We come bearing gifts

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

David Viscott – Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times: A Book of Meditations, 1993

My gift is goofball writing. You’re welcome.

Typical dubbatrubba reader…

Speaking of giving it away, if you have a friend who might enjoy my random brain droppings, please share a link to dubbatrubba.com with them. Thanks.

According to my WordPress dashboard, this is Post #677. I’ve still got a long way to go to get to the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell cites as the benchmark for mastery of a craft. My “gift” is a work in progress.

But I’ll keep working. And I’ll keep giving it away.

They grow up so fast…

In case you missed it: a youth football/cheer squad organization in a town just a few miles from Cincinnati was requiring kids as young as age seven to sell tickets in a gun raffle as a fundraiser. (Full story from cincinnati.com is here. All excerpts below are from that article.)

Absurd is absolutely right. Asinine.

Because the brave mom questioned the “wisdom” of such an event, the organization’s leaders allowed kids to opt out of selling tickets. However, the youth org is still raffling off the type of semi-automatic weapon of war that has been used in several mass shootings/killings. The Junior Lions need to raise funds to… wait for it… pay their insurance bill. Because youth football can be a bit dangerous, don’t ya know?

Kudos to Heather Chilton for trying to provide a sanity check in a country that desperately needs more of it.

Two far gone

Here’s a photo of our second child, Peter, taken just a short while ago:

And here’s a shot of him from yesterday:

We dropped him off at college, at Ohio University. Abandoned him, really, at the tender age of 18.

Our oldest goes to school in town, so Peter is the first one to be truly “away” at college. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive, but it seems light years away.

I know he’ll be fine; it’s the rest of us that I’m worried about. Peter is a “glue guy” as the sportscasters like to say. Easygoing, funny, gets along with everyone. A straight arrow. And more than happy to chauffeur his two younger siblings around. With him gone, the sibling dynamic will change, and the family fabric will be altered. We’ll all have to adjust to life sans Pedro.

I know it’s just the first in a series of goodbyes, of slowly but surely letting go… but that doesn’t make it any easier.

How many days until Parents Weekend?

Biking and breathing

“Just breathe.” It’s become a mantra in our multi-tasking, mile-a-minute society.

But if you have Cystic Fibrosis, it can be difficult just TO breathe.

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. 

https://www.cff.org/What-is-CF/About-Cystic-Fibrosis/

I don’t ride my bike as often as I used to, but I do participate in the Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life event in Cincinnati every fall. I’ll be riding a 32-mile route, which is no small feat for an old man with creaky knees pedaling a rusty (but trusty) bike.

Sure, my lungs will be burning a bit, especially on the hills. But that’s a not-so-subtle reminder of the challenges that folks with CF face on a daily basis. As I pedal, I’ll be thinking of the people I know who are affected by this disease: John’s daughter, Walter’s stepson, Paul’s niece and nephew…

I’m sure you know someone battling CF too. If you feel so inclined, I hope you’ll donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and support me in my ride. You can do so here:

http://fightcf.cff.org/site/TR/Cycle/42_Greater_Cincinnati_Cincinnati?px=2458867&pg=personal&fr_id=7574

If you can’t swing it, no worries. Either way, I know you’ll be rooting for me to ride like this:

Even though I’ll really look more like this:

The sad state of our country

I read this a week ago… haven’t had the heart to write about it until now.

Videogame makers down, gun stocks up

Videogame maker shares came under heavy selling pressure on Monday after President Trump referenced the industry after two mass shootings that shook the country over the weekend. “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” he said during a press briefing. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) tumbled 6% on the news, while Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) dropped 4.6% and Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO) slipped over 5%. Firearm stocks saw gains on gun control fears, however, with American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ:AOBC) and Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO) rising over 2%.
(Source: Seeking Alpha, 8/6)

It’s been more than a week since the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings/killings, and despite the cries of “do something” we know Mitch McConnell will do absolutely nothing. Because he’s in the back pocket — the very deep back pocket — of the NRA. He should get another nickname to go along with “Moscow Mitch”: “Mass Murder Mitch”.

(Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

I don’t want your hunting rifles. I don’t want your handguns (even though having a handgun in your home makes you more likely to die of a gunshot wound). But please help me understand how a 24-year-old with a history of violent threats possessing an assault rifle, body armor and 250 rounds of ammo makes us all somehow “safer.” Actually, don’t explain it to me, explain it to the residents of Dayton, Ohio.

Yes, Mr. President, there are some videogames that are “gruesome.” But real human beings being mowed down indiscriminately (or discriminately in the case of El Paso) is much more gruesome. So start by focusing on the real killing machines. There are common sense gun regulations that the vast majority of Americans agree upon. Keeping weapons of war limited to the battlefield, for starters. (The 2nd Amendment was — and is — about arming a militia, not common citizens.) Closing loopholes. A national database. Red Flag laws. Trigger locks. Even the NRA supported gun regulations for decades.

(Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, we the people need to do something besides protesting and waiting for the next election cycle. Advocating for, and contributing to, mental health agencies would be a good place to start. Or even just delivering a small dose of kindness every day.

A good deed doesn’t just evaporate and disappear. Its consequences saturate the universe and the goodness that happens somewhere, anywhere, helps in the transfiguration of the ugliness.

Desmond Tutu

Bob Ross was right: Happy Trees!

Here’s your prescription for better health: Take a Hike!

Yes, getting lost (in the wilderness) is the quickest path to improved health and happiness. Check out this article. Here’s the TL;DR excerpt:

Studies showed that just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of wellbeing for up to seven days. The same amount of time in a built environment has no such effect. Human response includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Health outcomes on the receiving end of the pathway are astounding: enhanced immunity, including reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety, to name but a few.

Can’t make it to Great Smoky Mountains on your lunch break? A city park or any nearby greenspace will do… as long as it has trees.

The ‘fro knows nature!

Because making your way through a corn maze won’t cut it – you need those happy trees for best results. Here’s another article on that topic. And here’s an excerpt:

“Protection and restoration of urban tree canopy specifically, rather than any urban greening, may be a good option for promotion of community mental health,” write Thomas Astell-Burt and Xiaoqi Feng of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales. Their study, along with a commentary, is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Here’s my urban oasis, my daily dose of goodness:

I eat my brown bag lunch here nearly every weekday. It’s two blocks from my company’s office, in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, but the trees are magical.

I’ve never understood how some co-workers can eat lunch at their desk, staring at Facebook on the same computer screen that they have to stare at the rest of the day. I want to run up to them and give them just two simple words of advice:

Get out! Turns out it’s not just a great way to hit the reset button on your day, it’s also a fantastic way to improve your mental and physical health.

So go ahead — hug a tree today. You’ll love it!

And it’ll love you back.

The space race is over

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Now, there are plans afoot to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972, and even plant a U.S. flag on Mars.

I hear you can grow hot potatoes there.

But it might be tough for NASA to find a U.S. space crew.

It’s about time we headed back to space. In fact, according to the world’s greatest author (sez me), it’s overdue.

We could certainly use more peace and exploration and wonder and beauty in our world… er, I mean solar system.

But as we’re pumping billions into space exploration, let’s not forget about another “universe” and “final frontier” worth exploring right here in the good old U.S. of A. Here’s my boy Billy Bragg with more:

A space race is fine. But the only arms race worth pursuing is the race to embrace our fellow human beings. Peace. Wonder. Beauty. Here and out there.

Saturday school

OK, students, get out your notebooks and write down this bit of wisdom from Gaping Void, because it will be on the test:

We may not be rich, we may not be pretty, but as long as we’re learning, as long as we’re determined to keep it this way, our lives are truly incredible things. So bear that in mind, and Godspeed to you.

https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2019/07/08/why-you-should-never-stop-learning/

R.I.P. Johnny Clegg

Below is a post that originally ran in November of 2017… reposting today after hearing the news about Johnny Clegg passing away. He will be missed. 

Johnny B. Good. Very good.

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

“Hello, I’m Johnny Clegg.”

No doubt you’ve heard of (and heard the music of) the former. Chances are, you’re not familiar with the latter. But Johnny Cash is to country music as Johnny Clegg is to South African music. A pioneer, a trailblazer, a true icon. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call him the Nelson Mandela of music. Back in the Apartheid era, teenage Johnny crossed color lines to learn music and dancing from Zulu men in Johannesburg, and eventually brought it to the world.

“They knew something about being a man, which they could communicate physically in the way that they danced and carried themselves. And I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Basically, I wanted to become a Zulu warrior. And in a very deep sense, it offered me an African identity. It was like a homecoming for me; I don’t know why, but I felt that.”

When he formed an integrated band – Juluka – with Sipho Mchunu, they couldn’t even play in public at first.  Eventually they landed a record deal and toured the world.

When Sipho got homesick and left for his Zululand home, Johnny formed a new band called Savuka, which means “We Have Risen” in Zulu. His songs were at the forefront of the fight for equality in South Africa.

“You could not ignore what was going on. The entire Savuka project was based in the South African experience and the fight for a better quality of life and freedom for all.”

One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen was Johnny Clegg & Savuka at a club in Cincinnati, circa 1993. For some strange, mystical reason, I too wanted to become a Zulu warrior that night. And I can’t dance worth a damn. The passion, the energy, the “goodness” emanating from Johnny and his band was palpable, and the tsunami of positive vibes swept up the whole crowd. “I don’t know why, but I felt that.”

Johnny Cash is gone. Johnny Clegg will be gone soon – he’s battling pancreatic cancer. He just wrapped up a brief U.S. tour and has headed home to South Africa, with one more gig in Cape Town lined up for this year.

NPR has a nice profile of Johnny’s career. (The quotes in this post are from that piece.) Please check it out.

Thank you Johnny, for sharing your music and your love with the world. Don’t stop dancing.

Extra salt, please

We got back from our beach vacation a week ago. I’ve been missing it ever since. Mostly, I miss this:

The gloaming is the best time of day on the beach. It’s quiet, other than the waves (which rank right up there with Buffalo Tom and Superchunk songs on my list of favorite sounds). Peaceful. Relaxing. Gorgeous.

If I’m lucky, I get a couple weeks of beach time every year. That’s not enough. Every day, I hear the ocean calling my name, like the sirens drawing in Jason and the Argonauts. It’s my happy place. What’s not to love about kayaking, bodysurfing, swimming (or just floating), walking along the shore and generally just chilling?

Of course, if I’m at the beach with my wife’s extended family, there’s usually some sort of elaborate planning for our latest opportunity to “go viral.” It never happens, but that doesn’t stop them from scheming. In past years, it was a flash mob and a choregraphed video. This year, it was a drone shot of human letters for the US Women’s National Soccer Team.

We chose the font called “Crooked”

We didn’t make Ellen (yet again), but it’s fun to dream.

One of my co-workers is one of those adult Disney freaks. (I’m sure you know one… stage an intervention if you can.) She bought a condo just outside Disneyworld, and works from there several weeks each winter. I’d be happy to follow her lead and work from a condo near the ocean… any volunteers to buy it for me? You can visit any time….and the first piña colada is on the house.