I ripped page 4 out of a management training manual back when I was working. The writing is at least 14 years old and I cannot properly credit the author without a title page. I had underlined a sentence about many employees who refuse to accept change which the writer later links to the fear of admitting they were wrong about what they believe. The following sentence caught my eye today: “I have determined that one of the most dominating, motivating forces on earth is the ‘great need to be right.'” He cites examples of managers saying, “it is impossible to find good people.” They affirm that long enough, they convince themselves that they are right, and it becomes very difficult for them to find good people. I was getting excited about the possibility of forwarding to President Trump both the insights and the rational steps to overcome this tendency. I figured I might become famous in the process if I stole the advice and put it in my own words. But I had destroyed the next page and all the rest of the presentation back when I had a bad attitude about management consultants and all their theoretical mumbo jumbo. I think I saved the one page because I recognized that I have always had a weakness for wanting to be right. But I feel like a loser next to the President. His need to be right is so much bigger than mine. It is huge.
I have an irrational resistance to taking medicine, pills, vitamins, supplements and the like. I used to avoid flu shots. I was a big critic of the swine flu vaccination program in 1976, especially when the epidemic failed to materialize. But eighteen years later, I received a promotion at work. It entitled me to a bonus, a marginally better parking spot, and a free flu shot. I had never had a flu shot but I marched right over to the company medical department to flaunt my entitlement. The shots only cost about $5 or $10 bucks back then but I was getting one for free! I am lucky they were not giving free executive colonoscopies that day. I have gotten a flu shot every year since. One time they did poorly at predicting the flu strain and I was sick despite the shot. Otherwise I have been remarkably free from flu, whether because of shots or immunity earned by bouts of flu in my youth. I know some people who do not get flu shots but claim they never get the flu. They get horrendous colds but not the flu. They get food poisoning that lasts for weeks but not the flu. They get exotic diseases but not the flu. My sister has only gotten the flu shot once in her life. It was the year we had a shortage of vaccines, so she and I took the Victoria Clipper to Canada to get the shots. Clearly if the medical community wants people to get flu shots, they should hand them out as rewards or create an artificial shortage. I expect I have just tempted fate to award me a bad case of the flu.
A couple of years ago when I started seriously printing photographs at home for genealogy and photo album projects, I needed to upgrade the quality of paper I was using. I was willing to pay a premium for my hobbies but was overwhelmed by the options at the office supply store. I saw a packet with 50 sheets but was experiencing sticker shock at the $31 price. While on my knees looking at packages on the lowest shelf, I found 100 sheets of the same product for $19. I spent a great deal of time looking for differences. I was surprised when the item actually rang up for $19 at the register. I have come across price anomalies before on sales or discontinued items but this seemed extreme. I have been back several times, seen the same exact prices, and made the same purchase. I am not elated about getting some great deal because I know the business is making a profit on the $19 transaction. I am more annoyed that the store is taking an opportunity to gouge customers like me who might wander in to purchase photo paper for a special project. The expensive package at eye level has a price that might seem irrelevant when compared to the overall significance of a wedding, 50th Anniversary, or milestone birthday. I do not buy anything else at that store because I do not want to work at avoiding windfall premiums. That is one reason my wife buys her own cars. Some employees who relate to the customer will actually identify the better deals but they probably do not get rewarded with promotions.
Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters get punished in portrayals for their obvious wickedness. Why does Cinderella’s father get off so easy? Accounts of him are skimpy. He is variously described as a prince or a merchant. But he married a wicked stepmother and basically abandoned Cinderella to her and her cruel daughters. Before entering that second marriage, Cinderella’s father would have to be comatose not to recognize warning signs. His lack of due diligence makes him a horrible father, complicit in the abuse of his own daughter. Thousands of readers will complain to me that the stepmother obviously disguised her faults and they will regale me with their own horror stories of marriages gone bad. But if we accept that one can be so duped, we must then entertain the very real possibility that Cinderella did not live happily ever after. How do we know her husband was not disguising his own evil if this is so easy to do? How well did they know each other after all? A few dances and suddenly the couple is engaged and quickly marries based on the women’s shoe size. My wife knew me for over four years before we got married and so I am forced to agree with her critics that she owns much responsibility for her own mistake.
Last year a video clip was widely circulated where Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX and Tesla) answers a question about the possibility that we are living in a computer simulation. He uses the forty year evolution of gaming technology from Pong to augmented 3D virtual/alternate reality to project the inevitability of computer simulations which are indistinguishable from reality. If a billion computers become capable of creating such simulations, then the chance that we are in base reality is minuscule according to Musk. He postulates that we should want that to be the case because otherwise our civilization must end before the otherwise inevitable evolution to these computer simulations. Some religions like Catholicism eventually reconciled the science of Copernicus (sun as the center of the Universe) and Darwin (evolution) with the Church belief structure. I assume religions will be able to adopt the Musk theory if it survives the initial Inquisition period and becomes impossible to ignore. After all, it would be fairly easy to make God the architect of the computer simulation we are in. We should be thankful we are not in the boring simulations without Donald Trump.
I have always liked pictures of myself, at least the ones attractive enough to put in photo albums. I recently completed my third album. The first volume is titled Finding Mollie. The next one is labeled Watching Mollie Raise Three Children. The album I just completed is devoted to Enjoying Grandchildren. Other than my occasional journey through this three volume pictorial history of my life from birth to senility, this project will only be useful as a prop at my Wake. My family already has copies of any pictures important to them. At some point the albums will be tossed. This is not particularly distressing but starting the fourth album is a shock. Simple math tells me that it will be the last one. I once heard a golfer who turned 50 say that he knew he was on the back nine but did not know which hole. Likewise, I know I am on my last photo album but I do not know how many pages will be left empty. After all, it gets harder and harder for me to find flattering photographs to fill the slots. I have not yet settled on a title for Volume IV because phrases like Waiting for the Rapture make me uncomfortable on several levels.
It took me awhile but I am finally ready to Make America Great Again. I do remember fondly when America was great and I yearn for those days. It seems like forever ago but actually only five days have elapsed since the greatness era. Political incumbents always face the difficult task of explaining why they have not eliminated world hunger, warfare, and unemployment. They must defend their positions on gun control, abortion and global warning, knowing the impossibility of making everyone happy. Our new President will go from attacking incumbents to defending his record. My own self interest impels me to root for a good record but I suspect Democrats are already printing up T-shirts and signs saying “Make America Great Again. Dump Trump.” The media will spend their time on that next campaign doing overkill on covering the lawsuits Trump will be filing to protect his trademark on the Make America Great slogan. If we do Make America Great Again, it will be an hysterical miracle!
I have daydreams like everyone. Some are fanciful, fun partly because they are so unattainable. I knew fairly early in life that I would not be playing in a World Series or elected President of the United States. I could still imagine it though. But some people dream those dreams and have the fun of realizing them. Many fantasize about walking on the moon but few actually take that stroll. Of course, I have had dreams that I thought were possible and some came true (Mollie did marry me) and others did not (I was never a Judge or an Ambassador like I promised Mollie to get her to marry me). Sometimes I am shocked when I think a dream is a sure thing and the slam dunk caroms off the rim. I was one of three finalists for a big job at the University of Southern California and thought I really aced the interview process. After much soul searching, my wife and I decided to take the opportunity and relocate; except the offer never came. I do dream big enough that reality has no chance to exceed my imaginings. But some people experience the feeling of venturing past their wildest expectations. At some time early in her career, Meryl Streep probably fantasized about winning an Oscar; but surely she did not dream of being nominated 19 times for an Academy Award. Bill Russell may have had a lofty goal of winning an NBA Championship but I doubt he was pining away for eleven of them. Maybe the secret of their success is that, unlike me, they put more effort into the doing rather than the dreaming!
Archaeologists and private investigators have long sifted through garbage to learn everything about a person or a people. In today’s technological age, digging through someone’s computer is an easier way to compile a complete profile. My junk mail alone identifies me as very promiscuous and sexy for an old man. I am also extremely lucky in other ways. I have won an incredible amount of lotteries and discovered so many long lost relatives. And lucrative business deals come out of nowhere and everywhere and fall in my lap. I am just waiting for the checks to roll in now that I have completed all the paperwork and submitted the handling fees. The word has gotten around that I am about to become wealthy because I get emails and ads on my computer trying to sell me so much stuff. My opinions are highly valued by major corporations who constantly ask for survey inputs. I am also exposed as very forgetful. I get messages about IRS delinquencies, packages I was not expecting, and credit cards I did not know I had. Today an agency representing Dos Equis asked me to apply to be the new Most Interesting Man in the World. I just ordered the Audition Package. I should be a shoe-in.
One issue both political parties should be able to agree on is getting to the bottom of discrepancies in the reporting of crowd sizes over the weekend. The President and his Press Secretary are furious at alleged under counting of Inauguration turnout. How many people marched in protests the following day is under dispute as well. In both cases, crowds were large but clearly we need to pinpoint some exact numbers. We have surveillance experts who can study photographs. A Congressional investigation should restore governmental credibility. We can put confirmation hearings on hold, delay construction on the Wall (the Mexican government already missed their first payment anyway), and limp along with Obamacare for a few more months. We should also investigate the President’s claims that the election he won is tainted by the suppression of at least three million votes. The three million people casting those votes were apparently at the Inauguration but not acknowledged by media covering the event. If our intelligence agencies can overcome their obsession with ISIS, they should be able to determine who is responsible for this mess. Prosecution of all involved should be our highest priority.