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January 21, 2012


Temptations ….everywhere


A recent study revealed we spend about 1/3rd of our day, 8 hours, resisting temptations, desires and wants -- for sex, the second piece of pie, smoking a cigarette, for having a drink, or buying that fancy dress or shirt.

Yet, the BETTER we become at resisting one temptation -- say overeating -- the better we become, over time, at resisting other temptations. (SHORT term, resisting one type of temptation makes it more likely we will succumb to another. “No, I won’t have that second bowl of ice cream.”  An hour later, we succumb to the left over turkey in the frig.)

But, wouldn't life be a bore without desires, wants and temptations?


January 20, 2012

Don't .....

Don’t F*ck With The Trucks

I should know better than write blogs like this one. They just get me in hot water.

But, this morning, driving to a meeting, I asked myself: “Why are so many Ford-150/250/350 pickup drivers such angry, road raged, aggressive jerks?”

The question was prompted by my slowly cruising  up, as I usually do, Bedford Road around 6:30a.m.

The streets were slick as glass, yet the F-150s and F-250s and even occasional F-350 were crawling up my ashow-to-draw-cartoons-32.jpgs, and everyone else’s, who deemed to go just the speed limit.

Long lines of cars and trucks streamed, broke rank and order, randomly crisscrossed lanes, more like a mad cattle stampede, as swerling snow nearly blinding all, in the rush to jobs at  Ft. Custer Industrial Park.

I noticed this same phenomenon recently on a long drive to rural Northwest Missouri and back. 

In those Missouri neckofthewoods, pardner, if you aint got at least a F-150, or king size Dodge Ram,  you probably change baby diapers, do laundry, let the wife go out with girlfriends on Friday night, and drink beer with foreign names.

The only thing worse than driving a compact car, is driving a compact truck. With a Toyota or Suzuki brandplate.

I don’t give twit or lick  what people drive or beer they drink.

Except when their road rage, back bumper crowding, switchbacking behavior makes me wish I had a Glock in the glove compartment.

But this ain’t Texas.

You can give me your best shot. I drive an old Michigan State Trooper car. 

Talk about respect.

You wan na piece of me? Do you punk?

January 11, 2012

Sleepin' With A Pig In The Bedroom


Sleeping With A Pig In The Bedroom

My Chinese relatives, living in a very rural area near the Yalu River, North Korea and the city of Dalian in Northeast China, kept their pigs outside the kitchen door – which actually had no door.


As a result, the pigs would wander in during dinner, which would be cooking in an open, stone fireplace.


 And you’d  find a pig in the bedroom on occasion.


Seemed rather primitive, even for rural China.   With the Chinese, there’s a practical reason for everything.  Even when not stated.


An epiphany this morning, thanks to an NPR piece on the mating habits of insects.


It’s all about females and female mosquitoes – not pigs, turns out.



Female mosquitoes love to bite warm blooded creatures – including humans.  They suck  blood for the protein; for reproduction purposes.


The males (ah, another example of the male species not REALLY being the overly aggressive ones) do NOT bite.


 Comparatively speaking, they’re love bugs…or rather love insects.


The female mosquitoes  wander the nights, looking for victims and the red nectar needed for making baby mosquitoes – by the millions.


And they end up frequently in your bedroom – especially if you’re rural, poor Chinese and have nothing to cover door or windows.4a2e5b6ababd78117c44a0966c9f0ba5.jpg


Pigs are even more warm blooded that humans.  So mosquitoes are attracted to the pig in the bedroom…and don’t bite the people in the bed.


Makes you  almost want to sleep with a pig in the bedroom. 


But I’ve already done that.









January 08, 2012

Playing The (Golf) Game, Part II

Playin The (Golf) Game


cartoon-golfer.jpgI've got this friend who was a PGA Club professional.  He shoots close to scratch.

For about three years, he used to say we were gonna play a round. 

We never played.

I felt a bit bad about it, at first.

Like being the short, fat kid who got left behind when the high school "in-crowd" went out for pizza after the Friday night football game.

That feeling didn't last long. He's a very nice guy, and I realized our golf skills and interests were as divergent as Pavarotti and Prince. 

For most of his life, my PGA friend played golf at least weekly.

On average, I've played maybe twice a year.

Today, in semi-retirement, I'm comfortable with my golf game,   including how, when, who I play with.

My actual golf bud and good friend is a fellow Vietnam era Navy Vet.

He is schizophrenic.  And makes no bones about it, telling people so.

Several days a week we play the short, easy (cheap) course at the nearby Veterans Hospital.

On business trips, I've played courses across the U.S., in China, Japan, Germany, Russia, South America and the Caribbean.  

But today I'll take the little VA course here in Battle Creek, Michigan USA, thank you very much.

My VA golfing bud will occasionally stop suddenly on the tee or in the middle of the fairway, and want me to hold hands with him and recite The Serenity Prayer.  

Somehow, I don't think that'd be acceptable at Pebble Beach, Spy Glass, or Augusta National.

I used to be a bit uneasy about the hand holding and prayer thing.  

I'd keep looking back to see who might be watching us from the last tee box.

You're suppose to stick to golfing on the course.

Hit the ball.  

Replace your divot.  

Be courteous.

And, most of  all, don't hold up the play of others behind you.

Golf manners are important.  

But I've learned not to be obsessive about them, or most things in life. 

I care more about my golf buddy than whether duffers behind us have to wait a couple minutes.  

I care more about walking down the fairway, singing an old Hippie tune duet, and laughing with him, than whether I hit the green in regulation.

I'm out to have a good day, and help my VA and Vietnam Vet friend have a good one.

Now back to my other friend, the former PGA Club Pro.  

I'm up early this Sunday, writing, as I usually do.  

Been thinking about the talk I heard my PGA Club Pro friend give last night to a civic group. 

It was well done, interesting, relevant to his audience.

But listening to him describe his early golf career, I also was thinking, "Well, I'd rather light burning matches under my fingernail -- today --  than watch (NAME)  hit his four-wood 230 yards off the tee."

And I was also reminded he'd get no golf outing kicks, waiting as I swung my driver in desperation like a baseball bat, punch my shot maybe 10 yards past the ladys' tee, hack out of the heavy rough, only to four- or five-putt.

I've been searching for a tag, a close, a kernel of relevance for this blog. 

Maybe it's choosing golf buddies of comparable skill sets and interests.

Smelling the roses.

Appreciating friends.

Keeping your eye on the ball, and life priorities, in difficult circumstances, and times.

All I know, it's my kind of duffer, dubbing, drubbing golf that makes The Serenity Prayer relevant --  where ever you play.


The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

 God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

January 07, 2012

" And that's ..."

'And that's not all they wanted from me....'


One recent cold Sunday morning, I stopped by an assisted living home for seniors to visit a friend.

We sit in a nondescript, large, chilly dining room, with coffee and plates heaped with lukewarm noodles, meat balls, cut corn and apple cobbler.


Perhaps 35 residents eating lunch at small tables. Four staff members hand out noon medications, fill tiny green plastic cups with watered-down, sweet cider.

All around, the usual signs and sounds of physical and mental aging ... a sudden flood of  memories about the difficult, final years and days of my dead parents and similar experiences described by friends and their own loved ones. 


And midst the signs of dementia and decrepitude, most of the old people are making the best of their day, and their life in the place.

k0526150.jpgA sudden tap on my shoulder.

“Could you help me pour that coffee in my cup?” she says.

She's dressed in a bright green and white MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY sweater, buttoned down the front, with a white turtleneck sweater, and black slacks.

Gold MSU “Spartan” ear rings dangle and twist when she turns her head.

“Sure,” I say, getting up, walking to the Bunn burner and filling her green-and-white MSU 'Spartee' mug.

“My wrists are weak, or I’d pour my own,” she explains. “And that (coffee) pot is heavy.”

She's  an attractive, petite, trim woman, perhaps in late 80s. White coffered hair. Made up, decked out like a wealthy owner of a sky box in The Big House. Except her allegiance isn't in Ann Arbor.

“Did you go to State? How about those Spartans?,” I ask her, making small talk.

“Class of ’52,” she replies. “I was gonna be a lawyer but switched to special ed in my senior year.”

“Can I ask your name? Mine’s Jim.”

“My middle's Anna, with an A. Not ‘E,’ one’s Irish, one’s German,” she explains, smiling.

Anna goes on, in a rapid monologue, about raising her children, various schools she taught special ed in, about John Hanna, the MSC/U College president during her time.

As she talks, her face and gestures becomes more relaxed,

Anna moves closer with each thought,  sentence. Our chins are barely six inches apart, like a loving pair of slow dancers.

Every detail of her white pancake makeup is revealed... the light red, slightly crooked lipstick outline…black hairs, standing like soldiers in a muster line, above her lips.

I stay chatty. Look in her eyes. Smile. Ask followup questions.  Resist the urge to back up. Or away from the conversation.

“I was divorced, with three small kids. Making it on my own. But with this figure and blond hair, you know.  I’m at  this teachers’ conference.
All the men wanted me to leave my Battle Creek teaching job. And go to work in their (school) District. But, that’s not all they wanted,” she adds.

“Do you live here?,” she says.

“No. I live in Battle Creek.”

“I know you don’t live
HERE,” she replies, glancing around to the other tables.

“Have a good day,” she says. Smiles contently, releases me from her mental embrace and turns away.

I finish apple cobbler with my friend.


And head into the cold and snow of a late Sunday morning in Michigan.