“Back to Normal” in the Irma Aftermath

Background: Irma Aftermath & Civil War

Once all your modern conveniences have been rightfully restored, your life doesn’t just switch back to normal. For those who were never without, they continue to zip along at the speed of Internet. But as a former refugee in your own city, you now have to re-acclimate yourself to modern life. A/C and replenishing essentials is only part of it. You’re behind on sleep, laundry, cleaning and other chores; and that’s if you were lucky enough not to be flooded. Your eating rhythm has been disrupted, and food choices cut-off with no electricity. Personal hygiene literally goes out the window. No privacy in a neighborhood with no power, as everyone’s windows are open 24/7, unless there’s a generator running. Time is money, and those without power seem to be more short on both, compared to those who weren’t. This is a political, economic & policed war I’m describing here.

Hurricane Irma’s eye passed one week ago, but it was the “Aftermath” most of us have had the hardest time surviving. More people are being flooded out daily, as the rains keep coming, meaning more water which has no place to go. Florida is a sinking boat. The “important” structures are safe for now, so their sandbags (and any other resources) have been stored away instead of being put to good use elsewhere. For the most part nothing is being done, while the government & media are managing this crisis by censoring it, in a desperate attempt to get everything “back to normal.” Power & Internet restoration is being manipulated by the flick of a switch from the puppet masters. Most of Florida still doesn’t have Internet, so it’s hard for people outside this area to see & hear the truth from first-hand refugee survivors. If more people were being allowed to get online, you’d be hearing a much different story, versus what the media has been shoveling.

I’m on my bike this Monday morning, making my rounds. My working partner in the manager’s offices gives me another fist bump over getting Internet back to the complex. She still has no power at her home. Her & her husband are running a generator on & off. Generator sales have spiked since the storm, and reportedly there’s legislation in the works to make them mandatory. “Funny how people are expected to pay more & more, for the services they’re supposed to have,” I remark then leave.  She’s about 40, holding up well, and really cute on top of everything else. That’s a good woman, boys & girls. I tell her I’ll say a few words for her down at City Hall. She’s grateful that I’ve got her back, and likewise.

I get to City Hall with a backpack full of recyclables. I’m stuffing them into a bin in front of their doors– one of the few around town. Some poor fellow is seated a table away with some papers in his hand. I ask him, “Do you have power?” He looks at me for a second, and says, “No.” I already knew. I’m almost finished stuffing everything glass & plastic into the bin. “They don’t make it easy to do the right thing, do they?”, I say to him. “No, they don’t,” is his response. I let him know I’ll say a few words for him inside.

I leave my bicycle against the glass window unlocked. I’m 100% confident it won’t get messed with as long as he’s still out there. The you-know-what secretary is behind the glass again, and I think she saw me coming this time, because she doesn’t even look up. My sixth sense tells me she’s found me online. I say to her, “Still a lot of people without power.” She replies without looking at me, “Really?” I move into the doors which open so the guy outside can also hear me, and say out loud, “I tell ALL of them to come here.”

Onto the Internet station, which today has cars in the back parking lot. I park on their front doorstep with the kickstand down, and try the door. To my surprise, it opens so I walk in. There’s a sliding glass window to my right, with a security-coded locked door on the opposite wall. I try the window, and notice youngish female secretaries working inside. The glass is heavily tinted, and I can only see the younger one clearly at first, with whom I converse– as the other looks on. I ask how the Internet restoration is going, and she looks at me– puzzled? I explain some more, but no use. I’m told they just “serve papers” here, as her supervisor steps up to assist in this matter. Me: “What kind of papers?” Them: “We can’t say.” Me: Why not?” Them: Blank stares.

I’m peddling up to speed again, and make note of the Internet line Spectrum “fixed” the other night, which now has a rope lassoing it to an adjacent palm tree. It’s hitched in-between the yellow caution tape that still floats in the wind. It’s haard to fix this stuff right– you understand?

Onto the post office to recycle my mail. Except I discover there is no bin for that anymore. I saw one the week before, as I walked by, but alas no more. I interrupt everyone waiting and working to ask out loud, if there are any recycling bins in the post office? The main manager looks around for a second or two, then mumbles, “Ahh…No.”  Me: “That’s what I thought.” Then looking to everyone waiting in line, “Make you wonder, huh?” I then stuff all my junk mail into the nearest garbage can, as everyone looks on. That’s when you give up, and I always prefer to do it dramatically– in front of a public audience. You’re sending a message to everyone with your actions. I park my bike inside here.

Speaking of things you wonder about, yesterday I walked by Lake Monroe and talked with a black couple fishing at the seawall. They were the only one’s fishing, as water is now pouring over most of the Sanford seawall.  He’s lived & fished here for over 20 years, and says he’s never see the water so high. There has been a small yacht moored out in the middle of the lake for months, even through the hurricane. I saw it bobbing in the waves as the rain & gales were picking up, and took this shot (below) on my iPhone. It’s center-right, and the fisherman tells me it’s been there for years, yet no one knows what it’s doing there?

I reach my produce stand and see a sign that reads: closed. I check their hours and see they’re always closed on Monday’s. I knew that. I’m just a little off, still– and here it is showing up again. It shows up in so many little ways, that put you behind the eight-ball in everything. I needed the exercise anyways, I say to myself on the way back, as it begins to drizzle again. That’s another thing you don’t do so much of with no power in Florida.

The oil companies, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, furniture rental companies, electricians, and water damage clean-up professionals, etc are all busy busy. Many of the people who do the actual work in these fields, have no power/Internet themselves. Meanwhile, their bosses in management & CEO’s are all getting fat. You can see it & feel it all starting to simmer…

I do have Internet, so when I get home and jump online, and see that Maria is now a major hurricane in the Caribbean. It’s just what we don’t need, as we just aren’t prepared for it; and yet it’s just what’s coming, just as everything is “getting back to normal.”  This is how most of us are surviving the madness that is Florida.

All of a sudden it’s beep-beep-beep of a utility truck. I look out and it’s Waste-Pro. Time to get my garbage out. The plastic bag in the refrigerator is pulled out, and all other indoor waste bins have their contents emptied into it. It’s not much, less than half a bag. I cut my own hair, and clean my own teeth, as it just works better for me. In Mount Dora, I had creepy blue-haired neighbors breaking into my garbage. I can’t make this stuff up.

The vehicle rolls by as we approach the next dumpster. I give him “the wave,” as always. Pedestrians would get killed less if they used proper hand signals to alert drivers as to their intentions. Proper signaling eliminates confusion & unnecessary accidents. He’s out of his truck and has unlatched the gate as I arrive with my contribution. “It’s bullshit they make you do this by yourself,” I say to him. I toss my garbage in and pick up the remaining trash on the ground and throw it in too. “We already have enough flies and garbage in Lake Monroe… thanks, for what you do,” I say in parting. He’s  happy to hear that and returns, “I’m used to it, Take it easy, dude.”  Walking back into my apartment I’m thinking to myself, that’s me, the dude– takin’ it easy for all you sinners.

Well that just about wraps it up, and it was a pretty good story to boot. Made me laugh to beat the band. Parts anyways. I don’t like to see people getting flooded out, or living without power, or even Internet. But I do happen to know that things are “getting back to normal. That sure is something, ain’t it?

==

Post-Script: A few hours later I know everything is cool again, as I’m finally listening to the record I should be: Zen Arcade by Husker Du. This is one of the greatest bands ever, a trio that never sold out, thus they never cashed in. Broke up in 1987, and rumors of them reforming up until drummer, singer & songwriter Grant Hart was pronounced dead the other day.  It is said that some bands go to 10– or even 11. Husker Du went to 20. Too many people just don’t know, and that bothers me.

I notice the 12-year old boy going up the stairwell with his backpack full. I go outdoors and check my mailbox. There’s a bank statement, along with junk mail from Spectrum concerning an upgrade in Internet service, and a mailer from Aaron’s furniture rental.  After I process that, I’m off to you-know-where, to try to close the deal with you-know-who.

She’s not there, and I figured that might be the case tonight. Oh well, maybe next time… The place is fairly empty, and there’s no one at the bar– completely creeper-free. I’ll take that any day, and grab a convenient seat or two. It’s Open Mic night and the regulars are warming up. I saw one of them as I was walking in. I often joke to myself, “Rock star entering the building,” when I see this. Then when it all settles down, I quietly go in myself. One of them announces that anyone can sign up and play with them, or do their own thing… They know who I am, but never approach me directly for some reason, so I will: Ric Size doesn’t sign autographs, and needs to be paid.

I chat with the bartender, who is one of my favorites. She didn’t have power for two days, like me. The sound from the 4-piece band has no low end, so I tell the manager who fixes it. The guys are rockin’ much better now, and you can tell because people are grooving their bodies. Common mistake, not enough bass. Someone says something into the mic between songs about “beating someone’s wife,” or whatever… Microphone abuse happens too.

I explain to the barkeeper that people sometimes get in front of the microphone, and go crazy. I then insist, that I never do that. She’s trying to control her burst of laughter as she runs outside. She does well. I know she knows who I am, as she told me earlier (in confidence) that I’m horrible. Yup, she’s been reading me online, and I laugh at her critique. After she returns from the kitchen, I explain that I only say what I say, because it needs to be said, and that it’s all out of love. She accepts that, and we’re good. I’m glad, because she is pouring  & serving my drinks. I’m an A-1 bitch, getting away with murder. Gotta be able to hang with the bitches, boys. Have you heard the legend of how Robert Johnson died? I’m telling you guys, it’s NOT bitchy to think this stuff. But it is bitchy to share it.

Heading home I see a homeless man curling up on a park bench. “Are you going to sleep here tonight?”, I inquire in a friendly tone. “I might,” he replies. I flip him my remaining $30, and keep moving. “Thanks,” he responds. I’ve had two beers and a glass of water, and spent $50. That’s not considered good money management by some, and yet it is. A few blocks later, I pick up a dime laying on the sidewalk. Pick up any money you find, regardless of which side is up. That’s more good money management.

Q: What is the generally accepted number of words per page for a
published novel? A: 250 words per page is generally considered to be standard.

The word total for this “trilogy,” is ~18,000 words, which is 72 pages. I’ve conceived, acted in, and then written a short story in about ten days, which instantly becomes a classic to anyone who reads it. Blacklisting this work of art, which is better than ANYTHING that will be nominated for any of the Pulitzer Prizes, is a crime against humanity. People need to know & discuss what I’ve written here, and to deprive them access to this, is to deprive them of the right to life & happiness. That won’t stand, man. This aggression will not stand.

This is the end of this story for most of you. This tapestry I’ve weaved really ties everything together. I’ll keep what happens here next, to myself and those I meet, unless there are some major outbreaks like another hurricane. The pen is mightier than the sword, and knowing when to put both down is crucial. For me, the Internet does it’s job from here. This was written to help myself, and help others around me figure their way out. It’s a survival manual, if you will, since the government isn’t handing out much that’s useful to people in need. I’ve explained everything I’ve needed to explain, and now it’s time for people to care and act on those impulses. That’s what leadership is. Now the first followers who become of primary importance. I’m signing off, until the next event calls. Side four “Reoccurring Dreams” blasting away… I’ll catch y’all down the trail. Until then, always remember the dude abides.

……….<><>><><><><><>……….

 

Hurricane Irma Diary

Thursday evening:  Here’s my hurricane readiness, take a lesson. I go on with my normal life until Saturday, as it doesn’t hit us until late Sunday/early Monday. I don’t go shopping, because I already have everything I need. In fact everyone should be using up existing refrigerated & frozen stock, in case of an extended power outage, unless you have a backup generator. That’s a costly & wasteful mess to avoid, and panicked last-minute shopping contributes to it.

A gas generator just isn’t practical (cost or living circumstance-wise) for most. During extended outrages, most likely you’ll run out of gas, even with siphoning from your vehicle. It’s for refrigeration and fans, as central A/C can’t be run off of most generators.

Crises bring out the best and worst in people. This means many acts of selfless heroism, mixed in with stealing and other acts of selfishness. I can tell you that if you’re caught looting in Florida by the owners, there isn’t a good ol’ boy anywhere that won’t shoot you dead, or worse.

Inland (Orlando,FL) means no storm surge, so the dangers are water damage from accumulated rain (expected 10-15 inches here) & high winds. I gassed up the car last night, as prices were increasing & supplies diminishing. I never met an oil company that didn’t exploit a crisis situation. I don’t expect to have to go anywhere, but I’m ready if I have to. I’m done working for the week and holding plenty of good bud, so that’s the best I can do…

      1. Rolling Stoned - Ric Size

 

Friday: A major reason Florida is so hurricane unready & vulnerable to catastrophe is its low tax rate. Seniors move down here because of the weather & low taxes. They largely don’t care about things like schools (their kids are grown up) or long-term environmental consequences (global warming), since their outlook is mostly self-interested & short-term. These “snowbirds” also have the money to leave during the heat waves & hurricanes of the summer months. They are watching all this from their homes in Ohio, New York, Michigan, etc… The elderly who live here permanently, are the most at-risk during a hurricane.  They are also the most difficult to evacuate. From a business standpoint, Florida has been completely deregulated. These are unique contributing factors to what’s about to unfold in Florida.

Saturday 11:00 AM:

This song is for all those living ocean front in the path of the eye of this hurricane. Storm surges predicted on BOTH sides of Florida, which is unprecedented. This “natural disaster” is global warming under capitalism. If allowed to continue much longer, Florida will eventually have to be evacuated, as it will become increasingly uninhabitable until finally submerged by the rising oceans due to arctic ice melt.

Out west, wildfires burning out of control out. It’s the hottest year on record I’m told.

11:50 AM: Right now in Sanford, FL the air is heavy with moisture. Low-hanging clouds are swirling in the breeze over head. The outermost bands have finally reached us. The ground is already soaked from weeks of heavy rain. I went outside earlier and said out loud, “if the eye hits here, we’re fucked… just so everybody knows.”

12:50 PM: Just got my last glimpse of the sun, for what will probably be several days. It hadn’t yet peaked in the sky (due to daylight savings), and quickly was swallowed up by the ever increasing & descending swirls of clouds. Still no rain, but there’s no doubt about what’s coming. The birds have finally stopped their chirping, and have either taken shelter or moved on. The cicadas are at it now, as the breeze is beginning to pick up. Usually they wait until dusk to rule the evening with their incessant buzzing, but even the insects sense today is different.

A feral cat grooms itself in front of my parked car. This reminds me to lay out catnip. I need all the luck I can get. I quickly slip inside, grab the can in the cupboard, and return to my porch to pour out a pile in its sight. It takes notice and continues grooming itself… then disappears behind my car. She then appears from under the closest car and presents herself as a female. Nice! She walks to within a few feet of the catnip, then turns away and moves on out of sight. Just like a woman…

The apartment complex I live in is modest, to say the least. I picked it for its location, as I work in Lake Mary– about 20 minutes away by car. There is an international airport just up the road, so there are many flight attendants here. Most live in “crash pads” with multiple people rotating in & out. Right now, they’re all out.

The demographic is all races, and defined economically as working poor, or living poor. The flight attendants here are mostly male and (FYI) notoriously gay, so I get stared at and whispered about a lot. There’s very little savings, and few have possessions that are of much value, as this is considered a transient area– a way stop to wherever anyone is going next. Most don’t think about the future very much, as it’s day-to day survival & partying going on.

I knew the biggest risk was flooding from a major storm when I signed this lease. I still have just about everything in boxes, if that tells you anything. It all off the ground, but I’m not sure it will be enough to keep everything that is essential, dry. I’m sticking it out.

There’s only so much you can do, as you can’t run from a hurricane if you live here, because you don’t really know where it’s going to go.  You can make things MUCH worse by panicking. Too many people are still driving around, just adding more global warming & energy to this massive system, for it to throw back at all of us.

The garbage men just came this morning and cleaned out all the bins (thank you), and yet there are people throwing their new trash into them and walking away like it’s cool, when it’s really just more litter for everyone to clean up after it’s washed out & blown away. It’s quite remarkable how little people are respecting this hurricane, and how blissfully unaware they are of it’s causes & consequences.

2:40 PM: The cicadas (bad-ass punk rockers) continue their songs, and A/C units hum as background noise. Getting your home as cool as possible is recommended, before the power goes out. I always leave mine off during the day. The air has begun cooling due to the moisture buildup.  Residents here are not allowed to board up their windows, and there are no storm shutters. This busy two-story apartment complex is about 2/3 empty now. We are right next to Lake Monroe, which is a large body of water connected to the St. Johns River– which outlets to the Atlantic Ocean. Storm surge could impact us from that side.

This complex was built on swamplands and is surrounded by water. It has a huge pond in the middle of it that is connected to Lake Monroe through an underground spring that runs under Highway 17-92. Residents enjoy fishing there, even though it’s mandated catch-and-release. This is NOT the place you want to be for the most violent hurricane ever recorded, but I’m here at ground level because I need to protect my home & its possessions.

That’s why you stay. This could get messy if the waters start to rise quickly. I believe you have a responsibility to protect where you live (if you are able), unless you are called out to work. The Central Florida Regional Hospital is right next door, which is good. That’s always a priority area, and this complex gets some benefit from that due to its proximity.  Every little bit helps. I just saw another glimpse of the sun, then it disappeared…

And why am I talking about the cicadas so much?  Maybe it’s because knowledge of entomology becomes important in flooding, as you can see in this memorandum I found taped to my door last Tuesday.

Interestingly, it doesn’t mention alligators, so I will. “If you ain’t a gator, you’re gator bait,” is the local color expression. Also note that fetid waters contain filth & disease. Mold and other microorganisms cause the most damage from flooding.

4:00 PM: Watching the wheels go round, listening to the VU & Nico while I still have electricity.

At the first thunder & lightning, all non-essential electric goes off. The lights aren’t on, and won’t be used except as needed. Charged old Ipod for music, unless I feel like strumming the guitar– and I don’t expect I will. Cell phone needs to stay charged so text only, unless an emergency. Computer use will have to be intermittent, if at all by tomorrow evening.

6:00 PM: My record collection is organized alphabetically, with Simon & Garfunkel – Warren Zevon on the bottom. When I pulled out the banana album, I switched all my Velvet records with a few Beethoven box sets, located up top in the classical section. I hope I don’t have to switch any others.

Pictured above is the record that changed my life, when I first heard “Heroin.” I found it at a used record store in San Jose, CA in early 1986. Their albums were only then being re-issued, after being unavailable (deleted) for over a decade. Can’t lose that.

Hygiene tips: All recyclable waste is placed into a bin, and kept to a minimum. All food waste is stored in the refrigerator, as usual. We have no composting here, which is another mistake no one notices or mentions. Rationing food intake is advisable, as what goes in– comes out. If the power is cut, the toilet soon stops working. Water should be rationed in the same conservative manner. Essential intake only to minimize waste, which will contaminate flood waters.

People shouldn’t run their electrical above what’s needed, as lowering the overall stress on the grid reduces the chance (slightly, but significantly enough) for brownouts & blackouts. Falling asleep early is the best scenario, as this could be the last night of A/C for awhile. I’ll listen to the NASCAR race (Richmond) on my laptop, as that puts me to sleep nearly every time.

I expect to wake up with high winds lashing rain at my windows in the morning. My ground-level next door neighbor left with her elderly mother to seek refuge in a public shelter. She left a few poorly-placed sandbags at her outside doorstops. Those will get stolen by those in desperation, if it comes to that. My neighbor above has visitors moving in for refuge. The first sprinkles have arrived, and they evaporate away invisibly making the air heavier with water by the moment. The outdoor ambient temperature is at least 10 degrees below what it normally has been this time of evening. The cicadas continue their audio dominance from the trees of the swamp behind us, while the pile of catnip remains undisturbed save for the moisture absorbed. Time to pack up my folding chair and call it a day. This is the calm before the storm.

7:30 PM: The sun becomes most visible in the sky at sunset, producing a rainbow on the opposite horizon.

…a miracle of physics.

About to get underway at Richmond, so signing off for the evening…

Sunday 8:00 AM: Slow drizzling this morning, with no wind & gray skies. The eye currently is spinning just south of Key Largo, FL. This slow-moving system is supposed to turn north today, and track the west coast of Florida. It’s now watch & wait.

The local airports stopped flights in & out as of 5:00 PM yesterday. The roads are now mostly empty. On Friday, I bicycled to my local produce stand and picked up some fresh fruit & veggies. I have enough food (perishable & non-perishable) to get through the week without spoilage. Hopefully it won’t come to that. Brita pitchers are filled, with spare water in buckets. At this point, you need to have a plan every time you open the refrigerator, as rationing & conservation of refrigeration will be the priorities.

10:30 AM: Back from my daily 3+ mile walk. Isn’t it funny how you can see something different every day, if you just take the time to notice?  Not too many walkers out this morning. The first one I encounter is a gay man, dressed sharply, eying me hard all the way as we pass by. I even turned away and then glanced back at him– still staring in. Boy, he was SERIOUS– LOL!

The next person is an woman in her forties carrying an umbrella, with it at full snap blocking only half the wind & rain coming at her. She’s in a cotton t-shirt, shorts, running shoes & socks, while holding on to her bumbershoot for dear life when the wind gusts.

Next is a younger woman taking her dog out to relieve itself. It’s a terrier and it’s owner has already picked up the poop, and is anxiously waiting for her dog to finish piddling. I give her a thumb’s up as I pass, and she returns a smile. Pets are a problem, just like everything else, during an emergency situation. You have to be able to take care of them, while being responsible to others. Many aren’t, so it’s nice to see someone doing the right thing when it counts most.

Next is a gay couple, or at that’s what it appears to be. They pass in a different direction, then suddenly appear across my path again a few blocks later. Yup.  And this is on a slow day, wearing a slicker & hood, with a hurricane coming!

The roads are less busy, but filled with the same stupidity that exists daily. People not signaling, slowing down for no reason, tailgating for no reason, driving recklessly with no purpose, pretending they’re a gangsta, etc… Burger King & McDonald’s are closed, so you know almost nothing else is open. Just a few gas stations & stray convenience stores, so none of these people really need to be out driving. They’re “checkin’ it out,” because they’re too lazy (or afraid) to walk. They will be the first ones to turn into wild animals when things go bad. It helps to recognize them and prepare yourself mentally, since you can feel it coming. It’s way worse than the storm itself.

The sprinkles have now turned into a steady light rain, with gusts of heavier moisture. It never completely stops. When the rain lightens by evaporating into an ultra-fine mist, the cicadas begin their drones. The sidewalks & streets are already puddling up with water & moving streams. This is how Lake Monroe looks at 9AM:

The ducks seem to be enjoying themselves in front of the community pond,

This is only the prelude.

For all those fashionably conscious hurricane survivors, I recommend walking in poly-nylon (waterproof) shorts and leather sandals. Strip off the outer layer when arriving back home, and hang them inside to dry out. Your t-shirt & underwear will be dry, which is most important. You can’t afford to get yourself sick at this time.

11:45 AM: My folding chair is out on the porch, and I’ve already seen the feral she-cat again. She looks at first at me, then the soggy catnip before cautiously slinking by. You know you want it.  Cats don’t like to get wet, so she’s probably more interested in rummaging a meal from one of the open dumpsters. I’m sure she’ll find one too. Who knows where the container will end up?

I like cats, so I mess with catnip. You have to be hard AND playful with cats, if you want to master them. That’s not an easy balance, and that’s just to earn their respect. They also require patience & persistence, as they are always on their own time. They are also very possessive & territorial. Like I said earlier, just like a woman.

Sirens are beginning to become more frequent. As I mentioned, there’s a hospital next door. Only a few of it’s windows are boarded up, and there’s minimal staffing, as can be seen by the relatively few vehicles in it’s parking lots.

1:00 PM: Rain is now moderate-to-heavy, continuous, and starting to lash more. The cicadas are silent, while the wading birds are having themselves a day gorging on grubs, snails & stink slugs. I’m hoping I don’t see any of their favorite meals, up close & personal in the next day or two. I’m probably living somewhere between 1-2 feet above the water table. Last forecast I saw was for 8-12 inches of rain. I blaze up outside, because it’s officially “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” time. It’s also time to pack up the chair and move inside.

3:00 PM: Rain is getting steadier & heavier by the hour. No thunder or lightning, just water.

I lived in Mount Dora for 20+ years, including 2004 when 4 hurricanes hit Florida. Hurricane Charley missed Lake County, while Hurricanes’ Francis & Jeanne both left our home (and many others) without power for several days. For some it was weeks & months. We were lucky that was the extent of our inconvenience. A few privileged people tried to prove to others they had learned their lessons, and installed backup generators or converted to solar– for themselves. Unfortunately that’s not good enough, as it will take everyone converting to solar power for us to have any hope of alleviating global warming. In the Sunshine State & everywhere else, there is no coordinated & progressive solution to our energy needs, and there never will be under capitalism.

Among the 2004 storms, Hurricane Irma most resembles Ivan, which was the most destructive of the four. Irma is of even greater intensity, and it’s going to level everything in its path and then flood it. This is an irresistible force of nature, compounded by human arrogance & short-sightedness. Politicians and their mass-media accomplices are already preparing their best PR campaign yet, so be prepared. CNN-to-Fox will be all about: “Donate & volunteer: no politics” while militarizing the disaster zone to punish the population and keep those who can most-help out. The truth of what’s unfolding will be censored, as the ruling class seeks its next narrative to jump on to.

This is the face of class war in 2017. Little material aid (government or otherwise) will reach those most-impacted & most in need. Coastal area residences & businesses will be drenched in seawater & rain, windows shattered & roofs torn off. In short, horrifying– if you are caught in it and live to survive. They’ve got saltwater crocodiles & Burmese pythons to boot down there, so you better have (at least) a sharpened machete on hand if you’re sticking out the aftermath. For those who make it through, everything is gone, or ruined. Insurance says they won’t pay for “Acts of God,” which this is always defined as. Or they go bankrupt, to limit their liability, allowing them to start anew elsewhere. No one asks, “How can anyone rebuild here, when these super-hurricanes are assured to happen again & again?”

It appears Orlando will be lucky, and miss the eye. Knock on wood. It’s still too early to know, as this storm has a mind of its own, and will go wherever it pleases. What is certain is that an east coast storm track would have smashed O-town which (like the rest of central Florida) is surrounded by lakes & rivers outletting to the Atlantic Ocean. Storm surge would have been much more of a factor, with devastating consequences even this far inland. I’m not celebrating, even if it does miss us, and we stay completely dry. Luck is two-sided, and for every good fortune, someone else is ruined. This is only the beginning. Hurricane Jose’ is out there, and even it that one misses, there’s another & another… until eventually it’s our turn.

The moral is: people don’t want to live with a gun to their head. They don’t want to have to make choices that sacrifice their safety & material well-being, just to make a living. We all are being forced to do this by an irrational economic & political setup. Each crisis is a disaster, but also an opportunity to learn and plan for something better. It’s the only way we’ll survive.

6:00 PM: The bands are really starting to pick up in intensity and rainfall. My catnip pile is now soaked from the concrete below, but still intact. I’m guessing it’ll be gone by morning– either washed or blown away. It’s much darker at this hour than normal, due to the clouds completely blocking the sun. No cicada buzz either, just dragonflies feasting on mosquitoes. There will be quite a hatch for awhile, which is another issue.

The “eye of the hurricane” is often used in cliché. Let me describe what it really is. If you’ve ever stood outdoors in the eye of a hurricane, it is one of the most shocking experiences you could ever imagine. The violent winds & rain which have been mercilessly beating down have miraculously ceased– almost instantly. Dead calm, with clear skies. If it’s daytime you can see the sun again, and if you didn’t know better you would think it’s all over. A well-defined eye has only a few minutes of calm until the counter-rotational winds start up again, depending on how fast the system is moving. Everything that was bent one way, is now blown in the other direction. Even though the velocity of the winds are slightly less than the front of the eye, this is the most dangerous part of the storm. It’s when all hell breaks loose, and you just hope you can hang on. You’re that helpless.

The eyes of Hurricanes’ Francis & Jeanne weren’t as well-defined as Irma. There is no one who should attempt to stand in the eye of Irma, as the flying debris & flood waters in its wake are deadly. When an eye of this magnitude passes, everyone instinctively freezes. The biggest fear is if it turns in your direction, because you won’t be able to outrun it. Florida is a peninsula, and you are basically trapped here in a hurricane. Either get out early, or you’re in for the duration.

An eye looks at you.  An eye passes judgment on you.  An eye for an eye.  Everything that gives you religion comes up in a hurricane.  Can you see this in you mind’s eye?

To be continued…

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US Open Tennis & Bitch Factor

Bitch factor (noun): Something to never ignore or underrate. If you do, it will emasculate you– viciously.

Men’s tennis needs Federer-Nadal in the semis (and we all hope it happens), but it’s just to keep pace with Maria Sharapova taking on the rest of the women– which is now the ONLY story at the 2017 US Open. For the record, I’m a tennis fan, so unless they are match fixing or behaving Nick Kyrgios-bad, I cut them some slack & love them all– really. But this following fact must be pointed out, and fully understood by ALL sports fans: Venus & Serena Williams have therapeutic use exemptions (TUE’s) for prednisolone– a steroid, and oxycodone– a narcotic pain-reliever [1]. A TUE is a medical permission slip to use banned substances.

Is it fair they were/are allowed to compete against others, with that chemical advantage? Why doesn’t anyone at ESPN (or anywhere else) ask them about it?  Last I saw, over 100 players (ATP & WTA) are competing with TUE’s.  Meldonium is a caffeine pill compared to that, and yet Maria Sharapova (alone) is to be made the poster-girl for doping in tennis. It’s so obviously political at WADA, ITF, IOC, etc– and your position on it betrays your interests. That’s what a lightning rod like Maria Sharapova does to people, and that’s why she’s jealously hated by her colleagues. Lot’s of bitch factor here, which has raised everyone’s interest about 1000%!

More people should respect (and let themselves be amazed by) the interest Sharapova instantly delivers, as that’s a true force of nature. In a word: mesmerizing. That has major value. She is giving everyone a chance to express themselves, and if she had been denied the wild card for this US Open, then none of this passionate dialogue would exist. No story, because there’s no real interest. You must respect that, even if you don’t like her game on the court. If you can’t do (at least) that, then you’re a hypocritical hater.

CoCo Vandeweghe believes Maria Sharapova’s wild card could’ve been used on American player

Bitch factor went up early, when CoCo Vandeweghe (below) was asked about Maria Sharapova getting a wild card, which she needed in order to play in the event. CoCo has a right to her opinion. And once she expresses it publicly, fans then have the right to criticize CoCo for her nationalist chauvinism, and inability to see the bigger picture.

In the last 6 months or so, Maria Sharapova has been featured on the cover of People, Vanity Fair, etc… She lives in the US, and is as “American” as anyone on the WTA. CoCo’s prejudiced comments betray a hidden agenda, that is ugly & all-too-common. Does anyone believe ESPN has the guts to investigate further, seek clarification, etc… or would that cut across their narratives?

Putting Maria Sharapova on center court ‘doesn’t set a good example,’ Caroline Wozniacki says

After Caroline Wozniacki went down in the second round, she dragged Sharapova though the mud (again) in her post-match comments to the media, essentially blaming Sharapova (at least in part) for her loss to another opponent, as well as the court assignments.  Being a bitchy sore loser doesn’t set a good example, I say.

To all those venting on Maria Sharapova, consider this. The most-commented-upon ESPN tennis articles this US Open are the ones featuring her. Even Roger Federer and Venus Williams don’t provoke the reactions Sharapova does. Serena Williams gets some love [!] for having her baby, but then it’s right back to Sharapova. Women do get jealous on that, a FYI for you young boys & clueless guys.

Maria Sharapova advances, returns shot at Caroline Wozniacki

Maria Sharapova’s response to Caroline Wozniacki criticisms, after winning her third-round match:

“That’s not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. I’m not sure where she is. With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule. I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in a parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there.”

Let’s add it up. Five-time Grand Slam champion, stunning beauty, and quotable. Yeah, that belongs on Center Court.

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Patient Refunds at Aspen Dental

If a patient in a traditional private practice has an issue with any of the work done, there is typically a face-to-face discussion with the dentist and/or the office manager. Since everybody already knows each other, it’s much easier to calmly & rationally discuss the issue, in order to come to an agreement that works for everybody. This is how you avoid litigation and hard feelings over money. Dentistry has a reputation for being emotional, so well-run offices are always ready to handle these situations before they escalate. It’s a practice-builder to do so.

At Aspen Dental, by the time a patient knows they’ve got problem, the dentist(s) may have already moved on, along with much of the office staff. The patient may have been lied to, in order to placate them in hopes the patient will just go away. All claims for refunds get kicked to corporate, in Syracuse, NY. Try getting them to understand your side. Talk about being held up! Their mission is corporate, which is to collect the money and limit refunds as much as possible. This too-often works unfairly against the patient. These are trained sharks on the other end, giving unhappy patients the run-around, along with every other dirty trick in their corporate playbook. If you don’t believe me, then by all means go ahead and trust Aspen Dental with your mouth’s needs.

Patients don’t want to be sitting in the chair, having to face problems they have avoided for so long. Pain has a way of making people see things differently, and it changes priorities. No one wants to live in pain, but too many do because they are afraid to face their fears, themselves, and the truth. Dentists tell their patients the truth, and do their best to help them. This has nothing to do with bank robbery, and is only equated to it by no-nothing CEO zombies, who think they know something about a profession, when (really) they are clueless. This commercial campaign betrays more money than brains by its creators and those who signed-off on it. It’s what rules under capitalism.

The “dentists” at Aspen Dental are mostly kids just out of school, with massive student loan debt. They are working to gain experience and pay bills, until something better comes along, so they can someday become real dentists. Just about anything in private practice is better than corporate dental [1]. I know this because I’ve now practiced locum tenens for 3+ years, after closing my private practice which served in Lake County, Fl for over 17 years. Notice, I said “served in Lake County,” because that’s what we did. It wasn’t about gouging patients with huge treatment plans to enrich myself personally.

It’s about listening to the patient and meeting their most-pressing needs first. Education and complete treatment planning often come later, especially for patients who haven’t been to a dental office in a long time. If they’ve recently been to Aspen Dental (or the like), they may be tapped out financially. That’s a set-back for the patient and for dentists trying to help their patients, while making a decent living. I’ve never heard a caring patient say they wanted their dentist to be financially strapped. That’s not the doctor you want extracting your teeth, or recommending their extraction.

Corporate chains like Aspen Dental count on dentists being fools, by not properly educating & treating their patients. When there’s enough industry “slippage” from the professional standard-of-care, then corporate can move in and wipe out a lot of practices. That’s what happened to the profession of dentistry. Also, the economic crash of 2008 was a huge boost to corporate dental. Thousands of practices have vanished, leaving a huge pool of available labor (young & old) for corporate to exploit. Only the most-profitable dentists, in the best locations, with the best skills, teams & equipment can stay above this fray. Eventually it starts to bite into even the top practices. When stupidity is allowed to run amok in dentistry, there are consequences all down the line.

Stuck in the elevator and “stuck with a big bill.” Get it? Huh… huh… huh? It’s funny…. really. Don’t think so…? What’s wrong with you?   Madison Avenue-meets-CIA with these psy-ops from Aspen Dental. Does any of this relax you, like it’s supposed to?

Crap like this in our faces is also why people are cutting out paid-for TV. As a consumer I really don’t need to see this, and I was only made aware when I read ADA News‘ lame response to all this [2]. This garbage presented by Aspen Dental devalues dentistry. It offends real dentists, along with their staff & patients– everywhere. But how can the ADA be critical, when Aspen Dental pays to advertise with them? This is how things have gotten so bad, and there is no relief for working dentists under capitalism. That’s another truth no one wants to face.

It’s really difficult to watch this next video, but I did it once out of professional obligation. Aspen Dental seems to be targeting a gay demographic here. I just feels icky, creepy & disgusting.  Can you believe they have an “extended cut” of this?

One last professional comment on this ill-conceived marketing campaign, is to notice how none of their commercials are set in an actual (or even simulated) Aspen Dental office. Carefully consider the reasons for that?

My professional advice to Aspen Dental: Close half your offices, before the next economic crash makes you close them all. Pay real dentists what they’re worth, and let them run their offices. Keep corporate management to a minimum. Stick with Danica for advertising, until you can present yourself honestly & competently as professionals.

Final thoughts: For me, it has always been about becoming the best dentist I could be. When you start in dentistry, you quickly learn that whatever direction you choose, it will be entirely yours. You must own it, good or bad, because people are going to hold you accountable. These people include patients, staff, vendors, and even loved ones. The dentist has to produce to satisfy all these people, otherwise it falls off the rails. It’s also why dentists must have malpractice insurance. Aspen Dental management, up to their CEO Bob Fontana, can’t obtain malpractice insurance, because they’re not qualified to treat patients. So why are they allowed to own dentists & dental offices?

When a provider is locked into private practice, especially as a sole practitioner (as I was), doctors don’t know what’s going on in other offices, much less across the industry. The ADA will not act in the interest of working dentists, as they are bought-and-paid-for by insurance and other corporate giants.  It is their job to actually deceive their dues-paying constituents. This lack of perspective is a weakness throughout the profession.

The doctor who can successfully manage a private practice until it’s time to sell/close, and also work in any other type of dental practice while keeping it profitable (& satisfying patients), is the most valuable dentist. They are the ones most-qualified for leadership, because they have seen & done it all, from all sides. Nothing fools them. They know the answers and aren’t afraid to share them, making them the rarest of birds. This is what corporate wants to keep in a cage.

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Donald Trump is NOT Resigning

There’s been a lot of talk in the mass media’s fake news about Donald Trump resigning his presidency, due to a “constitutional crisis,” or from investigative pressure on “Russian interference.” This flak is coming from centrists & left-Democrats, who now fear an uprising from below. Here’s a few samples from the past week:

The Donald Trump presidency will end with his resignation, and it will come “suddenly,” with little warning, according to political commentator Keith Olbermann. Speaking on the latest edition of his GQ series “The Resistance” on Tuesday, Olbermann, a former MSNBC host, said he believed that Trump would call it quits when special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia grow too close for comfort. [1]

Columbia law professor, Philip Bobbitt predicts Donald Trump will resign from his U.S. presidency on his own accord. Bobbitt perceives an impending constitutional crisis caused by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his son Donald Trump Jr. as being the catalyst for Trump stepping down in the coming months. [2]

Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal, thinks President Donald Trump will eventually call it quits. On Wednesday he tweeted his ‘forecast’ for Trump’s political future.  “The circle is closing at blinding speed. Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice.”  Schwartz then followed with, “Trump’s presidency is effectively over. Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner.” [3]

Then there’s this piece published on 05/18/17 by Brent Budowsky, titled Why Trump will likely resign as Mueller pursues ‘Putingate’ [4].

“The decision to name the universally-respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel on the Russian election scandal is a defining moment in modern American history that sets off a chain reaction that probably leads to the ultimate resignation of President Trump. On Feb. 15, I wrote an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Putingate is our Watergate.” It was true then. It is true now. The Putingate scandal will probably end the same way the Watergate scandal ended, with a presidential resignation followed by a pardon.”

Even the former US vice president has weighed in.

Newsweek: Trump Should Resign After Charlottesville Debacle, Says Al Gore [5]

Class conscious workers & revolutionary youth can never take what liberalism & the media say as good coin, so what’s going on here? In the aftermath of the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, the Democrats have maneuvered for the restructuring of the Trump administration. The result is now even more direct deep state control of the military-financial aristocracy, with the ouster of Trump’s chief political strategist, fascist Stephen Bannon.

The one element that has always remained sidelined in American politics is the working class, which means ~85% of the population. The needs & concerns of this vast majority are no longer being met, or even listened, to by the elites. Trump’s divisive & confrontational policies are exposing the blatant bankruptcy of capitalism to tens of millions. It is no longer possible to assuage them with empty promises, as too many are reaching the point of giving up on capitalism, and joining a revolution, as they see nothing to lose.

This is the most-feared outcome in ruling circles, so more misinformation must be produced to delay the inevitable. Thus the left-leaning corporate media promotes the illusion that Donald Trump will soon have had enough of politics, and resign– just like that. Therefore, there is no need for the masses to intervene on their own behalf, as “the system” will take care of everything for us. This political “analysis” is put forth by limousine liberal prognosticators without a shred of proof– tangible or theoretical.

Trump’s actions against political protesters go hand-in hand with the government program of Internet censorship under the guise of combating “fake news.” Most prominent are the actions of Google to manipulate search results to block and blacklist left-wing websites, above all the World Socialist Web Site. [6]

Meanwhile Trump announced this week that additional US troops are being sent to Afghanistan, which is seen as “unifying” among the bourgeoisie– and is barely commented on in the media. The ultimate fall-back for capitalism is fascism & military rule. When the market bubbles finally burst, there will be nothing but pain & misery for the working class. At that point, the only way to enforce class rule will be through direct force.

Donald Trump is now consolidating an extra-parliamentary core of fascist supporters for the day when America can only be ruled autocratically by military dictatorship, with the deep state (Wall Street & CIA) pulling the strings. The purpose of the liberal media (and the rest), is to blind us to this fact.

All this hot air on Trump resigning is wishful thinking from the pseudo-intellectual left. Donald Trump faced tougher odds winning Election 2016, and persevered. Why would any rational observer conclude that he’s about to give up, due to political pressure and hostile media coverage? This is simply another Democratic party maneuver to paralyze & blind the rising tide of militancy among working people, and confine them within the two-party system– as always. More than Donald Trump and his relatively small coterie of neo-Nazi supporters, this rubbish on the left represents the greatest obstacle for America’s energized & overworked masses to overcome.

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How to Build a Record Collection

Since vinyl is in back in style, I’ll relate my own thoughts & experiences, which have been continuous since middle school. For me it’s been a worthwhile road, but there are many pitfalls. I’ll share some so you can (hopefully) avoid them, or at least recognize them quicker. Start by understanding this truth about human nature: music is emotional. That means it’s like food, money & sex– eliciting powerful responses. The universal human reaction is, everyone likes it and wants the best of their preferences for themselves.

Gain control of yourself by realizing that music is a lifetime choice. That means whatever you are liking as a kid, is what you are going to like as an adult. You don’t (& can’t) “outgrow” it. Whatever format you prefer, music is a lifetime commitment, and the medium is part of the message.

I got ripped off (price-wise) on my first few record purchases, which were at department store racks, and then Musicland in the Park Plaza Mall. Those institutions don’t even exist anymore. Back then, I was quickly informed by a Winneconne classmate that the Exclusive Company was the best place to buy records in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Their prices were always unbeatable on new vinyl, and probably still are. You need a good record store in order to build a decent collection.

The market has inflated since the 1980’s, when Exclusive Co new-vinyl releases listed mostly at $5.99, with superstars such as Madonna, Springsteen, Prince, etc listing at $6.99. Note, Indie releases were also often listed at $6.99, indicating there was a serious demand for them even back then. Classic vinyl was mostly $4.99, with bargain bins of 3-for-$10 on many classic re-releases.

Selection is always THE issue for the serious enthusiast, so eventually someone behind the Exclusive Co desk showed me their encyclopedia. It had every album still-in-print. For a $1 deposit you could order any record, and it would arrive in a week. It was the only way to acquire punk rock (or anything else outside the mainstream) in the Fox Valley area in the mid-1980’s. Cut-out bins were a method to acquire artists like Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and others who were (still are) disrespected by so many industry wheels. The public libraries had very little of this, while AM/FM radio & MTV never played it. That was how things were censored back then.

Used records should be the staple of any respectable collection, as it’s just too costly for most (with new vinyl now $20+) to build what you need from entirely fresh vinyl. Many essential records can be purchased for a few bucks apiece, in used record bins across America & beyond. Besides, who wants to be the schmuck who pays $20 apiece for albums that have been sitting in $1-2 bins everywhere since forever? Too much of this makes you an idiot over-spender, and those who know can always tell.

Bookstores often have record bins. How much disorganization, and “is it worth it?” are always considerations when approaching used records. A good rule is, the more disorganized, the less it’s worth it. You may find a pearl (or two), but usually it’s futile with a lot of back-breaking reaching & lifting. In the heat, it better be good– or else forget it. If the vendor hasn’t bothered to organize their bins into (at least) genres, then it is usually because it’s all junk.

As a point in training, first look over everything available and scan the few titles you see for quality of release & condition. Approach the best-looking areas and peel through a bin or two. How fast? Depends on the quality of what you are seeing. More good stuff means SLOW DOWN. Remember, this gets emotional, so look closely at the prices and consider your budget. If it’s all crap, then leave.

If a bin is filled tightly, you can’t really see the jackets, so grab a handful (or two) of records and pull them out. Look through them (on top of the rest), then gently place them somewhere close but out-of-the-way. There may be other people looking through, so stay out of their way too, as a courtesy.  Then go through the rest of the bin, seeing every cover clearly & easily. When finished with the bin, put the removed records back in, and move on. Believe it or not, there is a serious code to all this, and I’m condensing it for you.

When you see a title you like, check the record itself. Look at the label to make sure its title matches the jacket. It sucks when you get burned on that. Then look for scratches & warping. Pass on any significant warping, as it just won’t play. How much scratching you are will to put up with, depends on how much you want the album & the price. Many times, it’s dirt & grime, which can be cleaned off. All used records should be cleaned before playing. I use alcohol & gauze, because it’s cheap & effective. Use a circular wiping motion, and avoid too much excess as it leaves a residue. This will also protect you turntable’s needle, helping it last longer. Scotch tape any rips in the sleeve.

I acquired roughly half my collection from Renningers Flea Market in Mount Dora, particularly from a vendor named Wally Rossell– who is no longer there. He had a whole lot of selection, in difficult-to-find genres including classic rock, punk, reggae, jazz & country. He even had a significant selection of world music. It took me a long time to go through everything he had, and he kept acquiring more. I’m talking years. I eventually left him my phone #, and he would leave me a message when he had something new, which he knew I would like.  He knew what I liked, because we had discussions every time I purchased.

Record people love to talk about this stuff. Many vendors have bigger inventories at home and/or in a warehouse. Wally had been in the business for 40+ years, and will probably only leave it in death. I was always grateful for his efforts in finding amazing stuff, and NEVER argued with any of his pricing. Keep in mind, this is at a flea market in central Florida– where everyone haggles.

Records could only be sold at well-below their actual value from 1990 to ~ 2005, because the vinyl market was destroyed. In that time period, if you could hang on to your collection and had the means to expand it, you could acquire every essential classic record in every major genre for <$5 apiece. That’s what the music industry’s push to compact disc did to vinyl.

For me, it filled out my collection while keeping a budget. Speaking of controlling your spending, bootlegs are budget-busters and they will always cost you extra– no matter who is selling. Wally had more bootlegs than any other vendor I’ve ever come across, and I bought a few from him. Here’s my advice on boots: limit yourself to those artists you truly adore and can’t get enough of. Many bootlegs are live recordings, so have a good understanding of that artist. Are they a good live performer by reputation or personal experience? Also, you are gambling on the sound quality- if you don’t know for sure. A little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous, and stick you with costly lemons. Focus on the artists you love most, who really kill it live, and you’ll avoid expensive disappointments.

As far as what to buy? That’s up you you. Here are some rough guidelines:

1) Whatever you favorite genre is (pop, rock, rap, country,,,) start with the major artists. There’s always a reason they are loved (now) globally, and have lasted. You’ll probably relate to them as well.

2) Trace the roots of your favorite genre(s). A lot of the stuff kids are hearing today came from Charlie Parker, James Brown, the Beatles, Velvet Underground… There’s lots of cool stuff you’ve never heard, waiting to be rediscovered.

3) Expand into different world music genres. If you like rock music, or rap music; understand this music is being created in new forms– globally. The Internet puts it at your fingertips, but you have to know how to find it. First, you have to care.

4) Have fun! This is the most important rule, so I’m putting it last. Don’t be a “collector,” who buys & catalogs their records as museum pieces, but never plays them. Buy records that excite you, and make you want to play them again & again! It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long as they work for you. When done this way, the pay-off is priceless joy.

Strange as this may sound, I now consider my record collection to be an organic entity, connected to my being. On a daily basis I can go to it, and make a selection that immediately transports me back in time. The dominant medium before 1990 was vinyl, meaning CD and mp3 aren’t the same experience. If you grew up in that time, it’s much easier to understand and relate to what I’m saying.

Regardless, the message we receive from music (however it’s delivered) instantly impacts us, and changes our mood. If I’m feeling down, and I put on a Muddy Waters record, I’m hearing someone relating to me before I was born. That’s a timeless artist influencing others, and that’s the magic in the grooves. Way cheaper (and more helpful) than therapy!

Final thoughts:  My collection is defined as straight rock, lean & mean; < 2000 LPs & < 300 45’s. It’s all pre-1990. After that, I listen on CD or mp3/streaming as (once again) that’s the format of the time. All mentionable rock record collections start alphabetically with AC/DC. Note that if you’re gay or a woman, then ABBA is a more likely starting point. As an illustration, here’s what I have for AC/DC, and how it rates using the hated Rolling Stone magazine 1-5 star system.

High Voltage (1975) Five stars: One of the best-ever rock album debuts. These bad boys from Australia always had issues getting US distribution. Classic rock buffs initially hated AC/DC because they rocked so hard, making them look bad. AC/DC never cared about that shit, which is what won them so many young male fans.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976) Five stars: Banned in the US (due to salacious content) for a long while, until Bon Scott’s death in 1980. This record has strong punk influence.

Let There Be Rock (1977) Four stars: The weakest Bon Scott album. Only eight tracks, and one of them is a repeat from Dirty Deeds (“Problem Child”), but most deliver a groove; and a two are deservedly rock-radio classics– “Whole Lot of Rosie” & the title track. This record often gets slagged by AC/DC haters who have too much time on their hands. Even Young, Young & Scott’s worst songs shredded Bob Dylan & the Rolling Stones at that time. That wasn’t allowed to go unpunished by the music industry.

Powerage (1978) Five stars: Their best album, and the last AC/DC collaboration with producers Harry Vanda & George Young. Every song has top-notch songwriting & delivery, with clean & tight production. Cliff Williams on bass is an improvement. There are nine songs on Powerage, and at least eight would have sounded great on radio and become classics if played consistently. It’s a very disrespectful joke that rock radio still only plays “Sin City.”

If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (1978) Four-and-a-half stars: AC/DC could bring it live. The only problem here is there isn’t enough, as this should have been a double album– at least.

Highway to Hell (1979) Four-and-a-half stars: Not quite as good as their 5-star classics, but still essential. You can hear a little more commercial sound in the production, but the band is staying true to their roots. This is the last Bon Scott album, as he died during the recording of Back in Black on February 19, 1980.

Back in Black (1980) Five stars: Brian Johnson took over on vocals, and there was enough remnant songwriting (& inspiration from Scott’s tragic death) to pull off one last masterpiece. This is probably the most classic heavy metal record ever, as every song delivers from beginning to end. It’s also the only good AC/DC album with Johnson singing.

For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981) Two stars: Only the title cut and a few others groove, the rest is filler. Bon Scott was the genius that propelled AC/DC to the top, and it’s now clear that Brian Johnson has none of his creative wit & intellect. This is where you jump off as a sensible heavy metal fan (oxymoron?), as Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard & Night Ranger are all more interesting at this point.

74 Jailbreak (1984) This as a 5-song EP of early Bon Scott material. I don’t bother rating EP’s, they’re either cool or they suck. This one is cool.

Guitar Notes: AC/DC was formed by brothers Malcolm & Angus Young. Anyone playing rock guitar since, has been influenced by these two, or else they suck. I rarely see them covered, and it’s because they’re too good and most aren’t up to their standard. Every AC/DC fan picks their favorite guitarist, and most go with Angus for his incomparable lead style– blending blues & classic rock into modern heavy metal. He was also the showman (especially after Scott’s death), parading around stage in his classic reform school outfit. But as much as I love Angus, I’m really a Malcolm protoge. For me, the heart of AC/DC’s sound, is the HEAVY riffing– which is Malcolm Young. One of the best bands ever.

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Is Danica Patrick Retiring?

I keep commenting in NASCAR forums dominated by haters: “We need more stories on Danica.” Notice how people always have to comment on her when the topic is NASCAR, even when the write-up or conversation hasn’t mentioned her? They’re always VERY passionate about it. They’ll miss her when she’s gone, just like everyone else.

Some thoughts on why Danica Patrick isn’t so excited about Bristol [1]. The #10 car has neither the speed nor handling to stay with the leaders, especially on a round short track. She’ll likely be lapped by Truex (& the rest) early, lacking the horsepower to get back on the lead lap. Maybe a lucky dog, wave around, or caution breaks for her, but that’s not much to hope for.

All this has led to speculation that Danica Patrick will be done with professional racing after this 2017 season. If she does retire, it’s a much bigger story than Dale Earnhardt, Jr leaving as a driver. WAY BIGGER, and it’s hardly being whispered in the media. Junior Nation is moving up into the broadcast booth in 2018, which is awesome, as it keeps everyone in NASCAR happy. Danica (on the other hand) is a global icon, with strong appeal among the New York (ESPN) & the Hollywood elite crowd, so she’s probably gone for good– as far as NASCAR is concerned.

The list of NASCAR top-name drivers retiring (or being retired) in 2017 is noteworthy to hardcore fans. Earnhardt, Jr for sure; with Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and now Danica Patrick all likely to not return. Those are two of their biggest stars (Junior & Danica– whichever order you want), and about one-third of the veteran drivers. What about Trevor Bayne at Roush Fenway? The point is, this carnage isn’t over. Race teams are going into cost cutting mode, and drivers salaries are where it starts.

The truth is NASCAR’s Good ‘Ol Boy network underrated, ignored, and intentionally wrecked her– out of jealousy. Danica reaches across class, age, race & gender boundaries like no other athlete; including Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Roger Federer or Lebron James. I shouldn’t have to tell you why?

Danica Patrick is the only woman to compete against men– in any major sport’s series, for her entire career. And if only one (1) career victory (Indycar) is all she gets, then it’s still good enough in terms of her racing Hall-of-Fame credentials. In Patrick’s case, it’s about her impact on motorsports, which is incalculable.

She was a primary impetus for SAFER barriers. The one thing that could never be allowed to happen (besides her winning), was for her to get killed in a race car. The safety advances she inspired which value women’s lives above men’s is inherently unfair, but pays-it-back by benefiting ALL drivers. If that’s what it takes to make a sport safer & better, then we need more women competing & participating with men. As a parallel, if more women actually participated in war, then we’d have less killing & horrible injuries. Just something to consider…

Danica Patrick handled all the unfairness & cruelty directed at her, as well as anyone could expect. She must have known that her results & competitiveness were being suppressed by male chauvinism & hate. Her driving skills are undeniable to those who competed against her. Open wheel racing, and now NASCAR, are never to be the same again. It used to be “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Who do you think changed all that?

For those who don’t get it: racing is about men competing for the best pussy. When Danica (stunning female) is on the track, and every guy is racing to cut her off, bump & grind her, spin her out, or wreck her– just so they can get off. This is egotistical primal instinct, which ignorance refuses to temper or manage. That’s NASCAR.

Danica Patrick’s elite driving skills rarely get to come into play in NASCAR, as the field is jammed up with dick-weeds, most of whom know they can’t compete, so messing with her is their next best thing. On the other end, the elite NASCAR assholes (JGR) get their wins early in the season, and with their post-season ticket punched, spend much of their remaining time wrecking her– just for kicks. When the Chase starts, she’s not in it, so she’s forgotten. Might this explain why she can’t get enough sponsorship anymore?

As far as retirement goes, her fans will understand. Who needs all this? Danica is a superstar, yet her job sounds like so many of our own work days, filled with joyless drudgery & obligation to others. Where is the time for happiness? Hopefully she’ll find it in retirement, because it’s clear she’s having no fun on the track anymore.

If you missed her career then shame on you, because it’s been really amazing. Beyond beauty, her career is defined by unbreakable determination & underrated intelligence. My personal polling shows Danica Patrick is disliked by most adult women out of jealousy, which is their problem. There are a few women (usually Dale, Jr fans) who say, “Bless your heart!”  For the boys & men, Danica is everyone’s girlfriend (she doesn’t mind, in fact she make a lot of money on it)– and that’s what makes her so awesome.  So (guys), can you can see how there would be some bitch factor hating on her? In short: there is no athlete like her, and no one to replace her.

Footnote: The closest thing NASCAR has to replacing Danica, is Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr– which obviously isn’t the same thing. In case you haven’t noticed, Bubba is black. NASCAR considers this to be very important to their sponsors & ratings, and it’s why they are pushing hard for a team to give him a Cup ride in 2018.

Darrell Wallace, Jr did a nice job filling in for Aric Almirola’s #43 while he was recovering from a broken back. Unfortunately, Bubba’s truck series victory at Michigan last week has been encumbered by NASCAR, after failing post-race inspection. L1 penalty, $5K fine, and crew chief suspension for Bristol. NASCAR and their many of their fans want Wallace in a Cup ride, but this doesn’t help. I hope the kid gets a shot, but he needs to play fair. When you’re a woman or minority (Daniel Suarez) driver in NASCAR, you need to be squeaky clean. And the flipside is: sponsors are OK with cheating, just as long as you aren’t busted. Too much hypocrisy for you?  Welcome to the show that never ends.

Post-Script 9-1-17: Timeline of 2017 sponsors for Danica Patrick

Nature’s Bakery reneges on the remaining 2 years of their 3-year deal with Danica Patrick & SHR in late-January. The only sponsors she had left for the upcoming 36-race season were Aspen Dental for 4 races, Tax Act for 4-6 races, and Mobil/Exxon for 2 races, and Ford for 1-2 races. Many in the industry speculated she wouldn’t make it through the season, with so little time to find new sponsorship. Here is what’s happened since:

Aspen Dental immediately committed to “double–digit” races with Danica Patrick. Aspen soon after became the “official dentist of NASCAR.”

Wonder Woman (2017) opened on June 2, and a huge part of its promotional campaign was Danica. Who else could it have been in NASCAR? Wonder Woman is a bad movie artistically, but it’s a blockbuster hit, as you can see:

Budget $149 million
Box office $806.8 million

It’s not unreasonable to presume that Danica driving as Wonder Woman added tens-of-millions of dollars to the box office.

With a sponsorship shortfall starting to kick in by May, Patrick went the charitable route for several race sponsorships. Code 3 Associates is an animal rescue charity she supports. It also serves as a write-off for her, and when you have her kind of money, you need them. I believe Aspen Dental also picks up part of the bill, as it’s almost always in their blue & white color scheme.

Nature’s Bakery insisted on 2 more races with Danica in 2017, as part of their legal settlement with SHR around mid-season. This is after NB claimed Danica didn’t “represent them well enough” in their lawsuit. Funny how that all turns back around, isn’t it?

Now she’s unveiling her Richmond sponsor: Warrior by Danica, in partnership with the Home Shopping Network (HSN). She’s been moving inventory on HSN for awhile now, after starting her own clothing line last year. Danica Patrick is skilled in sewing, and was motivated by being stiffed by NASCAR on the t-shirt merchandising year-after-year. Her shirts are always the first to fly off the racks, but she has no leverage and accepts whatever pittance NASCAR says they’ll pay her. Now she’s investing in her own sponsorship, and changing the rules– again!

Usually athletes are hustling for someone else. Now Danica is promoting herself, as she has a business plan and the money to do it. That’s what you do when everyone says you’re out-of-options, and nobody does it better than Danica. That’s how you go out, and it’s truly a brilliant move.

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San Diego Keeping Andy Green

Padres extend manager Green’s contract
Skipper’s deal was set to end after 2018; now through ’21

I read this piece, and had to comment. This is what I said, with final thoughts added.

There is no question to this: If Padres GM AJ Preller didn’t extend Andy Green, then some big-spending competitive team would have made him an offer.

More on why this was such a prescient move. Note that a lot of the comments from Padres fans are along the lines of, “They’re a lot better than most people said they would be.” Why is this? It certainly NOT because of the talent on their 25-man roster. Ace lefty reliever Brad Hand is the Padres lone All-Star in 2017.

What makes Hand extra-valuable is manager Andy Green knowing how to use him properly, which steals wins. It’s really hard for Friar’s fans to say who their next-most valuable player is, but it’s probably rookie CF Manny Margot.

This is the youngest roster in MLB, by far. They have carried three Rule 5 players this season, which usually guarantees 100+ losses. Their current winning % is .436, which translates to 70-92. The Padres have overplayed their Pythagorean projection by 8 games, and most of that is due to Brad Hand & Andy Green.

A set-back for the Padres this season has been the performance of 1B Wil Myers. Age 26 & healthy, he’s currently slashing .239/.320/.464. Still good defensively at 1B, but his lack-of-bat seems to have caused some regression there also, as he’s committing more mental errors in the field. The problem at the plate is strike zone judgment. He swings at too many 3-2 pitches that are ball 4, turning them into outs. It’s a team problem as the Padres hit too many solo HR’s (in terms of overall HR-type %), with the worst OBP in MLB. OBP is life in baseball; and pitching, defense & 3-run homers are what win.

As a Padres fan, I suspected trouble when Wil Myers came into Spring Training and stated his personal goal was “40 HR’s & 40 SB’s.”  Myers’ 28 SB w/ 6 CS in 2016, caught many people by surprise. He’s 11 SB w/ 5 CS, so far in 2017. He shouldn’t try to be a SB guy, he needs to stay healthy & mash. His 2018 (and beyond) goals will need to prioritize OBP, if he is to progress as a player.

The Padres invested heavily in Wil Myers this past off-season, so the motivation & resources will be made available. Wil Myers just needs to get his head straight and figure it out. He has all the talent in the world, and that’s why AJ Preller gave up so much to get him, Trading SS/UT Trea Turner & RHP Joe Ross (both currently DL-ed) to the Nationals in a 3-team deal. Rays got RF Steven Souza, Jr, and it’s still hard to know who actually got the best of that deal?  Sometimes it takes 3-5 years to know, and this is one of those cases. Padres need Wil Myers to work out, by being at least above-average production at 1B, otherwise their current rebuilding effort is already starting to crumble.

Final note on handling players. Padres manager Andy Green has done everything he can do with Wil Myers, including recently sitting him for 3 games to “straighten his head out, get a mental break, etc…” September call-ups need to play for the Padres.  As good as their farm system is, Wil Myers may be seeing some more bench time this season– who knows? Stabilizing a young core (with better talent) around him will certainly help. The Padres are definitely doing this, as lefty-hitting 2B Carlos Asuaje may be their most-recent MLB pipeline addition. Acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal…

Star contracts are a tricky & delicate balance, as ownership/management uses the carrot & stick. The deciding factors always come down to character, motivation & intelligence. The Padres still seem to still believe in Myers, (who at least isn’t whining or venting on teammates), so there’s room for optimism, but there needs to be more tangible progression– soon.  We’ll see…

Hypothetically, a right-handed Joey Votto (career .313/.427/.541), with better defense & base-running should be Will Myers’ player goal. That may be a little lofty comparatively, but it should still be in the area of his goal. What Preller & Green need out of Myers is a durable, championship-caliber 3-hole hitter. That’s the franchise player who drives a lineup, and catapults a team (with any kind of pitching) into contention. It’s what the Padres paid for when they signed him for 6 years $83 M this past winter. How will it pay off through 2022, is a franchise-defining question that hasn’t been answered yet?

From a minor-league standpoint, 2017 has been a huge success for the Padres. Their teams are mostly winning, and their prospects are mostly advancing. AJ Preller has brought in a depth of talent that has transformed this franchise from a joke, into the #3-ranked farm system in MLB. Yankees & Braves are ranked 1-2. Yankees are in the AL, so no worries until the WS– which isn’t happening anytime soon in SD. The Braves have a mess on their ML roster, and their prospects haven’t performed as well as expected, SS Dansby Swanson being the most prominent example. The Padres farm system was 30th (or so), when Preller took over as GM in 2015. Perhaps what’s now most-exciting for Padres fans, is seeing better players (& pitchers) starting to pop-up– seemingly out of nowhere! This is an indication of superior deep scouting, followed-up with proper player development. When you do things right, and stick with it, nice surprises start to happen over & over.

The biggest Padres minor-league organizational set-back of 2017 was RHP Anderson Espinoza blowing out his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery. Recall this was the prized pitching prospect, dealt by the Red Sox for LHP Drew Pomeranz in 2016. Pomeranz has since pitched the whole time in Boston, even while AJP was suspended by MLB for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” in this trade. The irony of all this only deepens for Padres fans.

It still takes awhile for what’s happening here to translate into winning at the MLB level, but the process the Padres are going through is fundamentally correct. If/when it happens, AJ Preller will have turned a hopeless organization into a winner, faster than any GM in modern baseball. In other words, the Padres have to win it all, for Preller & Green to be widely recognized as being the best. Based on their abilities and performance, they’re already at least in that discussion. The GM-manager relationship is the most important to any organization baseball. There has to be 100% agreement on everything between the two, otherwise factionalism & hidden agendas destroy team continuity & chemistry. Time is all that is required for positive proof in San Diego. The enemy is impatience & short-sightedness, which tends to be the preferred perspective of the naysayers & critics, only proving they refuse to understand anything.

Padres Injury Notes & Up-Coming Roster Decisions

AJ Preller took a low-cost free-agency flier on Jered Weaver, to see if he had anything left in the tank. He didn’t, but it didn’t really matter to the Padres season, so there’s no hard feelings. His type of retirement is always a bit awkward, as everyone remembers him as an Angel. Well-handled by the Padres organization & Jered Weaver.

Padres roster decisions GM AJ Preller will have to soon make include: LHP Christian Friedrich, who made $1.8M in 2017, but didn’t pitch at all due to injuries. Left lat muscle & elbow giving him pain. His root issue is lack of hip, back & core strength. Preller & Andy Green will have to decide if he’s worth another go around in arbitration. Preller found better low-cost options last winter, and I suspect he’ll release Friedrich and try a similar strategy this coming off-season. We’ll see how the market plays out after the World Series…

Age 27 LF Alex Dickerson was said to be a “big part of their 2017 plans,” by some in the Padres organization last winter. He of the career 1.0 WAR. I never believed it, especially when rumors surfaced of CF Travis Jankowski & Dickerson being floated as trade bait. Dickerson now has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his lower back, and has been transferred to the 60-day DL. He’s most-likely finished as a big-league player, and note that this is how many, many sports’ careers come to an end– unnoticed & physically disabled, with pain.

Travis Jankowski (age 26, career -0.2 WAR) hurt his foot, and has been rehabbing in the minors. His 90 PA’s (so far) in AAA El Paso are .263/.378/.355. He still can’t hit lefties, and has no pop. These were the “top prospects” AJP inherited (most of the best of which, he kept), when he took over as GM. Jankowski is still cheap, but is he worth a 40-man roster spot, when better & younger prospects have to be protected (or else exposed) before the Rule 5 draft?

LHP Clayton Richard & RHP Jhoulys Chacin have both said they want to return, and the Padres should do it– if the cost & contract length is agreeable. Nothing more than 2 years, for either, and more-likely, one year. Padres may get priced-out by the big-silly spenders.

RHP Jarred Cosart is a medical case, and now a long-shot at age 27. Padres expect LHP Robbie Erlin to be ready for ST 2018. He’s still recovering from TJ surgery in 2016. RHP Colin Rea finally submitted to TJ surgery in 2017, after blowing his elbow out in his only appearance as a Miami Marlin in 2016. Pitching is so hard to find, and they’re all so very cheap, so the Padres most-likely keep them all.

 

Update [9-2-17]: Padres cut ties with hitting coach Zinter
Friars on pace to finish last in MLB in average, OBP in back-to-back years

Alan Zinter (below) was an organizational hire by AJP, brought in when Andy Green was hired. He was one of Green’s guys from his minor-league managing stint with the Diamondbacks. AJP is calling this move. OBP is their biggest weakness, so it makes sense. I wonder how bench coach Mark McGwire now fits into their plans?

The Padres have overachieved on their pitching, both starting & bullpen. Keep in mind that not much was expected from the rotation. This over achievement is due to Andy Green & Darren Balsley. The results on the offensive side haven’t been as impressive, and it’s not because Andy Green is a klutz when it comes to using his bench or writing in a lineup. It’s because OBP is life in baseball, and the Friars are dead last again. The Padres lineup can’t continue to allow opposing starters to roll through easy innings, with guys swinging themselves into easy outs. More walks put the pitcher in the stretch, which stresses them. This leads to longer innings, more base runners & more runs. More runs means more wins. The failures of Wil Myers & Hunter Renfroe (mentioned in the article) are the tangible reasons Alan Zinter is fired. His replacement will be expected to produce better results from these two & the rest, but especially from Myers as he’s the big contract. He’s got a ton of talent, which we’ve all seen, but he’s also got head problems it seems.

Sportswriter: What’s the best hitting advice you ever got?
Ted Williams: It was from Rogers Hornsby. He told me, “Make them throw you a strike.”

For Myers & Renfroe, new goals for counting stats need to be: more walks & doubles. This will correlate to less strikeouts & more hits. Cuttings down to protect with two strikes is a prudent approach, especially in stressful at-bats against tough pitchers. Both have the power to hit it out with less than a full swing anyways. What’s lacking is strike zone judgment & control. At times it appears there’s also no plan (individual or team) to attack a pitcher. Hitting is probably the most difficult skill in sports, so it’s not like anyone has figured out all the answers, but just seeing more pitches in an AB (even if it still produces an out), has value. The pitcher is throwing more pitches and will become more vulnerable, sooner.

Padres hitters need to take more of a grind approach to every AB. If this is done up & down the line-up (with their power), it will crush most NL pitching. Note– the best grinding line-up (in recent memory) was the 1998 NY Yankees. That was a high OBP, with power 1-9; and the Padres didn’t really have much of a chance against them even with their best team ever. In the NL it’s 1-8, so this can be achieved with less payroll, which is nice. This is the direction that Preller & Green want to offense to go, as this is what’s holding everything back. Once the line-up consistently produces, the young pitching will be ready from the minors.

Another feather in Andy Green’s cap is his use of defensive shifts, which were the most dramatic in MLB in 2016, his first year a manager. The league has caught up to him & the Padres, by increasing their shifting. The point is Andy Green sees all facets of the game, manages them masterfully, and is highly respected by his peers. Bruce Bochy was only the latest to pay his respects, after their last series. Green knows where his responsibilities begin & end, and is in full partnership with his GM. When the Padres actually have a MLB roster, instead of pre-arbs, prospects & Rule 5 selections, it’s going to get a lot better in a hurry. Manny Margot is a stud, and Carlos Asuaje is a possibility. The Kimbrel deal and all the other moves AJP made in 2016, are going to reap huge bounties for years to come, and it started showing in 2017.

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Gordon Christensen, DDS

Often when you meet someone in-person you’ve long-admired, it’s a disappointment. Through marketing & public-relations manipulating, people can project themselves as something they really aren’t.  Others burn-out too soon, and become husks reduced to shilling for their audiences.  A lot of musicians & entertainment types fall into that trap.  Also our naivety can lead to lofty, and sometimes unfair expectations. Sport “heroes” often fall into this category.

…and other times our expectations are exceeded! 

If one can mature from naivety into wisdom, without become hard-hearted & cynical, then one can learn to recognize greatness in others. In turn, others will recognize it in you.

The “Father of Modern Dentistry” is G.V. Black, and below is a photo from the cover page of Black’s 1897 classic textbook:

I mention this because every dentist in America (and around the world) knows Gordon Christensen,  who is regarded as the “father of today’s dentistry,” by many, many in the profession. He is highly respected by everyone in the field, for telling them the truth about practicing in the real world [1].  Knowing the difference between what works & what doesn’t, can be a practice saver. It’s also good for one’s sanity. Gordon Christensen has been educating dentists on all this and more, for over 40 years.

Since most of my readers aren’t in the dental profession, I’ll skip the details of Gordon Christensen’s 6-hour presentation (pamphlet above), and instead describe what makes a man great in general terms. I’ll sometimes speak in the masculine gender, but all this applies equally to women. Photo of Gordon Christensen below by Marie Peck:

When a truly significant person is being introduced, they are humble & observant. They seek to use humor, often by poking fun at themselves, to relax their audience. This makes the audience feel their more equal to the performer, which everybody likes.

A natural performer moves through the crowd. First with their eyes, then physically whenever possible. This lets everyone get “up close,” and connects the performer with the crowd. They always command the microphone, especially when taking questions from the audience. They summarize and move quickly, engaging & disengaging often to maintain a stream of fresh content.

Their presentation will be varied, and tailored to each crowd. Every audience is different and a natural performer will read the faces to see what’s working, and (more importantly) what’s not. At the first signs of audience disinterest, the superior performer will recognize and shift gears, transitioning towards more attention-grabbing content.

The genius trick to being an exceptional performer is making it all look easy. The best just keep going, and when it’s all over you (audience) are exhausted, while the performer could have kept going for hours. The best can always keep going, whenever necessary. This is because they are physically & mentally fit, and completely in their niche. They own it, but don’t be fooled: it’s also the product of thorough preparation & hard work.

Even when things go wrong (which is most of the time), the best handle it with grace & ease, blending in their own variety of humor & personal touch. All this is called style, and the best performers & professionals have it.  It’s instantly recognizable, and electrifying to be around. After the initial exhaustion of such an intense experience, audience members are often re-energized for a long time afterwards.

Much of our lives are dull monotony, so when we get the rare privilege of interacting with someone truly gifted & special, it’s a powerful experience. These are the people that change lives through force-of-personality & living example. The best let other people list their credentials and talk about them, because they are too busy working on what’s next to be concerned with promoting themselves.

These qualities of exceptionality are what we need to cultivate more of in ourselves. Dr. Gordon Christensen is so respected in dentistry because he’s the genuine article, which is extremely rare– anywhere. He tells the truth (even when we don’t want to hear it), and leads by example.  That’s the best way to lead, and that’s why so many dentists listen to him.

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Resisting Revolution

People naturally resist hard work & pain. It starts at birth and ends at death. Truth & love are dialectical opposites; they are what we most want, but also most fear.

Everyone thinks they’re right about everything. When (if) one discovers the error of this “thinking,” it becomes a humbling, but powerful growing experience.

Most Americans are sleep-walking through their days, on an ego trip over themselves. The idea of putting others outside their own ‘world’ before themselves never occurs to these zombies. They live lives of selfish desperation, hopped-up on themselves, full of disorders & ignorance. Whatever addiction is driving them is their sole reason for existence, as their own force of personality ceased to exist long ago. These are the consumerist, brain-dead constituencies for Bush/McCain/Trump & Clinton/Obama/Sanders.

Left-wing liberals of all stripes are a pesky irritant which always resist revolutionary action. Confined to historical impotence by their dearth of thought & lack of backbone, they can only follow along in rhythm with the right wing, as both are attached to the same imperialist carcass. Liberalism is most notorious for its uncanny ability to discern relevant facts in science, literature & art– exactly up to half the truth– then arrive at precisely the wrong conclusion as to its importance– every time.

The reasons for their .000 batting average is their omnipresent & overriding self-interest in capitalism, which provides just enough crumbs to sustain them. This petty-bourgeoisie layer has been carefully selected & cultivated, providing a significant ideological buffer for the ruling elite. Feminism, black racialism & gay politics are tough to get past, as they have armies of zealots in key media positions, with the full backing of the Democratic Party machinery & the deep-state intelligence apparatus. These frauds & charlatans are able to present themselves as credible and thoughtful leaders, far too often.

The right-wing censorship of free speech that affects everyone on the left (outside of the WSWS), actually protects liberalism. By censoring and cutting off all serious political discussion, the farce of liberalism can still promote itself as credible, without having to face its most-whithering opponents– Marxists. Their political strategy can be correctly described as gutless, but prudent.

Everyday people don’t want to believe that any of this is true, or that it even could be true. It’s so much easier, and a much more attractive option, to ignore all this and play the game like everyone else. The problem is, this game is ending. The corporate monopolies have conquered every domain, and most working people have nothing but a life of debt & drudgery ahead of them. Global warming is getting worse, and all the US president (whichever party) ever wants to do is start another war. That’s when people stop resisting, and start embracing revolution.

It is the job of revolutionary socialists to educate and politically arm as many working comrades & youth as possible. The more the working classes of the world have consciously worked out Marxist political theory, the more coordinately & decisively they will strike at the heart of capitalism when the time comes. It is the role of leadership is to share as much as possible with the best elements of the working class & youth [1].

Sharing is another notion that runs contrary to our “everyday thinking.” Helping someone else, without expecting a return, is foolish under capitalism. “This must be done away with,” is the corporate line. Such messed-up ethics are turning us into monsters, which consume & destroy for no good reason. Facing these truths about our “dark sides” is uncomfortable, and too many people have enabled themselves to avoid any such form of discomfort or social distress.

The ongoing obesity epidemic is but(t) one example of ignoring truth, allowing this disorder to continue manifesting itself. It’s now terribly uncool to “fat shame” anyone, when that’s precisely what overweight people need. Of course, it shouldn’t be a public humiliation, but there surely needs to be a sense of guilt in allowing one’s body to become so desecrated with excessive fat. That’s a healthy and natural instinct, which needs to be scientifically cultivated in order to gain control of deteriorating public health in “first-world” nations, the U.S. being foremost.

We live in an era of untruth. People have become so sensitized to their own delusions & disorders, that it’s often impossible to talk to them honestly & constructively. Establishing a healthy equilibrium in this is what people resist the most, but it also contains the revolutionary potential to set them free. Seeing all this is difficult enough, and actually following through is the road less traveled, which most people bypass. The truth is the high road sucks; as it’s long, torturous & full of sacrifices. Those who choose the “easy road” discover (too late) that it’s a dead-end for true happiness. The moral & truth is, the hard road always meets up with us down the path of life, so there’s no use in avoiding it. Embrace it instead.

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