Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pick a book, any book; now be it

By Bob Gaydos

... recent reading
Remember books? You know, lots and lots of words on paper strung together in some sort of sensible, occasionally poetic, way to tell a story. No pop-up ads. Not textbooks. Book books.

I’ve been acutely aware of synchronicity in my life of late and books have played a part in it. Let me admit straight up here and now that my relationship with books had grown cool in recent years. Not a complete break, but sporadic at best. Technology lured me away.

Recently, though, life hit me head-on, leaving me mostly immobile and homebound. No TV. After a while, even I-phones and laptops lose their charm. I picked up a book: “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” by Tom Wolfe. Here’s some synchronicity: The only reason I had this book in my possession is that I had just finished reading Wolfe’s “Hooking Up,” which was one of several I picked up at the library’s used book store because my son, Max, said he was looking for something to read. “Hooking Up’’ reminded me that I liked Wolfe back when he was writing for the New York Herald Tribune. I also liked his “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

So I went back to the library and found “Electric, etc.” and “A Man in Full,” which I just finished and whose main character is an older gent recovering from knee surgery, like me.
I’m good on Wolfe for a while. Now, I’m reading “Contact,” by Carl Sagan, which I also found at the library store. I started thinking about my most recent choices in books and was thinking about asking friends for recommendations for some more recent books they found worthwhile.

Then, synchronistically, a Facebook friend in Seattle, Jim Bridges. posted an item informing me it was National Book Week. There were rules about finding a sentence from the book closest to you and posting it without telling the title of the book. So I did. Something from “Contact.” I also realized that Jim had just reminded me that, not too long ago, Facebook was regarded as social media, a place where people shared such information with friends as what they had for dinner and what book they were reading.

As far as I know, no one responded to my Book Week post. They probably thought it had something to do with, yes, politics. That’s just not right. Not long ago, when I started writing a blog for the Internet, friends routinely participated in discussions of whatever the topic was. Now, I feel a sense of frustration and fatigue on Facebook, which has become highly politically charged.

And so, I’m writing about books. Pay attention. I’m still looking for something to read after “Contact,” which I’m enjoying. As I said, my most recent reading -- the past 18 months or so -- has consisted of nothing new. Actually, nothing from this century:
“Slaughterhouse Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut; “A Prairie Home Companion,’” by Garrison Keillor; “1984,” by George Orwell (I had a suspicion.); “Hooking Up,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and “A Man in Full,” by Tom Wolfe; and the current, “Awareness,” by Anthony De Mello and “Contact,” by Carl Sagan. Vonnegut and Orwell I read on Kindle, the rest on paper. I’m partial to paper, but not fanatical.

I would really like to know what you’re reading or have read recently that you would recommend. I plan to share the information in future columns, the way we used to do a while back. I’m also going to post it on Facebook and elsewhere at least often enough for friends to notice and have an opportunity to reply. You know, socially.

I have one other book-related item to share. My partner and I recently watched “Fahrenheit 453,” the 1966 movie version of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic tale of a society that burns books. (Again, I had a suspicion.) In the film, Julie Christie and other members of the secret resistance to the ban on books live together in a secluded community. Each member picks a favorite book and memorizes it so that the words will never be forgotten. The title of the book becomes their name. “Wuthering Heights,” meet “David Copperfield,” for example. 
They spend their days reciting themselves to each other and pass the books on to younger members before passing on. A living library.

So, friends, if you were a book, who would you be? I’m going with “Catch-22” for now. Joseph Heller. Please join me. Let’s be social again, at least until the impeachment.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Technology opens up new avenues to addiction

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

Which came first, the Internet or the addiction?
That existential question is at the heart of a debate among psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals in the addiction treatment field. Is all that time people spend on their laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones a sign of addiction to the technology itself, or is the technology merely an extraordinarily convenient vehicle by which to accommodate the addiction? And, either way, is there potential harm?
The answer to that last question is yes.
Internet addiction disorder (sometimes called technology addiction or Internet Use Disorder) is not listed in the latest DSM manual (DSM-5 2013), which is used by psychiatrists to officially diagnose addictions. However, Internet gaming disorder (video games that are especially popular with men in their 20s and 30s) is listed as a condition worthy of further study.
The only non-substance related addiction included in the manual is gambling disorder. And yet, it doesn’t take a scientific study to know that there are people who spend hours online looking at pornography, still others who will shop at e-bay and other Internet sites as long as PayPal will allow them to and still others who have become day traders (and night traders) on the stock market -- either because it’s right there in their living room or because of some other less obvious reason that might come out in therapy.
And, of course, there are the those who frequent social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (often at work), as well as ubiquitous texters (mostly teenagers) with smartphones at the ready wherever and whenever it’s necessary to share some news, or photo, or, you know, whatever.
Officially classified or not, some researchers believe that some of these behaviors -- hours of gaming, sex-related surfing or non-stop e-mailing or texting in particular -- have a lot in common with recognized addictive behaviors. To wit:
  • A high tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Negative repercussions.
The researchers say people who use their cell phones or computers for hours at a time may feel a “high,” similar to substance-centered addicts, as well as a feeling of restlessness when cut off from technology.
Some video gamers have been known to play non-stop for several hours, eating junk food, drinking soda or energy drinks for the caffeine, and ruining their eyesight and posture. They may have trouble sleeping or may feel depressed. School work goes undone. Job performance suffers. In-person friendships suffer. Hobbies and other interests that do not involve technology disappear. Life revolves around the game.
For gamers, or those who spend excessive time shopping online, looking at pornography, taking selfies or constantly checking Facebook postings, it’s possible, even likely, that there are issues involved beyond the constant use of technology that would benefit from the expertise of a psychotherapist.
Which brings us back to that which-came-first question. Given the constantly expanding role of technology in our daily lives -- work, school, social communication depend on it -- treating the harmful behavior is not as simple as don’t pick up the drink, the drug or the credit card, or stay out of bars or casinos, or knock off the french fries. It’s more likely to consist of recognizing when the behavior is getting out of hand and working with a therapist on a plan to address it.
There are, for example, apps that will tell you it’s time to shut off your smartphone or do it for you and others that will shut off your computer internet connection or block specific Web pages. Figure out if any of these could work for you. If you’re a concerned parent, talk to your child about cutting back before arbitrarily confiscating the phone.
Whatever the addiction is --  whether it’s in the official DSM manual or not -- it’s all about control, or lack thereof. Bottom line: If a behavior is causing problems in your life, it’s a problem.

There’s a movie about it
With all addictions, it’s always comforting to know you’re not alone. With Internet addiction, there’s an award-winning movie that discusses the challenges and struggles of young people growing up in the digital age. SCREENAGERS” explores family conflicts over video games, social media and academics. Screenings are available only through community events at a school, community group, church, synagogue, workplace, theater, etc. The Warwick Valley School District hosted a screening last year at the high school. It was followed up with a discussion featuring a panel of teens at the Albert Wisner Public Library.
More  information:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Behind the bluster, the GOP sacks America

By Bob Gaydos

Ryan, Trump, McConnell ... the unholy alliance

One of the major problems in living with a narcissist is that everything is about him. He dominates the conversation, the day-to-day business, in sum, everything. It's easy to forget that there are other things going on in the world other than those revolving around him. He demands constant attention. He seeks constant attention. And if those around him are not aware of what is going on, he gets constant attention, whether he deserves it or not.

When that narcissist occupies the most powerful position in the world, it sometimes seems as if there's nothing else worth paying attention to or worth writing about other than whatever mean-spirited, idiotic statement or executive order emanates from him. Every headline, every news report, virtually every social media posting involves him. It is a nation taken hostage.

I have shaken my head in bewilderment every morning as I awaken since Nov. 9 and desperately look for something to write about that does not involve him. Let those whose jobs require them to write about him do their jobs and do it well and honestly and courageously. I'm still hung up on what the others in his party of convenience are doing to this country while everyone else is busy watching his Twitter feed.

The Republican Party once upon a time had a conscience, a sense of duty and had enough members with the guts to stand up and call a liar a liar, a bully a bully, a fraud a fraud, a bigot of bigot, and a crook a crook. Even when that crook insisted he wasn't one.

No more. Their leaders have sold out to Wall Street, to big corporations, to right-wing fanatics, to white supremacists, to hypocritical evangelicals. To the people who donated millions to fund their election campaigns. And so, while the narcissist in the Oval Office has rained havoc around the world, diverting everyone’s attention, Republicans in Congress have been taking a hatchet to every conceivable program or regulation in place to protect or serve the American public.

They helped coal miners by saying it is now okay for coal companies to dump their waste into the rivers and streams where their employees live. They say we don't need a law designed to keep mentally incompetent people from getting gun licenses. They say endangered species don't need protection from man. They say funding for PBS and the arts is unnecessary. They also say funding for Planned Parenthood is unnecessary. And one of their leaders, Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, he of the constant smirk, now says he will somehow manage to find $20 billion to pay for a wall between Mexico and the United States. That's the wall, you will recall, the narcissist said Mexico would pay for. Mexico said no way. That wall will never be built.

Also, and maybe you hadn't noticed, but congressional Republicans also say there's no reason for the narcissist-in-chief to show the rest of us taxpayers his tax returns. And that plan to repeal and replace Obamacare -- which apparently many Republican voters don't realize is also known as the Affordable Care Act? It still doesn't exist, after eight-plus years. Former GOP House speaker John Boehner said the other day, ‘’It's not going to happen.’’ 

He ought to know.

And finally, the piece de resistance, that $1 trillion, job-creating, infrastructure plan that the narcissist was going to design with his Republican colleagues in Congress? Haven't heard a word. Folks, they're making it up as they go along, stepping on people with little power and running away from questions by citizens who dare to show up at Town Hall meetings.

If you watch the movie, ‘’You've Been Trumped,’’ you'll realize this is all just the same plot over and over again. In place of the Scottish government that rolled over to the narcissist and let him wreak havoc on the Scottish coastal environment, bully people, ignore laws and build an ostentatious golf course, we have congressional Republicans, smiling and nodding and saying in private to other nations, ‘’Don't pay attention to what he says.’’

Don't worry, Europe, we’re still on your side. That Russian thing? Overblown. Fake news. You know how reporters are. Besides, we've got Mike Pence warming up in the bullpen. When, not if.

I digress. A recent posting on social media suggested that perhaps our narcissist-in-chief would benefit from a dose of LSD. At first glance, I thought this was somewhat bizarre since the aforesaid seems to already have a bizarre sense of reality. But what the heck, I read the article since there's nothing else on social media. The idea is that LSD strips the ego, lays it bare. Hello? This is me. Now. The article further said that the psychedelic drug was now being used again in legitimate research as a possible treatment for various illnesses.

 I'm reporting this mostly because I came upon the article just after finishing reading Tom Wolfe's ‘’The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.’’ Yeah, I was late to the party, but synchronicity, you know?

I have my doubts that any drug could shrink that narcissist’s ego, much less induce a sense of reality that inspired love for all people. Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey were searching in different ways for something universal deep within the human spirit through the use of psychedelics. As far as we know, they didn't find it. Then the government made it illegal.

But hey, if they're really doing research with LSD again, I’d just as soon they use Mitch McConnell as a guinea pig. Wouldn't he be a blast on the bus?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Going ape in the Oval Office

By Bob Gaydos
Ham the chimp
I started writing a column a few days ago by likening what is happening in the White House these days to a chimpanzee jumping up and down on the furniture and throwing feces at the walls. A group of white men, I said, stood by with thin smiles as if approving the actions. When the chimp left the room to watch television, the men went about rearranging the furniture and cleaning the walls the best they could. A thankless job, I wrote, but it pays well. That should tell you all you need to know about those men.
I didn't get very far with the column because I soon realized it was terribly insulting to chimpanzees. They are, after all, our closest cousins, sharing 98 percent of our genes. They are intelligent creatures who enjoy people and know how to behave appropriately in their environment. In the jungle, act like a hunter. In the Oval Office, act presidential. In a space capsule, act like an astronaut.
As fate would have it, 56 years ago on Jan. 31st, a chimpanzee named Ham became the first "American” launched into space, Sub-orbital. The historic event was captured nicely in the movie version of "The Right Stuff.’’ As the seven Mercury astronauts compete to be the first, the movie dramatizes the launch and splashdown and reveals America’s first astronaut to be … a chimp.
Ham’s flight from Cape Canaveral to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean lasted 16 minutes and 39 seconds. Ham wasn’t just a passenger in the capsule. He pulled the appropriate levers at the appropriate times and performed perfectly. He suffered only a bruised nose for his efforts. His flight paved the way for Alan Shepard’s flight in May later that year. Second American in space. That makes Ham an American hero in my book.
I doubt the current occupant of the White House could be trusted with such a mission as Ham’s. For one thing, it required focus. Also, discipline. Spurred on by Ham’s story, I did a little more research on chimps. It turns out they share a lot of traits once supposedly reserved for humans. They enjoy friendships. They have strong family bonds. They can show empathy. They can make and use tools. They can remember distant events. They've been observed showing regret and exercising self-restraint and wouldn't that be welcome in the White House today.
Some observers say chimps can even understand when other creatures know or don't know something. That's another way of saying they have a realistic assessment of whomever they are dealing with. No guesswork. And yes, being almost human, they can be violent. Usually it's because there are too many alpha males in a group and not enough females. Most violence that occurs is between groups of chimps rather than within a group, although one group recently was said to have killed a  former leader who was described as a tyrant. Maybe a brutal form of justice?
Really, the only negative thing I learned about chimpanzees in my brief research is that they are endangered. Of course. Their population has been eliminated everywhere except central Africa where they are poached for food. Man apparently cannot bear to have other creatures alive on this planet without killing them for sport or commercial gain or, in this case, an exotic source of food. Unfortunately, respect for other living creatures Is just one of many positive traits that seem to be lacking in the current White House occupant.
So I apologize humbly to chimpanzees for even considering such a comparison as mentioned at the top of this article In the first place. I further encourage all compassionate human beings to contribute to such organizations as the World Wildlife Federation in their efforts to save these wonderful apes.
As for those clowns in suits in the White House, he's your wild creature. If you can't make him behave, you've got to get rid of him. After all, the house belongs to the American people. The previous tenant left it in beautiful condition. Clean that crap off the walls and find someone who knows how to act in public.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tom Wolfe, LSD, Orange Hair and Me

By Bob Gaydoskool-aid-book

I have been in a funk since Nov. 9. That’s the day I woke up with the realization that millions of Americans had lost their minds, if not their souls, and elected a man who is morally, psychologically, intellectually and spiritually unfit to be their president. The dumbest thing that has happened in my lifetime.

I stopped writing.

Finally, in desperation for inspiration, I turned to sports and that great philosopher, Reggie Miller (older Knicks fans can boo now.) For younger fans of the National Basketball Association, think Steph Curry. Shooters. Scorers. What do great shooters do when they are in a shooting funk, when everything seems to clang off the back rim or fall inches short of the basket? They keep shooting. They don’t pass the ball to someone else. They shoot themselves out of the funk.


Now, I am not saying I am in the same class as a writer as Reggie and Steph are as shooters, but I have been writing for a long time and I think I have some skills so I figured the instincts would kick in once I started.

So instead of writing, I started reading. Tom Wolfe. Purely happenstance. I picked up some used books at the library because my son, Max, was looking for reading material. Short stories. He wasn’t interested in Wolfe’s “Hooking Up” and I had never read it, but had really enjoyed his “Bonfire of the Vanities.” So I ventured in. I quickly remembered why I liked him.

Then happenstance melded into serendipity. My partner and I watched “The Right Stuff,” the movie based on Wolfe’s book. Enjoyed it. There’s more. The last essay in “Hooking Up” detailed Wolfe’s assignment, with Jimmy Breslin, as the first writers/reporters for the Herald Tribune’s Sunday magazine, New York.

My favorite newspaper as a teenager and my favorite magazine. I grew up reading Breslin and, as it turns out, Wolfe. After a brief, there’s-no-way-in-the-world-I-want-to-do-this-the-rest-of-my-life flirtation with engineering, I started writing. In more than 50 years, I have only stopped for brief intervals. Going with the universal flow, I went back to the library and picked up a couple more used Wolfe books, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and “A Man in Full.”

By the way, this is by way of answering those sympathetic friends who have asked me what I’ve been doing since The Dumb Event. For one thing, I’m trying to do things that make me feel better, things I can control.

… But let me digress.

To all those who pooh-pooh the Russian election connection, who doubt the Kremlin hacked into Democrats’ e-mails and released them in an organized effort to elect You Know Who and who further doubt that Vladimir Putin had anything to do with it, I turn again to sports and the biggest story that got lost in the election -- Russia’s decades-long government-sponsored program to cover up the use of performance-enhancing drugs by virtually all its Olympic athletes.

A report recently released by a Canadian lawyer, Richard H. McClaren, who works for the World Anti-Doping Agency, confirmed it all. McClaren and his team made short shrift of Russian denials. Medals were repossessed. Athletes were banned. A Russian official involved in the program said the direction came from the top. In Russia, there is only one top. This is the Russian way, or at least the Putin way. Of course he knew about the steroids. Of course he knew about the hacking. No Russian would dare do either without his approval. Not if he didn't want to wind up with poison in his vodka.

… So where was I? Right, reading.

I’m learning much more about Ken Kesey and the acid/pot/speed hippie freaks of the ‘60s than I ever intended to. The meaning of life on LSD.  It’s a good read. I found it especially interesting how Kesey came to write “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Nothing like first-hand experience. I just started the book, so there will likely be more on this later.

What else? I started looking for local issues I might be able to help out with since I believe change starts close to home. I’ve also recommitted to my off-and-on interest in photography. Living in an especially scenic area of the Hudson Valley, it works well with my inclination to report on what’s going on around me. On my travels the other day, a farmer walked his cow across the road right in front of me, casual as could be. Nonchalantly, I missed the shot. But I know where he lives. Gotta keep shooting.

… Speaking of nukes, Putin recently said he wanted to beef up Russia’s nuclear weapons capability. Our soon-to-be Twitter-in-chief knee-jerkedly responded that he planned to do the same with the United States’ nuclear armaments and that no one would be able to keep up with the U.S. in a nuclear arms race. Be still my patriotic, tax-paying heart. Robert Reich, a voice of sanity on social media, reported the above and asked, “What do you think?”

Robert, I think Putin is playing his puppet for the fool he knows him to be. I think all the Republican officials who applaud every time their “king” says something insane are shameless toadies. I think Putin is setting Orange Hair up to act like a big hero at a summit conference in which Russia and the U.S. decide to stop the war of nuclear words and de-escalate, rather than escalate, the nuclear arms race. In exchange, of course, for U.S. concessions. Drop those sanctions for grabbing Crimea. Hold back support for NATO countries that don’t pull their own weight. Let Russia handle things in Syria. Buy some Russian goods (whatever that might be). Don’t retaliate for Russia’s hacking. Stop criticizing Putin’s treatment of dissidents. Give him the respect, he deserves. “Da da, you understand that, my presidential friend, I’m sure.”

I think Putin wants to increase Russian influence over the world, not destroy it. He knows he can do that by pushing buttons and pulling strings.

I also think it would be beneficial to Americans if Ivanka revoked Daddy’s Twitter privileges and read some history to him every day and tested him on it the next day.

And finally, I think maybe I’m feeling a tad better, but the funk is not defunct. Sorry, Reggie, I may have scored a couple of points, but I think I have to keep on shooting.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Addiction and Recovery
It’s a disease, not a moral failing

By Bob Gaydos
Dr. Benjamin  Rush

There’s a week for everything in this country, some serious, some not so: National Handwashing Awareness Week; Celebrate Your Name Week; Fix a Leak Week; Mental Health Awareness Week; Freelance Writers Appreciation Week; Nurses Week; National Kraut Sandwich Week; National Indoor Plant Week.
One of the more serious ones -- National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week -- recently passed with little notice. However, there was a useful, informative blog about the week on the news site. It was written by Dr. Judith Branche, of Cornerstone Family Healthcare’s Center for Recovery in Newburgh. Dr. Branche is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine.
One paragraph in the blog especially struck home with me: “(A) significant problem is the lack of understanding of the problem for what it truly is. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to explain what a substance use disorder really is. Addiction is a chronic disorder of the brain which affects brain chemistry in a significant way. This may be a new concept for many who believe that drug addiction is no more than a moral failing or a character defect that a person should be able to overcome if he or she puts their mind to it. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Amen, amen, amen. I’ve been writing on this topic for about a decade. In my opinion, this remains the biggest problem with regard to alcoholism and addiction -- that many, probably a majority, of people do not buy the disease concept. This includes  many government officials who are in a position to help lessen the harmful impact of the disease. They look upon it as a law and order issue, rather than a health issue.
So we declare a war on drugs and throw the addicts in prison along with the pushers. Diabetics don’t get locked up for being victims of sugar. More to the point, executives of food companies who load their products up with sugar under dozens of other names don’t get arrested for fraud or posing a public health risk. They get bonuses. Their customers who wind up addicted to sugar get insulin and a new diet plan. Follow it, or get sicker.
Addicts, alcoholics who want to fight their disease have to first fight insurance companies to get coverage for treatment, probably have to “fail” at outpatient treatment if they want in-patient rehab and then hope they are lucky enough to find an in-patient slot. Winding up in prison is a whole lot easier.
The tricky thing about the disease of addiction is that many of those who have it do commit crimes while under the influence or in search of money to get more drugs. Alcoholics do drive drunk and kill or injure others. This is where moral judgments take over, understandably. But while their disease may explain their actions; it does not excuse addicts from the consequences. Still, in paying the price, addicts should at a minimum also be offered a chance at treatment. It’s possible to get clean and sober behind bars.
Of course, much of the damage addicts do is not of the criminal variety. It is of the personal variety, often directed at those who care most about them. Living with an active alcoholic can be like living in a volcano -- unpredictably eruptive. Indiscriminately destructive. Loving the addict and hating the disease, as Al-Anon suggests, is excellent advice, but no one says it’s easy. It takes a lot of practice and patience and it does not mean accepting or enabling unacceptable behavior. But if more people tried it, I believe the disease concept would become more real and the stigma attached to the disease would lessen. That would help those seeking recovery and the people closest to the addict would be better able to deal with life, regardless of whether the alcoholic/addict was active or not.
Of course, the addict has to accept the disease concept as well if he or she hopes to having meaningful recovery. Simply abstaining from using through will power often makes for a more miserable person who is just not drinking. Rather than saying, "I'm an alcoholic and I can't drink for the rest of my life," the alcoholic can say, "I have a disease that makes it mentally and physically impossible for me to drink safely." Obviously, the alcoholic can drink anytime he or she wants, but the treatment for the disease is abstaining and finding some other source of solace, serenity, strength to deal with the rigors of life.
That's not an easy decision either. But the more society talks about addiction as a disease, not a moral failing, the sooner, I believe, we will see more positive results in fighting it.
(Author’s note: While the opinions expressed are solely mine, they are based on discussions with hundreds of alcoholics, addicts and professionals in the substance abuse field.)

Who says so?
  • American physician Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), who signed the Declaration of Independencence, is often cited as the first who understood drunkenness to be what is now called a "loss of control" and possibly the first to use the term "addiction" in connection with this meaning. He wrote: “My observations authorize me to say, that persons who have been addicted to them, should abstain from them suddenly and entirely. 'Taste not, handle not, touch not' should be inscribed upon every vessel that contains spirits in the house of a man, who wishes to be cured of habits of intemperance.’” He said, "Habitual drunkenness should be regarded not as a bad habit but as a disease," describing it as "a palsy of the will."
  • Between 1980 and 1991, medical organizations, including the AMA, established policies on the disease theory. These policies were developed in 1987 in part because third-party reimbursement for treatment was difficult or impossible unless alcoholism were categorized as a disease. The policies of the AMA, state, in part: "The AMA endorses the proposition that drug dependencies, including alcoholism, are diseases and that their treatment is a legitimate part of medical practice." In 1991, the AMA endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Some random thoughts upon awakening on Nov. 9

By Bob Gaydos

I know it happened, but it feels surreal. We just gave a petulant child control of the most powerful military machine ever assembled. Here’s the key to the nuclear weapons closet. Don’t use it. Not sure he has heard that last part. ...

Remember when all those people thought it would be 
 funny to vote for Sanjaya on “American Idol”? He couldn't sing worth a lick, but he made it to the finals, all the way to number 7, thanks to Howard Stern and a joke website. Lotsa laughs. Sanjaya might have won if there weren't some people with real talent on the show. … That's it for now. This has to be a mental health day. ...

OK, I'm back. It’s Thursday. Still surreal. Can’t think about it for too long. Deepak told me this morning – well, not me personally – that if I change, my world will change. Intellectually, I get it. My perception of reality depends on my intent and my awareness. if I want to remain sane and live with a modicum of serenity, I need to focus on things that I can do something about that will also provide some positive feelings  and shut out things that will do the opposite. Take care of my world. ......

I read that California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana. That ought to boost the U.S. economy. Did you know California’s economy is the sixth largest in the world? Maybe it will put some DEA agents out of work, but that war on drugs hasn’t worked anyway. It could make that wall on the Mexican border unnecessary. ...

wish I could say I'm sorry to see Hillary go, but I'm not. Worst campaigner ever.  She should've gone to Standing Rock. She should have fired Debbie Wasserman. If I  were a millennial, my intent and awareness would be totally focused on Elizabeth Warren in 2020. ...

My friend, Ketchup Bob (he counts ketchup as a vegetable), told me over coffee Wednesday morning that at our age if we woke up in good health it was a good day, even if it was raining. That's the kind of uplifting message he gives me: You’re old, but you're here. Drink your coffee and be grateful. … Intent and awareness. ...

I'm a few months older than Bernie Sanders, so I don't think he's got another run in him. But I think he’s going to be keeping tabs on a lot of people's intent in the Senate for the next four years and that is a source of hope. Take your vitamins, Bernie. ...

I'm not reading any political stuff on Facebook for a while because obviously nobody knows a damn thing. And it is not exactly a wellspring of sanity and serenity. …

Oh, I erroneously reported a couple of weeks ago that Soupy Sales had died. Well, he had, but he did so in 2009. Sorry about that. Sloppy reporting. Got it off Facebook. …

Moment of clarity: There's no cure for stupidity. ...
Starting to feel a little better.