Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Do You Spell Frustration ?-- Golf

Several years ago my friend, Loren Morey, moved to Seattle to become president of a Japanese company, Nichira Seafoods. Loren’s life was “business” almost every waking moment.  His wife, as well of some of his friends, had always urged him to take up something besides business as a hobby. He always vowed to fly his plane more, but seldom did. He had reluctantly and not seriously played golf at various business meetings because everybody else did.  He finally took up the sport with his usual focused zeal.  He joined a top Seattle country club, bought a set of Calloway golf clubs, took lessons and practiced faithfully. 

One day he was on the driving range at his club searching for the formula for golfing success. A man set up behind him and began to hit some balls. My friend didn’t pay much attention to him except for the noises of golfing frustration emitting behind him. During a brief pause in his own practice, he turned and saw that the man was Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, hacking away. Bill Gates is known for complete focus and dedication to his business. 

Gates was recently married, and I’m sure his wife, just like Loren’s, constantly urged him to find a form of relaxation and leisure separate from the stresses of the business world.  This is a man, who once wrote a column on biotechnology, “Biotechnology is not my line of work, but I enjoy following the progress as a hobby.”  BIOTECHNOLGY AS A HOBBY???  Bill, you really do need a hobby! 

So there was Bill Gates, moaning and groaning through the frustrations that forever are part of the game. Golf is humbling to all who attempt to play it -- even the richest man in the world. Golf is a great equalizer. Perhaps more people should take up the game.

Note:  A short article in the Minneapolis StarTribune on September 14, 1996, told of Bill Gates winning low net honors in a scramble in the Wayne-Dalton/Richard Karn Celebrity Golf Classic in Seattle. The prize was a couple of Wayne Dalton garage doors.  Bill’s house has a 36 car garage. He’ll need to win again next year and many more years to come.


Have a nice day!

Sam

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?


People seem to have a need for role models and heroes.  Too often our heroes disappoint us and we wonder why.  The “why” is that they are human beings and as human beings they are subject to the weaknesses and frailties of the human spirit that is part of all of us.  No one is perfect and we all make mistakes and exercise poor judgment as we live our lives. 

Charles Barkley was right to some degree that when he stated he was “not a role model”. People have a tendency to confuse celebrityism with heroism. Celebrities and athletes can let you down because they are human beings with all of the warts we all carry around.  Need we look further than the tragic story of O.J. Simpson. We are emphasizing superficial values, not basic moral and intellectual virtues.

Role models should first and foremost come from your family, your teachers and/or other people who made a difference in your life.  These are the people that can affect your life, its paths and its ultimate outcome.  They helped you define who you are.  But the American family and our the educational system are in trouble.  Is it any wonder that our moral character is in a state confusion and decline?

Dr. George Sheehan in his book, On Running, made an observation about heroes.  It is something we might all want to consider.

"Where have all the heroes gone?  They've gone with the simplicities and the pieties and the easy answers of another era.  Our lack of heroes is an indication of the maturity of our age, a realization that the every man has come into his own and has the capability of making a success out of his life.  Success rests with having the courage and the endurance and, above all, the will to become the person you are, however peculiar that may be.

Then you will be able to say, I have found my hero and he is me."


Have a nice day.

Sam



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Writing for Fun and Exercise

I write for my own pleasure, and, hopefully, for the small enjoyment it may provide my family and friends.  However, there are times when my thoughts turn to submission (send it in) -- but not yet, anyway.

As I have begun to think of myself as a writer (three books and a Blog), I have become aware that writing, like most every other endeavor in today’s American life, has its own vocabulary, language, associations, groups, workshops, conferences, how-to-books, newsletters and trade magazines.  It’s own a little society, operating in its own little world.

The language of writing and the writer has begun to work its way into my conversations and thoughts.  I can’t help it.  I want to at least appear to be a member of the literary personhood (politically correct word as opposed to brotherhood, sisterhood, fraternity, sorority, etc.). However, there are things about the language of the writing crowd (politically correct again) that I don’t like very much. I write for fun and exercise.  I guess I’m not serious enough about my writing to be caught sitting at some writer’s workshop with a group of Ernest Hemingway or Maya Angelo “wannabes” with their little round, steel-rimmed glasses (both regular and sun) discussing the artistic, intellectual, elitism of being a writer.  “My inner-most thoughts flow from my soul through the magic wand of my pen and onto a tear-stained page that blankly stares into my chocolate brown, tear-filled eyes.”  I don’t think so!  I write on a computer, and the only tears in my eyes are from the eye-strain caused by staring at the screen too long.

I am just not smart enough to be an artistic, intellectual, elitist writer, or reader for that matter.  Must all writing carry a deeper intellectual meaning beneath its surface?  I guess I’m an intellectual surfer who falls off the board if the water (or something) gets too deep.  Let me give you an example of some writing that is beyond my intellectual depth.  In the 1992 book of the winners of the prestigious O. Henry Awards was the following quote from one of the winners about his prize-winning short story:  “For me a story is a narrative space framed by formal intervals.  In the case of this story, I am principally interested in a rather loose triangle composed through the relations of a pressing, needful, musical, unrelated speech and two silences: That of assured capability fallen into kind of entropic chaos, and that of the explosive insight of creative vision.”    HUH?????

Isn’t there something to be said in the art of the written word about clarity of thought in the understandable English of most of us less-gifted dweebs in the general population?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down this higher level of writing, but it’s not for me, actually it’s beyond me.  Writing at an artistic level maybe self-fulfilling masturbation to some, but they probably won’t make a very good living at it.  However, artistic, intellectual writing is not about money, unless, of course, it’s government funding.  I think elitist writer-talk is high-falutin’, haughty, high-brow, uppity, look down your nose and, well -- snooty.  That’s it, -- snooty.  Writers and their vocabulary can be snooty.  Writers only talk snooty, they dress distinctively un-snooty, unless, of course, they are in the company of others of their genre, then their dress is distinctively snooty and the rest of us are dressed distinctively, un-snooty.  Snooty can be confusing.  I am a plain English, un-snooty type guy.  I think?  I guess I have confused myself.

There is even a book that helps us use and understand the words of the writer’s language -- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms -- snooty.   Take some of the words we writers like to use. Memoir -- French -- snooty.  Avant garde -- French -- snooty.  Genre -- French -- snooty.  French words used in English conversation are snooty. 

A memoir is an autobiography or life stories of the person writing it.  How about plain, “I’m writing my life story.”?  Rather than a haughty, affected, “I’m writing a mem-whah.

Avant garde represents leading-edge, new stuff.  I can’t think of a quote -- avant garde is too new and avant garde.

Genre is a style or type of art form.  For our purposes we use it to describe the kind of writing we do.  The use of the word genre in writing circles is like a zodiac pick-up line at a poetry reading.  “Hi, what’s your genre?”  (the hoped for answer, erotica (snooty Latin word for dirty writing) is seldom heard, however).  Genre is my least favorite snooty writer word.  What’s wrong with calling a piece what it is: fiction, micro fiction, flash fiction, sudden fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction (oxy-moron), essays, articles (newspaper and magazine), biography, autobiography, life stories, plays, (stage, screen and television), poetry, prose, short stories, novels, novellas, free-writing, journaling, journalism, technical, copy, freelance, -- the list of plain English words about writing and types of writing goes on and on. 

How about a simple, “What do you write?”  “I write ______.”  (Fill in the blank in plain English).

One of the most common terms in the language of both writer and reader is the word piece.  “She wrote a wonderful piece.”  “Did you see the piece in the paper?”  I used piece in the above paragraph.  A piece includes all of the above mentioned genres (the snooty word creeps in to my conversation no matter how I try to be un-snooty.  I guess that makes me a “real” writer -- snooty).

Why do we use the generic word piece to describe just about everything we write instead of simple straight forward terms like articles, essays, short stories, book, etc.?  Here’s my explanation of the word piece in its literary sense.  Piece, as in piece of pie .  A piece of pie is a slice of pie.  A piece is a slice of life.

That’s my piece and I’m sticking to it!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I must go and pick up my new glasses.

Samuel C. Arnold,
Writer

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Crown Jewel of the Fourth of July

San Diego was recently voted the most patriotic city in America. To the people who live in this wonderful part of Southern California, it is no surprise. Of course San Diego has always been a military town. It's where I served  my military duty myself. It's how I fell in love with the place. This affair has gone on since January 6, 1960. If San Diego is the king of the fourth of July, the Coronado is the crown the king wears.

July 4th in Coronado is bigger than any other than any holiday of the year. There  are literally 250,000 or more people, crowding our little Island, population 26,000, some wearing some very strange patriotic clothing, I attended my first parade in the summer of 1960, 54 years ago. It was only 10 years old at the time.  At least the parade is older than I am. It's a fun day, but if you don't like crowds stay away.

The 4th of July in Coronado is a time of growing and continuing traditions. I've been here long enough to have traditions. Theyn begin with Johnny Macs BBQ and parade watching. As I looked around the crowd of about 40 people, I saw friends who are true friends. These friendships began at Island Sports and Spirits. The Island was where customers and workers all became friends, a place where everybody knows your name. The Island closed, and we moved on the The Firehouse, which also is now closed, and now Costa Azul and McPs. I hope we don't run them out of business too.

I'm not a big drinker. A couple of beers and that's it, but Coronado bars have been a place for making friends. This actually started for me in the 60s, when our bars of choice were the Manhattan Room, which is now McPS and the Mexican Village is on the sight of its replacement the Firehouse and closed Firehouse.

In many ways some things really don't change much in Coronado. The old bars became the new bars, but the friend making and the socializing both at the bar and around town remain the same.

The second stop was McPs for a little Ron's Garage music, my favorite band. They play the music of my life. Here is another set of friends of Ron's Garage with a little of the  Island crowd mixed in. In Coronado friendships are mixed, matched. and move around.

Next stop, the Beach Club at the Coronado Shores. Here I have third set of friends, but they are older, and I am not the patriarch. Summer brings an influx of seasonal summer renters. Many are very  nice people, but many think they are entitled and just pain rude. They need to be reminded that the Shores is not a hotel, it is a residence complex. One visitor  ask if  there was towel service at the pool, and another wanted to charge his drinks to his room. Summer at the Shores is a time for anger management.

I finished the day watching the Coronado firewoks show, as well as eight other shows around San Diego Bay. "The rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

I had no nap, so it was time for bed

What a great day. We love our military, we love our friends, we  love our town. It can't get any better.

God Bless America!

Sam


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Project Complete, ------------ Finally!

I suppose a number of my faithful readers have wondered why I haven't posted for a while. I hope neither of you were worried I was leaving you. I have been hard at work finishing up my family genealogy and history book This project has been 20 years in the making.

Much of it was researched and written in the late nineties. Then I went through about 15 years of procrastination. Actually, assembling and editing have been the hardest part. I am happy to say, however, that today it went to the printers. 210 pages, 93,000 words.

Why so long? My family lines all came to America  before the Revolutionary War, so that's a hell of a lot of folks and families. My first immigrants came to the colonies settling in Massuachusetts in about 1635. Early birds. The rest came in the early 1700s through Philadelphia. In other words my family all became British citizens at one time, even though they mostly came from Germany.

In addition I researched and wrote about the major events that were occurring during their time. Genealogy and family history are more than dates and numbers. These were real people with real stories. Ever life is a story, not a born, died and buried statistic. It has been a long and rewarding journey.

In the opening paragraph of Vladamir Nobakov’s memoir, he states, “There is a common sense that tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.  In the context of cosmic and human history, each life is but the briefest flash of an eternal strobe light -- so brief that it may be little noted nor long remembered.”

However, when each crack of human light is linked with other little cracks of human light, they illuminate the history of the world, the history of America and the histories of our families.  Our own little crack of light is the sum of all those little cracks of light that have flashed before.  

Finding where you came from helps you find who you are.

Have a Nice day!

Sam

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moving to the Front Row


Several years ago, Doe’s favorite aunt, Anna Marie passed away. At the funeral home on the night of the visitation, the row closest to the casket was occupied by the surviving siblings of the Owen family. They were the older generation. In the row behind were the sons and daughters husbands and wives of those in the front row. Behind us were the grandchildren. Today the front row is gone and my generation is now sitting in that front row of life’s journey. We are now the older generation, and I have become the patriarch of the current living Arnold generation. The time has come for us to be the older generation.

This last weekend was special. Thirteen of the Arnold lineage, plus husbands and wives, kids, and couple of girlfriends and grand kids gathered at my brother Terry’s home in Cottage Grove, Oregon. There were only two families missing. We had such a good time reminiscing the old days a in Indiana. Lots of good stories and laughs. The only sad note is that this is probably the last time this many members of our family will be together as a unit. Eventually this is what family comes to. The older generation moves to the front row, and is replaced by they next generation.

My two brothers and I are now sitting in the front row. It is a fact of living in today’s world. All of our genealogy lines moved from the East to the West, one step at a time. They all ended up in Indiana, where the next generations stayed for over a hundred years. My generation then spread out all over the country. We were a nomadic generation. In the group that was in Oregon, we were from, South Florida, New York City, San Antonio, Texas, San Diego, California, and finally Cottage Grove, Oregon. If you took a roll call, ten years ago, many would be living somewhere other than what is listed. And so goes the nomad life in our family. Something is lost, when family lives so far apart.

I am about to finally finish our family history book. In rereading things I researched and wrote about over fifteen years ago, I was reminded of our family roots. I uncovered so many stories because every life is a story. God Bless our family and yours.


Have a nice day.

Sam

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Importance of Stuff or Not

I hope you have noticed I haven't posted in a while. I have been hard at work on writing and editing our family history. It is a big project. This is a little jewell I found stuck amonst my papers.


Father Dick Rice works with a group of eight priests in community service.  It is his everyday work.  They would occasionally get the proverbial question, “What’s your Fax number”.  The group had decided that they were the only people in St. Paul without a FAX machine and they should get one.  They had pretty much made up their mind when one ask, “How many times would we use it?”  They decided that it would probably be necessary only about three times a week.  It now seemed silly to spend the money on a fax machine for that amount of usage.  They inquired who in the church area might have a fax machine.  They discovered that the church office six blocks down the street had one.  It was managed by a person that worked for the church they didn’t know.  They worked out a deal to use their fax machine.  For the three times a week they might need a fax machine they would use that one.  In the mean time they made a new friend in the other office.  Not accumulating more “stuff”, saved money and found a new friend.

That week he had listened to the poems of that new found 82 year old friend.  She ask him if he would listen to her poems because she had no one else to listen to them.  And he spent the time and listened to this little old lonely lady.

Time rushs by too fast. Slow down and listen every once in a while. Poems are not stuff.  The Bible is not stuff. We are not stuff.

Sam