Flashback: “Tale Me Home” by Phil Collins

This hit #7 on the Billboard charts in 1986. Appropriate song for current times, perhaps.

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Parkland

It’s the evening of February 14th, a Wednesday, as I type this. Yet again, we’ve had another shooting tragedy, this time at a high school in Broward County, Florida.

I’ve done these kinds of posts too many times. Like many of you, I’m hoping for a day where I never have to see this kind of news ever again. And as I’ve probably said before, I don’t know how you solve this kind of problem.

Do you take away the guns? No. The “bad guys” will still get the guns. The only thing that does is prevents responsible firearm owners from fighting back.

Do you pass tighter gun laws? No. Same problem.

Some on the left say we should stop offering hopes and prayers when these shootings take place, and they might be right. Tonight, I will just hope there is a “place in the sun” where we can get to a point where all of this stops.

Solitary Man

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In my spare time, I’ve been playing a lot of CasinoRPG lately off of the Steam gaming application for Windoes. It’s a free game where you play various casino games with make believe money – although that is just one dimension of what you can do there. That seems to be the M.O. of the gaming industry these days to get people addicted to this kind of stuff – give people more options than they can possibly handle.

What caught my eye was a game within this game called Casino Solitaire. I’m sure many of you have played the Klondike version of solitaire before, maybe not even realizing that’s what the game is called. The object is to put all of your 52 cards into these four piles in the upper right of the table from the lowest card of an ace to the highest card of a king, in sequence in their respective suits. After the ace comes the deuces, then the trey, fours, fives, and so on.

Casino RPG offers that with a twist – the cards left over in the upper left part of the table must be gone through one at a time. When you run through all of these cards one time, the game ends.

Needless to say, this little wrinkle made playing the game very addicting. You get one-tenth of your fake money bet each time you successfully place a card in the four piles, but only going through the upper left deck once and only once means you go through a lot of losing, and a lot of luck has to go your way to win.

I played the game dozens of times with no success, then it happened Monday night. I had a good run of cards and some lucky decision making, and before I knew it, my four piles in the upper right of the table displayed kings in four suits. Victory!

I think I’ll quit while I’m still behind.

The Problematic Olympiad

The first notes of Bugler’s Dream.

The five colored rings on the white flag, representing the continents of the world.

It’s almost time for another round of Olympic Games. A series of contests that bring the world together, going back to the ancient times of Greece and Rome.

It seems the two versions of the Games, the summer and winter versions, are going in different decades as this last Olympics of the 2010’s is set to begin. The Summer Games are being held in all the metropolises of the world – Rio, Tokyo, Paris, and back to Los Angeles in 2028. The Winter Games have had the misfortune of having being held four years ago in Sochi, Russia – and now in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with political clouds hanging over the games four years ago and once again this time around.

I don’t know how interested the American sports fan will be in Asia’s third Winter Olympics, with word of a virus of some sort infesting Korea that’s caused a last-minute shuffle of manpower and security. The hockey tournament won’t be including NHL stars for the first time since 1994, and the Russians will for the most part be banned from competitions due to continuous allegations of doping.

It shapes up to be a stranger version of Olympics than most of us are used to, but like Pavlov’s dogs, once we see that five-ringed white flag and hear the music, I’m sure most of us will be turning on NBC and their various related networks to watch the Games play out.

(EDIT, 2/7/2018, 10:55pm ET: When I originally made this post, I stated that this was the first Winter Olympics held in Asia. I was incorrect – it is the third Asian Winter Olympics. The first two were held in Japan, one in Sapporo in 1972, the last to this point in Nagano in 1998. My apologies for the error.)

The Road Markers Of Life

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A little inside baseball for some of you: the posts you usually see I do a day in advance, maybe two days in advance. As I type this, the Super Bowl game has yet to be played, so this very post you all see the day after the Super Bowl takes place has some generic thought to it.

You see, on days like Christmas and the day the Super Bowl is played on – I tend not to get sucked into the ether on what these days mean to me personally, because on these days we all experience the same sort of euphoria. These days serve as road marks in my life, kind of like you’re on an Interstate and you see how many miles you are from your destination, and where the next highways on the road are. Thus, I tend to get philosophical more than anything else.

As we see America bickering with itself here in 2018 A.D. my mind has gotten curious about something. I’m going to be 47 years of age this year, and if I don’t meet a much younger woman in my life fairly soon, I’m probably not going to produce any children as most women my age are now going through menopause or thereabouts. Side issue – didn’t mean this post to be a mopey self-critique, as you’ll see as you scroll on.

When I grew up, television helped me learn the skills I needed to educate myself on things. I learned to read by reading the TV Guide (remember those?) and I could figure out at a young age what was on a given channel and at what time? Shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood taught numbers, letters, and social values. Game shows like The Price Is Right and Wheel Of Fortune (back when Chuck Woolery hosted it) taught me math, spelling, cognitive ability, and economics – because everyone should know what things cost and the value of a dollar and what goes into that at a young age. In other words – you could learn things if you paid attention, like what letter came after “C” or the price of a new car or a trip from Los Angeles to Australia.

What shocks me about the present era is how everything seems a lot more subjective. For instance, if you watch the news, most outlets tell you one side, a few tell you the other side of the story. What kind of the message does that send to children when we do this to them? How do these kids learn things when everything comes to them off of a network of computers? Do they learn better than I did? What do they learn? Do they learn the wrong things?

I am not trying to say that my generation was better than the ones before me and after me, because I don’t believe that these are things we should be competitive about. I just worry that this new generation might not be getting it right. These are the people who will be leading the world as we move closer to the middle of the 21st century. What messages is our current era sending to our future era?