Tag Archives: Rambling Ruminations

A Tuesday Night in December

20 Dec

The Christmas Tree is lit up.

The Voice is on.

A performer from Lebanon may win.

My family is in the floor wrapping gifts.

Our dog Daisy is sitting in the chair next to me.

I am typing on my laptop.

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I Never Thought About 2017

25 Nov

Today is my birthday. I was born in 1968, one of those pivotal years in United States history. When I was a kid, I would calculate how old I would be at the turn of the century. The year 2000 looked to be far off in the future, and, well, it was the future. The 1900s would be gone forever.

I never wondered about the years after 2000, but here I am seventeen years later. It is funny that I do not remember much about the year that I thought about as a child. I know that I was not yet teaching. That would begin in 2001. I know that life is better now than it was then. That may be why I do not remember much about it. My mind has blocked out the details.

When I was a kid, I thought a lot about the year 2000. Now, it is fading from memory as the years pass. It is strange how our minds work. It could be that the anticipation sometimes leaves a deeper imprint than the actuality.

Anyway, that is the kind of stuff I think about on my birthday. It is a day in which I go deep inside my mind. There was a time when I tried to do the Magnum, P.I. birthday thing. That show had several episodes about Magnum’s birthday. He always went somewhere to be by himself. However it always turned into a deadly disaster from which he had to be rescued. When I say that I tried to do the Magnum, P.I. birthday thing, I mean that I tried to be by myself all day. It was never deadly, but it never worked.

I guess that is what Magnum, P.I. was trying to show the audience. Birthdays are meant to be shared with people who care. When I was a kid, I thought about where I would be in the year 2000. I never thought about other people being around. I never thought about 2017, but it is great because there are people everywhere.

Whatever Happened to Helicopter-Flying Traffic Reporters?

9 Nov

I was driving around with my phone giving me directions. It had me on one route but made the announcement that I needed to take another route. Apparently, there was traffic up ahead that needed to be avoided. As I made my way through the twist and turns of getting somewhere, a question came to my mind.

Whatever happened to traffic reporters?

I am not talking about the people who show us some screen filled with red lines. I am talking about the people who flew around in helicopters and scouted the different arteries into the city. They would get on the radio and try to talk above the sound of the rotary blades. In the background, you could hear the thump, thump, thump of those blades. It was like they were on an episode of M*A*S*H.

Through the thumping, drivers had to listen for their interstate number and hope that it never came up.

Whatever happened to those guys?

I think they went away when our phones became our own personal traffic reporters. Now, the voice in our phone tells us where to go. It tells us about the accident up ahead. It tells us the quickest way to our destination. No more guessing. No more listening for our interstate number.

The phone has put helicopter-flying traffic reporters out of work.

Those are the thoughts that went through my mind as my phone told me where to drive. Then, another thought went through my mind about perhaps the most famous traffic reporter of all time. Although, he was not famous for being a traffic reporter.

Gary Powers was a big part of the Cold War. As a U-2 pilot flying, he was on a secret spying mission over the Soviet Union when he was shot down. It was a huge issue for the United States when the spy missions were discovered. Eventually, Powers was exchanged for a Soviet spy held by the United States. That story was covered in the movie Bridge of Spies.

In 1977, he was working as a traffic reporter in Los Angeles. While returning to the airport, his helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed. According to the investigation, Powers deviated during the descent to miss a playground full of children. That move made the crash more devastating, and he was killed.

I hate to end a post on such a depressing note, but those are the thoughts that went through my mind as my phone directed my through traffic.

The Jesse James’ of the World

16 Oct

I was watching an NFL game and heard the announcer say something about a player named Jesse James. Obviously, this made me think about the famous outlaw, and I began to wonder something. How many people have this name?

In addition to the football player, there is the television reality star who was once married to Sandra Bullock. He made to it television as an customizer of motorcycles.

A professional wrestler also used Jesse James as a ring name. Of course, character names tend of change in professional wrestling, and he has also wrestled as Road Dogg and a few other things.

Locally, there is a country music singer named Jessie James. I do not know what she sings, but I know she is married to Eric Decker, who plays for the Tennessee Titans.

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. A lot of people are named Jesse James. This begs a question – why are people named for this criminal?

It is a question that has a few answers. In fact, I cover a few of them in class.

First, we tend to think of Old West outlaws as heroes. This could be because they represent independence and the ability to do as they please. It could also be because dime novels and movies convinced Americans that they lived a romantic lifestyle. This definitely happened with the original Jesse James.

However, there is one problem. I am not certain that Jesse James is an Old West outlaw. Some of his most famous robberies took place in Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Minnesota. Heck, he lived for a couple of years in Nashville. I am not sure those are places people have in mind when they think of the Old West.

Second, Jesse James is a cool name. It is alliterative and roles of the tongue. When people refer to Jesse James, they never say Jesse or James. They always say his entire name. Consider the brother of Jesse James. Frank James was involved in the robberies, but his name does not live on as a football player, motorcycle customizer, wrestler or country singer. The name does not draw the proper attention.

Yes, people are named Jesse James because of the original’s hero status and because it sounds cool. Heck, if the football player was named Frank James I would not even had heard it. I would not be writing this post, and you would not be reading it.

It sort of makes me sad for Frank James. Of course, Jesse was killed because he was the famous one, and Frank lived to a ripe old age. Frank James may be the cooler name after all.

The Problem With Last Names

19 Aug

I am bothered by the most mundane things. That is probably a problem with me, but this is my blog. That means that, in this space, the problem is with that thing. Some of them have long been bothersome. However, this one just cropped up as my life has become more social.

What is this “nails on the chalkboard” thing?

It is calling people by their last name, and it is something that needs to be explained.

Let us say, hypothetically, that a couple wants to invite another couple to dinner. Someone says, “We should have dinner with the Bradys.”

In my mind, using the last name is too formal. I think someone should say, “We should have dinner with Mike and Carol.”

See, it sounds more relaxed and friendly. The dinner is not going to be black tie. It is probably going to be something at the local Chinese place.

What about this?

“Did you hear about the Munsters? They live in that weird house down the street. Their pet dragon is terrorizing the neighborhood.”

They should be asking about Herman and Lily. Of course, there should not be any gossiping going on.   If there is, then it definitely does not need to sound formal. Gossiping is one of the most lowdown things that we can do. Unfortunately, we all do it. Perhaps, I should write about that sometime.

Walking in a Field of Stone

6 Aug

Last Saturday, the weather was beautiful. Humidity disappeared for a day, and that is a big deal in these parts. It was a day that was meant for being outside. For a lot of people, that means activities like golfing, boating, jogging or working in the yard. However, I feel the pull of something else. I went for a walk through our city cemetery.

Much can be learned in a cemetery. You can learn about the lives of individuals and families. You can learn about the history of an entire community. There are even times when you can learn about the history of our nation.

As I walked, I visited the graves of my great-grandparents, who made it through life the best way they could. I stopped at the grave of my aunt, the first woman regional solicitor for the Department of Labor. Then, I visited the grave of my uncle, who passed away a few years ago.

Along the way, I passed markers that date to the early 1800s. Some of them honored congressmen who are buried there. Across the field, there were small Confederate flags at the monument for those killed in the Civil War. I saw last names that were once prominent in our town. Names that we no longer hear. These were people who owned successful businesses and held public office. People who altered the direction of our community in many ways.

The markers had different designs. Some were tall obelisks, and some barely existed at all. The words were faded to a point to where they could not be read. More recent grave markers were engraved with the hobbies of the deceased, but one was just a metal nameplate. It belongs to a prominent Nashville lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate who was born in our city. Now, he has no stone.

As I walked through the cemetery, I realized something. All monuments fade. Even the new ones will become unreadable at some point. Names that were once known by everyone will be forgotten as the generations pass. We cannot count on being remembered by a marker in a field of stone. We can only count on the deeds of our daily lives. We can count on ourselves to make an impact on our world. That impact may be great or may be small. It may or may not be remembered. However, we can make sure that it is positive.

 

The Story of Graduation

6 May

Another academic year has come to an end. Some students have packed up to go home for the summer. Other students have packed up to go on with their lives. They will take their degrees into the world and use the information that they have learned.

Graduation is always a day of excitement and pride. However, it is also a day of sadness because people who have been together for a couple of years leave campus and walk with their families in different directions.

Their lives will also take them in different directions. Some will follow the path of which they planned. Others will take detours along the way. Some of them will stay in contact with their former classmates. Others will disappear from view.

In high school, I had a good friend with whom I used to hang out. Heck, we knew each other before high school. After the high school graduation ceremony, we stood around in our regalia and talked. My mom took a picture of us. That was the last time I ever talked to him or saw him.

That is the story of graduation. It is a time to look to the future. Graduates tell each other that they will stay in contact and talk. Then, they leave campus to go to their family celebration. They busy themselves with getting jobs. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. With all of that going on, it is difficult to stay in contact and talk.

Many of them will stay friends forever. Many of them will move on down the road and never look back.

Yes, that is what graduation is all about.