Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Prediction: "A Perfect Storm"

This title is in reference to a popular movie awhile back about a ship wreck where all the conditions were "just right" for a disaster. Today in our required "Safety Meeting" from our Parent Company Weyerhaeuser called "Lessons Learned Too Late" referred to this "Perfect Storm" concept many times. It showed six accidents involving fatalities where conditions and lack of following "proper safety procedures" were evident. It was pretty sobering. They were all "out in the field" or at construction sites. One was in Mexico and in Espanol. They all involved company employees, some who didn't or couldn't help out in time to save the victim.

We were then led in a lively and serious discussion of: What highly hazardous situations do we work around in our areas and sites? What 2 or 3 activities that we do could cause serious injury? What can we do as individuals, as team members, as a site, to reduce the risks of injury and accidents? What 2 or 3 key things are we going to do to implement to reduce risk? What will the action plan be and how will we track completion? What is stopping us from intervening when one of our co-workers is putting themselves at risk?

We had mostly representatives from the sales offices there and the typical hazards were mentioned. It got more heated and passionate when going out on the worksites were mentioned. One of the issues with the most concern was: finding "subs working on Sundays in the models and homes without the proper safety equipment and procedures". Many do not speak English and don't seem to understand when they are told to be "mas cuidado" and "alto!"
Their only concerns seem to be..."catch up...we are behind the schedule" I saw this at Pulte worksites also. In some cases these "subs" were trying to get and stay ahead of the schedule for next week. Short-cuts could be taken in such circumstances, things/procedures forgotten and then you might "predict: a perfect storm" senario...

When our buyers come in and request hard hats to visit their homesites mainly on "visiting day" Sunday precautions are not always followed or observed by them. Proper footware is rarely worn. Many are going out unaccompanied or without even checking into the sales office.

Many suggestions were offered and written down. My suggestion was to "stage" or "role play" a "mock disaster or situation" so we would know what to do and what is expected of us as employees who care about each other. "R.A.D.A.R." Was emphasized and was our quiz question when the video was over. It stands for: "Recognized the potential hazardous situation developing" "Assess the situation ie. what have you got to hinder or help" "Develop a plan to handle it" "Act to stop it immediately" "Record the outcome".

I think I'll go back to my office and remove those boxes of big envelopes above my desk area. I was on the phone last week when the latest earthquake hit. I didn't think to dive under my desk but was heading out the door. It was over before I got there, but I passed under those boxes. The injuries wouldn't be all that serious but you never know...Bob

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Flick and Mrs. Potts

Had a really fun birthday at Disneyland. Tried to stay for the "Electrical Parade" but we got too tired. One of the highlights of this visit was an interactive tour through "Animation Land(?)" in the "Hollywood Section" of the California Side. Among other interesting offerings was a "sit-down" quiz from a "talking book" who then figured out what Disney cartoon characters we were most like. The book took your picture too. If you didn't like it you could do it again. I liked mine, Betty didn't.

After several "revealing questions" it determined that I was most like the character "Flick" from the movie "Bug Story"(?) or "Land" He is the lonely, somewhat reluctant, clutsy, "hero" in the story where the ants, he's a purple ant, organize and defeat the "Hoppers". I've got to say, even though it is rather flattering, it is kind of true. I'm often reluctant to take the lead but, lately, I've been called upon. So far I'm feeling up to it too. We'll see. I like suceeding against "great odds". I liked the "cute little girl ant" he had to help him; can't remember her name though. I definitely have been and still am more of a "worker" than a "partier" like the "hoppers". I like to stay busy at the office. It helps the time fly. I also like to be quick with decisions as the name suggests. On my days off, I usually have to have something to do, errands etc. or I go nuts. I've always believed in the "work ethic". I think I got this mainly from my dad. I once got a job for summer vacation on my 2nd year college break with "Tidewater Oil" processing credit card p.o.'s, on his recommendation. I got the job because the boss had worked with my dad at another company and had someone who then, later told me..."If he works anything like his dad, he'll do just fine in our company." What he didn't know at the time was that I was planning to finish my college degree at L.A. State in the fall in Psych. I wanted to counsel or teach.

Mrs. Potts is the cute little "take charge" "Tea Pot" from "Beauty and the Beast". Her voice, I think, was Angela Lansbury's. She was so "organized" and "logical/practical" and "motherly" to all of her dishes etc. This is, for sure, Betty, my wife and the mother-grandmother of our boys and their children. She, in many ways, is the "reason" we are still "afloat" and so orgainized. I think this characterization "bugs" her burst into song: "I'm a little tea pot, short and stout..." with all the motions. She has that very, down-to-earth common sense and a practicality that I've never had. Maybe that's why we are still a "great couple". I rely on her for so many things. In fact, her new "nickname" in our new-career mode is "Our Staff" She can and often does "multi-task" like...pays the bills, decorates the home, cleans it, cooks the gourmet meals, gardens/landscapes, shops, advises on what to wear and not wear, socializes for us at Sun Lakes, keeps up with our appointments, schedules vacations and outings and insists on driving us everywhere we go together. It is easier on her "nerves" she says. She does all that and keeps up with all of our grandchildren and extended family responsibilities. She runs "Camp Gramma" and "Gramma's Tea Room". She has a great "business sense" and I go to her first for advice. You can see why I still love her very much. She is such a super-wonderful person and still very beautiful...outside and from within. A "fine China" Tea Pot. She still my one and only. Bob

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Route 66

"Get your kicks on Route 66!" As of tomorrow, this will be my motto. Yep, I'm turning on to 66...years that is. Classic! This could be the best year yet. I know the famous highway across the country was, at one time, the best. Now it is a bit dated but it has a certain identifiable style...that's my goal too.

All these years, since Claremont, I've lived so close to this famous route. Foothill Blvd. going through Claremont is it. Then I think it switches to Baseline one of the prime meridians in measuring for real estate plotting. It is on the test. Out here, in Beaumont/Banning, it is probably I-10 as it proceeds east across the state and country. I've traveled it many times by car and train. Now periodically they have "nostalgic" shopping centers etc. with that "art deco" look claiming to be "on route 66". There is one in Upland. It think it goes through Albuquerque too. It probably then turns north. It is known for its many sights/ tourist traps probably. ie. meteorite craters, crashed cars, diners etc...nothing new.

Ah, but here is where we part company. I'm continually looking for the new, the different, the exciting and challenging. I may have to head out on my own new departure ie. "Route 66 Alternate". That is my aim as stated in this series of blogs. New territory. Leave the old habits/habitats behind. What an adventure I've had so far.

There's a new ride at Disneyland I plan to go on tomorrow for the third time "Soaring Over California" It is exhilerating. I'm sure I'll see route 66 there too; from the "air" (simulated) Betty and I will again be our own best companions. No one else can get off on a Monday and this is one of the last days we get in free on our pass before the fall. We'll go early via the diamond lane and toll road. We'll probably still hit that early Monday morning work traffic.

It has been a great "ride" so far getting to 66. I've actually never felt better most of the time. I'm not greatly medicated either. My secret: Keep moving! Drive carefully and defensively. Don't drive on the freeways more than once a week if you can help it. Be pleasant. Smile and wave alot. "Let your face be happy!" to quote a very well known expert. Watch out for "drive bys" Be ready to duck. Listen to books and music CD's as you current one..."Differentiate or Die!" I just finished "1776". I'll probably do a blog on it nearer to the 4th. Learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to consult "mapquest" or a friend's advice. Bob

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Skorpa and Ghee

I have a new favorite snack. It is so good it is probably "sinful". Actually it is a new combination of some old treats that Betty showed me. Put altogether they are quite tasty. I highly recommend them.

Skorpa is the Swedish version of biscotti ie. "twice baked" whole wheat crusts that are quite crisp and crunchy. I was introduced to them in my youth by my mother. She showed me how to dunk them in the coffee she gave me. They were hard to find until Ikea imported them with and without cardamom. Betty and I would stock up and buy a dozen bags at a time, especially the ones with the extra spice. I'm sure it is "good for what ails you". The supermarkets now have the plain ones...not quite as good but imported.

Brett, awhile back, showed us how to make ghee, yes, Indian Ghee. It is really clarified butter. Betty makes 8 or 9 small jars at a time from cooking down about as many cubes of unsweetened butter. She waits for a sale. She probably does it every other month. It solidifies to a nice consistancy and is very spreadable. We use it on bread, veggies, just about everything. It is especially good on skorpas...late at night...or early in the morning. It is probably better for you than regular butter or margarine etc. It tastes great too.

Now the latest, inventive addition is the powdered cardamon on the plain ones. She puts it right on the skorpa before spreading the ghee...just an eighth teaspoon or less. She then sprinkles on a little sugar or you could use honey on top of the ghee..."Deeelicious!" as Soren recently said.

As you can see/taste this is a combination of cultures as well as textures and tastes. It brings together our shared heritage and India's ayurvedic tastes. I wouldn't eat more than one at a sitting and I certainly wouldn't try to dunk it in any coffee or milk. Try it! You'll like it! Bob

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Make an effort Dad!"

This quote is from Soren my youngest grandchild. He just turned two and is very verbal and perceptive. We get almost daily update from his dad on the "cute" things he says. Dad has to spend alot of his time away from home, selling spas on the road and at fairs etc. He talks to Soren nightly on the phone. I guess they were talking about his coming home soon and this title quote came out. I wonder where he heard that expression first. He is a sponge.

Dad is making an effort everyday to support his family. He has one of the hardest jobs ie. "cold selling" on the spot with little or no advertising or "farming". He has always had that "gift of gab" and he has done quite well...but it is a fickle customer and market. He can't depend on "be-backs" like I do. So...he probably has a higher "cancellation rate". This can be depressing. I'm hoping and praying that he will continue to do a good job and/or find a more reliable and secure way of "making an effort". He surely has our continued support and blessing.

Soren is used to having some chocolate squirts in his milk. I guess they were out of squirts and he had asked to no avail. "I'm freaking mom, I'm freaking!" Now I wonder where he got this expression? This is quite a step for a young child ie. to realize he's going to "lose it" and say so up front. I wonder what other feelings he is pre-cognitive about? I'm sure he is read to alot and probably sees alot of tv. I don't think he is just copying phrases he's heard...but I suppose this is kind of the way we all learn language, connecting it to the situation and emotion involved.

What a responsibility we all have when raising and teaching our young. I don't think we truly realize it at the time. I know I didn't. I was too tired or too busy or too into my own agendas. Somehow they seem to grow up and "get on" with or without or in spite of our best efforts or lack thereof. It just reinforces the importance of those earlier years before the dominant influences of "peers" school and other social/societal pressures seem to take over. Then it is almost too late to be the main influence in their development emotionally and mentally. Here again...hindsight...20/20. Bob

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Railroad Willie

Can you believe that a simple pocket watch is preserving my life? To my way of thinking it is. You see, I got this pocket watch from my wife even though she didn't even know I've always wanted one. It was a "pre-birthday gift". I saw it in the watch shop on the corner on "Mainstreet U.S.A. Disneyland". It reminded me of my dad.

My Pops was a "railroad man". He worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. He was a "time-keeper" in his last job. He kept the pay records for all the men who worked on the various trains and yards. ie. The Sunset Limited The Zephyr etc. We, as a family, took many a vacation "back east" to see relatives and sights on the old pullman cars. Dad and I slept in the upper berth. Mom and sis slept in the lower. There were heavy curtains all up and down the aisles. During the day we had a "compartment". We could play games ie. cards, eat snacks we had brought or picked up at the last station or talk and get to know many of the fellow passengers and conductors. What a wonderful education it was.

When I went off to college by was the same thing. I had a box of fried chicken that would last the trip just about...three days, two nights. I'd get off the train to get fruit and milk etc. and was always afraid I would be left behind. I became "great friends" with many "conductors of color". We'd sit for hours and talk about all kinds of things. I'd eat in the diners only once a day, usually for breakfast. What a treat. By then I'd gotten used to the sounds and rhythms of the trains. It would rock you to sleep at night. I saw alot of the country during the day.

Now the special thing about this pocket watch is that it makes those same sounds. Whenever it is exposed to light, even in my pocket, it whistles, chugs, and clickety-clacks for several seconds. It then reminds me of my dad, my youth, my adventures and some great conversations. It tells the time, of course, but it doesn't chime the hour. It is battery powered so it doesn't need winding. Of course it has Mickey Mouse on it and he looks alot like "Steamboat Willie" only in a locomotive. On the front it has all the names of the Disneylands ie. Anaheim, Paris, Orlando and Tokyo. I've only been to the one in Anaheim. I doubt if I'll get to the others ever.

I was remembering today that the first movie my dad took me to, alone, was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" the Disney classic. That was when it first came out. It was in downtown L.A. at night, dark and it was kind of scary. I had never been in a big, dark theater before. I loved the music and coming out of the theater, could sing all the melodies. I remember we were early and we saw some "trailers" and they were really scary. I cried in Pinochio. Yes, we were rather sheltered and naive back then. How the world/we all have changed in such a short time. And yet, there's a part of me that has stayed the same...dark places are still kind of scary and give me a creepy feeling. Many of my values have stayed the same. That, child-like, wonder is still through the eyes of my grandchildren. And I still want to seek out the light, illuminated places and shun the dark. Thanks Pops. Bob

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Betty and I just saw this very thought provoking movie. Going in, we had no idea what it was about. We were attracted to the stars ie. Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock. There were several big name actors in smaller roles. However, it was one of those riveting movies with a series of seemingly unrelated events, some tragic, that somehow all came together in the end in a very "Karmic" way.

It was very realistic in dialogue and action and you could really identify with many of the situations. Some were disgusting and revolting...others were exasperating and shameful. It showed the roots of true prejudice ie. miscommunication. The very end was tied into the beginning scenes and brought a sense of completion. I would explain more of it but I don't want to ruin it for anyone who might read this (?) and then go and see it.

Don Cheadle was at his best. You felt for him and his predicament. He epitomized the frustrating roles that many minorities are still having to deal with. Matt Dillon was also a "real person" that you could commeasurate with. He was both "good and evil". Sandra Bullock's role was small but so true to life. It made us think about how sheltered, yet isolated, a life we lead. The sub-culture representatives ie. the Persians and the Hispanics showed their true frustration with not being able to communicate their wishes and values and what tragedies can then occur. It made me glad that we have "seat-belt cutters" and "pepper spray" in our cars.

We live in a gated/guarded community and yet there are times that we have been a bit edgy about where we were. I think I told how we missed our turn coming home from Larry and Peri's party, we were so tired, and wound up in the dark, industrial part of San Bernardino looking for a way to get back on the 215. This wasn't the first time the car computer told us which way to go. We got lost coming home from Disneyland and wandered around in Anaheim for awhile before we thought to use it. My recent flat tire was fortunately discovered in our garage in the A.M. before work. I pick up nails at the construction sites I have to drive weekly. I have AAA and they were there in 45 mins. It turns out the tires I had on the 4-Runner/SUV were too small. I'm now riding higher and with more comfort and security. "King of the Road!"

I guess it is inevitable that people are going to "crash" into each other in many ways due to our increasing proximity in these cities. Like "rats in a maze" we get more and more frustrated with our plights. Yesteday morning I overheard a conversation at my gym locker room. The I-10 had recently been shut down for more than 12 hours because of a car-jacking, chase and stand-off. It was out beyond Cabazon. There is no alternative route. This guy was trapped there for the duration at night. He said people were getting "stir-crazy" and needing to leave their cars to use the facilities. Cars were abandoned for hours. This would be a nightmare for Betty and me. This is why we don't like to be out too late at night anywhere. Bob

Monday, June 20, 2005

Our New, Super Ark

We have recently gotten a new personal care kit. All our old ones were dead or dying. With all the earthquakes recently, four in the last week in California, we thought we'd best get something again. This one is good, it says, until Jan. 2010. It is so small: less than a foot long, 3/4 of a ft. wide and 3" high. It is sealed right now and will remain so until we use it...if ever.

It has food: 9 pre-measured servings which can last 1 person 3 days, food bars packed with vitamins and minerals. It is U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard approved. It has a 5 yr. shelf life and can withstand temperatures from 40 to -300 degrees. Where does it ever get that cold?

It has Water: Fresh, great-tasting water in packets, 6 of them with 4.225 oz. in each. These will withstand temps. from -40F to 210F. So, I guess they can't be boiled in the packet.

It has a Blanket: It is flexible, space-age material that retains up to 90% of the body's heat in cold and reflects heat for cooling in hot climates. That's us. It opens to 52" x 82.5". Goodbye hypothermia.

It has a Light Stick: It provides long-lasting illumination and is non flammable. That's what I've been striving for all along...a permanent lightning bug.

It has a Hand Warmenr: It is self heating for continuous warmth and easy to use.

It has a First Aid Kit: There are enough moist towelettes, bandages, sterile gauze pads with alcohol preps to cover 5 small wounds. There are 4 aspirin tablets and some anti-bacterial ointment.

It has Candle and Matches: Just one 4" candle and 50 waterproof safety matches.

Why they named it "The Ark" is beginning to dawn on me. There is a logo of a boat simular to the kind we think "Noah" would've used. And yet the packaging isn't waterproof. The concept has survived from Biblical times I guess. All life on earth was saved "two-by-two" except the Unicorn. They just wouldn't get on the Ark. My guess...their ancestors adapted to the sea and eventually became Narwahls. Don't you think? beloved? Bob

Sunday, June 19, 2005


When you cross the stateline and travel into Arizona you get the convenience of "milestones" or markers along the highway, that tell you how far into the state you've traveled. Sometimes the bottom number will tell you how far, in miles, it is to the next big city ie. Phoenix. Then when you return you can count down the miles as you exit the state. I don't think California has that. "Arizona Highways" used to be the title of a beautiful photo magazine of a state with a rich variety of landscapes. We had a collection of them.

As you go through life you can't help being reminded of certain "milestones" also. Betty and I had a wonderful time at parties celebrating several of these for our loved ones. Stone just turned five and had a scary "Halloween Birthday Party". We had to come late (I was not feeling well) so we missed much of the spooky fun. I did get to spend some happy times with him and his cousin Sophia. We did puzzles. He is getting so "grown up" with quite a great personality. He loves jokes. Five is an important "milestone" for Stone starting school and becoming more of an individual in his interests and play. I'm so proud of him.

Trevor, our third son, also had two more "milestones". He turned 36 on the 17th and had his 6th Father's Day today. It is hard to believe he is already that old. He is such a great dad and is involved in all the "camp-outs". I'm proud of him too. He is also quite a cook and so we got him a Waring-Pro Waffler that swivels. Shireen said he was the "waffle-man". What a great example he sets for his kids. He gave me an early birthday card and gift. He, true to my request, offered an "experiential gift" He wants to take a day off and come out to do the "casinos", dinner or take in a movie. I assured him I'd love to show him my new favorite game "World Tour Hold'em Poker".

Then we went to Larry and Peri's fabulous home and helped give Shane a surprise birthday party. This was number "30", a very important "milestone". I can't even remember my thirtieth. What a group of friends and relative had gathered. There was a gourmet dinner around the pool with exotic treats of all kinds; some I couldn't even identify. I had several helpings of the nan cooked there is a tandori oven. I watched Shane and Miriam dance. I saw Shelby watching videos with the other children. What a nice family. Larry and Peri are proud of him I'm sure.

Clark, Brett and Brooks called today to wish me a Happy Father's Day "milestone". Clark was early from Del Mar where he is selling spas. He was missing his little son who had stayed with him but had to go home so he could get some sleep. What a great dad he has become. Brett and Betsy called me at my office. I had to work. He is such a wonderful son, always has been. I'd love to see him more often. I told him and Betsy about this Blog. Thought they might enjoy it.
Brooks called on his way out to work at the "Beach House". He was sorry to miss me and said he'd call back tomorrow. I'll be looking forward to his call and news about how his illustrations are coming for this Blog. This will be my 39th Father's Day...duh...Clark is 39 years old. Wow! They sure have gone by fast. I barely remember my 60th birthday. Betty threw me a bash at our old home. It was wonderful.

I can't help but wonder how many more "milestones" I'll see on my journey. When will those markers start counting down on my trip across the "state of my life"? Where is/was halfway? (I've driven across Arizona on the way to New Mexico to visit my sister and didn't notice when or if they changed at all) Maybe it's better if I don't notice. Enjoy the journey, the scenery, the sites/sights. Otherwise..."milestones" might become "millstones". Bob

Friday, June 17, 2005

R.I.P. Dorothy Chase

My wife cut out the article about the passing of Dorothy Chase. She and her husband founded the Folk Music Center and the Folk Festival in Claremont, CA. What a lot of pleasant memories I have of her and that institution. It was there almost ten years before we arrived in the town. Her husband, Charles loved to play and repair instruments of all kinds. In fact he had quite a collection of all kinds of instruments from all over the world. It became a museum and he gave tours to classrooms. I took mine there. He also had a very liberal policy about the guitars etc. hanging on the walls. Take them off and play them before you buy, try them, bring them back. I bought a guitar, a banjo and a baritone uke there that way. He also was a "peace activist" all through the 60's as was she. He had a "Poet's Post" out in front of his store where locals could "publish" post or exchange poems. I used it.

She ran classes through the City Recreation Dept. for beginning and advanced guitar and banjo for years. She held them on the first floor and on the patio of the old Memorial Park building. I took several classes. She was so patient with everyone. She had a dry sense of humor and a twinkle in her eye. She worked in the store during the week and I got to know her by recognition, not name. I bought many a music book, sheet music or novelty instrument there. Lately I have shopped there for my grandchildren. I taught recorder/flute and bought many there, plus the music for beginners there. My latest transaction was the repair and refurbishing of my baritone uke by a son or her son-in-law.

I taught her grandson, Ben Harper, at El Roble. He was a good English student and very creative writer. Now he's known in the recording industry for his song writing and performance on his "doe-brough"(?) I remember when he played in small groups and by himself at the local Claremont restaurants.

I guess it is more nostalgia than sadness I'm feeling. It was a slower, more innocent time all during the 60's and 70's. We had "hoot-nannies" and sing alongs with them and with my students. My son Brooks did pick up the banjo and still plays I think. Now, I'm moved away but I'm on their emailing list and I have gotten notices of this year's Festival. I'd go if it wasn't such a trip. One of the last recordings I bought there was a number of local groups who got together and recorded in the Old School House at Oak Glen. I wouldn't be surprised if the "Squeakin' Wheels" , one of our favorite groups, didn't have some connections with the Folk Music Center and the Chases.

Dorothy must have seen alot in her 85 years. She was born in Newton, Mass. Married Charles at 18, had four daughters and started the store in 1957. She taught thousands of people to play folk instruments, even the dulcimer. She had an interesting life with Charles. He once had the city/neighbors after him for displaying his giant, natural sculptures on his front lawn. There are still some on the back of his shed/store where the instrument repair goes on. The next generation of Chases are carrying on the business and hopefully, promoting the love of folk music that was so dear to Dorothy. Bob

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Tomorrow I plan to attend the 1st Annual Lavender Festival. It is located just north of my home and workplace at the Highland Springs Resort in Beaumont. It seems to naturally fall between the Cherry Festival in Cherrry Valley and Beaumont and the Apple Festival at Oak Glen in the Fall. I feel it is part of my job to be an "expert" on living in, I can hardly remember the last time I had "aromatherapy"; especially with lavender.

When I think of lavender it conjures up images of little old ladies and bluish-purple hair. It reminds me of the old folksong: "Lavender Blue...dilly dilly..." Fortunately, don't have much of a "smell memory" and I'm sure I wouldn't recognize the perfume or odor of lavender. There are probably bars of soap with that smell. No wonder.

"123 Farm invites you to experience the allure and benefits of the captivating herb lavender. Our certified farm is the perfect place to enjoy a weekend by playing games, eating gourmet cuisine and detoxifying yourself through aromatheapy." There are sessions of yoga and message with lavender. There are educational tours where you learn about essential oils and hydrosols. All that and croquet, horseshoes and mini golf. Then you can dine on lavender infused beef brisket, salad lavender vinaigrette and honey-lavender chicken breast. For dessert: lavender brownies, tea cookies, lavender honey custard ice cream with lavender green tea and lavender milk.

I never knew this place was there. The last time I went up to the end of Highland Springs was for a quarterly conference sponsored by Pulte, my old builder. I was late and had to "sing" a song...their idea of a punishment. I love to sing and came forth with an old barbershop nugget, "My Wild Irish Rose". It actually was starting to snow and we moved inside to a clubhouse. I had to leave early but I understand there was quite a karaoke bar later with everyone quite "oiled" up. I don't remember smelling any lavender then. I wonder if its fragrance increases or reduces memory?
I wonder if my wife would like to go along. It is going on from the 17th to the 19th. We get busy on the weekends. Better check it out on Friday. More to tell people who want to buy in Beaumont.

I feel so at home here in folks told me that they lived in Beaumont back in early '39 just before I was born. You never know, maybe I was conceived near this very spot. My dad was working for the Southern Pacific Railroad on a signal gang. He was offered a promotion to come into L.A. and work as a "time keeper" for the railroad. They moved from Beaumont to East L.A. Just think what my life would've been if I had been born in Beaumont and grown up here...probably not all that different. We used to bring our boys out to pick apples, pears, cherries and berries in this area. Betty and I kept coming out and would freeze the berries we picked to have for many months to come.

I just don't remember any lavender in all my trips. Maybe my sense of smell isn't as perceptive as my sense of hearing. Certain smells do conjure up vivid memories. That'll be another reason to go. I'll do it on my "lunch hour". It should be very relaxing. Bob

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blog and Chat Room Safety

Warning: "Your clever little blog could get you fired". This is a headline in the USA! It is kind of scary. This guy launched a blog to chronicle his life, his friends and his job at a division of Wells Fargo. He began taking jabs at a few people he worked with...his bosses found out and fired him. Delta Air Lines, Google and other major companies are firing and disciplining employees for what they say about their work on their blogs which are personal sites that often contain a mix of frank commentary, freewheeling opinions and journaling. Some companies like IBM are putting out guidelines designed to prevent problems ie. on-line publishing of trade secrets.

Blogs are proliferating as fast as computer viruses. About 20,000 are created daily with an estimate of over 10 million by the end of 2005 just in the U.S. They link up and create what is called, "blogosphere" one of the fastest growing parts of the web. Over 1/4th of those who use the web read blogs regularly. They had quite an effect on the last national election.

I have been very careful to keep mine positive and helpful with its theme of "Self-Preservation". I've talked about what a wonderful company I work for and what a great new boss I have. I really don't know any company "trade" secrets to reveal. I will continue to tread carefully and responsibly... so stay tuned.

On the contrary, I have never entered a "Chat Room". I've heard too many bad things about them and I'm not lonely. I wouldn't put out my personal information such as phone # or address or email address. I wouldn't want to meet anyone in person who I first talked to only in a chat room. Suggestive nicknames aren't for me, unless it is my name, "Bob!" as a verb. If I ever did want to go into a chat room I would thoroughly research it first at: There Kathy Collins says:

"If you do meet someone; verify their location and job. Be patient: If someone's going to tell you a lie, in time they forget the lie." Meet in a public place. Be careful of a "false sense of security" in online socializing. Don't have a false idea of being protected or anonymous. Be more selective in what you disclose or reveal about yourself to avoid "identity theft".

A safe-guard on this blogspot site is in place in the the comment choice. In order to comment on my blog or have a discussion about it online, one has to register, like I did on the dashboard of the original site: Comments are fine but, actually, I'm really not doing this journaling for comments. As I stated in my first blog..."What's in a name?" Self-Preservation for me is the discipline of drafting these blogs almost daily. It is challenging to me. If my family, friends or acquaintences happen to read/like/dislike or react to what I've put out there, fine! "It's all good!" they say nowdays. Bob

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


This is a new word and title of a recent best seller that caught my eye by Dr. Mardy Grothe. He explains that the word "oxymoron" is from the ancient Greek word, "oxus" meaning "sharp and pointed" and "moros" meaning "dull, stupid or foolish". So the word itself is what it has labeled: "a sharp dullness" "a pointed foolishness". ..contradictory ideas put together. "ica" just means "more exotic" or paradoxical "beyond opinion".

He goes on to give scores of examples from the very familiar ie. "jumbo scrimp" to some very obscure ones ie "To lead the people, walk behind them." by Lao-Tzu, more than 2500 years ago.

A few that I have made up in reference to this blog: "Frivolous Soul-Searching", "Humble Hubris", "The Zeitgeist of ageless wisdom", "Planned Serendipity"and, "Researched epiphanies". I remembered that just a few days ago by wife had commented in passing that she prefered "frivolity to soul-searching" lately. I'm drawn to both, maybe in some strange combination. I'm noticing myself observing and mentally commenting more on "life's little incongruities" and non-sequitors. They crop up all the time and I guess I've always been too busy before now to really notice them. They may be frivolous to some but not to me.

"I'm deeply superficial." is attributed to the actress Ava Gardner. "Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself." George Santayana "If you wish to live, you must first attend your own funeral." Katherine Mansfield "Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness." Chuan-Tzu "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's own ignorance." Confucius "I want to die young at a ripe old age." Ashley Montagu "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." Woody Allen "Modesty is my best quality" Jack Benny "We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities" Walt Kelly, from "Pogo" "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." Moliere

I could go on...this is just the first couple of chapters. You notice these are more sayings rather than statements but they have the same paradoxical effect. Soren Kierkegaard once said, " The paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity." "Truth is alway paradoxical" Henry David Thoreau I so love a good puzzle, especially when it stays unsolved for awhile. I can go over and over all kinds of senarios in my mind and say..."How if..." as my second Brett used to say. I have liked to think that I am pro-active in my problem-solving, not reactive. Sometimes it is pretty difficult to search out "my truth" when the consequences might be unacceptable or harmful or denigrating to others. Slip-ups happen in the heat of the ego-involved moment.

One school year's end, with the report cards, I gave every student a pistachio nut. I told them that "life's sometimes like a nut, hard to crack, but delicious inside." I'm still believing that. Bob

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Songs in the Key of Love

This was the title of the last concert this season for the Mountainside Master Chorale. It was held at Garrison Auditorium in the Claremont Colleges last night and this afternoon. I went last night. It was wonderful for me, as usual. I got to see and hear my old choir and buddies who I sang with for six years. I miss them. I miss the music and the performance challenge. Bruce Rogers is, by far, the best director I ever sang under. He struck a chord again last night.

The highlight for him, I believe was when he led the Chorale in "Jenny Rebecca". It shows the love for a child. He recalled that he hadn't had his choirs sing this song for 16 years. It was then that his new, beautiful daughter was "...four days old" as the song goes. He dedicated it to her and winked at her when he took his bow.

The theme of "Love Songs" was carried through time with some early, more classical numbers, all the way to several more modern jazz pieces. Pro Mojica, the pianist/accompaniest had some riffs on which to brilliantly solo. He got several rounds of aplause and some standing "O's", as did the chorale at the end. Several pieces were done acapella and the balance, enunciation, blend and harmony were exquisite.

My favorites were: "Lebenslust" (Joy of Living) by Franz Schubert. It showed the Love of Life. It was light and lilting with a distinct Germany signature. It was sung in German. Translated:
"For life to be happy, you can't be alone, If you should be lonely, the fault is your own.
If you will but trust in the love of a friend, In joy you will find that your sadness will end!"

Love in American Folklore was shown by "Nelly Bly" by Stephen Foster. The tune is very familiar to me, a fun song. Love of the Lord was shown by "Precious Lord" a spiritual by Thomas Dorsey. Rich and layered. There were six "show tunes" we were challenged to guess which musical they were from. I got two. My favorites: "All I ask of you" by Lloyd Weber from Phantom of the Opera. "With a song in my heart" by Rogers and Hart from Kismet (?) I think. It was done acapella. "Just in Time" and "Time after Time" were also perfect. The jazz numbers I liked had an electric bass and drums with Pro's wonderful accompaniment. "When I fall in Love" and "Someone to watch over me" were the best for me. The finale was the gospel "Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher" They really rocked out on that.

Quotes from the program notes: "Nothing on earth is so well suited to make the sad merry, the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing, to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music." Martin Luther Robert Schumann, great composer: "It is music's lofty mission to shed light on the depths of the human heart." This is what my love of music, choral music, continues to do for me. I bless and thank my mother who started that love in me with her music and appreciation for church music. I can still hear her sitting down to her piano and playing her favorite hymns and singing them by herself. I'm certain, to this day, it was her way of worshiping. It is mine alone also. Bob

Friday, June 10, 2005 be continued...

One of the main things I like about writing this blog is that it gives me something to look forward to everyday. I find myself being more observant, more contemplative and more introspective about what is going on in my life. It is becoming a form of inner discipline and perspective, connecting my current interests and endeavors with my memories of what I've done or haven't done. I am constantly searching for new themes to develop and connect to my past interests and values and then to see if they have changed or are in the process of evolving. It isn't just a mental exercise to keep my mind alert and those dendrites growing...through my corpus collasum(?). I'm trying to make more sense out of my life now and where I've been and what I've done. I'm trying to find better reasons to "stay tuned" and continue to do my best at whatever I am involved in. ie. "irrate customers", "family concerns", "personal issues" all needing defusing or a more constructive or caring approach. I am reexamining my motives, results and hidden intensions more readily and hopefully, more effectively and successfully for everyone I'm involved with.

I greet each day with an attitude of renewal and hope on how I can do a better job and not just muddle through. I end each day with the eagerness involved in trying to define it, explain it and write it down...justify it, I guess, to myself. I guess I've always done a form of this but never so formally in writing for others to read. (maybe)

I'm reminded of a story I saw a few years back on TV. I don't know the title or screenwriter but it made a lasting impression on me. A young boy is always very quiet in class (elementary) and always either day-dreaming or scribbling down notes that he won't share with anyone. He doesn't get involved at recess with friends or play. He goes quickly home after school everyday, almost running to his home. He lives with his grandfather who is bed-ridden and dying. He goes right into him and stays by his bedside, talking to him and telling him his on-going story he's creating. The old man literally lights up in his presents and hangs on his every word. He's a "new man" and they have loads of fun. The main event is a "made up story" with "chapters" that the boy has been working on almost all day. The key ingredient: he never says "the end" it keeps on going with "cliff-hangars" and exciting prospects. The boy knows that his beloved grandfather won't want to pass away in the night because he wants to hear what is going to happen tomorrow in the next chapter. The old man truly lives to see his grandson and hear what he has to say each day and thus be involved in his exciting life.

John Reynolds Gardiner, a retired engineer, has written two, short, children's chapter books. One is a tragedy called "Stone Fox" the other is a comedy called "Top Secret". What they both have in common is a "loving grandfather" with a very different perspective about life. I've read them to classrooms. Yes, I've even shed a tear or two as I shared the tragedy. I've chuckled too with them about the comedy. The kids wouldn't let me put it down somedays. "Read the next chapter!" Pleeese!" That's what it's all about with me, even now. Bob

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Home Safe Home

I have the privelege of working for a very safety conscious company. We have monthly e-safety lessons with quizzes. Every meeting starts with a safety reminder. I have become much more safety minded. Safety means good judgement...never trusting luck...taking the time to eliminate unsafe conditions...being prepared to cope with unexpected situations. Safety means consideration...for the family that depends on you. Safety means remembering safety rules at work and home. Here are the highlights from a home safety checklist:

1. Are emergency phone #'s posted by your home phone?
2. Is your home address posted there too?
3. Are your house numbers visible from the street?
4. Has your family practiced an emergency escape plan?
5. Do escape windows open easily?
6. Do you all know how to operate the fire extinguisher?
7. Is your disaster survival kit well stocked and easily accessible?

Throughout the House:
1. Is that emergency kit conveniently located?
2. Is at least one family member trained in CPR and first aid?
3. Are cleaners, poisons and chemicals properly labeled and stored?
4. Are all stairways equipped with handrails?
5. Are stairs and hallways free of clutter?
6. Are electrical cords the right type and in good condition?
7. Have you avoided running extension cords under capets/rugs, across thresholds?
8. Are your smoke/CO2 detectors all working and in the bedrooms, halls, kitchen?
9. Are your circuit breakers properly labeled and easily accessible?
10.Does your fireplace have a proper screen or glass door?
11. Is your chimney cleaned annually?

1. Are small appliances unplugged when not in use?
2. Are electrical outlets near the sink GFCI?
3. Is the range fan filter and hood clean?
4. Are pot handles turned away from the edge when cooking?
5. Do you have a Class B fire extinguisher in the kitchen?

1. Are electrical appliances kept a safe distance from the sink and bathtub?
2. Are hair dryers and curling irons kept unplugged when not in use?
3. Are the plugs GFCI protected?
4. Are all prescription drugs out of the reach of children?
5. Have all outdated prescriptions been discarded?

1. Is the clothes dryer properly vented?
2. Is the lint screen clean?
3. Is the water heater temp. set at 130 degrees or less?
4. Is the funace or heater serviced regularly?
5. Are paint and fuel stored properly away from heat and flame?
6. Is there a self-closing, solid-core door between the garage and the house?

1. Are fetilizers and pesticides stored in marked, sealed containers out of the reach of kids?
2. Do you have/wear safety glasses when using power tools?
3. Do you have protective gloves ie. rubber and thicker for certain tasks?
4. Are combustible and waste materials kept well away from the building structure?

If you answered "No" to any of these, as I did, it might be time to take action. Bob

Memory Foam

Eureka! Yes, I have found the solution to my memory problems of late. A pillow that will improve my memory. It is called "Novaform Elite" and is synonymous with comfort and value. It is also helpful for sufferers of back and neck pain, snoring, insomnia and stress. No wonder it helps my memory. I'm getting a better quality of REM sleep. I bought it at Costco. It is shaped like a number 8 that has been grabbed and stretched. It is of a higher density than my normal pillows that I have to continually bunch up and scruntch. My tired and sore muscles are rejuvenated these last few mornings. On top of that, it is hypo-allergenic, ultra fresh and has an anti-microbial finish which guards against bacterial odors, mold, mildew and algae. Now if I could just remember where I put my "trust-inducing nasal spray", my "politically-correct underarm deodorant" and my "anti-obsessive/compulsive hemmoroidal salve" I'd be in pretty good shape.

All seriousness asside, it is amazing to me the kinds of products they are coming out with lately. I do now sleep at a 45 degree angle with a pillow that remembers its shape and I have reduced my snoring , G.E.R.D. and therefore, am probably having better sleep ie. which can't hurt my mind and memory. I just heard on the news the other day about a nose spray that studies have proven help people become more trusting. We need some of that here in sales when our buyers don't believe all our wondrous claims about Carina, Beaumont and Pardee. I made up the other two cure-alls. It won't be long though before we'll have some other miracle products making even more ridiculous claims I'm sure.

This is probably the reason why I don't really enjoy staying over night in a "foreign" or hotel bed. Our mattress, my wife tells me, has this same layer of memory foam on top of it. So, with the down comforters and light-weight blankets, I am pretty spoiled. I probably spend more than a third of my life now in this luxurious embrace of orpheus. No doubt this is one of the reasons I'm so rested and full of vim and vigor during my days. I'm sure it also has affected my lack of aging. I seem to be getting younger and healthier each day. Of course, I swim and walk for almost an hour and I have cut down on my food intake especially in the evening...none after 8PM. I have noticed that all the new "food pyramids" or "graphic representations" put veggies, grains and fruit with a higher percent of daily intake. Meat, fats and oils are down in the teens in percent. Meat is also linked with beans as a source of protein. Duh...back in a "former life" when I lived in a cave, I couldn't get meat everyday. However, my lovely cavemate was great at gathering seeds, roots, berries etc. No wonder we lived so long. I think I remember her name even...Wilma. Bob

Monday, June 06, 2005

Pay It Forward!

In reexamining my basic, core beliefs lately, I find this suggests one of the main ones. "Do Unto Others..." Taking the initiative in "being kind" yes, having "the milk of human kindness" for me has proven to have some very positive and worthwhile results. I have seen it time and again happen just the opposite too. "What goes around, comes around." I've mentioned it before here. It is sort of the opposite of "No good deed goes unpunished" which alot of people also believe. Are these just a bunch of truisms? Are they practical and prove-able?

There was a group on "Good Morning America" this last week called the "Kindness Crew". They were giving everyone in the station massages, foot rubs and hugs. They had a book too, "It's Cool to be Kind" They said it developed after 9/11 as a response. "Random acts of kindness" was another one that came along. I remember a favorite movie of mine, a few years back, which had the same title, "Pay it forward". It was an experiment of a school kid in response to some pretty devastating family problems. The premise was that when someone, anyone, does something nice for you, your reaction should not only be to return that kindness to them, not necessarily in kind, but to randomly go out of your way to do two or three kind acts for "total strangers". It showed how it all eventually came back to you, many fold. And, of course, you can assume the opposite could come true too. Your bad deeds come back to haunt you also.
I can see where just hugging strangers, especially those who really don't want to be hugged by you, ("a prevert") might be interpreted badly.

I've have fun standing in a Starbucks line and paying for the person behind me that I don't even know. At our local Starbucks I'm known as "Waldo" (as in "Where's Waldo") and it starts my day off in a friendly way. Or, I'll have small change for someone who needs it. I've seen the effects of this pre-emptive kindness in my current career. Escrows go much easier when you go out of your "way" to help buyers (potential buyers) early in the process, even before the "check, and reservation" comes in. I may not see it in a "be-back" with them, but it will usually come around with other customers. Assuming the best outcome, even with small problems and issues in escrow and help tremendously later on. Catching a potential problem as it is developing, when it is just a "pinch" can prevent it from becoming a "punch" or worse later on. They also get to send in a survey/evaluation of you/your services about a month after they are in their home. We have to set goals for that 90% level.

I saw all this time and again in my classrooms and with my fellow teachers. Sometimes, we, as a staff, would get together on a break and get the word out...a certain kid is having a rough day/week/life/family. Every time we saw him/her or had dealings with him, smile and be very proactively positive. It many cases it would turn the kid around emotionally at least. Classroom discipline is best handled this way also. Reminders and warning can be positive with lots of intermediate, small goals and rewards.

Where the challenge remains is with my immediate family. I'm much more ego-involved and despertly wanting the best for them. Of course, I expect to be thanked or recognized for my help, kindness and concern. So much is assumed and unspoken. My natural way is very "nordic" remote and unphysical. I got it from my parents I think, and they from theirs. I've never been that demonstrative or openly huggy or loving person, even with my "dramatic friends". Now I can see it coming back to me. It can be very hurtful. I know it is not done on purpose but it happens. I can only hope that my help can be "paid forward" to their kids and love ones and friends. I guess that's the way it has to go. I'm trying to change too. Bob

Sunday, June 05, 2005

So. Cal. Survival Guide

I live in the 10th most dangerous state in the nation according to Andy Meisler writing in the L.A. Times Magazine section today. The article caught my eye since it falls in line with my theme here ie. safety and life preservation. He points out that we have shysters, muggers, gangsters, ragers and incompetent Range Rover repairpersons. True, we are not cursed, like other states in the Union, with road salt, hurricanes, locusts, snow emergency routes, overcrowded subway trains, crooked aldermen, golf course alligators, chain gangs and humidity. He has a sense of humor as you might surmise.

If someone steals your wireless carrier and ask them to "suspend not cancel" your account. Otherwise you will lose your number. Do it as quick as possible too.
Identity...don't ignore it when your wallet or social security card or number are missing and you notice strange charges or debits on your accounts, or if your checks or credit card purchases are mysteriously refused. The steps are too numerous and complicated, go directly to or call the ITRC at (858)693-7935. The Calif. Dept. of Consumer Affairs will also walk you through the odious process at

If you are attacked by"Don't use pepper spray, says Uncle Matty, too hard to hit it in the eyes. Stand your ground, make a loud noise, preferably with a shrill whistle, turn left or right to present a thinner profile. Place an object ie. umbrella, backpack etc. in its way or, last resort, drop to fetal position and cover your face. Most dogs bite once and leave." Mountain Lion...same as above or the Dept. of Fish and Game has a great pamphlet or go to their website: Carjacker...Notice when you are being followed. When you are stopped at a signal try to leave enough space around your car for a quick escape. Don't trust your windows or doorlocks to stop a bullet or even a fist. Give up the car, bail out the unblocked side and run. Kidnapper...Don't go anywhere with him, there's a good chance you'll end up dead. Fight, yell, scream if you are being pulled into a car or van. Run and chance being shot or chased. Mugger...stay away from dark, abandoned alleyways. Give them whatever they want and run to a lighted area. Blogger...If someone has too much time on their hands and calls you something awful on his website, it's as libelous and actionable as if they called you that in a magazine. Ken Layne, editor of a news blog advises you set up your own blog devoted to you many sterling qualities...just like I'm doing.

If you come down with...Food poisoning... usually not from food but allergies or the flu. Most food poisonings don't produce nasea, vomiting, diarrhea or cramps for 12 to 24 hrs. after spoiled food was eaten. Call the doctor after two days and he may prescribe antibiotics or IV fluids. Road Rage... our natural response is to feel angry. Assume the only thing you can control is yourself. Tell yourself the other guy is disabled, crazy so you have to act to save yourself by getting away from the situation.

If you are trapped in...A Railroad Crossing...if your car is stalled and you can't get it going, exit the car immediately and run parrellel to the tracks toward the on-coming train so the debris misses you. If your car can start or go and is between the safety arms, crash through them. A Crossfire...head for cover as near as possible... Or concealment. If none, fall flat and stay absolutely still. An Earthquake...before the earthquake put in your browser and print out the handbook. During the "Big One" duck and cover under a table or desk. Stay away from things that can fall on you. Forget the old saw of standing in a doorway. A flashflood...evacuate immediately. Get out of areas subject to flooding ie. dips, low spots, canyons washes, with extra caution at night. Don't try to cross flowing streams. Use one car so you don't get separated. Vehicles can be swept away in as little as two feet of swift running water. Six inches of torrent can knock a person off their feet. An Elavator...stay in the elevator and push the alarm button and stay calm.

If you witness a...murder or assault...don't approach the suspect but keep to yourself in a safe place. Notice everything about them and the scene and which way they went. Write it down if possible. If they drop something, don't pick it up. Call 911. Home invasion to the nearest police station and call your loved ones to warn them. If at home and you hear someone, leave by another door or find the room with the sturdiest door and bring your cell phone.

  • There are many other suggestions; some very funny. Usually these are no laughing matter. Bob

Saturday, June 04, 2005

No-Limit, Texas Hold 'Em

Yes, I've got to admit it, this is a tempting poker game. I haven't played it yet on-line or in an official poker room at a casino, but I sure am fixin' to soon. It has so many elements in the game that are fun, combining skill and luck.

I played a version last week at Agua Caliente Casino that they have out with the blackjack tables. It is called "World Tour Hold 'Em Poker". It has most of the challenges except bluffing and you only play against the dealer. The ante is as low as $3.00. You get the same two hole cards, as does the dealer. For him to qualify and play against you, his hole cards must add up to 13 or higher for a 5 X's the ante bet or 17 for a 10 X's the ante bet. There are also bonuses if your two hold cards are suited or a pair. Then it is just up to the shared "flop, turn and river" cards that all player and the dealer use to make up a hand of the best 5 cards. I was winning for awhile and then I quit when I was breaking even. That is the key ie. knowing when to "walk away".

I was playing with some guys who were so quick at figuring out what to do and the winning potential odds that they were telling the dealers what to do. Some people are just quicker at all this and more verbal since they don't have to bluff or play other players. I just enjoy all the new jargon and comraderie. Two red aces, the best you can get are called "American Airlines" or "Pocket Rockets". Ace - King is the "Big Slick" if it is suited. K-K are "cowboys", Q-Q are "ladies", J-J are "fishhooks", A-J is "Ajax"(the foaming cleanser), K-J is "Kojak", 8-8 are "snowmen", 7-7 are "hockey-sticks", 4-4 are "sailboats", 3-3 are "crabs, or treys", 2-2 are "ducks or deuces". They are considered a unit to be played or discarded depending on the "flop" (the first 3 community cards". Alot depends on your position in the rotation of play. There is a "button" that is passed around clockwise that denotes the "honorary dealer". The next two positions after the button are the "small blind" and the "big blind" These players have to bet or ante in a pre-set amount without knowing what is coming or what they have...thus "blind". This makes the pot worth something even if everyone folds. The best position is the last player in rotation before the button again. He has the advantage of seeing all the other player's raises and/or folds and their "tells" or clues (body language) that they might be excited or bummed about their hole cards.

Clear as mud, right? When you have the worst hand ie. 7-2, you want to put as little as possible into the pot, unless you are bluffing (acting, not lying) If you have strong hole cards you want to get your opponents to increase the pot. Bet in a way that will scare your opponents out of a hand or sucker them in. Look for patterns or quirks in their play and try to be unpredictable yourself. Brooks, my son, tells me he is good at this game and usually wins with his buddies. I can believe it.

You can play on-line for as little as one cent a bet or $1000. It certainly can become addictive. Tournament entry can be from winning on-line or at an Indian Casino to buying in for $10,000. in Vegas. What I like about all of this is how much like life it really can be, the parallels etc. To be a winner you have to be willing to go "all in". That's the "no-limit" part, even if you don't have much of a stack. It promotes risk taking and creative thinking, virtuosity and thinking out of the box. These are all skills that can make you feel like you are really living and getting alot out of life. Of course, it helps if you are playing on the "house's money". That is what I try to do. As soon as have won back what I started with, I put it in my pocket and play on my winnings. I wouldn't be doing any of this if I didn't feel like I had some "discretionary money" we call it "play money" 'cause those different colored chips are just like that, red = $5., green = $25., black = $100. I love to collect those black ones. I go over and show them to Betty, who is doing a marathon on her favorite "penny slot machine" Pompeii. She and her sister, Patti, have such fun for hours playing side-by-side on the penny slots. They have seen some big winners there too.

We are having fun in our quasi-retirement gambling away our children's inheritance ;-) Bob

Friday, June 03, 2005

Mr. Sun-Clouds

I've got a new pair of "shades". This is the first pair that has my distance prescription. I had to get them because I didn't pass the DMV's eye test without my distance glasses. I've been wearing my "Maui Jims" over my bi-focals. It drives Betty crazy. The new pair are custom made in that they don't make "Sun-Clouds" anymore but the oculist(?) who now works for a vendor connected with my optomitrist, Dr. Goldstein, used to work for Sun-clouds and has the old formula. What's so special about sun-clouds? They are rose tinted and reflective. Yes, I prefer seeing the world now through "rose-colored glasses". That's not surprising is it?

Actually these are so extreme that they can make June gloom look rather sunny. They also sharpen the images. I read in the newspaper today that a certain baseball player uses an rose-amber lens in one eye, blue in the other to get a sharper image on the in-coming pitch. I don't know about distance acuity with them. I do know the navy uses red-running lights on its battleships at night because the usual blue-green can be spotted better from a distance by the enemy. My guess is that the shorter rays of the spectrum, red, violet, rose do not scatter as much as blue, green etc. That's the reason the sky is blue? I'm not much of a scientist.

So, I'm feeling like Mr. "Joe Cool" again. The warm rays have a way of keeping me cool and non-reactive to potentially heated confrontations, especially on the road. They help me chill. Kind of an interesting reversal. I've heard of "seeing red" referring to being really mad. Then of course there are the matadors capes of red for the bulls. I think that is more the flairing movement though. I think the "women in red" or "lady in red" or the "red shoes" are all referring to her attractiveness and easiness. And, of course, there is the connection to blood red and a sanguine temperment. Then you have the beautiful "Sangre de Cristo" mountains in New Mexico. Red sails in the sunset. Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning." Enough of this free association.

My point here is that my distance vision is still very important to me. It is almost as important as the shades and tones of sound and harmony. Yes, to me the two are connected. I do hear colors and they give me definite feelings. Music is more a performance medium and more immediate. Bathing the room or landscape in color and a rose tint is more long-lasting but it also can set the mood with me. Close harmony, as in barbershop harmony can produce intense warm/cool feelings by the richness of the tones and overtones. I'm sure they are all related or connected in some way. Some of my more blissful moments have to do with sound and color. How about you? Bob

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Teammates Sweet 17

Yesterday we had a sales meeting and were introduced to 17 qualities of a team player. Our boss said they were from a book by John Maxwell with his interpretations. To work for the corporate world now-a-days, one must be perceived as a "team player". However, these attributes are a good idea for any endeavor.

1. Adaptable: personal ridgidity won't cut it. You've got to become teachable, emotionally secure, creative and service minded as you adapt to new challenges.
2. Collaborative: working together precedes winning together. Mates work together agreeably. They add synergy to the team. They are supportive of team members not competitive. They concentrate on the team, not themselves. They multiply victories.
3. Committed: there are no half-hearted champions, it is a character quality and usually discovered in the midst of adversity. It is unconnected to talent unless you connect it. It is something you believe in and more likely to keep.
4. Communicative: A team is many voices with a single heart. Mates don't isolate themselves from others. Make it easy to keep in touch. Follow the 24 hr. rule. Not let the sunset...
Attend to more difficult relationships. Important communication should be written.
5. Competent: Committed to excellence and never settle for average. Pay attention to detail and perform with consistency.
6. Dependable: Teams go to Go-To Players. Motive should be pure, with responsibly sound thinking and consistent contribution.
7. Disciplined: Where there's a will, there's a win. It is doing what you don't want to do so you can do what you really want to do. Discipline can cover thinking, emotions and actions.
8. Enlarging: Adding value to teammates is invaluable. Put others before self. They value what teammates value. Make themselves more valuable through their actions.
9. Enthusiastic: This comes from your heart. Play all in, or...fake it. Take responsibility for your own enthusiasm. Don't wait for the feelings of enthusiasm to kick in, act your way into the feeling. Believe in what you do. Spend time with other enthusiastic people.
10. Intentional: Make every action count. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Prioritize your responsibilities. Commit to long-term achievement.
11. Mission Conscious: Get the "Big Picture". Know where the team is going. Let the leader of the team lead. Place team accomplishment above personal. Do whatever necessary to achieve the mission.
12. Prepared: You can claim to be surprised once, after that, you're unprepared. Become a process thinker. Do continual research. Learn from your mistakes and let others learn from theirs.
13. Relational: If you get along, others will go along. You can't make other team member feel important if you secretly think they are nobodys. Respect and have share experience. Trust and have reciprocity and mutual enjoyment.
14. Self-Improving: Value it above self-promotion. There is nothing noble in being superior to someone else; become superior to your previous self. Prepare, contemplate and apply.
15. Selfless: There is no "I" in teamwork, (no we either) Be generous. Posturing and positioning for your own benefit will poison the team. Display loyalty. Value interdependence over independence.
16. Solution-Orientated: Don't find fault, find a remedy. "The majority see the obstacles, the few see the objectives: history records the successes of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the former." Alfred Motapert Problems are a matter of perspective. ALL problems are solvable. Problems either stop us or stretch us.
17. Tenacious: Never, never, never quit. Give all that you have, not more than you have. Work with determination, don't wait for destiny. Quit when the job is done, not when you are tired. Bob