Ebb Tide

This just in:  Thanks to everyone that reached out to me yesterday, and continue to do so today.

The grief is receding.  I can feel it less although it is still there.  I think the real difference is that I now have more of a choice.  It’s as if I have found a volume knob where I can dial it back or turn it us as I wish.  What surprises me is that I still turn it all the way up from time to time.

My mom has joined my daughter.  They are quite a pair.  So, they are both in good hands…each other’s.  Thus…I move on to other things.

Today, I want to write about how I quite a huge tobacco habit.

For 13 years, I used a can a day of chewing tobacco.  This is the stuff you put into your lip and then spend the next half an hour spitting it back out.  I know…very cool…right?

For about 10 years, every time I went to the dentist, I was told, “You have a precancerous lip and need to stop right away.”

That wasn’t enough.

I tried smoking a pipe.  Then I tried Nicorette gum.  Nothing seemed to work.

I loved the tobacco but it was controlling too much of my life.  I would be holding important meetings when the urge would strike.  I’d say, “Let’s take a break” and then I’d run off somewhere and take a “dip”.  This is just a small sample of the type of interference tobacco caused in my life.

Here is how I quit.

I was working with coal miners in Australia back in 1991.  I noticed that they would chain smoke right up to the point where they would be taken under ground.  They would be underground for several hours.  You can’t smoke down there because the air is usually flammable.  You can’t even take down things that make sparks.

I asked several of them, “Is it hard to not smoke for several hours while you work down here?”

Surprisingly, the answer was always, “No.  We never even think about it.  It is absolutely not going to happen down here so we don’t feel the compulsion.”

To me this was “acceptance.”  Much like I don’t fret about not being able to fly by flapping my arms.  I know it won’t happen so I accept it fully, and move on.

So…I took my last can of Copenhagen (chewing tobacco) and dumped it down the toilet.  Back in 1991, there was no way to replace this loss in the Australian outback.

I had just completely cut myself off from the ability to chew tobacco.

I went through about 7 days of physical withdrawal but that had never been the real issue.  Of the 1,000 times I had quit before, it was always the mental withdrawal that brought me back to tobacco.

Having cut myself off completely with no option to replenish for several weeks…the mental withdrawal was virtually non-existent.

By the time I got back to the States…I was tobacco free and have never once gone back.

After 27 years, I can still feel the craving come over me if I want to feel it.  However, I read once that tobacco cravings only really last for about 10 seconds.  If you can distract yourself for 10 seconds, the craving will go away.  It may come back but again…for only 10 seconds.

This “10-second” thing is big.  There was a time that when I got a craving, my assumption was that it would last forever or until I could get some tobacco.  That attitude made “surrendering to the addition” justifiable.

That’s it.  If I was a tobacco person right now and wanted to quit….I would have my friends load me up with camping gear and then drop me off somewhere for a week.  Somewhere that was isolated enough that I couldn’t get tobacco anywhere.  That would force the “acceptance” and thus eliminate that pesky “mental withdrawal.”

Now….as part of my ongoing grief therapy….

A short gratitude list…

I am grateful for…

  1. Netflix
  2. Skype
  3. My mom and daughter’s relationship
  4. The healthcare in MA that is helping my son with his addiction
  5. Websites like Reddit.com and Thegreatcourses.com
  6. The perfectly crisp and sweet apple
  7. Packaged salads at Safeway
  8. Any degree of self-awareness
  9. A cold room and warm bed
  10. The people in my life
  11. Cat videos

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…


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Grief Management

This just in:  3 days ago, my daughter lost her twin boys who were born prematurely at 6 months of age.

She is physically fine and both her and her husband are surrounded by family and friends.

The grief is in abundance; like a little spirit floating around and tapping everyone within its sphere of influence and saying, “Now you.  Now you.  Now you.”  None of us were left unscathed.

I’m writing this post as a way of dealing with my small portion of the grief.

Writing is something I do often when I’m trying to deal with something.  It could be a positive issue or a negative one.  I could be searching for an answer or trying to share one.  For me, writing is a magic pill that helps me cope.

It’s helping me right now.

Aside from writing, I reached out to my closest friends and let them know what was going on.  To a man, they were all supportive; letting me know that they shared my pain and would help in any way they could.  This helped a lot.

Another way of dealing with grief is to write a Gratitude List.  It has been my experience that I cannot be “in gratitude” and in some other state of mind simultaneously.

I know this and yet, it has taken me 3 days to get to this point.  I think I wanted to hold onto the grief.  It reminds me of perspective; what’s really important.  I embrace the pride I have in my little girl and how strong she is to go through such an experience.  I touch my friends and let them know I need them and they reach back with “I’m here for you.”

Good stuff….but now it’s time for The List.

I’m grateful for…

  1. Dill pickle chunks in beef stroganoff
  2. Coffee in the morning
  3. The smell of morning after a rainy night
  4. Family and friends
  5. Spell check
  6. Watching my dogs play together
  7. The cookie my wife leaves out for me on the mornings I get up early to catch a plane
  8. Nacho sauce mixed in with cottage cheese
  9. The science that lets us put toys on Mars
  10. The anticipation of Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
  11. A well hit 6 iron
  12. Breathe Rite strips that let me sleep better at night
  13. Quails lining up for their morning feeding
  14. Understanding life is about the journey
  15. The outlet of writing
  16. A fur lined hat on a snowy day
  17. Freedom from fear
  18. Health
  19. Passing through Canadian Immigration in under 5 minutes
  20. My perfect wife
  21. My old Jeep Wrangler starting on the first try
  22. Eating stew at an outdoor Christmas festival in Budapest
  23. Drinking hot chocolate while people watching on Market Street in San Francisco
  24. A fog filled neighborhood street on a weekend morning
  25. Geico commercials
  26. A good book
  27. The menu at The Cheesecake Factory
  28. Not drinking alcohol for 28 years or using tobacco for 27 years
  29. The Serenity Prayer
  30. My kids, Ryan, Cory, Matt and Bence
  31. Cute animal videos
  32. That my first meeting of the day isn’t until 10:30 am.

With that, I’ll leave my list behind for now.  I need to get some breakfast and go out into the world.

I feel better now.

Up, up and away…






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Trump – Season 2

This just in:  The midterm elections were just 3 days ago.  Let’s take a look at Episode 1 of Trump Season 2.

Within hours of the close of elections, Trump fired his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.  He made it clear that he fired Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the Mueller investigation.  You may recall Trump was stunned by this.  He was certain that he has a Trump Loyalist in Sessions that would protect him from Mueller.

Now, the Constitution says the President can’t install a Head of Department on his own.  This is one the the checks and balances of the Constitution and is designed to prevent the President from appointing a lacky.

Trump appointed a lacky.

Without authority, Trump put in an AG that has publicly, on several occasions, denounced the Mueller investigation.  This guy wasn’t one of the top guys in the Justice Department.  He was just a lower level guy that Trump specifically chose because he wants the protection.

So…on day 1 after the mid-terms….Trump violated the Constitution to protect himself from prosecution.

Meanwhile…Other Trump supporters (AKA Republicans) down in Florida are calling it conspiracy that people in charge of voting in Florida are actually insisting that all of the votes are counted.  Apparently, to keep it from being a scandal, vote counting should have stopped at any point where the Republican candidate had the lead.

Most haven’t noticed that Trump also failed to install the latest round of Russian punishments.  I don’t have a lot of detail on this one.  But…Trump is meeting with Putin soon and I expect him to walk out of that meeting with a gold star stuck to his forehead for being such a good boy.

Then…there was the press conference.

Here are the highlights:

  1. Trump claimed losing control of the House to be a great outcome from a “Deal Making” point of view.
  2. Trump called out Republicans that lost because they “Refused his embrace.”  He failed to list those Republicans that lost after being “embraced.”
  3. Trump got into an argument with CNN’s Acosta and then had his press credentials revoked.  As justification, he used a doctored video to imply that Acosta was physically aggressive with a female aide.

It’s been less than 3 full days since the election…

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…


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Trump-Publicans and Death by Gun

This just in:  In the middle of last night, shots were fired at a bar in California.  A deputy sheriff ran towards the danger and was killed.  He was a hero.  It’s important that we realize that he, and men like him, run towards danger every day so that we can stay safe.

His name was Ron Helus.

We can pause appropriately and then send “thoughts and prayers” or, we can do something to stop this madness.

Last year, there was a mass shooting in Texas.  Senator Ted Cruz got some face time on television and said, “We will do everything humanly possible to make sure this never happens again.”

Then he forgot all about it.

Let’s get to the root cause…not the guns but rather….the enablers.

We don’t combat gun deaths because Trump-Publicans refuse to allow evan an investigation into how we might go about this.

Let me say that again.

Trump-Publicans (There are no longer any Republicans) refuse to fund research into ways to combat gun violence.

Every time there is a “Death by Gun” in the United States, the people that helped pull that trigger are Trump-Publicans and those that voted for them.

Trump-publicans will race to mourn the death of the brave officer and ignore that the fact that they put the gun in the killer’s hand.

This is not new behavior.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility and yet they have overspent to the tune of $1 trillion dollars a year.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of the Constitution and yet they call the Free Press the enemy of the people.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of the Patriotism and yet flock to racist dog whistles, forgetting the lines “All men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence.

Trump-Publicans think its appropriate for the President to change the Constitution by himself (see 14th amendment).

His name was Ron Helus and he died because half of the people in our country enable the hypocrisy of Trump and the Republican Party.

I’m not mad at Congress and Trump.

I’m disappointed in us; in who we are and in what we allow to happen.

Up, up and away…


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A Nation Exposed

This just in:  The elections are history and the verdict is in…about half the country thinks Trump is a great president.

To me, this is a huge disappointment.  I don’t care if everyone is a Republican or if everyone is from Mars.  I do care that half of our country listens to Trump and Fox News and reaches the conclusion that he represents what they believe.

Women that are raped should be taunted?  Hungry, poor and frightened mothers and children are an invasion?  Fear and hate equate to strength and public policy?  Lying is okay but the free press is the enemy of the state?

These are not “Fake News” perspectives.  These are easily verifiable states of being under Trump.

I saw a Trump supporter being interviewed on television 2 days ago.  Here is how it went:

Reporter:  But you know Trump lies about nearly everything.

Trump Supporter:  I know that.

Reporter: Then why do you support him?

Trump Supporter: Because I trust him.

I shit you not.  That is what she said.

Maybe the Koch brothers are right.  Maybe we are incapable of being trusted to govern ourselves.

Then again…maybe Trump is the greatest thing ever and I am the one that is being misled by Fake News.

Here is what I don’t want from the Democrats:  I don’t want them spending the next 2 years campaigning against Trump.  I don’t want them doing a Mitch McConnell stonewall against all things Trump.

Here is what I do want:

Protect the Mueller investigation.

Pass legislation about anti-corruption.  Or at least, get it out of the House and let the Republicans publicly turn their nose up at it.

Pass legislation about Gun Control, about Campaign Finance Reform, about Immigration Reform, about Healthcare, about tax reform.

Pass legislation to protect LGBT rights, to protect minorities, to protect religious freedom, to keep religion out of politics.

Get this legislation out of the House and let the Republican Senate say “no”.

In other words…Democrats…don’t be vindictive.  Be Progressive.

That is the path to saving the world.

Up, up and away…



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Not Voting = Trump Support

This just in:  I think this will be my final post before election day.  As always…I have a few comments.

First of all…Bohemian Rhapsody is a great movie and has my strongest recommendation; especially if you were ever a Queen fan.

Now….onto politics…

I think I have discovered the difference between the way Democrats campaign and Republicans campaign.

Democrats tell you what they want to do.

Republicans tell you what you want to hear.

It’s no secret that Republican economic policies have been historically bad for the country but…they tell you that they are going to give you better healthcare and more income….all at no cost to you.  Free stuff!  Just what I wanted to hear.

It’s no secret that Trump is a racist.  I also think it is racist if you are an elected official and turn your head when Trump acts out his racist tendencies.  I also think that if you vote for these Republicans, knowing that they support a racist…you may have a bit of racism yourself.  Don’t worry though…you can justify it by saying, “I just like Trump because he says what he means.” – A compelling argument; one that makes Charlie Manson equally qualified to be your president.

Republicans tell you that immigration is the reason you don’t have a job.  They tell you that blacks are given opportunities that should go to you.  They tell you that non-Christian immigrants, that also happen to not be white, are terrorists.  They tell you that 5,000 starving women and children are invading our country to take what is yours.  This is all what the “closet” racist wants to hear – justification for their hate and fear.

Republicans tell you that if they give money to their billionaire donors…it will trickle down and you will get free money.  Just what you wanted to hear.

They tell you North Korea is no longer a threat, even as they continue to build nuclear weapons….Just what you wanted to hear.

They tell you America is finally respected by the world in spite of the fact that every country except Russia and Israel have said they think less of us since Trump took over….just what you wanted to hear (not that last factual part).

They tell you Democrats will take away your money and let every immigrant come in and vote and get free healthcare….just the reason to vote Republican that you were looking for.

They tell you that Climate Change is a hoax so they can cut regulations for their big donors.  Just what you wanted to hear.

If you are a racist…if you don’t believe in science….If you are a conspiracy theorist…if you think saying, “I will give you healthcare and education for free” means that it will actually happen….then vote Republican.

If you are not any of the above…then you might be a Democrat or, at least, an independent.

Whatever you are…go out and vote.

But remember…if you do vote Republican…then you are voting for someone that will support Trump no matter what.

Up, up and away…


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Trump = Republican = Trump

This just in:  The members of the Republican Party, in large part, don’t appear to agree with Trump on a lot of things.  However, publicly, they stand by him.  When it comes time to vote, they vote with him.  When he behaves badly, they stand quietly in the shadows.  I’m sure they see this as a way to protest while not offending Trump.  I see it as them being “Complicit Through Silence.”

So, let’s stop pretending that the Republican Party and Trump are separate things.

If you vote for a Republican, what does this say about your beliefs…should you believe everything Trump says?

  1. You believe that the President of the United States has the ability to change the Constitution on his own.
  2. You believe that 5,000 malnourished women and children represent an invasion that justifies sending more than 1 soldier per refugee to the border to fight them off.
  3. You believe it is okay to grab women by the pussy.
  4. You believe that North Korea’s leader is a good guy.
  5. You believe that Congress is passing a tax cut for the middle class while they are home on vacation.
  6. You believe that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt.
  7. You believe that non-whites represent a threat to our country.
  8. You believe that Muslims are terrorists.
  9. You don’t believe that white people commit terrorist acts in our country.
  10. You don’t believe that minorities should vote if they are going to vote against you.
  11. You believe that corporations are people and should be able to influence elections with vast amounts of money.
  12. You believe that Trump weighs 235 pounds.
  13. You believe that saying, “We will protect pre-existing conditions” is more important than voting to “Eliminate pre-existing conditions.”
  14. You believe that NATO is a bad financial investment.
  15. You believe Putin is a good guy.
  16. You believe that a trillion dollar deficit incurred to give money to the very, very rich is sound economic policy.
  17. You think tariffs are a good idea.
  18. You think Climate Change is a Hoax.
  19. You think vaccines cause autism.
  20. You think Asbestos is not harmful.
  21. You think the Free Press is the enemy of the people.
  22. You think Mitch McConnell was right to delay hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nomination for nearly a year but was also right to rush Kavanaugh’s appointment for no apparent reason.
  23. You think Obama was stupid to say he would meet with North Korean leadership without pre-conditions and you thought Trump was heroic to do the exact same thing.
  24. You think we should have a balanced budget amendment and you think the budget-busting tax scam/plan was a good move.
  25. You think a rumor about Hillary running a pedophile ring out of a Pizza Hut was true but an expose about Trump’s lifelong tax fraud is “just political smoke.”
  26. You believe in lowering taxes and yet you want a military that can conquer the entire world all by itself.
  27. You are a conservative which means that you want to go back to the mythical days of an all-white, all-Christian country where the man runs the family and the woman stays home and keeps house.
  28. You respond to Dog Whistles like: (1) We are the party of family values, (2) We are the party of fiscal responsibility, (3) We are the party that believes in the Constitution, (4) We need to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out, (5) We need to keep people from coming to our country from non-Christian countries.
  29. You respond to fear rather than reason.
  30. You listen for what you want to hear; choosing to believe that rather than investigate what may actually be true.

Now…these are just my observations.  I haven’t talked to every Republican out there and I’m actually quite certain that the above represents the minority of them.  However, there are enough people that fit the above descriptions to make a difference.

If the above characteristics don’t fit an American that you want…then vote!

Up, up and away…


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