The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, December 5, 2016

What does retirement look like for you? (Question of the Month)

         If you haven't done so yet, please vote on my current Battle of the Bands post which can be found here.  

Question of the Month

       The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants. 

What does retirement look like for you?

        As one who is already retired I have some advice for those who aren't: Make sure you're financially prepared!  My job history never provided for any type of retirement plan other than Social Security and in all honesty I never thought about it that much.  Besides, my retirement was kind of forced on me--I didn't expect it when it came as I had planned on working much longer.

         When I was last employed I was working as a manager of a wholesale costume company near Los Angeles. I'd been working there for 18 years when my branch was shut down due to economic situations and changes in the way the industry was starting to do business. In a sense, the internet had a hand in my job loss and the internet has had a control over my life ever since.

         My blogging is an offshoot of being retired and not finding a suitable job replacement.  When I hit 62 I went ahead to go officially into retirement phase and collect my Social Security benefits.  I still keep an ear open for money making opportunities, but so far to no avail.

          Thankfully my wife is still working as a teacher so that we've been able to travel during the summers and other times of the year.  But when she's working, I'm pretty much holed up at home which is prime time for blogging activities or other endeavors.

           Since I never thought much about retiring, I had not much in the way of expectations about retirement.  It is nice to follow my own pursuits and not have to work for someone else all day.  Still, I do miss the work to some extent and especially the paycheck.

         When my wife retires in the next few years we'll have to figure out what to do next.  Our children and grandchildren live back east, which means we don't see them much now.  We might need to address that when she retires.  It would be nice to be closer to them so we can see them more often.

        To my thinking, getting older should include being with the immediate family more often and participating in grandchildren's lives.  My mother was fortunate to have a lot of family nearby or who visited her frequently.  That added a great deal to her life and I'd like to see the same for my wife and I.

            No matter what happens though I believe that God will provide the best for what we need.  My life has been rich with blessings and I feel that good things are ahead.

              Where would you most like to go to retire?   Do you like to be close to children and grandchildren?   Did you plan (or have you been planning) your retirement wisely?  


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scandinavian Shuffle (#BOTB)

     Have you seen the U.S.A in a Chevrolet?   For two decades I owned Chevrolet vans which I used when I was working in a roadshow crisscrossing the nation, so I guess I've actually seen the U.S.A. in my Chevrolets.

The Dinah Shore Chevy Show
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Musical Discovery

         Recently I've started watching reruns of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show on the Jewish Life Television Network (JLTV),  Does it ever bring back some memories!

          My parents used to watch this show when I was a child so I was inclined to watch it with them if I wasn't doing anything else.   While I don't recall much of what I had seen on her show, the iconic theme song "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet" has stuck with me throughout the years.

         Watching these episodes again I realized not only how innovative those shows were for their time (1956-63), but also the diverse talent that appeared on the shows.  The roster of entertainers was a who's who of American show biz as well as talent from around the globe.   For example, one stand out show that had a blues theme featured Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Hirt, and the Perez Prado Orchestra.  What a dynamite line-up that was.

         Another episode was a musical tour of Copenhagen, Denmark which featured a very fine musical trio called The Swe-Danes.  On the show they performed their song "Scandinavian Shuffle" which prompted me to look for it on YouTube later on that evening.  When I discovered that many fine cover versions were available I was inspired to use a couple in a Battle of the Bands which I offer below...

Battle of the Bands

    Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Scandinavian Shuffle (1960)

       Composed by Danish vocalist/violinist Svend Asmussen for his group The Swe-Danes, "Scandinavian Shuffle" was a popular hit in Europe as well as hitting the Billboard chart in the U.S.  Though his vocal trio was only around for a few years, Asmussen had an incredibly long history during which he played with some of the biggest names in jazz and pop.  His career spanned a period from 1923 to 2010 and, though no longer performing, he is still alive at 100 years of age.        

       Here are the Swe-Danes with their original version of  "Scandinavian Shuffle" (1960) in a live performance setting.  This is for your reference only--DON'T VOTE ON THIS VERSION!


The following are the versions for you to vote on:

The Real Group  "Scandinavian Shuffle"  (2015)

        This Swedish a cappella group cites Bobby McFerrin as their inspiration for doing the music they do.   The group was formed in 1984 and continues to perform and record great music. The Real Group has won numerous awards and has performed throughout the world.   They've released over 20 albums singing in English, Swedish, and other languages.   Their version of "Scandinavian Shuffle" is a tribute to the Swe-Danes.

  (The performance starts at about :20)

Mads Tolling Quartet  "Scandinavian Shuffle"  (2014)

        A renown jazz/classical violinist/violist/composer, Mads Tolling is best known as the lead player with the Grammy award winning Turtle Island String Quartet and for his solo violin work with Stanley Clarke's band.   Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Tolling now lives in San Francisco. His quartet has been together since 2008.

Time To Vote!

        Which of these two song versions do you prefer?   If you don't like either then try to play along and tell us which version you think is the least innocuous to you.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 
J. A. Scott  

Winner Announced Wednesday December 7th

           The outcome of this Battle will be revealed next Wednesday along with my #IWSG post.  I'll be continuing my President Trump Acclimation Series next week as well.  My next installment, a continuation of the post on "racism" which begins here, will be on either Monday or Friday depending on my willingness to get it done.  No matter what though, be here to see what's going on when it's going on.

           Do you miss the variety shows of days gone by?   What was your favorite television variety entertainment show?    Which do you prefer most--vocal or instrumental music?  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why I Am A Racist

         Sometimes it's hard to know how to respond to some things.  In some cases it's pointless to even bother, but as a blogger I sometimes feel compelled to say something about what's going on around me.  Besides,by addressing controversy I get content for a blog post so I might as well speak my mind.

Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism
Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

           As recent visitors to my blog have been reading, I've embarked upon a series of posts that I've called the President Trump Acclimation Series where I clarify and try to correct some of the issues that have arisen in the minds of some who have questioned why I voted for Trump.

         The reason why I'm doing this series, besides the questioning, is that I'm annoyed with the continuous reciting of the litany of labels that come from the anti-Trump crowd--racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and so on.  From the left we hear about the rise in bullying since the election of Donald Trump, but mostly what I see is the bullying against Trump supporters.  This "harassment" comes from supposed friends and even relatives, people who suspect or happen to find out that someone voted for Trump, and a continual haranguing from left-wing media commentators and pundits.

        I plan to continue this series until I stop hearing these labels being cited in my comment section, on other online sites, and on the television "news" shows.  Or until inauguration day--whichever comes first. And that is if I keep feeling like doing the series. Stopping these posts is my prerogative just as not reading them is yours.  I hope you'll stick with me so we can continue the good discussion we've been having.   I also hope we can learn something.

Why I Am A Racist

       How do I know that I am a racist?   Because people have told me that I am.  And how do those people know that I'm a racist?   Because I announced that I voted for Donald J. Trump for President of the United States.  Now, this is faulty deductive reasoning the way I see it. Using this model can it also be said that I'm a billionaire because I voted for Trump?  This line of logic makes about as much sense as saying that everyone who voted for Clinton is at heart a woman with criminal intent or that if you voted for Sanders then you're a crazy old coot.

       We each vote for our preferred candidate for very personal reasons.  Some of those reasons may have a commonality with others who also voted for our chosen candidate while we might vote for the same candidate as someone else for very different reasons.  If a particular candidate were actually a racist or displayed a proclivity for racism then it would not necessarily follow that one who voted for that candidate did so because of the racism.  Typically most of us vote for a candidate based on economic proposals, social agendas, foreign policies, or some other relevant issues that are important to us.

       Yet, after this recent election, once it was clear that Trump had won the electoral college (the vote that makes the difference in this country), we who voted for this man were excoriated for our vote by the sore losers on the other side.  Sure, I can understand your disappointment and even anger, but is that a call to start spitting epithets at those on the other side?

       Facebook was bad as were many blabbermouths in the media.  To me this name calling and outright meanness was absolutely uncalled for and highly undignified.   At no time in my many years watching elections have I seen such reprehensible behavior in response to an election outcome.

        One particularly egregious response came from fellow blogger Andrew Leon at Strange Pegs. For many years I've tried to develop a friendly relationship with Mr. Leon despite his tendency toward pomposity and arrogance.  I've enjoyed his writing style as well as some of his subject matter.   However, after I read his post It's Not That I Don't Understand You I was rather disgusted since this post seemed to be more directed toward me than anyone else.  To belie any suggestion that I'm being overly sensitive or paranoid about his post I would direct you to a comment that I left on his earlier post  Dying of Cancer.   I had left a polite reasonable comment in response to that post and his response to me was so flagrantly rude that at that point I decided that I would not visit his blog any longer if he were going to take such a bellicose attitude toward me.

        His second post on his "Trump voters are racists" topic was brought to my attention by another blogger friend who directed me to the post with the thought that the post was directed primarily toward me.  After reading that post I was pretty much in agreement that Mr. Leon had me in mind when he wrote the post.  To add insult to insult, not only did he say that I and other Trump voters are racists, but also we are assholes.  Sounds like a sore loser to me--all common sense and ability to reason is replaced by emotional response.   This emotional response seems to be the hallmark of the left.   If they don't get their way then they call names, make false charges, pout, stir up civil unrest, and so on.

       I've found that the best way to end a conversation is to call someone a "racist."   How does one respond?   To say "I'm not a racist" etc--Mr. Leon rattles off some likely retorts we accused might counter with--doesn't appease the argument.  The leftist technique is name off a list of responses that they must have found in some leftist handbook or something.   Then to really nip the bud with finality the leftist can cap things off by calling their opposition an "Asshole!"--yeah, that's always a constructive approach to sensible dialogue.

       With Andrew Leon it's essentially that there is no need to have any discussion because I'm a racist and an asshole and he's right and I'm wrong.  End of debate.  Nothing to talk about.

         Okay, that sounds real constructive I suppose.

On the Other Hand...

          But then I got to thinking.  Andrew Leon is a pretty brilliant guy.  He's got a college degree and he's like a teacher or something.  Mr. Leon knows just about everything about everything.  I know that from reading his blog.  He probably is one of the smartest guys in the world.   And I ain't so smart.  I certainly don't think as fast and as intelligent as Andrew Leon.

          That's why I got to thinking:   This blog post I've been talking about must have been intended for humor.  Maybe it was like a parody or a satire or a treatise filled with witticism--an intellectual wit that is beyond my lowly capacity to understand such things.

          Yes, of course!  Mr. Leon was just funnin' us with some high sort of intellectual humor, but I'm not smart enough to get it...

        Or maybe he thought we were engaging in some kind of exchange of ideas--something like a cross blog conversation.

         Reading back it still doesn't seem to be very funny to me.  I guess my initial reaction was based on a correct assumption--Mr. Leon really does think I am an asshole and a racist.  The air of bitter gravitas mingled with an ugly dose of distemperatude permeates the mind of the reader of his blog post.

        And here I am saying I'm not a racist, but I can say anything since this is my blog.  Even though Andrew Leon says I'm a racist (and an asshole) because I voted for Donald Trump.   I don't want to get into a blog feud with anyone and besides Mr. Leon has had more experience with that sort of thing than I have.  I've always tried to be the nice helpful blogger who sometimes strayed onto the fringe of controversy, but always tried to be as diplomatic as I could be with visitors to my site or on the sites which I visited.  Besides, if I keep going with my series it's likely that I will offend more people.

        People sure get offended easily these days.

        And now look what I've done. My main point in this post was to disprove the accusations of Donald Trump's racism.  Now the post is too long.  I'll continue this topic in an upcoming post.  Right now I need to think up some nasty things to do in order to maintain my reputation as an asshole.

         I might do a post on Wednesday, but then again maybe not.  However I will post another Battle of the Bands match on Thursday December 1st.  This next Battle will be a fun little ditty that hopefully lifts spirits as we enter the holiday season.  Please don't miss it!

         Has someone ever unjustly accused you of something?  Do you think guilt by association across the board applies to a voter?   If you kept track of what candidates were saying during the campaign, was it due to directly listening to their speeches or was it based on what commentators or others said that they said and sound clips taken out of context?   


Friday, November 25, 2016

What Does Immigration Reform Look Like? (#Flashback Friday)

         Six years ago I was on my blog talking about similar things as I am discussing in my recent posts.  For today I had mentioned that I was going to discuss racism.  I'll get to that on Monday I suppose.  In this current post I'm going to participate in another Flashback Friday...

     Flashback Friday, introduced by Michael G. D’Agostino of A Life Examined is a monthly blogfest, occurring on the last Friday. Michael’s directive: “Republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.” Please add your link to the list at the end of the post if you’d like to join in.


What Does Immigration Reform Look Like?

         The immigration controversy is big here in California and Arizona.   In fact, the issue of immigration is one of the major issues that Americans are most concerned about after things like the economy and unemployment.   The immigration law that was passed by Arizona has caused a furor among liberals with cries of racism and invasion of constitutional rights.   There are many calls for immigration reform.

              What does immigration reform look like?

             As usual words have been charged and falsehoods created to help raise emotions.  So before we start the debate let's clarify the issues and define the wording properly.  The issue is not immigration.  The real issue is illegal aliens coming into this country to establish themselves without going through the legal channels and often having no true respect for the values that are the foundation of the United States.  Letting the floodgates of immigrants flow across the borders unchecked has led to more drug opportunists, gang members, human traffickers,  and terrorists to come into the country blended into the horde coming here to take advantage of our great country.  We are allowing a dangerous trend to occur.

               These immigrants are putting a burden upon our law enforcement, social services, educational systems, and the job market.  Standards are being lowered in our society.  Schools are suffering as the education process is slowed for those with advanced learning potential who are held back by non-English speakers and those with a lower quest for education.  Recent statistics in California show the dropout rate at 46% with a whopping majority to be Hispanics.

             There have been indications of movements such as La Raza and Azatlan that would like nothing better than for certain parts of the United States to revert to Mexican rule.  Mexican flags and those of other Latin American countries are becoming common sights as disrespect for the flag of the USA grows. 

              The furor raised by the Arizona law regarding immigration is based on a sham fueled by liberal and Hispanic activist propaganda.  The Arizona law merely states that the police will actively enforce federal law.  What a novel concept!  The police enforce law?  Where did they get such an idea?

             I don't like what's happening.  And before you suggest that I am racist or anti-immigrant, keep in mind that my wife is from Latin American.   She and her entire family came to the United States through legal channels, completing all of the necessary processes and legal papers over many years to eventually become proud citizens of the United States.  Her daughter and nieces and nephews have been honor students and college graduates and have gotten good jobs.   They did it right and I have no problem with anyone who wants to take this approach to immigration.

              If people aren't going to respect our laws of citizenship, why would we expect that they would respect any other laws that were inconvenient for them?  The way I see it employers who are hiring illegals need to be penalized and the anchor baby clause of the constitution needs to be amended. 

              What to do with all of the aliens who are currently living in the United States illegally?   There are estimates of anywhere from twelve to twenty million.  How should these people be handled?   What about future immigration?   Are you happy with the flood of illegals or are you against it?    What is the upside?