The Other Side

The Iowa caucuses are now a month away. Politics……sigh. Despite my huge interest in historical non-fiction and current news events, I generally don’t like talking about politics and usually I can’t put my finger on why. I’d just rather know and focus on a person’s core personality and demeanor before I know anything about their political views.

I don’t ever want political views to cloud my relationship with people because it’s not fair to anyone if they are pre-judged based on those beliefs. The only thing you are allowed to pre-judge people on is their musical taste. OK, I’m kidding. Maybe.

Anyhow, if you’re a repeat visitor on this blog you know that I tend to lean leftward and I don’t put it out there aggressively, nor do I push my beliefs on anyone. I don’t put signs on my lawn and I don’t post on social unless it involves a politician doing something really dumb or funny. Like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.38.23 PM
One thing I do try, though, is to listen and understand the opposite opinion of the one I have. Which is why I’ve begun reading “The Life,” the new Ronald Reagan book which came out recently. Reagan was the head honcho from 1981 to 1989, a time period where I went from 10 to 18 years of age. Suffice it to say I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back then. It was more like hockey, school, girls and music. As time has passed, though, I’ve learned enough to know he was a polarizing figure, much like any other president.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.46.18 PM

However, in the modern era, he’s the one president that I don’t know all too much about and I need to fix that. I begrudgingly I bought his estate some dinner and purchased the book.

I’m only into the 1950s right now so it’s too early for me to pass any final judgements on him, but I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with the book. I always thought he was an A-list actor, but that’s actually far from the truth. He had a cup of coffee with a single nomination, but never got to the upper echelon for actors.

I also was surprised to learn that his interest in politics hit him much earlier than I thought. His failing to get acting jobs pushed him to be more involved in the union dealings of the off-camera/industrial part of the movie-making business in Hollywood and that’s where his foundation was laid in politics.

I have a good sense of how I am going to feel about Reagan at the end of the book – probably not well. With that said, there is a moral to today’s post – keep an open mind. You will come across great people and good friends in your life who believe the exact opposite of you. Whether it’s personal or professional, you’ll do yourself a heck of a lot of good if you try to gain perspective from the other side. I can’t think of a single time when it hasn’t served me well and opened my mind.

This song, by Tommy Womack, is a killer. Worth a listen and so well-written. Will make you smile.


Nothing To Believe In

Cripes. I drive a 2002 Toyota Camry, which I bought new off the lot. I’ve driven all 85,000 miles of it and I think I’ve had to bring it to the shop once, for a tweak on the brakes. Oh, there was that time it had to be fixed when our house painters dropped a ladder on it. Oops. Then there was that time when my neighbor side-swiped me in our shared driveway at our old house. Oops. But those weren’t mechanical failures. Of course, I bring it in every 5-6K miles for scheduled service and I’d like to think that’s helped with why I’ve had so little problems with it.

This recall, though, has so quickly spun Toyota from golden boys to rust faster than you can say “GM in the eighties.” It has turned the car industry on its heels! Suddenly it’s A-OK to buy American and Toyota will KILL you! Can you imagine saying that even one year ago?

My car is NOT on the recall list. But with all these stories coming out about how Toyota secretly danced around the fire on its production snafus and how they wiggled out of them, I find myself wondering what’s going on under my hood? Should I ditch the car? I paid it off in 2005 for god’s sake! I’ve been enjoying no payments and clean bills of health on it for almost five years now! But who knows?! And why should I even take .0005% risk when I have two precious boys often riding sidecar with me? Now that I’ll be driving to work every day soon, should I bite the bullet and get something else? It’s horrifying. It’s like the sweet girl from next door gets popped for robbing banks and selling heroin.

Then I read this, from this morning’s Boston Globe. Are there more out there that haven’t been recalled yet? I kinda think there are and that Toyota is just going to stretch out the recalls so the shit doesn’t hit the fan all at once for them. Who can you trust? What would you do?


Howdy Spoodle Time

My parents got a new dog last summer (cockapoo) and he’s a very cute and friendly little guy they named Murphy.  This weekend when we were visiting them the conversation turned to his hair, which my mother claimed was non-allergenic and then she added that “he doesn’t have fur, he has hair.” Honestly, I never knew that dogs could have hair. But facts is facts. The dog has hair. I guess I always thought that if you were a dog, you had fur. Of course, the conversation turned to the ridiculous when I made claims that Murphy actually just had a layer of cotton taped to his body. Steph than added that maybe it was synthetic turf. We all laughed about it when we were having the discussion, but in the end it’s true, the dog, because he is part poodle, has hair. For more on the hair vs. fur debate, you can read here, if you really have some time.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, Cockapoo’s are usually called spoodles in Australia. So that is what I will call Murphy. A spoodle.

In other news, it turns out that The Boston Globe may shut it doors sooner than I thought. This story lays it all out, but no matter what the result of the meetings, the paper is doomed. Whatever changes occur as a result of this NYT edict will leave the Globe a mere skeleton of its former self. At worst, it’ll shut down and at best it becomes even more of an Associated Press extension than it already is. All you local columnists better start thinking about your futures.


The Left Misses The Right

I woke up this morning in a hotel room in San Francisco. A brief work trip, one in which I won’t be able to do much except eat, sleep, work and have meetings. Work trips are different now – of course the tasks at hand must be focused on and work is at the forefront. I find myself working as hard as ever. I’m not sure if it’s because of the economy or just the thrill of the chase. Probably both. I know I’m as nervous as anyone with all the layoffs  going on and whatnot. Anyone who tells you any different is probably lying.

On the flip side, I want nothing more than to be home and be with my kids and wife, particularly on this day, a historic day. It’s days like today when you want to experience historic events with the people you love and not be marooned in a city 3,100 miles from home. But I do enjoy coming here and I enjoy seeing my co-workers out west. And I can’t say I don’t enjoy the weather – when I woke up this morning, it was to clear skies and sun, temps about 65 degrees. I mean, really. It’s January?

So I woke up and opened my hotel room windows and down below me was a place called the Moscone Center (I think it’s some kind of conference center) and in front of the center there’s a small “town green” style patch of grass – where people were already gathering to watch the inauguration. How cool. Something tells me that that hadn’t happened before for an inaugration ceremony. I ended up at work by about 8:15am pacific time, in time to catch the oaths and speeches in our CEO’s office. The positive energy today in geenral was pretty pronounced. The happiness around the office was divine. It was just a good day.

And I miss my wife and kids.

By the way, the jury is in – it’s going to be an IPhone. I was still wavering until I went into the Verizon Wireless store after work today and tried to fiddle with TWO Blackberry Storms, neither of which would work properly. Sad that I’m going to have to say goodbye to Verizon, but it looks like that’s the way it’s going to come down.

Addendum: I just flipped on the TV (11:09pm eastern) and Mary J. Blige was introduced at some concert on TV, she came out and yelled “no more segregation!” Now, I like to think I’m pretty aware of what goes on in this country, but I’m not aware of any segregation. Of course, the scar of racism will probably never go away, unfortunately, but segregation? Did I miss something there?


Such A Thrill When Your Radials Squeal

I’ve always had great interest in the auto business and many years back I thought I may want to make a career of it (not selling them, I mean at the corporate level). I think it’s probably because here in the modern day, cars say a LOT about who we are. They are a decent indicator of someone’s personality and in most cases, one’s financial status. I say “in most cases” because there are the frivolous folks out there who go beyond their means. But whatever, I’m not judging, just stating fact. My point is that I believe you can get a good read on someone if you just look at their car.

If you were to look at my ’02 Camry for instance, you’d think, “safe, right down the middle, takes little risks financially, loves stability and doesn’t need flash to keep him happy.” And you’d be about 90% right – I admit to needing a little flash (hello, 42-inch TV and Apple TV)! My long-winded point: it saddens me greatly to see what’s happening to the American auto companies. I’ve said before in this space that I would like nothing more than to see them succeed and I really, truly believe they will. I also believe that GM’s stock is a STEAL right now, though I haven’t put my money where my mouth is…..yet.

The issue with the U.S. car companies is purely one of trust. American cars were bad for a whole generation (mine) and now that they’re starting to be seen as mostly solid and dependable again, they may be turning the corner. But have you ever tried to turn a corner while driving a cruise ship? Takes some time. That’s why I hope that they get some funding from the government. In addition to the horrible trickle-down effect on our economy if one of these companies shuts down – and I don’t mean Chrysler – I think it would just take more wind out of our sails. Given everything that’s gone on the last 8 years, we simply don’t need that.

But the money should come with conditions. HUGE conditions. If the Obama administration is smart, they will have the foresight to look well into the future and see a world where electric/hybrid/whatever vehicles will be the norm. Where cars that get not 30, not 40, not 50, but 60+ miles per gallon are the way to people’s pocketbooks and pride. Again, this can’t be done overnight – mandating car companies to short-term, unattainable goals will only cripple them more – they need to equip factories to make such vehicles, they need to work out the technologies and they need to adjust the workforce to accomodate it all. It will take time, so some some sort of tiered plan must be the way. 

I’m 76,500 miles into my Camry now. I suspect I have a few years left. As tempting as it is right now to go out and upgrade, I think my options will be tenfold better in five years than they are today. I also truly believe that by the time I’m ready, American cars very well may be positioned far better. Like they said on the X-Files, I WANT to believe.