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The Destructive Drive for Wealth

October 19, 2017 Leave a comment

When ‘maximized profits’ is the goal, someone or something is going to suffer. How can a marketer maximize profits, while it’s already doing everything possible? One can make the product more cheaply and charge more for it. When a corporation’s goal is to get rich no matter what, its staff, suppliers, and customers all lose out.

Companies fight to keep employees’ wages and benefits low so the company can flourish. At the same time, the employees are the energy that manufacture, deliver, and perhaps sell the product. Why would an employer not appreciate the employees? Because employees cost a lot of money, and companies don’t like to part with any money at all.

We ‘normal’ people might be unable to understand how a company can deny living wages to its employees while awarding huge bonuses to senior executives. Well, perhaps those greedy people have a weakness in their spirit that enables them to be selfish at all times.

Personally, I would reject the life of the wealthy, because it doesn’t suit me. I was raised in a wealthy family, and felt out of place. The quiet life among simple people suits me better. At the same time, I enjoy a great deal of intellectual stimulation on social media. The Internet is also a great creative stimulus that helps me to live comfortably.

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Most People My Age Are Dead

October 5, 2017 Leave a comment

I plagiarized Gloria Steinem for this title. She’s about 82 now, and still attractive. I am finding old age quite fascinating. I’m my own research subject. Throughout my life, I never contemplated or even thought of myself as becoming elderly. Now that I’m here, with eight decades to look back at, it can be fun.

One thing that’s interesting is learning of the deaths of people one has known over the decades. Some of the people who have passed evoke feelings of sadness; sometimes regret sometimes happiness, sometimes satisfaction or even relief. Living an active, varied life for a long time teaches one many lessons through many adventures and more importantly, misadventures.

I’m not concerned at all about my inevitable death. Still, it interests me to know how many people pass away while I live on. My first wife died the other day. She was three years younger than I am. I’ve also learned that two of the nicest girls I dated in high school died several years ago. Also an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years died in ’03, I just learned. He owed me money. I guess that’s why I hadn’t seen him in years.

I realized I could look through obituaries and see who I’ve outlived. There was a new president brought in at a large, international company for which I worked. The new president was uncomfortable that a major client was deeply dependent upon me, and trusted my judgement completely. I guess he feared I’d take the client to another agency, so he set out to oust me. One by one, my clients where bled away from me until I was let go. The group head that had to tell me, thanked me for how I’d elevated his career.

I searched obits for those guys and a few others, and learned that I’ve outlived all of them. I even found out that a false friend that had back-stabbed me, died of a massive heart attack twelve years ago.

So on I go, gradually outliving friends and enemies along the way. It’s kind of cool.

Sometimes we can tell.

October 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Sometimes we can tell that an individual is going to be a troubled person later in life. Right from childhood, the kid that will bend logic and law to suit personal priorities. I remember two examples.

A boyhood friend I’ll call Gordy was collecting ‘All Wheat’ cards. It was a breakfast cereal that offered a number of collector cards in each box. I think they were sheets of six cards that bore the colour photos of military equipment or athletes or something like that. It doesn’t matter. The point is, Gordy couldn’t wait to enhance his collection by enjoying the cereal over time, and gather cards in that way. The way I was doing it.

Gordy stole money from his mother’s purse and used it to by many boxes of All Wheat. In a vacant lot at the end of the street, he tore open all the boxes, retrieved the sheets of cards, and left the empty cereal boxes and a lot of All Wheat flakes strewn about.

I don’t know what kind of trouble, if any, he got into for that stunt. I remember it because in later life he became a lawyer. He also became a gambler – a gambling addict, in fact – and indebted himself to organized crime. He couldn’t pay his debts to the mob, except to do some things for them.

He laundered money for the mob, and even passed counterfeit money for them. He got busted, convicted, and did some time. I saw him on the street one day, making a delivery from his little courier company car. Disbarred of course, and lost his family too, I imagine. A naughty kid is a bad person.

Another bad boy, Joel, was just a brat. I didn’t know him well, but I know he was trouble. Our cottages were on the same beach. My brothers and I would make sand castles and dams and so on, in the summer sun. Invariably, Joel would come along the beach and gleefully destroy our sand structures and sculptures.

In later life, Joel also became a lawyer. He used money from escrow accounts and client investments for his own use, was caught, did time, and disappeared.

Sometimes we can tell.

Some Call It Dancing – Part Two

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Head down, walking faster, Sylvia scuttled past the line of men who stood against the back wall, staring at Duchess as she dropped her sequinned top onto an on-stage sofa, revealing bold, unnatural silicone breasts.

As Sylvia passed, each man suddenly became aware of her, and turned to watch her hurry into the dressing room at the opposite side of the dimly lit auditorium.  The rows of theater seats were filled with men who were eagerly staring at Duchess, waiting for the magic moment when she would snap off her G-string and reveal her shaved pubic area.  The management didn’t make it mandatory for the girls to reveal their privates, but Duchess always did.  She needed the extra ten dollars that Borden, the manager, paid for any show in which the girl showed it all.  In truth, Duchess also enjoyed the thrill she got from showing everything.

Inside the long, narrow dressing room, girls sat at the counter that ran the length of the room.  Large mirrors were mounted on the wall over the counter, each illuminated with glaring bulbs.  The counter was littered with a variety of cosmetic bottles, jars, and occasionally, pieces of costume.  A red feather here, a crumpled G-string there, breast pasties and other of the strippers’ paraphernalia.  Of the eight small chairs that sat at the counter, three were empty.  One was Sylvia’s, one was for Duchess who was nearing the end of her on-stage stint, and one was for Rickie, a girl who had the day off.  Other dancers, in various stages of undress, occupied the other five places.  One of the other dancers, a woman who looked a bit too old and bulky to show herself nude for a living, sucked on a small brass pipe and expelled a stream of fragrant smoke toward the ceiling.  She looked over at Sylvia who was undressing hurriedly and putting on her costume in layers of opposite order to which she would remove them on stage.

“Better hurry, Angel.  Sounds like Duchess’s music is about to end”, she said.  At that moment, appreciative shouts and applause were heard from the audience.  “There goes her g-string”, the woman said as she put the small pipe to her lips.  Sylvia didn’t answer, but calmly continues to dress in her layered costume, checking each garment in the mirror before her.  The door from the stage swung open and closed again as Duchess entered carrying her discarded costume in a bundle held to her chest.  Her very white skin glistened with sweat.  The sound of a Red Foxx comedy recording could be heard through the door.  It filled the intermission between acts.  Within a few minutes Sylvia was ready, touching up her makeup in the mirror.  An intercom phone on the wall rang.  She reached for it and held it to her ear.  Tony, who was on duty in the control room, said it was time to go on.

 

Dr. Huxtable, Please Stop!

June 17, 2017 Leave a comment

I assume the Bill Cosby hung jury is because some jurists just didn’t want to tarnish the ‘America’s Dad’ image. I sympathize with that. I loved Cosby’s stand up acts, when he was just out of college. I guess I saw him on late night talk shows in those days.

Later, he was co-staring with Robert Culp in a mock cop show. I think it was called ‘I Spy’. I liked the show and the actors, and it hurts to think that Bill Cosby was drugging and raping women during those years. Why would he? Perhaps his personal kink is that the woman has to be inert. It’s abnormal, but it’s been heard of.

I was expecting, and hoping, that the prosecution would not retry Cosby. He’s guilty, and he’s old and somewhat blind, so what would the law do to him? If they would elect not to retry, the kids that loved the Fat Albert cartoons and other comedy things that Bill Cosby created, could continue to be cool with Dr. Huxtable.

The Fast Lane Sucks

May 29, 2017 Leave a comment

I know a lot about the fast lane. I also know a lot about the slow lane. Striving to live life in the fast lane is like drawing a map to oblivion. Promotions at the job, drinks with the boss, arriving early and leaving late, all are in the race for wealth and position. I can imagine many of my readers questioning; ‘What’s the matter with that?’

The problem with joining the hoard of people like you is; you’re going to have to be a bit smarter, a bit cruel, and a bit vicious against other people like you. To be number one, you’d betray a friend, lie to a colleague, a steal a deal from a partner. If you are the kind of person that would never do that, you should stay out of the fast lane and live life properly, instead. The denizens of the fast lane will strip you naked and pee on your bones.

Imagine yourself breezing along the road in your polished Lexus. You’re sitting on fine leather, breathing clean, cool air, listening to a superb sound system. Something like you might do in the music room of your mansion. You are learning nothing about the real world. If you’re rolling along a dirt road, your interior is still ideal. You get nothing from the world outside.

Walking on that same road, you will see flowering dogwood, frogs, toads, snakes, spiders and hawks. Constant change, daily innovations are happening somewhere along that road. All sensations are lost when living the life of luxury in the fast lane.

I used to race around in powerboats. It was exciting fun. Then I got into sailing. Slow as the wind, and quiet. No roaring engine, so the fresh air is filled with the calls of gulls. The gentle splash on the shuddering hull, feeling the keel cut through the rolling waves.

Canoeing is the slowest and most fulfilling of all water travel. Sliding through the reeds, you’re up close to the Giant Blue Heron when she spears a trout with her sharp beak. The Redwing Blackbirds chatter amid the bulrushes, and we can see them. We are not intruders. The canoe is a part of the natural scene. It functions together with the surrounding environment.

When acquisition of wealth is the primary goal, worthy priorities can be cast aside. The fast lane looks better from the outside than it does from the inside. However, if nothing but the fast lane to wealth and power will fulfill you, I wish you good luck. I caution you to be aware that people who are comfortable in the slow lane are not fools. They are enlightened.

King’s Life

May 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Bartholomew King was proud of his eccentricity. He knew that he was regarded as a shallow, slow-witted, trust-fund child. By the time he was 28, he was well established as a wealthy nut. Fortunately for Barth (as people liked to call him), he never had to earn a living. His parents had accumulated a substantial fortune in the medical marijuana industry, growing and distributing through their burgeoning chain of greenhouses. Unfortunately, they lost their lives prematurely, while testing their design for a four-seated hang-glider.

Of course, Barth immediately sold the marijuana business and closed down the development of the hang-glider design. As a result, he was sitting on almost three million after-tax dollars. He did regard himself as the king, at least in the large county where he was highly influential. As such, he demanded exclusivity – in everything.

He had a ranch built to his own, eccentric design. He had Brigham Coachworks build a custom body of his own design. He had it built on the chassis of an Alpha Romeo Disco Volante, the most exclusive car he could find. The Disco Volante body was discarded and the new body was constructed of aluminum.

There were many opportunities for a prolific social life laid at Bartholomew’s feet. He was hesitant, because he was never certain which woman might be the most exclusive. He attended dinner parties, if the guest list was sufficiently exclusive. He attended sporting events only if the event was rare, such as polo for blind players. He was introduced to many very beautiful women, but he was unable to feel certain of the one of a kind that he sought.

On a rare evening out, with one of the women who hoped to be The One, Barth saw The One. It was not the woman with Barth. Rather, it was a woman who sang on the small stage of the club they were in.  After they ordered, Barth looked casually toward the stage. A woman stood at the microphone in baggy, blue denim bib overalls, singing a twangy country song. A keyboard player, a guitarist, and a drummer backed her up. The woman’s face made Barth’s stomach flip. She was gorgeous, almost exactly the face he created in his mind to be the exclusive one.

She appeared to be more than 6 feet tall. Barth was an average 5’9”. Barth’s problem was, he didn’t like country music, or the rural wardrobe. The drinks arrived at Barth’s table, and he clinked glasses with his date and sipped his Highball. The country song ended and Barth turned to look at the stage again. The woman had dropped the baggy overalls and kicked them aside. She stood in the spotlight in a blazing green Spandex body suit. It fit so tightly, it looked painted onto her body. She had the shape of an oversize mannequin, virtually perfect. She began to sing a love ballad, “The Nearness of You,” and the mellow tones of her deep voice infused Barth with passion.

Barth knew that this woman was the exclusive beauty he sought. He unashamedly ushered his date out the club door and put her into a taxi. The outraged woman made a scene throughout the club, and people knew that it was just Bartholomew King being Barthish. He gave the driver one hundred dollars and asked him to take her wherever she wanted to go.

Barth returned to the club and boldly went backstage. In an open area, the trio of musicians were sharing a joint. In her dressing room, the woman… The One, was sitting at her makeup table.

“I’m Bartholomew King,” he said. He extended his hand. She ignored it.

“I know who you are,” she said. “Where’s your date?”

“She had to leave,” he said. “I wonder… would you come to dinner with me tomorrow evening?”

The woman stood up and looked down at Bartholomew. She put her hand on his shoulder and walked with him toward the dressing room door.

“I want you to know something, and remember it,” she smiled. “No. Never, nay, no way. I only date exclusive men. You are so common.” She gave him a gentle push out into the passageway, and closed the door. He heard the click of the lock.