It has been said, many times, sometimes at great volume, that Wichita drivers are the worst on the planet. There are days that I tend to agree.
I took a short trip down Seneca to 31st Street a short time ago, within the last hour or so. During that two mile drive, I twice had to slam on my brakes to avoid vehicles pulling out in from of me, one of which was a large truck. On two more occasions during the same drive, I observed people putting on their turn signals – in the middle of the turn they were making. I once watched a man texting as he drove. He was riding a motorcycle.
If it isn’t the high speed lunatics, it’s the “how slow can you go” morons.
Obviously, there are tragic results to bad driving, but I would rather not dwell on that, nor the obvious problem of impaired drivers. We have enough simpletons on the roads to make a simple trip to the grocery store into an adventure, with throwing those topics into the mix.
As many of you know, I rode motorcycles for many a year. As a confirmed biker, I rapidly learn from the beginning that a cyclist’s only friend on the road is himself. The “other guy” ain’t gonna look out for you, so you damned well better look out for yourself.
Many long-term bikers, myself included, develop a sixth sense of self-preservation and to use a motorcycle’s inherent superior braking, acceleration and maneuverability to keep themselves alive with the shiny side up.
Unfortunately, most folks don’t drive like a seasoned motorcyclist, they drive with little understanding of “defensive driving” and awareness of the potential consequences of even a momentary lack of attention.
If I could just teach Wichita drivers a few things they would be:
Traffic signs and signals are not “suggestions.”
It really isn’t a crime to use your turn signals.
The speed limit is the “maximum” allowed, not the “minimum.”
Store parking lots are not the place to practice your bumper car skills.
Wichita drivers may not truly be the worst on the planet – Chicago drivers hold that “honor” – but they are truly bad.
So what is it with Wichita drivers?
William Stephenson Clark
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
“A Tale of Two Cities” – the opening line – Charles Dickens – 1859
Two wars. A fired commanding General. An economy that is stubbornly refusing to recover fast enough. A massive oil spill that threatens our Gulf. Illegal immigration. No progress on Gay Rights to speak of. Conflicts in the Middle East. Tin-pot dictators run amok. Global financial crisis. Congress in perpetual gridlock. Fred Phelps and the Phelp Tone-Deaf’s. Drug wars in Jamaica and Mexico. Global freakin’ warming. Sandra and Jesse back on speaking terms.
Are these the worst of times?
Absolutely not. Yes, the world has more than it’s fair share of problems right about now, but these are far from the worst of times. It is human nature to look at today and be dissatisfied. It is also human nature to look at yesterday with a certain fondness for times that “were better.”
I wrote a column published yesterday with that very topic.
No, despite the troubles of the world, we have a bright future. We may not get there soon, but it is there. Collectively, we need to move beyond pessimism and consider the optimistic signs that point the way to a “best of times” scenario.
The wars that we are engaged in will end. We will recover from the global financial crisis. The oil gushing in the Gulf will be stopped and we will find away to clean up the mess. The tin-pot dictators will die off and be replaced by slightly more sane alternatives. The slow progress of Gay Rights will accelerate as the more bigoted generation dies off. The illegal immigration problem will continue, but better solutions will come to the fore. Fred will die. Eventually, a saner approach to drugs will be adopted. And Jesse will screw up again and America’s Sweetheart will be back on the market.
Progress has been made, abet slowly. A historic, but flawed, Health Care bill has been passed. Medical science has moved to the point now that living to one hundred will be commonplace. The world will grow tired of perpetual conflicts in the Middle East and the white-hot hatred will cool. The world will change for the better.
The best of times – maybe not in our lifetimes – but they are coming.
William Stephenson Clark
Do you ever wish that life gave you a “reset button?” Well, the answer for nearly all of us is an unqualified “yes!”
Do you wish that you could go back and make that one phone call? Change that one stupid decision you made years ago that still haunts you? Have a “do-over” with that relationship that you screwed up with that one special guy or girl?
I have a million of them.
Do I wish that I had accepted that job offer in Oregon 15 years ago? Yep. Do I wish that I had never sold my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide? Yep. Do wish I had never wasted three years of my life with Cindy? Yep.
Do I regret the children I have had with women that I no longer “care for?” Nope.
My children are the love of my life and nothing, no matter my thoughts about their mothers, will change that.
But what about the transfer I accepted in 1982 from North Carolina to Kansas? I have serious mixed feelings, but if I hadn’t taken that move, I would have never met the mother of my son, and for that, I would be sorely less blessed in my life.
They say that any action has unintended consequences. True enough; we cannot change fate and we shouldn’t try to.
But really, shouldn’t I get a “reset button” for the pitch I took in a softball tournament back in ’76? I always “took” the first pitch, but this one was right in my wheelhouse in the bottom of the final inning of the game, down by one run, with a runner on first.
Many times that season, I drove a similar pitch over the fence.
If I had done the same that time, we would have been league champions.
Instead, I flew out to left on the next pitch and we lost the game and the championship
William Stephenson Clark
Even being a short one, this week has been a little stressful, so I am going to depart from my usual “gloom and doom” commentary and head for a lighter place in the world.
Come Monday, there will still be oil gushing in the Gulf, DADT will still govern the military, President Obama will still have his army of haters and naysayers and Armando Galarraga will still be looking to pitch a perfect game.
The world will still be the same crazy place – next week and the week after and the week after that.
You get the idea.
So, let’s take a walk on the lighter side, to paraphrase Lou Reed.
What brings a smile to your face, my friends, no matter the troubles that you may be experiencing?
For me, it is my children, my grandchildren and my pets. Also, having an opportunity to get out in nature with my camera and lenses and take shots of the beauty of the world we live in. That, and I love being with my friends and talking, laughing and just generally enjoying the company of people I care about.
All of the things that bring a frown to my face will not go away just because it is Friday, but for a moment, I can focus on those things that make me smile:
Barbecuing for my friends and family. Learning new things. Listening to new music and the old music I love. Trying new recipes and finding that some of them are just not worth the trouble, while others are instantly added to my repertoire. Finally figuring out some of the mysteries of life. Playing catch with my dogs and having my cats take turns sitting on my lap. Watching the amazing development of my grandchildren. A phone call from my daughter fifteen hundred miles away. Sharing a joke with a stranger.
What makes you smile, my friends?
William Stephenson Clark
“There’s a sucker born every minute!” – P.T. Barnum
We have all seen or heard various urban legends, misquotations, outright fabrications and chain e-mail “Did you know?” stories. There are so many of them floating around that entire websites have been founded for the sole purpose of determining the accuracy of said “facts.” This is one I heard recently:
“What do Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower have in common?”
The claim is that Hoover deported 1 million illegals, Truman 2 million and Ike deported 13 million illegals under a program called “Operation Wetback.” The story goes on that this “fact” proves that we can deport all the illegal immigrants today.
Interesting. Or, it would be interesting if it were anywhere near the truth.
The fact is that “Operation Wetback” deported about 80,000 illegal immigrants and another estimated 700,000 left on their own accord.
The total cited for Hoover (actually it was Hoover and Roosevelt) is more accurate, but there is a minor caveat that is not mentioned. Of the approximate 1 million driven out of the country by “Mexican Repatriation” an estimated 60% were actually legal American citizens.
That’s just a minor “fact” overlooked by those with an agenda.
What is worse, those that blindly believe rubbish such as this, or those that perpetrate it with e-mails and public announcements?For that matter, who are these people that gin up this stuff?
I have this vision of a factory located somewhere in Florida, with lines of computers manned by cranky old white men, blasting out chain e-mails full of (nonsense) to a nation of incurious and intellectually lazy, willing participants that swallow this stink bait, hook, line and sinker.
Heard a good one lately? Share it with your fellow dubious Pop Bloggers along with the real story.
By the way, about the lead quote in the column?
P.T. Barnum never said that.
William Stephenson Clark
I am reposting this as a reminder for some of you, that like me, tend to be a little forgetful. Fnord will be off to the land of blue-bloods and yachts for a bit, but she assures me that the exposure to the upper-crust of society won’t change her and she will be ready for an invasion of Pop Bloggers. See you on the 12th!
Remember, attendance is mandatory!
Okay, it’s a bit more than a month, but Fnord has to attend some wedding thingie in Boston (lame excuse) and there are other commitments I have in the weeks proceeding.
So, mark your calendars:
June 12th – a Celebration of Life for Steven. Two PM.
Griffin and Fnord have graciously volunteered (?) to host this event at their home. It is going to be a hella party to honor Steven.
I will be bringing a couple of slabs of my world-famous ribs and a pot of my even more famous Smoked Scrapyard Baked Beans.
Attendance is mandatory – that means you, Roxie and Pondy! If you fail to show up, we will hunt you down and drag you to the celebration. You cannot hide from the “evil liberals!” Liberals are very violent, don’t cha’ know!
Please contact me at WSClark52@gmail.com with questions, directions, comments or whatever.
Also, please note on this thread what you will be bringing. If you can’t bring anything, that’s cool, too. Everyone knows that liberals are socialists and we SHARE.
Be prepared to laugh, cry and sing.
And stuff your face!
We all will.
William Stephenson Clark
“The only difference between men and boys is the size of their shoes and the price of their toys.” - Anonymous.
The world has been a bit crazy of late. Wars, famine, destruction, earthquakes and oil gushing in the Gulf. In North Korea, we have a deranged midget rattlin’ sabers and in Iran, another midget that is just a doofus. Right here at home, Tea Baggers are runnin’ ’round acting like they are the only true patriots, and we have a bunch of political critters that have obviously missed their “grown up” pills for quite some time.
“I still believe in Hope – mostly because there’s no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas.” – Molly Ivins.
The above doesn’t add anything to the story, I just like Molly Ivins.
So, rather than discuss the weighty issues of the world today, let’s just have some fun and talk about a subject near and dear to me - toys.
The opening quote of this column is a commentary on men, but the same applies to women, as well. Don’t try to kid yourself.
Feel free to talk about shoes if that is the subject near and dear to you!
Well, for me, I wear a size nine and I have expensive tastes in toys. As I bang this column out, I am surrounded by mega-bucks worth of photographic gear in my office. I pretend that I am going to make a good living with it one of these days, but that doesn’t explain why I periodically just pick up my camera and hold it, stroking my hands over it like it was a magic lamp and a genie is going to pop out and grant me three wishes.
In the past, my toys were quite expensive and slightly dangerous – Harley Davidson motorcycles. You can’t just “buy” a Harley. Once you own one, you have to spend beau coup bucks for chrome doodads, performance parts, custom paint and all that.
So, my demented blogging friends, what are your toys and why?
One more for the road………………………………..
“In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the [governor's] office; it’s mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose.” – Molly Ivins.
There is no doubt in my mind that both as Senator and as President, Barack Obama did the right this regarding TARP and the Stimulus Bill. These measures were required, in my view, to keep our economy, and conversely the global economy, from sliding in another Great Depression.
Understanding the complexities of the world’s economies is far from being my strong suit. Quite frankly, I am just too intellectually lazy to pursue a complete knowledge of Wall Street v. Main Street and all that lies in between.
I am capable, in my defense, to place my trust in those that know far more about the subject than I do. And, I trust Barack Obama. Republicans, not so much. They drove the bus into the ditch in the first place.
Regardless of the need for spending bills to prevent the crash of the economy, the National Debt is rising to levels heretofore unimaginable. Of course, much of that debt was incurred under Republican administrations, but you’ll never get a Tea Bagger to admit that.
It’s easy to say “cut spending!” Okay, where? Now the equation becomes a bit more tricky. It’s kind of like earmarks – everyone hates them, everyone wants to see money going to their home district.
Here’s a few ideas of mine to cut spending:
Eliminate two third’s of our 700 foreign military bases.
Enact Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed cuts to the military.
Eliminate the Depart of Redundancy Department.
Freeze all new Federal hiring without specific Congressional approval.
End off-shore tax havens for American corporations.
Repeal and replace the Bush prescription drug bill.
Simplify the tax code to reduce loopholes.
Reduce salaries of all elected and appointed Federal employees by 10%.
Review and cut where necessary all tax subsidies and credits for business.
Those are my ideas, Pop Bloggers. What are yours?
William Stephenson Clark
There are probably few topics that get more people hopping mad than the issue of illegal immigration. The recent “Stop and show me your papers!” law in Arizona has thrust the debate to center ice. There are critics of the law on both sides of the aisle, as well as supporters both red and blue.
Everyone, it seems, has a “solution” for the problem, some rational and some clearly idiotic. Estimates of the number of illegals in country range from official estimates of 10.8 – 12 million to insanely inflated totals of 30 million or more.
Solutions for dealing with those that are already here range from total amnesty to a mind-boggling round ‘em up and bus them to Mexico, as if that were practical or all are Mexican nationals, for that matter.
Ideas regarding border security include such thoughts as landmines, fences – real and virtual, machine gun nests, calling out the National Guard or the Army and armed patrols of citizens.
There is no question that illegal immigration is a serious problem and it seems that damned near everyone has their own thoughts on the possible solutions.
These are mine……………………………………………………………………….
One, put some serious teeth into the penalties for knowingly hiring illegal workers. Teeth, as in “buckle-your-knees” jail time.
Two, provide a date certain by which those already in country, for at least a year, can apply for and and receive for a Green Card without repercussion. At that time, they could begin the process of applying for citizenship under current rules.
Three, national ID cards, if there is a way to make them counterfeit proof.
Four, after that date certain, anyone found to be in country illegally would summarily deported to their country of origin.
Five, allow our president to use every option available to our military to protect our borders as he or she deems necessary.
Those are my thoughts. The pot is boiling and the lid is about to be blown off. What are your thoughts?
William Stephenson Clark
A fascinating article by Glenn Greenwald, at Salon.com, not only attempts to categorize (not an easy endeavor) Glenn Beck. Along the way, Greenwald has much to say about the political climate in the states today. To say the bulk of the protesters (teabaggers, etc.) don’t have a clue about what exactly they’re protesting is oversimplification.
Last night during his CBS interview with Katie Couric, Glenn Beck said he may have voted for Hillary Clinton and that “John McCain would have been worse for the country than Barack Obama.” This comment predictably spawned confusion among some liberals and anger among some conservatives. But even prior to that, there had been a palpable increase in the right-wing attacks on Beck — some motivated by professional competition for the incredibly lucrative industry of right-wing opinion-making, some due to understandable discomfort with his crazed and irresponsible rhetoric, but much of it the result of Beck’s growing deviation from GOP (and neoconservative) dogma. Increasingly, there is great difficulty in understanding not only Beck’s political orientation but, even more so, the movement that has sprung up around him. Within that confusion lies several important observations about our political culture, particularly the inability to process anything that does not fall comfortably into the conventional “left-right” dichotomy through which everything is understood.
Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn’t really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment. Although he now parades around under a rhetorical banner of small-government liberty, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the merger of corporations and government (as exemplified by the Bush-sponsored Wall Street bailout), it wasn’t all that long ago that he was advocating exactly the opposite: paying homage to the Patriot Act, defending the Wall Street bailout and arguing it should have been larger, and spouting standard neoconservative cartoon propaganda about The Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies. Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 — as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy — is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself. Still other aspects of his ranting are obviously grounded in highly familiar, right-wing paranoia
Marsha Linehan, PhD from the University of Washington, has provided the nearly impossible. She has led the way in treating patients with a very disabling disorder known as Borderline Personality Disorder. Dr. Linehan, though she might deny it, is a committed Zen Budhist. Dealing with the difficult balances that impinge upon us all daily, is the very foundation of her expertise. Those imbalances are especially difficult for her patients, but I, and others contend, the same is true for most of the rest of us.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy, aka DBT, was developed in the late 1970′s by Dr. Linehan and colleagues when they discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy alone did not work as well as expected in patients with borderline personality disorder. Dr. Linehan and her team added additional techniques and developed a treatment which would meet the unique needs of these patients.
DBT was developed to help people who have trouble in the realms of “thinking, relationships, emotions, and coping” – sounds like most of us, no?
A core component of DBT is “mindfulness” – gaining control of your mind, rather than letting it control you.”
Another component is “interpersonal effectiveness” – which involves, a) getting your objectives met in a situation, b)get/keep good relationships, c) keep/improve self respect and liking of one’s self.
A third component is “emotion regulation” which involves 1) understanding emotions one experiences, 2) reducing emotional vulnerability, and 3) decreasing emotional suffering.
In case I was not clear, I have always thought that these skills could be used by most of us, me included.
What do you bloggers think?
Wikipedia has posted images of the Rorschach test with common answers on-line. These actions are serious copyright violations (the image provided here is not a real Rorschach image).
I have read an opinion that the sooner psychology gives up research on the Rorschach, the sooner it will realize that it can be a serious discipline.
I used to give a lot of Rorschach tests. They tend to be a seductive mistress, and I am not really sure why — maybe a reason to seek therapy?
Read the full story here.