Father’s Day Memories

My father lived the American Dream. The son of an immigrant shoe maker from Greece.  He eventually rose to the top of a manufacturing business. If you have flown in an airplane with jet engines recently it  probably had at least a few parts in those engines his company helped design and  create.

Worth Baseball Team

Grinnell Honor G

Right Guard Grinnell College

Business Dress and no he was not a ganster

He grew up on Chicago’s north side and later in Grinnell Iowa, He worked his way through Grinnell College and held a good  job during the Great Depression because he was needed to play on the company ball team. He played baseball and football for Grinnell as a catcher and 170 lb offensive guard. Things have changed a bit since he played . When he was at Grinnell they played teams like Michigan State . He said that was okay playing power teams  as long as you were losing to them but being ahead made them very very angry.

He worked hard for his family. He was a business man and you rarely saw him, before retirement, during the week or on Saturday without a starched white shirt,tie and Fedora. Business casual was not on his radar. He was not the perfect father by modern standards  but he was a good father. He wasn’t perfect because he worked and mom ran the house and in his mind  that was the way it was supposed to be.  He disciplined when necessary but generally gave me the freedom to learn from my own mistakes. Many many times he let me learn from them.  He deeply appreciated loyalty and recovering from those mistakes. He often, rather than talking at you, would simply communicate by looking at you with the expectation you would do better. It was a powerful tool and one that I still respond to from others. If it was your responsibility it was your problem and you were expected to fix it.

When you came home at night and he was standing in the door you knew that he already knew what you had done. The concept of neighborhood was strong. You learned to be careful of how you asked because once you had a firm “No” that was the final word with no further questions available to be asked.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery he should be flattered because I would really like to be like him, a goal still beyond my reach.

Dad on the Right

He loved to fish his whole life. He was a walleye fisherman and that was the goal. Sometimes he noted to a somewhat impatient child  that you had to spend a lot of time fishing to get to the catching. I think that may be a life lesson? Many of my best memories took place in a boat, somewhere in Canada or at West Battle Lake.  Sometimes however fishing was just too tiring to avoid a little nap on a hard rock wearing the latest  insulated underwear fashions.

Somewhere at Lake of the Woods

One of his true skills was the ability to take a short nap anywhere in any position often with a lit cigarette  still  in his hand. He also had the ability to smoke a complete cigarette without ever taking it out of his mouth. Rolling it from side to side and flicking the ash off  with a little movement of his head.  He claimed that when you worked piece work in a glove factory you could smoke but the job took two hands and the money only reflected what you got done.  I think he learned to do it so he could keep both hands on his fishing pole.

I often wonder what he would say about today’s world as he once told me that , ” Every generation is sure the next one is going to Hell in a hand basket.”  I would say that I miss him but I know  he’s still there right behind my eyes still giving me that , ” You’ll learn look.”

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Oft Forgotten Simple Pleasures

As the temperature is forecast to be around 100F degrees today I had some memories pop up form my youth before air conditioning, text messaging, and video games. Here then are some oft forgotten simple pleasures that used to be enough!

  • Waiting to eat a watermelon floating in a tub of icy water and later spitting the seeds
  • Standing In front of a fan or the open refrigerator door when mom wasn’t around
  • The first breeze in front of a coming storm and then standing fearlessly in the garage or barn door watching the fury of nature unfold in front of you
  • The last stripe with a push mower on a big yard earning your $.50 allowance
  • The aroma of burning leaves the one sure sign that summer was over
  • Snow ball fights for real with hard packed snowballs where mistakes had consequences
  • Wondering if the ice was really thick enough to skate on and directly finding out
  • Cranking home-made ice cream by hand while learning that labor often equals reward
  • Grape Nehi or Orange Crush as a rare forbidden pleasure
  • The last thick sip of a root beer float knowing that all good things come to an end
  • Riding your bike two miles for a 5 cent green river or cherry coke.
  • An All Day Sucker which never lasted all day but lasted long enough
  • A deck of cards to make your bike into a motorcycle when imagination trumped reality
  • Enough friends to play a game of Work – E – Up which was really learning to work together
  • Green apples straight from the tree learning to go ahead, take the chance, and do it even if the time was not exactly ripe
  • Dandelion seed heads in the wind and spreading the most misunderstood flower in the world
  • Purple clover flowers and tall grass, pulled and sucked for their sweetness in a world before daily sugar
  • Listening to the World Series Games in school during class. But only if you’re were quiet!
  • Presents wrapped in white tissue paper with a bow, paper that you could always almost see through but not quite
  • Sandlot tackle football where you learned how to win and lose the right way along with how to get up when knocked down
  • The first snowflake was not a wish that school would be canceled but a Promise of things to come
  • Water from a garden hose and running through the sprinkler
  • Rolling the largest snowball on the school playground was a matter of pride
  • Walking home from school with the neighborhood at your side was always  magnitudes better than a text message
  • Finding an oyster in the oyster stew – and then hoping for a pearl inside but learning a lesson about hope
  • A piece of ice from the milkman and sometimes sharing a quart of chocolate milk when  we got lucky
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Acting Like An Adult = Paying More Taxes

Japan is lowering the age of adulthood to 18. I don’t have a problem with that as long as it also comes with the attending responsibilities.  In fact I believe it is long overdue. I do feel it should not be a restricted adulthood as we have in the US. and they will soon have in Japan. I.e. adulthood regulations for some things but not for others.

The reasoning however for why they did this is interesting. According to CNN “A combination of falling birth rates and improving life expectancy across Japan has resulted in a progressively shrinking, and aging population. ( Sound familiar)

By 2060, the country’s population is expected to plummet to 86.74 million from its current total of 126.26 million, according to a projection by the Japanese Health Ministry.

But fewer workers paying taxes, means less money to support a growing aging population in need of pensions and healthcare services.

“Given Japan’s aging society and the growing budget deficit, there’s a need for the young to increase tax payments,” said Jeff Kingston, Asian Studies director at Japan’s Temple University.”


“Lowering the age of adulthood could be a way to convince them that they have a stake and voice in society,” he added.

Really! ….Paying more taxes always increases my feeling of belonging to society How About You? More likely a nice way of saying, ” Show Me The Money.” Rather than ” Show Me The Responsibility.”



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Grocery Store Mysteries

The first person to eat cheese was hungry enough to eat spoiled milk.
The first person to drink beer was drinking the liquid found on spoiled grain
The first person to drink wine was imbibing spoiled grape juice
The first person to eat sauerkraut was just not too smart

I have to wonder if we are being denied future culinary genius by dates on our food that say, ” Best if used by.” What undiscovered taste sensation is lurking in a badly out of date Mayonnaise jar?
Why does Peanut butter never seem to spoil?
Actually how old are those eggs regardless of the date on the carton.

Is there a little old man somewhere working in the ” Best if used by quality control department” with five hundred jars of Miracle Whip arranged in order of date of production who carefully tastes each one and decides which one is the magic number where okay becomes not okay?

Born on dates! What actually constitutes the birth day of a bottle of beer and how can you tell for sure when the death certificate should be issued before drinking it?

How do they determine if hamburger is 80% lean or 95% lean? is it by volume, weight, ratio, or proportion and what is the margin of error? Wouldn’t it be easier to just label it ” tastes tender and good”….. “tastes and chews like shoe leather?”

How can they afford to ship bananas half way across the Earth and sell them for 39 cents a pound. You can’t even mail a letter across town for 39 cents. The whole banana thing really bothers me. Planted,grown, cut, carried, boxed, loaded, shipped by boat, unloaded, loaded on a truck, shipped, unloaded, shelved, and cashiered for 39 cents a pound. Somebody in this supply chain is working for less than peanuts.

How can there possibly be 30 different varieties of catsup? And why is it also Ketchup on the same shelf

Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to shop and buy.

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One Step Towards Stopping School Shootings

Mass Shootings Are Contagious
A new analysis shows these incidents occur in clusters


Interesting very short article. How do we contain contagious diseases? We isolate them and I believe it’s time the media start doing their part in creating that isolation for school shooters. This may be one of those rare times when free speech and a free press are more dangerous than silence.  The press has recognized the contagion factor exists, particularly in teen suicides and now handle them with greater care than they did previously.  When we seem to  legitimize an action through repetitive coverage we have to take some care as to the action itself.  The front page coverage of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide ( 9 stories on CNN today and several on Fox) continuing over several days will probably generate additional suicides most of which will not make the front page.  Why is it so hard to make the logical jump to the evident clustering of school shootings.  The science is making it clear but perhaps for the news services  the money is clouding the issue.



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Sin No More

I’ve been thinking about the concept of sin. That concept has changed a great deal since I was a kid. There used to be the Seven Deadly Sins and the Ten Commandments which 70 years ago seemed to pretty much cover it all and have fairly easily defined edges . Now the whole cloth of morality  has frayed badly at the edges and seemed even to have decayed at its religious center. Morality seems to have become, not a generalized set of accepted rules for society, but an internalized set of tipping points that most of us have set deeply into our unconscious mind. In other words , ” things we will not do.” as opposed to, “things we will do.”  Whether you believe of the infallibility of the Bible or the Koran or any other religious text many of  these are still some pretty  good ideas.

1 Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5 Honour thy father and thy mother.
6 Thou shalt not kill.
7 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8 Thou shalt not steal.
9 Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10 Thou shalt not covet.
• These are actually  present in a different form spread throughout the Koran

Seven Deadly Sins*
1. Pride
2. Greed
3. Lust
4. Envy
5. Gluttony
6. Wrath
7. Sloth
* Originally proposed by Evagrius Ponticus

In our modern world it’s hard enough to stay true to the ideas proposed in the 10 commandments and even harder to totally avoid the Seven Deadlies.
The first step to a cure is recognizing the disease.The problems are actually quite easy to identify but now come in shades of darkness rather than black and white . A problem further obfuscated by situational awareness, legality and morality.

I try to work on my own diagnosis on a daily basis with mixed results but hope for at least some remission of my own social diseases in the future.

What would our world and country be like if we simply used these simple foundational ideas as guide posts to our actions both socially and politically? I cannot help but believe it would be a better world.

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Can or Should – Aye There’s The Rub

It would make the world a much simpler place if we started doing what we can do rather than talking about what we should do. There is a big difference between can and should. ” Should” is often times an unreachable goal.. while “can” describes something that is already attainable. Perhaps if we work on what we can do, sometime in the future, we may be able to reach what we should do.

Unfortunately, too many are unwilling to accept what we can do as a first step towards what we should do. Instead of doing what we can we worry, argue, and talk too much about what we should do and thus we do nothing at all.

Always thinking of what you should do while always doing what you can do is a simple but effective philosophy. As some wag once said , ” Success comes in cans not can’ts.

Oh and incidentally if you are in to cants, a cant is defined by Bing as “hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature.+

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