I’m probably wrong but…

This just in:  I have an opinion about the Middle East and our military involvement there.  Having said that, I admit my understanding of a very complex situation is exceptionally limited.  Smitty, my editor, knows a lot more that me and disagrees with my opinion on this issue.

But….here is what I think anyway.

Once upon a time, we needed the Middle East because they supplied us and the rest of the world with oil.  A small hiccup there would send economies crashing around the world.

We helped to overthrow regimes to put in our puppets.  We established military bases and flexed our muscles.  The unspoken word to those in the area was “We are here and we are strong…so don’t fuck with us.”

Yes, there are other issues aside from oil.  NATO likes our bases close to them.  Israel wants a big brother to hide behind etc.

But it really was about the oil.

Now we are energy independent.  We get very little oil from the Middle East.

And yet…we are still there.

It’s as if our politicians forgot why we were there in the first place and at this point, are afraid to ask “Why?”  So we stay.  We stay and send kids from lower to middle class families over there to fight for something that no one can define.

We let our soldiers board first on airplanes but when they come home, they are not heroes.   There is no parade for them as a banner is unfolded saying, “We killed some guys in the desert who were shooting at us from the back of a 1973 Toyota pickup.”

I’m sure Smitty is cringing as he reads this

So, when Trump says, “We are leaving Syria” why am I not happy?

Let’s go back to what this blog started with: I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Obama said he would get us out of the Middle East and yet…we stayed.

Did he learn something that changed his mind?

Trump makes this grand announcement and I think “Finally!”


Congress knew nothing about this plan.

The Pentagon knew nothing about this plan.

Puting loves this plan.

Erdogan (Turkey dictator) loves this plan.

ISIS loves this plan.

All of this together makes me think, “What the fuck is going on?”

I think Trump is getting his ideas/orders from places we’d rather he didn’t.

On a completely unrelated note…

Trump has just announced that he plans on lifting some Russian sanctions.


Now for a quick gratitude list.

  1. Free online language courses
  2. Thai food
  3. 2-day delivery with Amazon Prime
  4. Christmas Music
  5. New tires
  6. Espresso with a shot of caramel
  7. Pandora online music
  8. Bundling up before walking the dogs on a cold morning

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…


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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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