“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

The title of this post is a quote from one of my favorite people: Derek Sivers. I don’t know Derek personally (although we have shared an email or two), but I do appreciate his perspectives and insights — indeed, his wisdom. And I agree with his statement above.

It’s easy to think more information is the answer, Vera. Indeed, it’s an implicit assumption of our education system. It’s also wrong. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Is for Puritans

Here we are. Tomorrow is that “special” day of the year in which we’re to give thanks. What’s that say about all the other days?

As you’ll undoubtedly learn with time, Vera, your pap-pap isn’t big on “special days.” Basically, I think they’re principally a marketing tool for card companies and other retailers. And, in this case, turkey growers. The people at Butterball are absolutely giddy today. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

It’s not that I don’t like turkey. Or Thanksgiving dinners. I do. Refrigerated leftover stuffing from the bird is a delicacy that should be enjoyed more often than it is. And there are few things better in life than a really good pumpkin pie, appropriately seasoned. But, really, Thanksgiving is a contrived holiday, isn’t it? Continue reading

“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”

Garrison Keillor wrote the words in the title of this post. If you’re young, you may not get it. If you’ve been around a while, I suspect you will.

The danger, at least from my perspective, is that you get carried away with stories when you get older. You know what I mean: telling the same stories, over and over, each time stretching them out just a little longer. I suspect most of us over the age of 60 have done it.

I’ve caught myself doing it. I always regret it (assuming I realized it). I wish the bored but polite listener would have stopped me.

So what’s the antidote? Continue reading

Irony, Hypocrisy, Flip-Flopping, the Art of Speaking Out of Both Sides of One’s Mouth & Choosing Your Role Models Well

My message to you today, Vera, is simple: choose your role models well. And don’t assume that because someone is an adult or holds a high position they are acceptable.

You’re fortunate: you have two great role models as parents. But not everyone is so fortunate. Indeed, the world is full of people who are hypocritical, flip-flop on a dime if necessary to serve their own selfish interests and routinely speak out of both sides of their mouths.

These are not the kind of people you should embrace as role models. The fact that some people think they’re admirable shouldn’t change that fact. We all have standards. Set yours high.

Here’s a portion of a letter that Steven J. Harper wrote to president-elect Donald Trump (aka Crooked Donald) that demonstrates my point: Continue reading

What I Hate About Politics

I hate politics. Mainly, I hate it because it has failed us miserably and now it seems to be bringing out the worst in us. It’s even brought us to a place where we’re willing to install a crude, narcissistic megalomaniac in the White House. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

But even without our new president-elect, it was bad. Very bad. In fact, that’s how he got elected. It was like a hail-mary pass. Even people who don’t like or respect him voted for him because it was “worth the shot.” There wasn’t anything to lose in their minds, for there was no good alternative. And they were right: there wasn’t a good option. Indeed, the same old, same old neoliberal policies and militarism of the Clintons weren’t the answer (although it was a far less reckless gamble than electing Mr. Trump).

But why? How did we get into this mess? How could politics fail us so? Why do I hate it so? Continue reading

The Joy of Paying for Health Care

Two weeks ago I had an appointment with a health care provider. I didn’t actually need to see a doctor or other provider. But my insurance company requires an annual visit whether I need it or not. If I don’t comply, I don’t receive coverage for my sleep apnea treatment. Next year I’ll probably forgo the visit since it appears the cost of the annual visit exceeds the savings I derive from having coverage.

Such are the calculations one must make in America today. We have a truly screwed up health care system, which is essentially dominated by private insurance and pharmaceutical companies. So we end up paying more than any other people in the world, yet we die sooner and are generally unhealthier than our counterparts in other developed western countries.

The health care provider I saw says the system will change. He, too, is frustrated by our system, and in particular with insurance companies. I asked when. He said probably in 12 to 15 years, but he wasn’t sure meaningful change would come about in his lifetime.

I thought he was unduly optimistic. I reminded him of the extreme passivity of the American public. We are very tolerant of high-cost, underperforming systems. You see it in health care. You see it in education. We’re so convinced we have the best of everything (we’re #1, of course), we’re blinded to reality.

But I’m not complaining (even though it may seem like it). To the contrary, I’m sincerely grateful and delighted.

The scene when I checked out out of the doctor’s office makes my point. Continue reading

Timing Is Everything

One thing I’ve learned in life, Vera, is that timing is everything.

I was reminded of that fact last evening when I read about the demonstrations against our president-elect in New York City and elsewhere, including on school campuses. I remind you, this was a day after the election.

Many young people (under age 35) chose not to vote in this election or to vote for a third-party candidate who didn’t have a chance of winning. Whether I think their decision was prudent makes no difference. It was theirs to make. They had the right to vote or not vote, to vote for Mr. Trump or for the only candidate who could keep him out of the White House, or for some other candidate “out of principle.” Again, that’s their right. I am not questioning their decision.

But their timing sucks. If, as yesterday’s demonstrations indicated, it was so important to them to deny Mr. Trump the White House, then the time for action was before the election, not after it. And the time to make the decision that could keep him out of the White House was on election day, not the day after.

But this post isn’t about the election. It’s about timing. And that’s an issue that transcends politics. Continue reading