What I Need To Give Up

My excellent meditation ap, Daily Calm ($80 annual), asked on the first day of Autumn, “What do you want to give up?” Seemed like a fair question. My five-year-old daily meditation practice plus daily prayers of gratitude, seems to have helped with the process.

I want to give up grudges and resentment. I come from a long line of grudge holders on both sides of my family. I saw the toxic effects. I’m trying to break free. It took me a half-century to accumulate this baggage; it may take a while to unpack it. In the meantime, I thank God daily for grace and mercy, and for my multitude of blessings. I wake up every morning filled with gratitude, joy and love, which I am trying to spread.

I am not working on this alone. People from my past and present (you know who you are) are working with me. Also, some great psychotherapists. Brain Spotting. Crystal Bowl Music. Soul Retrieval. All part of the process.

And of course, my friends, going all the way back to college, when they threw out my ridiculous wardrobe and taught me how to disguise my roots as a working-class nerd from the sticks. And, the woman who ignored my desperate efforts to attract her attention, and the other woman, who said “We could have a shitty six-month affair and never see each other again, or we could not sleep together, and be friends for the rest of our lives.” We’re still friends.


My vignettes are piling up. Here are a few:

My Granddaughter

She was throwing everything on the floor. Thanks to a suggestion from Robert Malchman, I have purchased a grabber, so she has to throw farther to beat me at her own game.

Random phrases are not talking, but when she finishes eating now, she says, clearly, “I’m Done.”

My grandson
When I was visiting the other day, he he did a side plank and a rear plank (exercise moves. Look them up). Both times he said “This is easy Abba,” but I responded “only for you”

My daughter asked me to limit my grandson's TV watching yesterday by telling me to limit his time on the Fernsehapparat (a ridiculous German compound word meaning far-seeing apparatus) a word she learned from me. At the age of 5, my grandson is already catching on to pig Latin, and my French is execrable (Marlow's German is non-existent), leaving us only a handful of deception options.

Screed: Self-Made Person

(If you like this preview, or don’t, read the whole screed here.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. People who declare themselves “self made” are full of codswallop that tastes very similar to its cousin, “no government help.”

We are, none of us, self-made. We are a happy (hopefully) accident of genetics, environment and social influences. And of course, we all think ours are best. All those accomplishments? You owe them as much to your great-grandmother who walked from Independence, Mo., to Portland, Ore. in the 1800s.

People say they have never taken a penny from the government, so “why pay taxes?” Well, bozo, the road you drove on, the water you drank, the legal system that protects you and your contracts, the air traffic control system that insures your private jet arrives safely at Aspen, are all paid for by taxes. Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

This and That

Semi-Rad Link Rolling
To get links like these a week early, subscribe to Semi-Rad. Like this:  A museum loaning an artist $76,000 to recreate a couple pieces of art: result: two blank canvases titled “Take the Money and Run..

Top Five Sort Of

The Top 5 List now does sloppy seconds; More Signs Your Relationship May Be Over: “Great to See You” kisses among friends don’t usually involve tongue.

Big Pharma Lies
If you’ve always been a suspicious of Big Pharma lies about the relationship between R&D and drug costs, you’ll enjoy this congressional grilling. Kind of like Big 3 automaker management: “We can’t afford raises… except for us.”

Grammar Gripes From Geezers

Put together a chat room full of retired and working journalists, and you are likely to hear things like this:

Why do we use “people” instead of ”persons”?  If “people” is better, why don’t we write, “One people was killed today…” etc.

The misuse of “murder” continues to increase.. “Murder” is a legal term and properly is used in an indictment or charge or in a jury verdict. Often murder becomes something less, like “manslaughter.”  I like as a better term, ”slay,” or its derivatives like “slain..

What about "unnamed person" vs "unidentified person." How about the phrase "take a listen?" Often used on television. Or a reply, "That's a good question" to the interviewer.

I have been chafing lately over reporters' misuse of the word "per" when "according to" is meant, as in this example from today's Baltimore Sun:  "Bolden is not licensed to practice in Maryland and needs to co-file all papers with someone who is, per the court’s rules of attorney conduct."

My own peeve: use of the word “over” for “more than,” as in “over a million dollars.” Even the New York Times has caved in on this one.

Music Reminder/Heads Up

Until this week, if  you listened to Paul Sings Paul on Spotify, you heard two versions of my songs; one sung by me and one sung by my freelancer. Alas, that  set up a sometimes invidious comparison. Still, Mine are better orchestrated and sung with more heart.

Or go to the PSP page and listen for free to either the MP3s of the individual songs, or the half-hour program that presents all 10.

Will there be more? Ask my muse if you see her.

Falling in Love With History

Helen Cox Richardson, whom I blogroll every week (Letters from an American) mentioned recently that she fell in love with history early in life.

History and I have a had a rocky relationship for 58 years. We’ve been friends, even friends with benefits, but I’m not sure the relationship ever rose to the level of love.

I kissed her first in 1962, a month after my tenth birthday, when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, my mom put my brother and me to bed one night by telling us there might be nuclear war before morning. That dalliance continued for a decade of duck-and-cover, during which she was an overhanging presence.

Then we started going steady in my teens. I understand that it wasn’t uncommon in my generation for teenage boys to be interested in World War II. I read all the books I could find on the subject…

[See this entire entry here]


[length warning] My wife recently decided to cull the museum that I call a clothes closet. I could not have made the decision alone.

One of the first things to go: all my suits, including my first custom-tailored suit: a three-piece black pinstripe made for me by the Scottish tailor in the back alley behind what was then Bank of America world headquarters at California and Kearny. Given downtown SF’s regular icy fogs, it was made of sturdy wool. In sunny Contra Costa County, it was less suitable. I had only worn it once or twice a year for a decade, so out it went. Since my weight has varied by 80 pounds over the years, that suit had been taken in and out more than an accordion.

Fortunately my high school letter sweater escaped, so I wore it for the first time in decades this spring. Shockingly, no moth damage. Also shockingly, it still fit.


Tux sweater-piecesofstring1

The 1940s white Tuxedo jacket bequeathed me by my father-in-law (my dad only owned one tie, and I got that too; so far, no tie culling) is still there; I wear it once a year at a band concert.

I wear my tuxedo at least four times a year at band concerts, and although it was tailor-made for my in 1985, it looks as good as new because a) it is seldom worn, and b) I paid a ton of money for a quality job.

Cull to the contrary notwithstanding, I still have shirts that are older than my daughters.

I am certain my 30 ties will end up being worn in some of the Bay Area’s finest homeless settlements, but I am slightly saddened that my two dozen cufflinks, unwanted by my sons-in-law, are going to end up scrapped―not even used jewelry stores want them. Outside of acting, television and politics, there is no man left in America who still wears French Cuff shirts.

I, on the other hand, wore then in high school 57 years ago, at a school where most boys wore tee-shirts.

Now you know more about me than you ever imagined you would. Throughout history, people have judged others by their clothes. I used to wear bow ties because I thought they made me memorable. As one colleague said to me at the time, “Bow tie or not, no one who has ever met you will ever forget you.”

Retiring Old Subway Cars

BART recently announced the retirement of all its 53- year-old subway cars. I could not help remembering my July 1975 interview with MBTA Chairman Robert Kiley, new on the job after stints at the CIA and Boston City government. I have a copy of the article, and found I didn’t include this exchange, although I recall it distinctly.

“Why is it that the first train on the Blue Line each morning is a 1923 car?” [Then 52 years old]

“Because the 1923 cars will start reliably in bad weather, while the 1956 cars will not.”

I am hoping that the experience will not be repeated here, since the old BART cars will not be available the way the MBTA 1923 cars were. Maybe the new ones will be able to run on wet tracks.