To Save and Preserve

D5DFFEC0-E9C6-4526-8DCC-B631AA2E558FMy first inclination when I saw today’s one-word prompt, “courage,” was to go political and to write about the absence of courage that the Republicans in Congress have exhibited when it comes to their constitutional role to serve as a check and balance against an unhinged, autocrat-wannabe who occupies the White House.

But then, since I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics on TV, I thought I’d write about the incredible courage of those athletes who attempt what to me appears to be almost superhuman feats of athleticism as they go for the gold.

And then I thought about the courage of first responders who go charging in — whether for natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, fires, or hurricanes, or into man-made tragedies, like mass shootings and terrorist bombings — when everyone else is fleeing the scene.

There’s also the courage of whistleblowers who are willing to risk their careers — and possibly even their lives — in order to release to the public details of underhanded or illegal activities on the part of employers or even governments.

And what of the courage of women who have told their stories about sexual harassment and abuse by the rich, famous, and powerful?

But what is needed most today is the courage of everyday Americans to go out and vote at each and every election, from local and statewide elections to national elections. The courage to pay attention to the issues that matter to them and to actively support and vote for candidates who reflect their personal values.

That is the kind of courage that is critical in order to save and preserve our democracy.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

66EB136D-D757-4C4B-9144-CEC0002C9741I figure that most people who respond to today’s one-word prompt, “rube,” will handle it in one of two ways. They will either write about rube as a country bumpkin — you know, someone who just fell off of the turnip truck — or they’ll write about Rube Goldberg.

I’m going the Rube Goldberg route.

I once worked with a guy who was quite brilliant. However, as smart as he was, he tended to overly complicate things. He never seemed to be able to take the most direct path toward the solution to any problem. Of course, he earned the nickname, “Rube.” But it wasn’t because he was someone fresh off the farm. It was an homage to Rube Goldberg.

So who is Rube Goldberg? He was a Pulitzer Prize winning American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He died in 1970, but he is best remembered for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. These creations became known as a “Rube Goldberg machines.”

So what is a Rube Goldberg machine? It’s a deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence.

If you ever hear anyone say, “that’s quite a Rube Goldberg thing you’ve got going there,” you’re probably violating the KISS principle. KISS is, of course, an acronym for “keep it simple, stupid.”

Photo Challenge — Sweet Treats

F89CF5D8-2210-4062-BC27-5C84CDFC19C8This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge asks us to show something (or someone) sweet.

There is this delectable bakery that is located inside my local grocery store. It’s positioned so that you have to pass it when you enter or exit the store.

I’m sorry, but that’s just not playing fair. There are too many sweet — and fattening — treats to pass up. I often end up picking up something sweet — and fattening — before I leave the store.

So, to take my mind off of those edible sweets, I thought I’d focus on some even more delectable kinds of sweet treats. And they’re not at all fattening.

What’s That Word I’m looking For?

3CB7273E-B962-4AD4-9352-6977261FF1B2There are occasions these days when I can’t quite conjure up that exact word — one I’ve used a million times before — that would be perfect for what I want to say. And yes, my memory for names or events isn’t quite what it once was.

But after all, I am a senior citizen; a card carrying Medicare beneficiary.

Okay, just saying that makes me feel kind of old. But then I have to remind myself that age is really just a number. It is what it is. I didn’t choose when I was born, just as I can’t choose when I will die.

I admit that my body ain’t what it used to be. My mind, though, except for occasionally being unable to conjure up the precise word I know is out there, is still sharp. And I believe that blogging is a way to keep it that way.

Blogging forces me to exercise my brain. It challenges me to keep up with what is going on in the world around me — news, politics, science, society, technology. It requires doing research, checking facts, and being able to see different perspectives. It necessitates logical and critical thinking.

It also gets my creative juices flowing when I see an image or am given a word or a phrase and must try to conjure up a short, fictional story about what that image, word, or phrase brings to mind.

It means needing to be able to express myself articulately and in a clever, entertaining, and witty way. Or at least attempting to do so.

Blogging also puts me in touch with people from around the globe. Fellow bloggers of all ages, from various backgrounds, with unique experiences, and with varying world views. It provides me with insights into what others are thinking about, writing about, and doing.

Who knows? Blogging might even delay the inevitable onset of old-age — oh, what’s that word I’m looking for? Oh, right — dementia.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “conjure.”

All Hail Elon

Elon MuskEveryone seems to be going gaga over the visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk these days. He is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; and chairman of SolarCity. His net worth is just over $20 billion and he is listed by Forbes as the 53rd richest person in the world.

Pretty impressive for an immigrant from a shithole African country, huh?

So yes, the world is all aflutter over the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, the successful soft landing of two of its boosters, and his Tesla in orbit.

And yes, I agree.  These are impressive feats deserving of all of the accolades being bestowed upon Musk.

But what in the world motivated this man to decide to sell flamethrowers to the general public? Flamethrowers, for crissake. Musk is selling flamethrowers — a kind of BB-gun-meets-blowtorch — from his company, The Boring Company.

They are priced at $500 plus taxes and shipping, and in its first 100 hours for sale, his company sold all 20,000 flamethrowers that it had available. So Musk’s company raked in roughly $10 million. In 100 hours!

img_0652So what’s the deal? Is Elon Musk a modern day hero or is he an evil genius? He is alleged to treat his employees badly, he seems to spout eugenist nonsense, and he sells flamethrowers to your friends, your neighbors, and your kids.

I’m all for celebrating Musk’s significant and innovative accomplishments. But let’s not lose sight of the nature of a man who thinks selling flamethrowers — a dangerous and potentially deadly toy/weapon — to anyone who has 500 bucks burning (pun intended) a hole in his pocket.