Brewster’s Millions Paradox

Unstoppable

Spend $30 million in 30 days to inherit $300 million.  This was 1985, so today you would be spending $67 million to inherit $665 million!  The catch, at the end of the 30 days you had to have nothing to show for it.  Not a single possession could come with you other than the clothes you had on the day this all started.

His solution, run for office.  The twist, he didn’t want to be the person elected.  He wanted people to understand that they were trapped picking between two unlikable individuals who didn’t offer anything.  Welcome to 2016.

There are attributes that each of the major players possess that are of value.  And then there is just an overwhelming amount of things that make me wonder if I can truly get away with leaving that portion of the electronic ballet blank without being told I have to chose someone.

People are spending Billions of dollars to attain an office that pays $400,000.  Every economics class I ever took would tell you that is the worst kind of return on your investment you could ever find.  Even the crappy interest rates paid out by banks would gain you a profit of $85 million after four years, more than double that if you get re-elected!  Don’t even get me started with just average returns over four years with that same money invested and left alone.

Politics are personal.  Everyone has a different viewpoint for the same events.  100 people in a room would tell you a slightly different version of the same movie they sat through.  Witness statements from victims of crimes tend to be unreliable for the same reason.

No one is right and many they are just plain wrong.  And for people who truly don’t understand the very basic nature of government, this check and balances thing ensures that nothing gets done unless you have such an overwhelming number of people of the same party and same mindset.

I’m a economist and I can’t tell you want will happen 5 years from now.  I can barely make an argument for two years into the future.  The world changes and with it the variables.  Insert joke about the Butterfly Effect?  Sure why not!  A girl in Japan writes an App that takes over every other texting program and not only does Apple lose value, so does Microsoft, Facebook and WhatsApp.  Why?  Because said young lady didn’t like that her personal information was being sold resulting in odd ads popping up in her email.

In politics the next great idea rarely has the same momentum.  Too many people want to ride the coattails with their lesser ideas and welcome to stalemates.

Personally I believe we need to fire every single Senator and Congress-person and start over.  Adopt term limits?  Requires a Constitutional Amendment and you don’t want to know the process that requires!

Obama was not my guy, but I would have liked to see the change he spoke about.  The country elected a single person with a wide-ranging dream that required the people he was surrounded by to be different.  That’s where that failure falls on the voting public and even harder on those who didn’t vote.

Trump is right about there being problems in this country.  Homelessness, health of every person, violence of every kind, and the ability for every person to achieve to their highest abilities are my personal issues.  Work on those things and plenty of other issues will work themselves out in a generation, possibly two.

Hillary is also right that there are bright moments that we need to cling to.  Just look towards the number of people who come out after these violent episodes to help in any way they can.  The world is a better place when you try to understand your neighbor rather than scream about our differences.

I’ll never see how the next few years play out.  But I hope for one simple thing, [a cure for cancer?  not in my lifetime!  sorry gallows humor?].  That we get to a point where it’s more important to help each other not step over each other.  [I have learned this from years of running a business where even I admit to having adopted some sociopathic tendencies to get things done.  Not my prouder moments, but necessary unfortunately].

Bill and Ted had it right, be good to one another!

Strong Words, Stronger Feelings

Crisis

We’re going down the personal lane this morning, so if you’re not in the mood, skip ahead to someone else.  But I need this to be out there…

I’d been looking forward to watching this silly cartoon.  The latest Batman thing hit the stores and I was school boy curious about it.  Too tired, just hit pause and watch it later.  Usually these are the things I just watch on my own because rarely do others share my giddy feelings.  Last night was different.

Without getting into a movie that I ultimately didn’t like, it just destroyed a strong character for no reason other than to add length to the presentation.  Having a friend openly join me knowing the evenings plan, and to do it willing and without hesitation, normally I would question their sanity.

No cell phone watching, her attention was on the screen for most of the time and making sure I was okay the rest.  Long ago we had that talk about what we both needed from each other.  Strong shoulders from each, for each, and the rest of the world would just work its way out.

So rather than go home and just enjoy the silence of her own place, her teenage daughter at camp for the week, she was sitting on the couch?  We split some salads and I stared at the cookie but passed.  The only disagreement was her pulling on the blanket that spanned the both of us, but mostly it was a joke.

I couldn’t help but ask as we each picked up our leftovers to head our separate ways, “Could I ask why you would put yourself through that cartoon?  Not your normal viewing.”

What I expected to hear was not what I got.  I handed her the bag with tomorrow’s lunch and walked toward the door.  It was early, most nights I can’t stay up late, other times the medication just wears me out in a different way.  So 8 p.m. and I’m getting my evening ritual started.

“It’s more than being worried about you.  Some days when you are asleep and I’m awake I wonder if I’ve done enough to help.  I want to do more.  But love makes people do things for others at strange times.”  And out the door she walked.

I watched her go and never said anything in response.  She knows all of the damage, the stuff you see and the stuff she has had to hear.  That has worked both ways, I know her secrets as well.

There was never a chance to respond, she knew better than to wait.  It would have taken me forever to say the wrong thing anyway!

My assumption has always been that someone was going to get hurt.  I also knew it was going to be her, because I was the one leaving at some point.  We decided during some silent conversation we would live with that, while trying to live with the daily issues.

Her husband was a piece of work [really a piece of shit].  I don’t want her or her daughter to feel an ounce of pain because of me.  They seem to think I’m worth it, I’m not so sure.

Anyway, knowing her daughter also will at some point see this and write me a oddly worded email talking about how she doesn’t see the difference between me and the boys at school [a reference to maturity, I’m sure], let me say this as simply as possible.

The people I have surrounded myself with I love deeply.  Without reservation and without an ounce of regret.  Those not around that is for a reason.  I don’t have the time to spend with people who aren’t going to be there when  I need them.  Lived that life, it hurt.  Those scars are on the outside as well as the inside.

I could have Han Solo’d it and replied “I know!” or “Ditto”, but hopefully those words echoing into the humid air as the door closed didn’t need a reply.  I appreciate every moment, I’m lucky to have people who care.

Useful Tool, That’s Me!

Sanctuary

The guy I roomed with for about ten seconds after joining my fraternity came with the pledge name “Tool”.  He thought it was because of his prowess with the ladies, the rest of us knew it was because he sounded like an idiot trying to regale the crowd with his tales of conquest.  Eventually he learned, not just of his nom de plume but how to act around other people.

My niece has a guy in her life.  And he is doing his best to put everyone in the family at ease while still being a 16 year old boy.  He brings flowers for her grandmother, tries to remember to “Yes Sir, No Sir” when talking to her father, and he is absolutely not sure how to deal with me.  But over the weekend he made a valiant effort towards gaining my trust.

He has a car so in need to daily repair that he actually spends time each day tightening some bolt or hoping that all the pieces come home from his lawn cutting hours.  Purchased with money from his own grandparents when he was 14, his father has helped him rebuild as much as possible.  But then I was asked for some advice…

Number One Rule: don’t get between a father and son when they are trying to form a bond.

In this case it was with permission.  It was about some electronic portion of the stereo that his father just couldn’t decide on so he opened it up to the floor.  Since the young man is over on the weekends for Sunday brunch, he asked me to sit and talk.

I know nothing about restoring cars.  Minor things I can fix, major things have me making calls to the mechanic for an appointment.  But adding some speakers and a radio, I can handle this.

It wasn’t even a talk about the price or even what he wanted it to look like.  We talked about the music.  Knowing the engine is always going to be heard, that squeaks and rattles are the symphony of the metal and rubber, it never was going to be a concert hall of silence when the doors shut.

My dad taught me about acoustic models when I was a kid.  Different power ratings, ohms, peak watts versus balanced output.  An engineer’s dream set of questions asked by his son who wanted to listen.  We were building a sound for my keyboards, but we also built a better understanding of each other.

He was the tool I needed than, I’m the tool someone needed now.

Of all the things I miss about my daughter, not having the ability to see her face when she learns something new truly upsets me.  That set of eyes growing wide [that scene in Zootopia with the Sloth is a perfect example.  That’s why everyone loves it, they know that feeling and want it every day!], her excitement with her accomplishment.  My smile knowing her exact feeling.  It’s also why I feel a simple level of guilt about having been the one to teach my nephew to ride a bike.  On a basic point I took something away, even though my brother didn’t care.  This also was the same time my daughter had passed away so I might have also been given a pass from him?

Last night, before crawling into bed I ordered something on Amazon.  Nothing big or expensive, but a puzzle piece that will get them started.  My niece will be the one who actually gives it to him, another one of our little secrets that harm no one.

Having retired last month since I felt my work wasn’t up to snuff, having someone ask me for advice made me feel useful.  Just a simple reminder that even when I don’t see it or even feel it, others do.

 

I Just Don’t Know

Carefree

It’s one thing to sit in a chair with friends and say things don’t bother me.  But when I’m paying someone to help me figure out my life, being flippant is not an option.  The anger has made a vicious comeback lately and fortunately I have been able to keep it directed at myself and not others.

There have been cracks in that wall.  Sticking my thumb into that dam isn’t going to last and the pressure will get to me.

We all agree that people know when I’m upset.  My face can’t hid it any longer.

Most people think it has to do with the cancer.  It doesn’t.  Nothing is going to stop that progression.  We’ve tried everything.  Done everything.  Seen as many people as possible to understand every option available.

I’m back to being very, unendingly angry with myself.

There was a time when running would have emptied my physical symptoms.  Just too tired to care for a few hours.  The only time my shoes see a treadmill is when I walk past one,

So I talk to the therapist and hope it is enough.  She tells me it never will be until I face the central issue.  I’m not to blame for everything that has happened.

Drugs don’t make that go away.  Even my attempts to clear the boards and apologize for things that happened decades ago haven’t lessen the weight.

I wish I could live out whatever time is left without these worries.  I know that having these feelings add to my carefree attitude regarding my own life.  Feelings I shouldn’t have occupy too much space inside my head.

It isn’t enough to tell someone I look forward to knowing the answer to one question – “Is there an afterlife and will I be able to spend it with my daughter.  Getting a chance to know her that I didn’t get while we were both on this planet?”

So welcome back anger, you useless bastard!

Cut Your Toenails…

Nightmare

If that stupid cat is on the bed again, I’m going to hide her in the closet until sunrise!

Can’t be her, the pressure against my thigh is too much for an 6 pound cat.  But the covers are pulled to just the right length.  It takes too long to get comfortable, i don’t want to roll over.  Maybe I thrashed around and one of the books just slide over?

Surrendering to my half-awake brain, my eyes open enough to lean my face into a pair of feet?  Next to my head?  Then my ears pick up sounds it had been trying to ignore, my niece snoring!  Now I have to worry about if this was a me thing or a her thing.

The deal for the summer, if she does well in her first college level class there is some financial gain for her.  Simply put, do well get money from your uncle!  We convinced her to do the same my parents had tried with me, pick a class just to see if you like the subject.  15 years old, walking around Boston University’s campus, the circle complete?

Susie chose a creative writing class.  It makes sense for someone who dreams of being an artist.  But she also wants to pay some bills, having a JOB while trying is her plan.  I had been listening to her latest missives before she submitted them.  Judging her work against 20 year old’s worries her.  Not their reactions, but if she is mature in the same way.

But what caused her to stay?

I know that every now and then there are bad nights.  Mine for medical reasons, her’s for just the stacks of responsibility she feels for the entire family.  Some nights I find her sleeping in a chair, others I peek out the door to see if the light still reflects off the floor outside her room.

This night it was that she didn’t like my breathing.  Susie couldn’t explain it.  Just a gut feeling that couldn’t be shaken.

So I’m stuck with feet in my face…

Her worry is also our shared nightmare.  That one morning she’ll do the mirror under the nose thing and not be shocked, just upset.  We’ve talked about it.  The entire family had to decide if home or hospice was the path.  I may be the topic, but their opinions and concerns are what matter.

Home it has been!

So her lessons have included making sure my periodic need for a tube in the arm is clear.  That I take my meds on time.  Mainly she likes that we still walk out to the flower beds and just take in some color.

What I get back in return is greater.  Some days it can’t be helped to think about how we die.  But this time spent with her reminds me that those thoughts need to be squashed by how I live.  It’s a simple lesson.  Much like some of her best stories, not flowering writing wrapped up in too many words.  The things she writes, the ones I enjoy the most, tend to be two or three pages of just hopeful truths and dreams that one day she’ll absolutely achieve.

Plus I like her tales about penguins.  Reminds me of my daughter.  But maybe that’s her point.

 

Funny Little Icon

I must have forgotten that it was even still on my phone.  A silly addition my mother had suggested and since it didn’t take any space and definitely wasn’t worth arguing about, I installed it.  Some chat program that would allow me to remain relatively anonymous and yet be able to reach out when the need arose.  Leave out the things and only talk about the present.  Here and now was all that mattered and if something slipped out, well I could take it from there.

Assuming anyone was on the other end of the line…

While retreating from the world, I had closed it down.  The program and me.  So it really was a surprise when this afternoon it dinged and let me know there was a message.  It had my username, so it wasn’t a fat-finger typed letter that accidentally ended up in my hands.

I can’t recall when it last notified me that someone was trying to reach me.  The profile I set up wasn’t great.  Truly, I didn’t want to follow through and hoped that if you leave enough “code words” for damaged or I’m here because someone forced me, the icon on my screen would never light up.

One time, in some fit of either loneliness or just longing I had talked to a few people.  It didn’t last long, silence on my end can push away anyone who even needed the same thing I was supposed to open myself up for.  Just another voice to sometimes drown out the other voices that made me feel lonely in the first place.

When I lived away from all my family, it had been a choice.  I needed time.  I certainly needed to find me again.  My parents told me later they hated the idea of the limits I placed, but they knew I had to do it.  Forcing me to act differently wouldn’t have solved anything.

But now this icon still flashes on my phone.  This person was brave enough to place a photo for their avatar.  Mine is just a sports icon.  There’s a way to look up other information without someone knowing.  But that feels like an invasion to me.  Hiding behind a screen is one thing, tricking someone is something completely different.

Why can’t I just read their message?  My profile is very clear about having a terminal illness and that I wasn’t going to make the best choice for someone looking for anything long-term.  No dating here, but it didn’t stop me from talking up my dog or like of baseball.  [There are details I left out because I didn’t need someone actually finding out who I was in the real world unless I chose that!]

Curiosity has the better of me.  I could ignore it.  But some part of me sees it like a tap on the shoulder asking a question.  I’m not the type of person to turn away.  I’m the guy who has no issue holding the door while the entire crowd ushers themselves in while nodding or thanking me.  [my parents did a good job with the manners aspect.]

Maybe just a quick look?  Could be just a simple hello?  A person in the same overall situation needing their voice heard?  Lots of good reasons I can think of for this flashing icon.

The only bad one is if I can be what they need or if I’ve tricked myself into thinking there’s nothing for me to offer anymore…

Poetry still Escapes Me.

Darkness

Before the sun rises, the light shone in her room.

Gentle sounds of breathing caress my ears.

Tiny hands and feet sticking out from beneath the blanket.

Waiting a lifetime for this moment, not wanting it to end.

Just a few more minutes Daddy.

Mesmerized into a frozen figure, letting the moment engulf me.

Eyes not wanting to blink, not wanting to miss a second.

Her image is still burned in my mind.

The dreams and hopes still burn bright,

They light every corner of darkness, keep me warm.

Her candle carried every moment.

Keeping me company when the room is empty.

Even when my eyes close, there is still light.