Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are We Too Easily Offended?

At home in Fort Worth...

The restrictions to Sandy's and my travel caused by upcoming surgeries give me time to ponder certain things, whatever good or ill that brings.  We have only three trips scheduled for Phannie through November--all of short distance and duration, so I will have plenty of time to fill blogging space with something other than my usual blather about our travels.  This 'something' will include, of necessity, a greater reliance upon philosophizing.  (Don't laugh; my philosophy is worth every nickel you pay for it.)

This has its risks, however, as philosophizing, by its nature, requires its practitioner to offer opinions, some of which may differ from those held by readers.  Mindful of the risks, I am very careful to avoid issues known to be polarizing, such as religion and politics, although I have strong views on both.

Why take any risk at all, one may ask.  Well, for the same reason a newspaper editorial column is more interesting to me than the stock price page.  As stated in a recent post about blogging, I find a writer's thoughts and impressions about a subject likely to be more captivating than the the subject itself.  As long as the opinions I express do not include negative personal comments, there shouldn't be any problem.  Or so I thought.

I recently learned that a respected blogger whom I follow (and who followed me) was offended by something I wrote in my post, "Getting on the Blogging Tips Bandwagon" and unsubscribed from my blog in a huff.  I was mystified as to what had set him off, but I later found out that he didn't like my opinion about the kinds of posts I find interesting.   Mind you, I carefully avoided mentioning any blog or author by name in my post, but he must have thought I was writing about him.  (I wasn't; his blog is very well done and one of my favorites, about which I've left only positive comments.)

Instead of leaving, I wish he had left a comment with a differing opinion as others, like Rick, occasionally do.  I covet these as an intellectual exchange in which I may learn something.  But just to high tail it because I expressed an opinion--I don't get it.

Please excuse the rant, but have we reached a point where we are too easily offended?  Perhaps we have, and I think it might be attributed to our national obsession with political correctness.  In many cases, it is modeled to us via television that disagreeing with someone is impermissible if that person is of a certain color, orientation, origin, politic, religion, etc., etc.  Must we now be careful with bloggers, too?  I guess my erstwhile blogger friend didn't zero in on the premise that my post was merely an 
O-P-I-N-I-O-N!  As far as I know, I'm still allowed to have one and to express it.

I certainly wish the offended blogger had hung around because I was proud to have him as a subscriber; I still read his posts and will continue to do so.  But then, I'm not easily offended.    

Friday, June 15, 2012


At home in Fort Worth

Sandy and I are more or less tethered to our home base for the next few months as we navigate our way through surgeries to replace some of our parts that have worn out.  It was just last week when brave Sandy had two procedures--a septoplasty and carpal tunnel surgery--done at the same time on the same operating table.  I certainly understand her desire to get both of these over with at once, but she looked pretty beaten up for a few days.  She is definitely a trooper!  

Next for her will be knee replacement surgery, to be done as soon as she has the use of her hand again.  This will be knee number two for her, and she's looking forward to getting relief from the pain.  Next will be a hip replacement for me, but not until Sandy is pretty well mended from the knee ordeal.  

Even with all of this piling up at once, we still consider ourselves blessed, as our medical issues have been relatively minor for a very long time. Many of our friends and acquaintances have suffered devastating illnesses and losses of family members to terrible diseases, so our current issues are almost unworthy of mention.  

However, that will not keep me from whining about not getting to scratch our traveling itch for a while.  Poor Phannie must think she has been abandoned.  I  am faithful to start her up, run through the gears and exercise  the generator every couple of weeks, but this is just teasing her, and I'm sure she resents it.

Sad Phannie
On a happier note, the DFW Metroplex is getting its first Trader Joe's store today, opening in Fort Worth.  We have never had an opportunity to visit one of these popular markets, and we're thinking about giving it a try this weekend, although with some trepidation due to the anticipated crowds.  I know that a number of you have had positive comments about Trader Joe's, and I do know that they offer some unique items.  Since the RV blog community is a very discerning bunch, I would be interested in some of your 'must-haves' from Trader Joe's.
New Trader Joe's in Fort Worth

Finally, I am including some helpful hint videos for your amusement and edification.  I'm sure these are making their way around the web, but I hadn't seen them before--pretty cool tricks, I thought:  1) closing a potato chip bag without a clip; 2) peeling a boiled egg; and 3) getting a cork out of a wine bottle.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Music for Geezers

At home in Fort Worth…

This post is a continuation of my earlier musings about becoming a Geezer.  For several days, I had a foggy mental outline of what this post has become—a diatribe about the bilious noise that passes for popular music these days.  Before I could write it, however, Al of the Bayfield Bunch unwittingly stole my thunder in one of his posts a few days ago.  The only difference was that his favorite music was popular a decade or two later than the point in the last century where I was left behind by songwriters and singers.  

In my mind, good music began about 1940 and was largely extinct after about 1970 with a few notable exceptions mostly associated with Broadway musicals.  I guess the hallmark of this 30-year period was that music actually had melody back then.  I won’t even attempt to name any of the hundreds of melodious songs from those years that are still universally recognized today along with the big bands who played them and the crooners who sang them.  But you know these instantly when you hear them, and you can hum their melodies if not sing their words.

I must admit to being utterly devoid of even the tiniest understanding of today’s music. I am mystified by rappers, and I have no idea of what constitutes funk, grunge, metal, heavy metal, punk pop or any of the other weird subgenres that float around out there like strange and annoying creatures from a parallel universe.

I don’t even recognize country music anymore.  A simple and understandable country song with fiddles, a steel guitar and a melody has given way to a rambling story-saga with perhaps a catchy line but no tune that anyone could hum.  Again, there are a few exceptions to this, but not many.

I guess the latest thing that set me off was the recent windup of the TV show, American Idol, a horrible misnomer for what proved to be a never-ending freak show of poorly-dressed youngsters bent on inflicting musical torture.  We have now reached a point, it seems, where judges appear to be impressed only to the degree that a performer’s voice can be pushed and strained to a point where it is no longer discernible as anything other than a primal scream.  Nothing seemed to matter in this show except whether the primal scream was sufficiently vein-bulging that it showed the proper apoplexy or ‘emotion’ of the singer.  I suppose that if the performer had actually suffered an aneurysm and died at that point, he or she would have been named the posthumous winner by acclamation. 

At the merciful end of the season, the winner was a pitiful rural lad whose voice had about a six-note range but who prevailed, presumably, because he was ‘different.’  God help us.

Fearing my curmudgeonly attitude would be dismissed as the predictable snarkiness of an old fuddy-duddy who is not growing old gracefully, I have engaged in no small degree of introspection as to why this causes me so much consternation.  Perhaps it is because I am a musician of sorts myself (piano), about whose capability kind things have been said, however misguided they may be. 

In this exercise of due diligence, I thought back to my own youth and my parents’ reaction to the music of my pubescent fifties and sixties.  Let’s see—no, their heads didn’t explode when rock and roll hit and Elvis discovered his hips.  My folks didn’t listen to pop music much back then, but they never gave me the impression they thought I was from another planet when I listened to it.  In fact, they even liked some of it.  Even “Purple People Eater” and “Splish Splash, I Was Taking A Bath” had a melody, for goodness’ sake!  I  

Therefore, I refuse to be pigeonholed as typical of the geezers of each fading generation who just don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to modern pop music. I think the music died a good while ago along with the culture, and I’m not sure it will ever come back.