Thursday, November 27, 2014


The weather has become inclement. Cooler temperatures, rain, sleet and occasionally snow. The ground is littered with the multi-hued debris that once festooned the oxygen making machines of our planet. Everywhere you go you wear an extra shirt and bring a coat, maybe a hat and gloves as well. Just so you get wet, catch a chill or even be discomforted in any way.
            Where ever you go, you see sparkling lights, cheerful music and ads for sales that seem to assault your every sense. Ads designed to make you pull out your wallet and spend money you don’t want to or don’t have. You do this, happily. You can’t help it, you’ve been trained over the years to respond this way. It seems to be almost un-american to not do so. To not go out and spend money, to not dump countless dollars, time and energy into the season that has been so forcefully shoved down our throats. I’m guilty of it, and so are you.
            We’ve all gone out and bought things for people we barely know for reasons we can’t truly fathom. It has become an almost Pavlovian response in our culture. In spite of this deluge of commerce hype, for the past few years, me and mine have chosen to not partake of any of these shenanigans. Instead, we simply sit at home, eat our meals, watch football and feel good films and at one moment or another, we reflect back upon the year and count our blessings. I, myself, have been known to reflect upon situations where there was nothing but a grim outcome and yet, somehow, someway we came out of the mire of life without a scratch, scrape or any damage of any sort. We survived and we are better for it.
            This year, after weeks of endless tasks for the upcoming not-to-be-mentioned-holiday, our planning was minimal for our day of thanks. Food was bought and prepared with little or no discussion. Plans of visitations of family members and travel arrangements were an afterthought. Instead, a quiet day of familial peace and tranquility was enjoyed like a warm blanket and a hot cup of cocoa on a frigid day. Comfortable places were claimed on the couch, warm food filled stomachs and the background noise of parades on the television, truly bliss and the American dream.
            But what of all the hype for crazy sales, long lines and impending affection yoked to monetary displays of affection? Simple, the commercials will be ignored. They have to be. After all, in this day and age, what with the advent of instant updates on one’s phone, television and computer for sales of goods and services offered at discounted rates for one day only, or is it two, or three, and in some cases a week, why even bother. After all, we have a warm home, a fridge filled with food, lights and power at the will of our fingertips. What would the pilgrims think of such excess and convenience? I believe they’d be flabbergasted and start some sort of witch trail. But that is just my thought.
            Once again, I digress. I’ve gone off again on a tangent. So back to the show.
            I believe in our way of life. I believe that if a person works hard, does good things and tries to not goof up too badly that he or she will be rewarded with a better and more comfortable way of living. This means that one does not simply follow the heard, does not buy into the hype of all things commercial and definitely does not take for granted the gifts and blessings bestowed upon them. Yet we are human. We are susceptible to the metric-fuck-ton of shit that comes our way. We can’t help it, we’re like the squirrels, and we have short term memory in what makes us truly happy and grateful to be alive. When shown something new and shiny, we immediately have to have it and believe that once we have obtained said new and shiny that we will be happy. Only to discover we are not. That in truth, we are emptier and hollower than before. There is a void in us that can’t be filled with material objects. Yet we insist that void can be filled with a piece of plastic or paper.
            We don’t learn. We should learn yet we can’t tear ourselves away from the blitzkrieg of bullshit to truly learn what will make us feel whole, true and right. This is the fallacy of our lives. This is democracy gone awry. This is the American life.
            Now, I’m not saying that one should not want things in one’s life. Hell, I want shit all the time. But if I break it down, if I cut out all the fat and look towards the lean, I only want and need a few things. Those things are different for each and every one of us. What might be right for me, may be wrong for you. So, I won’t divulge my truths here. But I will say, we all need to focus on our compass points, figure out what we need to survive and thrive and that will give us a starting point.
            On this day of thanks and wonderment, I’ve narrowed down what I’m thankful for which has given me a direction for my future endeavors. One, I’m thankful for you, my dear reader. I’m thankful for my family and I’m thankful for my ability to work, survive and wake up every day. I’m thankful for the people in my life who’ve taken time out of their lives to become my friend and get to know me for who I am and what I am. I’m also thankful that I live in a country where I can voice my opinion and say disparaging things against those I don’t care for without suffering any ill effects.
            Mostly, I’m thankful for all the men and women who came before me. The people who not only built this country but also laid the groundwork for how open and honest we can be. So, if you’ve ever stood against the crowd, believed something different from the masses, chose the underdog over the sure fire winner, then I’m not just thankful for you but I’m grateful as well.
            Like the ending of the warm season and the oncoming war of the frigid cold, we will all fight to survive in the dark hours of our lives. The only ammunition we have in the cold, dark, and lonely places is the knowledge that we do not go alone or quietly into the night. No, we have the generations of our fore-fathers and our family and friends to help quiet the ill will of the darkness and voices of ill will.

            Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2014


            I like science. I can’t help it. I like to learn how things work and why they work. So much so that I listen to at least four science podcasts a week. Read a ton of internet articles on science and even watch a bunch of television shows on science. It doesn’t really matter what the topic of the article, show or podcast is. I find it all very fascinating. One of my favorite scientific websites is maintained by NASA.
            Why NASA? Simple, above all of my interests, space has been one of my favorite topics. I suppose I got bit by that bug by being a kid in the 1970’s and watching all the rocket launches, and in the 1980’s the Space Shuttle launches. Whenever a new photograph of some discovery in space pops up, I usually end up staring at it for minutes without end. A new plant or planetoid or planitismal is discovered… I read about it.
            Some people, when told or shown the vastness of not just our solar system or galaxy but our universe, seem to shut down. Truth be told, I was explaining, or better yet, attempting to explain, how miniscule our little mudball is in the grand scheme of the vastness we are floating around in and they sort of shut down on me. When I paused in my explanation, the person in question simply looked at me, shook their head and said “I can’t handle all this information. Not only that, it hurts my head to even think about it.” Then they walked away.
             I stood there a bit dumbfounded. After all, I could not comprehend how someone couldn’t or wouldn’t even try to understand how crazy our lives are on earth in comparison to the stuff that’s going on amongst the stars. Or for that matter, the stuff that’s going on just outside our door in nature. I suppose this person’s attitude towards the universe was mirrored in me being incapable of understanding their position. (Touché Karma)
            All this thinking about big stuff really gets my brain synapse going. Then, I start thinking about my life. More to the fact, the pressures in my life. The bills, the seemingly endless hours of work. The small tasks to perform around the house. The weather on cold days, rainy days and even sunny days when I want to be out riding my motorcycle. You know, living my life with myopic glasses. Not thinking about the people around me, their problems or their lives. This seems to be a common theme of all people. After all, how many folks do you know that are out there that are dreaming and thinking of a larger life? Not many that’s for sure.
            Sure there are scientists and genius’s that are part of think tanks and large conglomerates who are devising, discovering and implementing deep thoughts, ideas and inventions. Things that make our lives easier and supposedly better. Me, however, I don’t believe all new things are good for us. How could they be? After all, I’m a guy who was raised on three channels of television, no cell phones and no computers. If anything, I believe a lot of modern things do nothing but hinder our lives by separating us from the people we are supposed to be interacting with. (Note: I don’t like to interact with a lot of people. I’m sort of a hermit that way. I don’t like to become attached to folks because life is a transient existence.)

            All that being said, I do believe in interacting with people you want to interact with. Yet, it gets me thinking…
            I have a house, a mortgage actually, I have bills and requirements I need to meet every month. These items of interest seem to keep my focus grounded on creating a life not for myself, but for my family. I know I can’t be the only person who has ever existed that has seen the insanity of this way of life. How could I be? After all, there have been many people who are smarter than I that have come before me. Folks that have dreamed larger, lived bigger and done more for humanity in one week than I’ve done in my entire life. I’m talking about board certified genius’s.
            So what happened? What happened to humanity and our way of life that pulled us from looking up and out to looking down and out? I wish I could give you a simple answer. I have a one word answer prepared but I feel the explanation goes so much deeper than that one deadly sin.
            Truly, ask yourself, why are you where you are? Why haven’t the ideas you’ve had been taken advantage of and why aren’t isn’t there a mob of people outside your home with fist fulls of money and throwing that money at you just for your thoughts?
            I have an answer for all those questions, yet those are my answers, you have to find your own. So where does all this leave me? Simple…when my corporeal body leaves this earth, the only thing I truly have left behind is a slew of bills that may have been paid in full. I also will leave behind a generation of people who will end up paying their own versions of bills.
            While elsewhere in our galaxy, our star cluster and our universe, suns will be born, planets will be giving life to strange and unique creatures and life, not necessarily as we know it will go on. I hope and pray that one day, we, as a race of humanity will realize that our mundane lives of are scaled on the miniscule will one day realize there are more things unknown and worth our attention than the daily needs of our masters.

            Have a great week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vets Rule (or they should)

I served four very happy albeit stressful years in the United States Navy. Four of the greatest years of my life. I met scores of amazing people. People with talent, brains, attitudes and ideas from all walks of life from across the globe. Most of them were my shipmates. We were all serving for one reason or another. Some were trying to escape from their past, some were patriotic, some were not really given a choice and some felt serving was the only way out of a miserable life. Me, I was trying to escape, trying to reinvent myself, trying to see the world and lastly, I felt it was my duty as an up and coming citizen of the my country.
            I didn’t serve for gratitude. I didn’t serve because it was right. I didn’t serve because someone wanted me to. I served for my own reasons. It’s as simple as that.
            Which brings me to recent postings on facebook, twitter, and a fuckton of other websites, newspapers and local news broadcasts. Each one advertising free coffee, free donuts, free meals and discounted consumer goods and services. I avoid these like the plague. I don’t want free anything. I want to pay for what I need and want. But, you know, it goes deeper than that.
            You see, I am a lucky vet. I have a house and a family. Two jobs and if I want I could easily get a third. Some vets aren’t so lucky. Some vets struggle with the demons from their service. Demons that have taken a deep rooted hold on their lives. Making them almost completely incapable of holding a job, having a family or even a place to live and food in their stomach.
            Men and women who have served in war zones and seen the atrocities one human is willing to bestow upon others in this world with no conscious about the terror they are instilling in the observers. Soldiers and sailors who’ve followed orders from their superiors because that is what they were trained to do. Not fully realizing the future repercussions they will eventually have to face in the mirror.
            I feel terrible for these vets. I know I’m not alone in these feelings. However, I don’t think our elected officials do. Cuts to Veterans Affair Benefits, cuts to mental and health care. Endless miles of paperwork and red-tape bog down a system of care that was instilled to help the transfer from military life to civilian life.
            Hell, if you’re brave enough do a quick internet search on the care of veterans in our country. It will scare the hell out of you. I know it did me.
            Which brings me to my point on this whole blog. I don’t want free or discounted shit from anyone because of my service. Why? Because I can get what I want on my own. Instead, take all that free food, those discounted goods and services and sell them to the regular customers and then… and here is the crazy thought… give all the profits to the men and women who served who are incapable of providing for themselves. Help the ones who served who can’t help themselves. They deserve it more than I do.
            After all, I still have all my appendages. I have my mental acuity, which is a bit skewed off of center, but I still have it. I have my will to live and a family who cares more than they should about me. The vets who are homeless, limbless and are broken mentally, need more help than I do.
            Hell, I’m sure we pass them every day on the street, or see them in the bars or outside a local convenience store panhandling for change. The change is not for food, nope, it’s for cheap booze that helps quiet the demons screams inside of their heads.
            I don’t know how to implement this idea. I wish I did. I wish I were smart enough to be entrepreneurial enough to implement a foundation that would go out and find the broken servicemen and women who need the help of countless dollars and food. But, I’m not. I’m just a Pollack with a thought. A Pollack who served and survived. A Pollack who is part of a brotherhood that helped build this country and is pissed off at how a lot of my brothers and sisters in arms have been treated.

            Have a week. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

C is for?....

            Normally, this time of year I write about Guy Fawkes and revolution. It’s true, check out my previous early November blogs. Why do I talk about revolution in November? Simple, Guy Fawkes and his failed attempt at revolution. However, some strange force in the universe has guided me along another path.
            Growing up, as a child of the 1970’s, when television offered only three corporate channels and one public access channel, my entertainment came either from prime time programing or the Children’s Television Workshop. Sesame Street to be exact. For some reason I didn’t connect with Kermit or any of the feel good Muppets. Instead, The Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch were the characters I identified with. Not the normal connection a young child should make.
            To be truthful, I think that, at the time, CTW placed unsavory characters in their shows to instruct kids how they should not be. Grumpy, greedy, one sided and maybe a bit self-centered. A monster, no, a person in touch with their inner selves and life.  Someone or something that truly knows what makes them happy. Someone who knows what makes them happy in life. Be it cookies or the suffering of others. Yup, they were the ones I identified with were the outcasts and the disenfranchised.
            Then they introduced Mr. Snuffleufagus. His first name, Aloysious. A name I’m more than familiar with. This character was usually depressed and felt like he was invisible. Another trait I could identify with. Muppets with a singular purpose. A goal in life and the knowledge of what makes them happy. Yup, that is what I felt streaming out of the fluorescent information of the cathode ray tube of small screen, large box televisions.
            I was a quiet and surly kid. A child who revolted and rebelled against any and all authority that I came into contact with. My teachers, my parents, the neighbors and the local police held any control over me. All I wanted was to feel normal, to be accepted and to feel as if I was not as fucked up as everyone told me I was.
            Doesn’t seem like much to ask for, but ask yourself, “How do I explain to the world at large and the folks in my life who and what I am?” You can’t. After all, how many people in your life would really accept you for the person who stares back at you in the mirror every morning? I mean seriously, what sort of fucked up secrets that are rattling around inside of your head can you truly divulge to the people in your life? You can’t. It’s simple math. Really, it is. Reach down inside your most heinous thoughts and desires and then divulge them to the person and people that are close to you.
            My bet is that you won’t do it. But, in this instance I can. I like being an outsider. A person who is not in touch with his co-workers, their inner machinations of life choices or the secret and unsubstantial jokes that provide a daily recognition of one’s personal need for acknowledgement in life. Nope, I prefer to be the one outside, the one who observes and sees the writing on the wall of others path through this existence.
            It is where I am most comfortable. Like Oscar, like Cookie, like Mr. Snuffalapugus. I prefer to be a ghost in the machine. After all, I know who and what I am, where I belong and my eventual path will lead me. So, I will break all of this down for you…
            I have maybe two or three friends I can talk to completely unshielded. If you think you know who you are, then maybe you are. I have about fifteen acquaintances who are right now thinking they are amongst the two or three folks in my inner circle. Then there are the rest of you, the ones who read my blog, who I talk to occasionally and we both walk away from the conversation feeling better about ourselves. Then there are the people I’ve never met, who if they met me in real life, on a day when I’m surly and cold would walk away thinking I’m nothing like the person they thought I was.
            Basically, I’m Oscar the Grouch with a large portion of Cookie Monster thrown in and a dash of Mr. Snuffflupagus. Yeah. I’m a muppet for the ages and I like it that way.
            Recently, some co-workers told me I said something that I don’t recall saying. I trust them in what they said and in the context of how I said it. Do I remember what I said? Nope. I don’t. Are they at fault or am I? I would like to think they are but I know differently.
            I know who I am and what I am. I am a man, a frustrated and sometimes angry man. A man who tries to hold the ever changing world at bay and fails miserably. I’m a person who doesn’t accept change readily or easily. I like the status quo and I don’t want to diverge from it. No matter what the cost, the benefit or the detriment. I like to keep things true to the nature of what is going on in the world as I know it.
            I am Oscar the Grouch, I am the Cookie Monster. I am a disgruntled and frustrated middle age person who longs for a simpler time. A time before mass media and instant gratification of the internet. Even though I benefit from the later more than I do from the former.

            Which muppet are you?