Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm off to Chicago on Monday morning for a client meeting that lasts through Thursday afternoon. My wife will fly up to join me on Thursday afternoon for a min-vacation, through Monday.

With my gluttony on hold (or, I should say, permanently eliminated in favor of sensible eating), our normal emphasis for such a trip will change. Instead of a laser focus on food, we will try to find appealing food that will fit our new lifestyle while we aim at something else.

This trip, it appears we're going to be on an architectural odyssey. If the weather holds, we'll plan to take a Chicago River architectural tour, which is one of the most intriguing things one can do while in Chicago. The architecture from the river is spectacular; the Chicago Architecture Foundation tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and make the trip a blast. My wife's sister, and her sister's boyfriend, will join us for Saturday and Sunday and they, too, have expressed an interest in the Chicago River tour, so we're off to a good start.

Then, we're hoping to get together with some old friends for dim sum on Sunday morning (well, the diet has to step aside sometime, doesn't it?). They are a lot of fun. When we lived there, we used to drive all over Chicago...into some pretty dicey neighborhoods...with them just to see the world and experience the amazing sights and sounds of the city. I think they're still into that; last time we visited, we wandered through the old Italian parts of town and, late one evening, found a street cart selling freshly-made gelato.

I hope I can keep my mind off work for at least awhile. We have another client meeting in Washington, DC the first week in October and we have an ENORMOUS amount of work to do for it. I hope my staff and a temp can get on top of it while I'm away; if not, I'll have to spend some of my time in Chicago on my computer, taking care of the client.

After the October event, there is plenty more to do, but we have at least a modest breather. I need a breather.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Central Standards

I posted a comment on the PBS Facebook page a day or two ago, responding to a comment critical of David Brooks (New York Times) and Mark Shields (syndicated columnist), two regular political analysts who appear on the PBS NewsHour. The comment to which I responded suggested that the two men are not sufficiently "left" or "right" to be worth listening to; rather, it suggested that both are centrists. My comment was this: "I appreciate Shields and Brooks precisely because they are not the strident, shrill, argumentative political shills that seem so popular today. While they both speak from a relatively centrist viewpoint, they have different perspectives that are thought-provoking."

One of the responses to my comment follows: "Jose's point about the pro-establishment bias and lack of diverse opinions in terms of race, class, political opinion and economic perspective is a good one. They speak in the calming, measured tones of authority that needn't raise its voice, but that doesn't erase the troubles or the suffering that does cause people to raise their voices in "shrill" or "argumentative" protest, most of which will never be aired on PBS, just as it will never be broadcast on Fox News."

When I read that comment, and others like it, I realized that what I consider civil, reasoned debated and arguments by political analysts (both of whom have admittedly biased perspectives but who can understand their opposition's viewpoint) are viewed by others as worthless because of their visible lack of outrage. And then, in thinking back just a couple of years, I realized I have felt the same from time to time.

Occasionally, I make it a point to watch far-right commentators--who I do consider shrill, argumentative nutjobs--just so I know what they are saying. But I used to watch their counterparts farther to the left much more frequently because I agreed with their positions and, I suppose, I wanted my ego stroked by hearing my opinions echoed by the likes of Keith Obermann. I still appreciate Keith Obermann's positions far more than I do Glenn Beck's (who I consider a dangerous psychopath), but I don't expect either of them to give me anything but their narrow perspective on the world. For the most part, they do not deliver news or analysis; they deliver feel-good-juice for those who share their perspectives (or, blood-pressure-enhancement to those who don't).

Perhaps it's simply because I'm getting older that I find the shrill, argumentative, high-pitched outrage I so often hear from apologists for extreme points of view very, very annoying. I can't help but think that the people who drink it up like koolaid, whichever flavor, are missing the opportunity to achieve any level of true understanding. When one's perspective is so completely controlled by one's own opinions that any differing opinions are merely dismissed, understanding is not possible.

You might think I'm becoming a centrist myself to read what I've just written. Possibly, but I think not. I still have strong opinions, most of them constructed from a very liberal perspective, but I choose to listen more to those who do not share them. I tend not to listen, though, to people who screech about their political positions but, instead, I listen to reasoned 'calming, measured tones" that tell me the speakers are telling me what they think, not simply what they feel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I've spent the evening downloading and listening to music. "Free," for the most part, courtesy of TXU, which thanked me for paying my electric bills all these years by giving me a certificate good for 15 credits (one credit per tune) to download from

This "free" music illustrates what I've believed all along. My electric bills in this unregulated environment are sufficiently high to fund not only retirement in luxury for the greedy executives of the company but they're high enough to fund "gifts" to the schmucks who pay the bastards.

But if I have to get shafted, it's better to be shafted and "paid" for it than not. So I got a fresh copy of an album that wasn't of high enough quality to transfer well to iTunes. I also got some individual tunes: Nashville Cats by Lovin' Spoonful; Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Nikko Case; and They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore by Kinky Friedman.

Oh, I glanced through the latest issue of Family Handyman (my wishful thinking read). I am ready to put in tiger's-eye glass tile counters in the master bath; all I'm lacking are skill and money. They claim it's an easy do-it-yourself weekend project, but I know better. If I started it, it would take months, if not years, and would challenge every ounce of my ability and my patience.

So maybe I'll take a yoga class, instead.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Something tugs at my sleeves as I start to venture out, drawing me back.
It feels like fear, but it's not mine; it's fear that I'm taking us into uncharted water without an oar and without a sail and with no life vests and, maybe, without caring that I'm putting us in danger.

I flush in anger at the tug on my sleeve, but silently breathe a sigh of relief that my courage can't be tested, not yet.

There's truth in the fear, you see. There is no plan, no anchor, no lifeline, just an urge to experience what may be real freedom, but may simply be chaos.

Plans are for the weak, I say to myself. But maybe my bravado is an analogy for sloth or indecision or some other flaw that's hidden among the thousands of others.

I could stop the tugging at my sleeve, if I really wanted to. The real fear, though, is of taking off my shirt.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bidness as Usual

Thanks to Konagod for posting this so I could re-posst.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Listen, Body!

My body misunderstood itself. It thought the change in diet and the consequent drop in blood pressure was a signal for the kidneys to shut down. Silly body! That's not what it meant at all!

I've had a chat with it and everything is fine. The nephrologist agrees; says come back in a month to check things out, but in the meantime there are no food restrictions, etc. and all is back to normal, unless he calls me with bloodwork results to tell me differently. Neither of us anticipate that.

My body is paying much closer attention now.