Is It Possible to Slow Down?

You probably know my story—but if you don’t, click here, here, and here.

Last night, I was supposed to be meeting my musical comrade in arms. The two of us have a history that dates back to Lisbon High School and him patrolling the outfield behind me during our championship baseball season in 1979, when I was flinging the baseball real fast towards home plate. We also experienced two basketball seasons where we posted identical 1-17 seasons back-to-back.

Of all my friends from this era, Dave has remained as fixated (if not more so) about music (mainly rock) as I am. He listens to it, stays current, and since February, he’s been getting me out to shows more frequently.

Speaking of back-to-back, we saw The War on Drugs at Portland’s State Theater Monday night and last night, it was X. Dave almost didn’t make it, however.

Driving home from work in South Portland, he was rear-ended in Falmouth, along what’s become a notoriously dangerous stretch of I-295. The state has even lowered speed limits there as a way to prevent accidents.

The affected vehicle, a 1997 Saab convertible he calls Bambi II, was a nod to Dave’s penchant and vehicle preference. He had another similar vintage that he was planning to use as a parts car. However, last night’s crash means Bambi II is headed to the scrapyard.

Dave’s okay. He could have been killed. In fact, there was a fatality not long after an SUV plowed into the back of him, sending car and driver into the median and up against the guardrail on the opposite, southbound side.

I received his message just as I was parking in downtown Portland. He said he was fine and would be “riding in with Leo, meeting up at Port City in time for the show.

We know that ever-increasing speeds lead to accidents. Yet, some states are promoting driving faster.

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21 Days

There is an oft-quoted time frame that’s become accepted in many self-help circles, and among those coaching others to make changes in their lives. We hear over and over again that for something to take root and become habitual requires a minimum of three weeks, 21 days, or something longer—like a month. Where did this come from?

One never knows for sure, but the interwebs coughed up the name Maxwell Maltz.

In the preface to his 1960 book Pycho-Cybernetics, Maltz (a plastic surgeon turned psychologist) wrote about how “it usually requires a minimum of 21 days to effect any perceptual change in mental image” following plastic surgery to get “used to a new face.” Apparently, when an arm or a leg are amputated, the “phantom limb” can persist for about 21 days, also.

Dr. Maltz highlighted a number of other phenomena that clock-in around 21 days, or three weeks, to take root.

James Last, a writer focused on “behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance Improvement” mentions that it was Maltz’s book that influenced a host of self-help gurus, from Zig Ziglar to Tony Robbins. Last equates it to that game we played when we were kids, “Telephone”—where a story gets started and by the end, Maltz’s “a minimum of 21 days” has now been turned into a gospel aphorism that “it takes 21 days to form a new habit.” Continue reading

And the Powerball Winner Is…

It wasn’t you. I knew it wouldn’t be you, or any of your 318 million fellow countrymen. But the argument you will throw back at me is one I’ve heard countless times in my life, dating all the way back to my days working at the power company.

These weren't your Powerball numbers.

These weren’t your Powerball numbers.

That went something like this: a co-worker who sat across from me always bought lottery tickets each morning (usually 3-5) when he stopped for his coffee. When he got to work, he’d scratch them off. I’d sit there and look at him and think, “fool,” and semi-regularly say, “you’re not going to win.” He’d then get all indignant and give me his best, “well, someone’s going to win” argument and it was easy to follow it with, “well it won’t be you.”

As far as I know, he’s never won anything more than a few minor payouts; certainly not any of these other national Ponzi schemes like Powerball. While I’m no longer with the power company, I still see him drive by on occasion, so I’m guessing he hasn’t won the big payout. But, I guarantee you that he purchased a bunch of Powerball tickets over the past two weeks, believing that he was going to win a billion dollars.

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Hold Onto Your Cars

Lies and propaganda are unleashed on a regular basis. Sometimes, it seems nearly impossible to know what to believe anymore. One whopper being touted by someone (environmentalists?) is that Millennials don’t drive cars.

There have been a number of articles that indicate that Generation Y are not embracing automobiles like previous demographic groups, especially the Baby Boomers, who cut their teeth riding around in the backseat of gas guzzling behemoths built in Detroit. Some of this may just be wishful thinking. Progressives are notorious for this. That and demanding one thing for you, and another for them. But that’s another blog post for another day.

Since August, I’ve been writing articles on cars for a trade magazine group out of Dallas, Texas. It started with a book review, and moved on from there. I enjoy the work, and as a result, I’m paying closer attention to what’s going on in the automotive world. Continue reading

I Don’t Want to Hear It

We all have opinions. Most of us have strongly-held ones. The desire to share my opinions, as well as some of what I thought was foundational information behind those opinions, were reasons why I started blogging back in 2003.

I still have opinions. Many of them have evolved over time. Having an opinion and sharing it is also seems fraught with danger, 12 years later. Now, I’m less likely to add my two cents worth to whatever battle is being waged over symbols, or people’s preferences.

Being hesitant to weigh-in on the Battle Royale raging at the moment also leaves a limited amount of topics to write about at times, or so it seems. Also, that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for. Spending time wasting words via a blog seems so 2006. No one seems interested anymore in reading several hundred words. 140-character tweets are now de riguer with the cool kids holding court, ruling the turf formerly held by bloggers. Who cares if they have nothing behind their prattle except their strongly held opinions?

"La, La, La, La..."

“La, La, La, La…”

My previous post touched down on binary thinking. I’ve mentioned the topic enough before. I won’t go there again today. I will only say that our inability to have a dialogue on a variety of tough subjects, even those deemed by our arbiters as “controversial,” doesn’t bode well for us. Screaming louder than your foes, or using your newly-found majority status doesn’t indicate rightness, either.

Perhaps I’ll just blog about the weather and puppies—no one is opposed to sun and cuteness, right?

The Process of Aging

I try to swim two times each week. Usually, my swim days are Monday (or Tuesday, if I miss Monday) and Friday. If I leave my house just after 5:00 I can be in the Bath Area Family YMCA pool around 5:30-ish.

For a guy who never thought he could learn to swim, let alone swim well enough to complete triathlons, this has been a revelation. It’s taught me to never underestimate your ability to learn new tricks, even when you feel like an old(er) dog.

Actually, age is relative, or that’s what the salesman is now selling. What, with all the talk about 60 being the new 40, Botox treatments, and Google—shoot, they’ll probably eradicate death one of these days. Or, maybe not. Continue reading

Being Present

I’ve been cycling through a variety of topics that are personal to me. I’ve touched on journalism, technology (several times) and its effect on our lives, weather and our rugged winter of 2014-15, and even, Harry Potter/Richard Nixon. Oh, and last Friday, I worked in one of my infrequent blasts about music, at least the indie rock variety that has been a touchstone of my life over much of the past 3 decades.

While this topical list might seem somewhat random, I think there are threads that gather together its seeming disjointed-ness. One of them is being present—as in the here and now. To me, this means trying to live, as much as possible, in the moment. This is harder than it seems, at least it has been for me. Continue reading

Hagiography, Civil Rights, and Martin Luther King Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a polarizing figure during his lifetime.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a polarizing figure during his lifetime.

This isn’t my regular posting day. I wanted to get something up, however, reflecting briefly on the day.

Today is the day when we mark the anniversary of the date of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. The day, an American federal holiday, is one that has two sides to it—one that involves hagiography and a twisting of history—the other addresses the ongoing struggle, one that King was a foot soldier in; that being human emancipation. Continue reading

Waiting and Working on Hope

I’ve loved history and studying anything from a historical perspective, whether sports, religion, music, etc. for a long time. History and sociology are parallel threads that run through most of the reading that I’ve been doing for the past several years. Aiming to read 25-35 books a year and this year, with a late season push, I’ll probably finish near 30, has had a profound influence on me and on how I view the world, or perhaps better, the United States. This self-directed course of study has also helped me enter a post-ideological phase of life that I’m rather enjoying. Continue reading