Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Journalists & competition & love

This is not a photograph of the city editor in Michigan I refer to in this post. Rather, I take it to be an advertising illustration I stumbled onto by a fashion brand based in Barcelona, Spain. Actually, it could be a representation of the woman I referenced because she was a cutie like the model here and, like many men in the profession of journalism, was a hard-drinking individual and tough as they came as a reporter and began in the newspaper business when typewriters still were in use.

Fram & the city editor

A few years ago when I was a working journalist in Michigan, the city editor of the newspaper and I had sort of a "standing argument." My point was that the only person worth competing with was oneself. My cornerstone stemmed from the "Old West" adage that no matter how good/fast you were with a gun, there always is someone better/faster than you, and that the concept is valid about everything .... no matter how good you are at a particular skill, there always will be somebody better.

She -- the city editor -- disagreed and loved to compete with other staff members in the newsroom at any and every journalistic skill known to humankind, some of which were so subjective in nature that it was literally impossible to determine who was the best.

Incidental to this story, at one point she quit the newspaper and divorced her husband and invited me to accompany her to Greece, all at her expense. I declined, so she found another young man who accepted her invitation. They were gone for about a month. After three or four such adventures, the relationship ended and she went back to journalism -- but not back to her former husband. The last I heard, cancer claimed her and the husband she had divorced was at her bedside when she died. Sort of ironic, I think, and illustrates something about actual love. It proved to me that "real and unconditional love" do exist -- at least for some people.

By the way, neither she nor I ever gave up on our argument. Under the circumstances, I guess it ends in a stalemate.

In that light, I have been re-reading some of my posts written since the first one in January 2009. There have been more than a few I like, but only a very few I think are actually "good" whether measured in the sense of being educational / entertaining / enlightening or by any definition. For the most part, I think my skill at writing has been declining over that span of time, and I am not quite sure what to do about it: Accept it or challenge it by a more dedicated approach.

When I decide what to do about this something less than fascinating dilemma, I will be sure to pass the word along to you.

Returning briefly to the incidental to this story .... regarding my decision not to accept the city editor's invitation for the trip to Greece with her, it is one more of those crossroads in life in which I still sometimes wonder if I made the wrong decision .... another stalemate, I guess ....

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Arrogance vs. self-confidence

Gunnery Sergeant Albert Einstein reporting for duty, sir.
No, Einstein was never in the Marine Corps, although I am sure he would have been a welcome recruit. As former commandant of the Corps and current Secretary of Defense, four-star general James Mattis notes in the, "What Makes a Marine," commentary below, "the Marines enjoy having people who are somewhat mavericks, frankly ...."

Comment by war correspondent
Ernie Pyle .... killed in action 
April 18, 1945, Battle of Okinawa
Ie Shima, Ryukyu Archipelago

"Marines have a cynical approach to war. They believe in three things; liberty, payday and that when two Marines are together in a fight, one is being wasted."

No better friend, no worse enemy

Definition of arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.

Definition of self-confidence: confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities.

Both those definitions came from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Both attitudes/behaviors are subjective in nature. That is to say, what I see as self-confidence, you might see as arrogance. I like to believe I display self-confidence, but I would admit there are times when self-confidence bleeds over into arrogance. That was especially true when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps.

There were times, both in the United States and in other countries, when people would intentionally move off the walkway and into the street when they saw a Marine or a few Marines approaching. It is difficult not to allow something like that to go to your head, particularly if you are a young Marine. 

In the current Marine Corps, eight-four (84) percent of Marine recruits are age twenty (20) or younger. I do not know with certainty, but I would wager a significant amount of money the same was true back during my days in the Corps. I was eighteen (18) when I first put on the uniform.

I also do not know with certainty, but I would suspect that the motivation for giving way on a walkway and moving into the street was due to the reputation which sort of encircles the Corps and involved fear and apprehension as much as or even more than respect and admiration.

There is a slogan, one of many, prominent among Marines which states: "No better friend, no worse enemy." From my experience, I sort of agree with that one .... but, I am hesitant to speculate what anyone else might think or believe.

Another comment made by Ernie Pyle was this: "Say what you will, nothing can make a complete soldier except battle experience."

I sort of agree with that, too ....

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Trump / Obama .... two princes of vanity

In case you do not recognize the two individuals (I hesitate to use the word "gentlemen") in the photograph, to the left is Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, and Barack Hussein Obama, the immediate former president. I have no idea what is transpiring between the two men, but I would venture a guess that both are forcing their smiles and that Trump is expressing his opinion about the size of Obama's legacy .... or whatever ....

Once again about "The Donald"
It has been a rather long time since I wrote anything about our el presidente .... Donald John Trump .... so, here goes ....

Way, way, way back when, which is to say during the primary season of 2016, I had a lawn sign which read, "Defend America Defeat Trump." I like to describe myself as conservative fiscally and liberal socially, which is pretty much accurate, and, undoubtedly, I would have voted for any Republican candidate other than Trump, rather than casting a ballot for Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. As it went, I did not vote for anyone for president. (I will leave it at that ....)

Trump has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for me in the sense of his policies, although I think him disgusting as a human being in just about every way possible. Last week in Helsinki was an example when he stood adjacent to Russian el presidente Vladimir Putin and more-or-less told the world he was not sure who to believe in terms of Russian meddling during the 2016 election in the United States -- the intelligence agencies of the U.S. or Putin.
Then, a few days later, for Trump to say he had "misread / misspoke" a word in his remarks was an obvious lie in a ridiculous attempt to correct his foot-in-mouth, unforced error. This is nothing new. He has a reputation for exaggeration / half-truths / outright lies. As the cliché goes, I would not trust him any further than I could throw him.
I have heard Trump-defenders say they accept his explanation. I have heard Trump-antagonists say it is obvious Trump admires Putin as a strongman dictator and thinks of himself that way -- or, in the least, he is a "wannabe" dictator. I am beginning to be a believer in the anti-Trump crowd in that regard, but I cannot accept their stated goals and policies in most other respects.

For better or worse, the American White House is occupied for the second time in a row by a mega-zealot in the sense of self-love and self-aggrandizement. Remember Barack Hussein Obama? I do, with sadness and regret of a great failure and a significant opportunity lost.
What is a word for an ultimate egoist .... for someone who has reached the pinnacle of narcissism?
I think there are two words "Obama" and "Trump" .... take your pick and say your prayers ....


Sunday, July 22, 2018

I guess it doesn't matter

If memory serves, I have not taken a shadow photograph since 2010. To coin a phrase: My, how time flies. It appears I have gotten taller during this span of time .... must be the shadow is playing tricks on me .... I am almost certain I would have noticed if I were growing taller. This particular effort/photograph is not very good, but since photography has passed along on its way from being among my primary interests and relegated to about the thirty-third spot, I guess it doesn’t matter ....
Dialogue from Judge Roy Bean
Portrayed by Paul Newman
In the 1972 film
"The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean"
"It's all changing. The country's changing. The railroad's coming. People will pass by .... and look out the window and never know what it took to make all this. They won't know about the bear. They won't know about me .... I guess it doesn't matter."

Friday, July 13, 2018

The most difficult task

Are the people who live in Dull, Scotland, actually dull and dense .... or those who live in Boring, Oregon, really boring or tedious? Undoubtedly no, they are not .... but, most certainly eyebrows are raised when occupants of those municipalities explain where they reside.

Two remarks by Thomas Hudson
In Ernest Hemingway's novel
"Islands in the Stream"
Published posthumously in 1970

"Happiness is often presented as being very dull but, he thought, lying awake, that is because dull people are sometimes very happy and intelligent people can and do go around making themselves and everyone else miserable."

"I would rather have a good Marine, even a ruined Marine, than anything in the world when there are chips down."

What did you mean by that?

It is not unusual for me to "complain" that communication between individuals is the most difficult task in the world. This is especially true of "written conversation" and, to a lesser degree, to talk on the telephone.
The elements which make communication most difficult come when the individuals are not speaking face-to-face, which prevents hearing the tone of voice and seeing facial expressions. Also, any number of words have any number of meanings, and when the talk is between two people who are pretty much strangers to each other, there often is a misunderstanding over which meaning the speaker has on his mind when he uses a certain word.
Add to that conversation between two individuals who do not have a common language. For instance, I once wrote to a non-English speaking young lady that I thought she was "a silly girl." She interpreted "silly" in the dictionary sense of the word as being a "foolish" girl. I had meant it in the sense of her being "funny."

In the instance of Thomas Hudson in the Ernest Hemingway quote, I am reasonably certain his use of the word "dull" was not in reference to a village by that name in Scotland and not to the people who reside there .... but, then again, who can be absolutely certain? I assume there are at least a few "happy" people in the community of Dull who are not actually "dull" .... but, an assumption is only an assumption ....

For strangers and for individuals who do not have a common language, it is easy to misinterpret meanings of words, especially those with a variety of meanings or nuances, which is why I think communication, arguably, is the most difficult task in the world.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"Tangled Up in Blue"

The mystery of metaphors

The J.M. Bucheimer Co. originally from the Ruxton area of Towson, Maryland, was founded in 1884 and sells a variety of leather products. Ownership has changed over the years, but its holsters are still around and generally sell in the $200 to $400 range. This is a used, like-new, left-handed, lined, basket-weave variation that I bought in Frenchtown, Montana, adjacent to Missoula. I am ambidextrous in the use of firearms, which is a useful trait, to say the least. This holster has a "pouch" for a spare magazine attached on the side. It is designed for a Browning Hi-Power pistol. It works fine for that model, but I am using it for my Colt Model 1911 Combat Commander in .38 Super caliber .... it suits that particular handgun even better. Superb pistols deserve premium leather. I guess this post could be considered a continuation of "my favorite things" -- or, like Bobby Dylan's, "Tangled Up in Blue," sort of a mystery open for introspection and to interpretation ....

Saturday, July 7, 2018

View from a windshield while 'flying low'

Just a passing thought

Well, I return to the Queen of Spades
And talk with my chambermaid
She knows that I’m not afraid to look at her
She is good to me and there's
Nothing she doesn't see
She knows where I'd like to be
But it doesn’t matter

I want you
I want you
Yes I want you, so bad
Honey, I want you

Photographer in Wyoming ....
Clouds in South Dakota ....
Or was it the other way around?

Hmmmm ....
Why are you asking me?
I was in sort of a trance,
Listening to Bobby Dylan on the radio ....

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

old holiday / old tree / old flag

In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America ….
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Today, the Fourth of July, is Independence Day.
I guess we all know that ....
I hope we all observe it beyond picnics, parades, athletic contests, concerts and fireworks ....
It is, after all, the anniversary of the delegates from the thirteen colonies to the Continental Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and establishing the United States as a nation onto itself ....
This actually is the one hundred forty-second anniversary of the event leading to the holiday .... the tree is forty-seven years old and the flag was "born" in 1976, making it forty-two, which means they only are "sort of old."
Old is a subjective term, especially when considering it in the sense of the age of the earth and, especially so, in context with the age of the universe. I guess probably the term "ancient beyond ancient" would be appropriate in those instances.
Whatever .... back on point: I wish you a safe and a thoughtful "holiday" .... from my point of view, Independence Day should also be a day of thanksgiving ....

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Finding a few favorite things ....

The cure for almost anything/everything that ails you:

Find a relatively remote spot ....
Set up a base camp ....
Explore the lake in a canoe ....
Enjoy a bit of "trigger time" ....
Escape into a book you treasure ....
Find a sunny glade and lie down in it ....
Count clouds until sleep captures you ....
Watch the sunset ....
Listen to music/music/music ....

Right, baby?

Something special ....