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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Bet you can't guess what this pretty thing is.

Any idea? Actually, it is a macular hole, beautiful in this view but a real pain in the eye... my eye.
"A macular hole is a small break in the macula, located in the center of the eye's light sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. A macular hole can cause blurred and distorted central vision.'" says the National Eye Institute.

Hey, it happens, thankfully not often, and usually the older you are, the greater the possibility. Okay, so my teen-age years were a little while ago. (Hint: if the computer form needs to know year of birth, you have time to get a cup of coffee before the scroll down actually reaches my birth date.)

A few months back I noticed that reading, especially in marginal light, was getting a little difficult... hardly noticeable, but over time, tiring and perplexing. Then, while reading an eye chart, I could 'ace' the first letters and last letters in the line, but the middle was impossible.

So I was"IT!"

My macular hole wasn't even noticeable in bright outdoor light but a person NEEDS to read, right? 

Side note:My daughter actually transcribed the written word to braille as a volunteer for a library for the blind. She gave me a braille copy of Playboy once that was, to say the least, for its reader content only. 

The good news is that it can be surgically fixed. My highly qualified Duke eye doctor made a very small incision into the covering of my retina and inserteds a small gas bubble that, in a few weeks (time varies per proceedure) lays against the hole and gently forces the outer break back into position.

And yes, there is a 'catch.' During the time the gas bubble is 'doing it's stuff,' the patient (me) has to maintain a 'face-down' position for the most part of waking and sleeping with a few breaks to stay sane and salve neck muscles. Yep, t is as difficult as it sounds. But the gas bubble, which exerts pressure against the retina, rises, requiring the patient (me again) to make sure the retina is above the bubble for about a week.

For example, this is me, enjoying a thermos of coffee through a straw while watching televsion in a device that rests the neck but allows for a small 'designed for the job' mirror to project forward. See how comfortable it seems to be? And when walking, you tend to notice your feet rather well but havve no iea what is happening aroung you. I am composing this blog post with my computer screen on my lap and the keyboard across my stomach so cut me some slack if you notice any kneomacklei, okay?

Long walks on the beach, which is what every lover's want ad says is what he/she enjoys, takes on a new tone when he/she asks, "why are you walking in the water"" or "Why did you step in that dog poop." Now that's a test of true love.

The upside: I also recceivied, in the same proceedure, a cataract replacement lense because the gas used causes any existing cataract to grow abnormaly fast, so double bonus!

The downside: There is none if you need the surgery, but until the bubble clears, your target eye has about the same vision as looking at the world through a glass of water and your neck hurts and the eye drops seem endless. Sleeping face-down is easy for me bcause I do that ok. No sleeping on your back though. Odds of success are highly favorable so 'fingers crossed!'

Hope this is never your need, but thank God for good doctors and advancs in medicine that are astounding... and in anesthesia too! That "biting a bullet" thing never sounded great to me.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. May your New year be rich with quality of life and love for your fellow persons.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

It's NOT free speech to yell "FIRE! in a crowded theater if there is no fire.


Way back in 1919, the U. S. Supreme Court with Chief Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes presiding, ruled unanimously that the First Amendment, though it protects freedom of expression, does not protect dangerous speech.

But judging from the dark, defaming, and divisive nature of the political ads that ran during our last election... and the one before that... and the one before that, etc., IT WAS is dangerous time for the us. We seemed to villainize the opponent to vote against rather than to elect the person we think the best, or as a coach might say in a basketball/football press conference after the game, "It may not have been pretty but a win is a win."

Voting "against" someone rather than "for" another has become an accepted practice. Why? Because, statistics show--shame on us--it works. As voters, we are dupes. We have accepted democracy and privilege as something we really don't have to work too hard to keep, because it is "our heritage." OK, but for how long?

"I am   (insert candidate name hereand I approve this message."
Have you noticed that every political ad by a candidate has this message read or said at the end of the ad? In 2002 when Republicans and Democrats could still compete with respect, a bill was passed to "Stand By Your Ad" as part of the bi-partisan Campaign Reform Act. The thought was that no respectable candidate would want to be seen as demonizing his/her opponent, and by endorsing their own ad, gave notice that the candidate actually wanted to say what the ad stated.

Well, the assumption a candidate would be ashamed to be so bashing of another respected opponent was wrong. In politics today, many candidates have proven they have no shame. And thus, Congressional job approval by the people has dropped precipitously from 84% in 2002 to  a ridiculous 20% in 2018. (That's true. Look it up.)

Congress  has lost the credibility of the American people. And that is where we stand today. And if we, as a People, continue to "take the bait," we deserve no more than what we have elected.

Typically, if more than half of us vote in any election, that makes headlines. That means, our future is decided for all of us by the half that vote. And it's even less than that if you figure that only 26 percent of those who vote constitute a voting majority... and in Presidential elections with the Electoral College system, it could be even less than that as it is not always the popular vote that wins.

Just think... our future in the hands of just 25 percent of our population. Sounds pretty unfair, no matter which loosing side you are on. What kind of a legacy are we leaving our children, our future?

Is that the democratic way we are so proud of?  Sadly, it seems to be. It's no wonder we are so divided and angry at one another. In a 1955 movie, The Night of the Hunter, actor Robert Mitchum played a vengeful man. He had his hands tattooed "LOVE/HATE"

This is us today.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Money, Money, Money... always sunny... in the rich man's world.

This is Jeff Bezos, world's richest man, worth just spare change short of $100 billion, all self made.

He IS Amazon, Zapos, Audibooks, etc. and also The Washington Post newspaper among other incredible things now and to come.

Amazon, which he started in 1996, is valued at about $1 trillion (that's $999 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 999 hundred and 99 cents... plus a penny) and  employs 600,000 people. He's pretty big... and impressive too.

Just recently Amazon expanded its Seattle headquarters to New York City's Bronx, Arlington Virginia and Nashville after hosting a one year bidding frenzy among 238 cities in the U.S, Canada and Mexico that want in on the action. Yeah, they picked three locations instead of one... more incentives and more opportunities opened for the giant, I suppose.

Cities went crazy trying to lure the still growing giant, offering everything from free zoo tickets (true) to billions of dollars in incentives and other crazy things to lure the giant plum.

"CHOOSE ME! CHOOSE ME!" they all cried.

In  the end, Amazon's winning choices brought $5 billion in tax incentives from the "winners" with a few more bucks down the line in various other ways. All this is to be generated in lieu of taxing the giant... and shorting the revenue expectations of the municipalities who need money to fund education, repair subway systems and roads or other trivial things municipalities need to keep life flowing, especially now that each of the three new headquarters will house up to 25,000 employees.

Money talks. When you have money people, cities, government want to throw more money your way, whether you need it or not.  For the rich and very rich, it's the game.

What this will mean for the people in those "winning" locations is not yet known, but for sure, growth will be a challenge to their way of life, cost of living and convenience. Best answer: We'll see.

The theory, of course is that Amazon will bring more jobs, more people and more revenue, which it will. But how will that play out for the common folk as lifestyles will be dramatically changed.

So the question: Why chase Amazon with dollars when Amazon needs them more than they need Amazon? It's an upside-down look at how the moneyed work the system as we fall into line.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with being rich per se. It is amazing that the tech world has so dynamically changed our world and a great many of the top one-percent have earned their way to the top. But giving the richest of the rich "the farm" just doesn't seem like the way it should work. I suppose though, you can't catch a big one if you don't use bait.

Remember, It IS Nuts out there.

Now for fun, hum along with one of ABBA's best songs, the one that gave this post it's name:

Agnatha, Benny,Anni-Frid, Bjorn

Money, Money, Money
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ball
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
Aha aha
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world
It's a rich man's world
A man like that is hard to find but I can't get him off my mind
Ain't it sad
And if he happens to be free I bet he wouldn't fancy me
That's too bad
So I must leave, I'll have to go
To Las Vegas or Monaco
And win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same
Money, money,

Friday, October 26, 2018

This is a repeat of my post in March, 2011. There is NOTHING MORE VITAL that I have ever published than this. HINT: the kicker is in the last story of this blog and if you don't care about that, then there will be nothing else left to care about for tomorrow.

Things that amaze me most: Part VIII

As I told you before, there are a number of things/events/emotions that absolutely blow-my-mind because they are so introspectively amazing and give me a deeper sense of awe. So I made a list of the things that amaze me most... some big, some small, some acts, some things... but all, in my mind, amazing.  So far:

Part III: THE YOUNG: Babies, toddlers and teens
Part IV:  LAUGHTER: A peek into the soul
Part V:   NATURE: Her splendor and fury


Big, small, short, tall-- from a single cell embryo to Troy Jackson... who just died at 38. Troy was a basketball player... a 'classic' big man who could handle the ball--and look at how he could handle it. He was 6'10" tall and weighed as much as 500 lbs... or Shaq O'Neil who wears a size 23 shoe.

 Or... the World's Tallest man - Bao Xishun (7ft 7") or... the World's smallest adult, He Pingping (2ft 4").  How the heck did that all happen?

Funny thing is, we all started (with few exceptions-- in vitro fertilization, donor sperm or egg, Mary, mother of God, etc.) the same way. And if you don't know what that way is, then you'd better finally have that talk with mom and dad.

In any case, this is what the initial courtship  looks like... and yes, it is worth a few seconds to watch it.

Aww...The new baby. He/she has mom's eyes... and grandpa's sloping forehead, and cousin Ernie's long, tapered, pool-playing fingers... er, no fingers yet... but just you wait.

It is absolutely mind-blowing INCREDIBLE! From a single cell to... you and me, with all of our complexities, foibles and personalities. And the reason Baby Blue... or Pink, will look like us is that he/she has our genetic imprint... the heredity coding that says if your second toe is longer than your big toe, so will your baby's be... and if that big nose comes from grandpa's side of the family, baby's will look Italian too. The hair, the intelligence, the health, both good and bad, will all come from mom and dad and beyond.

As if that isn't enough, just imagine what we have learned to help us through life... all the technical, medical, psychological and social advances (and detractions) that build from generation to generation. Heck, our great-grandparents could have easily died in childbirth, or from appendicitis, or a bad tooth-ache, as many did! We even watched television in black and white, for God's sake. And we have, for better or worse, adapted to it all. 

Whether we are born here of there, of this race or that, big or small, male or female, we have a commonality to our heirs and one another:

If you are an Adam and Eve fan, then hello brother, hello sister.
If you go more for evolution, then shake hands with me, you big ape.
If you feel there is a place for both, I'm your man, just like him, her, it.

OK... are you ready for the moral of this story? We are all linked and dependent on one another... we just all haven't come to the point of accepting that as a human race. We still hate, show envy and prejudice. We still ignore the human rights and needs of others. We still kill and mistreat. The Golden Rule has nothing on us.

We can do better. We have to, because every moment of every day, there are more of us than ever before--5 times more people now than in 1900-- and we are all living in the same house as we always have... the one we call earth.

One last thought about that "house:" A mom tells of the conversation she had with her daughter... and the simple wisdom of a child that we often forget as we age.

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling.  I chuckled and asked, “Why?”

She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.”
I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”
 “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff.”

(Thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life website.)

Friday, October 19, 2018


Did you win the $1 billion lottery yet? Or maybe the consolation $500 million lottery and are feeling cheated because it was only $500 million? Well, congratulations anyhow. $500 million is still enough to keep going until the money runs out.

Were you one of those who stood in line for over 3 hours at some locations just to buy a ticket or two? Hope it was worth it.

Odds are 1 in 300 million (or about one of the people in the United States) to win. Great odds... and somebody has to win, right? Wrong actually, because no one has won this lottery since last summer... that's how it got so lucrative... and so impossible.

Odds of winning both of these jackpots is 1 in 88 quadrillion (population of earth 293333333 times, but good luck.

Actually, here's my point. If you stood in line for up to 3 hours or more for the opportunity to buy one or more tickets at $2 a pop, would you stand in line for 3 hours to vote this November? Probably most in the lottery line would not, but that's just my guess. Less than half of us vote in almost any election and this is one of the most important.

However, where there is the will, there is a statistical possibility it could be you. Here's my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carey and Dave Daniels on how hope and a positive attitude actually keep you in play. Odds, schmads, you can do it.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Where is Jiminy Cricket, our one time national conscience, when we need him most: A dedication to every woman, man or child who has ever been abused in any way.

Crikey!, it's Jiminy Cricket.

This is an interesting story. Jiminy, which is his real-fake first name, sould become a symbol, with a more personal message so appropriate today.

Jiminy first appeared in Carlo Colodi's 1883 children's book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, from which Walt Disney's Pinocchio was born in 1940, and he co-starred with "you know who." He is Pinocchio's friend and conscience, as appointed by The Blue Fairy after she has given Geppetto's puppet life. Jiminy narrates the story, sings,some songs, mentors and guides, clicks his heels and most importantly, whistles. He is admirable. He could/should be President.

Pinocchio lying.
And when Pinocchio lied, his nose grew longer and longer so everyone knew he was lying. I've noticed a a lot of long noses lately.

Jiminy's name came from an old, polite euphemism for Jesus Christ, spoken earlier in film by of the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. So '"Jiminy Cricket!," can't we all be better than that?

And you can't convince me Australia's Crikey! wasn't just another derivation of the same expression.

But mostly, Jiminy became an 'everybody conscience' as World War II was at our doorstep and the morality of Pinocchio was what we watched as right prevailed over wrong in a satisfying, tearful way.

Here are the memorable songs in the movie (if you're old enough to remember):
  1.  When you Wish Upon a Star
  2. Jiminy Cricket Theme
  3. The Blue Fairy Theme
  4. Give A Little Whistle
  5. Pinocchio Goes To School
  6. Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)
  7. I've Got No Strings
  8. Coach To Pleasure Island
  9. The Whale Chase
  10. Turn On The Old Music Box
All the songs are listenable if you Google Pinocchio songs and they are fun, but I took Give A Little Whistle to heart:

When you get in trouble
And you don't know right from wrong
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle

When you meet temptation
And the urge is very strong
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle

Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow
And if you're whistle is weak, yell


Jiminy Cricket!

(Jiminy Cricket)


Take the strait and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle
And always let your conscience be your guide

Take the strait and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle (yoo-hoo)
Give a little whistle (yoo-HOO!)
And always let your conscience be your guide
We need you Blue Fairy


And always let your conscience be your guide!

Jiminy Cricket, can't we be better than we are? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

AN ELEVATOR TO GOD (ok, to space because we don't actually know where heaven is located) IN OUR LIFETIME! (Not yours though baby boomers)

Blogger note: This original post was published almost 5 years ago... but amazingly, it is now a doable thing to cheaply deliver people, supplies to the International Space Station AND BEYOND! Read this post because it is accurate and good... but then read the addenda at the end which adds a few more truly amazing facts, though some information on Elon Musk has changed to date.

SciFi author Arthur C. Clakre wrote about it in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise and it WAS science fiction then... but not any more. There are scientists who think it can be done--and it could be a reality in this century, possibly as early as 2050.

Now that's pretty impressive!

Spoiler alert: much of the technical language is not understood by mere mortals. It is included to impress you so you think I do.)

"It's a phenomenal enabling technology that would open up our Solar System to humankind," says Peter Swan, President of the International Space Elevator Consortium. "I think the first ones will be robotic, and then 10-15 years after that, we'll have six to eight elevators that are safe enough to carry people."

The concept is simple. First, you would need a landing station that, let's say, would be the equivalent of floor 12,000,003 (avoiding the 13th floor, of course). That landing station, maybe called God's Little Acre, would be a satellite or space-debris platform in geosynchronous orbit with the earth--a floating anchor, so to speak--and there are lots of possibilities out there.

Earth station would best be about 600 miles west of the Galapagos Islands because of the rarity of hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons in that area, say those smarter than me.

Then you need a very strong cable--which doesn't yet exist--running between the two. There are now several concepts that would produce a cable with sufficient strength. One is a diamond-like nanothread material. Another is a cable made of carbon nanotubes with a tensile strength of 63 gigapascal--about 13 times stronger than the toughest steel. And that cable would need to be about 60,000 miles long. (Remember, up AND back with a counterweight and/or maglev technology similarly as used on high-speed trains.)

Oh, and we'd have to dig up an extra $100 BILLION or so.

Now here's the kicker... IT IS POSSIBLE, say many involved with the knowledge and desire to do it. But how does one go from concept to reality?

The reason we would do this? It would be incredibly less costly to send stuff to space... and from this platform, the universe would open to us as never before. 

Elon Musk, one of the most fascinating people of today, has offered his say. He is the genius behind SpaceX which develops and launches space vehicles, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. He is also the founder of SpaceX and a co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors. He has also envisioned a conceptual high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop.

With Hyperloop, Musk envisions 'shooting' people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a metal tube in just 35 minutes. How's that for a starter? But regarding the space elevator, he says it would be easier to "have a bridge from LA to Tokyo." So what does he know?

Interestingly, as bizarre as this seems, remember that the Wright brothers' first flight was in 1903. Who then would have visualized humans would land on the moon just 66 years later--less than a lifetime!

As Groucho Marx said, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Special updated info... this is not only doable but in the planning stage!

Lead from the Wall Street Journal, Sept., 2018

"Gradually you accelerate upward, reaching a cruising speed of several hundred miles per hour. Your elevator car moves up a cable 100 million times as long as it is wide--connected on one end to a platform in the ocean (Ed. comment--See, I told you so) and, on the other end, to a counterweight, a heavy mass orbiting high above the planet--kept taut by centrifugal forces. It takes about two weeks to reach the top of the cabl, some 60,000 miles above the Earth's surface. But the trip is serene, with none of the G-force of a rocket ride."

The elevators would be able to carry people and supplies to space without the need for a space shuttle and the special skills required of its occupants to fly it... and at much less cost! But really, can we do it?

Yep, it is technically possible... and as we do more, we learn more and have the advantage of all the discoveries to follow by the target year, 2050. A Japanese firm is already working on it and says do-ability by 2035 is target.

Well, then all we need is that little bit of competition to do it first. A NASA-backd company won the battle to try.

In a word, WOW! 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

All The News That's Fit to Print: Eulogy for a dying media

The NYTimes and one of its special inserts

It was Benjamin Harris of Boston who, in 1690, published Public Occurrences, the first newspaper in America. While it lasted just one issue, it was the beginning of the most informative media ever.

This is a look at that media in all its glory, the irony being that as it gets better, it still dies in the hearts and minds of today's world, replaced by the internet, that snot-nosed little kid, Social Media and its siblings.

Newspaper readership today is just half the number that read in the mid 1970s. And of those newspapers, less than half are today published daily.

Newspapers, however, still have a unique place. They are overwhelmingly honest and sincere in coverage of all the news, no matter how they are tarred by the President.  They are honest, albiet with an editorial voice that expresses a specific view point at times. There is no made-up news, quite unlike social media where users are allowed to say anything without check.

All newspapers have suffered the loss of readers and advertisers by glitzier competition that does have its place, but nothing covers more local and national news as newspapers,  Today's people just have more options to choose from and more things to do than read a newspaper. That's life.

However, to salute the power to be important, there are few that do it as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and others like them, most in major markets where there is the population and are advertisers that help make them go.

Where I live, my very fine local paper is published only twice a week. It covers important local news really well. But I still fork out $6.41 every Sunday for The NY Times. It remains a full-day read of 5 or 6 sections, feature stories as well as news, plus a  highly regarded book review magazine and The NYTimes magazine with a crossword that could last far longer. No comics though.

It has many special sections like the impressive one shown here, Sunday In the Park, a 16-pager pulled together by 10 photographers and reporters to feature all 117 people enjoying the Sheep Meadow section of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan on a warm summer Sunday. It is filled with special interest and people personality... and the tiny stories that wouldn't see the light of day if it weren't for newspapers. It is a treat to enjoy. Take that Facebook. Newspapers have staff to do that stuff... and be held responsible.

Here's how the pros do it

The overview of A Sunday in the Park, 4 feet wide unfolded
The other side... the people close up with comments
Another take on newspapers: Today's Riddle: What is black and white and red all over?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Is it all in the music? Hope not!

Take it from a guy who can't carry a tune, these one hit wonders had this take on where we are headed as a people way back in 1969. In the Year 2525 topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for six weeks, maybe because it had that perfect melody and mood for the time but more because it was a haunting look at a future that can't be fully imagined until we are half-way there, almost 500 years early according to the song.

"Its overriding theme of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence and overdependence on its own overdone technologies struck a resonant chord in millions of people in the world in the late 1960s, " says Wikipedia.

Imagine... in the 1960s there was evidence, even years before personal computers were sold, let alone the cell phone which now puts 1,000 time more computer power in your hand than the units first used to send man into space. Of course we did have Popular Science Magazine, (founded in 1872) and the like, which became outlets for ideas and writings of Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Henry Huxley, Henry Ward Beecher and other brilliant minds. We were dreamers than and now.

And look at how far we have come: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the name of the game. Robots doing everything imaginable, Cars, trucks and plane driving and flying themselves, The capability to print body parts ... and guns too, Social media and the capability to know everything about everybody, Global warming... and we are still a long way away from a full roll-out of what might, could, or will be done for good... and the not so good alike. I think that is called unintended consequences.

Wanna see? Here are the lyrics:

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube' Whoooa

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day

In the year 8510

Judgement Day by Willirm de Kooning in the National Gallery

God is gonna shake his mighty head then
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been 10, 000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may thrive
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today....(fading...)

And the song as sung by Zager and Evans.

Yep, sometimes songs tell a story that rings too true to enjoy. 

Blog note: I'm hardly ever this dark but when reminded of this song, I couldn't help myself but to draw an eerie parallel. However, as a glass half-full person, this is only an observation in time. But it does feel we are moving ever faster down that path.