Monday, March 23, 2015


Success is relative.  It depends entirely on ones definition of the term.  One man’s success is another man’s sell-out.  One mans fortune is another man’s ticket to ruin. 
Living in a culture that values wealth above all else, it is no surprise that success has come to be measured by dollar signs, or fame; not necessarily to people of depth and substance, but to the culture in general.  Personal success has taken a back seat to financial achievement.  Sure, they can go hand in hand, but the likelihood that both will come to fruition is minimal at best.  Those seeking wealth and status above all else most often do so on the backs of those less driven, to the detriment of their own families, and to the compromise of themselves.  It is the rare individual who accomplishes both successfully.

What has long been lacking in our culture, and particularly in the last twenty years, is the quest for greatness, replaced, as it were, by the quest for success (fame, notoriety, and wealth).  And in today’s world it is actually fame and notoriety that are most sought after, knowing that wealth will most likely follow.  It seems that for those who achieve fame wealth does not even need to be earned.  It just comes to them with the branding, the use of name and likeness, and the media deals that are thrown at their swollen feet like rice at a wedding. Everyone, it seems, wants to be connected to fame.  It is a sad state of affairs, but, nevertheless, a universal and all-too-familiar indulgence.

Greatness, however, is much different.  It is a goal achieved quietly, and with a measure of humility.  It is not about fortune or fame.  It’s more about doing something, and doing it well; taking pride in what you’re doing whether it brings you riches or not.  In a perfect world it would be something you love to do.  But if not, you would still do it to the best of your ability.  You would want to be good at it.  It’s where greatness begins in the material world. 
Greatness, however, is also about the character of a man.  It is about his intentions, and his efforts; efforts to love, the unlovely as well as those who are more easily embraced.  It is about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It is about compassion, and forgiveness.  It is about acceptance of others.  Greatness is unattainable to those whose only concerns are for themselves, and their own interests.  They are flawed people, no matter how much accomplishment and notoriety they may have attained, or how much money they might have accumulated.

As has been written by someone much smarter than me; “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Friday, March 20, 2015

To Begin Again

The season is changing here in California from winter to spring, and it’s only the middle of March.  We’re on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and spring has sprung like a lion.  It came so fast this year.  The fruit trees are well past budding, and are already fully flowered.  It feels like we’ll have fresh fruit in just a matter of weeks.  The wood stove has been shut down for some time now, and the coats have all found their way back into the closets.

I am stirred to begin again.  It happens every spring.  Time for cleaning out the emotional closets, seeing family and friends, initiating new projects, and getting the fishing gear back in order.  People are out looking for homes to buy, or dropping in at garage sales to pick up things they’ll eventually sell at their own garage sales.  The boys are out looking for girls again, the girls looking for boys, and the animals are out looking for food.  Everybody, and every thing, is hungry for something or other.  A mountain lion has been working the area recently as evidenced by deer and skunk carcasses we found yesterday in the woods.  Got to be aware of that.  It’s spring for them around here too.

We’re finishing up the last of the winter soup and getting the grill ready for chicken, burgers, and dogs.  Our dogs are running wild every day on the hikes we’ve been enjoying.  Although three, and five-years-old, they’re like a couple of puppies on steroids tearing up the side of a hill, across a meadow, or down a steep embankment to get a drink of water from the creek.  They’re wearing down their nails again as well, and working up a lather for an eventual splash in the lake to cool down those over-heated motors.  It’s good to see them so energetic.  It’s fun to watch, but better yet, it’s fun for them.

The cycle of life.  Living in the mountains enables us to participate in it fully, rather than simply understanding that it happens.  Everything does change from season to season.  The change is in us and around us.  There can be no denial of its magnificence, its significance, or even of its consequences.  They are each interwoven into the fabric of life; the turnover of the weather, the emotional temperament of people and animals, the reaching for dreams, or settling for the dreams already achieved.  It is all affected by the natural seasons, by the birth or departure of those seasons within us.  I am affected.  We are all affected, whether we realize it or not. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You Have to Wear the Bell

 Traveling through Europe in the early eighties I spent some time in Switzerland.  I remember it fondly.  A very proper land.  A very clean land.  Cream land.  Chocolate land.  Cheese land. 
Ducks on every lake.  They put them there so you'll know it's water and not glass.  Cows on every hill, and in every field.  Swiss cows.  Happy cows.  Very sanitary and self-confident cows.  The kind you see on milk cartons.  Every cow has a bell.  They wear them so they won't get lost.  Or so they'll know they're cows.  Cows live on the fat of the land . . . . . .  and the benevolence of farmers.  I lived on cheese and chocolate milk.  Both are made from cows.  I remember that whenever I was hungry I wanted to eat some meat.  I just never had the heart to kill the cow.
            Besides, in Switzerland if you kill a cow you have to wear the bell. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stupid White Men

--> I’m about to say what many of you have been thinking, but have been afraid to express because the racist label is hanging over us like a scarlet letter to shame and silence us.  Personally, I don’t care about repercussions.  I care about truth.

It’s no big secret that men have taken the brunt of ridicule for many years now, and white men in particular.  Not that men do not deserve ridicule at times, individuals, sure, but white men in general, no.  I’m sorry if you feel differently.  Men, collectively, are today what the male gender has evolved to become.  One cannot argue that animals have evolved to survive in a hostile world, and not also agree that men recently have had to do the same.  To separate evolution simply into what species might suit one’s agenda is dishonest at best, and disingenuous at the very least.

There are forces in the world today that seek to tear white men down to accommodate a socio-political agenda, the social engineering of our entire culture; to diminish the stature of white men in order to raise the stature of ethnic men, women, gays and lesbians.  But I’ve got news for you.  You don’t tear down one group of people in order to raise up another.  That just makes the devalued group angry.  Very angry. 

We’ve been seeing this assault on white men for years now, particularly in the products that the entertainment industry has been foisting upon us.  We can deny it if we want, but Hollywood has become the primary shaper of image and identity in our society today.  Some believe that religion is, and some believe it’s the family, but still our culture conforms to, and follows, the trends that Hollywood sets.  It makes us feel better to believe that we do not succumb to its influence, but it influences us, nevertheless.  

One does not need me to point out the idiocy, the cluelesness, or the ineptitude with which white men are portrayed in television shows, in commercials, in the movies, and on the internet.  You can see it for yourself if you watch with any degree of consciousness.  There has been a steady diet of it for about fifteen or twenty years now; ignorant, inane, weasily, wimpy little white men that they put in our faces in every commercial that television has to offer.  Seldom, if ever, does one see a strong white male in the media anymore.

The Writers Guild, a preponderance of which is now made up of lesbian feminists, and gay white men, is behind much of the cultural indoctrination and transformation.  It’s a ‘get back at’ mentality, a chance to redefine genders, and gender roles, to their own liking.  It’s an opportunity for gay men to diminish the straight male, and a chance for women to usurp the positions that men once held.
Self-loathing is the source of much of this propaganda, but much of it is just plain old hostility.  Hollywood counts on us just watching and absorbing all of this in a relatively unconscious and vegetative state.  And, sad to say, many of us do while limp-wristed little gay white guys are shown as role models for white men and their male children.  Sitcoms show white men to be stupid, subservient idiots who shrink in the presence of their wives, or at the sight of their own shadows.  Seldom, if ever, does one see a strong white male in the media anymore.

Movies show strong, sexy, intelligent women humiliating, out thinking, out performing, and ultimately kicking the crap out of buffed, but baffled, incompetent white men.   And have you been noticing how, in most movies and TV shows they always make the black, or hispanic male, or the female of any ethnicity, the wise and compassionate one, the noble one, the ultimate physical specimen, or the spiritual standard for all to measure themselves against?  And they make the white male out to be a clueless stumble-bum, or a shallow duplicitous tool.  Seldom, if ever, does one see a strong white male in the media anymore.

If you’ve paid any attention to what goes on in the colleges and universities today you’d have noticed that they are perpetrating, and perpetuating, the same agenda as Hollywood.  The indoctrination is even leaking all the way down to the grade school level where the white male child is being made to feel inferior, ashamed even, while the girls and ethnic boys are considered to be, and are being treated as, special. 

Now, I’m not in favor of ever diminishing females or ethnic males (anyone really) in order to counter this trend, but I am in favor of letting all people, and kids in particular, compete equally, and individually, to establish themselves socially and, ultimately, economically.  I could care less about a person’s gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, except when a particular group is being attacked as the white male is being attacked today. Other genders and ethnicities have been the target of such attention in the past, and I have spoken out about, and stood up for, those whom society had sought to marginalize; but that dynamic has been coming full circle in the past several years with the white male now being the main object of derision, ridicule and exploitation. 

My words stand today as a warning to those of you who have eyes to see and ears to hear.  And if you think the white male deserves to be targeted because of past transgressions, then you also need to recognize the vast majority of those who were good, kind, honorable and benevolent men, who have helped women and minorities get a leg up in life.

So, get a clue before you continue to support the degradation of an entire race of people.  Speak out about this travesty, and don’t stand for it for another moment.  Take the white male, his munificence, and his myriad of accomplishments, out of this world and then take a look around and see what this world is left with.  The good life, as you know it, would be over.  Done.  Gone.  Finished.  You wouldn’t even have a computer to read these thoughts on, a car to get to work, or a phone to call your mother.

Now, about that scarlet letter that some of you would like to hang on me?
Bring it on.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Stop It, Please

Is it just me, or are you annoyed by the pretentious genteel practice of answering every question with an, ‘I would’ as well?  What ever happened to answering a question with a ‘Yes’, or a ‘No’?  A ‘Yes please’, or a ‘No thank you’?  Instead we get an ‘I wooould’, or an ‘I wooouldn’t’, spoken so slowly and with such great sensitivity that you feel like you’d damage the persons psyche if you spoke back to them with any voice other than the one they’re speaking to you with. 

Now, when I say ‘pretentious genteel practice’, let me point out that answering a question with a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’ keeps the conversation in a rather neutral, or equal place of relation and exchange.  But if I were to answer with that annoying, ‘I wooould’, it takes everything out of the equal, and puts the focus on me, which would actually be my intent in answering that way.  A simple answer of ‘yes’ does not contain an ‘I’, but if I insist on interjecting an ‘I wooould’ into the conversation it automatically becomes about me, rather than about us.  But hey, what else should we expect in an age of Iphones, Selfies, MySpace, Facebook  etc.

We all know what pretentious means, but for those of you who may not be familiar with ‘genteel’ here is the definition:  Genteel - Having or displaying refinement, especially manners that suggest, or are thought typical of an upper-class background; overdoing the refinement, delicacy of behavior, or snobbishness thought typical of the upper classes in order to create an impression of higher social status.

I wooould, I wooouldn’t, I cooould, I coooldn’t, I shooould, I shooouldn’t, I waaas, I waaasn’t, I dooo, I dooon’t, I diiid, I diiiidn’t, I aaam, I’m noaaatt.

Sound obnoxiously familiar?
Well then, stop it, please. 
It’s very unbecoming.