All We Like Sheep

Image result for crowded subway train

This morning the subway system had a major malfunction. Everything was broken – the tracks, the cars, and even the people. What completely baffles me are the passengers. They’re sheep. Our train was so full we couldn’t squeeze in a fly, but does anybody notice that? When we pulled into the stop, our conductor, realizing the suffocating situation we were in, announced to the crowd on the platform to wait for the train just behind us, which was headed in the same direction and was empty. What did the crowd do? They shoved and pushed their way into our train. I was afraid we would collapse from the load. And then we faced the under water tunnel into the city and I cringed. I have nightmares of a breakdown in the tunnel with no escape unless you like to swim, which I don’t. And I didn’t want to die with this morning’s crowd. They were too stupid. If I’m going to die in an accident, I want to go down with smart people.  Fortunately we made it safely into the city otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. But it goes to show how people in general do not think, or react well to a scenario that requires reason. If I had been waiting for the train and had had the option of the second train, I would have waited, but then again, I could have been the only one facing the risk of getting trapped in the tunnel with no one else on board but the train operator. At least I’d have had him for company when we died together.

Calvin says, “Stick to walking, always the safest bet unless you run into something ten times your size and then run like hell.”  beagle

World Classifieds

My computer is old so today I’ve had the services of an expert who has interrupted my work flow all day as he cleans, updates, and fixes all the glitches I’ve been accustomed to work around for years. Now nothing looks or works the same. I have to type in my username and password on everything again and nothing gets remembered anymore. I suppose that’s the price you pay for security. So much for technology. I’m not sure what it buys us except an industry that has given the entire world much of its employment to a people who probably wouldn’t have made it as car salesmen. I guess that’s saying something.

The last time I IMG_4160checked for an industry that spanned the world was aviation. Remember Pan Am? I think in those days it was the only world carrier at the time.

Then came the pharmaceutical companies, most of which have labs in places like China and India.

And let’s not forget Hollywood, except L.A. still dominates as the hub for celebrities recognized and worshiped the world over. I can’t see Taylor Swift hanging out in Istanbul.

The world has become more fluid, with borders being ignored every day. Even the Monarch butterflies defy all boundaries and fly into Pacific Grove all the way from Mexico.

Calvin says, “You forgot the worldwide dog trade. Puppies come from all over the place, some kosher, others not so much. Those you slip into your pocket.” beagle

Foreign Policy

While the Warriors played their championship win this week, I noticed an interesting cultural phenomena on my street Tuesday night.

My Indian neighbors – those who have come to the US for the tech jobs – were hooting and hollering like the best of us over the game.

Their voices flowed out of their open windows and crossed the street to my house.

The American assimilation had begun.

One family has two children, a white Lab, and a Volvo. They’ve already been seduced.  white lab

Another family has a daughter in the elementary school around the corner. I often hear her arguing with her mother in perfect kid-lingo, sounding like a typical spoiled American child, while her mother answers her in her language.

I grew up in foreign countries.

I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil, eating different food, hearing another language all day long.

It’s exhausting.

So a basketball game makes a lot of sense.

There’s no need for subtitles.

A basket is a basket.

A foul is a foul.

And a shouting coach needs no interpretation in any language.

I remember going to bullfights.

I would always cheer for the bull.

Calvin says, “You would. You prefer animals to people anyway.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Mastery

Malcom Gladwell in his book, Outliers, wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Gladwell used well-known figures as his examples like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles and J. Robert Oppenheimer, to name a few. However, most of us are not the Gates and popular musicians of the world.

We’re ordinary.

Which got me thinking. suffering

I wonder if 10,000 hours is true for airline pilots, surgeons, and clergy.

After all, these types are responsible for people’s lives, much more so than the examples in Gladwell’s book.

I wonder if pilots, surgeons and clergy realize how serious their jobs are.

Probably not, especially if they’re young.

Years ago I needed a surgeon and the man was pompous and verbose. He knew he was good. He was a young guru with magical hands.

Then I needed him again ten years later. I barely recognized him. He was overweight, still talkative, but this time he was humble. He told me he had slaved at the altar of success only to bring his marriage to the brink of divorce, that he had lost more patients than saved them, and that there was more to life than the surgery room.

I wonder if that’s true for pilots. After all, a jet is a jet, the controls are the same, and the view out the cockpit window at 30,000 feet pretty much looks the same everywhere. A flight attendant friend tells me that pilots are usually found at the hotel bar at the end of a shift. Most are divorced or living with unhappy wives. That’s scary.

And clergy? Just think of the problems they hear – the agonies, the failures, and the disappointments of their parishioners. The lapses in church attendance. The struggles with their own marriages and children. The need to preach relevant messages every week to congregations that don’t listen anyway.

Ten thousand hours for mastery? Is that all? I say you need a lifetime to be an expert in being human.

Calvin says, “Well, I’ve mastered being a beagle except you haven’t noticed lately.” beagle

 

 

Conversations on the Run #12

Everybody is hiding something – shame and fear are universal.  Topiary

The pug was so fat he looked like a caterpillar.

People want to improve their lives, but according to their own obsessions.

He has his own inner landscape that interests and amuses him.

Life is not your personal possession to do with as you please.

What is today will always be. Not so. You could die tomorrow.

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

You don’t have to believe everything you think.

Life creates a demand for wisdom.

Smearing paint on a canvas is an act of faith.

Don’t grow accustomed to the rubble around you.

Jesus is not a life coach.

Calvin says, “Here’s my quote – ‘Everyone should sniff the pee markings on the neighborhood trees to read the messages.'”  beagle

 

 

 

The Culture of the Lure

Alf and I went to a Home Show last weekend.

I knew it was going to be trouble before we left the neighborhood.

I can say no to candy, doughnuts, and ice cream, but I have no willpower when it comes to things for the house.  Fried Eggs

I managed to not sign any work orders with the floor guys and the kitchen granite guys, although I did make a couple of appointments for them to come out to the house later on.

What got me this time was a chef with a winsome personality demonstrating a line of amazing pots and pans that let you to cook without water and oil. He lured me into his area by tossing a freebie gadget in my direction. One of those plastic thingies that when inserted into a lemon it lets the juice out without the pits. It was hypnotic. Next thing I knew I was sitting in the front row hanging on to his every word. He made a raw salad, cooked fresh veggies in one of those gleaming pots, and baked a chicken breast that looked like it had been grilled on a barbecue. Then he passed the platter around for all of us to sample the food. It was crunchy, savory delicious.

I bought the line.

He threw in three extra pieces of equipment for free, which by themselves would have cost enough for a down payment on a condo.

It’s impressive the choices of products you can find for your home these days – from flooring to cabinets, to windows, roofs, pools, fireplaces, interior and exterior surfaces – everything to turn your house into that Hollywood mansion look.

It just shows how much the celebrity influence has spilled over to our clothes, our homes, our cars, how we travel, the kids we have, the dogs we own, and the food we eat. It’s all fair game, including those pots and pans for your kitchen.

Calvin says, “Sucker! You should have stayed home and taken me on a rabbit walk. But now that you have them, toss the kibble, I want crunchy delicious.” beagle

The Face Says It All

The latest advertising scheme is a personal one.

You can sell your body parts as ad space to companies for a fee.

Now young people are sporting company logos on their faces.

Maybe other parts too, but I don’t want to know the details.

That’s not a bad way to make an income if you don’t mind being a billboard.

It’s environmentally friendly. No fliers or postcards to hand people on the street.

It prompts people to ask questions.

It causes a stir. cropped-photo1.jpg

And if you don’t mind people staring at you for 8-hours a day, I suppose it’s a great way to a movie career.

Whatever the reason for renting out your cheeks, you will probably end up with public fatigue at the end of the day.

How can you stand the public’s gaze and murmuring all day long?

“Mary, did you see that woman’s face? Her cheeks looked like two lobsters clawing each other.”

“Now Edward, stop staring at that poor girl. Can’t you see her Botox injection went horribly wrong?”

This sounds crazy, but innovative advertising is always a bit off-putting.

Have you forgotten the ads for beer and cars during a Super-Bowl or a World-Series?

What about the ones with your favorite athlete in them?

I think this rent-a-face idea will catch on quickly.

Especially with fashion models and over-the-hill actors.

What a way to build a second career.

Calvin says, “Beagle cheeks like mine will be all the rage, too. Then I can afford steak for dinner.” beagle