Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Top 10 Ways to Resolve to Have a Great Year

What sort of year have you decided that 2008 will be for you? A lot of people seem to be going off the idea of New Year's resolutions after many years of making them and then breaking them too soon after. Here are 10 ways to resolve to have a great year:
1. Start in this moment.
Don't wait for a certain day to allow time for mental preparation. How much time do you really need to prepare yourself to enjoy being happy?
2. Start with small improvements.
Decide that today you are going to do something better than yesterday. Then make that your new minimum standard for the following day when you improve just a little bit more, e.g. walking for one more minute each day.
3. Roll with the punches.
Dwelling on upsets is a waste of your precious time. Let them go as soon as you've learnt what you need to and move on.
4. Know what matters.
If you can honestly determine this, you can't lose your sense of direction in life.
5. Focus on what matters.
Give yourself and your priorities the attention and respect that they deserve.
6. Take the pressure down.
Don't expect too much of yourself. Some days were made for stopping to smell the roses; more days than most people take.
7. Minimise doubt.
Optimism's enemy is doubt. The more doubt you can get rid of, the greater your year will be.
8. Detach from outcomes.
The sooner you can do this, the sooner you will have less disappointment, less doubt and more joy.
9. Let some control go.
Life doesn't have to go the way you want it to. It can be a whole lot better!
10. Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
People won't think less of you for being human because they already had their suspicions anyway.

Just a little something to think about.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Positive Vibes

Crankster's sister Ella is being operated on today in Pennsylvania. Although I have been somewhat distracted, and Crankster's always soundly of the positive mental attitude is thinking that all will be well, it can't hurt if we focus a lot of good thoughts on the hospital in Pennsylvania. It happens, I put the Existential Fix in yesterday.

Show 'em how it's done, Ella!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From My Good Friend Echomouse

Echomouse is one of the smarter people around. She doesn't try to fool herself, so she doesn't try to fool anyone else either. It's uncommon to find that trait in a friend these days, so I tend to think I'm kind of lucky. We became friends last year, then we both had perfectly horrible 2007s. I have started to pull out of the misery of the year, in fact, I have found myself to be the normal amount of upset at coming home to find a $40 speeding ticket issued by a camera for doing 34 mph in a 25 mph zone. This occurred as the zone changed to a 35 mph zone, I evidently sped up too fast. Not the end of the World. Same thing happened to Judy. Local governments are getting creative in raising money. But I digress, I suspect that the two of us are starting to move on with our lives as we approach the first anniversary of some bad events.

So when I opened my mail, and I got a piece of e mail from E.M., and it was George Carlin discussing age, I read the whole thing. I am going to share it with you because of the insight that Carlin brings to subjects. Carrie's writing is mixed in. It's all worthwhile.

George Carlin on aging!
(Absolutely Brilliant)


George Carlin's Views on Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life ! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.'

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them.'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them , at every opportunity.

Carrie, I love you! And the rest of you too!

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Guilty As Charged

OK, instead of sitting down and writing a post about something pithy, or otherwise, I read your blogs. I'd really read your blogs because so many of you are so good at it. Still, I have pictures, and the garage is finished, and we are parking there, out of the snow! Naturally, there's a story which I haven't gone into.

Getting up early (6:30 am), working late (oh dark thirty to oh dark thirty, the sun is a rumor although I actually do sit next to a window) only detracts from a job that is becoming enjoyable. With one half inch of snow yesterday morning, it took one hour and forty-five minutes to travel eighteen miles to work. There's a reason the British Diplomatic Corps list Washington, D.C. as a tropical zone and it deals with the summer months. This area doesn't do well when it rains. Imagine what happens when it snows.

It's time to go. We have a lady coming in tomorrow to discuss moving over her four plus million in accounts, and I ought to be awake in the event she talks to me. Like saying "Hello" or something like that. I think I'll get up half an hour earlier, just to make sure I can get in on time. You'd think that I had suddenly become a grown up. Ugly, isn't it. Have a great day, and a great weekend. More soon!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Holiday Season

Above is a close up of the Silver Lace Red Maple in front of the house. For about a week at the end of Fall, the tree's leaves turn a bright red, then die and fall off. In the old days, the end of Fall was generally somewhere around the third week of October around here. This picture was taken November 21, 2007, or about a month later than you'd expect. Full Fall colors were still here in all of their vibrance the last week of November.

For those of you like Pool who have friends that would like you to believe that Global Warming is a figment of your, and everyone else's imagination, ask them to explain how Fall got moved back a full month. Be careful because sometimes a lot of smoke and mirror action can ensue from both sides of the issue. I like going with the obvious, like, is the Planet Earth getting warmer? Yes, we are still coming out of the last Ice Age, so the Globe is getting warmer. Is the Globe getting warmer faster than it should? What about the hole in the Van Allen Radiation Belt? I have no idea. I leave that to the scientist who have the proper training, please fund their research. This is where you should realize that i don't need to go any farther. So, I'm not.

That brings me to the Holiday Season. There is Depression everywhere. The DC area is mourning the murder of Sean Taylor, who played football for the Washington Redskins. The Redskins played Buffalo earlier today, their first game since Taylor's murder, and the team was having a lot of trouble playing. They led until the last 4 seconds of the game, and then lost it. Their coach, a Hall of Fame Coach, committed a foul that I had never heard of, but he was severely distracted, as was the team.

Other heinous events have also occurred but got less press coverage. A man arranged to meet his wife near here to exchange their children for Thanksgiving in a neutral park. The man killed his wife and two children with a knife, then killed himself. Last Monday, a man attempted to cross the street a mile from my house. It is a six lane 40 mile per hour road. He was involved in a hit and run accident, and died of his injuries. The police found the car, in Virginia where it was registered. They determined that the car did not inflict all of the damage to the man, but that at least one more car was involved. These two stories made the local paper, but not the daily national press that Sean Taylor's murder has.

It's true, bad things have always happened. The world is a nasty place. I think that is one of the reasons I took so much pleasure from Holmes, and the silver lace red maple, my wife, and the people who comment on my blog. That means all of you. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. I'll try to get out more, and comment and blog more.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I am really blessed in the fact that I woke up this morning. With all the funerals we attended, it's been hard to take that for granted this year. I am blessed because my wife is still here with me, and still seems to care what happens to me. That's a big one too. I am working hard on trying to convert my thinking to appreciating that I got to spend so much time with Jake and with Holmes. Jake was my nephew and Holmes was my cat. They both died untimely deaths this year. The cat food manufacturer agreed with us about Holmes' death and sent us a check for her vet and food bills plus money to replace her. But I digress, I am really trying to convert my thoughts to ones of smiles thinking about the good times with each one, taking Jake to his first professional baseball game, bringing Holmes and her sister Watson home the first time.

I am blessed by the people who visit here and say some of the nicest things. I am blessed by the people that I have met in real life. they all know who they are, and how much I like them. My big wish is that we're all here, and even more of us, next year, for an even better Thanksgiving, and that even more of us have met, and become closer friends!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, wherever you are!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hear Ye Hear Ye Hear Ye

The erudite, tasteful, extremely literate, incredibly attractive, superbly endowed and intelligent beyond expectation Glamourpuss (A Pole Affair, Clairvoyance) was imitated by Marks and Spencer, the reknown English retailers when they came out with their new P.J. line. Puss, a cross between Diana Rigg and Elizabeth Hurley (eat your heart out Kim Kardashian) took it all with her finely tuned sense of good humor, and her good friend, buddy, pal Poleminx generated the much desired, most sought after "The Blog Most Likely To Inspire A Pair Of Pyjamas Award"! I was astonished, shocked, thrilled, and oh so pleased!

So I am nominating the really classy blogs out there that make me think they are the same high caliber as Glamourpuss, who has probably finished another smashing demonstration of Poledancing in Darby by now. Remember, these jammies are from Marks and Spencer, not just any old Kmart. We're talking grey or blue pin strip quality here! In silk (I would special order I suppose).

I don't have time to read many blogs while I am working, much less publish regularly. Odat, puts out high quality, wonderful material seven days a week. Odat is a staple of mental health. Remember this when the Bloggie Nominations come around, please.

Hearts blog Guilty With An Explanation, sets a very high standard of excellence, and it seems to transcend blogging and extend to living in general. One question people like to ask is something along the lines of if you could have dinner with any 5 people living or dead, who would they be? I'd really need a bacclaurean feast for a couple of weeks with a few hundred, like my Grandmother. But I guarantee you that Hearts would be there, along with Jefferson, Freud, Crankster, Einstein, CMHL, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Lincoln, Pool, Aristotle, Plato, and a few others. Assume a Universal Translator. That being the case, silk PJs are just a beginning.

Open Grove Claudia writes On A Limb With Claudia and her blog is something to look forward to reading. I can't do justice to describing her blog, you have to read it, and then you'll love it. Definitely a set of silk PJs.

Wicked H has long been one of my best kept secrets. No more. We are secretly adopted to each other. Wicked and Wandering Girl both write similar blogs, and I love them both. Sis, you get a set of the silky PJs too. You will wear them well. I am giving the same award to Wandering Girl for the same reason.

I am revisiting the Rocking Girl Blogger Award because Crankster was awarded it by me, but was on Sabbatical when I gave it to him. I am very biased about The Crankster since I believe that he could become one of the great writers of our time. Not that I want to put any pressure on him, understandably. Now that he is back to blogging, I am reissuing the award, and since I am reissuing it, I am giving it out to a few more people.

If you read Nosjunkie and her brother Will, you quickly realize that they both deserve this award. I enjoy their blogs immensely, even when I am reading from a reader on a break. They rock.

My sis Wicked H is definitely a recipient. I'm a true believer.

I adore MJ. she has suffered more than I have with the hospital, and other nasty stuff, and yet she handles it all better than I do. I want to grow up to be like MJ, but I'll never be able to group the hair.

If you have ever seen a picture of Open Grove Claudia, you'd know why she deserves this award, no questions asked.

And then there's Wng. Every mental image I have of her constitutes what this award is about.

And finally, I believe that M@ is a leading contender for this award.

In parting, I hope you all will remember that you are seeing less of me because of a major theme of this blog, namely quality. I am building the basis of what I am doing and where I am heading now, and if I am going to be any good, have any quality, add any value it will only come from hard work and some level of mastery. Please bear with me! Thanks for your forbearance. And have a fabulous week. I'll read and write when I can.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We Have Arrived

My wife has a 'thing' about scheduling, and making sure that we have enough time to do whatever is necessary. She is the uber-planner. Naturally, since we hadn't flown anywhere since the year 2000, we arrived in our little secured nook of Reagan Airport after going through security three hours before boarding of our aircraft. Impeccable planning! On the other hand, one of my favorite phrases, all of my insulin and needles went through without a hitch. Seems they have seen diabetics at TSA before, although I did seem to confuse them by wearing a pair of suspenders. I got pulled out of line for a individual 'pat down'. It may have been the pattern of the American flag on the suspenders, or the metal clips, or my wife snarling that tipped them off. They also 'statistically' picked my shoes for 'further study'. I was almost sorry I had showered, but, then again, I still sleep with my wife.

We were into 'Rage Against the Machines' and the plane wasn't at the Airport yet. We were behind the Security walls, and there was no good coffee in sight. We were prisoners in a security nook of Reagan Airport, across the Potomac river, where George Washington had flung a dollar and some change trying to get a ride also, from the Nation's Capitol, and the best food was Jerry's Subs, and the coffee was swill. I am convinced that TSA stands for Tough Shit Asshole, not that they seemed to have an attitude problem.

We eventually boarded a pencil that looked like a glider with two jet engines, where we could not put the tray tables down because there wasn't enough room between the back of the seat in front of us and our bodies. It took two and one half hours to reach the beautiful Des Moines International Airport, where our luggage eventually arrived via motorized conveyor, directly from the belly of the jet-assisted pencil. A phone call to the hotel on the specially provided phone right there in the airport yielded a shuttle that took the two of us directly to the Marriott Downtown.

In my next post, I will go into the purpose of the visit, namely Judy's aunt and uncle's 80th and 90th birthday party, a fabulous dinner on Friday night thrown by their sons, The University of Colorado Bison's who stayed at the hotel (and played the University of Iowa on Saturday), and meeting Hilary Clinton, Barrack Obama, and the entire Press corp covering them, who were also staying in our hotel, and holding Town Halls, addressing Unions, and the Farmers.

In the meantime, we did make it home in one piece, but we had to come home through Minneapolis, because it's only like 300 miles out of the way. Naturally. That's modern day spoke and hub aviation.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Leaving On A Jet Plane

We leave in seven minutes for the airport. I have avoided flying since 9/11 occurred, so I am not looking forward to this experience. I know, I should have a positive mental attitude. I guess I should be glad that Richard Reed tried to hide a bomb in his shoes and not up his ass.

Puss, I was reading about your EFT techniques and ran out of time. I shall return. If you don't read Glamourpuss and Open Grove Claudia and Crankster and Nosjunkie, you should. They are all on the blogroll, and the car is here to take us away. See you all next week! Have a blast.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Peace On Earth, Good Will To All

I spent a lot of time thinking that I was going to decorate the globe above with Holmes' picture and the name The Morning Meeting, and submit it to the blog that promotes this every year. I was too busy to get a copy to all of you who have blogs, or to put your blog names onto a copy. My apologies. So here is a plain copy, just copy it right off the page, or click on it and copy it to your machine and then upload it to your page. The idea is more important than the precise form.

Open Grove Claudia is one of those people that oozes talent. She writes really well, and she is a first rate thinker, much smarter than I am, and ever was. She has written a post on Winning the Peace that you should read, complete with video. It's Part 1 of a series.

Life just keeps getting better! I trust that those of you who had elections yesterday, voted in them. Check you later, and have a fantastic day!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Working Gets In The Way of Blogging

There are a few drawbacks to working that I didn't take into account, namely it cuts harshly into my blogging time. Worse, there's no Starbucks anywhere nearby, the office has a Cuisinart 12 cup coffee maker, and they use Folgers coffee, and they make it weak. In the good old days, last week, I'd drink the whole 12 cups in about three (3) hours. They are small cups don't you know. And let us not forget, coffee is liquid mental health, diabetic friendly, can be used with Splenda if you like sweetener, and when you lace it with espresso, it's really good for your heart! There should be a Starbucks in my building, if not on my floor. Mental Note, write Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks) and have him open a Starbucks in my building. On the other hand, I need to avoid the blueberry muffins, the marble cake, the chocolate this, the chocolate that. Maybe my own coffee pot! Critical thinking at work here. Strategy, tactics, operational efficiency, I'm back at work. My thanks to Odat for the ringtone that I have attached to my boss's phone number in my cell phone. That woman is a font of useful and timely information.

Create free ringtones at Phonezoo

There is no time for blogging. There is a ton of reading to do, at least for me. In modern portfolio theory, diversification is a huge issue. An economist proved that something like 91% - 93% of gains actually came from asset allocation, and not from selection in its class. That's the quick version. The entire theory won the Nobel Prize in Economics in the early 80's, so I started there. I also have to learn every account type, the restrictions, how to open them, how to transfer accounts, and on and on and on. And that's just the beginning.

The investing world at the professional level is quite different than I had imagined, at least in the area I am working in, namely Wealth Management. We are ALWAYS supposed to take the client's needs into account. Everything is focused on the client.

The big brokers are known as 'the wire houses' and are also often called the 'sell side'. My partner, who has twenty-one years experience with the wire houses, claims that one day someone will be able to prove that the wire houses issue sell recommendations when they want to build a position in a company's stock. My last account with a wire house was such a bad experience that I prefer to not mention the company or the experience. What I will tell you is that it took almost two months to transfer my account to another institution. Even better was the more than $250 they took as fees to close the account, and various other sundry charges.

I am not trying to tell you that any setup is perfection, and that nothing can ever go wrong. I can't even do that at home. On the other hand, I am so happy to be trying! The hours are long, the math is a push over, and you actually get to help people.

And finally, Judy and I are going to Des Moines, Iowa Thursday morning, and we won't be back until late Sunday. The video is an homage to Odat, just because. I hope all goes well with all of you, and I'll be back on-line as soon as time permits!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Bastards Want To Kill Cats

Once again, one of Heart's kids is involved in rescuing some animals. This time, it's the feral cats at JFK airport. You can get the full story over at Heart's blog, including what you can do to help should you choose. I am personally asking for your help. You know that I have had cats for years. I also don't like killing living things, animals, people, whatever. Heart's post is called S.O.S. I appreciate your help! Thank you so much, regardless of where you live.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Goodies To Share

Lately I have been reading Wng's A Whole New G which I find delightful. Wng is pretty thoughtful, and also funny, which naturally makes me think of my good buddy, friend, pal Pool. No one is quite like Franki, or Odat, who are in their own Class. Then you have Glamourpuss and Hearts who each craft their own magnificent wordsmith orbits, recently joined by Skinny Little Blond. SLB wrote a piece called 40 Years & Still Learning that was so good and so natural that I have singled it out for you. If you appreciate great writing from someone who has something to say, and says it really well, you have a new blog to read. And if you wanted proof of a Supreme Source, Crankster is publishing again. Mana from heaven for me! And once again, I am addicted to Nosjunkie's (Lee's) blog Vicinity of Obcinity. I look forward to reading her stuff daily. I intend to share my Rocking Girl Blogger Award with her. She deserves it! So here's a few people for you to look at. Enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Work Is Not A Four Letter Word

When you first meet someone, part of your conversation will generally drift into the subject area of what you both do for a living. The work that you do is perhaps the most important trait that describes who you are. The vast majority of people may well recoil from that statement. You will hear a lot of things that people think is a description of them. I am the father of three children, we live at 2314 Terrace Rd with my wife Jill, I drive a Cadillac Seville. One day, Jill files for a divorce, they no longer live together, he loses custody of his children and the house, and he can no longer afford the Seville.

Personal identifiers that tend to stick with us are the skills we develop for ourselves. When you first start off in school, your teachers and a lot of the testing is oriented at finding out what talents you have. It takes a lot of work and discipline to develop real skills, like real math skills, or critical thinking skills. One of the tragedies that happens is that some kids find school too easy, and never learn good study skills. Not everyone actually fully develops their talent and uses what they have available to them for a variety of reasons. A lack of opportunity, the kid who goes to work at sixteen or younger because of the death of a parent, lots of things can get in the way of someone not getting to either develop nor live up to their potential. Some folks simply don't make the effort, and it does involve taking risks, getting out of your comfort zone, so to speak.

The guy above is Abraham Maslow, the Psychologist that many people have heard of but most people never read. His work has been re-written, summarized, and made easier by so many people that it is astonishing. One author re-wrote Maslow for the entire business community telling them that needs were satisfied in the hierarchy like filling a bucket with water. Food, sex, etc are level 1 needs. Would all of you who have either eaten enough for the rest of your life, and/or had enough sex for the rest of your life please let the rest of us know in the comments below. I trust I have made my point. To be a bit more precise, the first three levels, I'm going to call the third level Social, which is how I learned it, recur as needs a lot. They are maintenance needs.

If you read Herzberg's "Motivator Hygiene Theory" he calls the first three levels of Maslow's Hierarchy Hygiene needs, and he hopes that people get to wallow in hygiene. The top two level of the hierarchy, Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization are called Motivators by Herzberg. You can go all the way back to Kennedy's work at Harvard in the late 50's where he describes the Motives of Human Beings as affiliation (being with others), power (affecting what others do), and achievement (taking in risk and anxiety and reducing it). A lot of technical talk that correspond to affiliation and power being level 3 skills, and achievement being a level 4 skill, on the other side of the dividing line. In other words, you need to risk to achieve. It's the easiest trait to condition OUT of human beings, taking risks, so achievement is the hardest thing to get from a lot of people. Others, get hooked on the Kool Aid of Achievement. Those Nobel winning professors in research universities teach that one course because they have to, not because they want to do it. They are hooked on research at the riskiest level, big time University level research. It's not for the faint of heart.

I have said a lot, and I may have lost a lot of you. I gave you a lot of psychological underpinnings to understand a situation that has really bothered me a lot for quite a while. I retired October 15, 1999 at a pretty early age. The market fell apart in the year 2000 while I was in Alaska, and really self-destructed in 2001. In my field, I had been gone too long to get back in. I was technologically obsolete.And then I started getting the age thing. And I realized that I wasn't as happy as I could be. Some one I found quite by accident, who is now on the blogroll, Skinny Little Blond, wrote a post last Friday called "Do Whatever You Want" which is one of the best existential stories I have ever read. And, she's a lot easier to read than Sartre, besides, Sartre's characters always seem to rush towards anxiety. But, I digress. I have sent several thousand resumes and applied to more positions than I care to admit. I have been trying to get a business started in a slowing economy. I have made a small living trading in the markets.

Last Monday, my broker walked up to the house, with the broken driveway, walkway, and garage floor, and he offered me a partnership in his new firm. He was in the top 10 at Morgen Stanley and he left to form a Wealth Management practice. He could have had any of the brokers at his old firm, or a lot of other firms, plus the support staff he had at Morgen. He picked me. He didn't even have my resume. He has known me since 1988. I am the second person in the firm. I have my keys already, tomorrow, I have to be fingerprinted, and cleared legally and financially. Neither will be a problem. I get to work with the Raymond James Trading Systems, and the first time I saw them, my mouth dropped open. I have so much to do......

I intend to publish as time permits. But suddenly, I have Level 4 and 5 needs that have been suffering, to attend to, so I'm going to go to sleep now so I can get up early and go to work!!!! More later!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Stages of Committed Relationships

My friend the therapist sent this and I thought I'd share it. It was produced at The Relationship Institute and I leave their name there so they get the appropriate credit.

The Relationship Institute

When attempting to create a loving, healthy intimate relationship, it is important to have an accurate roadmap for the journey. Most of our culture's roadmaps have emphasized fantasy, illusion and denial, and those who follow those maps will tend to have unhappy, conflict-ridden relationships. What follows is a reality-based roadmap which comes from research into couples' actual experiences of being in long-term relationships.
While theorists disagree on the exact name and number of the stages couples progress through, there is a general consensus that couples go through some version of the following stages. Not everyone goes through all the stages and some couples may go through them in a different sequence, but for most couples this is the normative experience in a long-term committed relationship.

This is the love that Hollywood loves to promote as the only kind of love. Romantic love is wonderful, easy, and effortless. It is very spontaneous and alive. The feelings and perceptions that go through both people are that we are one; we are the same. You are perfect. I can give and receive love with little or no effort required. There is a tremendous emphasis on maximizing similarities and minimizing differences. There is a belief and expectation that you will provide most or all of my wants, needs, desires. There is generally a high degree of passion and feelings and expressions of romance come easily and often. The partners think about each other constantly, and make much eye contact and are very affectionate when they are together. Many people experience this as living in a state of near-constant bliss and infatuation. There is a belief that these feelings and experiences will go on forever, that 'we will never disagree on anything', and that somehow fate or forces larger than themselves have brought them together.

This stage generally lasts from six months to two years, and is the SHORTEST stage of any of the stages of long-term committed relationships.

Ah, reality. Inevitably, predictably, eventually, reality rears its (ugly?) head and the bubble bursts on the Romantic stage. Sometimes it is a slow leak, other times a sudden and complete blowout. But either way, something happens which causes a minor or major conflict in the new relationship. Sometimes the trigger is living together and having to share household chores and experiencing personal habits up close. Sometimes it is an act of deception which is discovered. Sometimes it is planning a wedding, buying a house, or sharing finances. Whatever the cause, after the conflict occurs, it becomes impossible to continue the fantasy that this person and this relationship are immune from struggle, from effort, from reality. Differences which were previously obscured suddenly become visible. Conflicts, anxieties, disappointment and hurt replace the effortless flow of the Romantic stage. There is a sense that this person is not living up your hopes and dreams, and there is an accompanying loss of closeness. Gradually each person is forced to relinquish some of their most cherished romantic fantasies, or to cling to them desperately in a state of denial.

In this stage, it is common to feel as if someone or something or even Life itself has cheated you or robbed you of something precious, almost like a stage of grieving the loss of something innocent and wonderful. There is a desire to be close again but confusion as how to create that. It is the first time that fears of intimacy begin to arise. Suddenly the couple must learn how to deal with very real differences, how to deal with conflict, and how to integrate being an independent person as well as someone in an intimate relationship.

In short, Adjusting to Reality is the stage where the Real Relationship begins.

As the disillusionment of the Adjusting to Reality stage deepens, the couple tends to have more disagreements. Minor issues blow up into larger arguments. Yelling appears for the first time, if it ever will. Both partners dig in their heels and defend their positions on issues fiercely. Each person digs in their heels and protects their turf. This once-tender effortless loving relationship has become a battleground and evolved into a daily Power Struggle. This is a typical stage in the development of a long-term committed relationship.
For the first time in the relationship, there are occasional or frequent thoughts of leaving the relationship. This person who only recently appeared to be the embodiment of pure love and joy in your eyes suddenly seems self-centered and not to be trusted. Doubts arise as to whether the other person really loves you. There are consistent feelings of ambivalence and anger. Blaming and accusing becomes the most common form of interaction. Each partner is afraid of giving in, and wants the other to change. This is where deep resentments begin to form, which if left unchecked, become the cancer that eventually eats away at all the love and tenderness that has come before. Sarcasm and hostility enter into daily conversations.

This does not have to be the end of the relationship. The tasks for the couple here are to develop problem-solving, conflict resolution and negotiating skills. The conflicts will clearly not go away on their own. Each person much learn to listen respectfully to their partner's position, even if they don't agree with it. They must learn to support their partner's own growth, even if they feel it compromises their own. They may see the origins of the patterns of their conflicts (and their dysfunctional ways of resolving them) in their family of origin.

The Power Struggle is physically and emotionally draining, and if the couple can survive, they move into the next stage, of a conscious Re-Evaluation of the relationship. Whereas the original commitment one makes is typically based on projections of fantasy, this Re-Evaluation takes into account the reality and fears and defenses of each person. Do I really want to stay with this person? You know who this person is now, you know their limitations, and you know the range of which they are capable of improving or getting better. Knowing all that, do you still want to stay? That is the question that gets answered during this stage.

Both people tend to turn outward to resolve their issues, instead of toward each other. As a result, fears of abandonment come up strongly here. Can I make by myself? Am I really okay the way I am? Will anyone else find me attractive or appealing?

Both people emotionally (and sometimes physically) disengage and withdraw during this stage, which makes it the stage in which separation, divorce and/or an affair are most likely to occur. Feelings of resentment are less intense in this stage, as the affect in the relationship is likely to be very flat and empty. The sexual relationship sporadic at best and more likely non-existent. Things are ripe for an affair to burst on the scene, and often a person in this stage will begin to confide in someone of the opposite sex. This confidante will take on more and more importance in the person's life, due to their neediness and vulnerability, and they will often get emotionally very involved without consciously realizing it. At this point even the slightest affection is like throwing a match in the forest on a hot summer day, and a passionate, intense affair will begin.

The danger is that when an affair begins at this stage, it is almost impossible for the relationship to recover. The primary relationship has too little going for it in the way of gratification on either side, and the inevitable comparisons between the affair and the relationship seem like night and day.

A separation can be useful here to help each person gain perspective, due that too can lead to the demise of the relationship if outside gratifications seem to dwarf the emptiness of the relationship.

The task for each person here is to stay present and honor their commitment, develop individually and be able to see their partner as a separate person. This is the only way the relationship can survive and move into the next stage.

In this stage, after the distance of the Re-evaluation, if the relationship has survived, there is a re-awakening of interest in getting closer and connecting again. Knowing all that they know, coming from reality and not fantasy, there is a decision to have the willingness to try once again. There is an open acceptance of the conflicts and differences in the relationship, but they are approached with a different attitude: they are used as opportunities for learning about oneself and the other person. They are catalysts for growth and change. There is a recognition that the differences are real and won't go away, and that neither person can really change the other. Thus begins a process of struggling to create an honest, genuine intimate relationship. The people connect again and the relationship again begins to produce ongoing satisfaction for both partners.
In this stage there is also a deeper sense of taking responsibility for one's part in conflict and in lack of satisfaction. Each person may recognize the link between what they learned as children in their families of origin and how they approach intimate

relationships. They own their distortions and projections onto their partners. They begin to see their partner as they see themselves, as a somewhat flawed yet decent person who is making a sincere effort to love and be close and still take care of their own needs.
There is a deeper acceptance in this stage that any relationship cannot and will not save you in any sense. You still have your own individual needs and issues and they does not go away just because you are in a relationship. But the part of your life that can be nurtured and shared in a loving, accepting relationship is also real and in this stage each person looks to the other for that connection. The war is over, the conflicts are accepted, and there is a sincere desire to learn how to work through the issues to a satisfying resolution.

The final stage in a committed relationship, which researchers estimate less than 5% of couples ever reach, is one of complete Acceptance. There is an integration of the need of the self and the needs of the relationship. Each person takes responsibility for their own needs, for their own individual lives, and also for providing support for their partner. A high level of warmth is present. The couple is able to maintain a balance between autonomy and union. Conflicts still arise on occasion, but as a result of the struggles of the previous stage, the couple has figured out how to resolve most conflicts relatively quickly. Resentments are few. There are few surprises: these are people who know one another and know what to expect. They accept what they are getting, with no denial or fantasy involved. They work together as a team to stay connected and also maintain their own identities.

These are the six stages that most couples go through during a long-term committed relationship. While not every couple goes through every stage or in that exact sequence, nonetheless this roadmap, based on the research on actual couples' experiences of intimate relationship, still provides the best roadmap we have available for charting the most likely path of an long-term committed relationship. And if we have a roadmap, we can chart the healthiest and least disruptive path to the goal of a fulfilling, intimate relationship.

Does this help you understand your relationship? Is it useful to you? Should I keep putting these out for you to read?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogging That Hits The Mark

One of my best advisers, the trend setting sous chef My Reflecting Pool has decided in her infinite wisdom (never ending wisdom, just like the Great State of Maryland, and several others too) that I deserved this award. I am honestly and truly flattered, thank you so much.

I am nominating Odat, who hits the mark every single day, without fail. Odat is the operational definition of Excellence and Quality, traits I hold dear.

I am nominating Heart in San Francisco for her superb writing, her creative imagination and her Excellence and Quality.

I am nominating Nosjunkie (Lee) because I am becoming addicted to her blog, and South Africa, and to what she stands for, in my words, Excellence and Quality.

I am nominating James Burnett because of his continuing Excellence and Quality in his blog.

And finally, I am nominating a blogger on a temporary hiatus, because CMHL is the epitome of Excellence and Quality.

You all have a great day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dediated to Echomouse

Echomouse is someone that I care about. This shouldn't surprise anyone. This has turned out to be a really bad year for her. After long illnesses, she first lost her father, then her mother.
For those of you who have not yet suddenly found yourself to be an orphan, let me explain to you that no matter what your marital status, if you had anything but the most horrible relationship with your parents, the realization can be terrible. If you are married with children, you have a lot to hang onto. No children leaves you empty. Being single.....Echomouse has family, brothers I believe.

Last December, she wrote a post and used the video below. I snatched it, for use in the future. She wrote a post today called Life and talked a little about working in the garden. She ended by talking about her sick friend out West. I should mention that Echomouse is physically ill herself.

If you read a lot of existentialism, you come to realize that hugging, like sex, is critically important because it gives one the illusion of being connected to another human being and helps one deal with the terrible isolation of being alone. We can certainly hug a lot more people than we can have sex with.

I urge you to go to Echomouse's blog and leave her a comment telling her that there's a video here, dedicated to her. Hell, I got it from her. And leave her a hug while you're there. {{{Echomouse}}}. Doesn't hurt a bit! Give it a try and see if you like it! It's a far, far better thing you do ......

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blogger Community

"When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be, let it be". Nope, it wasn't CMHL who said that, nor was it Hearts, someone else I listen to for what she has to say. So when my coffee pot broke on Wednesday, I was already well beyond the limits of human endurance, and to make matters worse, we were out of food. Literally. I can always go out and buy a sandwich, but I make my own coffee. Starbucks just doesn't make it strong enough. So I mix either one of their bold or extra bold coffees with some of their espresso, about three to one. If I drink their espresso straight, I use a double batch. Claudia has told me of the joys of Cuban espresso, but I have never found any so far. I take good coffee as seriously as Glamourpuss takes a good cup of tea, maybe more serious than that. I used to use a Chemex System so I was sure I had boiling water to put into the ground coffee in the filter. Don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself a gourmet of coffee. You''ll never find me in a Starbucks tasting room sipping coffee, and then spitting it out and judging the flavor. Not happening. I am a coffee gourmand. I drink it in quantity, and I swallow every last drop. I make a 10 cup pot, and drink it. And these people who say I can't put cream or Splenda or high quality hot chocolate mix in my coffee, please, you have a better chance of talking me into Capital Punishment. Please don't waste my time. I am not a coffee snob, I am a coffee drinker. Please stand back and don't get hurt.

Which brings me to the current issue. The Community Blogger Award. Glamourpuss was handing out awards to various people. The first one was the "Totally Fabulous Award" and I knew from Puss' description that at my satirical best, I was never going to qualify. Puss wrote "...but I’m also rather good at some other stuff, like coordinating my accessories with my outfit, parallel parking, and giving blow jobs. So hurrah for me." I want to be absolutely clear here. I can parallel park! And, I prefer to accessorize by wearing brown shoes with a pair of black pants and a white shirt. But, it definitely stops there. I stick to women, my wife prefers it that way. I even used to have a pink shirt although lately I have been wearing a lot of inherited golf polo shirts from Greg Norman, etc.

I was awarded a Community Blogger Award! Thank You.

There are people I would like to commune with over a cup of coffee, a beer, a cocktail, lunch, whatever. Mostly they are in my blogroll. So please, count yourself among those I mean.

I am going to mention a few people like Odat because I have never been able to give her anything, and she stands in a unique place among bloggers with her really positive, uplifting blog. Odat, One Day At A Time is the very essence of Positive Affirmation, and is a daily rejuvenation of the human spirit. I won't tell you more about Odat, or why I think she does this, but missing out on her is the silliest thing you can do.

Equally silly is not reading every word that Heart in San Francisco writes. Her command of the language and her ability to convey with precision is so far beyond my meager ability that there are times I have just read what she has written and sat and thought about it for a while. Some pieces are a bit deeper than others, and I have thought for a day or two. Some I pass on. I have disagreed with her, and I once wrote sort of quietly about Barry Bonds. Very quietly as the issue was easily one of small detail as opposed to the major point. But, I digress.

James Burnett is in mourning, and I won't disturb him now. Someone is going to say, "...but he's a professional writer" and I'm going to say ".....there's a lot of professional writers I can't stand!" I don't always agree with James Burnett, but I certainly miss his writing right now, and I miss it a lot.

I only wish Crankster was employed already because I miss him too. Crankster is someone I met in real life, and my relationship with him in real life is even better than in the blogosphere. But, when you are looking for work, and you are raising a little one, and lots of things are happening, you don't always have time. So, I really miss Crankster a lot too.

And finally, I miss Mist tremendously. Enormously. The World knows about me and Alison and CMHL. She's my blog sister and CMHL is, well CMHL. I 'found' Mist on Ali's site, and went there. It is from Mist's site that I met almost everyone that comes here, like Wandering Girl. Mist has been among the longest readers I have had. she gave me advice when I was starting, and has been a wonderful friend.

I guess that there's just a lot of you that I give a damn about. You'll all just have to suffer with that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Could Use A Vacation, Some Drugs, and a Martini

First things first. Lee or Nosjunkie, or however she wants to play it, of Vicinity of Obcinity is looking for new people to read her blog. I actually like reading her blog. I recommend you try it. If this sounds a little strange coming from me, please read on. I have been a little strained lately, so Lee, I apologize.

This weekend, we unveiled my nephew's head stone at the cemetery, and it was a pretty miserable day on Sunday. The last time I had a year like this was 1993, and I burned the damn calendar on New Year's Eve. I may use a Burnzomatic Blow torch this year plus 6 pounds of C4 explosives at this rate, not that I have an opinion, mind you.

Well, after more than 30 years, the concrete had cracked on the driveway, and had started to crack in the garage. We went through the process of interviewing contractors, getting bids, talking, doing the whole deal. We took our time. We picked the second most expensive contractor who promised a turn-key solution.

We expected them in September. No one came or called. We called the office. They promised to call back. No one called. We finally got a start date. October 15th. Not quite September. The Project Manager finally came out to survey the job the Friday before at 4 PM.

Monday morning, at 8:00 am, no one showed up. We got a call. The project manager called in sick, the men would be there at 3:00 PM and start work. At 1:00 PM the men showed up, and worked until 2:00 PM. Tuesday morning, the men showed up at 8:00 am and started right in. tree limbs were cut, concrete was broken, and I went to t'ai chi. At 2:00 PM the door bell rang, and the City Inspector's announced to me that they had condemned the garage.

Above is what the garage looks like now. The salesman called and wanted to know who had called the City? Like I called the City? I spent an hour dealing with the City Inspector getting them to agree that when the contractors showed up with the required structural engineer to show that what they were doing would be satisfactory, that they would be issued a counter permit, no hassle, no waiting. $75. And the salesman is hassling me that the City is trying to stick him up for money that he shouldn't have to pay. I finally lost it. I was screaming. Judy told him that we expected a structural engineer from the beginning, and we certainly has=d asked about that, and the permits, and that we expected the job to be finished for the agreed upon price. I was still screaming. I have no idea what I was screaming either, nor did I care. I still don't. I have had it.

Just in case you couldn't read what it said, that is stuck on *my* garage. I am not quite ready for prime time yet. I'm actually pretty pissed off. Any good suggestions? Like going to M@'s and breathing the air for a while?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We Don't Age, We Improve

This is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by an eighty-six year old
woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in
the New York Times.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account of thirty dollars by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, aceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an application form which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a notary public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than twenty-eight digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons
as follows:


#1. To make an appointment to see me

#2. To query a missing payment.

#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

#4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping

#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is
required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that
Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.

#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.

#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on
hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

Your Humble Client

(Remember: This was written by an eighty-six year old woman) 'you just need to love "SENIORS" !!!!! (We'll all be SENIORS one day, some of us sooner than others)

And remember; Don't make old people mad. They don't like being old in the
first place, so it doesn't take much to set them off.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shit Happens

I have heard from one or two of you about 'what happened' in the last couple of days. Well, a lot of bad shit happened. People doing pissy things. Billing companys threatening to take me to court over bills I don't owe, other people who were supposed to be long term friends....... that kind of pissy shit.

I suppose I should really get it off my chest and write to someone, but Freud said that bitching is just tension reduction, and you still have to solve a problem. If you want to feel bad, you can feel bad because you thought you had a friend and found out you didn't, that you had a relationship based on someone else's need, and nothing else. We all are in relationships that have some level of need satisfaction involved. No biggie. Still, no one likes feeling used.

So, we revert to the CMHL model of "Light a Candle Don't Curse The Darkness Model". The woman has a deep, insightful view of human behavior. How lucky to find out this early before things got really serious! Things could have been so much worse, and besides, look around you at all the friends you do have!

I'm not going to complain. I got up this morning, and while I don't live in New York, and fly to Paris every other weekend (evidently the standard for a perfect life, I suspect the food is part of it, I might have to take my good friend, buddy pal Franki who speaks French to help out with the food and the art) I'm still ahead of the game. So when I wake up in the morning, I can start off with Odat, and then when I finish laughing, I can read everyone else's blog! Anyone got anything else to contribute?

Monday, October 08, 2007

In No Particular Order

Today we celebrate Columbus Day in the United States because as any school child can tell you, Columbus discovered the United States. I mean, they DID name Columbus Circle in uptown New York after him, didn't they? Below, on the highly detailed map showing Columbus' route, that Columbus NEVER GOT CLOSE TO NEW YORK. He got close to Florida perhaps. I am not going to mention Amerigo Vespucci's name here, but perhaps you might think about it. The Stock Market is open today, the Bond Market is closed. Go figure. Happy Columbus Day y'all, and Happy Shopping!

Which brings me to a bona fide holiday in one of my all time favorite places on Earth, Canada!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and I am thankful for Canada. Judy and I started camping across Canada in the 70's. We drove North and entered through Niagara Falls. We drove West across Canada seeing lots of small towns and just having fun. We finally came out in Detroit. We have also spent time in Calgary, Montreal, I learned to ski at a place called Grey Rocks north of Montreal, we have camped in Banff, and I'd love to go back almost any time.

I am thankful for Canada because she exports more oil to this country than any other two countries combined. She exports more wood products than anyone else. We buy a huge amount from Canada, we depend on her for a lot.

But personally, it's the friends I, and we all have in Canada that count the most. Thanks, y'all! Your National Anthem, at your National Sport! And if you look below, you can make out Echomouse's truck.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In Summary

I left the following note for Odat, and it seems to summarize exactly where I am at the moment.

I woke up breathing.

Company left successfully.

All is well, and there's still chocolate on the planet.

I'm a little cranky and I need a nap.

Thank you, Odat.


I'll see you all when I wake up.

Monty 2

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Little Help Please

Everyone is asleep except me, so I am going to sneak a quickie out here. I consider this to be REALLY IMPORTANT. Hearts has a daughter in Los Angeles that is trying to save a misunderstood 20 year old Arabian horse from being neglected to death. No money is required. Just a little effort.

So please go to Heart's Calling All Animal Lover's Post on her superbly written, award-winning blog "Guilty With An Explanation" where you can normally get a laugh and some wonderful commentary action.

Animals are sentient beings, just like we are. They are completely dependent on use when we bring them under our care. When we stop providing it, they have no alternative. I ask if there is any one of us who has ever been misunderstood? Thank God it didn't cost us our life. Thank you.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Temporary Visitor

We have a friend who is coming from California later today (Tuesday) and she will be staying with us through the weekend. We're going to be showing her around on the possibility that she might be moving here or New Jersey in the foreseeable future.

Lots to talk about when I resume publishing next week. In the meantime, y'all do good, and enjoy as much as you can! They said today that the credit crunch is pretty much over!

Time for chocolate! Anyone celebrating?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Life Is A Learning Journey

It's Monday morning, and it might be a good time for a quick review. I got the idea from Odat, and the information from my friend the therapist. It's quick, easy, lots of pictures, and it's easy. You'll find a really neat review here.

Now don't you feel better? Rejuvenated! Ready to go out and do great things. go get 'em! Make things happen. Have a great day!

Friday, September 28, 2007


At 4:45 PM today in Queens, NY several years ago, my father snuck into the 4th floor window of Que Gardens Hospital to see my mother who had just given birth to me. The nurse caught him shortly after he got in, and she made him leave by the window. He did get in to see me. the normal way.

Things were not always perfect as he liked litigating against the IRS. He could obfuscate the Third Marine Corp in a house of ill repute after they had been on a troop transport for six months. After all, he was a lawyer, and an accountant. So he went out and built houses for a living. Was it any wonder that he screwed up the entire Oedipus Complex? I think not.

So, to get you in the right mood for my birthday, I am going to send you here, here, and here and read about Good Chi. And please leave these good folks a comment, these are great and wonderful, fun sites! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stop The Abuse Day

I am late in getting this out. Echomouse has written an excellent post about her favorite form of abuse that she would like eliminated when she writes about the stalker who has made her life a living hell since something like 2001 or earlier. My mind boggles. She is the source of the badge, which I urge you to copy and put on your own site. She is a lot more than just another pretty face.

James Burnett has already written two pieces about race relations, one being about Bill O'Reilly and Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem; and the other about the Jena 6 in Louisiana, and the issues involved in both instances. He also brings a lot to the table, demonstrating that he is more than just another pretty face too.

The issue is that abuse comes in so many forms that you can roll your own. We should dedicate a year to talking about the ways we abuse each other and don't realize it. If I say that we discriminate against the elderly, you think I mean people who are say 80 or older. I had a woman who was age 32 tell me that her social life was finished because she was now too old. I was stunned. She proceeded to tell me that where she comes from (San Diego, California) men want younger women, and that they were in abundant supply. If she wanted to meet and marry a man, she would have to leave California.

Frankly, I really don't know if it's true or not, but I was astonished to hear it at all. On the East Coast, what I hear is that all the good ones are taken from the 40 year olds. But what scares me is the employment situation. I am being told that unless you are a high level executive, you can change jobs at age 50, after that, you're where you're going to stay until you retire.

I have friends working 60 hours a week like it was normal. They fear, at age 50, being replaced by two 25 year olds at less than a third of what they are making, and then some other poor fool gets promoted into their position for half what they were making. These folks will almost never find work again. After a couple of years, they stop looking, and they end up in a retail store, or they start their own business, or three of them try to start a business. They are not counted as unemployed. Their benefits ran out long ago. This is typical of the Fortune 1000 companys. That's why so many jobs come from small companys.

To end on a really high note, there's a brand new blog you should try. There's this guy named Bruce. He used to teach at Virginia Tech, then he left to go to NYC where he got a job doing strange commodity type things. His blog is called If You Knew Yoonew Like I Know Yoonew.... Bruce is another one who has some substance to him, or is more than just another pretty face. And, if you want to learn how to get tickets to the Superbowl for your team, should it go, that could cost thousands for a few hundred or so, check him out. Bruce is an evangelist for his company. And you got it here first!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nice People

Heartinsanfrancisco a.k.a. Hearts, of Guilty With An Explanation
gave me a Nice Matters Award. This from a woman who writes about some of the most difficult topics embedded in our Society with a style and grace that is boundless and insights that ring solid and true, with a sense of humor that is delightful.

I went to the dictionary like a typical graduate student, and grabbed the primary definition of the adjective 'nice'. It is:

To one's liking: agreeable, congenial, favorable, good, grateful, gratifying, pleasant, pleasing, pleasurable, satisfying, welcome.

Using this definition, Hearts has certainly elevated the bar. So I went looking for five people that I feel do the same, elevate the bar. I didn't pick anyone where, for instance, I have a secret relationship with them, like you know who, who shall remain nameless. And, CMHL has brought her blog down for a while, and besides EVERYONE knows how I feel about her.

I have known Echomouse for about a year now. During that time, she has battled a debilitating disease, lost her father, then her mother, the police finally caught her stalker, and yet she seems to handle life with an equanimity that makes me jealous. She derives happiness and joy from the most basic and most wonderful things in life. Carrie is an exemplary person whom I hold in maximum high regard. She write movie reviews, and does a lot of other even more interesting things on her blog. And she is justifiably proud of Canada! Just so you know.

I have known Tiffany King of A Dog, A Cat and A Girl in Fabulous Shoes
for over a year also. She has actually met Holmes when she was alive, and became good friends with her. That alone elevated Tiff to the rarefied air. Her blog lets you become part of her family. Tiff is the Physical Therapist I asked a lot of questions of when it came to healing after surgery. Tiff is the person who is the daughter of Joe King, the man I wrote a post to about being so glad that he made it through surgery. It's because of her blog. Periodically Tiff, does something that saves someones life in the hospital where she works. Tiffany is my antidote to Britney Spears/Paris Hilton/Michael Vick/O J Simpson/etc. Another one who raises the bar higher.

When I feel the need to talk, to blab, I turn to Alison of Alithinks. I actually have never talked to her. I have written a ton. I go to her when I am angry, I go to her when I am happy and laughing, I go to her when I just feel light saying hello. She's like my rabbi. The rest of the world knows her as a fabulous chef, or a fabulous photographer, or a wonderful writer (she knew that today was National Punctuation Day, I don't know if this is a well formed sentence), or Allan, her fiance has a few other views that the rest of us wouldn't have.

Another blogger who I had the good fortune to meet is the Reflecting Pool and her husband Poor Bill. You could not hope to meet two nicer people. Pool is amazing, dealing just as effectively with pre-teens through the elderly, and everyone in between with good humor and great intelligence. I count myself and Judy as 'tweeners, naturally. And I certainly didn't think of Bill as 'poor', I liked him as a matter of fact!

I have never met MJ, and I promised her I would never use her real first name, although I know it, but she is another person like Echomouse, who just keeps going no matter what. She has had more surgeries than Carter has little liver pills, and she still has this great sense of humor. I find her inspiring as she talks about wanting to go spend the weekend with her husband who is gone on a business trip because she misses him. I find her inspiring, just like Echomouse as she simply pursues life regardless of what has been happening. I wish I was as strong as she is, I think she is the epitome of a role model! A really nice lady.

My last choice should surprise no one. I recognized early in the game that you never really wanted to be with the 'crowd' in the middle. That made you average, just like 65% of the population. Better to be more exclusive if you could do it. Better to be out there in the 95% area, or 2nd std deviation than in the middle. Best to be in the 3rd std. deviation at 99%, the cream of the crop. That's where you will consistently find Glamourpuss. Puss writes a blog about her life and about well dressed people called The Pole Affair
which is really a wonderful read. But for real literary excellence, you must read her blog Clairvoyance. Puss has been a really nice addition to my existence, and I am grateful for her, and the others. And that's what the award is about, to me! Thank you all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Professor's Lecture Of A Lifetime

You can find several versions of the last lecture of Dr. Randy Pausch of Carnegie Melon University on You Tube, but no one has a better version than ABC. The one listed below is the one that was done by their News Division:

This URL has an 18 minute version of his last lecture. It is well worth your time.

Please note that the lecture is not depressing nor morose, but he shares what he has learned from looking at his death about his life. There is plenty for all of us to learn from this man, who at this writing, is still alive.

What I would really like is this. If you choose, listen to what he has to say, and write a comment about what you saw, learned, discovered, whatever made an impact that's worth sharing. Thank you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Health Insurance Fiasco

This is my third attempt to write and publish this post. Blogger is having a terrible time with my blog, horrid indigestion. It has eaten two complete posts with no Alka Seltzer, and responded once in German (Deutsch). Undeterred, I offer you three pictures of surgery below.

They keep operating rooms cold enough to keep fresh meat preserved if you wrapped it in paper. I mean to tell you that it's cold in there. They offered me blankets, and I took them up on it. I mean, I wasn't wearing anything, they had removed the gown that was covering the area to be cut.

The idea behind cold operating rooms is because of all the lights. I don't know about you, but I want the person with the scalpel to be able to clearly see what they are cutting. Seems all those lights generate a lot of heat. You, the patient don't notice because you are in a drug-induced state of deep sleep, and probably have a tube down your throat, but you could care less. I never got to counting backwards from any number, I was busy explaining to these four nurses about the party in the parking lot when I finally got out of there, and how when you made the jello, you substituted the last of the four parts of water with vodka. I never got past the parking lot.

Surgery actually took place at High Noon on Friday, May 4, 2007. Yesterday, I got a bill, payable with my MasterCard, from the surgeon's partner. Yesterday was September 19, 2007, a mere four (4) and a half months after surgery. Please remember that the Insurance Company (I.C.) has a huge bank of mainframe computers, PC computer networks, and manpower. The Billing Company (B.C.) is backed by a national company that makes the software that they use, and they sell their services to the doctors based on the concept of increasing the doctor's cash flow through electronic billing which increases the doctor's cash flow because the I.C.s love the reduced errors and they pays faster. Yeah.

I got the bill for $630 from a Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore was going to be my surgeon if I could be operated on before May 4. They couldn't get my blood level stabilized in time to operate by May 3. Dr. Moore was going out of town on May 4, so I got his partner, Dr. Josh Felcher. Felcher, the laporascopic superstar. I was thrilled with Moore, ecstatic with Felcher, but I digress from the bill. Their billing service had just sent me a bill for Moore's pre-op examinations claiming that my medical benefits had run out.

This happens a lot, getting a bill from a doctor's billing service saying that your medical benefits have run out and to please pay the following bill immediately. The last one was for $4500 and until you become an old hand at this, you could have heart failure. I used to have this dream of a lawyer carving me into little tiny pieces on a witness stand saying, "of course you did READ the ENTIRE CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGNED IT, DIDN'T YOU?" Of course I always want to ask, "How come doctors can just walk into my room when I'm asleep and bill me $850 when I never saw them?" which did happen. That's when one particular hospitalist came to check to make sure I was alive. Their billing service also sent me a bill saying that my medical benefits had run out.

I have been told by the office managers in several doctor's offices that I.C.s like to bounce back various claims because it lets them hold onto their money longer. They feel that it's the poor doctor, and by extension the doctor's staff that suffers because they have to wait so long for their money. They forget that I know about the billing services. On the other hand, they also do have a point. Every day that an I.C. can hold onto a buck is another day it can keep it in the market in some financial instrument earning money for the company. That's why they are in business. The billing services are a different story. They get to keep a percentage of what they collect. The issue is that they want to do as little work as possible collecting so as to keep the cost of collecting low. So when an I.C. kicks a bill back because it was misbilled, the billing systems find it easier to emulate the I.C. and send out a bill to the patient.

The last time, it took me an hour to find out that the B.C. forgot the hospital code for the surgery so the operation appeared to take place in the doctor's off. The I.C. kicked that back as not possible. The B.C. kicked it to me as my medical benefits had run out. I straightened it out with the I.C. for the B.C. That was for $4500. This time takes the cake.

The $630 bill was a code error. It took an hour's research with the insurance company, but we found it. The B.C. had the issue in hand and could have merely read it to the I.C., but no, this is a better way. The B.C. had filed a code of 337 an examination for intestinal bleeding as the result of a fetus or abortion, as opposed to a 743 which is an examination for gastrointestinal bleeding from the ascending colon. The woman on the other end of the line asked me if I had been the patient, and I told her I had been. She then excused herself as it was clear she was having trouble breathing. Even I had to laugh at this one.

When the lady, and I think the rest of the staff where she was located, came back on the line, I asked if she would join me in calling the B.C. to explain the problem. She sounded delighted to join in. I gave her the number, and she dialed a conference call to the B.C. a few miles from my house. We got the head customer service rep. I gave the customer service rep the account # etc., and she asked for the problem. I asked the lady from the I.C. to explain. The I.C. lady said, you can't bill this claim with a code of 337, you MUST use a 743. And the B.C. lady bit, hook, line, and sinker. She said, "and why not?" The response was electric as the lady said softly, "because men can't have babies, dear." And the B.C. lady just said, "oh." after which the laughter was thunderous.

The last operation above is a robotic prostatectomy. Something to think about. I wonder if the B.C. thinks that women can have them?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hello Again

We are in the middle of the Jewish High Holidays at the moment. Last week we had the New Year celebration of Rosh Hashunah where you pray to be inscribed into the Book of Life for the next year. Next weekend we will atone for our sins of the past year during a holiday called Yom Kippur. This is the one where we fast, for 24 hours and pray for forgiveness. The actual idea is to let nothing, including eating, distract you from your task. It's pretty serious. I take it seriously. I'm still trying to be a better person.

I took off from Steve Gearhart's funeral through the beginning of the High Holidays. This next week I'll do my usual running around and then celebrate Yom Kipper next weekend.

In the meantime, the World has continued turning, the markets keep climbing their Wall of Worry, although they really look like they are set for a fall after Tuesday's Fed meeting to me. More cheating has been found in Sports, this time the New England Patriots were found to be stealing defensive signals from the New York Jets during a game, and fined heavily by the National Football League. The Business Press speculated that this type of behavior was actually accepted in the business world. Naturally, this will also be subject to interpretation. On the other hand, the concept of "Win At All Costs" was not a mantra for almost every endeavor when I was growing up.

To end on a high note, I put the picture of the California Sequoia in for James Burnett's wife. It is one of three that I planted around the house in August of 1973, the month we moved in here. The cardinals have a nest in one of the small trees around the base of the Sequoia somewhere, I don't want to go looking for it and disturb them. I'm happy where they are. Just trying to leave the campground better than the way we found it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Trying To Learn From Bernie

Yesterday I wrote a lot about Bernie Cohen before I told you about his son-in-law Steve Gear hart's death. I am going to try to do what i think Bernie would do, I am going to do something I am good at, namely get some of the photographs I have been taking since I got the digital camera and share them with you. If I have your picture, don't worry. If promised not to publish it, I won't. I hate having mine published too. So, like CMHL says, I am lighting the candle so as not to curse the darkness. A small description follows most pictures.

Dr. Josh Felcher is the surgeon who operated on me and ultimately saved my life. I had lost enough blood on two occasions in a one week period of time to warrant getting 9 units of blood, twice. They finally found the place where the blood was leaking from, and in he went. I got out of bed the next day. The man's a walking wizard. I think Wicked H had something to do with it, but she's not talking. He and his wife had just had a baby 3 weeks before I took this picture, which was BEFORE surgery. I was confident.

This is Pat Hancock, the man who teaches me t'ai chi. He has more trophies than I have ever seen in one place at the same time. They come from International Competitions in Taiwan, China, and Japan. He still goes to Taiwan for some tournament. He is quiet and pretty unassuming. We have no uniform, and he teaches for about the same or less than everyone else. The setting in the countryside is quiet, and pretty amazing lending itself to concentration and meditation. It is amazing what doing t'ai chi has done for me. I cannot begin to recommend it enough to anyone.

I was a heavy smoker for 43 years. When I was in the hospital, before the powers that be will let you be operated on, you must have a stress test to make sure your heart will stand up to surgery. They do this will chemicals. I don't have a lot of endurance yet since I was such a heavy smoker (minimum of 3 packs a day, most of the time a chain smoker). After a year of t'ai chi, I looked like any other normal person. The cardiologist, who didn't know me, asked me why I was concerned. I said that I had been a smoker. He looked back at his data, and asked me, "for how long?" When I said, "43 years" he said, "no way" and I broke out laughing.

Thank you, Pat.

Does anyone know a UN Weapon's Inspector? Meet Jack McGeorge, who has been a friend of mine for about 15 years now. I took this picture in March when Jack had just returned from Iraq. If you look closely, you can see that his lips are still dry. He had that problem for months. He called it a job-related hazard. Like in-coming mortars. This is not a job that I would want to do, but Jack is very good at it.

For all of you that think that photographers can't make a living with their cameras, this is Sterling Hoffman and his wife Linda. They are like Judy and I in that they work together and live together in their home. It's only recently that Judy went to work on her own. Sterling does portraits in the Washington area, and he is in constant demand. Last year, he billed almost $1.3 million. He's been doing it for years. The reason I know I'm a pretty good photographer is that he handed me his camera at Jack Hauber's Retirement Party to take pictures of he and his wife. I also got shots of he and the other photographers there, a coup!

This is Diana Adams, another Portrait and fine Arts Photographer in the Washington, DC area with a wonderful reputation. One of her pieces of fine art is hanging in my home. I see Diana regularly, and we talk about Sales and Marketing oppotunities. She lives in Arlington, VA. while Sterling lives about 25 minutes away from me.

You have seen the birds before, and the picture of Holmes is one of the thousands.


Female Cardinal





This is a silver lace red maple close up. It has spread out in the front of the house. I love it, and think it is simply gorgeous.

This is the actual silver lace red maple dwarf tree in front of the house.

This was my nephew Jacob Perkins, taken from a picture taken at one of the last girls basketball games he attended.

Flo Carrol is Judy's aunt from Atlanta, and this was taken when she was up in February.

This little beauty is called a bleeding heart plant. Let's please remember that I am a moderate.

I started writing this piece Wednesday morning at about 9:30 am and worked on it pretty steadily until midnight. I had written the piece about Bernie yesterday trying to write an antidote to existential angst, not knowing that we were going to get the phone call that we did about Steve at the end. This scene has been deja vu here. Me blogging, Judy answers the phone, and suddenly she is talking at the top of her lungs saying, "What".

I have listened to Bernie and CMHL, and things are fine. They did understand existentialism. I am going to take the next few days off. I have so many things to do. I will be back next week some time. See you then. And have a great weekend. Go visit Odat, she is akways there to put a smile on your face and make you glad you're alive!