January 13, 2009

Cheapness Plus Incompetence Equals Disaster

Buona sera. I received some distressing news from Neil. (Yes, he's fine and the Bulletproof Bitch's influence is less pronounced in his life.) He works for a huge company that shall remain nameless for now. It's a "Fortune 500" company with international activities. They count their profits in the tens of millions of dollars each quarter of the year.

The distressing news? No raises this year. Neil's company sent out a memo announcing that not only would there be no raises ("economic uncertainties"), but employees should work harder and be happy. Stronzos! Who likes to work extra hard without appreciation? Everyone wonders how big the salaries are for the CEO and the Ivory Tower Management, and if those will be frozen as well. Not bloody likely.

Part of the problem is that this company has regulations to follow. So, they are in and out of court a great deal. If they are late or foul up somewhere, they have to pay fines. There seems to be a lawsuit of one kind or another happening constantly. The Attorney General is going after them again right now, too.

To me, their solutions are simple. First, hire enough people and trained them properly so they don't have so many grotzits going out the window. Second, stop being cheap by cutting corners. (This company wants the employees to build Rome with nothing more than two bricks and a turdball, and then wonders why it's in so much trouble.) With adequate staffing, adequate training and adequate provisions, they would be in far greater shape.

But add to this cheapness and incompetence the element of fear. After all, 2009 begins a new season in the White House with a nut case tax-n-spend Liberal. Democrats were so intent on punishing "the rich" for being "rich", that they did not care how it affected businesses. And businesses are expecting to pay higher taxes.

Yesterday, January 12, Rush Limbaugh said (my paraphrase) that things like this, including layoffs, are a pre-emptive strike. Although nothing has happened yet, B. Hussein Obama wil not be in power for a few days, companies are still hurting the people that they depend on for their financial success.

One of my contacts in the 00 Division has been laid off. Amazing! Nothing is sacred. I offered him my services and some words of wisdom that I hope will do him some good. But both of these situations are agonizing.

Sure, I guess we should all be happy that we have jobs at all. But for how long? Neil is polishing up his résumé and is ready to jump ship if an opportunity arises. He just has to be careful that he doesn't jump into something that will be sinking faster.

January 7, 2009

John Wayne Values

"It's kind of a sad thing when a normal love of country makes you a super patriot. I do think we have a pretty wonderful country, and I thank God that He chose me to live here."
— John Wayne

Buona sera,
Pilgrims and Pilgrettes. Yours truly still has a Duke buzz going.

After watching John Wayne movies and reading some biographical information, I see more than ever that he was the embodiment of strong American values. Something that bothered me on a quotes page: "...major American motion-picture Actor who embodied the image of the strong, taciturn cowboy or soldier and who in many ways personified the idealized American values of his era."

"...of his era"? Say it ain't so, Joe! Not only do his values apply today, but we need those values.
He did not want to get on a soapbox and preach. Instead, he'd say it through his movies.

But when he did speak his mind, it was straight to the point. Just like he did in his "pictures".

"I want to play a real man in all my films, and I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either."

And another to go with the first:
"I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble."

This gem fits very well:
"I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please."

Yep, no nonsense.

And his political views were startling for Hollywood. I have to state here that I detest it when someone will use their star power to influence someone's vote, such as people named Baldwin, Streisand and others. In The Duke's case, he did not spend years campaigning for a cause or to have a President thrown out of office. It turns out that he had strong Conservative views (another trait that I find endearing).

"If it hadn't been for football and the fact I got my leg broke and had to go into the movies to eat, why, who knows, I might have turned out to be a liberal Democrat."

"I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living."

We've made mistakes along the way, but that's no reason to start tearing up the best flag God ever gave to any country."
"Very few of the so-called liberals are open-minded . . . they shout you down and won't let you speak if you disagree with them." This one is very timely. My experience with Liberals is exactly the same; freedom of speech, except when you disagree with them.

He was his own man, however. The Duke broke ranks with the Republicans on the issue of the Panama Canal, and sided with Jimmy Carter. Don't know if I agree, but he took his stand according to his own beliefs. That is something I can respect.

The Conservative movement needs John Wayne today. America needs John Wayne today. But the values he possessed are in the hearts of freedom-loving men and women all over this country.

John Wayne was given the Congressional Gold Medal just before he died. The inscription that was requested for him, and granted? "John Wayne — American". Straight to the point.

January 3, 2009

Cowboys, Rednecks and Heroes

"Courage is being scared to death - and saddling up anyway."

Buon giorno. Now that festivities and difficulties surrounding Christmas are over with for a while, it's time to get back to the business of daily living. And writing.

"Are you going to be a cowboy again, Uncle Bob?"

Yep. Well, people do expect it of me, don'tcha know.

Cowboy Bob Sorensen from Question Evolution Day 2012I've been thinking about being a cowboy. (No, I don't mean that I'm going to be a poser and dress up in the full western regalia, smoke long cigars, drawl and do other things that movie cowboys do.) What got me thinking about it was when a woman called me a cowboy one time. She was making a joke, but I started thinking about it after that and realized that it has some truth in it for me and my father as well.

What does it mean to be a cowboy?
Sometimes it's a derogatory term, meaning someone who is reckless. When used in the proper context, I can understand this usage because sometimes I go into situations with guns blazing and taking risks. The classic cowboys were known to get very rowdy after a long cattle drive.

A real cowboy knows how to ride and care for horses, tend to the cattle, put in long hours, work hard and do all sorts of difficult things. They need to have a strong work ethic in order to succeed. If I was put on a ranch and told to go to work, I'd need to have things explained to me, or ask if the ranch needed computer assistance. That is, if I was needed to do actual cowboy work, I would be lost. Real cowboys have a high-risk occupation. Reckless? No.

Recently, I've been rediscovering Western movies. I'm not into the modern, R-Rated Westerns, though. No, I'm talking about the classic Westerns. John Wayne and friends. You may recall that I briefly went on about the "Bonanza" television show a while back, saying that they had good values in that show. I've been seeing strong values in the classic cowboy movies, too.

Please pay attention, 007. I'm well aware that these are idealized, fictional characters and concepts on celluloid. But I'm more than willing to draw valid points from them. And I'm going to stick with John Wayne for this discussion.

In McClintock, a man asked G.W. McClintock (John Wayne) for a job and received it. Then he took a swing at G.W. (unsuccessfully). The new hire was frustrated because he never had to "beg for a job" before. McClintock said, "I don't give jobs, I hire men." After a brief discussion, he took his new hire to the ranch anyway. Why let a little thing like throwing a punch at you in a moment of emotional turmoil spoil everything?

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "Out here, a man solves his own problems." Right. No room for whining or expecting someone else to take care of things for you. It's a harsh life, and you have to adapt.

John Wayne's character in The Shootist said, "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them." Fair enough!

"I never shot nobody I didn't have to", in True Grit. What, are you supposed to let someone try to kill you and not respond? Not in that environment. And in Big Jake, "There's two reason to kill - survival and meat. We need meat."

And when a good man would give you his word, you could count on him keeping it. Similarly, in Chisum, "We do exactly what we started out to do." Get the job done, capice?

Not only are these cowboys "straight shooters" with their guns, they speak their minds. Maybe because they believe in doing what's right. I also like Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles. He did what was right in the face of adversity and despite the fact that the people he was trying to help didn't really like him.

"A man's got to do what a man's got to do."

There's a song title that comes to mind, "All of My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys". In a way, that's true for me. Bruce Willis in the extremely violent and profane Die Hard had to get the job done under adverse circumstances with what he had available, yippie ky yay. Video game hero Duke Nukem was a bit of a cowboy in that shoot-em-up. So were Indiana Jones and James Bond, to some extent.

In real life, General George S. Patton (I want to stand up at the mere mention of his name). He knew about courage in the face of fear, and getting the job done.

Ronald Reagan was considered a political cowboy by his detractors because they considered him reckless, but he got the job done as well. Those landslide elections kind of put his political enemies in their place, huh?

Uh, sorry, Kid Rock. Your "Cowboy" song doesn't fit here.

By the way, have you ever noticed that people use "redneck" as a derogatory term? Of course you have. What do rednecks have to offer?

First of all, "rednecks" are considered to be from the south for some reason. Yes, I know that Jeff Foxworthy says that being a redneck has a "glorious absence of sophistication", but in the broader usage, a redneck is a southerner with values that some people don't like. However, I do like the stereotypical redneck values. The good values of "rednecks" are often the same as those of cowboys.

By the way, I sort of disagree with Alan Jackson's portrayal of the "southern man", because it implies that a northern man doesn't have those same values. But — why is it that I don't see many of those values proclaimed in the North? (Or in rock music, for that matter?) Is it my imagination? Someone needs to explain it to this former Michigan boy living in upstate New York.

Charlie Daniels has something good to say about rednecks. Here are some highlights:

What this world needs is a few more rednecks
Some people ain't afraid to take a stand
What this world needs is a little more respect
For the Lord and the law and the workin' man
We could use a little peace and satisfaction
Some good people up front to take the lead
A little less talk and a little more action
And a few more rednecks is what we need
I was raised on beans and cornbread
And I like my chicken fried
Yes, I drive a pickup truck
And I'm full of American pride
I keep a Bible on my table
I got a flag out on my lawn
And I don't believe in mindin'
No one's business but my own
This part gets a "yee haw":

...it's a shame ole John Wayne
Didn't live to run for president
John Wayne didn't think an actor could run for president. And then cowboy actor Ronald Reagan did it. Ironic and hilarious, I think. The Duke supported him.

Back to Charlie Daniels:
What most people call a redneck
Ain't nothin' but a workin' man
And he makes his livin'
By the sweat of his brow
And the calluses on his hands
Now you intellectuals may not like it
But there ain't nothin' that you can do
Cause there's a whole lot more of us common-folks
Then there ever will be of you
"How does this make you a cowboy, Uncle Bob?"

I was coming to that.

It's the values and the concept. I believe in hard work, success, being able to speak the truth, being a man of honor, solving problems and the basics of "right and wrong". I don't know about hayburners (horses), campfires, herding cattle and branding, and I won't pretend to be a cowboy in the truest sense of the word.

I'm not stupid; I don't believe that cowboys are perfect. And I don't pretend that I've "got it together" myself. Maybe I'll even become somebody that I like by the time I'm fifty.

So, yes, I think there's a bit of cowboy in me. And "redneck" values. Now, 'scuse me while I whip out that Trace Adkins CD that I got for Christmas.

Ciao, Pilgrims!

December 29, 2008

Thoughts About Memorial Services

Buon giorno. While this may appear somber at first, keep going.

I did not make it to my brother's funeral. With the snow and ice in Michigan and New York, the cost and difficulties of actually getting a flight just after Christmas, etc., I was not expected to be there. But I expect to make it to the interment service in the spring. However, aside from being there in spirit, parts of this earlier post and Sharon's writings were included.

My other brother and his wife told me that it went well. And it was very different that what you might expect. Sure, it started with a hymn (one of his favorites, "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands"), Scripture readings and prayers at the beginning and end. But the part I like was based on one of Jack's favorite characters, Frosty the Snowman! This was also because Jack was a "happy, jolly soul". The sermon title was, "Don't You Cry, I'll Be Back Again Someday!" What a great double meaning!

I was cheering inside what Keith, Sharon and Rev. Gary had put together for Jack. (Yes, I feel it's safe to put first names in here. Especially since Tommy the Knocker has volunteered to give trouble to anyone who gives trouble to them. Capice?) Good job!

But in a way, why the sad faces? Yes, someone is no longer with us. But shouldn't this be a celebration of his or her life? Lela and I agree, "Roast me and toast me". We also agree that cremation is best (much of my family is using that route). On a side note, I know that some people say, "Gosh, Cowboy Bob, isn't cremation a pagan thing?" My response is, "So what? They can have a pagan ritual, we can have a Christian ritual."

I remember a recent episode of Ghost Whisperer, where a friend of the departed was supposed to give a solemn message. Instead, he said (paraphrasing here), "He wouldn't want us acting like this, all sad and everything. Let's celebrate his life, the joy he's given us!" Then he played some music and had everyone in the church dance to it. I thought that was great.

Maybe the funeral industry needs an overhaul. A good mix of spiritual values and celebration seems to be in order. When it's my time, I want to be looking down (heh, I hope I'm looking down and not looking up, if you catch my drift) and seeing some joy. At least, I hope I've brought some joy and been of some benefit to people.

OK, that's enough. Although somewhat joyous, I have to admit that the monitor got blurry a couple of times.

Ciao, Jack!

Addendum 12-30-2008 :

"God, how I hate solemn funerals. When I die, take me into a room and burn me. Then my family and a few good friends should get together, have a few good belts, and talk about the crazy old times we all had together."

— Marion Robert Morrison (John Wayne) . Jack liked John Wayne.

December 26, 2008

Bulletproof People

Don't worry, gang, Stormbringer still has plenty of thunder left in him. Not as loud today because I'm tired after the Christmas festivities.

First off, I want to clarify. At my age, I use the term "kids" loosely. It doesn't have to be someone college age or younger. I've seen people in their thirties that I consider "kids".

"What in the world are you on about, Cowboy Bob?"

People consider themselves bulletproof. The younger they are, the more indestructible they seem to think they are. Especially in areas related to health. Scott the Collector can booze it up, stay out late and still come in to work and I don't see a lack in his performance. Ernie the Gambler is gambling by chowing down on fast food and sugary sodas instead of decent meals. I don't mean that it's wrong all the time, but it's a lifestyle for him. That crap catches up to you. (It's funny, ZZ Top's "TV Dinners" just started playing...)

I want to tell people to wise up so they don't have health problems in the future. You know that I've told you about some heart difficulties that I've had, and became diabetic as well. Take care of yourselves while you can so you don't have to have my experiences. Yes, I know that things will happen despite your best efforts. But why go asking for trouble?

Here are some ways that I see the bulletproof mindset in younger people.

  • The "know everything" attitude. I want to knock some people over the head when they won't listen to the voice of experience, or even another intelligent viewpoint on a subject. This is often carried out through a statement that sounds like a prophetic utterance, no matter how inane it really is. Have you ever had a political or religious discussion with someone in the public indoctrination — I mean, education — system? It's alarming.
  • Refusing to admit when they're wrong. This is a kind of subcategory of the above point. It shows a closed mind, unwilling to listen to someone else's viewpoint or consider facts of which they were previously unaware.
  • Reckless driving. I've lost friends and acquaintances of all ages, or had them maimed, because of their cocky driving.
  • Reckless sexuality. Sure, you're young and you have more stamina. But promiscuity and binge sex? Aside from the moral difficulties and risk of incurable diseases, there are spiritual and psychological side effects that you are not considering.
  • Gullibility. Just because something is on the Internet, television, in a movie or "documentary" does not mean you have to suspend your ability to reason. Check things out, for crying out loud! Will this cause them harm? Well, what do you think?
  • Bad eating habits. Although I had straightened out my own habits for several years, the junk food caught up to me and I had to have a heart blockage removed. It accumulates and catches up to you in the future. And those blasted sugary drinks? You're killing yourself, Skippy. On the psych front, bad food and drinks (especially with little or no exercise) contributes to depression.
I don't think I need to go on about having the music too loud for too long, illicit drug use, excessive alcohol and tobacco or the inability to appreciate ZZ Top.

And I don't care what your music star and movie star heroes are doing. Let them self-destruct and go into rehab. Your assignment is to pay attention to what you're doing to yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Consider using moderation.

I know you're probably saying, "This does not apply to me". See what I mean? Hey, I had to try.

December 21, 2008

A Time of Loss

Not much thunder from Stormbringer today.

Isn't it strange how sad events happen around Christmas? One friend told me that his brother-in-law's wife died last week, and that the brother-in-law has had a series of difficulties recently. Another friend knows someone who has suicidal tendencies. A third friend lost his father on Christmas Eve. I can name other disasters that happened around the week or two before Christmas. Yes, they happen all year round. But it's certainly more difficult at this time of year.

Today is December 21, 2008. About an hour and a half ago, my oldest brother died. He was 64.

Jack ("Jackie" to many family and friends) was born with Down Syndrome. He could not talk, but was able to do basic functions for himself. He was content to watch television or listen to his phonograph records. Jack was not able to stay at home for most of his adult life, and was in various state institutions and eventually into foster care. For the last few years of his life, he was in an adult home.

Later in life, he had health problems that developed. At the end, he had to use a walker to get around, and an oxygen tank was a frequent companion. Various infections occurred, and the last one is what did him in.

He was stubborn. The doctors were simply guessing, and I believe that it tormented our parents when they said he would not live very long. "He won't live to puberty"..."He won't live to..." Ha! He fooled them all. In fact, we understood on the 19th that he would not last the day. Stubborn Jack held off until the 21st.

There have been people praying for our family at this time, and we all have appreciated it. My next oldest brother and his wife were the main facilitators of his care. They did a great job, and I was especially glad of what they had to do, and deal with, while I was 750 miles away.

I have to admit that I had trouble in my younger years understanding and dealing with his condition. That, and the fact that we were apart most of the time added up so that we were never close. But he was still my brother. Hey, I've admitted my faults and failings on here before, yes?

One memory that keeps coming back is that my mother (who passed away a few years ago) said, "Just think, in Heaven, Jackie will be perfect." That was something for me to look forward to then as well as now.

I wouldn't be on my game if I did not add one moment of anger. This is directed to the arrogant atheists that seek to take away the faith of those of us who believe in God. What do you have to offer? Are you going to attempt to take away the comfort that my brother is now perfect, at peace, entirely whole in Heaven? That he will be with our mother? Or that our father, who does not know anyone (or who he is himself) will join them in a grand, happy reunion one day? Or the rest of us, at that? I have some people to look up myself...

I'm going to be more blunt here: This is part of what Christmas is all about. The real meaning. Jesus came to live among men, to die, to be bodily resurrected. At this time of loss, we have the hope that he gives us. Capice?

Addendum 12-22-2008:
Here is an excerpt from a letter from my sister-in-law. As I said, my father does not know anyone anymore, and does not even know who he is.
We stopped in to see Dad today. He did not seem to understand. I stopped in on one of his neighbors. Doris told me that last night after dinner, "John started scratching back & forth in his chair as he normally does; then all of a sudden he let out a very loud howl." Doris said he sounded like an angry bear. This would have been out the time of Jackie's passing. Just thought you would want to know.
Perhaps my father did know after all...
(Edit: My father died less than two months later.)

December 17, 2008

Liberal Kids These Days

Gather 'round, kids. Uncle Bob has another story to tell. This one is true (and I do tell you when they're not), but I'm not going to give names and locations because I don't want to cause undue embarrassment. I have proof, but that's only for my own satisfaction and not for public view. Also, I pieced together some of the details after the excitement.

I was messing with an instant messenger and picking on the daughter of one of my goomah's. She's in college, and I started playing. She did not know who I was, but the clues were there and she would have figured it out. Why didn't she? She's a bright girl. The problem was that she has a jealous, controlling boyfriend that was right there. He took over the messaging and started in on me.

The girl had told him she knew who it was, but he was having a good time thinking that he was ripping me a new one. He dared to accuse me of sexual harassment, which was laughably untrue. (I have plenty of girlfriends at the club, I don't need to make my moves on a college kid. Another reason that I wouldn't make any moves on the girl is that she is extremely liberal and the opposite of me in every way.)

Let me stop the story for a moment and point out that colleges are liberal indoctrination centers. Liberal girl's boyfriend was obviously a liberal as well. Why? Because she wouldn't hang around him if he wasn't, and because of what passes for education in colleges.

OK, back to the story. It is interesting is that he insisted that I identify myself, but refused to identify himself ("I don't have to!"). I did not initiate a conversation with this guy, and told him that he had a double standard. He did not know what it means! When I pointed it out, he still justified his actions. He was dead wrong on all counts, but still insisted that he was oh so very right.

I was nice to him for the girl's sake. People who know me are aware of my online slapdowns that send my opponents home crying to Mommie. Damn, I love running rings around them logically!

What I want to show is that cafone boy was incapable of restraining his emotions so that he could reason, he would not listen to his girlfriend (she knew it was me, remember), he certainly would not listen to any reason from me, he was fond of himself for thinking he had me (bada bing!), and justified his double standard.

I place a high value on critical thinking, even when it comes to emotions. The above situation shows what I already knew. Namely, that colleges do not teach reasoning skills. Instead, they teach liberalism, which is not logical and appeals to emotions. Liberals are in charge of the country now, and they seldom resort to rational thought processes. Reason is needed for making intelligent decisions. And that's why Conservatives need to take this country back. Capice?

Subscribe in a reader