Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Year Dwindles Down

My house, so full of people a few days ago, is almost empty now.  Time to take down the Christmas tree and remove the colored lights from the house outside.

Only my eldest son remains and he is leaving for home in Spokane later today.  Then it will be just me, my remaining dog, my TV and my coffee pot.  I can live with that.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Writing as Therapy

For Christmas 1955, my mom bought me a Five Year Diary.  It covered the years 1956, 57, 58, 59 and 1960.  The pages were predated so I had to write every day to avoid a blank space.  I still have the diary.  I soon converted to one year hand-written diaries and kept them for 1961 - 1964.  It got me into the practice of journaling and I still do it to this day, but now it’s in the form of this blog and a Word file.  I still have all of the handwritten diaries, but hope to put them into Word format so they can be easily shared with friends and family.

Many therapists recommend keeping a journal.  It is good therapy, a way to figure life out and record a history of your failures and successes, your sorrows and joys.  I wrote about the assassination of JFK, Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, the first moon landing, and other historical events as they happened.

I generally want my personal journal to be separate from my blog, which is public.  When it is public you may have a tendency to self-censor, and to get the most benefit from journaling you need to be uninhibited in expressing yourself.  You are writing for yourself, not an audience, and that can make all the difference.

There is another journal that I would like to start, in the form of an autobiography.  It may or may not be public, or maybe limited to specific friends and relatives.  I don’t want my most memorable life experiences to be lost when I die.  It too will be in an online blog format.

Why make these journals in the form of online blogs?  Because if online, you can access them from your iPad or iPhone and post when the inspiration strikes, no matter where you are.  I have missed many chances to write when dependent on a laptop, but I always have my iPhone with me. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Peace on Earth

The Best Version of “A Christmas Carol”

I have read Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” several times over the years.  I know the scenes and dialogue pretty well.  Because of this I judge each film version based on 2 major criteria:  (1) how close the dialogue matches the book, and (2) how good is the acting.

Many pundits have claimed the best film version is Alistair Sims 1951 version.  I just watched it and found it a flawed and inferior production.  It invents scenes and dialogue that do not appear in the book:  Scrooge visits his sister on her deathbed, and does the same for Jacob Marley.  He meets Marley at Fezziwig’s and the two conspire to take over the business.  None of this appears in the book.

I found the acting amateurish and unconvincing.  The actors are merely reciting lines with little feeling or emotion.

The best version of “A Christmas Carol” is George C Scotts’ 1984 version.  The dialogue is faithful and the acting superb.

Be careful however, I saw a televised presentation of the Scott version today and it had been edited with key scenes cut out to shorten it.  Look for a pay per view version or watch the DVD.  Be sure to watch the complete presentation.

Note:  the 1984 version of “A Christmas Carol” can be viewed in its entirety at Paramount Plus.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Songs of Old

Ancient sages like myself sometimes take a break from deep and sagacious thoughts and concentrate on old memories.  Today I thought about Christmas songs from my childhood and youth.

I remember “the Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry.  He sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and “Up On the Rooftops.”  

Bing Crosby sang “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”

Burl Ives sang “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

Judy Garland sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” from the movie “Meet Me in Saint Louis.”

Dean Martin sang “Let It Snow.”

All these great artists are dead now, but their songs live on.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Elon Musk on “Wokeness.”

Elon Musk is a great inventor and entrepreneur.  He’s more than that:  he’s a great role model for American youth and an outspoken enemy of leftist bullshit.   I like this guy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

First Day of Winter

Today was the first day of winter, and it has been very cold here in Northern California at 53-54 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s warm for most of the country but not here.

Two of my three sons are here for Christmas and the third will be here soon. The house is filled with relatives.  

Monday, December 20, 2021

Democrat Extremism and Habeas Corpus

Several dozen civilians who were arrested during the January 2021 protest in Washington D.C. are still in jail.  Almost a year has passed, and the prisoners have not been indicted or charged with any crimes.  This appears to be an infraction of the doctrine of Habeas Corpus, the right to know the charges against you and the right to a speedy trial.  These imprisoned citizens are in fact, political prisoners.  

What is Habeas Corpus?
writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

It appears obvious that the Democrat investigation of the Jan 6 brouhaha is an attempt to invent criminal charges against Donald Trump.  No doubt some of the desperate prisoners may hope to regain their freedom by playing along with the Democrat fraud.  We shall see.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Faith in God. Need it, Don’t Have It.

When I was 19, I camped out at a beach near Santa Cruz, California.  There was a blue tide that night, where the incoming whitecaps weren’t white, but a glowing neon blue.  The sea was full of dinoflagellates, microorganisms that glow blue.  It was eerily beautiful, and walking on the wet sand caused a flurry of blue sparkles around each footstep.

I sat down and watched the incoming waves and was suddenly hit with a powerful mystical experience.  My mind expanded, I felt a oneness with all of nature, and realized that there is no death.  I never felt closer to God than I did at that moment.  

I wish I could recapture the spirituality that I gleaned that night on the beach.  I need it, as I feel that my connection with the Divine has been seriously eroded from many traumatic events in the years since.  I pray but do not feel that I am heard.

Life - A Tale Told By an Idiot

Was Shakespeare right?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

From MacBeth’s Soliloquy

Or in the cold language of the modern era, life sucks and then you die.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Beware of Anti-Trump “Concern” Trolls

Yesterday I had an encounter with “Ralph,” an anti-Trump commentator at the Power Line blog.  Ralph claimed to be a formerly enthusiastic Trump supporter who had voted for Trump twice, even campaigning for him.  Now, however, he realizes that Trump is a radical, “only out for himself, who will make the Republican Party unrecognizable, abandon Israel in favor of the PLO,” and become “similar to the Democrats.”  

This morning while shaving it came to me:  Ralph is a “concern” troll, either a Democrat or RINO operative whose goal is to sow doubt among the faithful.  If he presented himself in his true light, no one would listen; but if he claimed to be a former strong Trump supporter, people might give him an ear.  He might crack their loyalty or belief in Trump’s candidacy, weakening Republican chances in 2024.

Concern trolls are not new.  We discussed them a lot when Bush was running for president.  You will see more of them in the comments section of conservative blogs where they try to undermine Republican resolve.  Watch out and beware!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Milquetoast Republicans

The Republican Party is in the process of deciding who they are:  strong and committed, or weak, politically correct and anti-Trump.  Unfortunately, the blog Power Line seems to be leaning towards the latter, with anti-Trumper Paul Mirengoff leading the charge.  He seems to be vigorously supported by a toadie named Ralph, who has nothing good to say about Donald Trump.  Ralphie is perturbed that Trump criticized Bibi Netanyahu for Bibi’s slavish butt-kissing support of Joe Biden’s dubious electoral victory.

The problem with the GOP is its Milquetoast Republicans.  It’s time we wrested control of the party from these do-nothing weaklings and give the dirty Dems the fight of their lives.  If Trump runs in 2024, I will vote for him again.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

What do Jews Believe?

It recently dawned on me that I don’t know much about Judaism, so I have started looking into it.  I see important points with which I agree.  Could I be a Jew?  I think I could.  As part of my study I will try to ascertain why antisemitism has been so strong in the past and in the present.

There are Jews that I admire, and also some that I dislike, for their politics.  Perhaps I will discuss all that in subsequent posts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Was Derek Chauvin Railroaded?

Derek Chauvin is the former Minneapolis cop who was found guilty of murdering black career criminal George Floyd.  Chauvin had Floyd face down on the ground with Chauvin’s knee on the side of Floyd’s neck to immobilize Floyd.  The knee on the side of the neck is not fatal or dangerous, it was accepted police procedure when Chauvin applied it.  It does not choke nor crush the windpipe, according to what I’ve read.  

Floyd did not die because of Chauvin’s knee, he died three hours later in the hospital, due to an overdose of Fentanyl. Here’s the dope on the dope:
Common brands: Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys

Narcotic - It can treat severe pain

Controlled Substance
High risk for addiction and dependence
Can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol or other illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine.”

Note that Floyd was saying that he couldn’t breathe, both before and after Chauvin put him in the knee-hold.  It was the drug he took, not Chauvin’s knee that killed him.

What we see here is what I call the Dalai Lama effect:  the magic transformation of a thug into a high priest of purity and holiness as soon as he expires in police custody.  This must be done to absolve the black underclass from ever taking responsibility for their own terrible life choices, and to avoid having them burn down yet another town in a liberal state where police are too cowed to stop them.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Stormy Weather

It stormed all night here in Hollister.  Howling wind and splattering sounds of rain.  My cat crawled under the covers with me, so cold was she.

I am not listening to music or watching TV shows, don’t feel like hearing all that electronic noise.  The sounds of the wind and rain are soothing and relaxing.  They sound like eternity, or maybe nature.  I think I’ll have another cup of coffee, snuggle in my armchair with my blanket and think profound thoughts.  

Friday, December 10, 2021

La Vie En Bleue

“The shortness of life, so often lamented, may be the best thing about it.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer, 1789-1860 (perhaps the world’s most pessimistic philosopher)

Shopenhauer, a German philosopher, saw life as a painful experience with happiness in short supply.  He thought the best approach to it was not to seek happiness, but merely to limit the pain of life.  I think he had a point.  

There is a French song called “La Vie en Rose,” or life in the pink, seeing life through rose colored glasses.  Lately my life has been “La Vie en Bleue,” or life seen through a blue filter.  It no doubt seems worse than it is, being I am still grieving over the death of my dog.  I can do nothing except wait for my morbid mood to change, like the weather does periodically.   Meanwhile, I keep a nightly habit of writing in my blog, just before bed, in an attempt to dispell a few demons and find a bit of peace for my soul. 

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Going Home

For the past ten years or so I have had the habit of murmuring to myself  “I want to go home.”  It took me awhile to realize what this means.  It is a death wish.  Home does not refer to my earthly abode but my instinct of another home in whatever comes next.  I learned that this wish is often expressed by senior citizens like myself.  

I want to go home.  

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Fighting the Text Spammers

A few weeks ago I started receiving unwanted text messages on my iPhone and iPad.  They were advertising sites and subjects of a sexual nature.  I texted back the universal message that all ethical testers use, “Stop.”  That generally puts an end to the unwanted messages.  However, these spammer scum were anything but ethical and the messages kept coming.  I asked to be taken off their mailing list, but no dice.

I did an online search for a solution, and was advised to block the phone numbers sending the texts.  I did.  The messages stopped for a day and then started up again, with new phone numbers from the sender.  I blocked the new numbers but each day there were more.  I patiently blocked the new ones, thinking if I can’t stop the messages, at least I can make them work harder to send more.  I was at. war with the spammer scum and almost enjoyed the fight.  I was determined to outwit the spammers.

Finally I searched the iPhone apps and found several that claimed they would stop unwanted spam texts.  I chose one called SMS Spam Filter.  It has both a block list and an allow list.  For each phone number I added the area code and the first 2 digits of the phone number.  If the number began 1(201) 508, I added only 1(201) 50.  This prevented the spammers from using a slightly different number like 1(201) 509.  If they did, it wouldn’t matter since only the 1(201) 50 would be enough to block the spam.  I also noticed all the texts were from either hotmail or cricketwireless accounts, so I added hotmail and cricketwireless to the block list.  I also added certain terms in the messages like “sex,” “slut” etc to the block list.

I had to set this up separately on both my iPad and my iPhone, because texts would get through if I did not.

Next, I activated the filters by going to settings, messages, and message filtering Unknown and spam; then selecting SMS Spam Filter to activate.

It seems to be working as the spam texts have finally stopped.  Take that, spammer scum!

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

80 Years Ago Today

Eighty years ago today the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, sinking American ships, destroying planes and killing American military personnel.  It was a sneak attack and we were unprepared for it.

Today our biggest threat is from Communist China, who are building up their military at a furious pace.  They are preparing for war.  It seems there will always be a tyrannical totalitarian power, anxious to capture and control more peoples and territory.   Taiwan is in danger, as is the Ukraine in danger from Putin’s Russia.  Matters are not helped by the fact we have a fool in the White House with no credibility as a leader.  

Monday, December 06, 2021

Why Religion Sucks

I like Jesus, the man and philosopher.  His birthday is worth celebrating every December 25th.  Nevertheless, I have serious problems with Christianity.

In a nutshell, the story of Jesus is this:  God made man as a human being, with certain traits, needs, desires, and temptations.  But God didn’t like his imperfect creation.  When humans do human things, also called “sin,” like adultery, fornication, lying, etc, then humans must be punished by being thrown into Hell, a Lake of Fire, and suffer ghastly torment for all eternity.  In other words, God is punishing us for his mistakes.  Seems a bit harsh and unfair to me.

To escape this punishment, you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he was raised from the dead, and that he died for your salvation, I.e., the remission of your sins.  Believing all this is problematic for me, since it happened 2,021 years ago and they didn’t have videotape, newspapers or keep great records back then.  Of course, you may believe on faith, and faith isn’t as weak as atheists would have you believe.  Faith is just another way of knowing, sometimes at least.  

Somewhere in the New Testament it says that “there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood.”   So Jesus had to suffer a horrible death for things he didn’t do, to satisfy this God’s bloodlust and desire for revenge.   What kind of monster god is this?  Not one that I choose to believe in.   

I am not, however, an atheist.  Have no fear:  you are already an immortal soul and you don’t need saving.  I prefer the eastern theory of birth and rebirth, the soul learning more with each incarnation until it may escape the cycle of reincarnation and remain in Heaven.  When wise people are referred to as “old souls” this is what they are referring to.  

Don’t agree with me?  You don’t have to.  No one knows for sure what our time in this realm really means.  Hopefully, we will eventually find out.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Sick of Twitter? Try Gettr

There is a new social media platform that closely resembles Twitter.  It’s called Gettr and it’s growing quickly. I have an account now using Stogie2 as my sign in name.  Many well known conservatives have opened accounts there now.

Check it out.

Disqus Sucks as a Commenting System

Disqus is a great security system, if you want to be protected from reader comments and messages.  Since I installed it many months ago, comments to my blog have slowed to a trickle.  When I do get a rare comment, I have to jump through the same hoops as anyone else in order to reply.

Those hoops include a login, password and captcha screen before you can get through.  If you get the password or login name wrong, you won’t get an error message until after you’ve gone through the captcha maze. 

Today or tomorrow I am sending Disqus into oblivion.  Commenting should be easy and straight forward, and not require a phd in programming.

Whatever happened to Tinsel (Fake Icicles) on Christmas Trees?

Our Christmas tree is up.  However, it doesn’t seem as pretty or as magical as Christmas trees as those in my past.

My wife pointed it out when she mentioned that she missed tinsel, the fake icicles of years gone by.  The hanging silver colored strands on every bough reflected the lights and gave the tree a lovely ambiance.  But you can’t find them in stores anymore.  Perhaps for ecological reasons, stores stopped carrying them.

I searched and found some.  I ordered a box of 2000 strands for $6.00 and change.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

The Love of a Dog

I have watched several YouTube videos on coping with the death of a beloved dog.  People experience deep grief when their dog dies.  I am not unique in that regard.

Here is one such video.  It’s worth watching.

Home For Christmas: the Best Place to Be

I feel for the sojourners who find themselves far from home in the Christmas Season.  Like truck drivers, military personnel, traveling business people.   Strange vistas,  unknown towns, hotel rooms, restaurants.  Cold and snow.  Surrounded by strangers.

God bless them all.  May they soon be cuddled with their spouse, kids and dog, by a warm fire with a Christmas tree nearby, glowing with colored lights.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Another Day, Another Post

After neglecting this blog for nine months, I am posting regularly again.  The reason is that I use my iPad far more than my laptop, and I finally have an app that allows me to post from my iPad.

I got my iPhone 13 today.  It’s my first new phone since my iPhone 7, which I am retiring.  New toys always cheer me up, and I need cheering up, absent my beloved dog, Bogie.  I hate the futility of grief.  It’s the mind struggling to solve an insolvable problem, the irreversible absence of a loved one.

For the past few months I realized that Bogie’s departure was near.  He was 14.  So at night, preparing for sleep, Bogie would curl up at the foot of my bed. I would pet him and tell him:  “I love you, you don’t know how much I love you.  When you die, take me with you.  We’ll go to Heaven together.”

Unfortunately, Bogie couldn’t wait for me to join him in his final journey.  I hope to catch up with him later on.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Religion and the Nature of Reality

What’s It All About Alfie?

My grief over the death of my dog, Bogie, has me in a strange but contemplative mood.  

What is the nature of our reality?  Why are we here?  How are we here?  What happens to us when we die?

Philosophers have contemplated these questions for thousands of years.  If God wants something from us, what is it?  Why hasn’t He been more clear and transparent about it?  Yeah, yeah, we have the Bible.  I’ve read it and the questions remain.  I have problems with the Christian tale and promise of salvation.  I may go into it at some point, but I have no desire to undermine anyone’s faith.  I am not on a crusade to destroy anyone’s religious beliefs, with the exception of Islam and certain Christian sects that kill people through ignorance and fanaticism.  Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example.