan politics that we have not seen since the Civil War.  We hurl epithets instead of engage in civil discourse.   It’s the air we breathe. . . . (please – see ).  

Ms. Noonan concludes that our politicians might consider “trade banning assault weapons for banning late-term abortion.  Make illegal a killing machine and a killing procedure.”  What’s not to like?        

The Taste Test

Donna and I are frequent happy hosts for our granddaughters (ages 3 and 6).  It’s “a sleepover at Nonni & Popi’s.”  It’s usually a Saturday evening. Which means Japanese food (which they love) or pizza.  And a “movie night.”  Last Saturday, it was “The Lion King.”  It’s always a delight.  Sunday morning it’s up and off to Church and Sunday School and then – shhhhhhhhhdo NOT tell our daughter — we go to McDonald’s for lunch.  Then on the drive home, we “get lost” allowing our granddaughters to guide the car (“left” “right” “straight”) until we have no clue (wink wink) where we are.

One of the activities that I will often employ for a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning is the “Taste Test.” I prepare by purchasing various Knudsen’s organic juices (cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, grape, apple, or whatever). And we sit at the table with 3 or 4 little Solo cups each with a splash of different juice.  We then taste the offerings. And try to discern what it is we are drinking.  And what our preferences are.  And why.  Pomegranate juice always prompts a wrinkled nose.  We’ve done the same with different fruits and (yuck) vegetables — with eyes closed.  There is no tiring of the taste test.  It is always fun and our granddaughters never know just what Popi has on the menu 🙂 

The N.R.A.

When I was a kid, my father sent me down to the local creek to shoot rats.  Big Norway rats.  I used a BB gun or a single shot .22 loaded with CB shorts.  When I was 14, I was on staff at a Boy Scout camp in Wisconsin.  I got on the school bus for the ride up north with my knapsack and my Stevens Model 416 .22 caliber bolt action rifle.  Plus two boxes of ammunition.  Art T. brought pistols to camp since he was on a pistol team back home.  Since we arrived on Sunday, we put our guns under our bunks and on Monday checked them in to the rifle range for the duration of the summer.  No one ever thought of doing something violent or hurtful to another person.  Many of the boys were junior members of the NRA.  I was for a couple years.  But never since. 

I believe that folks who want guns for hunting, target shooting or protection should have them.  But I am not a fan of semi-automatic weapons, bump stocks, massive clips or military-style weapons.  They are not necessary.  Nor are they contemplated by the Second Amendment.  The NRA is no more.  It is not the National Rifle Association.  It is now the National Assault Rifle Association.  Maybe the National Bump Stock Association.  The current NRA seems to care little about the gun violence that suffocates our nation.  Instead, they preach the same sermon that most weapons should be legal.  With little limitation.  Easy on the background checks.  As we all know, some NRA members crave automatic weapons.  And bazookas.  And RPG’s.  “Pry my cold dead fingers. . . . .”   

But one should at least understand the NRA’s position since there are those on the other side who believe that by confiscating all weapons, violence will come to an end.  And then there are some who proclaim that even those who are mentally ill and prone to violence cannot be forced to take meds or have institutional treatment unless the individual agrees.  That’s just ducky.   Toxic agendas.  Toxic results.

With such extreme positions – competing for legitimacy – it is tough to find common ground.  And common sense.  We need to do something.  But sanity and compromise seem to have gone out the window.