Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The PEG-BOARD 5/24/2017

Just took a nice nap in the time it took my kid to explain to me a video she saw on UTube......

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When You Think About It: Manchester

F LoBuono

First, and foremost, let me say this: I strongly condemn the recent attack in Manchester, England. The loss of life fills me with a deep sorrow. It should be noted that I abhor VIOLENCE IN ALL ITS FORMS AND BY ALL WHO PERPETRATE IT.

With this in mind, I ask people to remember that NOTHING happens in a vacuum. It's easy to call the bomber(s) a monster, evil, and a cowardly "loser". All of those pejoratives, and more, are applicable. Still, we look for answers as to why these things still happen - the right answers.

Well, here's what I think. It's pretty simple (this in NO WAY CONDONES what happened):

Violence begets more violence. We bomb our adversaries with so-called precision air strikes that, no matter how precise, indiscriminately kill innocent women and children. It happens ALL OF THE TIME in Syria. So, with that in mind, THEY in turn attack and kill OUR innocents. And, as we use every means at our disposal to attack "them", they, again, in turn, do the same.

What I ask people to consider is that violence ONLY creates an endless cycle of more violence, more death, and more suffering - for EVERYONE who is involved regardless of the religion or ideology.

So, when you think about it, not matter how trite it may sound, we've just got to find another way. More violence is NOT the answer.

In the meantime, I mourn . . .


Monday, May 22, 2017

Today's MOZEN: To Have and Have Not

F LoBuono

It's never really been about religious or political ideology. Not in the end. It's about MONEY - and, the power that comes with it. That, unfortunately, my friends, is the way of the world - the whole world. It's those that HAVE vs. those TRYING to get it - or, at least, their share of it.

In a recent NY Times article (Monday, May 15,2017. Iranians Hold Little Hope Election Will Lift Fortunes), author Thomas Erdbrink writes of the difficulty young Iranians have in securing steady, well-paying jobs. The biggest reason is that those who HAVE those types of jobs want to keep as much as they can for as LONG as they can. Most of those well-paying jobs lay in the government sector. People fortunate enough to get those positions jealously keep them, often well past retirement age driving the youth unemployment rate to an astounding 30%! It creates a never ending cycle of hidden poverty where young, educated professionals often toil countless hours in numerous low-paying positions just to feed their families. The religious ideology doesn't matter - they are ALL Shiite (90-95%) Muslims. Neither does the political - unless you continue to support the status quo. So, of course, the people with the POWER, i.e. the MONEY, never relinquish it.

Well, is it really so different here, or anywhere else in the world for that matter?

Let's take our current Health Care debate. Why should Universal Health Care be so god damned hard?! Our health is not open for negotiation.  It is a right, not a privilege. Therefore, our #1 priority should be the health and well being of ALL Americans. PERIOD. Whatever it takes to this MUST be done. But, it doesn't, and we are left to ask why?

I'll tell you why - it's because virtually ALL politicians bend to the will of their power base - and that's the BIG $$$ to be made off the Health Care System. Democrats are not immune from this blight but it's the Republicans who are MOST beholding to the BIG MONEY CATS who profit so greatly from the system. Their very economic platform is Trickle Down, i.e. reward the rich who will then in turn take care of the poor. Really.

We talk about brotherhood and unity all of the time yet we continue to support a system of inequity. Can anyone REALLY say that we live in an EQUAL society where ALL people are judged by the quality of their character rather than the contents of their bank accounts?? Unfortunately, I think not.

In reality, until we address these startling inequalities, our lot will never change. Our society will be in a constant state of turmoil between those who have made it and those still struggling to do so. The choice to change is ours. We can either give those who, for whatever circumstance, may be less fortunate than we, the boot and shove them further down the slope of poverty. OR, we can give them a hand up to join us in relative comfort and security. And, is that SO terrible for people to expect?

So, please, stop claiming one ideology is greater than the next. Until we start treating each other with equanimity, it's all just so much BULL SHIT.

That is all.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Don't Fear Feelings.

F LoBuono

In light of recent events (i.e. the apparent suicide of Chris Cornell), I felt it important to share this.

Even though Mr. Cornell's wife disputes the actual details of his death, there seems to be no question that, in many ways, he was a soul who struggled with his own identity and, therefore, depression and anxiety - just like virtually ALL of us. His great fame and fortune could not isolate him from his own feelings of doubt. Even his well reported solid family life could not save him from himself. It leaves one to think that if someone so brilliant and seemingly together as Mr. Cornell could do such a thing, what does it mean for the rest of us?

So, as hard as it is to admit to one's feelings of doubt and pain, it is even more so to express it publicly. But, it may be essential in our recovery. Despite my bluster and boasts of a self-proclaimed enormous ego, I suffer sometimes with crippling doubt and anxiety. There are many real (but, also ultimately superficial) reasons that this is so, like: an incredibly stressful job, a bizarre schedule, and concerns about growing older. But, again, although they contribute to my overall condition, they are not the REAL reasons. It is more because I am SO connected to things. I feel EVERYTHING - deeply. I've worked very hard all of my life to strike a balance between reasonably protecting myself (i.e. being a tough guy) and allowing an openness of thought and spirit that can make someone oh, so vulnerable. For, as full of shit as I can be, I can still experience painful loneliness, too - just like everyone else. I often think that my bluster (and my corresponding alter egos) is merely a ruse to put people off the trail of a truly gentle heart. I even do my best to live a vegetarian lifestyle so as to limit the amount of cruelty I am responsible for in the world.

But, doing good deeds and thinking deep thoughts will not insulate us from the pain of, well, living. To live is to feel. And, to feel is to experience not only love, but hate and fear, as well. It is what makes us human, indeed. It is striking the balance between all that is our greatest challenge.

Certainly not on the same level as Mr. Cornell, but I have been a high achiever my whole life: President of my high school class - IQ of 137 - Captain of my high school and college football teams - intercollegiate weight lifting champion - Shop Steward of my Union, etc. Although I am intensely proud of these achievements, there are times that they are difficult to see through the darkness. None of it seems to matter. There is only now and the doubt and sadness. It's difficult to explain when you don't quite understand yourself. NO ONE is immune from depression - no one. I believe it's something that we all share. So, in a sense, that's exactly what we should do - share it.

I suppose that the best way to deal with these feeling when they occur is to do some version of what I am doing right now - SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. CONNECT. We are not alone. YOU are not alone. Despite feeling as such, sometimes, just dealing with them brings some relief. And, SHARING them brings you even one step closer to happiness.

I hope.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Today's MOZEN: On Chris Cornell

F LoBuono

I think that it's pretty safe to say that no one would ever define me as any type of groupie. In fact, anyone who really knows me is probably laughing pretty hard at the very notion of that. Simply put, I'm not a good follower. Shit, as a kid, as much as I liked the outdoors, I never even joined the Boy Scouts!

So, it's rare for me to feel greatly moved by the loss of most public figures, especially if I see them simply as entertainers. I don't eagerly show public outpourings of grief for people that I don't REALLY know. But, this one seems different. The loss of Chris Cornell is effecting me most deeply. The fact that he choose to take his own life is devastating! Oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I actually stumbled on his work, particularly with Audioslave, only recently. As mentioned above, I'm not very trendy, so I missed the so-called Seattle Grunge Scene. So, I didn't know a lot of his early work with Soundgarden. Then one day, I think quite by accident, I heard Like a Stone. I was fucking blown away - and, with an ego as large as mine, that's pretty hard to do. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The quality of his voice, the DEPTH of his lyrics were ASTOUNDING. The minimalistic, sparse, downbeat sound of the music suited the mood PERFECTLY. But, it's more than "just" a song - it's a prayer, a plea, a lament, a search for the soul. Considering the fact that he just took his own life makes even that more prophetic.

Cornell was the driving force - as it should be. And, he was damned good looking, too! He dressed in the I don't give a shit style that makes a statement in its understatement. I love that. It's not fucking important. Life is!!

As I write this, I'm listening to Like a Stone over and over again. OH MY GOD - listen to the lyrics. It's as if he is predicting the course of action he eventually took - TEARS are streaming down my cheeks!! The guitar, as I listen, CRIES with me -

"and I sat in regret for all the things that I've done, for all that I've blessed, for all that I've wronged, in dreams, until the day I wander on".

This song has to be one of the deepest prayers I've ever heard. Here is a man in total contact with his very soul - and, he had the talent, drive, and guts to share it with us!! To think that he lost all HOPE is devastating, simply devastating. How could a man so obviously blessed with such enormous gifts simply throw it all away . . .

I am broken.

I have always seen suicide for the ENORMOUS TRAGEDY that is. I have been personally impacted by this horrible scourge. I think that we all have.  And, it's the saddest thing in the world. It means that someone has no hope, sees no light, no solution or end to their suffering. Sometimes, hope is all we have left. When we lose that . . .

If there is a moral to this tragedy, it's that the curse of mental illness and the suffering it brings is a part of all of our lives - either directly or through the loss of a public figure of enormous talent like Mr. Cornell. If it can take him, it can take anyone. Friends, NEVER lose hope. There is ALWAYS a way - and, it can be found by reaching out. You are loved. We are all loved - by someone. And, never be afraid to show your love. It is the only, ultimately redeeming force.

I wait for you there, like a stone . . . ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like a Stone

On a cobweb afternoon
In a room full of emptiness
By a freeway I confess
I was lost in the pages
Of a book full of death
Reading how we'll die alone
And if we're good, we'll lay to rest
Anywhere we want to go
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
On my deathbed I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan to anyone
Who will take me to heaven
To a place I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
And on I read
Until the day was gone
And I sat in regret
Of all the things I've done
For all that I've blessed
And all that I've wronged
In dreams until my death
I will wander on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
For non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The PEG-BOARD 5/17/2017

A fun thing I like to do with my kids is when I see a dead deer on the side of the road, I tell them ... "oh boy... Santa is pissed again!... I hope it's not something you did" . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Bigly Smart

F LoBuono

My father worshipped men of learning - professional men who, by the power of their very intellect, can save lives and, ultimately, change the world. Perhaps, he felt this way because the circumstances of his own life prevented him from pursuing the education he always dreamed about (more later).

I think, like most of us, his experiences growing up formed the basis of his life as a man. And, for him, it could not have been easy. He lost his father to a heart attack when he was just 12. As the oldest boy in a Sicilian immigrant family, MUCH responsibility fell on his young shoulders. Then came the depression. Then came the war, etc. And, if that weren't enough, he contracted severe, debilitating asthma late in life.

But, despite the challenges, he never lost his love (lust, really) for learning. With a limited education (he completed high school after the war), he still read every day. He LOVED to read- newspapers mostly, and magazines, too. He was not a big consumer of novels, but that didn't matter. He encouraged me to read whatever I could get my hands on and whenever I had the opportunity. He made sure that we had a dictionary and a set of encyclopedias in our home. I also remember the time when he fell for some gimmick that was supposed to make us read faster. My brother, sister and I always got a good laugh about this strange contraption he bought to aid in our studies. The machine clipped on our reading material and moved down the page, prompted us to scan read. It was supposed to increase our speed and comprehension. We hardly used it. But, I always respected him for the effort he made to make us appreciate the importance of learning.

He so loved highter education that in his middle age he went back to school and earned an Associates Degree from Bergen Community College. He EARNED that degree in so many ways. And, I was intensely proud of him for doing it.

My father also switched careers later in life, too. He had grown up running his family's deli with his younger brother and 2 sisters. But, he was never satisfied slicing baloney. He wanted something that would challenge him both physically and intellectually. He found it when he became a Bergen County Deputy Sheriff. He wanted that job so badly. I remembered him studying voraciously for the Civil Service test. Just approaching my teens, I exercised beside him as his also prepared for the physical portion of the test. I tested him with prepared question from the written part of the exam. When he passed and officially became a Sheriff's Officer, it was one of the proudest moments of his life.

Eventually, his duties as a deputy required him to be an agent of the court, providing security for the judge and other courtroom participants. It was within this environment that he saw the power of intellect. He would marvel how the lawyers would use their expertise to try a case. He observed expert witnesses give detailed testimony on complex subjects that could ultimately lead to a person's innocence or guilt. A person's fate literally hung in the balance of the words of these learned people. THIS was power - real power. Even though my father was sports minded and was in many ways a physical person, he realized that true authority lie with our brains and not our brawn.

And, he was adamant about me pursuing my own, formal education. In fact, he was relentless in his insistence. I have to admit, there were times when I resented him for his persistence. So often I simply wanted to quit - it was too hard, the pressure was too great. I am too wild for school, an so forth. He simply would not let me, ALWAYS saying, Frankie, don't quit. Once you have a degree that you have EARNED, NO ONE can take it from you. Your education will make you a man to be respected. He was so right. I received my bachelor's degree from Rutgers University in January, 1978.

I think that because of this love for everything learned, my father, a life-long Republican (I loved his debates with my mother, a Roosevelt Democrat), is ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE with the complete lack of erudition coming out of the Republican White House. Beyond the lying, beyond the false narratives, beyond the complete lack of any sophistication and cohesion in their message, their mission not only eschews and denies the world's accumulated knowledge but seems to actually be ANTI-INTELLECT. Alternative facts, climate denial, ridiculous, partisan choices for key Cabinet positions like Secretary of Education and the EPA are evidence for this Administration's disdain for anything intellectual. It's as if the President actually gets angry is you use words that are too "big" for him as his vocabulary is generally limited to personal superlatives like great, awesome, and BIGLY.

I've been accused of being arrogant because I always attempt to argue my points with the clarity of knowledge through acquired information. Even my opinions are fact based. That is how I was raised and that's how I operate. I refuse to be humbled for being an intellectual - Like my father before me, I earned it - BIGLY.

Monday, May 15, 2017

When You Think About It: OWN IT!

F LoBuono

You've been pulled over for a traffic violation that you feel is simply bogus. So, you try this routine with the police officer who is now in your car's window:

But, officer, I was just doing what everyone else was doing!

Standard police response:

Well, I didn't pull THEM over, I pulled YOU over. Tell it to the judge.

And, then, we are usually resigned to our fate.

So it should be with the Trump Administration. I'm tired of their excuses and blame game - Crooked Hillary did worse. Obama was guilty of spying and blah, bah blah, bah blah. Stop it. Just stop it!! We're not talking about THEM. We're talking about YOU. Stop deflecting! Own up to your own shit! You broke it - you OWN it.

Mr. Trump is celebrated as a tough guy by his supporters. Well, every genuinely tough guy that I have ever known was considered as such because they always took responsiblity for their actons - good or bad.  Well, Mr. Trump, step up!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Today's MOZEN: For Women on Mother's Day 2017

F LoBuono

Mothers, today is your day. Women, today is your day - all women. Yes, despite the overt commercialism that most of our holidays now share, it is a day when we celebrate the power, the universal, unquestioned, unconditional, loving bond between mother and child. SHE is the life giver! And, we acknowledge her role.

But, it also celebrates ALL women. ALL women have the feminine energy that is the very essence of life. They are the creators. Men may lay claim to a great artistic legacy, but it is the women who are the hearth - the center of all life. They are the marrow. I have NEVER felt diminished by this truth. I have my own power. But, it lies in a different realm. Acknowledging the awesome role that women play in daily life is liberating - not only for them, but for men, too.

Women, you are EVE - the origin of life - ALL of you. You are not born of Adam's rib. You are of your own energy.

Enjoy YOUR day.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Mother's Day Message 2017

F LoBuono

It was a piece of advice given to my mother by her mother, who in turn imparted it to me.

I must have been about 13 or 14 and my parents were in desperate need of a new car. They had driven around in jalopies for most of their (and our) lives. They were not people of means. And, my father's debilitating illnesses (like asthma) were a constant financial burden on the family. In other words, they were virtually broke. So, they kept vehicles FAR past their efficient use. In fact, I remember a Buick my father owned that had a huge hole in the floor that he covered with a car mat. We'd remove it to watch the highway go by under our feet!

They so desperately wanted a new, reliable vehicle that they could feel safe in and be proud of. But, where would the money come from? I remember my parents discussing what they might do when the idea of borrowing the money from my grandmother came up. My folks were loath to burrow from ANYONE and my grandmother was not a woman of means either. But, there was no viable alternative. And, so, hats in hand, they went to her.

I'll never forget my grandmother's response. Without hesitation, in her thick Italian accent, she said:

Of course, I will give you the money. It was going to be yours after I died anyway. So, why should I wait until then when I can give it to you now and SEE you actually enjoy it.

I remember my grandmother delivering $5,000 cash, all in crisp, $100 bills. My mother cried when she counted the money - she had never seen a $100 bill before.

The moral of the story is this: Don't postpone kindness. Don't hold back showing your love. Don't wait until it's too late to express your deep feelings for someone. Do it now. Do it often. I think that we all fantasize about the nice things people will say about us at our funerals (at least we HOPE that will say them!). Well, don't wait until then - say them now about the others in your life.

With this in mind and Mother's Day upon us, I'd like to say this about Stella: She has been the rock of my existence. Of course, she loves me unconditionally and demonstrates it constantly. But, she is also honest. She supports me completely when she feels that I am right, but also challenges me when I am wrong. She is fierce in her independence and imparted that drive to me. She has taught me to respect ALL who earn it and demand respect in return. She has shown me what it means to be gentle without fear. She gave me a love of reading and learning. And, perhaps, most importantly, she infused in me a self-confidence to know that although I am no better than anyone else, certainly the converse is true - in the end, I need not answer to anyone but myself.

Happy Mother's Day, Stella. Happy Mother's Day to all the women fortunate enough to have earned the title, mother. We love you all!!!!!!!