Suburban Community Outcrops are the Loneliest Places on the Planet

Why do I envie these people?

Why is it that I envie these people?

What you don’t know, you won’t miss my wife claims and in broad lines she’s probably right. If you don’t know freedom, you probably believe that what you have is freedom, bought by money that is earned by participating in a corporate institutional cocoon. You probably don’t see the daily onslaught of sales messages as a subliminal mind attack, that over time will mould you to be digested into the “body” of a larger host.

For 3 years now I have lived in a suburban HOA setting of hollow unison, where on weekdays you can count neighbor encounters on one to three fingers of one hand and weekends are rudely interrupted by whining, smoking, obnoxious tools that keep the yards manicured. The sprinkling systems more often than not overshoot their intended targets and water the asphalt on a daily basis, not from recycled water, but from pure potable water.
I know the neighbor’s face on one side and a couple of times have gotten into a brief conversation with a neighbor across the street. That’s the sum of neighborhood contact in 3 years. Of course we could have continued to invite them to parties and get togethers, but honestly after two time no shows and keen observation, you basically know that you’re not playing on the same field.

It does however remind me vaguely of 50-60 years ago when the first corporate institutional era came into existence. World War 2 had raged and people across the globe wanted peace and prosperity. A Happy Life was translated as having a corporate job, a nice modest home with picket fence in suburbia, a wife, a couple of kids and dog and/or cat, a green lawn and a shiny car. Life was an emerging institution. It ruled the 50s, was almost demolished in the 60s and 70s, idled in the 80and early 90s and since has made a comeback of giant proportions. Cheap money was the engine and the institution was the dictating enforcer: certified, polished, homogenized, hollow. Cheap money was created with exactly this outcome in mind and now in the second decade of the 21th century, we’re well on our way to having created a world with totally scripted rules (laws) to support the institutional ideology that the real world is make-belief from the cradle to the grave.

Most children these days are born in a medical institution and registered at a government institution. They get some token names, but the only important attribute they get is a number (SS), supposedly unique as it will follow them to the grave. The 9 digit social security number system technically allows for 1 Billion combinations, which means the system for counting people will be around for quite a while longer. The financial part of the equation probably not.

In any case, once babies and toddlers go through a couple of years of home-training, heavily guarded by institutions (government, medical, media and product preference corporations (Gerber, Pampers etc.) we will send them to daycaree, kindergarten, grade school,high school and college because:

– a college degree is the ultimate necessity to make it in this life.

So you take student loans from an institution (financial) and get your degree from an institution (education) and then you take a job in an institution with a number of benefits that are offered from a mix of institutions (health care, insurances etc.)

Then when the student loan allows it, you take out a car loan and a house mortgage from banking institutions, because you are climbing the corporate ladder and status becomes a new Mammon.

You put something aside for your old age, because the system teaches that retirement at 65 is good and deserved and your retirement savings are supposedly safe in the hands of another institution.

Because the corporate cocoon depends on you not being too critical, you are “invited” to believe in democracy, a hugely layered institution of disputable value. So you vote and trust that those you vote for will keep their promises about Social Security and Medicare, two mammoth ponzi institutions.

And when you come back to your suburban neighborhood in the late afternoon or early evening, while playing the rebel with music on Pandora in your car, you exchange your corporate costume for clothing promoted by the best corporate logos (name brand institutions), you turn on your entertainment of choice supplied by Hollywood institutions and distributed by media giant institutions. And let’s not forget the ultimate Vampire institution named Facebook where you conduct your relationships from a lost and lonely existence – without even realizing it most of the time.

Residing in the institutional hollowness of corporate cocoon living is not persé evil; but to call it living is a sad attempt to justify living vicariously through false perception, rather than real experience.

When I say that I don’t envy kids today this is what I mean: McChildren are strongly prevented from interacting and experiencing the real world as they are rushed from one institution to another and at the end of the day numbered, evaluated and tested, while under constant surveillance.

Yes I concur, I’m a tad cynical, especially when I get to write this as the result of an HOA letter about the poor status of my lawn, knowing that this piece of dirt cost me $3,500 a year in water, fertilizer and mowing to look like a dry-spot on the moon. No matter how much potable water you poor on beach sand, it won’t turn into a golf course. But the cynicism really explodes when I realize that geezers I don’t know by name or address, take it upon themselves to turn a simple HOA into another institution that claims enforcement rights. Can’t wait to leave this sad abomination of pretend freedom for a real neighborhood where people interact, even if they get pissed at each other every now and then. Suburban neighborhoods are really the loneliest places on the planet.

Oh my, how times have changed the world!

California Coolers, the ONLY wine based Coolers in the Market

This morning I read that a 30 year old mother in Fort Myers has been arrested and charged with child abuse for giving her 1 year old child a sip from a wine cooler.
The Fort Myers Police charged her for giving a child “drinks from an alcoholic beverage!!”
A wine cooler does not really qualify as an alcoholic beverage in my book, even though it says on the label that it contains some alcohol. I would have understood if they had charged the mother for the fact that a wine cooler is a poor chemical derivative of watered down wine and as such dangerous to anyone’s health, let alone a  one year old toddler.

A Childhood Memory

But the irony in the story is personal and the reason why it really caught my attention, is anchored in one of my own cherished early childhood memories, the one that I like to tell when guys at parties start boasting about their capacity to tolerate alcohol. People here love to be blitzed or buzzed, rather than be a social drinker. It often strikes me as “you can only have a good time, when you’re buzzed” attitude.  In that context I would sadly have to admit that I have only been buzzed once in my life, back in the summer of 1951, and frankly the only reason why I remember is, because I was told in later years, when comprehension became part of memory.

Here is how the story goes. My dad’s soccer team had won a championship, he had scored the winning goal, and there was a huge party afterwards with lots of beer and wine. I was just over 9 months old, had an ear infection that kept me crying instead of sleeping and mom had left me with the nanny at home. At one point the nanny decided to take me over to the Clubhouse and ask my mom what to do to stop the crying. As with most babies in a group of people, I immediately became the center of attention at this party, and mom who was Francophile to the point of truly believing that a good claret cured everything, gave me what was later decided upon as about half a glass of Bordeaux.
My pain tears were gone in seconds, I was happily smiling and jabbering within minutes and I went home singing in the arms of my nanny thirty minutes later. The story went on that I slept peacefully through the night.

My mom would have ended up in jail here in this country! She would have had to face child abuse charges and potentially I would have become a Family Services (Basket) Case, and just that thought makes me wonder and fear for the direction we have chosen our society to move forward to. I am not saying that the 30 year old mother in Ft.Myers is a good mother and a responsible person. I do not know the circumstance of the arrest. But what I do know is that the mere fact of giving a one year old toddler a smidgen of wine does not hurt the toddler. On the contrary is more my experience. The French influence around our dinner table was often the perfect setting for my parents to give us a half a glass of wine before bedtime. Ritalin or other behavioral drugs given to toddlers and pre-teens these days is child abuse in my opinion.

My parents’  five sons grew up to be responsible citizens with advanced educations and successful careers; none of us ever suffered from alcoholism and to this date, and I turn 61 next weekend, I have never experienced the absurdity of being drunk, making a fool out of myself, endanger someone in traffic or the debilitating price of a hangover.

I honestly credit early familiarity with the positive effects of responsible drinking to that. And I credit my mom who kept her sanity raising 5 boys, because of her wisdom to allow us to learn about moderation, while giving herself some private time in the evenings when we were growing up. Yes we were happy to go to bed by 8-8:30 pm, and no… I have never used a sleeping pill in my life, as long as a decent glass of wine is within reach.

Oh my, how times have changed and how wine coolers have changed over the last 30 years as well. Technically there may be a legal issue developing in Ft.Myers as the ONLY wine cooler is the market these days are California Coolers. All other brands have changed their production process from wine based to malt based.

Oh yes, Life has been made quite complicated these days.

What Happened to the Pager

As we walk into the future, with a chip in our body

….and why do people think they need a cell phone if they only use it to let it ring through to voice mail?

I don’t like voice mail, not because I have an accent that even 30 years in the US could not evaporate. I don’t like it for the same reason I avoid going into a conversation in a noisy bar.  My voice is deep and I need to blast someone in an ear to get myself understood, which is often unpleasant especially after a good Beef Stroganoff. Even in my dating days Bar Hopping was a negative. But that’s entirely another story.

Yesterday afternoon broke the cell phone record for me. I made 21 phone calls and I got 21 redirects to voice mail. Now why would people even have a cell phone, if that’s what they do: screen the calls.

Never mind that a number of these calls were not in any way harassing, such as the one to Sky Towing. I have no beef with them, nor do I have a beef with those people that feel threatened or robbed during the festival. But I would like to get an answer if I give them the courteous benefit of the doubt. Answering phone calls when in a position to do so, increases communication, speeds up a process of clarification and avoids being mistaken or misinterpreted. I learned those lessons a long time ago when I majored in marketing and public relations. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, procrastination and avoidance are bad choices.

I also have no bad intentions when calling hotel managers to ask them if raising the rates for the rooms during the festival, combined with a three night minimum booking, had a negative effect on occupancy rates as some people have suggested.

I think it is only common courtesy to call me back when for the 4th time I call Collier Int’l and United Country Auction Services, their auction house for some information on the 34 properties they recently auctioned off, some prominently located inside our city.

While calling around to ask who is going to be at the Commissioner’s Meeting at City Hall, where the important issue of open alcohol containers during certain events at certain locations is going to be voted on, I only caught voice messages. The Vote on the issue was 4 to 1 (as was the first vote) in favor, so the Downtown Merchants had a little well deserved party at the Crab Trap.

I would have been rather upset if any of those phone calls would have been to people I know well and rather than just answering, they looked at the screen and clicked me away. After all I’m not a bill collector. But none of these 21 phone numbers could have identified or connected the number I called from with me or SearchAmelia.
People did not answer the call because….? I don’t know.

What I do know however is, that I liked the effect of pagers much better. There was that sense of curiosity, that inner voice that wanted to know. In 1973 I had a pager (or pre-decessor to it) in my early corporate career.
Not yet 23, I walked around with the shiny little apparatus visible in my suite pocket. It was status 101 in those days, especially when the blasted thing started zooming and I scrambled for the nearest telephone. After all somebody wanted me.

I guess things have changed a bit since then. These days a call is not that special anymore. Back then a call had a sense of urgency, a chance, a warning, an opportunity, a message of importance that could not wait for the traditional route.
These days a phone call has lost that sense of urgency and importance to the recipient, like everything in life that loses value when it becomes to easily accessible or plentifully overpowering and we all suffer from an overdose of something.
I just came to realize that yesterday afternoon.

Time Did Not Change, People Did

As the world turns...

If you’re my age you must have on occasion wondered what happened to the younger generation today compared to the generation we grew up in?  I was watching some teenagers the other day and I really took note of how they dressed, the jeans that were down around their hips, the tattoos that were on their arms, necks, chest, legs and a few with “art” on their face.  The music, at least that’s what they call the non articulate rhythms that would scare wild animals away, was loud and they were actually speaking a language I only knew a little of. I know, this is the new age and this is what they do to express themselves, just as we did things in the fifties and sixties to express ourselves.

Another thought came to me however, the realization of drugs and how they are playing a part in the lives of many of our young people today.  So where did we go wrong or did we go wrong, or is this just a normal progression-regression we are going through?

When I was growing up my parents drugged me and thought nothing of it. I was drugged to church, drugged to family reunions and funerals, drugged to the library and forced by any means deemed appropriate to do my share of household chores.  Work was not a debatable topic, it was mandatory and you did it. Period. The alternative would be unbearable.

Everyone had a job and we took pride in what we did.  Our clothes where always presentable because Mom would not have you leaving the house otherwise.  Someone with wrinkled or dirty clothes on was an reflection on Mom and she would never stand for that.  We all sat down at the dinner table each evening to eat and talk, no TV or radio on. Mom and Dad asked you how things were going, what you were doing, they also wanted to know about the friends you were keeping.  Our parents knew what we were doing.

Today it seems the family is no longer together to sit and enjoy a home cooked meal. It is too easy to simply drive thru and pick something up. Pot roast on sunday has turned into KFC buckets. I think that the problem is today’s parents treat children like equals, adults if you will. Many parents have forgotten that children like pets need strong, committed guidance and direction and when that lacks, they’ll adopt their own rules, based on TV, friends, environment.

It seems that young people today have not learned that they may need to work to earn money one day and that is much more difficult then having someone just give it to you.  Many will have a rough time making it in the real world when one day they find themselves thrown in it.  I don’t mean that all of our young people today lack work ethics and sense of responsibility, but many do.  I for one like to think about my youth, the hard work I had to do and how it pleased me to make my parents proud of me.  I hope future generations will retain some of the qualities we grew up with, for all of our sakes.

About Focus and Future

Energy is a Thought Process

While Galileo said: “you cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself,” James Allen wrote: “a man can become as small as his controlling desire or as great as his dominant aspiration”.
The essence of both approaches require action. Even though many people are anxious to improve their circumstances, they are unwilling to take action. They don’t get a grip on the fact that circumstances don’t make or break you. What they actually do is reveal you. Everyone has circumstances in their lives that they cannot control nor command, yet they can always command their own reaction to those circumstances.

More than two thousand years ago the Buddhist writings in the Dhammapada already recognized that the human mind is the forerunner of all actions. Everything we do, create or accomplish was the result of a thought process in our mind.
A mind not cultivated and challenged will have few or no answers to circumstances that require action or reaction. I have friends who got clobbered by the recession as their mind and their reaction to changing circumstances had not been trained for it. And yet other friends faced the same clobbering and within months turned around their circumstances drastically and are brimming with success.

Future = Focus on Positive Thoughts.

When James Allen wrote “As a man thinketh”, his essential premise was that, even if you’re unaware of it, your underlying beliefs shape your character, your health, your circumstances, and ultimately, your destiny. Your thoughts create your reality. You literally are what you think.
For this reason, we should be at least as meticulous about the ideas we feed our mind as the food we feed our body, as our life over time will largely become what our thoughts make it.

This is not to say that our mind alone can heal a serious illness, fix our finances instantly or change the world. But what it can do is prepare our reaction to these circumstances. It seems that we are always anxious to improve our circumstances, without really wanting to improve ourselves.
If you want to lose weight, or make more money, or have a better relationship, or be a better musician, or football player, or manager of people, it takes your mind to set you on the road to improvement.

Radically alter your thoughts and you will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of your life for example. We imagine that we can keep our thoughts secret, but we cannot; thoughts rapidly morph into habit and habit solidifies into circumstance.

The 18 day Proof in the Pudding

As they say, it takes 18-20 days to form and install a habit. I recently saw one of my friends turn his material future from desperation to fortune in 18 days.

It required an absolutely single minded focus, a true believe in the system and circumstances to match his persona and qualifications and the acceptance in his thoughts that he could do this.
In the process he took a bunch of his friends from a materially insecure future to a huge window of opportunity they are quickly securing.

I think Galileo was pretty much on target with his observation of helping versus teaching. There are people who liken the mind to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will bring forth the results of the approach. You can choose to cultivate your own garden, hire a professional to do it for you or let it run wild.

Whatever your present environment and circumstance may be, you will fall, remain or rise with your thoughts, your vision and your focus.