Friends

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I made a phone call on Tuesday night, and did not speak a word to anyone until this morning (Thursday).

Wednesday was a training day for the rest of my staff down in Oakland, they left for the training before I even arrived to work. I had the office to myself. Maintenance requests by business owners are done online, and go directly to the Facility Supervisor. Rent was already collected, books balanced, conference calls caught up, and I am exceptional at what I do for a living, which means usually in this building, fires are put out even before they are ignited……..the phone didn’t ring, no deliveries. No small talk with business owners. No complaints from the neighbors.

I could have stayed home. It was one of those days when everything was already handled, and the building just ran itself. The boiler and chiller units ran automatically. The lighting system pre-programmed by me worked seamlessly. The doors to the property locked automatically at 6PM. The alarm-security system kicked on by itself.

Millions more people are going to be obsolete in the next decade or so if this keeps up. I include myself in that list. If not obsolete….it will be a one or two day a week thing with fewer benefits and lower wages……..

I did get caught up on our own filing system with contracts, reports, revenue and cost analysis. All done in silence. Not a word spoken. All day, and into that afternoon! The sound only of flipping pages, a cross pen on paper signing documents to be locked in a filing system. Cabinets and file drawers opened and closed. The hum of lights. The sound of a passing car outside. It was even a light business day at the property. Not many clients or visitors. It was just one of those rare days when nothing happens at work………

You are probably wondering about “the phone call” that I had Tuesday night………it was to a woman who “doesn’t like me that way” or is put off by my Christian beliefs and practice. We had a good date the Saturday before over dinner. I like the conversation. I liked her company. She was cute, half my age and it was the first real date that I had, well……probably ever. Group dates from college years don’t count in my book. Going out with guy-pals in the halcylon-electric nights of the late 1990’s with their girlfriends to the reflection of neon on wet pavement, crowded Taxi rides, all in a haze of marijuana smoke and ties askew with unbuttoned collar don’t count either.

The woman and I met for Indian, and I was kind of surprised she agreed to a date with me. I met her a few weeks prior at an “English Beat” concert down in nearby Petaluma. I was expecting “dad” jokes from her, or her just using me for a “nice dinner” while she then went out afterward to go blow Chad on her knees in a urine-soaked men’s bathroom floor, then submitting fully to him only to complain to her bitchy-but-cute girlfriends that “men are jerks” over Sunday brunch in Marin, Larkspur, Novato, Santa Rosa or Bodega…….

She gave me her celli after we were both thrown out during the last thirty minutes of the above mentioned concert, and after toying with the idea for almost a week, I did. I asked her out to Indian, she agreed.

Low heels, skirt, blouse….she wasn’t dressed like she was at the concert in keks, dumps, and a sleeveless top.

The meal was a pulling-burn of curries, pungent spices, creams, naans, marsala, tamarind, and chutney…..we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The conversation was fantastic, lots of laughs, and I learned a bit about her and myself if truth be told.

She is a native of the area (which means family has some wealth), parents are still married (they both are a hair older than me), and she works as a payroll accountant at a local, but famous winery. She shares a house with a few other women that she overall gets along with. She has a younger brother who is some golf prodigy or has the potentials to be semi-pro or even pro someday.

Plates, picked up, a large crowd all around us and when the check was dropped, she said “First date right? Dutch down the middle, including the tip. Sound fair to you?”

I nodded and smiled as I reached for the check, she said “The damage was worth it, I really had an awesome time!” She then added, “I do tip on the heavy side because I was once a waitress at Denny’s, and these folks live on their tips….so I always tip heavier….because you know…..waiters put up with a lot of nonsense.”

I agreed. Check split and paid. I took her hand, and escorted her out on to the busy downtown street. I lit a cigarette and asked her if she wanted to drop by for tea at my place….it was only a few blocks away. “Totally!” she smiled looking up to me…….

The street was packed with white lights strung through the trees, bustling cafes, crowded sidewalks, loud brew pubs and shops that seemed abustle even at this time of the evening. It was a gorgeous California night. We walked and talked all the way back to my place, holding hands sharing a laugh here and there…..

So this is how it is???????????? Is this what guys always talk about? I feel good. She seems really receptive to me……..I like her, I would totally do this again, and I like the conversations we have been having…..she loves music, wait til she sees my vinyl collection!!!!

At my place, the cat immediately noticed I had a guest with me, and made a fast dart n’ dash for the safety of the closet and my laundry basket. She laughed, and seemed surprised I owned a cat.

“Don’t worry,” I smirked, “He’ll be out in a few minutes showing off to you and demanding to be petted. He’s a bit shy.”

“Like you?” She replied, looking up and smiling at me.

I began to make a pot of tea, and she then noticed all my records……..a few thousand of them……I told her to have fun, and go ahead and swim in the collection…………

The Coming Return of Competence

While others on this blog discussed one of the defining qualities of the masculine, namely, one’s ability to control his own emotions, I was zooming out, wondering what other characteristics could reasonably be assigned to manhood. 440px-Howard_Hughes_1938

It was not that long ago that Howard Hughes began designing aircraft. I’m old enough to say that Hughes’ life intersected with mine, if only in my early childhood. I have memories of riding on the banana planes of Hughes Airwest, a company which Hughes made productive. He was able to design airplanes and build aircraft thanks to directing a series of big budget Hollywood films. He came to these industries completely unschooled, with little more than some seed money from the family business, and a desire to be the best at whatever task was set before him.

The competence displayed by men like Hughes was so demanded, that extremely competent men had the liberty of behaving like complete jackasses. Howard Hughes, for example, broke his girlfriend’s jaw in a fistfight. (Her name was Ava Gardner.) Nothing happened, because he had pimped enough of his actresses out to politicians that he was effectively untouchable.

While not every ultra-competent individual was the sort of libertine Hughes was, many were just as crazy. Moreover, finding a highly competent man meant finding a man who had focused the majority of his time and energy on one discipline, and this often came with a social cost which would never be paid in the world of today. Go through the history books, and find a radical innovator, who lived before the late 20th century, and likely as not, the thinker or inventor will not have been a normal family man, working a nine-to-five. It is quite common to find them extremely competent in one specific area, while being raving nutcases in every other part of their lives. On the bell curve of crazy genius, Tesla and Gates were not the outliers.

The great historical shift of recent decades, then, is not merely the enforcement of conformity above all else, it is also the loss of progress, which usually comes at the whim of a man who is so utterly dedicated to competence that he lets other parts of his persona slip away to their bare animal substrate. Competence itself has gone from being highly prized, to being a detriment in the workplace. Hiring a competent man means hiring someone who will illustrate everyone else’s mediocrity, and this simply cannot be tolerated by the four-eyed woman who runs H.R..

Competence certainly still exists. Today you find it exclusively among individuals and small groups, who will face catastrophe as a consequence of thoughtlessness. Underwater welders, drill rig operators, hard rock nickel miners, test pilots: these are islands of competence in an incompetent world.

When I see younger men today, I see men who are lacking communion with their inner Howard Hughes. Bear in mind that I would never prescribe his personal lifestyle to anyone. I don’t think becoming a manic, sadomasochistic bisexual, who gets political favors by pimping his employees, is a particularly honorable career move. Rather, I hope that men rediscover their drive to find some avenue toward greatness, and follow the path to the becoming of their best selves. Whether anyone wants to admit as much, incompetence is likely going to become increasingly expensive, as the social order continues to unravel, and good for those boys who channel their internal Howard Hughes, as they will stand to profit at the decline of the feminist age.

The English Beat (Petaluma CA)

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It is something of a sensation when you realize how much time just marches on……even if you deny how “you have not changed” but time always tells the truth. You do.

Last night I was in attendance down amnesia lane…….1980’s new-wave / ska / two-tone-pop-eighties band “The English Beat” performed in nearby Petaluma last night. I was there.

Dressing “rude boy” for the show really wasn’t an issue because I’m pretty Mod-button-down anyway. I’m the last guy who still wears doc-martens three to five times a week. I was having a great time again without drink or drugs. Most of the crowd was under 30, mostly women, all them held phones up and recorded the show. They missed it. The whole time holding cameras videoing the whole thing. All with the narcissistic attiude of “See…..see! I was there!!!” but they really were not. The stood still on a dance floor and got annoyed by anyone who bumped into them.

Reality from the 1980’s was gone. It wasn’t about music. It was bragging rights about “how awesome I am” and “how retro and cool I am”

Most of the women were dressed in their hipster attire, drinks in hand, camers in the other, and large purse over their shoulder. They yelled in unison for the song “Tenderness” after every song (if you don’t know “Tenderness” was their biggest mainstream cross-over hit that made mainstream / top-forty radio in about 1985.)

There were a few guys my age (late forties / early fifties) who were there to skank and ska it down. During their classic rollar “mirrror in the bathroom” it started to get a bit rough. One young women…mid-twenties….fun-size, cute, big breasts locked on to my arm (this is a standard thing for rude-girls at shows like this, they are smaller……they usually lock on to a bro near them so they don’t fall or get hurt…..it wasn’t an IOI….been to a billion ska shows since the 1980’s. It’s a safety thing).

Well……..the tattling came. Several women (and a few soy-boy types) with cameras out left the dance floor, and within two minutes three bouncers came and rough-housed me, and few other bros……at first I thought they were out to take the song to the ‘next level’ and I didn’t know they were bouncers, so myself and the other bros skanked back on defense and shoved hard, rolled around…one aggresively grabbed me and yelled “You’re disturbing these women. Pointing to the ones who left to tattle. They say you guys are groping them. You keep it up, you’re outta here!!!”

One of the bouncers was about twenty-five. I was a good seven inches taller…..and no, I am not a muscled guy..but I’m solid for my age I said “I saw these guys in concert back in 1989 when you were not even a twinkle in yo’ dads pants jerk. This is a ska show. You’re on the dance floor, she’s gonna get bumped. Rule is, you move back!

He again said “You knock it off” and he’s speaking to the other bros as well “Or you’re all outta here!”

Suddenly. Shocklingly!!!!!!

The young woman who was locked on to me, and she was about the bouncers age yelled “These rude boys are not doing anything wrong. They’re having a great time. This is a ska show, these guys are actually keeping it tame and safe out here!”

He of course ignored her. Meanwhile the song is still going on, and you could see the band getting annoyed at the “discussion” front stage…people not dancing-skanking….and a few bouncers out in front ruining the mood.

The women and the soy-boys who tattled are again standing in the middle of a dance floor at a ska show with their cameras out filming the show. Not dancing. Standing there.

I gave the one bouncer a light shove as he started to walk away……..then spins around and he grabs me by my skinny-tie (he could have choked me) starts to push the knot up. The other ska boys saw this…..and it was on. Five guys in their late forties jump on him. I crouch to the ground trying to break his grip so he doesn’t choke me. His grip loosens, I stand up, and fall on to him as well.

Now there is a full-on skirmish on the floor. The tatling girls are still mad that they are still getting bumped, ruining their filming experince, the girl who was latched on to me, surprisngly joins in with trying to house-the-bouncers with the rest of us…….we were overwhelmed….at least two more bouncers show up with LED lights, shining it in our eyes..blinding us all….we were all hauled out, even the young woman who latched on to me. Tossed outside the club. We were told we had been “banned” from the rest of the show.

We were all stunned……removed from my history by a few catty women and soy boys who were not even there for the show. After smoking a few cigarettes with the rest of the crew that was tossed out, we all exchanged numbers….shook hands, polite introdcutions and went our separate ways………..the young girl before she left me to stand by myself and wait for my Uber……..gave my butt a squeeze as she walked away. Looked back. Smiled, and said “call me.” (that was an IOI)

I smirked to myself as I waited for my Uber and realized finally that my youth was over…..and the 1980’s???? They belong to narcassitic hipsters who have no class or tatse. Women today ruin everything.

Boycott Hollywood

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Cinema attempts to manipulate its viewers, usually by shoehorning tragic characters into heroic roles. It does this by emphasis and omission. One of the most common characters in film is the divorced father, who finds peace in the raw deal he is forced to suffer, and turns around to become an action hero. Another common character one sees in the movies is the overworked single mother, who nonetheless lovingly cares for her children, and who doesn’t hate her ex-husband, despite his cruelty, and despite his part in forcing her into an unenviable position. In repeating these stories, movie producers normalize the divorce industry. They humanize the vultures who make an easy living, feasting on the decaying carcass of society.

Nearly all divorced men, in reality, are men who have been victimized by an unfaithful woman who made their lives intolerable, before dumping them. Nearly all such men did their part, while their ex-wives took them for all they were worth. In contrast, nearly all divorced women filed for divorce, and during the divorce process, did everything they could to inflict as much harm as possible, on the men they promised to respect and obey, for as long as they lived. This is the situation as it plays out in the world, rather than on the movie screen.

Seeing Hollywood films offers the viewer a glimpse of a fantasy, which at first seems only a short way removed from his everyday reality. It offers hope to the hopeless, who would be better off working through their anger at being shafted.

Do What You’re Afraid Of

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It was shortly after New Year’s Day, nine long years ago, that I got the talk. The divorced guys know the talk. It’s always some variation on “I love you, but I am not in love with you.”

I was thirty-nine, and terrified.

After the customary period of moping around, I realized that, at some point, I was going to get over her betrayal. Realizing the inevitability of overcoming gave me the power to face the challenges every day brought, and every day brought some. Her lawyer tried to humiliate me. Her family spread horrible rumors about me. I lost most of my friends. I kept it together because I knew, someday, I’d have forgotten her.

While my ex-wife tried to destroy me, she actually gave me the greatest gift that anyone could ever give me. She gave me the template to overcome any obstacle.

Most of us have reasonable fears. Fear keeps us alive and out of trouble. Some of our fears aren’t reasonable. These sorts of fears keep us in bad relationships, they keep us from growing. Unreasonable fears keep you from being the man you were born to become.

If you are afraid of something, ask yourself why. Often the reason will be nebulous and ill-defined. Ask yourself what is the worst consequence of your fear.

I used to be afraid of heights. I also used to be a roofer. My fear of heights motivated me to finish school and get a real job; but in the interim, it also kept me from becoming the best roofer I could have been.

After my divorce, I went skydiving. That fear was not entirely unreasonable. A fear of great heights is legitimate.

It’s possible I could have died, when I left the plane. If I’d have died, then I’d have done so boldly facing my greatest fear. I didn’t die. I twisted my ankle, and it was fine a week later. In return, I have the knowledge that I overcame.

Every man’s imperative is to become his best self. If fear is impeding your progress toward this destination, then do what you’re afraid of.

The Water of Life

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My daddy taught me many things, and one of his most enduring lessons was an appreciation for single-malt Scotch whiskey. Whiskey, he used to tell me, is a man’s drink. Thanks to him, I’ve never been caught in public, with a fruity concoction sporting an umbrella.

Whiskey used to be called aqua vitae: the water of life. These spirits originate with barley, a grain which was originally used to feed livestock. Human beings didn’t like it, until they figured out how to distill it. Now we love it.

Single malt refers to malting the barley, which is the process whereby the kernels are soaked until they germinate. When they are in the perfect stage of sprouting, they’re dried and killed off. The malting of the barley allows for some enzymatic changes in the seeds, which enhance the output of the distillery. Once the barley is malted and dried, the mash is made, and through natural processes, a carbohydrate-rich solution is allowed to ferment. A few months in, a filtering process is completed, and the solution is allowed to continue fermentation in casks made of Spanish Oak. Traditionally, these casks would have previously stored sherry wine.

After a minimum of three years, the casks are vented, and the solution is filtered at least one more time, before bottling. The color and flavor of Scotch is potentially complex, and Scotch aficionados rival wine-tasters for their appreciation.

If you want to embark upon the journey to an appreciation of single malt Scotch, know your definitions. There are “Scotch whiskey” varieties which are blends of single malt with Bourbon or other spirits. Johnny Walker is not single-malt, though it contains some single-malt. Suntory makes an excellent single malt whiskey which is not Scotch, but Japanese.

Beginners often enjoy Glenmorangie’s original. It’s a medium bodied Scotch, with hints of citrus and vanilla. My favorite is Oban 18, for its honey and caramel overtones. If you have expensive tastes, you can’t do better than 30-year old Macallan.