That’s Life

My journey through the annals of Life continues apace.  The magazine that is.  I’ve now reached August 1955, the month and year of my birth.  What keeps it interesting I suppose is finding tidbits of long forgotten stories and then trying to discern what happened next.  Okay, so I’m easily entertained.  But let me share a sad tale from the August 15 issue.

Life did a short feature on a group of American airmen who were shot down over China during the Korean war and had been imprisoned as spies ever since.  They were finally released after years of negotiations between two hostile governments .  One of these was Airman 2/c Daniel Schmidt.

An unlucky flyer, but things could be worse.  And then they were.

An unlucky flyer, but things could be always be worse. And then they were.

While sad sack Schmidt was enduring years of Chinese torture, his lovely redheaded bride Una, who was also the mother of the child Schmidt had never seen, had remarried to a local lumberjack by the name of Alford Fine.  Schmidt was understandably distraught to learn this news upon his return to the U.S. and promptly filed for divorce.

Things then got rather messy as local news accounts of the time portrayed.  Una moved out of Alford’s trailer home and desperately sought reconciliation with Schmidt.  Schmidt, however, was not in a forgiving mood.  Meanwhile, the local sheriff pursued an investigation into whether Una was guilty of bigamy.  The Air Force insisted it had notified Una that her husband was still alive in China prior to her remarriage, but Una denied it.  It appeared the woman with two husbands might soon wind up with none.

Finally, Schmidt’s mother intervened and arranged a meeting between the two star crossed lovers.   And when Schmidt saw Una, he fell in love all over again. 

The newly reunited family makes an appearance on the Art Linkletter show.

The newly reunited family makes an appearance on the Art Linkletter show.

It was a tale worthy of Hollywood, except for the happy ending part.  As this outstanding blog post recounts, Una and Schmidt divorced in 1960 and Daniel died in 1962 of a broken heart.  Well, during open heart surgery anyway.  He was 31.


I really don’t give a duck

So, I have a friend on Facebook who is a Professor of Sociology at a university in Massachusetts.  He’s a good guy (I used to play darts with him in Columbia) although he brings a decidedly leftist viewpoint to his political discussions.  Which is fine, he’s one of my few liberal acquaintances who is actually willing to engage in a serious discussions of the issues of the day.  We had a marathon session one night at my house while enjoying a bottle of whiskey which was a very pleasant experience.

So anyway, a few days ago he posted this on his Facebook page:

Here’s something I want to cautiously offer to the conversation – while we’ve been having important conversations about tolerance and silly arguments about free speech, more and more attention is being given to a media figure who’s real life has been managed and distorted into a stereotype of a poor person. That stereotype simply isn’t the whole picture, just take a look at the picture of the Duck Dynasty family from a few year back included in this article. Let’s try to see more of the picture, and also think a bit about who benefits from the perpetuation of the stereotypes.

From the article: ‘As long as we keep our concerns on the ideological bigotry expressed by one type of loser in the system, no one notices the corporate or government policies and practices that are the real problem. While all eyes are on the poor, rural, white, Southern bigot, we fail to see the owners of media corporations sitting comfortably in their mansions making decisions about which hilarious down-trodden stereotype to trot out next. Sexist, homophobic, and racist ideology gets a voice, while those who really benefit laugh all the way to the bank.’

And here’s the article he linked.  Give it a read and then come on back.

I wasn’t going to respond at all because I could see in the FB comments that the article was blood in the water for the lefty sharks who follow him.  But with the article still in mind and my holiday magnanimity satiated,  I wrote the following comment:

I hesitated weighing in on this because I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty and didn’t believe that anyone who watches “reality” programs of this ilk actually think of them as real. But I read the linked article anyway and came away wondering what was more astounding–the smug arrogance or the blatant hypocrisy. And talk about stereotypes! All the liberal gospels right up front and center. You’ve got your classism, evil corporate exploitation, conservatives as racists, and oh yeah, “white privilege” all together at last! And make no mistake, the article did in fact call Robertson a bigot in the classical sense of the word.

I don’t personally care what Robertson says or believes, I don’t care if he is faux redneck, and I don’t care if A&E cancels his silly show. I don’t expect he does either. In the grand scheme of things this kerfuffle is just another pointless distraction from the issues that should matter most to the American people. But since we are on the subject I want to state once again how personally offended I am by this whole pseudo-science doctrine of white privilege. How is it different from any other race based stereotype?

Now, just a couple of weeks ago I was reading how incensed y’all were about the college professor who was taken to task for offending her white students by calling them out for their obvious (to her) guilt of being members of a privileged race. But hey, she’s got as much right to her religious beliefs as anyone, right? I just don’t understand the double-standard being applied to Robertson. I for one like the concept of a free marketplace of ideas, even the ones I don’t personally care for. I just wish my friends on the left could be so open-minded and inclusive.

But I digress. You wanted a conversation about stereotypes of the poor. Well, guess what? We are not as yet a collective and most folks can think for themselves and tend to act in an individualistic manner. Robertson no more represents the poor than does the “welfare queens” or “gang bangers” we see frequently on display in popular media. A media controlled largely by the left, if political donations to democrats are any indication. But the reality is people don’t fit in the neat little boxes to which they’ve been assigned by their intellectual betters. And that’s a good thing I reckon. Otherwise, as a person who believes in limited government I’d be nothing but a racist, homophobic, Tea Partier, right?

The best article I’ve read on this subject serves as a nice counterpoint to the one you linked. I humbly invite you to take a step outside of the echo chamber and give it a read. If you dare!

Glen Reynolds had the best line I’ve seen on the topic: “A&E is now cancelling “Duck Dynasty” and replacing it with a new show about life in the White House. It will be called “Duck Responsibility.”

It’s a holiday tradition

That’s right, I know it must be Christmas because I just whipped up a big batch of my Aunt Pat’s recipe fruit salad.  I’ve been making it for the holidays the past 30 some odd years I reckon.  It was always my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast when I’d visit Aunt Pat (mom’s older sister) as a boy.  Funny thing is I mentioned this to her and she denied any knowledge of making a fruit salad.  Well, one of us is wrong about that but I’m pretty sure it’s not me.

I start by draining a can of mandarin oranges and a can of fruit cocktail...

I start by draining a can of mandarin oranges and a can of fruit cocktail…

...then I cut up a granny smith apple...

…then I cut up a granny smith apple…

...and slice up a couple of bananas...

…and slice up a couple of bananas…

...the remaining ingredients are sour cream, pecans, coconut and baby marshmallows...

…the remaining ingredients are sour cream, pecans, coconut and baby marshmallows…

...I stir in the sour cream till it is mixed well with the fruit.  The I add the pecans.  Next, I sweeten it up some with the coconut and marshmallows...

…I stir in the sour cream till it is mixed well with the fruit. Then I add the pecans. Next, I sweeten it up some with the coconut and marshmallows…

...and it comes out looking something like this.

…and it comes out looking something like this.

Hey, I never said it was difficult!  And it does taste better than it looks.  The only problem I’ve ever had is with people who insist on calling it ambrosia.  It’s NOT ambrosia.  Ambrosia doesn’t use a sour cream base.  So there.

Hope y’all have (or had) a great holiday.  We’ll be heading over to spend Christmas with the son and daughter in the morning.  Started and finished my Christmas shopping yesterday.  It’s not hard when everyone on your list is getting a gift card.  Well, the grandson is getting this:

Assembly was required.  I managed it though.

Assembly was required. I managed it though.





Have yourself a merry little Christmas

xmas2013 004

To all our friends and family around the world:
즐거운 크리쓰마쓰
Nollaig Chridheil
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon
Feliz Navidad
Geseende Kerfees en ‘n gelukkige nuwe jaar
I’D Miilad Said ous Sana Saida
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année
Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom
Suksan Wan Christmas lae Sawadee Pee Mai
Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
Gute Vaynakhtn un a Gut Nay Yor
(sorry, couldn’t find it in Canadian!)

We’ll make heaven a place on Earth

Came across this mind boggling and thought provoking article that claims we are moving closer to having the capability to map a human brain to the extent that a person could live on in a “virtual” world after the mortal body has turned to dust.

Imagine a future in which your mind never dies. When your body begins to fail, a machine scans your brain in enough detail to capture its unique wiring. A computer system uses that data to simulate your brain. It won’t need to replicate every last detail. Like the phonograph, it will strip away the irrelevant physical structures, leaving only the essence of the patterns. And then there is a second you, with your memories, your emotions, your way of thinking and making decisions, translated onto computer hardware as easily as we copy a text file these days.


That second version of you could live in a simulated world and hardly know the difference. You could walk around a simulated city street, feel a cool breeze, eat at a café, talk to other simulated people, play games, watch movies, enjoy yourself. Pain and disease would be programmed out of existence. If you’re still interested in the world outside your simulated playground, you could Skype yourself into board meetings or family Christmas dinners.

The author goes on to make the case that actual creation of this technology is not necessarily a good thing, noting that the moral and societal implications of implementation will “transform humanity in ways that are more disturbing than helpful.”  I guess I can see the downsides, but given my lack of faith in any form of afterlife, I’d probably be inclined to accept immortality wherever I might find it.  Of course, that might be it’s own kind of hell.   I’m reminded of a story I read back in the 1970s entitled “I have eternal life and it’s killing me”.

Speaking of virtual worlds, of late I’ve been crafting a rather detailed fantasy life in my mind.  Yeah, I’ve got too much time on my hands I suppose.  But really, I just use these fantasies as a sleep aid.  A detailed version of counting sheep if you will.   I won’t bore you with the details of that world, although I’m young, handsome, and have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.  So yeah, I avoid all the mistakes I’ve made along the way in my real life and do things like invest in start-up companies with odd names like Microsoft and Apple.  Anyway, I imagine novelists go through similar exercises as they craft their stories and create fictional characters to populate those worlds.  Which is to say I don’t think I’ve gone totally off the rails.

So that’s how I kind of imagine what a virtual afterlife might look like.  What do you think?  Do you prefer the great unknown of death or would you rather have a computerized version of yourself live on through infinity?


Finding my geographic center of gravity

The midpoint of my life's journey leads to this bridge in Saratoga, WY.

The midpoint of my life’s journey leads to this bridge in Saratoga, WY.

Well, I guess gravity has nothing to do with it.  But finding your geographic center is pretty cool and fun to do (linked fixed, sorry!). Turns out the midpoint of everywhere I lived is tiny Saratoga, Wyoming.  Population 1,690 proud souls and home of the annual Steinly Cup microbrew competition.  Gonna have to pay those punny folks a visit one of these days I suppose.

Westminster, CA (23 years), Prescott, AZ (5 years), Fort Smith, AR (3 years), Columbia, SC (12 years and counting), Stafford, VA (8 years) and Seoul, ROK (6 years) winds up looking like this.

And where pray tell is your center?

UPDATE: I changed the headline for this post after a commenter graciously pointed out that I had invented a new word for stupid…




The scales of injustice


I have not reported on my personal Battle of the Bulge lately.  Mostly because there has been nothing much to report.  Once I crossed the 50 pounds lost threshold (228 pounds) I’ve encountered the proverbial brick wall.  I’ve been bouncing around from a low of 225 to a high of 230 since then.  This morning I was disappointed to see a 2 1/2 pound gain from last week leaving me at a bloated 229.5.

It’s my own damn fault of course.  I’ve been extraordinarily lazy of late.  I managed a whopping two hours total treadmill time last week.  That and the fact that I’m playing darts four days a week now (Tue/Wed/Fri/Sun).  Which is not to say that darts isn’t good exercise. After all, it does require you to get off your sorry ass and actually move around some.  No, the problem with darts activity is that I normally consume several bottles of aiming fluid (aka beer) during a match.  Even at a low 2.6 carbohydrate grams per bottle that adds up.  So, I need to rededicate myself to my exercise regimen and show greater discipline in resisting temptation (damn your smoothies Jee Yeun!).

In other health related news, I’ve begun the process to becoming a non-smoker in 2014.  I’ve been taking Chantix for a week now.   I’ve taken it before with some success–over a year smoke free until my mother’s death knocked me off the wagon–and it does seem to curb my craving for nicotine.  According to the warning label the side effects include nausea, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, gas, constipation, trouble sleeping, unusual dreams, or changes in taste.  And oh yeah, suicidal thoughts and depression.  Luckily for me, all I get are the unusual dreams and gas.  Well, truth be told I can’t say that I’m more gassy than normal, but my normal tends to be a lot.  But for me, the dreams are the best part.  I find myself looking forward to going to bed wondering what I will dream tonight.  Vivid, detailed, and bizarre is how I’d describe my nocturnal excursions.  Certainly better than anything I’ve seen on TV lately!

So that’s my story.  Wish me luck!