Sunday, October 23, 2016


I haven't read newspapers for about a decade.

I turned off the television news many years before that.

Earlier this year, I unplugged from Twitter, my main news feed, because it had become ridiculous.  I knew more about what was going on than most, but the alarming descent from argument with a hint of debate to simply positional propaganda, regardless of topic, was too steep and too much.

A few months ago, I added the FoxNews feed to a web home page, just to at least know what some of the current headlines were with, perhaps, the least liberal of propaganda perspectives. 

Alas, no.  Here's today's list of important news items:

So, let's review.
  • "We're not giving up!"  How's that for positioning?  I dislike Trump immensely, and hate Mrs. Clinton even more.  But that's quite the spin on a headline about a "path to victory."
  • Indecent Proposal.  See previous.
  • Historic Rape Ruling.  Is this in the top three of important happenings in the wolrd?  Why do we have to promote rape?
  • Bob Dylan Slammed.  I personally find this humorous.  If I were shunned like the Nobelers, I'd like to think that I would act Nobler.  Why should he be slammed?  He didn't ask for this and probably doesn't want it.  If I refuse to go to your party, don't talk bad about me on Facebook.
  • This Bribe's for you.  More titillation in the top ten.
  • Police fear missing teen.  Sad.  But again, why is this top ten news?
  • Photos: Loose emu.  This I gotta see.
  • Rolling Stone writer recalls the moment.  Wait.  Isn't this rewriting history?  Did not the author blatantly fabricate this story to an end?  Was not the author caught in this fabrication?  Didn't the world shrug a big "who cares?" because even the idea of rape was, to her, more important than the students whose lives were ruined by false allegations?  See Matthew Shepard, of whom Mrs. Toadroller's catholic alma mater put on a play in tribute.  Diversity trumps truth.
We live in a time of watching events be rewritten in real time.  Of Winston not even bothering to go back through the headlines and re-write them, as few care to check if the emotions provided are the emotions they need.  Those that recall correctly are wronged, ridiculed, and recommended for sensitivity training.

We've always been at war with East Asia.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Nanny, Nanny

  • At the checkout counter in the grocery store yesterday, the clerk told the customer in front of me that she could no longer sell the customer the bottle of wine in her cart because her child had touched it.  
    • "Really?  Why not?" 
    • "It's the law."
  • A list of business articles from LinkedIn found its way into my email inbox.  One had the headline "Natural Resource Management: The Great Public Land Heist Has Begun."  I was shocked to see an article that could possibly be warning people that the government was about to take more private property and so I clicked.  And of course the article wailed and gnashed its teeth about the exact opposite: that a proposal through congress would begin selling off "our" lands to private interests.  Cue the Woodie Guthrie.
  • Two of the younger Toadrollers are attending a Catholic youth conference this week.  A letter from the busybody diocesan organizer stated that all prescription medicines and medicine schedules would be turned in to a medical practitioner on check-in, to be disbursed at need.  Apparently, there was an issue last year with two kids sneaking off and smoking pot, so naturally confiscation of medical prescriptions was in order.
  • In polite conversation with a colleague I'd recently met, it came up that he lived near Cleveland.  
    • "Really?  Whereabouts?  I was born in Cleveland."  
    • "Oh, in Solon.  It has a really good school system.  That's the most important thing, isn't it?"
  • Independence Day is one helluva marketing campaign, isn't it?  I love the American Idea, but loathe propagandized nationalism.  Every country has its independence day these days.  It's the latest thing.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Well Struck

The well struck golf ball provides a glimpse of perfection.

I can tell on impact what the shot will do and how closely its flight will match my intentions.

When I strike it pretty well, I can finish my swing then look to a spot the sky where I know it will be.  I tapped it a little to the left, but cutting right.  It's on a high trajectory.  Yup, there it is.

But when I strike it really well; when my thoughts were only on my target and the swing was as automatic as tying shoes; well, then I can simply look back to my target point on the ground and wait for the ball to drop in.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Slowly, Centered

My back, in this past month, has demanded that I slow down.

While this takes me away from my routines, forces me to abandon interests, and causes discomfort... there are lessons to be learned.

Proceed slowly.

I'm destination oriented.  I want to get to that destination as quickly and efficiently as possible, be the destination achieved by walking or working or thinking.  The simplest of these, walking, cannot, per my back's dictates, be rushed.  And so as I walk, I walk slowly.  I find myself having to force myself to slow down every ten to fifteen steps.  In other words, going slow requires a conscious effort, for it is not my habit.  But when you walk slowly, you have time to notice the sun, the birds, the smells; that it's June.  That the year is 2016.  All good things to be aware of; all important things which are lost to me when I'm focused on my destination. 

Stay centered. 

I cannot lean to one side.  I cannot bend over to pick up something dropped.  I must squat (slowly- see above) to retrieve.  My balance must be centered both left and right and fore and aft.  Within these constraints, however, I'm incredibly flexible.  The proper golf swing serendipitously required just these things: being and staying centered and balanced, within which you execute acrobatic feats of flexibility. So my bad back is great for understanding the golf swing.

The glass is half-full, my friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Set aside seven minutes and experience Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered through Ella's voice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Noise Reduction

Musicians who know their trade know to leave some pauses, space, between the notes they play.  Perhaps that’s what defines a musician; knowing when not to play.  Our lives are so full of noise that we rarely experience silence. Do we humans know when to turn things off?  Do we know when not to play?

For most of my life, music has been on.  Background music while doing chores.  Active listening.  Theme music for a road trip.  Something to dance to of an evening.  Always noise.

The movie Going in Style opens with George Burns, widower, waking and starting his day.  Calisthenics, coffee, toast, eggs, dishes, dressing.  Ten minutes of silence telling us more of loneliness and routine and boredom than any narrator or other exposition could.  Silence was sad.

In January or February of this year I turned of Twitter.  Of a weekday, I simply turned off the application and uninstalled it from my computer, phone, and tablet.  It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution.  The noise had simply become strident and stressful.  Here I was, more aware of what was going on in the world than most people (people who watched the news, listened to NPR, read the newspaper) and yet… to what end?

The thing about Twitter (and Facebook, and Instagram, and… social media in general) is that it’s instantly available whenever you have a spare moment.  On your computer, on your phone.  While waiting in line, while waiting for a meeting to start, while trying to avoid going to bed.  Whip out the phone, tap-tap, and you’re fed an endless drip of sentiment, rage, and entertainment.  Endless.  Everyone has an opinion, everyone is an asshole.  Perhaps it’s better to shut it off and think better of humanity.

Withdrawal takes about a month.  If you make it that long, you can go forever.  It’s funny; when I pull out my phone these days, I can check email and that’s about it.  I still have that nicotine urge for something to occupy and entertain me, but I recognize the occasion of sin and I simply don’t light up.  This must be the life of an ex-smoker.

A high-powered and very successful sales rep I know shared the story of one of his more eccentric customers over dinner.  He described meeting the customer’s wife at a reception and she related more of the customer’s character.  She told of times on weekend mornings where she’d find him in his study, staring off into space.  “What are you doing?”  “Thinking.”  This so surprised the sales rep that he was sharing it with me; still in disbelief.  Why was he shocked?  Do people not think?

My new car has a six disc CD player.  A 10GB hard drive.  A media slot.  A connector in the glove compartment connected to an old iPod.  Bluetooth.  The ability to play satellite radio should I choose to subscribe.  I can, therefore, provide for myself.  On my recent two hour commute to the airport, I remembered the AM/FM radio and gave it a spin around the dial.  The journey took five minutes.  Thirteen channels of shit to choose from indeed.  I turned it off.  All of it.  Instead, I listened to the wind buffeting the car as I sped silently downstream, south, through the night.

I thought of nothing.  I thought of the sound of the wind.  It didn’t whistle; it sporadically sand blasted the car, nudging it slightly off course here and again.  It was a strong wind.  I thought of the day ahead.  Of the days behind.  I solved problems and prepared.  I debated key points with those who were not present to present their counterpoints.  Naturally I won those.

I travel often in my career.  Long drives, long flights, long weeks in hotels and customer conference rooms.  When I’m in a group, when I’m on stage, I’m capable of talking for hours (days even).  It’s my job: I help people understand the workings and value of complex solutions to complex problems. But in the hotel, on the plane.  In the comings and goings and waitings and movings, I like the silences between the notes.

Some of us can’t bear silence.  Some of us have never tried.  Entire lives are occupied from Good Morning America through the babble of shock-jocks and jock-talk into the evening news, through sitcoms and reality-show ejections from the tribe, into boy-wonder Jimmy Fallon’s goodnight schtick, turning on the sounds of surf, Mrs. Montag’s bees buzzing in her ear cans, rocking us gently to sleep.

But we can’t all need the noise.  I would guess (I’m being generous) that not even five percent of us need the noise.  The noise is for those who truly can’t deal.  But like a government program, it’s there, and it’s free, and it beats the hell out of thinking or doing for yourself.  And as a result, the 80/20 is reversed: those that don’t need are addicted anyway, and we’re left with mediocrity.

When faced with silence, embrace it.  Sit on a rock in the woods.  Look, listen.  Smell.  What month is it?  Which flowers are in bloom?  How many birds are there chattering back and forth at 5:00AM? 
The world is between the notes.  Become a musician.

Friday, June 10, 2016

When You're Gone

A poem of remembrance:

                                       To prepare myself for bed      Come the morning 
                           As I head upstairs                                            I will turn it out 
                 I will turn on the porch light                                       When I reach bottom 
         Of an evening                                                                                         To start my day
When you’re gone                                                                                                    And think of you