Choices – Good Choices – Bad Choices – What’s in a Choice?

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John:

The following blog is a joint effort with my good friend Socorro.  It started as a conversation about her son who is now going through a divorce.  Socorro loves to take notes and summarize lectures, discussions, and various talks.  She is an excellent writer and poet and I keep encouraging her to create her own blog.  She is also quite a people person and one of the kindest and most thoughtful persons you will ever meet.  I am going to try to turn our discussion into a piece about choices.  The title and idea belong to Socorro.  My aim is to flesh out a little more detail about the concept of choices.

Socorro:   

John explains that the choices we make affect the quality of our lives.  If we have a poor life, it is usually because we have made “many” bad choices and not simply “one” bad choice.  As an example, he described an overweight 300-pound person.  This individual did not just one day make a choice to overeat and leave the dining room table obese.  It probably took hundreds of choices to overeat or under exercise to acquire such weight.  Every day for many years, this person made choices that led to his/her weight gain.  Reversing this weight gain will require the same number of choices in the opposite direction.  At each meal, the individual will need to eat less or exercise more to lose weight.

9780802418456-ingram__82879.1587600383John also gave the example of his brother Billy who drank, smoked, borrowed money, and never paid it back.  He once told his brother John that he was lucky since he had been given brains.  When their mom died, John and his sister Jeanine told Billy that he could have her house since both John and Jeanine owned homes.  The one condition was that he paid the upkeep and taxes since the mortgage was already paid for.  Over the next two years, Billy defaulted on a number of payments and the city almost repossessed the house.  John and Jeanine had to make the payments.  Deciding that enough was enough, they sold the house and split the proceeds three ways.  Billy of course was angry as he felt he had been treated unfairly.  He could never take responsibility for his bad choices.

Returning to the problem of my son’s divorce, Persico implied that he was making a number of choices which were not reasonable.  John stated that “Divorce is seldom rationale and nearly always emotional.”  Emotions do not usually lead to good choices.

John did his master’s thesis on the subject of divorced and separated men.  He researched and documented interviews with dozens of men.  In 1979, he wrote “The Problems of Divorced and Separated Men.”  His number one finding was that the major problem that men reported was keeping a good relationship with their children.  Fathers regretted the time away from their children and the loss of intimacy with their children.

John:

Parents intent on a divorce often ignore the impact that divorce will have on their children or what is best for their children.  Even less often do parents spend the time trying to resolve the problems of their marriage.  I could not find any statistics on the number of couples that seek out marriage counseling or marriage encounters to help repair their marriages, but I would guess from my experience with our own children that it is less than ten percent of couples.  Studies show that about 45 percent of couples receive pre-marital counseling and that it has very positive impacts on the success of a marriage.  (Consider the Benefits)

1623080034Some have argued that marriage counseling to prevent divorce is a waste of time and money.  The most frequent argument is “too little too late.”  There are many other reasons why statistics show a low rate of success with marriage counseling.  (Why Marriage Counseling Does Not Work)  I would argue that it is a little like trying to get the horses back into the corral once you have let them out.  It would be far better if more couples realized that marriage is not forever or love everlasting.  At least not without ongoing effort to improve the marriage.  If you are not working to improve anything, the laws of life say that it will get worse.  Why do so few people not understand this about marriage?

“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me.  I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other.  I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”  ― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Socorro:

John learned from his own divorce along with observing and talking to people the mistakes that he made in his first marriage.  He had sought counseling with his wife, but it didn’t succeed in preventing their divorce.  After they separated, he continued searching for answers with a new counselor.  This counselor saw through to the main problems that John was not dealing with and empowered him to improve his own life.  He began making better decisions.

“You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.”  ― Roy T. Bennett

When John met Karen, who would become his second wife, they dated for six years before they married.  During their marriage, they have sought therapy together many times and have completed two Marriage Encounter weekends.  They have now been together for almost forty years.  They attribute the success of their marriage to ongoing efforts to continuously work on issues and problems.  There is never a month that goes by that some issue arises that must be dealt with.  They consider these ongoing efforts to be a normal part of life together.

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Couples clash over finances, in-laws, child rearing, home chores, work, religion, and a hundred other expectations.  The dysfunctions of our family of origin have often taught us bad choices that we bring into our new family.  Daily we make good or bad choices.  Intimacy, closeness, respect, communication, and creating a meaningful life are the ideals for couples.  The choices we make will determine the success of reaching our ideals.

The Gottman Institute is the culmination of Drs. John and Julie Gottman’s life work as researchers and clinical psychologists.  Their approach to relationship health has been developed from over 40 years of research with more than 3,000 couples—the most extensive study ever done on marital stability.  They reached several conclusions over what works and what does not work for married couples.  Couples who eventually divorced displayed one or more of the following characteristics: contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, going silent and shutting down. Their website Gottman.com has some valuable information on what helps to create a good marriage.  There is also a free application to assess interpersonal communication.

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My son and his wife are now divorcing after nine years of marriage and three young children.  As a grandparent, I am asking what is best for my grandchildren?  What is best for my son and my daughter-in-law?  Are they making good choices or bad choices?  Is there anything I can say or do that will help them to make better choices?

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”  ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Farewell to Life or Farewell to Death?

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Many years ago, I traveled down a wooded path that I had never been on before.  This story is about how that journey led me to the life that I am living today.

I was eighteen years old.  I had recently graduated from high school.  No awards, no summa anything and no college that would take me even if I had applied.  I always loved to meander in the woods and thoughts of heaven or hell were not intruding on me this bright sunny warm day in June.  As I trod a path that did not look very worn, I suddenly noticed a fork in the trail.  I could just make out somebody sitting between the two roads.  As I drew closer, it was apparent but none the less quite surprising to see that it was an old woman sitting on a log.

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“Good afternoon,” I said to the old woman.  “Same to you, young man,” she replied.  “I have not been on this road before; can you tell me which fork goes where?”  “Well,” she answered, “The right fork is the Farewell to Life fork and the left fork is the Farewell to Death fork.”  Thinking the woman was a little batty, I gave her my thanks, wished her a good day, and proceeded to take the right fork.

I thought a little about her response as I continued on my journey.  I wondered if it really meant anything.  Would one fork bring death and the other life?  I laughed as I assumed that it probably would not matter since I had chosen the life fork.  I was planning to be among the living when I reached its end and not among the dead.  I looked back and the crazy woman was nowhere in sight.

More than fifty-five years have passed since I met the old lady.  I have walked many roads, paddled many rivers, visited many lands, and wondered about the meaning and purpose of life innumerable times.  During my seventy-five years on this earth, I have said dozens of farewells to life.  All of them to date were farewells to the lives of people who were my friends and relatives and mentors.  My father died at 60.  My mother died at 67.  My sister died at 56 and my cousin and best friend died at 47.  Farewell is one of the saddest words in my vocabulary.  As I have aged, the number of farewells that I have had to say each year seems to be growing exponentially.

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A few weeks ago, I was on a solo hike in the Chequamegon National Forest about thirty miles north of Thorp, Wisconsin where my first wife was from.  I was on the Jerry Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail which goes through the Chequamegon National Forest.  I was intending on hiking down the trail to Jerry Lake and back.

Now I have never been known for my sense of direction.  My first wife and I always fought over which way to head but my masculine pride would never admit that she was usually right.  Marrying a second time, I finally found someone whose sense of direction is even worse than mine.  Both Karen and I are lost without a GPS or compass.  The good thing is that I now readily admit that I could get lost in my small back yard.  My masculine pride no longer prohibits me from shouting out “I’m lost.”

As I proceeded down the trail, it seemed that I was not getting any nearer to my intended destination.  It should have taken me about an hour to get to the lake and I had now been hiking for about two hours.  Two thoughts struck me at the same time.  The first was that I was lost.  The second was that I was approaching a fork in the trail ahead and something or someone was sitting between the two paths.  As I neared the fork, I rubbed my eyes just in case I was seeing things.  There on the trail ahead was an old woman who looked suspiciously like the old woman whom I had met fifty-five years before.  Of course, I thought, it could not be.  She would have to be well over a hundred years old.

senior-woman-sitting-log-holding-long-cane-senior-woman-sitting-log-holding-long-cane-countryside-village-people-131962771The strangeness of the situation caused me to be somewhat nervous about proceeding further but I thought, I have nothing to fear from an old lady.  Coming nearer to the woman, I jokingly asked if she was the same old woman whom I had met years ago and if she remembered me.  “Yes”, she said, “but you were much younger then.  How did your journey down the Farewell to Life trail go?”  How could this be I thought?  I don’t believe in magic, miracles, or spirits but suddenly, I began to take her words quite seriously.

“I am not so sure that I took the right trail.  Over the years, I have had to say many farewells to people whom I loved and who passed away long before they should have.  Life does not seem very fair to me.”  “Life is never fair,” she replied.  “Humans weigh things as though some type of cosmic scale existed, and that life could be apportioned perfectly equitably.  You have had a long life.  It has been very successful.  You have had more than your share of fame and fortune.”

“I am very confused.  I chose the Farewell to Life path but what would have happened if I had chosen the Farewell to Death path?  Would I live forever?”  She looked at me very gravely and said “I don’t think you really understand.  The Farewell to Life path is a path where you say farewell to the lives of others.  You yourself then went on to have a long if not happy or prosperous life, did you not?”

“Yes,” I said, “But what would my life have been like if I had chosen the “Farewell to Death path?”  “You would never have had to say farewell to any friends or anyone you cared about.  You would have gone to no funerals, burials, or memorials.  No farewells to the deaths of friends and families.  You would have died many years before those you loved.  Do you think this would have made you happier?  A short life that would have had little tragedy or reason to mourn would have been your legacy.”

“I do not think that would have made me happier.  Why can’t there be a third path in life?  Why are we doomed to either a long life with much unhappiness or a short life where we never experience the joys of getting older and wiser?”

The old woman slowly stood up.  She picked up a hiking stick and proceeded to walk off into the distance.  Before she left, she turned and looked into my eyes.  Very solemnly she explained, “I told you that life is never fair.  Humans always want what cannot be.  Farewell.”

Let life be beautiful like summer flowers and death like autumn leaves. — Rabindranath Tagore

 

T-RUMP Pressadental Liberry

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As many of you know, one of my favorite places in the world is the library.  I wrote a few blogs about my love for libraries which you can read at:

More recently, there has been much discussion among my library group concerning the possibilities of establishing a presidential library for our former President and hero, the esteemed Donald J. Trump.  We invited local residents and friends of the President (We all know Donald is the real President and the election was stolen) to submit ideas for a library to us.  We plan on establishing a fund for a Presidential library to honor the many contributions to America that were made by THE Donald.  The following is a composite of some of the ideas that were contributed by his loyal followers.  We are open to other ideas, and we believe that if the funds come through from loyal Republicans and not RHINOS, we can have this library built before Donald is reelected president in 2024.  Wouldn’t that be a nice gift for him?

Location and Donations:

To honor #45’s astounding single term, plans are underway for The T-RUMP Pressadental Liberry. Funds are being solicited for this fantabulous libraray. Be one of the first to donate. Donate often and donate BIG! The T-Rump Organization, LTD, has identified several key properties available for purchase on which to build the Liberry. Properties are actively being vetted to select the highest-valuation property for loan purposes, lowest-valuation for tax purposes. For updates, visit thegreatestpressadent.com website.

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Exciting liberry exhibits:

GOLF:

  • The first exhibit to greet visitors, will take up one-half of the Liberry, to reflect how DJT prioritized this activity during his Pressadency.
  • Golf score cards. The full collection of ALL 285+ golf games T-Rump played as #45. An impressive record of birdies, eagles, and a-holes-in-one. No matter the players , the Pres always WON!
  • MAGA -Make American Golf Again – hats worn by the Pressadent with orange sweat stains that indicate just how hard he worked.
  • A world map highlights all the T-Rump Golf Courses, with a list of the $142 million total U.S. government expenditures. Detailed descriptions of Secret Service stays, Coast Guard costs, Pressadental adult children’s trips, with security details, and congressional allies.

NOTE: For those under par visitors who aren’t good golfers, we look the other way if you cheat

FINANCES:

  • T-Rump tax returns for the past 20 years.

NOTE: Construction on this exhibit is currently in limbo. Check with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York website for further information. 

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DAILY PRESSADENTAL BRIEFING COLORING BOOK

  • This is the REAL one, not the knock-off for sale on Amazon for $120.21.
  • See the colorful pictures, charts, and graphs that make these intelligence briefings seem not so dire.
  • Try to decipher the margin notes from dismissed national security advisors like H.R, McMaster, John Bolton, and Mike Flynn.
  • Marvel at the different and brilliant color palettes each advisor chose to secure the Pressadent’s attention for more than ten seconds.
  • To quote #45, “No need to get serious about security. I like pictures.”

PUT ‘ER THERE, MAN-UP INTERACTIVE DISPLAY

  • Put your hand through the slot. feel the doughy, damp flesh from a small hand. The firm grip may be enough to cause real pain, before pulling you forward until your cheek slams into the glass enclosure.
  • A manly-man handshake that #45 used to greet, and almost topple, world leaders.
  • Bonus videos of the most famous handshakes play in the display’s background, with one notable exception. In the DJT and Justin Trudeau video, the two world leaders are seen only from the shoulders up. Apparently, Justin had trained for this encounter.

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THE HEART OF THE STEAL:

  • Signed, 1st edition of “The Heart of the Steal,” DJT’s memoir of his unfounded allegations (but totally believable, possible, probable, and plausible to him and his acolytes) of the stolen 2020 Pressadental election.
  • The book jacket says it all:
    • “A page turner for all 5 pages. Brave and brief.” Eric T-Rump.
    • “Just as I dictated.” Vlad Who’s your Daddy?
    • “As flawed as the fraud of this election.” Don, T-Rump Jr.
    • “Fabulous fabrication. He’s a genius.” Rudy Giuliani
    • “Supremely Stupendous. Terribly Tremendous. Hugely and Harribly Horrendous, if I do say so myself. I deserve all the credit for this book, and MORE!” #45
    • “Proud to be his progeny.” Ivanka T-Rump-Kushner.
    • “We’re having a hard time keeping this one on the shelf,” said B & N spokeswoman, Paige Rieder. “It’s a bit unbalanced, falls apart when examined, so we’ve had to lock ‘er up.”

HISTORICAL PHOTOS

  • artworks-000187320210-959j60-t500x500Unretouched photo of the 2017 Inauguration crowd. When you approach the photo, hear Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s official estimate of “the largest Pressadental Inauguration audience, ever.”
  • Panoramic photo of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington crowd. There are no official estimates, because the T-Rump White House has never acknowledged that this event ever took place.
  • Photo of Donald grabbing a pussy . . .. hat. This is a family Liberry. The compilation video of the real pussy grabs will be shown in the pay-per-view booths on the lowest level. Also on display, the Palms d’Orzo Award this video received from Lui magazine.
  • Photos of Don with his Bromance Buddies – Vlad, Kim, Recep, Al Saud. Unfortunately, several of the Russian oligarchs declined to send photos from their secluded villas.

NOTE: The photo with Jeffrey Epstein has been terminated.

I’VE DONE MORE FOR BLACK PEOPLE THAN . . .

  • Small portrait of Abraham Lincoln, overshadowed by the quadrupled-sized one of # 45. “After all I did for all those black folks, I deserve the credit.”

NOTE: In this Liberry, black is not capitalized.

  • Rainbow flag to show DJT’s commitment to diversity, with stripes of all colors – lily white, snow white, creamy white, ivory, linen, porcelain, and white-white.

LIBATIONS

  • The first bottle of Pressadental red wine, Crabbernay, 2020 vintage
  • Some of the original sour grapes that went into the making of this libation are preserved with it. The entire display is supported with the twisted vines from which the grapes were picked.
  • This is sure to be a crowd pleaser, so order your case early. There’s a HUGE stockpile, but this product went out of production after Jan. 20, 2021. Even so, we expect it to ferment for decades.
  • NOTE: While DJT does not consume alcohol, he knows many of his followers imbibe to the point of being drunk. He only gets drunk on power.

JAIL CELL

  • A communal jail cell of wax figures for everyone T-Rump wanted to lock up – Barak Obama, Hilary Clinton, Gretchen Whitmer, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Adam Kitzinger, Hunter Biden, Liz Cheney, etc.
  • Cell walls are expandable to accommodate more enemies as they are identified. Think Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and almost anyone who has ever been loyal to him.

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WOMEN’S ISSUES

  • Complete list, with photos, of T-Rump’s bedmates. The known and the new. We think patrons will agree, they’re all good-lookers, not a dog among them. A prodigious list.
  • A pink pussy hat. The Liberrian is still deciding how the display mannequin should wear this item – on her head or between her legs. DJT has tweeted his preference, but our Liberrian is concerned patrons may be encouraged to grab it. “I’m fond of it, and wouldn’t want it to get manhandled,” she quipped.

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AUDIO ATROCITIES

  • Donald’s Diatribes – original recordings of the Pressadent’s earliest radio broadcasts on his own network, Rump Radio, established in 2021. You’ll delight at the static and stasis of his statements. Thrill at his titillating tantrums. Faint over his fraudulent factoids. A must-listen for those already indoctrinated and intoxicated.
  • January 22, 2017 Meet the Press video of Kellyanne Conway’s first utterance of the infamous phrase, “alternative facts.” Interesting to note that this was broadcast by a fake news channel, so it may not have actually occurred, in spite of archival footage of the event.
  • Continuous loop of Fox and Friends morning shows, especially those that fawn over DJT. His call-ins are broadcast at 120 decibels so he can be heard throughout the Liberry. While that sound level may harm your hearing, we believe many of the visitors are already deaf to his diatribes.
  • Flying through the air, a real Twitter storm. All 2,600+ tweets have been saved and transcribed on to a small piece of shit (used figuratively here, although the real tweets do reek even more with age.) The storm will rage throughout the Liberry’s hours with larger outbursts that coincide with snippets of mainstream media fake news items that particularly honked off #45.

BONUS BENEFITS

  • Big Mac wrappers. Because of the sheer volume, they will be used for wallpaper throughout the Liberry.
  • Super spreader events. Hopefully by the time the Liberry opens, we will still be able to hold these popular and populist rallies. The excitement is contagious.
  • Rally rosters. Find your name on the list of patriots who attended the campaign rallies. NOTE: Names are listed in descending order by the amount you donated. Any contribution less than $25,000 is not acknowledged. “With a second mortgage, ya coulda been a contenda.”

Direct large donations to Liberryisme@donaldjT-Rump.com, DISCLAMER: There is no guarantee that any of donated funds will be funneled into Liberry exhibits.

 

PS:  I wish I could claim to have written the above material but I cannot.  This blog/satire was done by a friend of mine who wanted to remain anonymous.  She is an excellent writer and story teller and has a wonderful sense of humor as you can tell from reading the blog.  

Where Have All My Young Friends Gone?

As many of you know Pete Seeger died on the January 27, 2014 at the age of 94.  He was one of the greatest folk singers and protest singers of all time.  His mission in life was to spread peace through his music and songwriting.   The song “Where have all the flowers gone” is widely attributed to Pete.  If fact, Wikipedia gives the following etiology:

The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955, and published in Sing Out! magazine.[1] Additional verses were added by Joe Hickerson in May 1960, who turned it into a circular song.[2]  In 2010, theNew Statesman listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs”.[4]

Where_Have_All_the_Flowers_Gone-_(film)I have taken the liberty of altering the verses of this song for my blog.  I was reminiscing on some old photos the other day about friends, dreams, hopes, aspirations and loves that are now long gone.  Perhaps my recent surgery has made me realize my mortality.  While I never thought or even hoped to live forever, I often felt that I might.  Friends were always telling me how strong, vital, energetic and healthy I was.  I prided myself on my condition and my ability to overcome the normal aches and pains of the world.

I would like to use each “modified” verse from Pete’s song to simply express some feelings that I have about life and death.  Meditations on life and death were the purpose of this song, so I am staying true to its roots and intentions.  So many great singers have sung this song that it is hard to choose one to listen to.  However, as with many of my writings, I encourage you to click on the link and then listen to the song as you read my blog.  For someone to sing this song, I can think of no one more fitting and appropriate then Pete Seeger:  Where have all the flowers gone?

Where have all my young dreams gone, long time passing?
Where have all my young dreams gone, long time ago?
Where have all my young dreams gone?
Young friends have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn? 

I grew up with hopes and dreams for my life and the world.  Like many a young man, I ignored many of these dreams or did not realize the dedication and effort that it would actually take to make them a reality.  I played around with having my cake and eating it.  I thought that those who had “made” it got lucky or as we used to say in my old neighborhood, “They got the breaks.”  Other friends plucked some of these dreams as many of them were common to our culture.  I grew up as a “Baby Boomer” having been born on the cusp of this new wave in 1946.  We were going to change the world.  We would end war, sexism, racism, greed, hunger and environmental damage.

Where have all my young friends gone, long time passing?
Where have all my young friends gone, long time ago?
Where have all my young friends gone?
Gone for careers everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Something happened though.  Protests were difficult.  The system did not change overnight.  Peace was elusive.  The people we thought wanted help spurned our offers.  We could not fix the world overnight.  The world resisted our best efforts.  So we decided to just fix ourselves.  Many of us went back to college, either on the GI bill or with loans, grants and parental support.  We decided that maybe it was the way to change the world.  On the way to our super careers, we got married, had children, got fat and simply wanted to escape from crime, poverty and man’s inhumanity to man.

We moved to the suburbs and bought three bedroom homes with swimming pools and decks in the back so we did not have to see our neighbors.  We joined self-help groups, learned transcendental meditation, vegetarianism and Gestalt Therapy.  Our focus turned inward and we started to look at the world through prisms of narcissism and self-interest.  If we could not change the world, at least we could make a fortune; have perfect kids and a perfect marriage.

Where have all the boomers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the boomers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the boomers gone?
Gone for mansions everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn? 

In a true irony of the dreams once held by boomers everywhere, the “Greatest Generation” had begat the “Greediest Generation.”   Hippies had turned into insurance agents and advertising executives.   Education for knowledge was lost in the need to obtain “marketable” job skills.  We turned inward and lost our souls.  Technology replaced our dreams for humanity.  Three car garages and a house on the beach or in the mountains became our driving mission.   MacMansions sprang up everywhere.  We became more concerned with the corporate vision statement then we did with the vision statement for humanity.

Of course, there were holdouts everywhere who became “old hippies” but they were derided as not being able to face reality.  The social revolutions we dreamed about became replaced by media and image revolutions.  What you knew was no longer as important as how you looked or who you knew.  Friends, followers and likes have become the norm for measuring social standing.  Gucci, Prada, Nike, Coach and other brand names became worth killing for or at least sacrificing our dreams for.   We wanted only the best for our kids, but the hell with your kids.

Where have all my old friends gone, long time passing?
Where have all my old friends gone, long time ago?
Where have all my old friends gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn? 

Having read that the U.S. life expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, does not really do justice to the effects that human mortality have on you as you age.  There are several reasons for this including:  Accidents, murders, fatal diseases and the inevitable bell shaped distribution of “normal deaths”.  This latter fact means that if the average age of death is 79 years, then some people will die well before 80 and some will live much longer than 79.  The implications of this normal distribution of death is that I have gone to many funerals and observed many more funerals of friends and relatives who have died long before their “average” death should have occurred.  I have known joggers and marathon runners who have died of heart attacks or strokes in their thirties.

It seems hardly a day goes by when I do not hear of a friend or a friend of a friend who has passed away or been given a fatal prognosis for some malady they were never aware of.   The old adage about the only sure thing being “death and taxes” comes repeatedly to my mind.  In the last three weeks, we have had to purchase three sympathy cards for friends whose spouses or close relatives have passed away.  This trend only grows worse as you get older.  Instead of deaths each year, it becomes deaths each month and for me now it is close to being a death each week.  Who needs to be reminded about mortality?  The biggest questions become whether to try to attend the funeral, send flowers, send a card, send a donation or all of the aforementioned.   I don’t want to sound cynical.  This is simply life as you get older.  Thomas Jefferson once wrote to John Adams:

“There is a ripeness of time for death, regarding others as well as ourselves, when it is reasonable we should drop off, and make room for another growth. When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another. I enjoy good health. I am happy in what is around me; yet I assure you, I am ripe for leaving all, this year, this day, this hour.”
To John Adams, August 1, 1816

I have joked that after my surgery results indicated that the cancer was entirely removed, I could live to die in fifteen or so years from something else.   Actually, I was being literal and not really joking.  The mortality tables for an American Caucasian male who has reached 65 years of age, show that I have a good probability of living another 15 years of so.   That’s good news except that the way time flies when you get older, fifteen years no longer seems like a long time.  It is certainly not enough time for me to change the world and end war and hunger.  I guess I will have to work on something else, perhaps slowing time down some.  J

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to old friends, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn? 

Have you ever visited a graveyard?  They are one of my interesting places to visit.  I know that might sound morbid or strange but let me tell you some reasons why I think they are so interesting.  Once upon a time, my father told me that “I had nothing to fear in a graveyard.  I had more to fear from the living than the dead.”  I have always remembered his words and I fear no dead beings:  no vampires, no werewolves, no zombies, no ghosts, no goblins and no undead bother me in the least.  I do worry about many of the living though.   This is just one reason why I find graveyards as peaceful and contemplative places to spend a short time.

A second reason is my interest in history.  Many graveyards can tell you much about the past.  The inscriptions, dates, type of deaths, genealogy of deaths, place of death and manner of deaths are a treasure trove of interest if you have any curiosity in how people lived.  The history of many cemeteries and the history of those buried in these cemeteries is an encyclopedia of past life.  You can learn more in a graveyard than you can in many history books.

A third reason is the cultural diversity that one finds in cemeteries.  Certainly many countries differ in how they bury their dead and the accoutrements that are interred with them.  This alone is fascinating.  Karen and I have visited graveyards in about every country that we have been to.  Each country has some very unique features about their graveyards.  However, even within the USA and even within cemeteries in a single city in the USA, you will find a great deal of cultural diversity.  Some of it reflects social biases such as racism, where you find Whites and Blacks buried separately and some of it reflects religion (Jewish cemeteries, Catholic cemeteries, etc.) and some of it reflects economic status (rich versus poor) symbols and edifices in many cemeteries.

Cemeteries are of also interesting because of who is buried there.  You may not meet too many famous celebrities in your lifetime but I guarantee that there are a whole host of them you can visit who are now resting in their graves.  Many grave markers are fascinating in the comments that have been engraved in them.  Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona is famous for its epitaphs on the tombstones.  One of my favorite books is Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters in which the dead speak out from their graves about the life they once lived.

New cemeteries are built to house the new generation while older cemeteries are eventually lost to the ravages of time and nature.  Nothing seems more striking then to be hiking someplace remote and come across an old cemetery from the eighteenth or nineteenth century.  Any cemeteries older than that and you would need to be an archeologist to find them.

Where have all my young dreams gone, long time passing?
Where have all my young dreams gone, long time ago?
Where have all my young dreams gone?
Young friends have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

What was it Shakespeare said about man’s life?  That it is but a walking shadow.  That we strut about on a stage as though we were important; but in reality, our tales will be told by idiots and our lives are merely entertainment and signifying nothing.  “Out, out, brief candle!”   Too brief for most of us!  We may wonder why we were not designed to live for two hundred or even five hundred years.

Do you remember the Twilight story by Rod Serling of the man who sold his soul for immortality?   The escape clause written in by the Devil was that he could die anytime he was tired of living.  He laughed since he thought he would live for a thousand or more years, however within weeks he had grown bored with life and he exercised his escape clause and died of a heart attack.   Be careful of what you ask for is very often an accurate statement.

We create dreams and hopes and our lives our fueled by these dreams and visions.  Some of us dream of the sacred, some of us of the mundane but perhaps more of us of the profane.   Many of us realize our dreams only to find out that we did not want them.  We often sell our souls much too cheaply.  The unintended consequences of life are always much greater than our imaginations could project.   Timothy Leary dies of Prostate cancer.  Jerry Rubin becomes an insurance salesman.   Abbie Hoffman commits suicide.  Huey Newton killed by former members of the Black Panther party.  Google goes from counterculture to mainstream culture.   Movies are made about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.  YouTube and Wikipedia are accepted as legitimate venues for research and education.  Villains become heroes and heroes are found to be villains.   Not to become disillusioned becomes the real secret of happiness.

What goes around does not simply come around; it is morphed in the ever changing cycle of life and becomes something new and unrecognizable.   Dreams and hopes are continually recycled from one generation to the next.  Each generation takes its chance at the cycle in often vain attempts to make a difference.  Eventually they will run out of energy and steam and it is then left to the next generation to keep the cycle of dreams and hopes turning.

“Birth and Death are words we chose to describe the doorways in and out of a cycle. This cycle is connected to a larger cycle which awaits our return.  It is all just like breathing.  Remove the fear and judgment to recognize the same pattern as a principle everywhere.”
― Franklin Gillette

Time for Questions:

How does the cycle of life and death affect you?  Is it something you think about?  Do you see other cycles in your life?  Which cycles are the most important to you?  Does it do any good to try to change a cycle?  Can we make a difference or is it all fate?  How would we know if we did not try?  Where have you made a difference?  Where do you wish you had or could have made a difference? What stopped you?   What would you do different if you were born again?  What if you knew you would go on being born again and again?  How would your life be different?

Life is just beginning.

I have a good friend and we argue all the time about fate and destiny and what we can change and what we can not change.   I say we can make a difference and that life is not predetermined.  Each time we breathe we choose.  Does this make me an existentialist? I say my friend is a determinist but he has many compelling arguments which are often hard to dispute.

 

 

Some “Inconvenient” Truths About Afghanistan

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Before you jump on the bandwagon blaming Biden or deploring the US debacle in Afghanistan, read this article. It is full of “inconvenient” truths. Once again, we are getting our faces rubbed in the mud because we deserve it but we want to fix the blame on someone else.  Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans.  Even the “liberal” press is blaming Biden. The saddest part is our unrequited promises to the Afghanistan people that believed America could save them. The effort to instill democracy in Afghanistan was a great example of hubris and arrogance based on greed and self-serving interests.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/19/what-lessons-should-the-west-learn-from-the-defeat-in-afghanistan

 , , Haroun Dada,  and 

The Influence of Culture on Sexual Activity and Practices

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In my opening treatise on sex, (Sex from a 75 year old perspective) I used a metaphor in which I described sex as a continent that had two regions.  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  There are three seasons for each region:  A Cultural Season, A Political Season and A Religious Season.  In my second blog on Sex:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions, I described the influence of religion on our sex lives in respect to what is permitted and what is prohibited.  I will now discuss the Cultural Season of Sex and what impact it has on Permissions and Prohibitions relating to sexual activities.

The Cultural Season of Sex:

The Cultural Season brings influences on sex based on traditions and beliefs about what sex should be like, who we should have sex with and how sex may be performed.  Cultural practices have the over arching purpose of keeping a community viable and safe.  Throughout history whether a culture sanctioned monogamy, polygamy, abstinence until marriage or free love, the major reason for any practice was to align the goals and desires of the community.

There are two important cultural factors that one must understand about sex.  Beyond individual notions of what is proper and what is not, the cultural diversity in relationship to sex dictates that what one culture may accept as legitimate may be rejected by another culture.  Thus, in the early days of Islam, multiple wives were acceptable.  This was not the case in Judaism.  “In Judaism the Law tolerated though it did not enact polygamy; but custom stood higher than the Law. From the period of the return from the Babylonian Exile, monogamy became the ideal and the custom of Jewish married life.” — Jewish Encyclopedia.

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In Islam, polygamy was the norm for centuries if a man could afford it.  “Traditional Sunni and Shia Islamic marital jurisprudence allows Muslim men to be married to multiple women (a practice known as polygyny and polygamy)—up to four at any point in time.” — Wikipedia.  Many a follower of Christianity might envy the Muslim man but given the traditions in Christianity, one can only imagine the problems of multiple wives or multiple husbands.  In the early 18th Century, there were a number of experimental communities in the United States where open relationships were practiced.  In these communities’ men and women could choose who they wanted to sleep with even if they were married.  Most of these communities eventually died out both for economic and psychological reasons.

0996E9F5-F96D-4F32-B12E-0C7772CF1AE7-e1623525310665The second major factor that one studying cultural sex practices must understand is the changing notion of what is acceptable over time.  Not more than a hundred years ago in parts of the USA and even today in some cultures, a young woman is expected to be ready to marry and have children right after puberty.  Few people in the USA today would approve of their 13-year-old daughter or son marrying.  Times change and so do expectations that address what is acceptable and what is not acceptable concerning sex.

The USA had always had very different cultural expectations governing which ethnic groups and which religious groups could have sex together.  These beliefs have changed greatly over time.  My Lutheran wife was expected to marry another Protestant or practically any other Christian except a Catholic.  Years ago, mixed marriages were more than frowned on (We will talk about laws and politics in the next blog).  Couples crossing forbidden boundaries were belittled and ostracized by their parent communities.  I was in Minnesota in the early 60’s before I ever saw a Black man and a White woman walking together.  It took many years before I knew any Black women who were married to a White man or vice versa.

Interracial stats

So what, you might be saying!  What is my point?  Where are I going with all this?  Who cares about cultural practices in relationship to sex?  I bring these issues up because sex practices are too often regarded as either right or wrong, moral or immoral, normal or deviant.  Only by looking at the history and totality of sexual practices in the world can we develop a healthy attitude towards sex.  Sex should be an occasion for joy.  Sex is not sinful as some Christians seem to believe.  If you are married and you have sex with someone else, whether it is immoral or not will depend on what you and your spouse have agreed to.  Living in a nudist colony does not make anyone a pervert.  Having sex with multiple partners may be a choice made by some married partners and perfectly moral for them.

This does not mean that various cultural sex practices will always be navigable.  No more than a trip down a river will always be tranquil and benign, sex between individuals may be fraught with difficulties.  A friend of mine once said that “I don’t know if sex will improve or hurt your relationship, but it will certainly change it.”

downloadI tend to believe that there are some biological drives that influence cultural traditions and vice versa.  In sociology classes, there was always an argument concerning nature and nurture.  Sometimes it seems that the advocates of nature have the winning argument and other times it seems that the nurture or cultural advocates win.  It is very easy to say that life is composed of both nature and nurture, but it is much more difficult to delineate the amount that each impose on a given cultural practice.  Is monogamy part of nature?  Is it built into our DNA?  Are there multiple survival benefits from a monogamous lifestyle?  Are these still valid in today’s world?

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A more difficult question to answer might be how I can convince my wife to let me engage in extramarital sex with other women.  She has never embraced that idea despite my facetious arguments that men are not naturally monogamous.  Thus, in this case, nurture trumps nature.  228-2281833_husband-beaten-by-wife At least is seems to. 

“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”  ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Ten Things I learned about Life from the 2021 Tour de France

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  1. Teamwork is essential
  2. Sometimes you have to go it alone
  3. The possibility of pain is ever present in our lives
  4. You will never know when you are too old
  5. No one is expert at everything
  6. Life is full of ups and downs
  7. Some days you will be on top of the world and others you will not
  8. Energy output varies from person to person, but we all run out at some point
  9. You have to get up every day to stay in the race
  10. Quitting does not define a loser

In my younger days, I did a few bike races.  I raced a criterion, a hill and dale and a double century.  I was only an amateur and never had the time to race more.  I enjoyed bicycling and did a number a bicycle tours.  At one point, I was averaging almost 450 miles a week in riding. I gave up riding in my later thirties and concentrated more on running.  It was faster and cheaper to get my exercise running.  I could no longer use a bicycle for transportation as I was commuting distances that made bicycle riding less practical.  I was a good bicycle mechanic and I worked in two different shops doing bicycle repair work.

Every year, I noted when the Tour de France came around, but I did not pay much attention to the race or the racers.  This year, (2021), I watched the Tour races in the morning on my computer and then each evening Karen and I watched a video summary of the Tour stage for that day.  It was exciting watching the riders and I learned a great deal about bicycle racing and life in general.  I have identified ten key ideas that I want to share with you.  These are some of the insights about life that I had from watching the Tour.  I suppose one could get such insights from sitting under an apple tree or watching a baseball game.  Life offers many lessons if we simply open our minds.

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  1. Teamwork is essential

No one can win the Tour de France without the support from their team.  I do not care how good you are, you will not win without a team.  Much of the reason for this comes from the support that the team gives to its designated “leader.”  The “domestiques” are the team members who help the leader out in a variety of ways.  Running errands to get food or drink; providing technical support in case of a breakdown; and drafting or helping rein in other racers.

Every potential winner needs a team to provide support and assistance. 

  1. Sometimes you have to go it alone

CORVOS_00028264-002-650x433 (1)A winner will need to rely on their team, but great riders will often find that they are suddenly alone and need to finish the race on their own.  Perhaps their support riders are worn out or perhaps it is evident that the leader needs to charge ahead to gain time or prevent an adversary from gaining too much advantage.  The great riders know when you to use their team and when to go it alone.

Sometimes you have to strike out on your own and depend on your own resources. 

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  1. The possibility of pain is ever present in our lives

Crashing and falling happen quite regularly in the Tour.  Perhaps a rider is hit by another rider or as in the race this year, a spectator ran out with a sign and knocked a rider down.  This caused a chain reaction knocking several other riders down.  Getting hurt is inevitable.  Falling down at nearly 30 miles an hour is painful.  Riders have helmets but no other pads.  How badly a rider is hurt is simply how unlucky they are.  The possibility of pain and serious injury is the price we pay in life for almost any endeavor that we undertake.  Everything that we do in life has risks.

There is no way to avoid risks in life unless you stop living.

  1. You will never know when you are too old

Karen_webMark Cavendish when he was at his peak was considered the best sprinter who ever lived.  This year for the 2021 Tour de France he was almost not selected by any of the teams.  At 36 years old, most thought that his racing days were over.  To the surprise of all, Mark secured a contract with one of the Tour teams.  Even more of a surprise was his winning four stages in the Tour to tie the record of Eddy Merckx for most stage wins in the Tour de France.   Mark did not know he was too old to win.  There is a time to hold em and a time to fold em, but it is very difficult to know when that time is.  One thing is for certain, never listen to other people.

Don’t let chronological age define what you can and cannot do.

  1. No one is great at everything

unnamed (1)The Tour de France is comprised of three main types of riders.  There are the sprinters who are best on flat ground.  There are the mountaineers who excel at hills and mountains.  There are the general classification (GC) riders who are good at both hills and flat ground but are not usually as good as the sprinters and mountaineers at their respective terrain.  The GC riders are most likely the best all-around riders and may be able to win a few stages in both the flats and the hills.  However, the GC riders are much more concerned with their overall time and will generally forego racing with sprinters or mountaineers who may break with the Peloton in an attempt to win a stage.  There is lots of strategy involved in winning the Tour and I do not have the time or knowledge to say more about it.

The main point here is that you can be good but not great at anything and still be successful in life.

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6.  Life is full of ups and downs

The Tour de France is a bicycle race comprised of 21 stages.  It is run mostly in France.  The first Tour was run in 1903.  One stage is run each day and two days are inserted for rest days.  Some stages are mountainous and hilly while others are flat and curvy.  The mountainous stages can be almost 10,000 feet high.  One or two stages will be set aside as sprint runs.  Many stages are combinations of both flat and hilly terrain.  Overall, 200 of the best bicycle racers in the world will race for nearly 2200 miles.  The Tour is considered one of the most demanding and difficult races in the world.

Watching these races, you can see that the world is physically up and down.  Mountains, hills, valleys, flats, and curves.  Some days will be rainy and cold, other days will be hot and humid.  However, in some sense the ups and downs are metaphorical as well.  The riders who are up one day will be down the next.  One day a sprinter will win the stage, the next day a mountain rider will win.  The General Classification riders (Tour leaders usually) will change the “yellow jersey” day by day until one finally emerges as the front runner.  The winner is never certain as falls, bad ride days and simple exhaustion take their toll on each rider.

Accept that life is going to be full of ups and downs.  Just remember that after it rains, the sun will come out.

  1. Some days you will be on top of the world and others you will not

king-of-the-hill-childrens-gameNo rider on the Tour de France has ever won all the stages.  Two or three riders have captured the Polka Dot (Best Mountain Rider), Green (Best Sprinter) and Yellow (Overall time leader) jerseys in the same Tour but no rider has ever won all 21 stages in one race.  We all have good days and bad days.  Some days we wake up full of energy and other days we should just stay in bed.

Karen my wife mentioned yesterday that being able to pick which days she gets up and which days she can linger in bed is one of the joys of being retired.  She noted that some days she just is not able to bounce out of bed like Tigger and meet the world with a full-on burse of energy.  She takes it easy some days and usually the next day, her energy returns, and she is out weeding the garden or trimming hedges.

Common wisdom tells us to honor the cycle of our lives, but most people are too busy being busy or rushing to get someplace to pay attention to this bit of wisdom. 

  1. Energy output varies from person to person, but we all run out at some point

p077x53mTour riders line up maybe 2 miles or so before the actual start line.  Two hundred riders will be almost welded together behind a pace car as they casually ride up to the start.  As soon as they reach the start line, they are off in a rush of cycles jostling for position.  A large mass of cyclists is called the Peloton and most riders will try to stay with this group for reasons of riding efficiency and aerodynamics.  Riding alone is more effort and energy wasteful than riding in a group.  Nevertheless, some game or crazy rides will try to leave the pack.  It may happen soon in the race or half way through the race, but eventually a breakaway group or individual will try to go it alone.  The boldness of these breakaway riders is thrilling.  Daring to challenge the best riders in the world by themselves.

You watch these riders, and the computer will show you how many are in the breakaway group and how far ahead they are from the Peloton in terms of time and distance.  Almost inevitably, (you could bet odds on it) the breakaway riders will one by one fall off the pace and be reeled in by the Peloton riders.  Seldom if ever does the lone breakaway rider stay in the lead for the entire stage.  The strongest riders in the world are in this race and there is undoubtedly a bell-shaped curve of stamina, endurance, and conditioning among the two hundred riders.  Nevertheless, no rider short of superman can stay out front each race for the entire race.  The advantage of a riding in a group, drafting and avoiding wind currents is too great for the individual loner to keep up a winning pace for an entire stage.

Respect your energy levels and do not try to be superman or superwoman. 

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  1. You have to get up every day to stay in the race

This sounds so platitudinous that I am almost ashamed to say it.  Every year a few riders in the Tour de France will drop out for one reason or another.  Sometimes it is injury, sometimes it is just giving up.  We all have days when we do not feel like we can go on anymore.

Yet, it seems as though we continually find excuses to drop out of the race.  The going gets tough and we quit.  We fall down and we don’t get up.  We get rejected and we give up.  We did not get the results we expected so we abandon our goal.  I once asked a friend who was an editor of several magazines what I needed to do to have a “Best Seller.”  He replied, “I could not tell you.  But I can tell you one thing, if you don’t write you will never have a best seller.”  I have never forgotten his advice.  Buying a lottery ticket does not ensure that you will win the lottery, but you can never win the lottery without a ticket.

I once heard that there are three kinds of people.  Those who do not know that there is a parade coming.  Those who will watch the parade.  Those who are in the parade.  Live gives us the possibility to choose which of the three people we want to be.  If you are going to be in the parade, you will have to get up and do something.  The parade will never come to you.

The race does not always go to the swiftest.  Often it goes to the steadiest.

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  1. Quitting does not define a loser

Primož Roglič was the leader in the 2020 Tour de France.  He was almost certain to win the Tour.  He had held the Yellow Jersey for the last half of the race.  His lead seemed insurmountable.  Then came a time trial day.  Tadej Pogačar, a rider from another team, did such an outstanding job in the time trial that he ended up ahead of Roglic.  Pogačar won the 2020 Tour de France.

Now it is time for the 2021 Tour.  Both Primoz and Tadej are back again.  This year Tadej is favored to win but Roglic still has a chance.  Roglic has a bad spill in the race during stage 3 and receives some injuries.  He gets up and continues the race the next day.  A few days go by, and it is clear that he is off pace.  After stage 8 Roglic quits.  He leaves the race.  Is Roglic a loser? They say only losers quit.

Less than a month later, Roglic finishes 28th at the Tokyo Olympics road race.  Four days later, Roglic competes in the individual time trial.  39 cyclists from 31 nations compete in the race.  Roglic wins the gold medal in the time trial with a winning margin of 1’01”.

Sometimes it makes sense to quit.  It is not true that only losers quit.  Some of the greatest people of all time have had days when they quit.  It is not quitting that defines a loser, it is never starting again.

Be realistic about those times when pressing on is not as smart as quitting.  History is full of examples of people who pressed on and were never heard from again. 

Conclusions:

There you have it.  The ten things I learned about life from this years Tour de France.  Rest assured I will be back next year to see what else I can learn.  I may even dust my bicycle seat off, oil my chain, pump up my tires and take a ride down the Gandy Dancer Trail.  If you see me coming, you should step aside as I am sure that I will be quite wobbly.

 

Dix choses que j’ai apprises sur la vie du Tour de France 2021

  1. Le travail d’équipe est essentiel
  2. Parfois, vous devez faire cavalier seul
  3. La possibilité de la douleur est toujours présente dans nos vies
  4. Vous ne saurez jamais quand vous serez trop vieux
  5. Personne n’est expert en tout
  6. La vie est pleine de hauts et de bas
  7. Certains jours, vous serez au sommet du monde et d’autres non
  8. La production d’énergie varie d’une personne à l’autre, mais nous sommes tous à court d’énergie à un moment donné
  9. Il faut se lever tous les jours pour rester dans la course
  10. Abandonner ne définit pas un perdant

Dans ma jeunesse, j’ai fait quelques courses de vélo. J’ai couru un critère, un monticule et un double siècle. Je n’étais qu’un amateur et je n’ai jamais eu le temps de courir plus. J’aimais faire du vélo et j’ai fait un certain nombre de tours à vélo. À un moment donné, je parcourais en moyenne près de 450 milles par semaine en équitation. J’ai abandonné l’équitation à la fin de la trentaine et me suis concentré davantage sur la course à pied. C’était plus rapide et moins cher de faire mon exercice. Je ne pouvais plus utiliser un vélo pour me déplacer car je parcourais des distances qui rendaient le vélo moins pratique. J’étais un bon mécanicien vélo et je travaillais dans deux ateliers différents pour faire des réparations de vélos.

Chaque année, je notais quand arrivait le Tour de France, mais je ne prêtais pas beaucoup d’attention à la course ou aux coureurs. Cette année (2021), j’ai regardé les courses du Tour le matin sur mon ordinateur, puis chaque soir Karen et moi avons regardé un résumé vidéo de l’étape du Tour ce jour-là. C’était passionnant de regarder les coureurs et j’ai beaucoup appris sur les courses cyclistes et la vie en général. J’ai identifié dix idées clés que je veux partager avec vous. Ce sont quelques-unes des idées sur la vie que j’ai eues en regardant le Tour. Je suppose que l’on pourrait obtenir de telles informations en s’asseyant sous un pommier ou en regardant un match de baseball. La vie offre de nombreuses leçons si nous ouvrons simplement notre esprit.

  1. Le travail d’équipe est essentiel

Personne ne peut gagner le Tour de France sans le soutien de son équipe. Peu m’importe à quel point vous êtes bon, vous ne gagnerez pas sans une équipe. Cela s’explique en grande partie par le soutien que l’équipe apporte à son « leader » désigné. Les « domestiques » sont les membres de l’équipe qui aident le leader de diverses manières. Faire des courses pour acheter de la nourriture ou des boissons ; fournir une assistance technique en cas de panne; et rédiger ou aider à maîtriser d’autres coureurs.

Chaque gagnant potentiel a besoin d’une équipe pour fournir soutien et assistance.

  1. Parfois, vous devez faire cavalier seul

Un vainqueur devra compter sur son équipe, mais les grands coureurs découvriront souvent qu’ils sont soudainement seuls et doivent terminer la course par eux-mêmes. Peut-être que leurs cavaliers de soutien sont épuisés ou peut-être est-il évident que le leader doit foncer pour gagner du temps ou empêcher un adversaire de prendre trop d’avantages. Les grands cavaliers savent quand utiliser leur équipe et quand faire cavalier seul.

Parfois, il faut se débrouiller tout seul.

  1. La possibilité de la douleur est toujours présente dans nos vies

Les chutes et les chutes se produisent assez régulièrement sur le Tour. Peut-être qu’un coureur est heurté par un autre coureur ou comme lors de la course cette année, un spectateur est sorti en courant avec une pancarte et a renversé un coureur. Cela a provoqué une réaction en chaîne qui a renversé plusieurs autres coureurs. Se blesser est inévitable. Tomber à près de 30 milles à l’heure est douloureux. Les cavaliers ont des casques mais pas d’autres protections. À quel point un coureur est blessé est simplement à quel point il est malchanceux. La possibilité de douleurs et de blessures graves est le prix que nous payons dans la vie pour presque tous les efforts que nous entreprenons. Tout ce que nous faisons dans la vie comporte des risques.

Il n’y a aucun moyen d’éviter les risques dans la vie à moins d’arrêter de vivre.

  1. Vous ne saurez jamais quand vous serez trop vieux

Mark Cavendish, lorsqu’il était à son apogée, était considéré comme le meilleur sprinteur qui ait jamais vécu. Cette année pour le Tour de France 2021, il n’a quasiment été sélectionné par aucune des équipes. À 36 ans, la plupart pensaient que ses jours de course étaient révolus. À la surprise de tous, Mark a obtenu un contrat avec l’une des équipes du Tour. Encore plus surprenant a été sa victoire sur quatre étapes du Tour pour égaler le record d’Eddy Merckx pour le plus grand nombre de victoires d’étape sur le Tour de France. Mark ne savait pas qu’il était trop vieux pour gagner. Il y a un temps pour les tenir et un temps pour les plier, mais il est très difficile de savoir quand est ce moment. Une chose est sûre, n’écoutez jamais les autres.

Ne laissez pas l’âge chronologique définir ce que vous pouvez et ne pouvez pas faire.

  1. Personne n’est bon en tout

Le Tour de France est composé de trois principaux types de coureurs. Il y a les sprinteurs qui sont les meilleurs sur terrain plat. Il y a les alpinistes qui excellent dans les collines et les montagnes. Il y a les coureurs du classement général (GC) qui sont bons à la fois sur les collines et sur terrain plat, mais ne sont généralement pas aussi bons que les sprinteurs et les alpinistes sur leur terrain respectif. Les coureurs GC sont probablement les meilleurs coureurs polyvalents et peuvent être en mesure de gagner quelques étapes à la fois dans les plats et les collines. Cependant, les coureurs GC sont beaucoup plus soucieux de leur temps global et renoncent généralement à courir avec sp les coureurs ou les alpinistes qui pourraient rompre avec le Peloton pour tenter de remporter une étape. Il y a beaucoup de stratégie impliquée pour gagner le Tour et je n’ai pas le temps ni les connaissances pour en dire plus.

Le point principal ici est que vous pouvez être bon mais pas excellent dans tout et réussir dans la vie.

  1. La vie est pleine de hauts et de bas

Le Tour de France est une course cycliste composée de 21 étapes. Il se déroule principalement en France. Le premier Tour a été couru en 1903. Une étape est courue chaque jour et deux jours sont insérés pour les jours de repos. Certaines étapes sont montagneuses et vallonnées tandis que d’autres sont plates et sinueuses. Les étapes montagneuses peuvent atteindre près de 10 000 pieds de haut. Une ou deux étapes seront réservées aux courses de sprint. De nombreuses étapes sont des combinaisons de terrain plat et vallonné. Au total, 200 des meilleurs coureurs cyclistes du monde courront sur près de 2 200 milles. Le Tour est considéré comme l’une des courses les plus exigeantes et difficiles au monde.

En regardant ces courses, vous pouvez voir que le monde est physiquement de haut en bas. Montagnes, collines, vallées, plaines et courbes. Certains jours seront pluvieux et froids, d’autres jours seront chauds et humides. Cependant, dans un certain sens, les hauts et les bas sont également métaphoriques. Les coureurs qui sont debout un jour seront à terre le lendemain. Un jour, un sprinter remportera l’étape, le lendemain un coureur de montagne la remportera. Les coureurs du Classement Général (les leaders du Tour en général) changeront le « maillot jaune » jour après jour jusqu’à ce que l’un d’entre eux ressorte enfin en tête. Le gagnant n’est jamais certain car les chutes, les mauvaises journées de conduite et le simple épuisement font des ravages sur chaque cycliste.

Acceptez que la vie soit pleine de hauts et de bas. N’oubliez pas qu’après la pluie, le soleil se lèvera.

  1. Certains jours, vous serez au sommet du monde et d’autres non

Aucun coureur du Tour de France n’a jamais remporté toutes les étapes. Deux ou trois coureurs ont remporté les maillots Polka Dot (Meilleur coureur de montagne), Vert (Meilleur sprinteur) et Jaune (Meilleur temps global) dans le même Tour, mais aucun coureur n’a jamais remporté les 21 étapes d’une course. Nous avons tous de bons et de mauvais jours. Certains jours, nous nous réveillons plein d’énergie et d’autres jours, nous devrions simplement rester au lit.

Karen ma femme a mentionné hier que pouvoir choisir les jours où elle se lève et les jours où elle peut s’attarder au lit est l’une des joies d’être à la retraite. Elle a noté que certains jours, elle n’était tout simplement pas capable de rebondir hors du lit comme Tigrou et de rencontrer le monde avec une pleine énergie. Elle se calme certains jours et généralement le lendemain, son énergie revient et elle est en train de désherber le jardin ou de tailler des haies.

La sagesse commune nous dit d’honorer le cycle de nos vies, mais la plupart des gens sont trop occupés à être occupés ou à se précipiter pour trouver un endroit où prêter attention à ce morceau de sagesse.

  1. La production d’énergie varie d’une personne à l’autre, mais nous sommes tous à court d’énergie à un moment donné

Les coureurs du Tour s’alignent peut-être 2 miles environ avant la ligne de départ réelle. Deux cents coureurs seront presque soudés ensemble derrière une voiture de course alors qu’ils monteront avec désinvolture jusqu’au départ. Dès qu’ils atteignent la ligne de départ, ils s’élancent dans une ruée de cycles qui se bousculent pour se positionner. Une grande masse de cyclistes s’appelle le Peloton et la plupart des coureurs essaieront de rester avec ce groupe pour des raisons d’efficacité de conduite et d’aérodynamisme. Rouler seul est plus un gaspillage d’efforts et d’énergie que de rouler en groupe. Néanmoins, certains gibiers ou manèges fous tenteront de sortir du peloton. Cela peut arriver bientôt pendant la course ou à mi-parcours, mais éventuellement un groupe ou un individu échappé essaiera de faire cavalier seul. L’audace de ces échappés est passionnante. Oser défier les meilleurs cavaliers du monde par eux-mêmes.

Vous regardez ces coureurs, et l’ordinateur vous indiquera combien sont dans l’échappée et à quelle distance ils sont par rapport au Peloton en termes de temps et de distance. Presque inévitablement, (vous pouvez parier là-dessus), les coureurs échappés perdront un à un le rythme et seront rattrapés par les coureurs du Peloton. Il est rare, voire jamais, que le coureur solitaire de l’échappée reste en tête pendant toute l’étape. Les coureurs les plus forts du monde participent à cette course et il existe sans aucun doute une courbe en forme de cloche d’endurance, d’endurance et de conditionnement parmi les deux cents coureurs. Néanmoins, aucun coureur à court de superman ne peut rester en tête de chaque course pendant toute la course. L’avantage de rouler en groupe, de dessiner et d’éviter les courants de vent est trop grand pour que le solitaire puisse maintenir un rythme gagnant pendant toute une étape.

Respectez votre niveau d’énergie et n’essayez pas d’être un surhomme ou une superfemme.

  1. Il faut se lever tous les jours pour rester dans la course

Cela semble si banal que j’ai presque honte de le dire. Chaque année, quelques coureurs du Tour de France abandonnent pour une raison ou une autre. Parfois c’est une blessure, parfois c’est juste abandonner. Nous avons tous des jours où nous avons l’impression de ne plus pouvoir continuer.

Pourtant, il semble que nous trouvions continuellement des excuses pour abandonner la course. Les choses se corsent et nous abandonnons. Nous tombons et nous donnons ne te lève pas. On se fait rejeter et on abandonne. Nous n’avons pas obtenu les résultats escomptés alors nous abandonnons notre objectif. J’ai demandé une fois à un ami qui était rédacteur en chef de plusieurs magazines ce que je devais faire pour avoir un « Meilleur Vendeur ». Il a répondu : « Je ne pourrais pas vous le dire. Mais je peux vous dire une chose, si vous n’écrivez pas, vous n’aurez jamais de best-seller. Je n’ai jamais oublié ses conseils. L’achat d’un billet de loterie ne garantit pas que vous gagnerez à la loterie, mais vous ne pouvez jamais gagner à la loterie sans billet.

J’ai entendu une fois qu’il y a trois sortes de personnes. Ceux qui ne savent pas qu’il y a un défilé à venir. Ceux qui regarderont le défilé. Ceux qui sont dans le défilé. Live nous donne la possibilité de choisir laquelle des trois personnes nous voulons être. Si vous allez être dans le défilé, vous devrez vous lever et faire quelque chose. Le défilé ne viendra jamais à vous.

La course ne va pas toujours au plus rapide. Souvent, il va au plus stable.

  1. Abandonner ne définit pas un perdant

Primož Roglič était le leader du Tour de France 2020. Il était presque certain de remporter le Tour. Il avait détenu le maillot jaune pendant la dernière moitié de la course. Son avance semblait insurmontable. Puis vint une journée de contre-la-montre. Tadej Pogacar, un coureur d’une autre équipe, a fait un travail si remarquable dans le contre-la-montre qu’il a terminé devant Roglic. Pogacar a remporté le Tour de France 2020.

Il est maintenant temps pour le Tour 2021. Primoz et Tadej sont de retour. Cette année, Tadej est favori pour gagner mais Roglic a encore une chance. Roglic a une mauvaise chute dans la course lors de l’étape 3 et reçoit quelques blessures. Il se lève et continue la course le lendemain. Quelques jours s’écoulent, et il est clair qu’il est à contre-courant. Après l’étape 8, Roglic abandonne. Il quitte la course. Roglic est-il un perdant ? Ils disent que seuls les perdants abandonnent.

Moins d’un mois plus tard, Roglic termine 28e à la course sur route des Jeux olympiques de Tokyo. Quatre jours plus tard, Roglic participe au contre-la-montre individuel. 39 cyclistes de 31 nations participent à la course. Roglic remporte la médaille d’or du contre-la-montre avec une marge gagnante de 1’01”.

Parfois, il est logique d’arrêter. Il n’est pas vrai que seuls les perdants abandonnent. Certaines des plus grandes personnes de tous les temps ont eu des jours où elles ont arrêté. Ce n’est pas d’arrêter qui définit un perdant, ce n’est jamais recommencer.

Soyez réaliste à propos des moments où il n’est pas aussi intelligent d’appuyer que d’arrêter de fumer. L’histoire est pleine d’exemples de personnes qui ont insisté et dont on n’a plus jamais entendu parler.

Conclusion :

Voilà. Les dix choses que j’ai apprises sur la vie de cette année Tour de France. Soyez assuré que je serai de retour l’année prochaine pour voir ce que je peux apprendre d’autre. Je peux même dépoussiérer ma selle de vélo, huiler ma chaîne, gonfler mes pneus et faire un tour sur le Gandy Dancer Trail. Si vous me voyez venir, vous devriez vous écarter car je suis sûr que je serai assez bancal.

Cancel Culture Meets Political Correctness

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I woke up (No! I mean really woke up, like after you go to sleep) and thought of the cancellations that I would have to make today.  My calendar had several items that I needed to cancel.  I had several products on my Alexa shopping list that I had to cancel.  I had to cancel a meeting with a friend.  My day starts off with one cancel after another.

It seems that I cannot go through life anymore without having to cancel something.  Everywhere I look there are cancel buttons.  My microwave has a cancel button on it.  My cellphone bids me to cancel numerous phone calls that are not in my contact list.  My oven wants me to cancel after I am done roasting the chicken.  My computer invites me to accept or cancel a software download.  My former business partner texts me once again to cancel a meeting that we had scheduled.  My wife comes in to cancel something we had talked about doing tonight.

210721-sollenberger-MTG-Gaetz-tease_yr2jy0I am surrounded, inundated, besieged by cancel requests.  The Republican lamebrains such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz repeatedly scream “cancel culture, cancel culture, cancel culture!”  I have not witnessed as much animosity towards a phenomenon since the zeitgeist of Political Correctness (PC).

You may remember a few years ago, the concept of PC first appeared.  Its emergence seemed to be a response to certain people who felt denigrated by titles or language used in American culture.  For instance, African Americans did not like to be called niggers.  Feminist women resented being called frigid bitchs.  LGBTQ people resented being called fags, dykes, freaks, and homos.  Undocumented immigrants resented being called illegal aliens.  And of course, devout Muslims resented being called Islamo terrorists.  The people who felt that their right to insult, abuse and demean others had been challenged, quickly coined the term PC to label efforts that might better have been labeled as “cultural civility and sensitivity.”

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The same people (I would give you ten to one odds) are now appalled at the fact that some Americans want to silence their insults.  This desire to silence hostile and often lying rhetoric has given rise to the term “Cancel Culture.”  Basically, those who believe that we are living in a “Cancel Culture” feel that the rest of us have no right to truth, honesty, and dignity.  They of course have the right to say or do any preposterous thing they want to and the rest of us are expected to accept it.  Let me give you a few examples:

  • Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene screams that the recent vaccination push Is more like Jim Crow–Era segregation than the Holocaust. Before it was more like the Holocaust.  She flips flops easily.
  • Representative Jim Jordan yells that “The wave of cancel culture spreading the nation is a fundamental threat to free speech rights in the United States.” He insists that the “Cancel Culture” silenced Trump’s lies by denying Trump access to Twitter and Facebook.  Jordan pushes the “Stolen Election” lie in which he swears that Biden did not win the election.  Jordan will swear to anything if it defends Trump.

I could go on and on with hundreds of examples of “Cancel Culture”, but I think it is obvious that something as Sherlock Holmes said is “afoot.”  My personal theory is that Republicans have discovered how powerful euphemisms can be as a tool to ridicule the opposition.  Nasty labels, pejorative names, insulting sobriquets have become all the rage in the Republican Party.  When you add the political stunts, clown shows and imbecilic performance acts that Republicans now use routinely, you have every reason to wonder what is going to become of American Democracy.  Two examples illustrate Republican circus acts:

  • Jim Inhofe throws a snowball on the Senate floor in an effort to disprove what he sees as alarmist conclusions about man-made climate change.

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  • Republican Lauren Boebert declares that “I will carry my firearm in DC and in Congress,” she says in a video, which has been viewed over two million times.

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The Republicans will counter that the Democrats also pull political stunts such as the recent effort by Democrats in Texas to block a voter suppression bill by leaving the State Senate and flying off to Washington, D.C.  However, there was a purpose to this move by the Democrats which was to deny the Republicans the quorum they needed to pass a bill designed to destroy what little is left of our democracy.

In looking at the examples of Inhofe and Boebert above, it is clear that these stunts are done for their own aggrandizement.  The single purpose of most of the theatrics done by Republicans today tend to be to deny reality or to push agendas that do not serve the overall good of the nation.  The Republican Party has become a party of clowns and Madison Avenue shysters.

If there is a historical reckoning (assuming the human race survives), it will look back on this era in American politics as the beginning of the death of democracy in America.  We will not be the first country where democracy was tried and subsequently succumbed to the forces of authoritarianism and fanaticism.

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Go to go now.  If I say too much, some stalwart Republican lawyer may try to sue me.  Of course, that would not count as “Cancel Culture.”

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