Civility, manners, and communications has, for obvious reasons, become a hot topic. We have a president who insults people in front of the entire world and a lot of people apparently believe it’s okay. Of course, some of these people also believe the same idiot blowhard is the next messiah, so I figure I can discount their opinion.

We talk about manners vanishing and sometimes that feels true. How many people are clueless about what’s appropriate? Do they know when it’s fine to be casual — and when it’s not?

This is pretty much a no-brainer for my generation. It’s not that we’re so smart, but we were raised differently. We grew up when there were clear rules about social behavior. There were fairly rigid standards for professional communications. Nobody had to tell us how to talk to superior officers and bosses. We learned this stuff watching others. We learned it at home, in our friends’ homes. We even learned it on television.

Cover of "The Graduate"

We called our teachers “Mr. or Mrs. Whatsyourname.” That’s also how we addressed our friends’ moms and how our friends addressed our parents. That’s how we addressed everyone older than us.

It’s one of the funny parts of watching “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman. He may be sleeping with Mrs. Robinson, but he never calls her by her first name. That would be impolite.

The next generation had its own set of rules. They didn’t believe they needed to respect their elders simply because they were elders. Or bosses or teachers. They heard a different message: everyone is equal.

Happy New Year and let’s hear it for more of the same!

The thing is, we are unbelievably far from all being equal. It’s not only about race or ethnicity, color or sex, although these issues factor in. Dig a little deeper and it’s about money and power. Which is what it has been about since history began. That’s how society really works.

In my generation, we all knew this before we left high school. You don’t treat your boss like your buddy. It has nothing to do with whether or not your boss deserves your respect. It’s nice if he or she does, but In the course of a building a career the odds favor your working for any number of people who are unworthy of your respect.

As long as they sign your paycheck, you treat them with respect, tact, and care. Not only does your salary depend on it, so does your reputation and any future career moves you plan. Your boss may be the biggest asshole you’ve ever met, but you don’t say so.

Filling in the forms

If you’re smart, you don’t say it behind his or her back either because another rule of the real world is what you say will get back to whoever you said it about. Those chickens always come back to roost, every damned time.

You will need all the goodwill and recommendations you can get as you fight your way through the working world. Don’t squander it. Don’t blow your world up by gossiping, backbiting, and behaving like a brat.

To people my age, all this stuff was obvious, that all men may have been created equal, but after being born, some are much more equal than others. No one had to tell us not to start a memo to the boss with “Yo, Bossman!”

Looking for work?

We knew that. We knew who had the power and who didn’t. We knew when to fight and when to duck and cover. We knew we needed to earn our way and had to behave professionally.

But kids who aren’t kids anymore don’t seem to get it. Unsurprisingly, neither do their kids. I don’t understand what they don’t understand.

Do you? Maybe they’ve been watching too much news and have a bad case of Trumpitis.


I’ve written more than 10,205 posts. I have rewritten several dozens of these and reblogged a few more. After rewriting, most of the posts are so altered I barely recognize them. A few others I rerun because I like them. They are favorites and I like seeing them “up,” so I post them when the subject arises. Some subjects come up for discussion regularly and if I have already written the post — and assuming I can locate it — after 8 years of blogging every day, it should be okay to reuse my own stuff.

If you have been blogging for a long time, you will notice your audience changes. Other than my few actual online friends, almost all the others will change within two years, most within one. I hope those who have stuck with me will excuse the revamping of previously used material.

When you write every day for years on end, you eventually realize that all that stuff you’ve written is a treasure trove of ideas, many of which could have been better written and certainly could use an update. New photographs wouldn’t hurt either.

Alternatively, I could write once in a while and drift away as so many contemporaries have already done. They don’t exactly stop blogging. They just blog less and less frequently. Eventually, you realize you haven’t heard from them in months. Their blog is still technically “alive.” They haven’t been dismantled, but there hasn’t been a new post in a long time.

We all eventually move on, one way or another. Meanwhile, I’m rewriting earlier pieces that I think deserve it. I also think the rewritten versions are far superior to what I wrote in 2013.  Many started out as “good ideas,” and over time have become much longer and better.

Here’s my theory:

  1. This is our work. We own it.
  2. If a TV network can rerun shows without so much as giving it a fresh edit, why can’t I? Is there a law that says every blog has to be brand new?
  3. I don’t know about you, but I can’t write three new pieces every day. Not good ones, anyway.
  4. 10,000+ posts is a lot of writing. Most of the earlier material hasn’t been read by most of the people who read me these days.

Nor do I feel I need to announce it every time I reuse material, especially when it has been extensively rewritten. You are always free to not read anything I write, whether it’s new, or reconstructed.

I hate throwing things away. Don’t you?


Share Your World 2-4-2020

This year, politics is more critical than I ever remember it. To be fair, though, I’ve always been fascinated by our elections, debates, primaries. How they work, how people make their decisions. This year in Iowa, you can see — and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this before — people thinking about what to do if their candidate doesn’t seem likely to win. Who will they then support?

Every single one has said that the bigger issue is getting Trump out of office and will if it comes to that, support anyone who isn’t Trump. That’s a huge change from 2016. Let’s hope it’s a national trend.

And the questions are:

When was the last time you tried something new?

Tonight I tried a recipe I found in a magazine in my doctor’s office. It was a creamed bean soup and I decided Garry liked it when he came back with his third helping. It went very well with warm garlic bread.

If you were forced to eliminate every physical possession from your life with the exception of what could fit into a single backpack, what would you put in it?

Bonnie guarding my computer

You mean like with a fire taking over my world? All my meds because I can’t live without them, my computers and back-up hard drives, and my cell phone because that’s what they are for. Stuff in a couple of cameras, too. The dogs don’t count. They won’t fit in a backpack!

What simple fact do you wish more people understood?

History matters. Our life is all in the past and we don’t know the future. Things that happened more than two thousand years ago affect us today. Like, for example, the birth of Christ, the life of Confucious, the American Revolution, the Constitutional Convention.

Going back even further, the development of democracy under both the Greeks and Romans. The invention of porcelain in China. When the rest of the world was running around in animal skins, the Chinese were analyzing porcelain glazes.

So much of history lives with us — for good and ill — today. Our failure to deal with its implications has had a lethal effect on our culture.

What food item do you go through fastest in your house?  (credit to Sandmanjazz)

Cinnamon bread and fruit-flavored sparkling water (ICE in particular).

Please feel free to share something that makes you happy!  

I’m extremely happy we discovered that our toilet was about to crash through the floor and probably kill one of us. We had NO idea how serious the situation was. It would have been a lethal fall for someone.