Wish I’d Had This Advantage

A close friend thought he was having a heart attack last week. All the tests and doctors opinions boiled down to over exertion. He found that his heart was just fine.  His chest pains were like the ones we got in high school from working out so hard in sports, and breathing like a steam engine.

The pain you get with a heart attack is unique, to say the least. For me, it was large and sudden, and I was getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day (May 9, 2010) with Diane and the kids—I hadn’t spent two hours swimming laps.  And, it wouldn’t die down.

Forty-five minutes after calling 911, I was in recovery with two stents and no damage to my heart. PTL, if I may.  Since then, I have had stress tests and EKG to make sure things are fine. Things are fine. And, with the stents, I gained back my ability to get a full lung of air, to top it off—I hadn’t been able to do that for about three years! Sometimes now, I take a deep breath like and savor it like I’m eating a Butterfinger candy bar—it’s that pleasant and rewarding.

So, what is this wish, this advantage? Anyone can now get the tests that can help determine your need before you have the attack, or worse—a stroke!    Life Line Screening!

I have friends who have had stents put in because a problem was discovered, but they didn’t have to risk death to find out. LLS advertises on television now, and the cost of the battery is $150. No brainer if you are over 50. Well, at least you can think about it.




Two Brothers and a Big Wheel

The faded red and yellow plastic Big Wheel, scooted down the sidewalk, skidded to a stop, picked it up, turned it around, and raced back to our drive where the older brother spun out, leaving a thin trails of black polypropylene from each rear tire. He circled his little brother on my daughter’s plastic toy.
“It’s my turn, Michael. You’ve had it forever,” the little brother shouted. The older boy, bolted down the sidewalk again, going farther on the low-riding three-wheel wonder. The third drive down, he pulled out of sight behind the neighbor’s car.
Matthew turned to his father, who stood speaking with me. “Daaad?”
His father ignored his plea, and buzzed on about whatever we discussed.
“One minute, Matthew. Don’t interrupt.”
“Dad! He won’t give me a turn.”
His father turned to his older boy. “Michael. Give Matthew a turn. Michael? Michael!” Eventually Michael popped out from behind the neighbor’s car and zoomed back into our drive, spinning out again, and then slowly rolled out of the toy, savoring his ownership.
“You’re too big for that, anyway,” his father said. “Why in the world…?” And he turned back to our conversation.
The little brother saddled up—a perfect fit. With a big smile, he spun the front wheel till he got traction. He skidded onto the sidewalk. Michael chased along behind him. He put his hands on the little boy’s shoulders, and pushed him . “Ow! Michael, leave me alone,” Matthew shouted. He squirmed, and ducked forward avoiding his grip.big-wheel
Michael ran ahead of him. He jumped onto the sidewalk in front of him. “Dead end, sir! You’ll have to go around.”
“Michael! Let me go. You had your turn!”
“Go around.”
I watched, looking past their father. Matthew tried to peddle over the lawn, but St. Augustine is not passable. As the father turned to see what I was looking at, Michael quickly stepped aside, and the Big Wheel moved along the edge of the sidewalk, half on the grass.
There wasn’t a moment that the younger boy was free to enjoy his turn—his older brother had taken the pleasure and the joy from him. Why? What was the payoff in fouling someone else’s pleasure? Was it jealously, or hope that his target would give up his turn sooner than later? Was it the idea that ‘if I can’t have it, no one can?’ Or, was it a base pleasure that accompanies destruction of others and their property—vandalism. It frustrated me, it was unfair—it certainly wasn’t my place to step in. True story.
Since Donald Trump’s election, we have had riots that some called demonstrations. There was an expensive recounting of the votes into which ring Hillary Clinton threw her crown. And the media’s criticism of Mister Trump has been relentless. And now, President Obama is planting landmines of fiat laws, regulations, commuted sentences, and inflammatory statements about Donald J. Trump—anything he can do to stall the new administration.
Trump and his supporters have not been free to enjoy their victory—the opposition has sucked the pleasure and joy from the Americans who elected him. Why? What’s the payoff in fouling up someone’s pleasure in their success? Is it jealously? Or is it the hope that their target will give up his turn? Or, is it the idea that ‘if I can’t have it, no one can have it?’ Maybe it’s the banal pleasure that accompanies destruction of others and their property—vandalism, nihilism—gives a crude, undeserved power. It’s unfair—but boys will be boys, I guess. I think I could use one of those crying rooms at one of those expensive schools.

Fare Share? Taxes?

We have four seasons In California: drought, wildfires, earthquakes, and elections. The election season, more than ever, has become tax season. And, California is a leader in taxing those wealthy people who must be vilified—they have become that Great Gray They, this nameless, faceless evil cadre. Why would anyone want to be a rich person here in the Golden State?
Governor Brown (Governor Moonbeam) actually ran on a “higher taxes” platform, and squeezing every drop from  those at the top who somehow hold all the money, and deny kindergartners food and education. And, no doubt, the drive-by voter feels that those taxes will never fall to them (except as a benefit), or effect them in any bad way—the top one percent is finally, finally going to be made to “pay their fare share.”
There are two reasons or uses for taxes: we need money to provide defense and certain necessary services, and secondly we tax products and institutions we want to destroy or drive out of the state.
Cigarette tax is $4 a pack, and that tax has been very effective in driving down smoking. Baby Boomers recall that back in the fifties—when cigarettes were 25¢ a pack, in vending machines, in restaurants—our parents and grandparents smoked, the neighbors smoked, the barber, people in diners, cars, hotel rooms, on TV… not anymore.
People with money, entrepreneurs, retirees such as I, friends of mine, are leaving the state. If you are wealthy enough to live anywhere, and you are vilified and targeted daily by our state officials (how they love that title: State Officials), why would you stay?

Rubbing Donald’s Nose in It

Sunday, October 8, 2016

Wow, (low, disappointed sigh)—an eleven-year old hideous blue torpedo blew up in our faces. That video of Donald Trump’s candid remarks from Hell is indefensible, and a lot of his important supporters have jumped ship.

I’m glad I wasn’t taped saying any of the things I’m ashamed of (and there’s plenty). But, I would never have been arrested, tried, convicted and incarcerated for anything I’ve done. Trump’s statement won’t bring a conviction either, though Hillary hopes it will spell an end to his run.

Eleven years might almost be called recent—it’s being reported as though it was done two days ago when the New York Post released it. I choose to believe that Donald Trump has changed in eleven years, and that this tape as an embarrassment to him, just as it would be to you or me, it’s his past, not his present. Being embarrassed by your past is a good thing if it truly is your past—it keeps you humble; or it humbles you.

I’m gambling on Donald (sure it’s a gamble) that his current business practices support what he currently says, that women enjoy working for him, and that as President he will do goode for all Americans. And it’s better to be ashamed today than to be impeached in February.

On the other hand. Hillary, having the press and a crew of 120 “hired guns”  ferreting out all the dirt she can find on one person for the purpose of destroying him, shows her to be a very talented leader, a specialist, a seasoned politician.

Hillary is not a gamble. She is everything we know her to be. She has proved she is secretive, greedy and self-aggrandizing—currently! When Trump is plied with the question, “Will you support the Presidency if you do not win?” he should answer: “Whether or not I win, I will see that Hillary Clinton is prosecuted for her crimes.”

Hillary’s power to bring down thunder, and to enjoy the help of the press, FBI Director Comey’s protection, and her special 120 person research team, is sickening and terrifying—such power! I’m reminded that one day we will stand before God (to see a video of our lives?) and that we will answer for every word we’ve spoken, and all our actions. As Hillary and Company dig and dig into Trump’s past, she grasps this kind of control, the kind of knowing that belongs only to God. The image of the climax of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when the Ark of the Covenant is opened comes to mind, when the German gets all the power he was looking for—pay day!

Hillary has perfected the new politics in her relentless pursuit of power and wealth. In the past, things said and done by candidates were off limits—Presidents were elected on policy and their ability to do the job. Hillary is doing everything she can to distract the conversation from policy and her record, and to keep Trump from talking about his plans or owning his record (his successes).

Vote for Donald because he can do the job of restoring sanity to the United States of America. Notice how he listens to us—listening and hearing a person, looking them in the eyes when they speak, is the highest form of love we can share on any typical day.

Donald Trump has spent time with the people while Hillary has sequestered herself, preparing every word she will say, learning how to get Donald to react. Donald is a builder, a doer; and Hillary is a talker, a politician.

One last image comes to mind from “Runaway Bride.” Richard Geer plays Ike, a reporter, who has gotten to know Maggie (Julia Roberts), the Runaway Bride, and become sympathetic to her plight.  At her rehearsal dinner, when her family and friends deliver toasts, each a running gag kept afloat for years at her expense, he is forced to deliver a toast.

Ike: You want me to make a toast?  Okay…
I’ll give you a toast.  To Maggie’s
family and friends.  May you find
yourselves the bull’s eye of an easy
target.  May you be publicly flogged
for all of your bad choices and may
your noses be rubbed in all of your





Conscience: Accusing or Excusing

Clark deNoon writes here as a guest author—
I’ve noticed that people implicitly ascribe a high degree of reliability to conscience, as if were either the underlying foundation for both their words and actions. Some find refuge in conscience as if it were a restoration of inClark deNoonnocence and purity. Others, evidently think that speaking or acting according to conscience is an expression of righteousness or, even, godliness. I find such behavior neither comforting, nor encouraging. Rather than admirable, reliance on conscience is, at best—naïve, worse—negligent, and worst—stubbornly juvenile.
My experience has been that reliance on conscience is flexibly either a substitute for reason, or the name given for a position that doesn’t stand up to reason. I find conscience to be both a dim light and primarily effective only in retrospect.
Perhaps, conscience was beneficial in the halcyon days of early childhood, when it was as tender and responsive as our flesh and bones had been. Placed in us by our Creator to accuse or excuse our behavior, its usefulness is limited and erratically obeyed, but as the years stumble past, and by the time we reach voting age, it has become numbed by bad decisions, conflicting knowledge, twists of logic, adoption of contrary values, the influence of education, and the many voices we have chosen to listen to and believe.
Under the sway of such influences, I find practicing reason and collaboration to be safer, more sensible, and more reliable. Reality has a way of defeating idealism, facts have a way of exposing fantasy, truth has a way of undermining wishful thinking, time has a way of ending naiveté, and reason has a way of correcting emotional decisions and transforming our thought lives.
Paul of Tarsus, a writer of many books in the Bible, describes in Romans 1:18 to the end of the chapter, what can happens to conscience when truth is denied and reason is abandoned. Chapter two makes clear how powerless conscience is to change the outcome of someone who relies solely on it in the face of judgment.
Isaiah the prophet quotes God saying, “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), as He goes on to urge the people of Israel to use sound reason, or suffer the long-term consequences of bad decisions.

Clark deNoon

Calling Cards on the Sidewalk

I dropped one of my business cards on the sidewalk the other day. I reached down to retrieve it and came a finger’s reach from another calling card from the WPA, the Works Project Administration (originally the Works Progress Administration). It was created in 1935 to help in the recovery from the Great Depression. Buildings, bridges and school built by the WPA bear plaques as a remembrance of our recovery—a slow recovery that ended at WWII.WPA 1941 split copy_edited-3
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 1.30.56 PM

But, sidewalk calling cards aren’t limited to government projects of coarse. On the brighter side, there are many more business cards stamped in the walks of my town. They were stamped by the contractors of 1950, 51, 52 and on. One of them was one of my Dad’s friends, Henry Cox of Cox Brothers Construction Company of Stanton, California.Cox Bros. Construction 1951 copy


You can find his calling card in the 1951 neighborhood of East Whittier. Look for it on Ocean View above Mar Vista. Hank Cox was around our house a lot. He lived in Garden Grove where I grew up. My father, a broker,  acquired property for Hank to build homes on.

There were many independent contractors who poured the sidewalks in Whittier. They built the houses and the buildings.Griffith Clean Vignette copy

Wonder once in a while. Think of who built this or that structure. Look down at the sidewalk where a stamp, a metal insert, or an iron municipal cover marks the presence of an American worker or contractor. Take notice when it says “Made in USA.”